Monday, July 14, 2008

2006 blog entries

Here are all my online entries from 2006. Mostly reading lists and the like.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006
What I'm reading (as of 12/05/06):

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
The Watchmen, by Alan Moore
Devil in a White City, by Erik Larson (AWESOME)
Lies of Locke Lamoura by Scott Lynch, Ocean's 11 meets fantasy medieval Venice..fantastic!
The Black Seas of Infinite, an HP Lovecraft anthology
A Tolkien Miscellany, a Tolkien anthology (duh) but it has EVERYTHING by the man outside his Lord of the Rings stuff, including his translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight!
Solstice Wood, by Patricia McKillip
Temeraire Trilogy, by Naomi Novik
Civically Engaged Reader, by the Great Books Foundation (that's my office)
Cell, by Stephen King (creepy)
The Ice Dragon, by George RR Martin
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (AWESOME!!!!!!)

I'm re-reading:
On Writing, by Stephen King
The Earthsea Trilogy, by Ursula LeGuin

Tuesday, October 24, 2006
This the sound a Production Coordinator makes when he's been gone for 6 days and is now trying desperately to catch up on all the shiza that has piled up on his desk:


Thank you.

Friday, October 13, 2006
I just went to Prom!

So my friend Jen Vanderplaats decided to have a Prom themed party last weekend. The Prom was called:

"A Knight Under the Sea with Stars in Paris Forever"

Sort of an amalgamation of any prom theme that has ever existed. Each of us were to dress in a costume of some prom-related cliche, and I decided to go as the chaperone, Principal Hurley, which explains the new profile pictures. So, after the sweater vest, tweed coat, glasses, pipe, and name tag I was all set to be the fun, cool, slightly creepy, high school principal.

However, what really made this really weird for me is that my dad actually is a principal, and has been ever since I can remember. So whenever anyone called me Mr Hurley or Principal Hurley, I found myself turning around and looking for my dad. All in all, the party was really fun, and I'm glad I got the chance to bond with some students. God, that sounds dirty.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Dave's wedding...

...was awesome!

For those of you who don't know, Dave Williams, my college roommate for two years and one of my closest friends, just got married this weekend! And I got to be Best Man! This was actually a little more demanding than I thought.

It included organizing a bachelor party, renting a tux, buying gifts, decorating a car (those fuzzy things get tangled quite easily), giving a speech, chaperoning a dollar dance with the groom, thousands upon thousands of annoying pictures, and, at one point, sprinting across Aquinas's campus to bring the groom his car so that he and his lovely bride Missy could ride off into the sunset...

All in all it was a happy affair. Dave had a great time and Missy was lovely. The only two drawbacks were the photographer being a little annoying (I think they are paid to be) and the DJ being HORRENDOUS. What kind of idiotic DJ ends a wedding reception with the song "I got Friends in Low Places"? Whadda maroon!

One wedding down, and one more to go. I gotta fly out to Colorado in less than a month to stand in my roommate Nick's wedding. If you think being bestman is expensive, try buying a 2-way ticket to Denver then booking a hotel for 4 days. Yikes. Weddings. Love 'em or hate 'em, I guess 'tis the season. Good thing I don't foresee myself getting "hitched" for a long, long time, cuz I'd be one broke bastard. (instead of just a bastard)

Friday, September 08, 2006
What I'm reading...

Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I figure since I was in the play in college, I might as well read the book. Very intersting, in that it gives a good perspective into 19th century British Victorian society, has a tons of hidden metaphors for sex, is scary, and finally is just a damn good read. Also, I like coming across passages or bits of dialogue and being like "Oh yes, I remember saying that line..."

The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. Barnes and Nobles was having a 50% sale on their classics, which included both this and Dracula. This book is compelling in so many ways. First of all, it provides a intricate depiction of Oscar Wilde's conflicted beliefs. Secondly, the story is so damn fascinating. We see the subtle fall of a soul, no less proud than Lucifer, give away his morality and damn himself to a life fo misery, all the while trying to convince himself that it was a good decision. Dorian Gray is so conflicted, and the book so I can't decide if I admire him, despise him, or feel pity for him.

The Wee Free Men, by Terry Pratchett. Imagine the Smurfs as crazy Scottish people who've watched Braveheart one too many times, and you have the Feegles, or Nac Mac Feegle, Terry Pratchett's latest satire in to the realms of the fantastic. A young girl Tiffany must find a way to save her brother from the Queen of the fairies, with only the crazy pictsies as her protectors. As always, Pratchett is perfect. Hilarious, a good story, extremely intelligent, and perfect for children and adults.

A Hat Full of Sky, by Terry Pratchett. Sequel to Wee Free Men. The stories keep on getting better. With their rampant cries of "Crivens!", "Scunner!", and "Nae problemo", the Feegles continue to get funnier and funnier as they help Tiffany face off against a strange creature that hunts her.

The Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett. Latest sequel in the Tiffany/Feegle story line. I was extremely lucky to get an advanced copy of this, and it was what started me reading about the Feegles. How does Pratchett do it? How is he so funny and such a good writer ALL THE TIME!!?!???!??! Ah me.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Reading List part IV

Sooooooo, what have I been reading lately? Its hard to remember, since much of my brain has been lost in a fog of beer and Lake Michigan water from my adventures two weeks ago. (see previous blog post) But, be that as it may, I think a new reading list of recently completed books is long overdue. And SO, lo and behold, I give to you (whoever you are) a new list of books read most recently:

The Screwtape Letters, by CS. Lewis. I finally got around, again, to reading this book. It only took two days to finish. Awesome. And very scary. Its slightly disturbing that every time the protagonist Screwtape was describing common ways in which to get mortals to sin, I was like "Holy crap, I do this/think like that/ignore this/believe this ALL THE TIME!!! So either Screwtape's minions are doing one hell of a number on me, or I can chuse to accept that CS Lewis was a stuffy British Oxford don, who had some very peculiar personal habits, but also wrote some very awesome insightful books, and therefore I can sleep easy at night....or can I? Anyway, Clive Staple's notion of hell is strikingly similar to one which I depicted in my short story The Seventh Day. We both believe that Hell operates like a horrible big business conglomerate. Kewl.

Elric of Melnibone: Wierd of the White Wolf, and Elric at the End of Time,by Michael Moorcock. I have chiefly heard of Michael Moorcock, because he is a semi-successful fantasy novelist who is very well known for villifying Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. (my favorite books. Ever) So, I decided to give his Elric series a try, mostly after reading the another one of my heroes, Neil Gaiman, likes him. After reading two short books, my reaction is simply: Meh.
It was gratifying to read someone that I feel I can write more originally and better material then. It gives me hope of being published. And while Moorcock's vision itself of Elric, the tragic albino prince with the black sword is compelling, the stories neither read well nor have depth.

Lirael, by Garth Nix. The second book in his well-known Abhorsen Trilogy. A friend whose opinion in books I trust implicitly recommended this series to me. the first one I read some time ago, and was neither dissappointed nor impressed. My reaction is somewhere in between. The idea is very cool. The Nine Levels of the River of the Dead. A magic use who wields bells that invoke various magical properties. A system of markings and Runes that magic is based on. Very cool. However, my main criticism in the first book Sabriel is the same with Lirael: the characters. The characters are not very real to me, nor are their struggles and plights. This is definitely meant for young adults and grade schoolers. Had I read the books back then, I would most probably have loved them. But now...I just don't get into it. Lirael had brief exciting moments for me, but all in all, just seemed like cookie cutter fantasy, the type which Ursula LeGuin complains of.

Cat's Eye, Margaret Atwood. My old AQ friend, Molly, recommended that I try out Margaret Atwood, and then I read an interview with her and was impressed. So I bought at a 2nd hand store Cat's Eye, the novel besides Handmaiden's Tale, that she is most well-known for. I was impressed. The fact that Atwood could make my own elementary school struggles come alive for me, that she could make a girl's struggles with self-image, acceptance, career, and artistic fulfilment come alive for a male reader, is, for lack of a better expression, 'very cool'. I would recommend the book to anyone.

Book of Magic, by Neil Gaiman. An awesome graphic novel that deals with a boy who discovers that he has within him the potential to be the greatest magician of his age. Has a whole host of well-known, and lesser known DC comic characters from their magical pantheon, including Constantine, Dr. Fate, and Gaiman's own Morpheus, the Sandman. Many have noted the similarity between this book and Harry Potter. (this came before JK Rowling's fabulous series). Both boys have glasses and dark hair, live in ordinary worlds and discover magical powers, have pet owls, etc. Gaiman himself says to think nothing of this, and that the apprentice magician archetype has many things in common, including owls. As always, Gaiman suceeds. I'd hate him if he weren't so damn awesome.

The Last Hero, by Terry Pratchett. Another fav British author of mine. Pratchett combines Lord of the Rings with Monty Python. The result is something stunning: both with real, compelling, and emotional stories, and also completely f*..@ing hilarious. The Last Hero is no different, except that it is extensively illustrated. It parodies the concept of Heroes in heroic fantasy, specifically Conan the Barbarian and Xena, among other things such as Apollo 13, Catch 22, and all sorts of mythologies. Pratchett is a master satirist, and those who don't read him do so to their own disadvantage and are missing out.

The Prose Edda, by Snorli Sturrslson. This book is a translation of ancient Danish/Viking myths. Its sort of what the Odyssey is for Greece, the Iliad is for Rome, and what Beowulf or Gawain and the Green Knight are for the British Isles. (although Beowulf is also from the Nordic countries) Its very interesting and informative, though not the most exciting read if you are not into myths. More of a way of providing scholarly insights. I read it because two of my fav. authors, Tolkien and Gaiman, have drawn heavily upon it for their stories. Trust me. Also was interested to read that Loki may have been based on Ulysses and Thor based on Hector of Troy. Que interesante. A good read for mythology buffs. Well, thats about it, or all I can remember anyway. Now I have to start reading some of my own company's books, since we produced like 30 since I've been working there!

Friday, July 28, 2006
The Reunion

Once every year, Eric Johnson, Joseph Lynn, and I have a tradition of meeting in one of our respective dwellings for a week of...well, 'mayhem and madness' sums it up both eloquently and alliteratively. Last year, we were in Phoenix where we drank tequila in Mexico, floated down rivers with beer in Arizona, and cruised the strips in Vegas...
This year, both EJ and Joe came to Chicago. (along with several other Aquinas College Cross Country fellows). What ensued was possibly one of the most fun, exhausting weeks of my life. Driving to Green Bay to meet a girl. Midgets wrestling. Cigars on a rooftop. Chilling on Lake Michigan. Boob jobs. The Big Lebowski. Fado's. Taxi cabs drag racing. VIPs. POWER HOUR. Joe brought a CD of 60 one minute clips of 80's songs, with which a group of people can have what is known as a "Power Hour". In this brilliant game, during each song clip, you take a shot of beer. (I've heard rumors that some people have actually played this game with shots of straight licquor, but believe that to be physically impossible.) Even with beer, it is difficult, as you are effectively drink about 8 cans of beer in an hour.

I learned that, if you and your friends are going to compete in a three person team of a triathalon, that as long as you have a Power Hour two nights before, you'll be okay.

I learned that drinking for 5 straight nights and swimming a half mile leg in a triathalon in 60 degree Lake Michigan weather at 7am is not the best thing for your health. Especially when you are the only person in the triathalon swim who does not have a wetsuit on and is just in board shorts. (I have never been so cold in my life)

I also learned that it is not a good idea to try to cure your cold with having another Power Hour, although it may seem so at the time. I learned that beer and cigars with friends will always taste good, no matter how shitty the beer is. I learned never to let Dave "Kegstand" Kramer go into a public restroom unattended. (especially the girl's restroom), and that Dan Kaspowitz is excellent manbait.

Finally, I learned that I'm lucky to have friends such as these. Thanks for coming down guys!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
the sexy party...

Or not so sexy? I learned a few things...

1. Though its very hard to see in a dimly lit bar, wearing aviator sunglasses is always a good idea and will never go out of style.

2. Silk shirts and straight guys don't always mix.

3. Top Gun costumes are fantastic, and you can wear them anywhere, even at 10 in the morning in a diner.

4. Its a bad idea to spill a drink on the girl you are hitting on. Its an even worse idea to apologize by grabbing her ass. (way to go Chris)

5. Eating Chipotle and spending all morning and afternoon watching Family Guy = the perfect antidote for a hangover.

Quote of the party: After dissappearing for 6 hours and supposedly not remembering anything, the next morning Chris Vilcek summed up his night by saying, "I thought, 'Hey, its time to make some bad decisions.'" Classic and classy.

Monday, June 12, 2006
A funny thing happened on my birthday.

I took the day off of work, and after an excellent lunch with my mom, went to Barnes & Noble, eager to spend the gift card that had been one of the birthday gifts from my parents. After purchasing some new books (The Sandman, Book of Dreams anthology for one), I made my way to Lake Michigan to find a nice lonely bench somewhere to sit and read. The day was exceptionally cold, the sky gray, and the wind was fierce. I found a nice little nook out of the wind, began to sip my mocha and turn the pages. It was perfect.

And then the strangest thing happened. As I perused the different stories, occasionally glancing out at the gray and swirling lake, or stopping to answer a phone call from different birthdaywell-wishers, a man walked out in front of my view along the lake's edge. At first, I thought nothing of this, but then noticed that by strange coincidence, he too carried a Barnes & Noble bag and was sipping a B&N mocha. Very odd. And then, as I answered a phone call from my sister, he too took out his phone and began to chat with someone.

For sometime things went this way, both of us either reading or chatting on our phones. This guy had the same dark hair I did, and in fact looked a bit like me, only extremely thinner, maybe 80lbs lighter.

Finally, after having satisfied my need to read, I walked back to the main path along the lake, ready to head home for some dinner and possibly a movie. It was then I noticed that, still along the border between lake and pavement, my new friend was walking back as well. But for the 50 feet of grass in between us, we might have been mirror images of each other. And no matter in what ways the my path curved and meandered, somehow we kept pace with one another. At last my curiousity and imagination got the better of me, and I turned east to walk over to the lake and see who this stranger was. But when I got to the lake front, he was gone.

Anyway, it was probably just a lot of weird coincidences piled one atop of the other, but it gave me a great idea for a story...

Thursday, May 25, 2006
Reading List Part III

Well, its been awhile since I last entered this stuff in. But here goes, from memory. Oh, and I'd like to include the clause that I may have forgotten some of the books I've read (I know, only a total bookworm forgets books he's read recently)

Battle Royale: A Japanese book translated into English. Was a bestseller in Japan. Sort of an action/thriller with a Lord of the Flies twist. The scene is an alternate version of Eastern Asia, where a totalitarion government controls every aspect of their culture. Every year, one class of 40 middleschoolers are placed on an island, where they must all kill each other. The government claims to force them to do this for research purposes. Also, the kids have to do it, or the collars they are wearing around their necks will explode. Pretty grim, pretty horrific, but very interesting and exciting. At first I was quite shocked by the graphic violence in the book, but then the story pulled me along. While you can tell its a translated book, and the words would flow much better in Japanese, it still works. Basically, its an action thriller that begets some interesting sociological questions of how far we are willing to go to survive.

The Brother's K, by David James Duncan. This book was incredible. I haven't stayed up for until 4 am reading a book for a long time, untll this Brothers K fell into my hands. The last time I was this suprised or delighted by a book to this degree was when I read The Power of One by Bryce Caron. Brothers K examines so many issue, and contains too many interesting characters to explain. Suffice to say it deals with baseball, family bonds, the horrors of war, the dangers of fundamentalist religion, and lots more. While loosely connected to the Brothers Karamazov, the connection is still there, and I would recommend this book to everyone!

Great Irish Stories of the Supernatural I found this anthology at my Grandma's, and she let me keep it. I was blown away. Within are great stories of ghosts, the Sidhe, faeries, devils, and mysteries, that only the Irish can recreate. I felt like I was back in Tully again. Some famous Irish authors included in the work are James Joyce, WB Yeats, Frank O'Conner, John Millington Synge, and Bram Stoker. An excellent read for anyone of Irish descent.

The Way to Rainy Mountain. A collection of stories and myths of the Kiowa Native American tribe. The Kiowa's were a horse-riding, buffalo-hunting people who resided in the Central mid-west. Interesting stories, interesting history. A little slow at times, but I was fascinated by the way thier legends were similar to many other indigenous peoples. Another piece of evidence supporting the collective unconscious I guess. A good book for anyone who likes folktales.

The One True Thing, Anna Quindlen. It was made into a movie in the 90's, which I never saw. Its the story of a woman who she finds herself volunteering to take on the chore of caring for her mother while she is dying of cancer. Slow at first, then compelling. I thought that the author dealt with the topic with an appropriate balance of gritty reality and sensitivity to the subject. While a bit heavy, I think its a beautiful story, particularly apt for those who have had to deal with death and loss firsthand.

Monday, May 22, 2006
conversation of the Day

So the managing copy editor and I are commiserating about how insane our projects at work are, and she says,
"it must be hard for you to be caught in the middle of these crazy groups of women who are yelling at each other all day."

To which I responded,
"Are you kidding? I grew up in an Irish Catholic family with 2 sisters, an overbearing mother, and like 30 aunts. I've been yelled at and bossed around by crazy women ever since the day I was born."

We both laughed about this for like 10 minutes, then sighed, and went about our work. Then, realizing how true this actually was for me, I went out to find a nip of baileys or whiskey I could pour into my coffee.

Saturday, April 29, 2006
Invisible Children

No, this is not the title of a new comic book I started reading or a short story that I came up with. This is the title of a brilliant documentary that I saw last weekend, which brought a tear to my eye and rocked my world.

Invisible Children was filmed by 3 students who went to Uganda and came across a horrible, tragic phenomena that is happening there. Every day, a multitude of kids must traverse insane distances to sleep in public places in the city or risk being kidnapped by rebel forces in Uganda. What happens to the children, as they are indoctrinated into the rebel army (called the Lord's Resistance Army I believe) is just too awful to describe.

Anyway, I have a weakness for little kids, and I can't stand it when they suffer. So thanks to this movie I've a new cause added to my list (I can only handle a few more!) Tonight in Grant park, there are many people (including me) going to camp out there as a sign of solidarity for these kids, and also a little letter writing campaign. Corny maybe, but the thought of kids being kidnapped and tortured....well, we can't just do nothing, can we? So I'm in, and I suggest that anyone who reads this should take a look at the cause as well. Donate money. Donate time. Every thing you can do helps. The website is:
I would urge you to check it out, and get your hands on the movie if at all possible.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

So yesterday I had the opportunity to go see the band Guster, whom many of my friends enjoy. It was on Loyola's campus, and tickets only costed $5. (Guster tickets generally go from around $35-70) Quite a deal, especially since it wasn't too crowded and we were like 5 feet away from the stage. Apart from feeling like I was 10 years older than everyone else around me (besides my roommate Nick and my friends Cheryl and Brooke), it was an awesome show.

Before the concert, the only Guster song I knew was 'Demons'. (although in all fairness, I liked that song quite a great deal) Yet I was really impressed by the way the band performed, their musical skill and versatility, how they seemed to enjoy being on stage with each other and getting the crowd to sing along. After the blitzkreig of arrogant and talentless pop/rockstars that dominate the media, it was refreshing to see a successful band just wanting to play their music and have fun.

Plus, they are socially conscious, and are running a very cool sustainable/environmental non-profit, which I can always get behind. Anyway, just my thoughts. I'm glad that I got to see their show (if only so I could see what my friend Cheryl was so obsessed about). I know they have a website, so check them out when you can.

Monday, April 10, 2006
Reading List (updated)

Well, I'm about three quarters of the way through wading through the ocean of books that I've checked out from the Chicago Public Library, and I thought I would update this blog with my thoughts on each work that I've finished. Of course, I decided to add more books to the list about half-way through. Ah well, what can you do? Here's where I'm at:

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. Excellent book. Really, it was almost two different books, one about a kid trying to find Truth in its many Faces, (a philosophy I can definitely get behind) and another about a heroic struggle to survive. Basically, the book rocked my world. Especially the ending. It begs the question of how much truth is too much, and whether myths can in essence have more 'truth' than mere facts. [spoiler ahead] I was a little dissapointed to learn that Pi was, in fact, a totally fictional character. I had hoped that his story in part might be based on an actual living person's harrowing account of rescue at sea. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Yann Martel's story was true, from a certain point of view. (as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say) "All writers use lies to tell the truth," was a line in the recent film adaptation of V for Vendetta. Never was the case more true for this book. An excellent read that I would recommend to everyone.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving. A fun, quick read. Washington Irving uses vivid imagery and flowing prose to bring to life a post-Colonial Dutch community. I felt I could see the golden-red leaves, taste the wind, here the raucous laughter of rough and read Dutch Farmers...and feel the gaze of the Headless Hessian as he traced my steps on a moonlit night. Very quick read, that I would recommend to anyone around Halloween!

The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. Fun. Not awe-inspiring or terribly thought-provoking, but fun. These 18 short stories deal with many Bradbury themes, such as the importance of fiction, Mars, the USA's colonial experience, racism (in a Sci-fi sort of way), the evils of book-burning, and Poe.

The Lord of the Flies, William Golding. Holy shit. This book was what caused me to take a break from Screwtape Letters. It was awesome, but whew! I can still hear the boys chanting "Kill the pig, drink its blood!" The Lord of the Flies lurks in all of us, buzzing, wheedling, whispering in the dark corners of our mind. That doesn't mean that we listen to him. Golding did an excellent job here. This story is...true. It never happened, but its true none the less. While I normally love books that point out that every person has the capability for heroism and holiness, it is also necessary to read books that demonstrate the darkness inherent in every man. This book is like a vivid painting, beautiful, terrible, and lasting.

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. Not bad. The stories are all different, but all formulaic. I liked them, but was a much bigger fan of Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dandelion Wine. (and of course Farenheidt 451)

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Of all the books I've read recently, this one suprised me the most by how much I enjoyed it. F. Scott Fitzgeral can write, and write well, but that is merely the vehicle in which this story is delivered. The haunting nostalgia, the fading lights and faint laughter, the gray hours in the late night after a party has sputtered and died...these images and ideas spoke to me, haunted me. Gatsby is told by the protagonist that he cannot reclaim the past. To which he indignantly replies

"Of course you can!"

This refusal to give in, to try to subvert the world into one's vision, to never give up the heaven we wish to make on Earth, is tragic and doomed. I see in Gatsby's struggle something noble, if misguided. It is an attempt to reclaim the past, by living in fairy tale world of ethereal lights, fake beauty, and glamourous, shallow illusion. I think our generation, with its priviledge, pomp, and knowledge, must often struggle with the fake "MTV-ness" that allures and bombards us constantly through the media. We experience Gatsby's great dilemna, and hopefully will not submit to its sirenic call.

The Learning Tree, by Gordon Parks. Awesome. This book should be required reading in every high school in the USA. Its characters tell a beautiful story, a story of struggle, nobility, and the harshness of life. [spoilers ahead] It should be noted that, for me, this book mirrors (in tone and story) To Kill a Mockingbird. In the Learning Tree, a white man is on trial for a crime that a black man committed, and the reverse is true for TKM. (and in both trials, the right or left-handedness of the man is used as evidence for his innocence-how I first noticed the parallel) By mirroring, I mean that this book almost seems to be To Kill a Mockingbird told through a black man's eyes. We feel what its like to see the world through Newt Winger instead of Scout Finch. We experience racism firsthand, rather than as reported by a little white girl. And honestly, much as I liked TKM as a film and book, I like Newt's view better.

Thursday, March 23, 2006
Reading List

Well, I got sick of re-reading all my favorite old books and waiting for my favorite authors to write new ones, so I decided to go to the library and pick up some novels that I've been meaning to get around and read. I walked around and the list grew and grew. At work, (the Great Books Foundation), it is a common question to ask what each other is reading. I always forget what I've read, so that is in part the purpose of this list/blog.

Here's what I left the library with, and what I think of each book so far:

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel. Wow, I can tell this book is going to be great. 2 days, and I'm already halfway through. I've often entertained the idea of being a member of all religions (not just Irish Catholic), and it was refreshing to find a kindred spirit in Pi.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving. I saw the cartoon when I was a little kid, and the cool-looking but awful-written Tim Burton movie. So finally, I decided to see where they all came from. Pretty neat so far, Washington Irving is like America's first folklorist.

The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury. Already halfway through this anthology of short stories, with a cool premise (each tatto on a stranger tells a different story). Actually, one of them, The Veldt appears in our own Junior Great Books collection, a gruesome, interesting, insightful tale. Very cool.

The Lord of the Flies, William Golding. I read this in high school, but wanted to read it again with fresh eyes, not the eyes of a whiny, tired out kid who is pulling all honors classes, three sports, and a early morning weightlifing class who hated this book. The older me is definitely enjoying it so far, but it is a CHILLING read.

The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. Pretty cool beginning, but not that far into it. I do enjoy Bradbury though, ever since I read the unforgetable Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Once again, read it in high school, didn't like it. Hopefully will have a new experience with more patient, mature eyes. Haven't started yet though.

The Learning Tree, by Gordon Parks. I've had numerous people recommend this book to me. So I finally caved. I will start it soon!

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