Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In This Post, I Talk Aimlessly About Books

I started a draft about my D.C./Texas trip back in the first week of November. I had images of tour groups on segways alongside all the marbled monuments and wrote briefly about how I thought segways were lazy and that no tour guide in New York would be caught dead in it (Seriously. The pedestrians would trample 'em – we stroll faster than segways on full speed.) I put quite a bit of effort into it and considered publishing the part I wrote but decided against it.

Truthfully, I've been very deflated lately. Cannonball Read 2 is over – it ended on November 1 – and I no longer have to read and write reviews on a deadline, so my blog now seems to lack purpose. The Pajiba staff highlighted the end of CBR2 and I was happy for everyone who made it to their 52nd book, and even to those who got close. Hell, I'm happy for anyone who tried (writing reviews is fucking hard.) But it made me sad that I couldn't bring myself to really care considering how excited I was about it in the beginning.

I have continued reading though. At first, I thought I would continue the Read until I reach the 52nd. But I prefer reading without pressure and reading without keeping track of what number that book is, so I threw that idea out.

Though I've mentioned that writing reviews are tough, I do enjoy them because sometimes I might not discover I have a certain thought about a book until after I've teased it out Blogger's blank space. So as much as I can (as much as I am motivated to), I think I should try and review the books I want to review, and even those that I don't necessarily want to review, but that I think might be interesting to others.

You know what I hate about writing blogs? How many times I say the word "I." It's incredibly self-indulgent and I often find myself trying to think up of synonyms for "I" without the sentence sounding awkward.

This digression aside, here are the books that have been keeping me preoccupied the past month:

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I don't remember Cat's Cradle; the only thing that saved Woodward's book from his bone-dry writing is the interesting insight we get to the White House on Afghanistan; and The Hunger Games was good and fun, but no Golden Compass. I will, however, still give the other two books in the trilogy a chance – I love Young Adult books (thanks for recommending them, Blakspring and Jen. K!)

Currently, I am reading War by Sebastian Junger. I am enjoying it immensely and I can't wait to write a review of it (this is where the reader says, "Hah, if that happens.") Junger was one of the directors of Restrepo, a documentary he directed with Tim Hetherington about a platoon of American soldiers on an outpost in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. I have yet to see the documentary, and the book is giving me serious regret for missing it when it came out during the summer.

There's not much else I can or will say about my life. I don't write about it here a lot - really, there's not much to write about. You know why I enjoy reading? Because, in most books, there is often a sense of purpose with each character, be they fictional or non-. That's why there are whole chapters written about them, about their adventures and failures. The characters may have failed, but they failed so spectacularly because they cared so much. If they win, or if there is a favorable conclusion, then more power to them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hopefully, Sanity Prevails

This past Saturday, me and 200,000 other people assembled at the National Mall for the Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear. This is how nuts it was:


BOOM! Saturday

Now, lots of people have asked me how the rally was for me. Truthfully, it was very cramped and uncomfortable because I was constantly surrounded by people taller than me and I really couldn't see a thing. I also got pretty cranky because I didn't eat before going, and I was jealous of the people who were standing near trees.

They were multiplying like bunnies! That's the same tree!

Despite being vertically-challenged, I am so happy to have gone, and was so proud of having been there to actually experience and support it. More than that, I was amazed at the turnout. It wasn't just young college-aged kids! There were a ton of older people, a ton of Southern accents and I was just so happy to have my preconceived notions about these two groups be wrong.

Since then, I haven't really paid attention to Internet chatter about the rally. Hell, I was there – why should I read some other person's analysis of it? However, someone mentioned to me that he was disappointed that it was mostly performances and not much political commentary. Frankly, I think having that expectation of the rally really misses the point of it.

When I heard about this back in September, it wasn't the prospect of the evisceration of conservatives (or Glenn Beck) that compelled me to rearrange my weekend plans (I had to be at a wedding in Texas on the 31st.) For me, it was an opportunity to show that I am one of the people in America who is disturbed by all the mindless shouting that we've been exposed to for the past two years. Seriously, I wouldn't have cared if all Stewart & Co. did was stand on stage and read the phone book. I was just so happy to be surrounded by people who felt that all the shouting and stupid punditry of the past two years has been harmful to our country. I mean, I sincerely hope that news organizations will get the message: We actually care about the news and we want you to rise above the fray. Stop grabbing at the lowest-hanging fruit.

The other message: Not all Americans are angry. Many of us also stand for progressive values and are willing to have a discussion about it. This might not have been talked about during the rally, but that wasn't the point. The point was that 200,000+ people showed up to stand elbow-to-elbow in an open field, to hold up silly signs and get jostled by the crowd for three hours. Why? Because we, the "normal" people, matter too.

Jon Stewart:
Do you want to know why I'm here and what I want from you? I can only assure you this – you've already given it to me: Your presence was what I wanted. Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. And to see you here today, and the kind of people that you are, has restored mine.

PS. I still have a post coming on my D.C. trip/Texas wedding. I managed to squeeze some sightseeing in between my sanity-restoring.

PPS. Yes, I am aware that I am writing this on a late Tuesday night, which means that I already know the election results. Yes, I still have faith – but believe me, watching the live coverage of the blood bath was not fun.