In honor of the dismantling of DOMA…

Sorry I’ve been absent lately, life’s been busy. Anyways I think in the past week we’ve come a long way on equality. However, we have a long way to go! Don’t we always? The Supreme Court it seems was not ready to make gay marriage legal in all 50 states. Some woman on the news was like it’s a good thing they’re making this equality incremental like they did with civil rights. She totally thought she was being all pro gay rights etc. But in reality she was, as we’re calling it now, on the wrong side of history. I can’t possibly understand how she thought that the halt of equality now was a good thing, but anyways… Enough of my ranting on the subject.

I thought in honor of this I would review the book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls Essays, etc. by David Sedaris. The reason I picked this is for a couple reasons but I think most importantly is perhaps the essay that I really want to focus on in this post. “I Break for Traditional Marriage” was one of my favorite essays from the book. Sedaris is a satirist and so of course he picks things to satirize that are far from what he truly believes. For your information David Sedaris is gay, it’s important that you know this so that when I start to describe the story you don’t flip out at me for being homophobic. Also David Sedaris writes from other people’s points of view occasionally and this story is one of those times when he picked to write from a different point of view than his own.

At the beginning of the essay there is a man who, once gay marriage is announced as legal in New York, decides that his marriage to his wife means nothing. In his mind this renders the rest of his life meaningless. He then decides that if his life means nothing he must begin to cross things off from his bucket list. First of which is to kill his 30 something year old “stupid” daughter who still lives at home. His bucket list activities escalate in illegality from there. Eventually he gets arrested and he is then learns something surprising about gay marriage whilst in prison. I’m not going  to tell you what he learns because that would ruin the whole thing but it’s fantastically twisted!

Anyways the entire book is equally funny. Whilst reading this I was on a plane flying back to DC from Reykjavik, Iceland and I was that creepy obnoxious person who kept laughing out loud at their book. It was embarrassing but the book was totally worth it. I highly encourage all of you to purchase it from your local book store! Also, his collection Naked is also worth the read!

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Surviving exam week has been made all the easier by this song. Yes, I know it’s a few years old but… Enjoy, for those of you stressed out I hope it is a de-stressor.   

Birthday – Andrea Gibson

I think this speaks for itself. It’s beautiful, I’m not a cryer but I felt like I wanted to cry for this. This makes me want to be better. And with all that is wrong in this world, especially now, this speaks volumes. Andrea Gibson is inspiring and she is more than words can tell.

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Suburban War playlist

Just a playlist of stuff that I like right now… Enjoy. The playlist is named after a line from the first song.

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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Capture the Castle is a little known classic by Dodie Smith who also wrote A Hundred and One Dalmatians. Which probably explains why I love this book so much, when I was little I loved Dalmatians and so for me the disney movie A Hundred and One Dalmatians was that  movie that you watch everyday when you were a kid. Anyways I read this book a few years ago  and since then I have read it several times and it has become a well loved book with a warn cover and coffee stains on the pages of the book. It is a charming story set in the british country side in 1948 where things actually happen! I say that because in books like that often nothing happens…

The narrator is a young teenager named Cassandra. Her father with his first wife, and Cassandra’s mother, decided to rent this castle in the british countryside where they now live. Her father who is a writer has not been able to write another book since he faces writers block which has plunged his family and new wife, Topaz, into deep poverty. Cassandra’s sister Rose who is also a young woman is eager to get married and marry into money so that she can escape the poverty. Suddenly the land they live on has new landowners who are two young rich American brothers, Simon and Niel. Rose immediately begins to seek Simon’s affections, though she does not even like him, because he is the richer of the brothers and she professes that she would marry the devil if it would bring her out of poverty. Cassandra begins to also fall in love with Simon however her sister has staked her claim with him. A young farm hand, Stefan, is also taken with Cassandra and she must gently thwart his advances even though he is available and would be a very good match for her. Along the way the girls get up to lots of hijinks trying to convince the brothers that Rose is a suitable wife for Simon. They also start many schemes on how to pay the rent for the castle – including imprisoning their father to make him produce some writing.

The book is a fantastic one and I won’t reveal any more because I don’t want to ruin it for you, but there is a fabulous turn of events at the end of the book. You laugh at their hijinks, you feel Cassandra’s pain, and you wonder why she doesn’t choose the chiseled farm hand who is available.  Anyways if you like period drama pieces you will love this. It feels enchanting; like you have stepped into their world.

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MS MR

MS MRMore music. I found MS MR while I was watching Grey’s Anatomy… I know, although to be perfectly honest the person
who picks out the music for that show is kind of a musical genius. It’s kind of like the whole Twilight franchise, those movies I’m not really a fan of but the sound tracks – love it. Except I like Grey’s anatomy… Not a good metaphor. When I first heard MS MR I totally mistook it for Florence + the Machine except I was listening to the lyrics and realized it was not one of her songs. They’ve also been compared to the like of Bat for Lashes and Adele. So they’ve got big shoes to fill. Last year they released a four song album called Candy Bar Creep Show, which is fabulous. All of their songs are dark, shinny, ethereal. They have promised a full length album in 2013 and it is being released on May 14th. They are based in New York City and are described as a chill wave duo – whatever that means… Anyways if your looking for something with dark undertones, beautiful lyricism and melodies look up MS MR. Listen to a song off their new album below. Also if you like them, they are about to go on tour so go to their website and see if there is a show.

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Alt J

Alt-JNew musical obsession, nowhere near as bad as Tegan and Sara, but still  I am pretty obsessed. Alt J is the british band that recently won the Mercury Prize, so you know they’ve got to be good, with the oh so unique sound. I’ve never heard anything like it. It’s a little Vampire Weekend esque but that’s a very loose reference. Their first album, An Awesome Wave, came out in 2012 and it is amazing.       Alt J originally started as a band at Leeds University in Britain under the name FILMS. Since then they have signed a record label with Infectious Records and have won a Mercury award.

I think one of the things I like best about Alt J is the diversity in sound. The Sound often has a dream like quality a sort of floating sound. And then right when you’re getting into the dream like sound they go and change it with the loud ricochetting sound of the bass guitar  It’s fabulous, the songs never let you get comfortable, they have twists and turns. The other think that I really love about the sound is the vocals. Vocals are always important to me and these are especially fascinating to me. The vocals sound like something foreign and when I say foreign I have no idea what accent it is. People have commented on youtube I didn’t know this was in english! Anyways I love it: it’s different on so many levels.

I ususally listen to indie bands for a few reasons but one of them being that indie music generally seems more intelligent. And when I say intelligent I am talking about the lyrics, the lyrics make you think and they mean something unlike Call Me Maybe… I mean really Jepsen can’t think of anything but some boy that she wants to call her !?!?!? Alt J has an amazing repertoire of meaningful and nuanced songs that contain references to enthralling bits of knowledge. For example their song Fitzpleasure is a reference to the book Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Shelby. The song references the character Tralala. And in the song Tralala sounds just like the ohs and las of other songs except it’s a name. Each song gives you a chance to search for some meaning which just might lead you to something you didn’t know.

So Top 5 songs as of now:

1) Fitzpleasure

2) Taro

3) Tessellate

4) Breezeblocks

5) Acoustic version of Bloodflood

 

Anyways ready to hear some? Watch this video of Taro. This isn’t the official video although I really like the video for this. And are you ready for the obscure reference from this song? Taro was a war photojournalist from the 1950s. Her lover Capa was in the first indo china war and he retreated from his jeep to take photos and ended up stepping on a landmine and dying. The thing I really like about this song is the sort of Bollywood thing they’ve got going…

 

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The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose

By Kevin Roose

The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose is a extremely funny and fascinating book and a must read for anyone who has ever struggled with religion. That was cliché but I really think it suits this book. I struggle with religion for three reasons. And let me preface this with, I don’t care what people believe this is purely why I struggle with religion.  Firstly, people use their religion to discriminate and to justify their flagrant behavior. My second issue is specifically with christianity. My second issue is that a book, the bible, that condemns me, regardless of the fact that the church I go to accepts me, irks me. It just bothers me to know that the book that my church is based on condemns me. And if you’re wondering why I go to church the answer would be I’m under 18 so I do what my parents tell me to do, you have to pick your battles… And the last reason for my struggle is that I am hardwired to believe in science and I find myself incapable of believing both religion and science.

The Unlikely Disciple is about Kevin Roose’s , a Brown student’s, semester at Liberty College. If you don’t know what Liberty is Liberty is a christian and conservative college for evangelicals. So the reason I was fascinated by this book is because every summer I spend one week at a community service camp with very christian people, nothing like the people at Liberty but… And every summer I meet some really nice people and most of the time our beliefs are polar opposite on polotics, religion, morality, and humanitarian issues. Kevin Roose wanted to use his book as a tool to bridge the religious gap, to show that the evangelicals have a human side that they are not just hate-spewing people. The Unlikely Disciple is unique  in the sense that the book paints a fairly even picture of these people, they are neither portrayed as big cuddly teddy bears or vicious dogs. They are somewhere in between. They are human, that’s the point. And as you can imagine at a school where there is no drinking, no dancing, no smoking, no cursing, and no R – rated movies throwing a Brown student into the mix results in hilarity. Not to mention the dating etiquette, which includes a three second rule for hugging.  I must have looked like a crazy person reading this book laughing to myself all the time on the metro…

If you are at all interested in this book you should read it. It will not disappoint and it will have you in stitches. My hope is this book will someday be included in comparative religion classes.

Book Haul

Halló,

That’s icelandic by the way. I’m taking a trip there this summer and so I’m trying to get all psyched up about it. Anyways Im throwing icelandic in to mix it up a bit. Anyways here in Washington DC it was snowing, not that much sadly but, I love reading when it is snowing so I decided to put some books up. Recently I’ve been reading The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose, which is just fabulous and I’m nearly finished so I’ll put up a post about that soon. I am also reading The Great Gatsby  by F. Scott Fitzgerald (I’m not finished yet, so no spoilers please!) Anyways I thought I’d offer up a few books. Also, I have an important question that I want your opinion on.

So I realize that both of the books that I am recommending are of the macabre type, so sorry. They’re just the ones that I picked up out of the ones I haven’t blogged about.

The first is Tales of the Macabre by Edgar Allan Poe, illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe. I got this book for christmas, and though I haven’t read it I want to share it with you because it is illustrated. It’s pretty cool, it’s the darkest picture book ever! I don’t know there something about the dark underbelly of life that just fascinates me. And I should mention that not only am I a pessimist, I am also a cynic so I view a lot of my life in a sort of dark manner, so maybe that’s why it fascinates me. Anyways I’m excited to read it and if you like a good heaping side of the dark stuff then it is probably a good idea you read this. Here is one of the illustrations from the book: The black cat

The next book is called We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It is about a young girl named Merricat and what happened to her family. The mystery is deeply woven and she is such a strange child. The book is a fascinating look into this odd world that she lives in. Nearly all of her family is killed off and it is never clear till the end of the book who did it. Each character, each place, each event, each page and each word is an unraveling of the mystery. It is a long and delicate path to the sick truth, but each new discovery is a titillating shred of truth. I highly recommend it if you want something a little creepy and suspenseful but all at once wonderful.

by Shirley Jackson

by Shirley Jackson

And now, for my all important question. Have I given you enough suspense? Have I drawn it out just long enough? I should hope so. My question regards The Great Gatsby. And I only ask this because either I’m going crazy (which is highly possible) or there is something in the plot that everyone just decides to turn a blind eye to. I feel like I keep imagining some subplot that isn’t even there, but I’m putting the question to you all. Nick Carraway is something other than straight. I mean my english teacher essentially just glossed over the “what might be a gay sex scene”. And we’re not the type of school who won’t discuss LGBT issues etc., later on this year we are reading the Color Purple which if I understand correctly features a woman who is questioning her straight sexuality.  The scene in question is on page 38:

“…I was standing beside his bed and he was between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.

‘Beauty and the Beast … Loneliness … Old Grocery Horse … Brook’n Bridge…’

Then I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level of Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning Tribune  and waiting for the four o’clock train. ”  – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In this passage Nick is talking about a man he met at the night before. And this is not the only thing that leads me to think that Nick is something other than straight. He loves Gatsby’s smile, and he often notices things about men that a straight man would not. And to top it off, Jordan is also described to have a boyish figure. It all makes me think Nick is something other than straight, and that there is a subplot here. Everyone just seams to gloss over it and forget it. And some have said, what difference does it make? Would it change the meaning of the story? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it feels like such a prominent part of this book so far (chapter 5) and no one wants to talk about it. Your thoughts?

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