Teaser Tuesday: See by Jamie Magee

seeThis week’s teaser comes from See by Jamie Magee.

“I’d stopped talking about the whispers when I was thirteen; by then, I’d discovered how to muffle them: headphones. In the beginning, it was only when I listened to my father’s music, but as the months and years passed, I found that almost any music–at least music with a guitar–could hinder the fearful sounds around me.'”

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read

    realswellblog.com
    realswellblog.com
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Advertisement

Musical Monday: Counting Stars by One Republic

“Counting Stars”

[Chorus]
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Yeah, we’ll be counting stars

[Verse 1]
I see this life
Like a swinging vine
Swing my heart across the line
In my face is flashing signs
Seek it out and ye shall find

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told

I feel something so right
By doing the wrong thing
And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

[Chorus]
Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars

[Verse 2]
I feel the love
And I feel it burn
Down this river every turn
Hope is our four letter word
Make that money
Watch it burn

Old, but I’m not that old
Young, but I’m not that bold
And I don’t think the world is sold
I’m just doing what we’re told

And I feel something so wrong
By doing the right thing
I could lie, could lie, could lie
Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly

[Chorus]
Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars

Oh, oh, oh.

[Bridge 4x:]
Take that money
Watch it burn
Sing in the river
The lessons I learned

Everything that kills me makes me feel alive

[Chorus]
Lately I been, I been losing sleep (hey!)
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard (hey!)
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin’ hard
Said no more counting dollars
We’ll be, we’ll be counting stars

[Outro 4x:]
Take that money
Watch it burn
Sing in the river
The lessons I learned

 

Book Review: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

brave new worldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley

Goodreads Description: Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s prophetic novel of natural man in an unnatural world, is one of the twentieth century’s most profound and terrifying evocations of the future. This story of life in a streamlined Eden describes a civilization in which contemporary concepts of freedom and morality have become obsolete.

Modern Library Top 100 Rank: 5

My Review:

The book, written in 1931, is incredibly prophetic beginning with its description of human life created in a lab. No doubt it had seemed like a radical idea at the time, but less than fifty years later the first human would be conceived in a test tube within a sterile environment similar to one Huxley described. It’s a process known as IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), and it has fulfilled the dreams of many couples who couldn’t conceive naturally. With IVF, conception occurs outside the womb with the fertilized egg being returned to the mother’s uterus to develop as nature intended. I applaud science for finding a way to bring hope to couples who have had trouble conceiving, but I hope I don’t live to see a world where a BOKANOVSKY type process comes to fruition. Huxley’s novel takes the process to a terrifying level with its Hatchery and Conditioning center.

First Sentence: “A squat grey building of only thirty-four stories. Over the main entrance the words, CENTRAL LONDON HATCHERY AND CONDITIONING CENTRE, and in a shield, the World State’s motto, COMMUNITY, IDENTITY, STABILITY.”

The centre is a place where humans are artificially conceived and bottled in jars during gestation. Many are preselected at conception for a lower class, a process known as “bokanovskification”, where they are treated like a commodity and mass-produced in an assembly line of sorts, subjected to substandard environmental conditions at the embryonic stage to cause arrested development in mental and physical acuity, and conditioned via Pavlovian methods after “birth” to be suited and satisfied with their position in life.

Because of this, the family structure no longer exists. “Parent” is a foreign concept along with all the emotional ties of that familial bond. If you are a parent, think of the first time you heard your child say “Mama” or “Dada.” For me, it is one of the most beautiful words in the human language because of the depth of emotion and protective instinct that is tied to it. It stirs up feelings in me that I cannot even begin to put into words.

By artificially controlling the natural development of humans, we lose everything that makes each of us unique and suppress the potential for great ideas and innovation. By disallowing natural bonds to form like parent/child, husband/wife, we destroy the concepts of unconditional love, loyalty, and devotion.  

In the book, the leaders of society have created a utopia where everyone is content. A person’s purpose is manufactured through conditioning for the benefit of the community. Even a person’s emotions can be manufactured by popping a pill called Soma if they are depressed or having a VPS (Violent Passion Surrogate) treatment to stimulate the adrenals.

“What you need,” the Savage went on, “is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.

Exposing what is mortal and unsure to all that fortune, death and danger, even for an eggshell. Isn’t there something in that?” he asked, looking up at Mustapha Mond. “Quite apart from God—though of course God would be a reason for it. Isn’t there something in living dangerously?”

“There’s a great deal in it,” the Controller replied. “Men and women must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.”

“What?” questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.

“It’s one of the conditions of perfect health. That’s why we’ve made the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.”

“V.P.S.?”

“Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It’s the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconveniences.”

“But I like the inconveniences.”

“We don’t,” said the Controller. “We prefer to do things comfortably.”

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.”

It’s frightening how prophetic this book is when you think about it. Don’t think so? Let’s name a few mood altering drugs on the market today: Zoloft, Xanax, and Prozac. They’re really not too different from Soma, are they? I haven’t taken any of them, but I’ve heard acquaintances gush about how wonderful they are because they don’t worry about anything. They are just so happy, albeit a “manufactured” happy. What about adrenal stimulation? Video games, anyone? Especially combat games where the threat of death is simulated. The same can be said of horror or action movies.

These things may seem innocuous. After all, antidepressants aid people suffering from depression, video games improve hand-eye coordination, reaction time and decision-making, and movies create empathy; but when we partake in such large doses and they prevent us from dealing with reality, it becomes an issue.  

Yes, Huxley’s Brave New World is frightening indeed, and when I think of the state of morality as displayed by many celebrities, people on reality TV, and society in general, I wonder how far we are from it, really.

4 of 5 stars

Word of the Day: desiccate

des·ic·cate verb \ˈde-si-ˌkāt\

des·ic·cat·ed
des·ic·cat·ing

Definition of DESICCATE

transitive verb
1: to dry up
2: to preserve (a food) by drying : dehydrate
3: to drain of emotional or intellectual vitality
intransitive verb
: to become dried up
des·ic·ca·tion \ˌde-si-ˈkā-shən\noun
de·sic·ca·tive \ˈde-si-ˌkā-tiv\adjective
des·ic·ca·tor \ˈde-si-ˌkā-tər\noun
 

Examples of DESICCATE

  1. dryasdust prose desiccates what is actually an exciting period in European history>
  2. <add a cup of desiccated coconut to the mix>

Origin of DESICCATE

Latin desiccatus, past participle of desiccare to dry up, from de- + siccare to dry, from siccus dry — more at sack

First Known Use: 1575
 
 
The Word of the Day started with this post.

Quote of the Week: Confucious

Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see.”~  Confucious

Here are a few random pictures I took near my home in September. I was playing with my camera, trying to use something other than the auto setting, but those pictures didn’t turn out so well. Maybe it’s time for a photography class.

Bridge creekside (2)  moth on flower moth on flower 2   post base sunflower5 sunflower 3 sunshine through clouds  waterfall waterfall2 waterfall3 pond2trail vegetationcreekside vegetation

Word of the Day: detritus

de·tri·tus noun \di-ˈtrī-təs\

: the pieces that are left when something breaks, falls apart, is destroyed, etc.

plural de·tri·tus \-ˈtrī-təs, –ˈtrī-ˌtüs\

Full Definition of DETRITUS

1: loose material (as rock fragments or organic particles) that results directly from disintegration
2
a: a product of disintegration, destruction, or wearing away : debris

b: miscellaneous remnants : odds and ends <sifting through the detritus of his childhood — Michael Tomasky>

de·tri·tal \-ˈtrī-təl\adjective

Examples of DETRITUS

  1. the detritus of ancient civilizations
  2. As he packed, he sifted through the detritus of a failed relationship.

Origin of DETRITUS

French détritus, from Latin detritus, past participle of deterere

First Known Use: 1802
The Word of the Day started with this post.

Book Review: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

of mice and menOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Back Cover Blurb: They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

Goodreads Description: Of Mice and Men takes us into the lives of George and Lennie, two farm workers set out to find their way to a new life. In true Steinbeck form, this short novel explores both loyalty and the transient nature of mankind.

I hadn’t read this book since high school. I won’t say exactly how long ago that was, but it’s been a while. I read it again in April 2013, armed with new knowledge of writing rules, to see if I could understand what makes this book a classic.

What writing rules came to mind during my second read of this book?

 Don’t phoneticize regional or cultural dialects. And yet, I can’t imagine reading this without the phonetic dialogue. “We’re going to live off of the fat of the land, George,” doesn’t have the same effect as: “We’re gonna live offa the fatta the lan’, George.” It not only shows that Lennie is mentally challenged, but I can even hear the innocence, in his voice.

I thought the dialogue was brilliant. There was so much lying under the surface of what was spoken. Candy, the elderly, crippled handyman on the farm where Lennie and George work had this to say of his aging, crippled, sheep herding dog:

I ought to of shot that dog myself, George. I shouldn’t ought to of let no stranger shoot my dog.

After my second read, I still agree with its ranking as a classic. What makes it so? A classic is defined as something that retains its worth over time, and where literature is concerned, a classic addresses a theme of timeless quality. The themes of friendship, loneliness, and the pursuit of a dream are universal and will resonate with readers.

We all dream of our own little slice of heaven on earth, and whether that is a few acres of land or a little reading nook matters not, as long as it’s a place where the harsh realities of a cruel world cannot reach.

This is a heart-wrenching story of an unlikely friendship between a pair of migrant farm workers. George and Lennie are physical and intellectual opposites, but incredibly loyal to each other.  Lennie is a contradiction beginning with his last name: Small. Physically, he is anything but small, but mentally he is limited. He has the mind of a young child, and like a young child he has an overabundance of innocence and loyalty. George is the brains of the duo, and although he is much smaller in stature he is the protector. He makes it his mission to buy a farm where the two of them can live, independent of the outside world and unexposed to its merciless nature.

The title of the book is derived from the poem To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough written by Robert Burns in 1786. It’s an apology to the mouse for destroying her home. In relation to Steinbeck’s book, two stanzas of the poem stand out in particular.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee
startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren’t alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.

Although George and Lennie are unlikely companions, opposites in almost every aspect, they share this dream of owning their own land. It is the possibility of achieving that dream that bonds them together, but even the best laid plans often go awry.

 4 of 5 stars

Word of the Day: etiolate

eti·o·late transitive verb \ˈē-tē-ə-ˌlāt\

eti·o·lat·ed
eti·o·lat·ing

Definition of ETIOLATE

1: to bleach and alter the natural development of (a green plant) by excluding sunlight
2
a: to make pale

b: to deprive of natural vigor : make feeble

eti·o·la·tion \ˌē-tē-ə-ˈlā-shən\noun

Examples of ETIOLATE

  1. <the long, stressful days and sleepless nights gradually etiolated him>

Origin of ETIOLATE

French étioler

First Known Use: 1791
The Word of the Day started with this post.

Conversations with My Kids: The Key to the Magic Kingdom

I was reading the post It Might Look Like Random Crap over at Ionia Martin’s blog Readful Things the other day. She was discussing the random things she cares about, and the first image she posted was a key. It reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter a few weeks before her sixth birthday.

Me: What would you like for your birthday?

She contemplated the question for a moment, and this is what she said:

CJ: The key to the magic kingdom.

She doesn’t ask for much, does she? I was expecting something simple like a Barbie or a bike, or perhaps some clothes for the little fashionista, but certainly not this. Where does one find the key to the magic kingdom? No ordinary key will do. We’re talking the mother of all keys!

I told my sister about my daughter’s unusual request and she said, “Oh lord! Well, don’t worry. I’m going to find it.”

Being the wonderful aunt she is, she set out to locate it. Her quest took her to far away, and perilous places, places no mere mortal would dare go. Seriously. Have you ever been to Walmart? It’s downright terrifying. All manner of hideous creatures can be found loitering in the aisles. And if you happen to brave the place on Black Friday, you are putting yourself in grave danger. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I don’t shop at Walmart and I don’t set foot in any store on Black Friday.

But my sister was courageous, and after many valiant attempts to locate the key, she eventually she found it. No, it couldn’t be found at a place as common as Walmart. It was masquerading as a home decor item in an obscure little boutique, but my sister knew of its worth upon sight. This was the key to the magic kingdom, no doubt. Or at least that’s what she, and most importantly my daughter, believed.

Here is what the magical key looks like:

magic kingdom keyOkay, so maybe it’s not actually the key to the magic kingdom, but one thing I know for certain: my little girl has the key to my heart.

Word of the Day: felicitous

fe·lic·i·tous adjective \fi-ˈli-sə-təs\

Full Definition of FELICITOUS

1: very well suited or expressed : apt <a felicitous remark>
2: pleasant, delightful <felicitous weather>
fe·lic·i·tous·ly adverb
fe·lic·i·tous·ness noun
Examples of FELICITOUS
  1. a felicitous combination of flavors
  2. <a felicitous accompaniment to dinner is provided by a harpist on weekends at the restaurant>

First Known Use of FELICITOUS

1789
The Word of the Day started with this post.