Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reading with Attitude

What were your early attitudes toward reading as you were growing up? Who do you think most shaped or affected your attitudes toward reading?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reading Memories

Some of our fondest childhood memories involve learning to read or listening as someone read to us. Describe an early reading memory at home with your parents, guardians, relatives, or siblings.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reading at Gate C49 - Denver Int'l

I dropped Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno in my carry-on bag—it’s a pirate story about a slave revolt that could be labeled narrative nonfiction. For some reason, it reminded me of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. Obviously, there’s Watchmen’s comic-within-comic pirate story, “The Black Freighter” where the stranded protagonist falls prey to insanity causing him to become as corrupt as the pirates he has escaped. But more than that, Cereno’s final section entitled “From a Narrative of Voyages and Travels . . .” is filled with pseudo documents, such as legal transcripts, depositions, and diary entries. The Watchmen is interspersed with bogus documents from fictional crime reports and psychological files to a celebrity autobiography entitled Under the Hood.

It’s busy in Denver . . . I only caught a few of titles around me.

A teenage boy in a red sweatshirt is devouring The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I thought this so weird (teenagers reading diet books?) that I had to go look it up. “Rather less 1984 and rather more Death Race 2000, [this] is a gripping story set in a postapocalyptic world where a replacement for the United States demands a tribute from each of its territories: two children to be used as gladiators in a televised fight to the death” ( – Now that makes more sense, considering Worlds of Warcraft, Halo, and the video game fare young men seem to enjoy.

The graying, loafer wearing husband of a mid-century couple is reading Five Minutes with Vito by Anthony Parinello, a how-to book about interacting with “Very Important Top Officers” (being an ex-exec the idea makes me just want to say, “Don’t act like an idiot” and “Get to the point!” His linen clad wife is perusing Stieg Larsson’s thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. “Did you know there are three books in this series?” she asks. Luckily, she started with the first.

Love is Frank to a severe looking woman clad in denim.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert now sports a cover with the actress playing the movie role and is being read by a woman who looks like Julia Roberts. I wonder if this traveler is going to Italy, India, or Bali to
find herself?

A crabby woman sporting a cast on her foot (hence the attitude) takes on The Lonely Polygamist: A Novel by Brady Udall. Books with “A Novel” in the title always make me wonder if people buying A Novel would otherwise think they are nonfiction. I mean is there a lonely polygamist? Not likely, especially in this book since the main character is a guy with four wives and 28 children.

What are you reading as you ride the bus, BART, or flying to some dreamy destination?

What are the people around you reading?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Owner Beware: Chinese Domain Name Fraud

How sweet . . . I just received an email from Angela at YGNetwork in Shanghai who is concerned that someone in China is trying to register my domain name with one of the many new extensions available to internet websites. It ain't just a .com world anymore.

Wow, I better respond. Maybe someday I'll be bigger than CraigsList or Amazon and really, really need those new-fangled extensions. I'll be so big that I'll need someone to manage all my domain names for me. I mean I'll be so busy going to meetings and flying all over tarnation I just won't have time. What's a girl to do?

I can picture Shanghai Angela, a pretty young Asian woman, wearing an impeccably tailored suit in her modern high rise office sipping green tea, and scouring the internet doing her due diligence for her sparkling reputable company, sending each unsuspecting domain owner a saccharine-laced email:

Dear Manager,

We are a Network Service Company which is the domain name registration center in Shanghai, China. On July,30th,2010, We received HUATAI Company's application that they are registering the name "xxxxxxonline" as their Internet Trademark and "","" ,""domain names etc.,It is China and ASIA domain names.But after auditing we found the brand name been used by your company. As the domain name registrar in China, it is our duty to notice you, so I am sending you this Email to check.According to the principle in China,your company is the owner of the trademark,In our auditing time we can keep the domain names safe for you firstly, but our audit period is limited, if you object the third party application these domain names and need to protect the brand in china and Asia by yourself, please let the responsible officer contact us as soon as possible. Thank you!

Kind regards

Angela Zhang

Angela Zhang

Registration Department Manager
3002, Nanhai Building 854.Nandan Road
Xuhui District, Shanghai
Office: +86 216296 xxxx
Fax: +86 216296 xxx

Should I hit respond? Maybe I should call Angela? No, First I'll forward this to my attorney and see what he has to say. DONE.

Well, first I should have put my thinking cap on, as Miss Nancy at Romper Room used to say, and Google "ygnetwork" -- OMG! It's a SCAM! How could that be? My faith in humanity is destroyed (sniff).

Instead of discovering I had a new cohort in Shanghai Angela, I found Angela was trying to Shanghai my domain name.

Domain owners beware!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Do graphic novels encourage reading?

After reading graphic novels such as Nevermore, a graphic novel featuring nine of Edgar Allan Poe's more popular horror stories, are you encouraged to read the original text? Does reading graphic adaptations persuade you to seek out other stories written by Edgar Allan Poe? Why or why not?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Media Punk'd by Poe

Edgar Allan Poe wrote a piece for the New York Sun about a "group of British adventurers who had built a propeller-driven balloon, had taken off to cross the English channel . . . and ended up being blown across the Atlantic to a beach in Virginia, thus effecting the first aerial transatlantic crossing. This was BIG news! The Sun's unnamed correspondent [Poe] was the first to . . . interview the intrepid airmen."

Soon other reporters were scrambling "down to Virginia and began cranking out their own exclusive interviews with the [ballooning] Brits. There was only one small problem: There was no balloon, no balloonists, and no transatlantic crossing." But the papers didn't care "they just wanted a hot story, even if they had to make it up" (Bloom Puppets).

Do you think today's newspaper journalists just make up stories? Do you ever embellish your essays to make them more interesting?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

What's your medium of choice?

Our society values the graphically visual medium. Even more so, we value graphics coupled with sound to receive information in the same way most of us navigate the world. Our news and entertainment is almost exclusively received via the television. It can be said that by diminishing textual mediums we have cheapened the word.

When studying authors like Poe do you think graphic novels like Nevermore do justice to the word pictures we create as we read his texts? Why? Or do you think our imaginations can do far more justice to the terror Poe attempts to invoke on his readers? Why?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Fiction as Truth

When Poe's story, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" was first published he failed to state that it was a fictional work. Instead he let his readers believe that through hypnosis a person could become trapped in their own body.

In 1938, the Orson Welles' radio broadcast of the sci-fi fantasy "War of the Worlds" about aliens invading earth caused a nationwide panic.

In Poe's case the public was prepared to accept the idea of performing surgeries using hypnotism as an anesthetic, a commonly reported phenomenon (albeit untrue). "War of the Worlds" played on the scientific explanation of a crowded universe where sentient alien beings living on Mars.

Have you ever read a fictional work that you thought was true? Why did you believe it was true and what did it cause you to do?

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Pit

Edgar Allan Poe's "Pit and the Pendulum" explores judicial corruption and torture during the Spanish Inquisition, while the updated comic Nevermore resets it in the modern era. How does the Iraq-war era effect the story's plot?
Does your observation of the news and other media sources sway your thinking? If so, how?
Is torture ever justified, or does torture let "all memory of freedom die . . . , smothered under a breathless weight of night"?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849

Why do you think Edgar Allan Poe became a horror writer?

Poe was orphaned as a toddler, but was taken in by a wealthy family. Although never formally adopted, his new mother loved him very much, but when she died, Poe was left with a stern disciplinarian of a foster father.

Poe dropped out of school because of gambling debts. He was disinherited by Allan after quarreling about his inheritance. He joined the military and was court martialed (on purpose). His childhood sweetheart married another man, so he married his 13-year-old cousin, who died young. He pretty much lived his adult life in poverty moving from one writing/editing job to the next.

How do you think these events led to Poe's preoccupation with horror and its related themes?

What events from your own life led you to your chosen career?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Little Terror Will Help You Grow Up Big and Strong

As a child we are frightened by creepy clowns and the evil hiding under our beds or the bogeymen inhabiting our closets. Our threshold for terror lies in the innocence of childhood. From walking home in the dark after a vampire film festival to getting lost at the shopping mall, dread dwells in the unexpected as we climb the scaffolds of our mind to the noose of terror that awaits us.

What's your fondest childhood fear?