Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week

   It is, once again, Banned Books Week. Stand up for the freedom of information and speech. Here is the place to go to in order to see what is currently being challenged in the U.S. 
Let us remember the wonderful books that were once banned or currently challenged. Education is a wonderful thing as long as the young minds have access to all types of subjects. Obviously, anything that might be a directive for specific harm should be monitored, but generally that is a gray subject. Also, if a book is being touted as non-fiction when it is actually fiction, then it must be brought to light. The debate on what is acceptable and what is not could go on forever. It is important to keep in mind that, just because you disagree with something, doesn't necessarily make it bad. It is just like the parents who refused to let their children listen to a speech on the value of education by President Obama. It is sad when parents withhold information just because they don't agree with the person delivering it or the subject for that matter. They may hide topics they oppose. Eventually, the child will grow up and be exposed to this information. Wouldn't it be better to open a dialogue on the  topic so your offspring can be fully informed enough to make up their own mind? A well informed student will become a well informed adult. Educational balance is very important for intelligent, functioning adults. Our leaders need to know about the world they live in....every sordid detail.
Here is a very short list of formerly or currently banned books. 
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth 

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Seeing the World Anew

     Many people walk through life unaware. They go through the routine, they complain, eat, sleep, work and relax. Routine is a comfort to many people. Vacations, a nice respite, can have an undertone of anxiety. People will worry about money, accidents or any number of problems that can interrupt routine. Putting your energy into what you don't want, only gives it power over you. Many organized religions, corporations and any number of groups will use fear in order to dominate, control or to suppress. Anarchy and chaos would surely destroy civilization, they surmise.
     Now, take a step back and see the world through the eyes of an artist. The artist sees the world through their art.
     The writer will see the world in words. They use words to paint a picture and bring it alive. They create emotional dramas or vignettes of serenity.They will use prose to assist a reader in their visualization of a scene.
     The painter will see the world in color. They will use the canvas as a scene. Using color, or lack of  color, they will fashion a moment in time. A piece of the world as they see it. Color, texture and light combinations can draw the viewer into their world. It can be a realistic depiction of everyday life or a fantasy piece from the artist's imagination.Like the painter, the sketch artist will use their pencil or charcoal as an avenue to recreate a picture from life or imagination. They can use the graphite to form simulated texture and shape.
     The photographer sees the world through the lens of a camera. They will use lighting, color, and filters to generate a snapshot of life. The photographer can use various angles and still life in order to offer new perspectives to a subject.
     The musician will see the world through pitch, frequency and harmony. The composer will evoke an emotional response utilizing instruments and rhythm. The musician can also use lyrics in order to clarify and define the musical piece. Along the same lines, the vocalist will use pitch and tone in order to portray a mood and accompany a melody. The singer may sing a cappella without the aid of instruments. The vocal resonance will consummate the aria on its own merit. 
  The fashion designer is also an artist. Clothes are constructed by design using fabric, buttons,thread, color, texture and anything else the designer fancies. The layout and cut of the cloth is just as important as the cloth itself. Some designs are geometric and plain. Yet, they are important parts of an ensemble. People decide how they want to look. What image do they want to project? People will choose their outfits to fit the occasion. A formal or informal party will dictate the style a person will select.  
   The actor is an artist who transforms the face, hair and voice in order to elicit a mood. A good actor feels the part. The actor becomes one with the scene as if he or she were actually experiencing it. A professional thespian makes it look easy. The viewer will be drawn into the scene as if they were really there. 
     The hairdresser uses the hair as her canvas. Using scissors, color and ingenuity, she fashions the style to portray a person's individuality. Hair is an important part of a person's essence. The stylist plays an essential role in an individual's self confidence. 
   The culinary artist uses the taste buds in order to create a delectable meal. Using a recipe, the cook will combine any number of spices, condiments and foodstuff together to make a culinary masterpiece. There is a difference between eating to live and living to eat. Savoring a great meal is a wonderful way to unwind after a hard day. The chef, not only uses food, but also compliments the meal with creative beverages. Wine, coffee and deserts are an important part of a well planned cuisine. 
     An architect is also an artist. Look at the classic architecture in Italy, France and Greece. There are many architectural styles of past and present. Some people love the old Gothic styles used during the renaissance (myself included). Some love the modern, Frank Lloyd Wright styles.The architect must combine style with function in order to add to the aesthetics and utilitarian layout of a well planned city. 
     Now, take the filmographer. This person will combine all the creative avenues together. Movies use music, cinematography, artistic set design, costume design and human emotion. The success of a film is dependent on all creative avenues. An actor is only as good as the script. The script cannot stand alone without the successful backdrop and so on. 
    The common denominator that all artists use is the ability to evoke emotion. Using their art, they draw out an emotional response from the audience. If they cannot do this, they are not fully utilizing their art. It does not matter what the emotion is. It could even be apathy. If an individual is sparked  in some way by art, then the art has, at the very least, did its job. Even if you are not a creative person, you can surely appreciate the artist. How boring the world would be without the artist's input. Using our senses, we absorb the world around us. The artist uses the senses in order to make our world a bit more interesting. They make us more aware of the world around and inside us. 
   Here's a wonderful example of how an artist used junk in order to create fascinating shadow art.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Year of Twain

“I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835,” Mark Twain wrote in 1909. “It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’” With this eerie prediction, Samuel L. Clemens did indeed die in the year of the comet on April 21, 1910. One hundred years later, Mr. Twain's legacy is surfacing again. One of Mark Twain's dying wishes was the publication of his personal, outspoken and revelatory autobiography. He devoted the last ten years of his life writing it. Not wanting to face the readers of this candid, tell-all book, Twain chose to have it locked away for a century. He felt that 100 years was adequate enough time to allow his words to simmer. He, most likely, would have been pleasantly surprised to learn that he is as popular as ever in the next century as he was in the last. His publications have survived social changes and book banning. The world is a different place than it was in Twain's day. Yet, simultaneously, human nature remains as complex and dynamic as ever. Mark Twain had a deep understanding of this.
     The creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn  left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit the book stores for at least a century.
   The wait is over, and in November the University of California, Berkeley, where the manuscript is in a vault, will release the first volume of Mark Twain's autobiography. The eventual trilogy will run to half a million words, and shed new light on this uncommon novelist from another time.
  In order to honor Mark Twain, support your local independent bookshop Twain wrote about common folk who made their own adventures, off the beaten path. With the major chain stores, electronic books and the like, the independent shops of all types are being squeezed out.However, it is the locally owned, self-reliant shops that exists for the community. The corporate run stores care about the bottom line, first and foremost. They are motivated by manufacturer kick-backs and popular genres over intelligent, high quality merchandise. The chains are homogenizing the world, one community at a time.Patronizing the local shops is a way of reclaiming individuality and art for the sake of art. The local shop is going up against the corporate giant  armed only with a knowledgeable passion for success. They truly care about what they do. So, keep this in mind when you decide your next purchase. Check out the local shops first and support your community. Ever wonder where a local shop is when traveling? Check this out! If you find a great local shop, you can add it for free!