19 February 2010

And This Might Get Me To Go To Bed Early

It must be the week of mellifluous British voices, because I found a nice, soothing way to get ready to sleep - the BBC's Bedtime Story series. Below is a link to one read by David Tennant, but there are also some with Richard Armitage and Rupert Penry-Jones. Enjoy!

If only I could get this as a podcast!

16 February 2010

I Might Not Hit Snooze If I Had This Alarm Clock

I'm currently on a bit of a Jeeves & Wooster binge at the moment and came across this wonderful alarm clock. It wakes you up with the sound of Stephen Fry wishing you "Good Morning." How brilliant is that?

10 February 2010

The Review I Promised On Facebook, Even Though A Lot Of It Is About Me

Often reviews become more about the reviewer than about what is being reviewed, possibly because a review is based in the individual’s response to the work. This review of The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker is one of those. I can’t find a way to separate my thoughts about the book from my thoughts about me. So I apologize in advance, since I’m sure you came looking for my opinions about the book and are probably going to end up with a long, self-referential collection of random thoughts.

First and foremost, Ms. Baker is an excellent storyteller. If you haven’t heard them before, go straight to her website and listen to “The Fortune Cookie Story” and “Babies Buying Babies.” The former had me laughing so hard I cried and I fully intend on making my future students read and/or listen to the latter. In fact, I think every person in the United States should read/listen to “Babies Buying Babies” but I won’t tell you why, since that would kind of ruin the impact of the story. Anyway, storytelling is one of Ms. Baker’s strengths and it is apparent in her memoir. She weaves together past and present, childhood and adulthood together quite effectively. She engages the reader (i.e. me) with a voice that is simultaneously familiar and unique. If you are looking for a collection of well-crafted stories, you’ll enjoy this book.

I enjoyed this book, but it also made me a little uneasy. It took me a while to pinpoint the source, partly because I always experience a bit of general discomfort when reading memoirs – in the entering and exploring of a different life and way of thinking. More than that, however, was the fact that she was discussing our shared religion very openly and frankly on a national stage. I am a little sensitive about the pressure that comes with being part of the LDS faith. Not overly sensitive – I generally dismiss pop culture references and actually liked the storyline with the LDS character on House (although I sincerely wish that writers would do actual research about the religion and the Church before writing). But I do have issues with individuals who talk about being LDS and then act in a way that is completely opposite to the doctrines of the religion, like that girl on The Real World lo those many years ago (was it really 10? How time flies!). Ms. Baker’s memoir falls somewhere in between. I can respect that someone struggles with his or her faith and with aspects of a religion’s cultural traditions that can, at times, seem oppressive. But I also can’t deny there isn’t a part of me that wishes Ms. Baker hadn’t been quite so open and frank about her struggle. Obviously I don’t want to promote a false image of perfection or mindless compliance, but there is that moment of cringing every so often when I think about how a reader unfamiliar with our religion and faith will interpret what he or she is reading. Mostly because I don’t know how I’m interpreting what I’m reading. There is plenty to consider in Ms. Baker’s book, but here is what struck me the most.