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Out-of-Context Theatre, #1

Today, I was driving a student and she was flipping radio stations.

During one pause, before the Scan function took us away, I heard simply:

“Chuck Grassley for breakfast.”

I wish I knew the context, although I suspect it would be anticlimactic.

Picking Back Up

Hey, guess what? I’m still alive!

And I’ve been thinking lately that I kind of wished I was still blogging. So, here goes. Not about to touch any of the political nonsense going on in the world, but let’s talk books. Most interestingly, the kids’ books.

My 8-year-old daughter has been blazing through The Magic Tree House for the past year. She’s read them all. My 6-year-old son is developing an interest in Star Wars and origami, which naturally led us to the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger. He and I are reading those together. Meanwhile, my wife is reading the Qwikpick Papers series (also by Angleberger) with all three of the kids at bedtime.

My 4-year-old daughter is currently into Pinkalicious. On Friday, I chatted with one of the children’s librarians about that topic. She (the librarian, not my daughter) said that she’s often not sure about whether to get more of those. She’s sure that kids will check them out, but not sure how parents feel about them.

My response was, simply, that if the kids want to read them, then that’s good with me. To be honest, it might be better to have more of them, in that case, so that we’re not just reading the same ones over and over. They’re fun enough, and of course she’s going to outgrow them eventually. That’s the way things work. In the meantime, though, why bother objecting? For kids to love reading, they have to have books that they love. That’s how things work.

For my own part, I’m trying to get back to writing this year, and it’s been slow going. I was hoping to work on a short story every week, but haven’t really hit that point, yet. The school where my wife teaches, though, is putting out a collection this spring, and I submitted the prologue from a story I’m writing for that. That, I hope, is going to get me working. I had to edit that prologue, so it’s got me back into the piece.

In terms of reading, I’m making my way through The Wheel of Time series again. Yes, I know. But there we are. Let’s see what we can do from here.

A friend of mine from high school is pursuing a dream of hers, and I think it would be great if people checked this out.

Goldman Goes For It

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try. – Gail Devers

I am hoping that this blog allows me to turn my dream into a reality. I have set my sites on running across the United States in the spring of 2014. In order to make this happen I need to gather moral and logistical support and funding for a crew and vehicle.

I aspire to break the women’s trans-American run record. (The current record still stands from 1978 at 69 days, 2 hours and 40 minutes by Mavis Hutchinson) I will be running from San Francisco City Hall to NY City Hall averaging between 50 and 60 miles a day.

The first step toward my goal is starting this blog to gather volunteers who can help me organize this event. Please join this adventure and assist with any of the following tasks:

  • Mapping
  • Website design
  • Fundraising  (the event…

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Quote of the Day – November 5, 2012

Laura Knoy, host of NHPR’s “The Exchange”:

“It has been a difficult year for the facts.”


Very, very well said.

“The Secret of the Fortune Wookie” by Tom Angleberger

(Note: I did not receive anything for this review, and purchased my two copies of this book at regular price. I do, however, consider Tom Angleberger a blog-friend and have enjoyed all of his books.)

Yesterday, I read The Secret of the Fortune Wookie by Tom Angleberger. It’s the third book in Tom’s Origami Yoda series, and it does not disappoint. The characters are still fun in their guarded belief in origami puppets which use the Force to give sage advice to Middle School kids, and it’s still full of “Star Wars” jokes, puns, and quotes.

The series has its ongoing lesson about accepting kids who are a little bit different (even “weird”) but this book savages the trite euphemisms. From page 61: “After that I had trouble getting him to say anything other than how ‘great’ Dwight is. He couldn’t really say why wight was ‘great,’ but he wanted me to know that Dwight was ‘great’ and that he wasn’t ‘ragging on him’.” Boom!

This might be a kids’ book filled with hand-drawn illustrations, but as usual Tom isn’t afraid to make some serious points. Really accepting kids who are different isn’t about calling them “special” instead of “weird,” and it’s not about constantly repeating how “great” you think that they are. It’s about caring about and accepting people the way that they are. That’s what Dwight’s real friends do, and what the kids at his new school don’t. No matter how much they say he’s great.

This is a fun book. It’s a worthy addition to the series, and you’ve got to love the title “Fortune Wookie.” It’s a laugh in and of itself. The advice dispensed by the Fortune Wookie (and translated by the origami puppet Han Foldo) is classic.

The end of the book promises another story to come, in which we appear to be dealing with school funding. Since I think I’d rather face a Sith Lord than school-funding cutters, I’m not absolutely certain how this is going to work, but I can promise you that it will be worth checking out.

If you haven’t read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper Strikes Back, then you should definitely do so before reading The Secret of the Fortune Wookie. If you have, then you should probably read them again just because they’re a lot of fun. Seriously. I’m going with four of five stars, maybe four and a half.

Other books by Tom Angleberger which you should check out:

The Qwikpick Adventure Society (as Sam Riddleburger)

Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run (as Sam R., co-author with Tom Hemphill)

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Darth Paper Strikes Back

Horton Halfpott

Fake Mustache

Quote of the Day – 1/3/2012

“The next forty-five minutes in that office was about as much fun as a day at Disney World — when it’s pouring rain. And all there is to eat are hot-dog buns. And you get electrocuted on the rides.”

Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life by James Patterson, p. 182.

Little, Brown, and Company, 2011.

ISBN: 978-0-316-10187-5

Quote of the Day – 1/2/2012

“Compared to getting skewered with a pilum, college sounded pretty good.”

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan, p. 166

Hyperion books, 2011.

ISBN 978-1-4231-4059-7