Shaping sounds like clay?
Beating sand with a hammer,
wrestling with haiku…
Tag Archives: Scott
Shaping sounds like clay?
You didn’t think I meant baseball, did you? We’ll leave that for another post. I am talking about physical training, and the idea that you don’t need fancy gyms or high-tech equipment to get a great workout. In my case my workouts have matured to the point where any aspect of my environment can serve as the center of a workout. I run hills. I leap high objects. I drag odd items.
Now that the weather has broken, this sort of stuff should be a lot easier to do.
Here’s a few titles that address the sort of training I do and the activities that I try to ready myself for.
The Amazing Water Bottle Workout by Jason Greespan
Cardio 4 x 4 by Jay Cardiello.
Conditioning For Outdoor Fitness by David Musnick.
The Outdoor Athlete by Courtenay Schurman.
Your Body Is Your Barbell by B. J. Gadour.
Keep in mind as you look at these books that personal fortitude remains the key ingredient you need to bring to any program of exercise. If you possess the will, you can train in a 4′ x 4′ box and get something out of it. Fortunately we have the whole wide world to use as our gym, so get out and enjoy the warmer weather, and get fit while you’re at it!
It took me a while, but I finally got around to watching HBO’s True Detective. Wow. This gritty, eight-episode detective series adroitly moves back and forward in time between 1995, 2002, and 2012. It focuses on two protagonists, Rustin “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), investigators for the Louisiana state police department. The story hinges on a 1995 murder investigation whose bizarre occult overtones deepen with the discovery of the victim’s diary. In it she writes of strange rituals, and a place called Carcosa. Any fan of the weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos watching the show when Rust and Marty discover the journal would likely have stood up and taken notice of this immediately. “Did he just say ‘Carcosa‘?” Yes, he did.
The macabre nature of the focal crime scene, that word Carcosa, and the Southern Gothic flavor of creator Nic Pizzolatto’s vision of Louisiana combine to deliver an eerie mystery that takes its time unraveling and entertains you through every moment. So what is Carcosa? H. P. Lovecraft did not invent the term. Carcosa is a fictional place invented by Ambrose Bierce, and later adopted by Robert W. Chambers for his 1895 collection of short fiction entitled The King In Yellow. In it Mr. Chambers further detailed the “other-realm” of Carcosa and its chief inhabitant, The King In Yellow, an eponymous story in the collection. The idea of the King manifests in True Detective in the guise of the mysterious killer committing these hideous crimes.
I’ve read some of the material that inspired the show’s more macabre elements, and I thought I might share them here so folks could give them a try.
American Gothic: From Salem Witchcraft To H. P. Lovecraft, An Anthology edited by Charles L. Crow
The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers
The Yellow Sign And Other Stories: The Complete Weird Tales Of Robert W. Chambers by Robert W. Chambers
The Thing On The Doorstep And Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft
The Watchers Out Of Time by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth
The White People And Other Stories by Arthur Machen
I’m also suffering from True Detective-withdrawal! So if anyone can recommend me a series like it, please do so in the comments field! Thanks!
Book clubbing. You didn’t think…? Well, never mind that. I am not as well read as I’d like to be. That’s a public confession. I read a lot of poetry and short fiction.
I am a slow reader. I am also a “rat” reader. Like a rat repeatedly following the same path through a maze, I read mostly in the same genres (poetry, sci-fi, and fantasy), and I re-read a lot of stuff. Hell, I read Dune once a year! Now that might be because I secretly want to produce, direct, and play in a community theater version of Dune, but that’s a post for another day. Still, if you know me, I have likely sized you up for a part in this epic, so don’t be surprised if one day you are called for a reading. Enough digressions!
I think librarians love running book clubs because they compel us to read outside of our personal comfort zones. That’s why I do. I just participated in a recent Smithfield Critics book club discussion about E. L. Doctorow’s World’s Fair. This incredibly warm and real fictionalized memoir of growing up in the New York City of the 1930s profoundly moved me. I feel like I have a new friend now. Without the structure of the book club, I would not have read any Doctorow.
Next up for me comes Maya Angelou and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I read this twenty-three years ago. Reading it again after doing so much living gives me a whole new perspective on it. I’ve read enough since then to recognize the lyrical quality of Ms. Angelou’s work, and I appreciate her accessible descriptions of life’s hardships through the eyes of a young African American girl. She makes it look easy, but writing good prose that transports the reader to that place and time is a challenge.
You can find an extensive listing of our book clubs on our web page here. If you look hard enough you should be able to find one that suits your location and areas of interest.
We offer book clubs for our patrons, but make no mistake, they do just as much good for us.
Lancelot’s death scene ranks as my favorite moment in John Boorman’s amazing Excalibur. As he falls on the battlefield and Arthur goes to him, he utters the following: “It is the old wound my king. It has never healed.” The “old wound” he refers to is one he inflicted on himself after Arthur discovered his indiscretion with Guinevere. It’s a great clip and you can watch it here. The titular line occurs at around 1:37 or so. The moments after Lancelot’s death are pretty gory, so take care.
Some hurts don’t heal. At least not fast enough for our taste. I went hiking October 31st and fell four feet into a gully. A mild accident by my standards, but as I fell I braced my landing with my right arm at full extension. All 180 lbs. landed on that arm and sent a shock up into my right shoulder. It hasn’t been the same since. Of course I have made the decision to train through the injury, trying to work around it, but the healing has been slow. I have sought various resources in my quest for healing, so I thought I’d share some of them here.
I needed to first figure out what was wrong “in there”, so I looked for a source that might tell me. I found this one:
Everyday Sports Injuries from DK Publishing is a PDF title available through our eCLP resources tag. If you prefer the hard copy, find it here. It helped me realize I most likely have a soft tissue shoulder injury. Tendon inflammation (bursitis) caused by the shock of the fall.
I have also begun working regular yoga sessions into my weekly routines. Doing yoga increases flexibility and in my case, has helped to ease the throbbing pain of my shoulder injury. Because I like a bit of preparation before undertaking any new physical regimen, I checked out this book before starting yoga:
Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Yoga by Amy Auman is another title available through eCLP. Not really a title for reading cover to cover, I skimmed this resource and scouted out the sections on arms, shoulders, and the lower back–all potential problem areas for me.
While I did not start my search looking for eCLP resources, it kind of ended up shaking out that way! The final title I have to recommend comes from Rodney Yee, my new favorite yoga guru. Dude is seriously y-jacked, a term I have coined for people who are jacked as a result of doing a ton of yoga. Here it is:
Ultimate Power Yoga by Rodney Yee. This is not really a beginner’s yoga video, but it’s something I want to aspire to doing once I spend a little more time practicing with a more basic Yee title I’ve been using the last few weeks. Find the DVD version here.
I have not sought stronger medical remedies for the injury. I like to avoid drugs and cortisone shots. I found a book that agrees with me:
Whole Health: A Holistic Approach To Healing For The 21st Century by Mark Dana Mincolla. This book supports non-traditional, non-drug solutions to injuries.
These resources coupled with a bit of patience have allowed me to train through this lingering injury. As we get older, we realize pain will likely be a constant workout partner. Dealing with it sensibly will keep us on track, and allow us to live with those old wounds that never quite heal.
With another year of books under our belts, it’s time to look ahead. To bring the blogging year to a close, some Eleventh Stackers have chosen to share their reading resolutions for 2015. There’s nowhere to go, but up, and our team has aimed high — check it out!
Every time someone asks for a mystery recommendation, I cringe. Despite my love for serialized crime shows (Criminal Minds, Veronica Mars, Murder She Wrote…), I just have a hard time with the genre in book form. 2015 is the year I step up my game and have some titles in my back pocket for the next time I’m put on the spot. I have Anthony Hororwitz’s Moriarty on my list (I read The House of Silk last year for our Tuesday book club, and liked his take on Sherlock). And a regular patron suggested the Ian Rutledge series, by Charles Todd. Readers, if you have any must-reads, maybe some non-historicals that are maybe a bit John Grisham-y, please send ’em my way.
I’m going to finish some books in 2015. This year, for whatever reason, I’d get almost to the end of a book and stop reading it. It didn’t matter whether I liked the book or not: I just stopped. I don’t know if this is a sign of mental illness or a newly shortened attention span. Here is a sampling of the books I started, thoroughly enjoyed, and never finished. Feel free to tell me the endings.
- Maya’s Notebook, Isabel Allende
- Lucky Us, Amy Bloom
- We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler
- The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman
- Bittersweet, Colleen McCullough
- One Plus One, Jojo Moyes
- Rooms, Lauren Oliver
- Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg
- We Are Not Ourselves, Matthew Thomas
- Land of Love and Drowning, Tiphanie Yanique
In 2010 I started Stephen King’s It. “Started” being the key word here. That book is thick, yo. Maybe 2015 will be the year I finish it. Or maybe I’ll focus on the classics that I missed out on for one reason or the other, like Animal Farm or Moby-Dick. Maybe I’ll go back to the books of my childhood, like the Narnia books. Or, since I just started re-watching Gilmore Girls, maybe I’ll focus on a Rory Gilmore reading list.
I’ve never had much use for audio-books, but I recently discovered how much I like listening to them on long runs. So my reading resolution for 2015 is actually more of a listening resolution: to delve into the library’s collection of super-portable Playaways. I just started listening to Runner.
I like to play along with formal reading challenges, to make sure that I regularly step out of my favorite genres and formats to try a little bit of everything. Luckily the magical internet is filled with such opportunities, most of which I find via A Novel Challenge, a terrific blog that collects news and info about different reading games. Of course, I always load up on way too many challenges, and rarely finish any of them…but I sure do have a great time trying!
Here are some challenges I’ll be signing up for in 2015:
The Bookish 2015 TBR Reading Challenge. I have two bookcases at home filled with books I own that I haven’t read yet (I blame the Library, both for being so excellent and for fueling my book-buying habit). It’s getting a little bit out of hand, so I’ve decided to dive into those TBR shelves and decide whether to keep or regift what I’ve got.
Janet Ursel’s We Read Diverse Books Challenge. It’s no secret that the publishing industry is still predominantly white, which means there are a lot of stories out there untold or overlooked. This bothers me both professionally and personally, so I’m on a constant mission to make sure my own reading and reviewing is as inclusive as possible. This challenge was inspired by the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign of 2014.
The 2015 Ebook Reading Challenge. Ebooks are an important part of the reading landscape these days, and I really should be looking at more of them (Overdrive READ is my friend right now, until I finally decide which tablet I want). Ebooks are also sometimes challenging for me because of my vision impairments, but I’m hoping Consumer Reports , a little web sleuthing, and input from other users (maybe you?) will help me pick out the tablet with the best accessibility features. Thanks in advance!
The 2015 Graphic Novels & Manga Challenge. This one’s kind of a cheat, as I adore comics of all kinds. The problem is, I rarely make time to read them, mostly out of guilt because they’re so much fun and there are many other Terribly Serious Things I should be reading dontcha know. However, this means I missed a lot of good stuff in 2014, so I’ve decided to ditch the guilt and spend 2015 savoring the fine art of comics. Woohoo!
Four challenges is do-able, right? I’ll report back regularly in upcoming blog posts.
I’ve become a little too comfortable insofar as my reading habits go. On one hand, I don’t see any problem with this, since reading is something I do for fun and entertainment. Still, there’s something to be said for expanding one’s knowledge and horizons.
In 2015, I’m planning to do more of my reading from the World Fiction and Historical Fiction sections on the First Floor of CLP-Main. I’m not setting an actual numerical goal for this resolution, just challenging myself to read more from these areas (which I admittedly tend to overlook while perusing the new fiction, nonfiction, and short stories). Your suggestions are most welcome.
And there you have it! Do you have any reading recommendations or advice for the Eleventh Stackers? Do you set yourself reading goals or just let the books fall where they may? Share the wisdom, leave a comment!
I read poetry like I eat dark chocolate. I go through spurts of wild consumption of the stuff, then I don’t touch it for weeks or longer. I spent most of 2014 erratically reading Jack Gilbert. The best thing to get if you want to start reading Mr. Gilbert is Collected Poems. His muscular, hard-hitting poems never fail to strike a chord inside of me. I feel like he speaks to me in a way few writers can. His harrowing descriptions of his experiences of loss and regret often leave my head spinning. Take this series of lines, wherein he writes of finding one of his wife’s black hairs around their home after she had passed away:
… A year later,
repotting Michiko’s avocado, I find
a long black hair tangled in the dirt.
Brutal. Real. Sad. Uplifting?
Jack Gilbert’s poems breathe with life even as they entertain the grim reality of death and loss. The very bleakness his sometimes dark and gritty poetry evokes acts as a light. How? He reminds us we are not alone. Others have walked this path of frailty, loneliness, and loss. If these tests are a tunnel, you can come out on the other side.
So how to unpack Anne Sexton? Like Mr. Gilbert, she’s a poet of exceeding honesty and skill. Her work combines a delicate, lyrical touch with hard-hitting language and themes. Her career was tragically cut short when she took her own life in 1974. I started seriously reading her stuff late this year. I knew of her, but I had not read much of her work until a friend quoted some lines from her for me. They are from the poem “Her Kind”, and they assert that inherent sense of otherness Ms. Sexton felt:
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.
That’s the last stanza of three.
I approached Ms. Sexton’s work with some wariness and without making assumptions. I dug into a lot of CLP’s collection of criticism on her as I read more of her work. I used our literary databases too. They helped. As a man raised in a popular culture steeped in violence and misogyny, I approach the work of poets like Ms. Sexton with caution and care. I will not say that reading and studying her has made me better at understanding the challenges women face. It has served to broaden my perspective.
Jack Gilbert lived through his pain and loss and produced an amazing volume of poetry to catalog it all. Anne Sexton’s poetry explored themes of gender and alienation. She burned brightly for a short time, then left us too soon.
We’ll all write more about our “reading resolutions” for 2015 in tomorrow’s post, but I can rightly say now that Ms. Sexton’s work will be part of my 2015 must-read list.