Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Like the Internet: Part II.

Life has been chock full of doing Active Real Life Things recently, from attending weddings to graduating from grad school to being out on the town with my mom while she was visiting to other stuff. Doing so much Real Life Stuff is exhausting, and I also find it exceedingly difficult to return to Boring Real Life Stuff after so much Exuberant Real Life Stuff. 

Exceedingly difficult. Like, I feel completely incompetent at anything other than feeling incompetent and whiney and weird for at least a day.

This morning, luckily, after we dropped my mom off at the airport, I was able to ease back into Boring Real Life Stuff by being able to ignore it for a few hours, opting instead to lie comatose on the couch while discovering the amazingness that is Kathie Lee & Hoda on the 11 o'clock time slot of the Today show. I can't remember the last time I actually watched TV at 11 AM, but holy crap, was this a wonderful hour. 


Kathie Lee & Hoda. For serious. You are amazing. Are you drunk the entire time? Who knows. It doesn't matter. Remarkable.

Anyway, along with brain-cell-killing television, the other best way to ignore returning to Boring Real Life Stuff is of course the Internet! Yay! So here's some more stuff I've liked since last time!

+ 5 Seconds of Every #1 Song Ever (well, until 1992). Um, yeah. Exactly what it says. AMAZING. AMAZING. I LOVE THE INTERNET!

+ So, the YA Lit world has been all abuzz with discussion about this Wall Street Journal article published a few weeks ago, which basically stated that YA lit these days is entirely too dark and disturbing, portraying an unrealistically harsh view of the world on impressionable teens. There have been more than a few responses to this, including a YAsaves trend on Twitter started by sassy YA novelist Maureen Johnson, but two of my favorite pieces have been this NPR editorial, Seeing Teenagers As We Wish They Were: The Debate Over YA Fiction, and Sherman Alexie's Why The Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood (which, it should be noted, was also posted by the Wall Street Journal). YA lit is something that's near and dear to my heart, and both of these articles articulated my anger, in a much more eloquent way than I would have been able to. Some of my favorite quotes (bolded emphasis my own):

From Linda Holmes on NPR:
Honestly, the kids who are reading the scary YA fiction — the dark stuff, the creepy stuff, the adventurous and weird and dirty stuff — are the same kids who, if YA fiction weren't dark and creepy sometimes, would just read dark and creepy books for adults.
(Note: This is what I did. The world of YA lit when I was a teen wasn't even as advanced as it is now, so after I devoured everything Cynthia Voigt ever wrote, I read things like Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone instead, which disturbed some adults around me at the time.)
Yes, it's always possible that someone will get the idea to cut herself from a book about cutting herself, but if she's in a position where cutting herself seems like a good idea, she wasn't just fine before she opened the book. The odds are she is already familiar with brutality and loss at some level; kids who aren't don't pick up a book about cutting and decide to slice into their arms.

...But stopping — actually stopping — a YA reader from picking up a particular book because it describes behavior you don't want him to emulate potentially cuts him off from something that might reach him in exchange for ... nothing, really, except your own comfort level.

Not reading scary, weird, dark, or dirty books wouldn't have made me a different kid. It certainly wouldn't have made me a happier kid.
It might have made me a kid who read less, though.
From the gloriously wonderful Alexie, whose novel may be my favorite contemporary YA book of all time:
No, [cultural critics] are simply trying to protect their privileged notions of what literature is and should be. They are trying to protect privileged children. Or the seemingly privileged.

[Teens] read because they live in an often-terrible world. They read because they believe, despite the callow protestations of certain adults, that books-especially the dark and dangerous ones-will save them.
I don’t write to protect them. It’s far too late for that. I write to give them weapons–in the form of words and ideas-that will help them fight their monsters. I write in blood because I remember what it felt like to bleed.
+ On a similar note, I love pretty much anything related to libraries, so I found this collection of letters sent to Troy, Michigan in the 1970s to help promote the children's library pretty much awesome. Dr. Seuss's is my favorite.

+ AND OH HEY, IF YOU DIDN'T GET ENOUGH OF NERDY BOOK STUFF YET! From Salon, a list of the world's most inspiring bookstores. I feel very proud to have visited two of the 14 on this list: City Lights in San Francisco and of course Powell's here in Portland. I should make it a life goal to visit all of them. I NEED to visit that one in a cathedral in Maastricht in The Netherlands. I HAVE BEEN TO MAASTRICHT! And I didn't know about it! How many people have actually been to Maastricht?!? Such wasted opportunity. Sigh. The one in Buenos Aires looks freakin' awesome, as well.

+ In addition to books, I also love trains. This evolution of Amtrak that somebody neat made--again, I love the internet!--is neat but mainly just depressing. It allows you to click through Amtrak's rail network in the US from 1962 to 2005. And the progression is not good. Not good at all. Amtrak. :(

+ Okay, I know I am wayyyyyy behind in Internet years in posting this, but I'm going to link to it anyway, BECAUSE I WANT TO, ALRIGHT: And I Should Know by Roseanne Barr in New York magazine. Awesome, awesome, awesome, and interesting. I feel like the popularity of this article made people suddenly love Roseanne Barr in an almost annoying way. Like, listen: most of y'all didn't actually like Roseanne Barr until you found out she could write a well-written and interesting article such as this. You didn't ACTUALLY love Roseanne like my sister and I did. We grew up on Roseanne (until they won the lottery).

+ I also like friends, and my friend Keegan has a new website full of his artsy stuff. I like photographs a whole lot, and I like his series of photos--the first two links under "work"--a heck of a lot. Although I have to say I don't think I'm cool enough to understand most of his videos. I'm sorry Keegan. I think I used to be cooler and would have understood them more when I lived in the same city as you. I think I feel my coolness seeping away from my bones every minute. But, yayyyyy pictures! (Also, I don't understand why your video for Restore isn't linked on this website, because that's Kathy's and my favorite.)

I just wasted SO MUCH TIME writing this and looking at stuff on the internet! Silly real life productivity. This feels so much more normal.

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