Saturday, September 30, 2006 · posted at 10:20 AM
Grab on to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way.
Trudy asks do I wanna smoke a bowl.
"No way. That'd push me right over the edge."
"Into what?"
"Depression. Anxiety, Paranoia. Insanity, basically. One of those graves.."
"God, people are so weird," she says. "It's not drugs that make you that way, you know. It's the way we all already are."

Grab on to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way, Bryan Charles

A coming of age tale that invites any reader who was a teenager mourning the loss of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. The prose is innovative in its stream-of-consciousness style to a point of distraction, but well captures the essence of young adulthood. Read it, or rather pick it up, if only for it's kick-ass cover.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 · posted at 1:28 AM
The Kite Runner.
The custom is to not let the sheep see the knife. Ali feeds the animal a cube of sugar - another custom, to make death sweeter. The sheep kicks, but not much. The mullah grabs it under its jaw and places the blade on its neck. Just a second before he slices the throat in one expert motion, I see the sheep's eyes. It is a look that will haunt my dreams for week.s I don't know why I watch this yearly ritual in our backyard; my nightmares persist long after the bloodstains on the grass have faded. But I always watch. I watch because of that look of acceptance in the animal's eyes. Absurdly, I imagine the animal understands. I imagine the animal sees that its imminent demise is for a higher purpose. This is the look...
I ran because I was a coward. I was afraid of Assef and what he would do to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. THat's what I told myself as I turned my back to the alley, to Assan. That's what I made myself believe. I actually aspired to cowardise, because the alternative, the real reason I was running, was that Assef was right: Nothing is free in this world.

     ~ The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
I tend to avoid the New York Times Best Sellers List (see Mitch Albom's... well any title) and any other popular "Omigod, you haaaaave to read it" (e.g. Nicholas Sparks... ditto). In fact, I'm pretty elitist when it comes to book recommendations - quick to believe any bad reviews and skeptical about any good ones. I think it's the writer in me who doesn't want there to be good books out there because then there would be less room for my mediocre one...once it is written anyway.

But alas, the power of peer pressure in the form of book clubs. I found myself picking up Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and falling quickly into narrator Amir's childhood memories of Afghanistan and the events that shape a life.

It's a quick read, not only because of a captivating plot, but also because Hosseini doesn't preoccupy himself with fancy words. His prose is simple, even warranting a "young adult" label at my local library, but it is powerful.

Amir is imperfect and at times, near despicable, but there is something so human about his thoughts and behavior that it's easy to empathize with him, particularly if you've ever done the wrong thing and known it. Privileged in material ways, but deficient in the important ones.

Though the plot can often be predictable (especially if you read the Foreword/Introduction by the author), you read on anyway to see how Hosseini will unfurl it with his beautiful words. Have the movie rights been optioned yet? For the non-literary crowd, this book would play out perfectly on the silver screen.

I highly recommend this book...

For you, a thousand times over.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini

"I reached across the table and put my hand on his. My student hand, clean and soft, his laborer's hand, grubby and calloused. It thought of all the trucks, train sets, and bikes he'd bought me in Kabul. Now America. One last gift for Amir."

Thursday, September 21, 2006 · posted at 3:51 AM
Bandanas & October Supplies

While you can't judge a book by its cover, I wouldn't have read this book if not for the back cover, which reads:
The author of this book does not believe in disingenuous jacket blurbs, insincere product descriptions, or intrusive biographical information. He believes that less information regarding the content of a serious book is beneficial to the reading experience.

In short, the book you're holding, in the words of its author, is "just a story about a boy and his mom and how lost we got last October."

The Editors
And that, is just what the book is about. The author, M. Dylan Raskin, was clearly influenced by J.D. Salinger's angsty Holden Caulfield, but hey, I loved Catcher in the Rye (which apparently puts me in the same category as 9 out of 10 serial killers). Raskin notes in the book his disdain for people who write with a thesaurus by their side and its evident in the book's simple, free-flowing prose. Although you can predict a "surprise twist" within the first few chapters, the book is a quick and excellent subway read.

In my opinion, generally speaking, an individual only lives one great story in his lifetime, and the rest is strictly for reminiscing purposes.

Bandanas & October Supplies

Sunday, September 17, 2006 · posted at 3:13 AM
Hello. My Name Is...

How are you doing today? Maybe we can talk for a little while and then we can go get some 49 cent cheeseburgers at McDonald's. Baby!
      - Philip Wang, "Yellow Fever"

When I was looking for an apartment, I frequently ran across ads that requested, "Send your mySpace or FaceBook link." I prided myself on the fact that I didn't belong to either, that I had risen above the lure of online social networking (though I do have a defunct Friendster account collecting dust).

Then I discovered I was googling language partners in the city and one of the hits was, which advertised a language exchange group. No longer would I need to deal with shady craigslist ads that offered "free" tutoring in exchange for special massages - instead I could deal with a whole online community of possibly shady people!

Rather than being people- or network-based like MySpace, Meetup is subject-based. You can enter in a topic (e.g. knitting, vegan, human rights, tattoos) and find an event (at a public place) where like-minded people will meet to further their interests in knitting, veganism, human rights and body mutilation. I found myself looking at every group in the NYC area and joining so many that I felt embarassed and hid the number of groups I belong to.

While there is a "meat market" vibe to some of the groups (be suspicious of groups with the word "professionals" in the title - it's usually code for a singles group), there's always a focus to the group. You can swap books, see free screenings of movies, try new restaurants... Best of all, if you're a non-commital nerd like me, you can see what's going on without having to actually agree to anything.

If it sounds like I'm trying to justice online social networking, I am... I'm just throwing my vote to Meetup instead of MySpace. Can you find people to play Settlers of Catan on MySpace? I thought not...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 · posted at 8:51 PM
su casa es mi casa.
Ben: (holds out his keys and plays with them)'s uh....a smooth, hard, round loop, connecting three shiny sharp metal.

Kinney: No, no. Don't say metal.

Ben: Connecting three, uh, shiny, sharp, hard, thin, strips, which have teeth -- sort of.

Kinney: Ok. Now, talk about the object subjectively.

Ben: They're my keys to my apartment.

Kinney: Why are these keys important to you?

Ben: I don't know. This is stupid, sir. I shouldn't even do this.

Kinney: You're doing fine. Talk about the object.

Ben: (exhales) All right, well, for this to make sense, you gotta kinda understand -- that my father and I's his fault, it's my fault. He'd say it's my fault. I don't know. It's not fair, but whatever. We don't have a very good thing, but as it gets bad for me and him. I think it get, eh, even worse for my mom. Whose so incredible, she's so beautiful, and she's, you know, she's elegant. But, she gets so sad, she gets so upset when me and my dad fight. Her face just get's, um....she just cries a lot. And I've seen these pictures of them, too. My parents before they had me. And they looked so happy. So I know it wasn't always like it is now. Anyway, I guess, it's obviously that these keys mean I'm not home anymore. You know, which great for me. I'm sub-letting from this guy, Sean. He's this really nice, frustrated entrepreneur guy. It's me and three other guys. You know, it's cool, you actually want to hang out. It's a big place. But more then all that. These keys mean that I'm not causing anything at home. I'm here right now, so my dad and I don't have to deal with each other, you know. And so my mom isn't so sad. I hope. It's just good. It's better for everyone. I really believe that....that I have these keys.

- Felicity, 1.03, "Hot Objects"
Never underestimate the power of something so simple as a set of keys. As someone who spent the majority of the summer living out of a suitcase and without a mailing address, I'm beginning to appreciate how nice it is to have a place to call home.

Though keys can be a hassle, an unsightly shape in tight jeans with no give, an anxiety attack when misplaced... there is nothing quite as sad as a keychain without the guest of honor. I've griped about my keys weighing me down, but their absence from my purse was a perceptible loss. Not only in ounces, but meaning.

It is a stark realization that without keys you have no lock to a front door that leads to a living space in which you can kick off your shoes, throw up your feet and breathe a sigh of relief for an escape from the world.

Returning to New York, a place where every urban legend about housing horrors is actually true, without a stable living situation was nerve-racking. After countless hours scouring, trekking into sketchy areas of the borroughs and dozens of pleas via e-mail and phone (okay in actuality, I only physically looked at two other places, but one involved a couple of ferrets and the other involved Hare Krishna... 'nuf said), I finally settled into my new NY digs in... New Jersey?

Hudson County - otherwise known as the 6th borrough of NYC and the "wrong side of Manhattan." I found myself digging up all the excuses I heard my friends use when talking about living in New York-Jersey City: I can get to downtown faster, It's closer than Brooklyn, I spend all my time in the city and just need a place to sleep. But honestly, I feel less and less in need of defending it because it is really not that bad. Plus I didn't have to sell my soul for rent - which is great considering that I already promised it to my school to pay for tuition.

And in the end, I'm just glad to have somewhere, anywhere to go when the day is over... and to have a smooth, hard loop connecting three shiny, sharp, hard, thin strips which sort of have teeth dangling from my Duane Reade card.

Saturday, September 02, 2006 · posted at 1:04 AM
My Dinner with Andre.
I mean, we're just walking around in some kind of fog. I think we're all in a trance! We're walking around like zombies! I don't think we're even aware of ourselves or our own reaction to things, we're just going around all day like unconscious machines, I mean, while there's all of this rage and worry and uneasiness just building up and building up inside us!


Because somehow in our social existence today we're only allowed to express our feelings weirdly and indirectly. If you express them directly everybody goes crazy!


But those are typical evenings for us. I mean, we go to dinners, and parties like that all the time. These evenings are really like sort of sickly dreams, because people are talking in symbols. Everyone's sort of floating through this fog of symbols and unconscious feelings. No one says what they're really thinking about. Then people start making these jokes, that are really some sort of secret code!


You know, it may be, Wally, that one of the reasons that we don't know what's going on is that when we're there at a party, we're all too busy performing.


Oh! God! And I mean, those [self-help] books are just so touching because they show how desperately curious we all are to know how all the others of us are really getting on in life, even though by performing these roles all the time we're just hiding the reality of ourselves from everybody else. I mean, we live in such ludicrous ignorance of each other.

My Dinner with Andre

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