Teach Our Children Well

31 10 2007

I was shocked when I learned about the newly evolved version of my favorite board game – the Monopoly Electronic Banking Edition.

Money problems are the leading cause of divorce in the United States. A lot of these problems are caused by people living beyond their means, via the use of lines of credit.

I do not think it behooves our society to market a game that uses plastic cards instead of cold hard cash to children as young as 8 years old. There is something to be said about using cash for purchases, about having a budget and having to hand over those two $100 bills that will buy Reading Railroad, about getting a $10 bill for winning the beauty contest.

This game advertises that their cards are more like debit than credit, since the players can go bankrupt. It states that the banker will learn basic bookkeeping skills and responsible money management. Horsefeathers.

My educational background is in finance. I loved playing monopoly when I was a child (especially the special East Peoria version that I got at the East Peoria Centennial celebration). I learned a lot about budgeting from this game – and think maybe some of my initial interest in economics, finance and accounting may have been derived from my love of the game. This change seems as if it will change that learning experience and not for the better.

Luckily this is just a special edition. The next time I update my Monopoly game the box will be full of cash sporting Mr. Monopoly’s face.





The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman

30 10 2007

One down, 65 to go in the To-Be-Read Pile.
I just finished reading The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman. I rate this book 7 out of 10. It started off very slowly. I had to force myself to read to page 50, but once I got that far I was fully vested in the story. It was a good mystery, in that I didn’t figure out whodunit until the end.

When her best friend dies, Juno doesn’t believe that it is a suicide, but who would have killed her? There are several likely suspects and the reader is kept guessing until the end.

The book is full of interesting themes – stained glass, mental illness and recovery, art, rowing/kayaking and mythology. Some of the mythological references are a little too detailed and obscure for my tastes.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad read, but there was likely a reason that I was putting it off. I wonder if I will find any great reads in the to-be-read pile…

Tonight I am starting Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst, which for some reason I actually purchased in hardcover (usually I only purchase books by authors I LOVE in hardcover. I have never heard of this author. What possessed me to spend $23.95 on this book?) Stay tuned for answers to that and other pressing questions.




Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

28 10 2007

I just finished Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey by Alison Weir. It is a historical novel based on the life of “The Nine Days Queen”. If you enjoy historical fiction, this book is one to read.

Alison Weir is a medieval historian who has written many non-fiction books about the middle ages, focusing on the reign of Henry VIII and his the reigns before and after his. Her vast knowledge of the times Lady Jane lived in make this book even more interesting. In the back of the book, an author’s note tells that though most of the book is based on historical fact, she have to use her imagination in some parts of the story. Weir mentions that some of the stranger events in the book were true! I came away feeling as if I knew how the upper crust really lived during that time in history.

This book touched on several topics that I found to be of interest.

  • “Blooding” of children – apparently during the medieval times it was a rite of passage that the noble born children be “blooded” on the hunt. I can find little information in regards to this ritual online. But, what I gather is that a child would be taken on the hunt and when the prey was caught the child would be the one to deliver the deadly blow. Blood from the dying beast would be smeared on the child’s face in order to celebrate the victory. Click here for an article with more information regarding hunt blooding.
  • I really enjoy reading historical fiction. I have read quite a few novels based on the lives of the many wives of Henry VIII – Phillipha Gregory and Jean Plaidy are two of my favorite authors. All of them touch on the ulcer on Henry’s leg. It is always noted as putrid smelling and it seems to be a wifely duty to change the dressing. I am so grateful for modern medicine. Among many other possibilities, historians debate whether Henry died of Syphilis. Syphilis would be one likely explanation for his paranoia and general madness (think wife beheadings!) Others suggest diabetes. Regardless, modern medicine could have cured his problems. Henry VIII had six wives. Check out this portrait of him. He died with a 54 inch waist and he had that putrid leg ulcer. Can you imagine sharing a bed with him??!! It goes without saying that he only married so many times because of his position, because if he was regular Joe Serf the ladies would not have been beating down the door of his hovel.
  • “In this world, there are ways of appearing to go along with other people’s plans, whilst all the time keeping your own counsel and putting things off. And then, before any confrontation can take place, you often find that events have moved on, and that you can do exactly as you please in the matter.” – Lady Elizabeth (the future Queen). This wording of this concept resonates with me. Someone once gave me some advice along the same lines, although not as eloquently worded. It is very true.
  • “A woman may display much cleavage in a low-cut gown, yet seemliness demands that arms be covered to the wrist, whatever the season.” Mores and customs always amaze me. In medieval times it was scandalous to show a forearm but not cleavage. I have always wondered why it is socially acceptable for a man to have his shirt off in public, yet a woman would be arrested. What is it about the breast that makes it so obscene? Furthermore, what is it about a word that makes it offensive? Why are the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ so offensive, yet ‘copulate’ and ‘feces’ are just fine to say.

On the topic of the English monarchy, I heard an interview with John Lydon of Sex Pistols fame on Broadminded (an XM talk show). During the interview they touched on the song “God Save the Queen.” Lydon revealed that the Sex Pistols were discussed in Parliament under the Treason Act, as their song was considered to be a threat to the English establishment when it was first released in 1977.

One of the “Broads” asked Lydon about the structure of the English government, to explain who had more power Parliament or the Royal family. He stated that the Royal family has no power whatsoever. When asked what their purpose was, he said they are “kind of like our Walt Disney.”

Does he mean that tourists are very interested in them and that they get a lot of publicity? He also said that the Royal family is supported by taxation of the English people. If they are just figureheads, it seems like a waste to allow them to spend so much of the people’s money on things like security, castles, travel, etc.. On the other hand, they are the symbol of an ancient tradition of that country, and many people would be disappointed if the Royal family’s descendants started living the life of the gentry.

I have watched television twice in the past week – and then for no more than one hour at a time. I have been reading voraciously. So what’s next? I resist a trip to the beloved Borders that is less than three miles from my home. The TBR (To Be Read) pile looms behind me.





Cone Baby Cone

28 10 2007

A long time ago, I was reading a book called Gone Baby Gone written by Dennis Lehane. Perhaps you have heard of it, since Ben Affleck has adapted it for film and it is a very popular film at this time. My friend Jennifer saw the book and asked me what Cone Baby Cone was about. Since that time I have always thought of the book, and now the movie, by that name.

My husband and I went to see Gone Baby Gone this weekend. I found it to be quite enjoyable, despite that I had read the book before. It seems as if I see a movie after I read the book then I hate the movie. Case in point – The Count of Monte Cristo. I don’t remember the dwarf being in the book – and I’ve read that book many times. Alexandre Dumas would have been shocked to see that film!

Back to the topic at hand – Gone Baby Gone. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone but I would like to have a discussion with fellow moviegoers regarding the decision Patrick made in the end. Casey Affleck’s character saw things as right and wrong and black and white. There was no grey area in between. Could I have looked the other way in his shoes? Was it truly the right thing? Would things have been better if he would have taken the right path? Yes, I do think things would have been better, but who are we to make that choice?

Both my husband and I marveled at the extras used at the beginning of the movie -during the news scene when everyone in the neighborhood was outside. These were not just your run of the mill extras. These were people that likely live in neighborhoods like the movie was set in – people who haven’t had the best of luck with life.

Amy Ryan’s performance as Helene was great. It amazes me when beautiful women take on a role that requires them to act and appear as if life has not treated them very well – very reminiscent of Charlize Theron’s performance in Monster.





The To Be Read (TBR) Pile

28 10 2007

Update: 12/21/07

Below is a list of the books comprising my TBR pile. My plan is to read them all prior to purchasing another book (other than for book club purposes). A lot of these books cause me to wonder “what was I thinking?” when I purchased them. But I really wanted to read each of these books when I purchased them, so what if the new relationship magic is gone, I need to do right by them and give them a chance!

If you have read any of these books and they are good please let me know. I would prefer not to get bad reviews of any of them because I plan to read them all before I indulge my need to go to Borders. That need to go to Borders has created a backlog of 66 books that I own and have not read – representing at least $660 of wasted money (since I spent at least $10 a book)! I predict it will take me at least a year to read this many books.

Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessel
The Sea by John Banville
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
A Taxonomy of Barnacles by Galt Niederhoffer
Trance by Christopher Sorrentino
My Friend Leonard by James Frey
Saving Fish From Drowning by Amy Tan
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins
Trials of the Monkey by Matthew Chapman
The Evidence Against Her by Robb Foreman Dew
Hooking Up by Tom Wolfe
Life Before Man by Margaret Atwood
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Savannah by John Jakes
The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas
Banners of Gold by Pamela Kaufman
Buster Midnight’s Cafe by Sandra Dallas
America’s First Dynasty – the Adamses 1735-1918 by Richard Brookhiser
The Greatest Generation by Tom Browkaw
On Agate Hill by Lee Smith
Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley
Suite Francaise byIrene Nemirovsky
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr
“…And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer
The Knight of the Rose by Isolde Martyn
A Different Kind of Christmas by Alex Haley
That Old Ace In The Hole by Annie Proulx
The Master Butcher’s Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
Speak Softly, She Can Hear by Pam Lewis
How the Light Gets In by M.L. Hyland
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Eat the Document by Dana Spiotta
In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai
My Heart Laid Bare by Joyce Carol Oates
Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
Hillbilly Gothic by Adrienne Martini
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood
A Superior Death by Nevada Barr
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie Debartolo
The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock
At Risk by Patricia Cornwell
Predator by Patricia Cornwell
Endangered Species by Nevada Barr
Firestorm by Nevada Barr
The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
Ill Wind by Nevada Barr

How many books are in your TBR pile??





Notes from a Marathon Observer

21 10 2007

My good friend ran the Indianapolis marathon yesterday. She accomplished this great feat as an aid to raise money for Pick’s disease research, which is a cause she cares deeply about. I am so proud of her. She trained for a very long time and truly deserved to finish.

This was the marathon that I planned to run before my foot injury occurred. I started the marathon off with her and ran between six and seven miles yesterday. I quit when my foot starting making itself known to me. Amazingly, although the rest of my body aches, my foot doesn’t hurt at all! Hopefully I am cured, and will be able to complete the Disney Marathon in January. If not, I am sure I will have a great time at Disney with the girls.

After I ran I spent time watching the runners finish. It was so inspirational to watch the runners complete what they had trained so long to do. It made me realize that we can do anything we put our minds to. Running long distance is so much “mind over matter”. It is all about the need to finish what has been started.

The finish-line was the same for both the half-marathon and the marathon. I saw the winner of the marathon finish with a time of 2:34:00. Others will still finishing the half-marathon at that time. 2:34:00 would have been a great half-marathon time for me. That is why I can only compare myself to myself and not to other runners.

Most of the people finishing the marathon looked like they were in extreme pain, except for one woman who was yelling and making train noises at mile 25, while her friend looked as if she was about ready to keel over at any time. If the train lady was my running partner… I had the opportunity to talk to an older gentleman who had just finished the half marathon. He said that it was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life, but it was his greatest accomplishment.

I hope that in January I will be able to cross completing a marathon off of my list of life goals.





You Probably Think This Post Is About You…

18 10 2007

I am acquainted with at least four women that have had elective plastic surgery. All four of these women were attractive beforehand and if I didn’t know that the surgery had occurred I would never have noticed a difference in their bodies. They all had nice figures (better than mine) prior to the surgeries occurring.

Two had breast implants, one liposuction and one a tummy tuck. The recovery period for a tummy tuck is six weeks and this person couldn’t even sit up for a few days. I can’t imagine putting myself through that pain to fit society’s ideal of how a woman should look.

Both of the women that had breast implants have early teenage or below daughters. It seems as if they should be teaching their daughters to love their bodies, that they are valuable as a person no matter the size of their breasts.

I really hate that contemporary American society places a value on a woman’s appearance and that so much care goes into the woman’s appearance and men can get ready for their day in a matter of minutes. I’m sure this will not change since many major industries are based around this – makeup, clothing, magazines, plastic surgery, etc..

Those of you that know me know that my body is far from perfect, but I would never alter it. I consider my imperfections to be battle scars – losing and winning the battle of the bulge, and the 12 inch long diagonal scar from the incision for my old fashioned gall bladder surgery will prohibit any bikini wearing for the rest of my life, no matter what size I am.

Enough said.