Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Using my Literature Degree

While digging through some old boxes and placing paperbacks on shelves I came across a handful of Endless Quest and Choose Your Own Adventure books. As a kid I always leaned towards the CYOA books rather than Hardy Boys books, though I have been trying to trudge slowly through the Hardy Books these past few years. I don’t know why, but that’s how it shook out. Maybe the spinner racks at the Chicago Public Library on 63rd street had a shinier display of CYOA books? I can’t remember the Hardy Boys books on display anywhere prominent, and also don’t recall anybody in my life pushing the Hardy Boys books on me. My parents saw me reading CYOA, so they pushed it (my father also read a few out of the piles I would take out every few weeks). I enjoyed those days and library trips a great deal.

I remember owning a few CYOA books, probably from the recurring Troll book orders at good old St Nicks. I didn’t own many, but after all these years the small number has dwindled to a single, perfect choice – The Abominable Snowman. It was a decent adventure, and it consistently fed my random interest in all things Bigfoot. It’s a fun book.

I still have about 10 Endless Quest books though, mainly as a half hearted byproduct of my collection of 1st and 2nd AD&D collection. I am no completist when it comes to Endless Quest books, but I do enjoy them and snag them whenever I find a missing one. Like most things that trigger a kid’s interest, I loved the artwork and descriptive titles. I bought Lair of the Lich and Tower of Darkness at Trost Hobby on 63rd street and read them cover to cover. A year later, in 8th grade, we had a new student that I became friends with -- red headed Larry Tucker. Since Larry missed Confirmation in 7th grade, they lumped him in with current 7th graders, which essentially meant that although he was Confirmed in the spring, he missed out on a party and any surrounding brouhaha. Larry got the shaft, at least in terms of presents. For reasons lost to time and silliness, his parents wouldn’t let him play D&D, so his borrowing those 2 books during school hours was the most D&D he was going to get (at least until he got to high school or older, upon which he probably wouldn’t care at all). Ergo, Happy Confirmation, Larry – enjoy the books as a gift. Larry moved away before high school and life went on. In my mid 20’s I saw those two books staring me down at Paperback Trading in Chicago Ridge and I snatched them up, along with a few others, trying yet again to reach a bit back into my youth.

Now here in Alaska, being well aware of how great Title Wave books is, I have been bitten by the bug to poke into the kids section and ferret out some CYOA and Endless Quest entries. I grabbed some cool CYOA’s, but not the exact ones I really want ed (Ghost Hunter, Mystery of Chimney Rock, Horror of High Ridge, Mountain Survival, Vampire Express, etc.). Unfortunately, most CYOA on ebay is in large lots and goes for more $ than I would expect. I did grab a cool Endless Quest book – The Endless Catacombs. Neat name, and an intriguing cover, which is all I need to flick the switch on the kid in me. I’ll keep checking Title Wave and those missing titles will start cropping up.

All reading is inherently good, correct? Even the stuff that fails to stretch the muscles I built up in college Lit courses? It makes my imagination spin. How is that poor woman going to escape from that crystal tomb?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Today we voted for Mayor to handle Mark Begich's departure. I vote at the grade school a block from my house, and today I was there at 7 am right when the doors opened. In November at the same time the line snaked down all the halls inside the school, but today there were 6 of us. Even though the mayoral candidates are less than stunning, there are plenty of bond issues to decide.

So, after spending 2 minutes voting I walked back to my truck but had to take a longer, indirect arc to it. I never needed to make an effort to walk around 2 Moose in the parking lot when voting in Chicago or Madison.

Monday, April 06, 2009

So I gave up on seeing it in a theater and opted for a rental of Slumdog on Friday. After finding it at the second Blockbuster I checked, we settled in for the latter 2/3 of the film Friday night. It was, very good. No complaints at all, but the soaring accolades escape me. When I think of the best pictures of a given year, I tend to try and answer a simple question: Will I want to watch this in 5 years for a wonderful reminiscence (Fargo) or some additional insight (Unforgiven)? I think Slumdog gave me just enough in a single viewing.

I had a bug to finally catch up with Little Children so I grabbed that at Blockbuster as well. Wow, was this completely overwhelming and impressive. It was everything American Beauty hinted at, but never achieved. What an excellent movie. I will eagerly watch this one again down the road.

After 2 very enjoyable flicks, I ruined it all on Sunday. I went to the cheap show for Last House on the Left (horror flicks should be viewed cheaply at the second run theater). Worthless. To put that comment in perspective, I saw Friday the 13th at the same dollar show and loved it. I'm a cheap date for horror at the dollar show, and this let me down.