Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I don't read books - I devour.

This is just a list of some authors I feel like everyone should know and have in their possession of those intimately love worn books kept safe upon your shelf.

Pearl S. Buck – The first literary love for me, and most specifically you should read The Good Earth and Peony.

Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible. Such an amazing book, I’ve read it six times now, and still, each time the emotions are fresh. And, each time, what I walk away with from the book changes. A true successful novel in my eyes.

Steinbeck – ANY. Just anything of his, but Cannery Row will always be my favorite.

Faulkner – As I Lay Dying specifically. Each character is so striking, I could not put it down.

John Knowles – A Separate Peace. Another book I’d tear apart again and again.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – He is truly a fantastical writer, you’ll feel transported. Especially in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

Cormac McCarthy – Always. I love this man, I love his writing. He is a major influence on my own work, and a personal writer hero. My all time favorites by him are The Road, All the Pretty Horses, and Sunset Limited, in that order.

Grace Paley – Such a spunky woman that can take your breath away in three pages or less. Her short story Samuel is what did me in.

Donald Barthelme – If only I could start all my stories like he does! And his absurd yet bitingly realistic style is just as fun to read as saying his name! My very favorite of his is a particularly moving short story called Views of My Father Weeping.

Leni Zumas – She’s not for the faint of heart, but she paints the deplorable and grotesque in such a beautiful light. She also likes plums :) Her short story Heart Sockets is a melancholy favorite of mine that makes me want to hug the book.

Lois Lowry – Everyone knows her for The Giver which is an amazing novel, but my personal favorite was her Gathering Blue

Elspeth Huxley - The Flame Trees of Thika; my own copy is a worn down and loved book containing a child’s adventures and life through an untamed Africa told in startling clarity.

Kaye Gibbons – She struck me to the bone with her novel Ellen Foster.

Neal Shusterman – He writes “young adult” novels, but his Unwind will leave you feeling empty. Amazing story.

Beowulf – It’s a classic, you have to.

Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God. Her power over description makes me swoon.

Tim O’Brien – The Things They Carried. His haunting portrayal of war will not leave you, and yet, you are better for it.

Ray Bradbury – From Fahrenheit 451, to his short story The Sound of Thunder, and Dark Skinned and Golden Eyed They Were, this man always captures my imagination. One of my personal all time favorites of his though is Dandelion Wine.

Cornelia Funke – Her books make me truly feel like a child again, as if I am slipping  back into comfortable memories. Her Inkheart series continues to beat each previous book of her on my favorite list. First it was Inkheart, then Inkspell, and I know Inkdeath will make cry and love her novels all over again.

Neil Gaiman – The man who writes those creepy kid’s novels that I want to write. Coraline stole my mind. Beware the Other Mother. (Also, while the movie was pretty awesome and fun, it was no where near the talent of the actual short novel, nor as demented. Let’s just say they had to “happy” it up for Hollywood.)

Christopher Moore – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff (Christ’s Childhood Pal). Ok, so the title makes it seem really sacrilegious, but the novel is actually a stirring and hilarious depiction of what happened to Christ between the ages 13 and 30. And somehow, Moore is able to make you laugh like a sinner at some pretty sacrilegious jokes, while unknowingly falling for Joshua (Jesus’ character in the novel). It is by far an interesting and hilarious read.

Walt Whitman – again, anything of his. His poetry is pure beauty. You can not contain it. It would be easier to contain the rain, or to place every single blade of shining grass within a shoe box.

Langston Hughes – I gush enough. Langston Hughes is my true literary love. He is my number one writer hero. My number one influence. I devour his words slowly, they all have a distinct taste, like dark plums soaked in light wine. I wish I could have met the man.

Shakespeare – Yes, everyone knows him. But some of his work just seems to stand out more, like The Tempest, The Twelfth Night, The Winter’s Tale and Macbeth. High school can keep their stupid Romeo and Juliet, give me raging storms, sorcerers and sprites, give me comical temporary sex changes in an out of control love story, give me a sad sad tale of a mother awaiting her daughter’s return, and give me a bloodied child to rise up and speak with witches to ambitious murderous hearts.

Joanne Harris – Her book Runemarks was a refreshing plunge into a world ruled by Norse Gods and my all time favorite character, Loki. An awesome and unique adventure tale to refresh your mind. She was also the author of Chocolat, which was made into one of my favorite movies as well.

Elie Wiesel – This man has been to Hell. He has walked it’s eerily perfect cobblestone streets, he has slept on it’s stiff crammed bunks. He has pulled himself through it’s levels, one at a time, watching the dead parade before him. And he has lived. He has lived to write it all down, in a startling short, eight chapter novel , detailing, at the age of 16, his horrific struggle through Auschwitz, Birkenau, Buna, and Buchenwald. It is not a pleasant read. And yet, it is something that can not be ignored. This novel, this memoir, reduced me to nothing, to curling around the book in tears as if this could protect him, and somehow made me stronger. Here is a man who saw evil. Who saw Hell. And yet, he is old and happy now, speaking only of peace. He is a true inspiration, and the world would be a darker place without him.

This book, above all others, you should read. Night – by Elie Wiesel.

CNN - Cait News Network

So, update on the whole “no soda” silliness….no, just kidding, I’m still going strong!

Last week, to wean my feeble little bubbly sugared brain off soda, I issued a startling ration law throughout the nation of Cait, limiting myself down to only two sodas a day. There was upheaval. Riots even. One Cait even threw tiny bricks made of profane words against my ears. But the Cait Police cracked down, and there was a successful, albeit tense, week of only two sodas a day.

Now, since Monday, the ration of only one soda a day has gone into effect. Some Cait’s are still upset, and have begun protests, however they are quiet sit-ins and pose no threat to Caitdom as a whole.

By next Monday, Empress Cait the Great projects that not only will there be no soda throughout the nation, but that this will be met with little to no resistance, and be therefore, seen as a success.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

IncoheRANT - Bambi Can Shove It.

Why is it that people see the word "exotic pet" and they immediately jump on the "abuse" train (which is not to be confused with the Dane Train)?

All you hear are these inane comments about how they are "ripped out of their home and away from their families" (yes...actual quote). Um...no, no they are not, this isn't a Disney movie where all the little happy furry creatures can talk.

Responsible breeders are just that, breeders, they do not pull on the high-top spiked nazi boots and trek out to the Amazon, cutting down trees with their machetes along the way until they find a cute critter to cram in a box and mail it to you. This is not Fern Gully, or a GTA 3 radio ad.

The exotic pets we see today are bred "down", partnered with a similar, domestic species so your pet won't maul your face off in the middle of the night. You can't just slap a wildcat into your home and think it's dandy. Your looking at the second, third, or even fourth generation of offspring of the original wild species before it enters your home.

And yes, some exotic pets aren't second or third generation offspring, but they still are, as infants, bred and hand raised by humans...in captivity. All this generally leads to the fact that, if we let all these cute little fuzzies go, just release them back into the wild, they would be dead within a day, thanks to the wild "families" you think they were "ripped from".

Granted, this doesn't mean that I think you should let a Tiger walk around your kitchen, feeding him little tid-bits of your steak dinner, because Mr. Fluffy-kins is an "exotic" pet. No. No he's not. He's a 600 pound wad of muscle and 3 inch long teeth, that can jump over 30 feet. Your face is only 5 feet away. By "exotic" pets I mean animals like Chinchillas, Fennec Foxes, Coatis and I don't know..bats. Animals that you don't see in crappy reenactments of "When Animals Attack!", just weird ones, like you'd expect them to be normal pets in Harry Potter's world.

And yes, because our world isn't perfect, there are those Captain Planet Bad Guys who sneak into the jungles and prairies and shove little baby animals into crates to ship to rich snobs just dying for a monkey or a lion, or hell, probably a unicorn that shits gold. And those are the people you should be targeting with all your nasty "abuse!" comments. Those are the people you should be directing your time to fight against. Not some poor responsible dude who takes care of and loves his Fennic Fox pet.

All of this was spurned by my thoughts of owning a Fennec Fox (the things your mind latches onto at 2 in the morning!), and digging around the internets on some info on owning these adorable and fun creatures. (Let's just say I won't be owning one soon....seeing as it will cost me my first born child....) Consequently I found a lot of negative comments toward owners.

So after my good laugh, I must say to these comments that: ALL pets were at one time wild, and then were domesticated. Where do you think we got good old Fido from. He was once a wolf. LE GASP, I know, shocker.

Domestication is a part of who we are as humans. There's a difference between "domestication" and "abuse". Learn it. Just because some rich dude buys two tigers and keeps them locked up in tiny cages does not mean that you must think all exotic pet owners are evil. Don't stamp everyone with the word "Abuse" the minute you see "exotic."

It really just comes down to this: Grow up and learn that life is not a disney movie.

Well that, and just be smart! Don't buy an pet that's going to eat you in your sleep.

The Cover of the Book

I found myself randomly thinking about a childhood memory today. It was when I was little, probably around 8, and I went to a local fair with a friend. Brimming with excitement, we chose a "big girl"  ride - a looming candy-apple red contraption that looked very much like a sitting mechanical octopus. We climbed into the dangling square cars adamant that this ride was going to be cool. But it was not cool, was it?

No, no it was not. The whole ride rose up a few feet and then proceeded to spin us about violently, our little cars tilting at crazy angles (you know...physics and such). And as my little 8 year old self slid around behind the harness, because these rides were not "one size fits all", I found myself squished against the far side of the car, watching the vast expanse of nothing and then ground fly by, as my cheek smashed against the disgustingly sticky red metal side, screaming over my friend's similar cries-"I want to get off! I want to get off! I want my mommy! I want my mommy!". Although...it probably sounded more like a high-pitched "Iwantmymmm."

Somehow, over the screams of glee of other passengers and my own frantic cries, a young man yelled out from the car behind us at the top of his lungs,
"It's ok sweetheart! It's ok! I've been on this ride 5 times! It's almost over! You're doing good! One more turn!"
And he continued on like that. Instead of enjoying his time on the ride, he stopped to scream to a little girl he couldn't even see that everything was ok, and he talked me through the rest of the ride, each time saying,
"One more turn! You're ok sweetheart! One more turn!"

The ride ended, my friend and I fumbled with shaking hands to unlatch the harness, each crying over what seemed at the time a "near death experience". But the young man who had talked me through the ride had thrown off his harness and dashed around to our car to help us, asking-
"You okay now sweetie? Let's find your mommy."

I had wanted to hug him then and there, despite his spiked bright orange mohawk and the crazy metal piercings that ran through his nose and eyebrows. Despite the studded leather jacket with the sleeves ripped off and the heavy eye-liner he had smeared around his eyes. Despite the tattoos of dragons and skulls littering his arms. He and his matching girlfriend walked both my friend and I back to my friend's mom, patting our back the whole time, telling us how brave we were.

I have always credited my parents for teaching my sisters and I the importance of  not judging people by their looks, but that young man was really the one who hit the message home for me. He was not a punk guy who liked to smash things under his biker boots. He wasn't an arsonist, he wasn't a mean low-life. He was just a guy who liked to wear his hair up and orange, just a guy who liked tattoos. He was just a guy who thought it was important to comfort a crying little girl on a scary fair ride.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Serious-Face-Cait Goal #1

So I've thoroughly decided to stick my nose up at soda, like a Hollywood starlet who walks around on baby-seal skin boots, hemp bracelets on stick thin wrists while spewing product placements about protein water and vegan meals, acting shocked that the baby seal's eyes are used as buttons for her boots.

Ok...so maybe not like that. But I'm definitely quitting it.....again.Too much sugar, it's a bit ridiculous. And some how I feel that if I post it here, I'll be less likely to break it. So here goes Serious-Face-Cait Goal number 1, hopefully leading to a happier, less Cranky-Face-Cait!

And sorry the first post wasn't inspirational or awe-inducing Chris. :P