Monthly Archives: August, 2010

Catch-Up

I’ll start with the big news: I have a new job! I am going to be the campus minister at the University of Texas at Austin. This means I am now professionally affiliated with the good folks at BustedHalo, which is super cool, if I do say so unprofessionally. It also means that I have to move to Texas next week. Fun times.

In other fun news, how about some Friday Fives to continue this update?

July 30: Beverages

  1. What is your favorite drink of all time? Does it hold a special memory to you or is it just because it tastes good? I have had a lot of delicious drinks. Almost twenty-four years of them, really. Water is probably my favorite, followed by Coke Zero.
  2. Tea or coffee or hot cocoa? English breakfast tea. Even after four years of college and two as a full-time teacher/full-time grad student, I still do not drink coffee. I just don’t want to.
  3. Best summer time drink? I love pink lemonade.
  4. Worst soda brand ever? I’m pretty sure I had regular Mountain Dew once and did not like it. Mountain Dew Live Wire (the one that tastes like orange soda) was delicious, though.
  5. Water: flavored, bottled, carbonated, or regular old tap? I avoid tap water like the plague, but I stay away from the trash of plastic bottles. I like filtered water (from fridges or Brita pitchers) and water fountains. As a bonus, fountains are free.

August 6: Health Insurance

  1. Do you have insurance? Yes. ACE took care of us, and my new job is actually a job, so it works out.
  2. What do you think of public option for health care? I don’t like politics. I have heard a lot of support and criticism, and I’m not sure where I stand.
  3. Should health insurance be mandatory? If so, should it be subsidized for the poor? I started to respond that you can’t require things that cost money, but then I realized that’s not true. We require students under sixteen to be in school, and even public education requires money for supplies (and these days, uniforms, too). I don’t think mandating health insurance is going to solve the problem. Medicaid already exists to subsidize health care for the poor, and clearly that hasn’t been an enduring solution.
  4. Do you think the health care industry and pharma make too much money or not enough? Neither.
  5. Would you leave the country if it meant that you would have no job but [would be] assured health care? No. If I don’t have a job and I can’t eat, medicine won’t help me.


August 13: Cards

  1. What’s your favorite playing card game? Why? Nertz! It reminds me of some of my best friends, it’s fast-paced, and it’s super intense. (Note: That is a mess of a Wikipedia article, but it gives you the gist of the game. I do not play in teams.)
  2. Poker: five card draw, seven card stud, or Texas Hold ‘Em? None. I don’t like poker, though I’ve tried to learn a few times.
  3. Where gambling is involved what is the highest amount of money you’d bet on a hand of cards? I’ve actually never gambled on cards (legitimately, not in a “what happens in Atlantic City” sort of way). I’m so cheap I probably wouldn’t go higher than $20.
  4. Have you ever had your tarot read with playing cards? If not would you want to? If so was it accurate, interesting, or just plain lame? I have not and I wouldn’t. If I cared enough about hints of the occult to break my knock on wood superstition and stop reading horoscopes, I am definitely staying away from tarot (which, if I’m not mistaken, requires tarot cards and not playing cards).
  5. What is on the back of your playing cards (the swirly red/blue design or is it a specialty deck with photographs)? Which deck? Nertz takes one deck per person! I have five decks in different colors that say “Solitaire Frenzy” which I took from a packaged Nertz set with a board (boo!), one red Bicycle deck, and one with scenes from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on the fronts: a gift from my friend Stephanie in high school.

Review: The Hunger Games

The best thing about still being between jobs is getting extra sleep. The second-best thing is having time to read recreationally. I subscribe to a few different newsletters, and I am proud to say that I managed to catch up on every single one of them. I left no interesting article unread. It was glorious and informative.

While I was killing time in North Carolina before my friend Niki’s wedding, I stopped at a Borders to preview books. I started with Practicing Catholic, but it was not captivating in the slightest. I managed to find The Hunger Games in the YA section (it was good to go back to a familiar zone), and based on rave reviews from Sarah and my housemate Mike D, dove in.

I was hooked in two pages. I only finished the first chapter before I had to go back to my hotel before the rehearsal, but it was on.

I must admit that, despite the supposed lack of originality in the basic plot, it is compelling. A fellow ACEr jokingly sent out the trailer of Battle Royale as a nonexample of starting the school year, and though it was awful, I was memorized by the concept (thanks, Wikipedia!) Katniss Everdeen (the names are so silly) is a sixteen-year-old resident of what remains of the United States, twelve districts surrounding the Capitol (roughly in Denver). As punishment for an uprising, one boy and one girl from each district is offered as a tribute to the government-sponsored Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death. Katniss, from the future Appalachia, finds herself thrown into the games and fighting for her life and her many loves. I love near-future dystopias (The Giver, anyone?), so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed there.

I knew the novel would be YA, but Suzanne Collins’s writing style took the genre to a far different level. I knew how the novel would end (and not just that Katniss would live), but Collins’s writing kept me interested in the details of Katniss’s journey. Using the present tense is rare and difficult (I caught at least one moment that seemed awkward), but it was exactly what the novel needed. I did find it speeding up toward the last few chapters, but in hindsight, any more slowing would have seemed sluggish.

Sarah recently linked a blog post breaking down the reason for the dearth of YA fiction featuring boys. Collins’s novel, though told from the perspective of a girl, is a capital example of that defect: girl books often focus extensively on feelings and relationships. Katniss is such an unusual girl that she seems neither too girly nor unrealistically so.

The Hunger Games is a captivating story. It reminds me of my beloved Harry Potter in that the first book was complete in itself while clearly leaving the door open for future books. I look forward to the remaining two volumes of the series.

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