To answer the question that no one is asking....

...I've been busy.

Plus, my home computer has a virus, and I don't want to pay the Geek Squad's extortionary rate, so I'm looking for something better.

Also, I took a wee vacation so I could spend some time with Monkey and go to the beach. We happened to pick the only cold day in the past week to go to the beach, but eventually it started raining, so we didn't stay at the beach for long.

I've also been reading. I read The First Casualty and Dead Famous by Ben Elton, Twilight and New Moon by Stephenie Meyer; The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett; A Long Way Down by Nick Hornsby; and I just started The Historian by an author whose name I cannot currently remember.

Lastly, I've been going to bed at a reasonable hour - before 11pm most nights. It helps that I put an air conditioner in my room and it's bloody humid right now. I want to sleep more so I can wake up in October, when it's cool again.


Tony Awards

I used to love all awards shows when I was younger, but I've definitely lost my love. However, I make an exception for the Tony Awards. When I was a child, the Tony Awards was a window into a world that I wanted to belong to. I pictured myself singing and dancing, in fantastic costumes, on stage in front of a live audience.

I liked a lot of things about last night's show. But the highlights for me were Lin Manuel-Miranda's acceptance speech for winning the Best Original Score Tony - which he delivered in freestyle rap - and the presentation from Sunday In The Park With George, which might be my favorite Sondheim musical.

I'm not sure if it's the music or the words or what, but that song gets me every time.


I am so happy

that Jesse Taylor is back at Pandagon. I didn't realize how much I missed him until I started reading his posts again.

Maureen Watches Too Much TV: The Dance, Dance, Dance edition

This week, my TV viewing was almost entirely dedicated to dancing, with a small foray into changing partners with the new CBS drama Swingtown.

So You Think You Can Dance: We had one episode dedicated to auditions, which were kind of boring, and then the Thursday night ep was the Vegas episode. This is when the top 200 dancers get put through the ringer. At the end of the episode, they introduced the top 20 dancers, which surprisingly did not include Kelli Baker or Brandon Bryant, both of whom I thought were locks for the show. The show gets much better once the top 20 are chosen, so I'm looking forward to this weeks episodes.

Step It Up And Dance: This week was the finale, and the final 4 dancers were to present their solos. Of course, first they had to participate in a choreography set to a terrible, terrible song by Fergie. As one of the contestants said "we thought we were going to the finale, but instead, we have finale purgatory." But the solos were impressive. Each one of the dancers presented their solo to notable choreographer Jerry Mitchell, who gave really useful critiques to each one of them. Based on what they presented to Mitchell, I was convinced that Mochi would win - her solo was powerful and beautiful. But when they presented their dances on stage, it was clear that the only possible choice to win the competition (and $100,000) was Cody Greene.

America's Best Dance Crew: I will watch anything dance related that doesn't have the word "star" in the title, I guess. This is an MTV show, produced by the mostly incoherent Randy Jackson. I recorded this one, which was a wise call, because in a TWO HOUR program, there was possibly 8 minutes of dancing. Since I don't care about all the chit chat, I fast-forwarded through everything except the routines. None of the finalists in this one grab me as much as the winners of the last season of this show, Jabberwockees. But it's early days yet.

Swingtown: I was as surprised as anyone when I heard CBS was going to do a show about swingers in the 70s. The premiere episode was okay - they opened the episode with a fake-out blow-job, and they had to make the nod to price differences (heavens forfend, ground beef for .88 cents a pound!), but this could be interesting summer viewing. Molly Parker (Susan) is dreamy (although she either got new boobs or the costumer can do miraculous things), Miriam Shor (Janet) is uptight and judgemental, Jack Davenport (Bruce) is so cute but he's too mumbly, and the swinging couple across the street (Grant Show and Lana Perilla as Tom & Trina Decker) are positively predatory. I'll keep watching this one, for the time being.


Banned Book Meme

Tagged by Deborah

These are the top 100 banned books. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you've read only in part.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell

#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eyes by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence

#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 A Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright

#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Émile by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Émile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Consider yourself tagged. Also: some of these books are puzzling inclusions. Little House On The Prairie?

It's a Mr. Death? Something about the reaping?

A couple of weeks ago, our lawn mower passed away, and since it was late spring, the grass grew and grew and grew, until it was very long. I was starting to feel anxious about it (since we live in a neighborhood of people who are obsessed with their lawns), thinking everyone was talking behind our backs about how we were letting things slide, so I decided I had to do something about it.

My initial thought was to buy a reel mower, so we could mow our vast .14 of an acre yard using only man/womanpower. But our grass was too long for a reel mower to be effective. So I bought a grass whip.

It took a little while to get the hang of it, but it was pretty darn effective. You basically swing it like a golf club, only less hip action. The best part: the children in the neighborhood gathered around to watch me reap, and they all wanted turns. I was happy to oblige. My shoulders feel well exercised, and Loki went out and evened out my work (and then did some more), so it looks good now. It's also quiet, uses no fuel and will be handy for those times when we let our lawn get a little out of control.

I think I'll still get the reel mower, though. My friend Katrina has one and she says it works great.