Fifty years, twenty five sober, my birthday is near, and here I am, all full of reflection. Continuing the theme of influential books, and these books are all about power… The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is like the Bible; I have internalized its principles, incorporating them into my breath. When I say “like the Bible,” I mean that I haven’t read the Big Book the way most Christians haven’t read the Bible: not often enough, not fully enough, and without as much mindfulness. The book is too historically specific and cumbersome to make it all the way through, so I cherry pick. Nonetheless, itRead More →

In honor of May Day and my approaching semicentennial, here’s a gem of a video, a portion of a documentary about the famous community organizer, Saul Alinsky. Talk about brilliance. This particular excerpt is simply prescient. Alinsky is best known for his book Rules for Radicals, a primer on community organizing. This book earned the right wing’s ire because Obama used it as his textbook for community organizing. Then they snapped to its brilliance and co-opted it, all the while trashing it for its socialist leanings. Indeed, the right’s non-stop Obama Bashing is a page right out of Alinsky’s book. Well played, my friends, wellRead More →

On June 10, 2011 I put my beautiful cat “down.” I have spent the week reflecting on this experience, revisiting my grief, marking the year and its tumult. I associate her with a part of my life that is now gone; she is the bearer of much meaning, and she is so much more than just that. If I cordon off all that she represents in the narrative of my life, our shared history, which I couldn’t possibly do, and if I focus only on our relationship in its purest simplicity, I see a different picture. I am reminded of Haraway’s When Species Meet. IRead More →

Paranormal fiction and urban fantasy books are plentiful these days, but a large portion of them are vapid. Allie Beckstrom, the heroine in Devon Monk’s “Magic in the…” series, is a welcome contrast to the genre’s disappointingly passive Twilight female characters.   TV shows such as Buffy, Charmed, and So Weird made common the genre’s kick-ass female characters, and opened the door for urban paranormal’s expanding popularity. The burgeoning teen fiction/young adult market, born with the huge demographic hump of Gen Y, cemented gothy/vampy/werewolfy/witchy/faery stories as a permanent fixture at Barnes&Noble. Yet, as the genre boomed, its greatest strength declined in favor of the lowestRead More →

Travel books, travel guides, and audio tours make all the difference on your first trip somewhere. The DK Eyewitness travel guides are consistently useful, and the Rome book served me well during my visit.Most especially, I love the books’ pictures.. They have great maps and guides to art, architecture, and sights. The pictures help you identify where you are and what you are seeing. It’s a very visually appealing book. Compared to other books where there’s lots of text and little in the way of images, the DK book is an outstanding value. Here’s a scanned a page so that you can see what theRead More →

The first time I bought a DK travel guide was our trip to Amsterdam a few years ago. I looked at several books, and bought only two: DK’s Amsterdam and Holland books. I felt quite fortunate for my selection. Unlike many of the guides, the DK travel guides are very pictorial. They have breakout images of key sights so that you know exactly where to look. This works for visually oriented travelers. The Amsterdam and Holland books included a delightful canal walk. A long, glossy page unfolds from the book, and it depicts detailed images of the buildings along the canal. The page provides tidbitsRead More →

My childhood nickname was Binie. This is a huge confession. Still, the net has given me, like everyone else, permission to confess. Binie was short for my middle name, which I will in no way repeat out loud to any living soul. In addition, according to family stories, I somewhat resembled the character “Suzuki Beane” (1961).  Apparently, since I wore jeans with similar turned-up cuffs, and an attitude with similar turned-up edges, the nickname stuck. Suzuki Beane, who lived on Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village, was the child of hipster parents. She befriended a square named Henry, and the two of them ditched school toRead More →

I am almost done with cleaning my office. What’s left is the hardest part: My filing cabinet. I’ve done some preliminary cleaning of files, but most of the work remains. I’ve started cleaning and de-cluttering other parts of the house. It feels productive, but the truth is that I’m avoiding the ominous filing cabinets. The other day I found a videotape of an interview I did with my grandmother a couple of years before she died. I sent it off to be converted to DVD. I hope they don’t break it or ruin it. On a different note, my therapist seems utterly fascinated by D&D.Read More →

Writing is difficult for me.  I have never been good at journaling. I’ve always wanted to be good at it, but it’s never worked out for me. I love to buy journals to write in. I have many beautiful, elegant, empty journal books. I also have a stack of journal books with maybe only five or six entries in them. The most successful journaling I did was trying to work through my writing block. I read a book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, about dealing with creative blocks. Like most self-help books, this comes with a whole array of accompanying workbooks, inspirational CDs, blahRead More →