Archive for blargh

I’m On The Road Again…

Posted in Stuff with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2010 by Jessica Lada

It’s remarkable that technology allows me to acces the internet on my phone, but it is less than convenient to blog on a miniscule keyboard and two inch screen. Who thought microsoft word would be a good idea on a phone?

For the second time, I’m on the road in an 18-wheeler. I enjoyed the first venture and wanted to give it another shot, but I hadn’t planned for it to be so soon.

My fiance, Will, and I had big plans for the weekend. It was Memorial Day, so there was an extra day to enjoy. Will’s family has a big cattle ranch in the Flint Hills and that’s where I headed Friday. That evening, some of Will’s friends were having a barn party. As soon as I arrived, Will wanted to hurry out the door. But first he just HAD to show me the WWI trench knife he’d just bought. The knife has a metal scabbard with a very small opening. Instead of shoving the knife back into its sheath, Will accidentally shoved the knife an inch into his hand.
battle wound on Twitpic
He put the knife down and I saw that it wasn’t in the sheath. Will looked like the cat who swallowed the canary. “Did you just cut yourself?” I asked.
“I think I might have.”
“How bad is it?”
“I haven’t looked yet.”
At this point I went into panic mode. Will’s mom is a nurse and I made Will show the wound to her (rather than just stick a bandaid on it like he wanted). After threats of emergency room, Will promised to be careful with his hand and we went on to the barn party.

Will’s mom had worried that the party wouldn’t be what I was expecting. I was expecting a bunch of people drinking in a barn and fortunately that’s exactly what it was. There were only about a dozen people there in the coolest barn I’d ever seen. It had a wooden floor and a bar built in and up in the loft was a stage, bleachers, and picnic tables.

Half the people there had guitars, plus a mandolin and a banjo, and they jammed out with every folksong and bluegrass tun they could remember. Everyone sang and if you didn’t know the words you just drank your beer and nodded along.

We closed down the party and in the morning when everyone was awake and sober, we showed Will’s hand to his dad (a doctor). Doctor Billy was somewhat appalled and we immediately drove 10 miles into town to get it stitched up.
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic
The shot to numb it is always the worst, so I hear. After it got all numbed up, Dr. Billy brought in the suture kit and handed me a bottle of Lidocane and a clean syringe. “What’s this for?”
“If we need extra, you’ll draw it up.”
“I don’t know how to do that.”
“You’ll learn.”
Fortunately I didn’t have to learn. Five stitches later and we were back to the ranch. But then came the question, how was Will supposed to steer while shifting gears, write his logbook, or open/close the tarp on his truck with his dominant hand out of commission? That’s where I came in.
FRANKENSTEIN HAND! on Twitpic
So I’m an honorary trucker and Will’s left hand for the week. With my fiance next to me, delicious onion rings in my belly, and the Kansas sunset on the other side of the bugsplatted windshield, life is good.Sunset through the bugsplattered windshield on Twitpic

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by Jessica Lada

Originally posted at blogcritics.org

The Giver by Lois Lowry was assigned to every other English class in high school except for mine, so it seems, and I can’t believe it took me so long to finally read it.  I knew the author’s name and read her Newberry Medal winning novel, Number the Stars many years ago.  I expected a poignant and provocative story, but I was surprised by the intricacies of the story world she created in The Giver.

Also a Newberry Medal winning novel, The Giver introduces the viewers to a seemingly utopian society through the eyes of twelve-year-old Jonas.  Things are orderly and simple.  Each person has a distinct place in society and clear-cut duties.  The rules are simple and everyone obeys.  But Jonas unfolds the community before our eyes, the vision becomes flatter, starker, and dystopian.  When Jonas turns twelve, he gets his assignment.   He is to become the Receiver of Memory.  We learn that all memories of anything OTHER or ELSE belongs solely to the Receiver of Memory.  Now the former Receiver becomes The Giver and starts handing over memories to Jonas, one by one.  Jonas learns of snow and sun and love.  It’s a little bit of Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” with “The Matrix” thrown in for good measure.

Lowry paints the outlines of this world by describing the structure, how things work.  But that is only the first half.  Then she fills it in not by showing what is there, but what is not.  The community is vivid in its emptiness, in its lack of things.  And by doing so Lowry points out the most important parts of humanity.  She shows us the things that make life truly meaningful and enjoyable, but she doesn’t beat us over the head with it.

Lowry could have taken the ideas and pushed each to the extreme, beating the readers over the head with her point, but instead she took a much gentler approach.  This isn’t like the third installment of “The Matrix” when Neo gets blinded and dies and you can almost hear the Wachowskis shouting, “Get it?  Because he’s Jesus!” in the background.    I know.  I want to forget that movie too.  But remember “The Matrix”, the original that was so full of nuance and delicious ambiguity?  This is more like that, but without the black leather, dark sunglasses, or the best shot of a helicopter flying into a building ever.   Lowry presents her ideas in a clear and understated way and then steps back and lets them sink in.  This isn’t shock and awe, but the point definitely comes through.  A lesser author could easily have taken the idea to a place of disdainful finger-wagging.  I find myself wishing the ending had been clearer, but that would have destroyed some of the nuance I was just lauding.

The story isn’t full of action or drama, but it doesn’t need it.  It’s a coming of age story that doesn’t just deal with a boy learning who he is, but learning what it means to be human.  For science fiction and fantasy lovers alike, the story world here is nothing to scoff at.  Among fictional visions of the future, The Giver doesn’t usually stand alongside Orwell, Huxley, and Bradbury, but perhaps it should.  In its own quiet way, The Giver makes a potent statement about the world and all our human flaws and strengths.

Hrrrk! Blarrrgh…

Posted in About Me with tags on February 9, 2010 by Jessica Lada

That’s the sound of character death in the online web series Red vs. Blue.  It’s also the sound of a graduate student slogging through the trials of academia toward the prospect of employment in the real world.

I’m a grad student at the University of Oklahoma finishing up a Masters of Professional Writing.  I’m marrying a devastatingly handsome opera singer in October on his family’s cattle ranch.

I love fantasy novels, movies of all sorts, and I have a weakness for sci-fi tv shows.  In this blog I’ll give my thoughts, opinions, and recommendations on all of the above.

I read.  I write.  I blargh.