Kicking it With the Letter “K”

July 3, 2014 at 3:13 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

brush-calligraphy-alphabet-kYou may have noticed a meme going around that goes something like this:

Say your favourite book, author, song, film, and object beginning with a particular letter. And that letter will be randomly assigned to you by me, via random.org. If you’d like to join in, comment in the comment section and I’ll tell you your letter! (And then, of course, the chain can keep going on your blog.)

From So Many Books I was issued the letter K.  After a day spent at the beach, I think I have made my final decisions.

Bookkung fu
Kung Fu : History, Philosophy, & Technique.

I grew up in a Kung Fu Studio.  I have a third degree black belt and can rank my own students.  For my very first black belt test I had to write  a thesis meets book report on David Chow’s book and its content.  I have never thought the assignment frivolous or regretted the requirement.  It’s a great book.  It’s an important book.  I make my own students read it as well.  In fact, I think my copy is on loan to a student right now.  Even if you aren’t a Kung Fu student, even if you’re knee deep into another style, even if you’ve never pursued any martial art in your life – this book is a valuable piece of history and helps explain a lot of those FAQs that arise when someone finds out you do Kung Fu.  It’s rich as well as concise and informative.  And leaps and bounds a better read than Kite Runner or Krakatoa – which are both excellent books.

Author

On this I have been so torn.  Kingsolver or Kafka?  Kafka? Kingsolver?  I couldn’t decide.  Metamorphosis is one of my favorite books of all time.  I have read it repeatedly.  It made the list of books that have changed my life.  But I have to say, Barbara Kingsolver has won my heart.  The Poisonwood Bible was beautiful and epic.  The Lacuna a fascinating concept.  I have almost all her books waiting on my shelf to be read and I find myself picking her up sparingly, not wanting to waste the moment of reading something of hers for the first time, saving her like I did my virginity.

kiss meSong

I could go old school with Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” but although I love belting that song with my Alto-ness, I choose “Sixpence None the Richer’s Kiss Me.”  It’s not even because it’s about sweet kissing, which I love.  It’s all that bearded barley and green, green grass.  It’s frolicking and tree houses and treasure maps.  And the 90’s.  Written and performed by a group who references C.S. Lewis in their band name.

Film

I’m a sucker for all things King Arthur.  From the old Sam Neil movie “Merlin,” to Jamie Campbell Bower’s show “Camelot.”  I picked up all of Rosalind Miles’ Guinevere series, just because they are King Arthur related and have John William Waterhouse paintings on the front cover.  The Lady of Shalott hangs in  my living room over the fireplace.  Naturally, then, I’m choosing “King Arthur” for my K film.  More specifically, the version featuring Clive Owen and Keira Knightly.  I thought it was brilliantly done, I love that Guinevere is a warrior and not just a lady in distress, and the fight scenes are awesome.  Of course, part of my preference for this version is that Horatio Hornblower (ahem, I mean, Ioan Gruffud) plays Lancelot.

kitesObject

Kaleidoscopes are cool.  But I’m going to be cliche on this one and go with Kite.  Mostly because I have a three year old who is fascinated by them, but partially because I can’t see one without singing, “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” from Mary Poppins.  Sometimes in public.  With feeling.  At the top of my lungs.  I try to tell myself it’s because every choir girl has an inner Dick Van Dyke, but I’m not sure the rest of the world agrees with me.

Leave me a comment to keep this fun blog prompt going.

 

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Impromptu Post on Being Changed

December 9, 2013 at 9:47 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

There’s a little chain status going around on facebook that I recently participated in…

List 15 books that have changed your life. Don’t spend more than 15 minutes on the challenge. Tag 15 people (14 + me) so they can see your list.

Completely off the top of my head, in about five minutes versus the fifteen offered, and in no particular order I wrote:

1. Til We Have Faces – C.S. Lewis
2. The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
3. On Writing – Stephen King
4. Seed Savers – Author S. Smith
5. The Well Educated Mind – Susan Wise Bauer
6. Persuasion – Jane Austen
7. Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
8. The Giver – Lois Lowry
9. Sixpence House- Paul Collins
10. Banvard’s Folly – Paul Collins
11. How to Buy a Love of Reading – Tanya Egan Gibson
12. Fizz & Peppers – M.G. King
13. Lord of the Rings series/ The Chronicles of Narnia series/ The Harry Potter series – they get one number because they occurred to me in exactly ONE thought
14. The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
15. The Metamorphosis – Frankz Kafka.
I’m not sure how that list happened without a single Dickens title, that shocks me.

Soon after posting my version of the status update, conversation ensued.  One of my friends posted his own list on my thread instead, Tanya Egan Gibson felt honored to be on the list (she is so beautifully humble and I just love her and her work, she tickles me), and a college buddy posted a query.

Andi, I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on how “Metamorphosis” was life-changing for you. I studied it, but would have never thought of that one, so I’d be interested to hear how it was, for someone unlike me. : )

I started to answer right there on facebook, but I thought it deserved a blog post instead.

Franz-Kafka-The-MetamorphosisI read Metamorphosis first in… I’m not sure… 8th grade? I think it is best first experienced during puberty when you’re going through that everything creepy is wonderful phase.  Young teens are always the ones who haunt the shelf where Edgar Allen Poe is; and for me it was Edgar Allen Poe, Franz Kafka, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I identified greatly with Gregor, which if you read a Sparknotes’ character summary, try to think of a 13 year old geek who wouldn’t.

Gregor Samsa –  A traveling salesman and the protagonist of the story. Gregor hates his job but keeps it because of the obligations he feels to pay off his father’s debt and care for his family. He has transformed into a large bug and spends the rest of his life in that state. Although hideous and unrecognizable to others, Gregor retains his some of his inner life and struggles to reconcile his lingering humanity with his physical condition. (-from Sparknotes)

metamorphosis bugObviously a teen is the protagonist of their own story, they hate their job (school) but keep going because of obligations (to their existence, their parents, and the government).  Teens work their butts off seemingly for the sake of their family… chores, chores, more chores… honestly what 13 year old thinks they’re doing the dishes for themselves? And rarely do they actually think school is for themselves.  I wanted to learn and I enjoy research, but ultimately I wanted to make sure my parents weren’t pissed off by my report card.  Gregor is hideous and unrecognizable to others, and at thirteen who doesn’t feel gross and pimply – simultaneously invisible and on display to the world like a freak show.  At thirteen you’re sub-human, neither child nor adult, and most of your life feels like it’s happening in your head.

Or, maybe that was just me.

To quote another post I wrote:

[…] I read The Metamorphosis over and over again, wrote a paper on it in high school and two more in college.  I can’t count how many times I’ve read it, I just think its so wonderful.  After reading The Castle and The Trial, however, I’m realizing that Kafka’s greatest skill is in writing the most frustrating scenarios a human being could be plopped into – alienation and bureaucracy.  Whether it becoming a giant bug, living under mysterious and unfair authorities, or dying after a year long quest to discover what crime you have been accused of, Kafka has helplessness down to an art.  I love Kafka!

I love him because his concepts are fascinating.  He is the most wonderful creator of modern day myth that I’ve read. […]

(-from my review of The Trial)

When you read something that reminds you that you are not alone in your feelings, that even this great emaciated and pale world renown author could understand you, everything seems a little bit better.  If a dude can turn into a giant cockroach, I can get through middle school – at least I’m not literally a disgusting bug.

I recommend that anyone re-read The Metamorphosis, but from the eyes of their 13 year old self.  What do you think of it now? I remember feeling like my parents were repulsed by me.  I remember feeling like every adult saw me as a liar and was distrusting of my existence.  I remember feeling alone and wanting a friend.  What do you remember?

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Kafka on Trial

May 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

Title: The Trial

Author: Franz Kafka

Publisher: I am reading from a paperback copy from Vintage Books published in 1969

Published in 1937 by Knopf

Length: 341 pages, including post scripts and translator’s notes

I’d like to start by saying I love Kafka, I do, I really do, I think.

I read The Metamorphosis over and over again, wrote a paper on it in high school and two more in college.  I can’t count how many times I’ve read it, I just think its so wonderful.  After reading The Castle and The Trial, however, I’m realizing that Kafka’s greatest skill is in writing the most frustrating scenarios a human being could be plopped into – alienation and bureaucracy.  Whether it becoming a giant bug, living under mysterious and unfair authorities, or dying after a year long quest to discover what crime you have been accused of, Kafka has helplessness down to an art.  I love Kafka!

I love him because his concepts are fascinating.  He is the most wonderful creator of modern day myth that I’ve read.  But I find that while reading his full length novels, I feel a bit as I did when reading Don Quixote – screaming at Cervantes, “I get it! Iget it! I get it already!”  Halfway through Kafka’s The Trial, I groaned wondering when it was all going to stop, knowing that I knew Kafka well enough to know that peace would not be had in the end (at least not the kind brought about by resolution).   I love the exasperation of the short story or novella written to drive these scenarios home.  My heart can’t stand it in a full length novel.  At the end of The Trial, I hate Kafka.

But the story was so good!

Kafka belongs to the world of novellas and short stories.  That is where I love him best.

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