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Category Archives: Important Society-Impacting Event

Today is March 31st. That means that today is Trans Day of Visibility. Coming around four months after Trans Day of Remembrance, TDOV is a day of recognizing and empowering the trans community. It’s also a good day to donate to your favorite trans support fund. My go-to is Trans Lifeline.

I’ve been reading some absolutely phenomenal trans fiction and non-fiction lately. If you’re looking to boost your own understanding, check these out. I’m also always open to additional suggestions for titles to read.

If I Was Your Girl

George

Being Jazz

Wandering Son

More here.

And always remember, no matter the day: Trans men are men. Trans women are women. Trans rights are human rights.

“We Are The Meteor”

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign

We are the meteor
We can not be stopped
We just pick up speed
And we’re coming in hot

We are the meteor
We are the reset
And you won’t believe it
When you see our impact

We are the meteor
We are bringing change
We will see the end
Of the dinosaurs’ reign

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. It’s also believed to be his birthday, based on the recorded date of his baptism. Historians will likely never cease to debate this.

It’s no secret that I love Shakespeare. It’s not just a love of his writing, though. It’s a joy to hear his work performed, to see the incredible understanding that he had of the world around him. He was a man who embraced the differences in cultures, who invented words and phrases that have become commonplace, and who has influenced countless writers over the centuries.

I’ve seen and read a lot of Shakespeare’s work. It’s sort of a thing about earning an English degree, but it started long before college. My English teachers in high school had us read at least one Shakespeare play each year. I attended travelling performances that came to my town as part of a program called Shakespeare on the Plains (one cast included my future theatre professor). I own a few different copies of the complete worksk, and I’m most proud of an annotated set which belonged to one of my high school teachers. I have yet to read any of them in their entirety. And you know something? That’s okay too. He was an incredibly prolific writer. You don’t have to have memorized every sonnet and soliloquy, or even know what those things are, to appreciate Shakespeare.

My absolute favorite Shakespeare play is The Tempest, though sadly, I’ve never managed to catch a live performance. Several years ago, however, a new film version of it was released, starring Helen Mirren as Prospera (a very clever casting and genderswapping of the role of Prospero). This is probably my favorite production of the show, and is absolutely phenomenal. Djimon Honsou co-stars as Caliban, with Felicity Jones (soon to be starring as Jyn Erso in Star Wars: Rogue One) as Prospera’s daughter, Miranda. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

And a couple of notes on The Tempest. It’s the show in which I feel the greatest connection between one of the characters, Prospero, and Shakespeare. In Act IV, Prospero has been using his magic to perform a little show for his daughter and the young man who is wooing her. When he realizes that the time has come for the act to end, he says:

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. Sir, I am vex’d;
Bear with my weakness; my, brain is troubled:
Be not disturb’d with my infirmity:
If you be pleased, retire into my cell
And there repose: a turn or two I’ll walk,
To still my beating mind.”

He’s done with his life as a writer, it seems. Tired of his life of creating illusions for the people, Shakespeare is voicing his exhaustion through Prospero. The time, it would seem, has come for him to focus elsewhere. There’s a tragic beauty in it. Since The Tempest is believed by many to have been Shakespeare’s final play (or at least the last that he wrote on his own), Propsero’s dialogue at the close of Act V has always felt like a farewell message from the Bard himself.

“Now my charms are all o’erthrown,

And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free.”

How’s that for an epitaph?

And so, while I may have missed the actual date by a couple of days, I would like to reiterate my love for the writing this man accomplished. Shakespeare will always be one of my favorites. Happy birthday, Will. 400 years after you died, you work lives on.

It’s Doctor Seuss’s birthday!

While the man himself was born in 1904, his birthday is celebrated annually as Read Across America Day.

Doctor Seuss was a huge influence on me when I was a child. My parents both read Seuss books to me and my sisters. I have great memories of listening to “The Sneetches and Other Stories” (which we would borrow from the YMCA Camp of the Rockies library whenever we would visit Estes Park). The first book that I read aloud was “The Cat in the Hat Comes Back,” proving to my mother at a very early age that I was capable of reading on my own. That was where my love of books really began, sitting on the couch in the living room, carrying on where she had left off while she took a phone call. To this day, I will randomly quote “Bartholomew and the Oobleck” or any one of a dozen other Seuss titles.

I love books. Three bookstores and two libraries have served as my places of employment over the last ten years, and it all started with a little rhyme. So, though he’s been gone since shortly after I learned to read, I would like to thank Theodore Geisel for all that he’s done for me and for countless other children across the world. Thank you, Doctor Seuss.

Today is the eleventh of November, a day that celebrates the sacrifices made by those who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is Veterans Day. On this day, I would like to express my gratitude to my family and friends, both current and former military. I would like to thank all those who have served, because it is a sacrifice. I would like to thank the family members and friends of our veterans as well. Please do not think of me as ungrateful.

But I would like to say something more. I would like to share a wish, a prayer, a dream. It’s something that I feel every Veterans Day. I would like to see a future where we don’t have to thank living veterans, and the years in which the dead fell are further and further from us. Not out of spite or malice, but out of a desire for an end to war. I long for the day when our military forces are no longer necessary, for a Veterans Day celebration that doesn’t require us to thank our loved ones via Skype or phone. I hope for a future when we can thank all those who sacrificed time, family, and life so that no more must ever sacrifice the same. I don’t want to forget the veterans who have come before, or those who are yet to serve. Your service to your country should never be forgotten. I only wish that we had less need of you. I wish there were no cause that required you to give up what you do. I dream of peace. I’ll do my part to make it a reality.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” 
—John F. Kennedy

Thank you.

I never had the honor to meet Leonard Nimoy, and I am greatly saddened to know that now I never will. I have been a Star Trek fan for over two decades, thanks to my Oma and Opa. I would sit on their couch or living room floor with a bowl of ice cream and watch The Next Generation episodes with them (Oma loved Data, and even had an action figure of him).

I remember very few specific episodes, but I recall very clearly the sense of wonder I felt every time I heard that theme song. TNG was the Star Trek I grew up with. I was only a few months old when it premiered, and it aired its finale just after my seventh birthday. It was a massive part of my childhood. While TNG was my first Trek, it was by no means my last. I watched every episode of every series I could find (including a happy discovery of the first three season of Deep Space Nine on VHS at my local library’s book sale one day). I learned as much as I could about the different characters, and even bought a Klingon dictionary for me and another for my best friend. I have continued to return to The Original Series over the years, due mostly to a long-ago viewing of The Wrath of Khan on some almost forgotten Saturday. I didn’t know who Khan was at the time, but the death of Spock was incredibly poignant, even if it was a foregone conclusion that Nimoy would be returning in the next movie (the TV guide said so, and the TV guide was never wrong).

Netflix and DVD releases have allowed me to maintain access to Star Trek whenever I feel the desire. I’ve seen more of Spock’s adventures in the last two years than I ever did as a kid. I’ve come to know more and more of Leonard Nimoy’s work, Trek and non. I have to say that the man was admirable, on-screen and in real life. Spock told us the “Live long and prosper,” and Leonard Nimoy did. I’m going to do my best.

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10th. Everyone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

The Denver Broncos (my favorite football team since I was old enough to understand what everyone was yelling at the TV over) are going to the Super Bowl this year. I’m not normally overly concerned about football (or any other sport, for that matter), but this is a very exciting day for people in Colorado. So…

Yay Broncos!

We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

It’s almost the end of September, and another favorite time of year is here. This year, Banned Books Week runs from the 22nd to the 28th. For you uninitiated out there, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read. You see, some people in the world are so terrified of knowledge that they actively seek to hide information from other people. In some unfortunate cases, this results in people attempting to remove a book from public access. In response to this behavior, the American Library Association started Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of free and open access to information.

I’m not going to mince words. I fucking hate people who push for the banning of books. It is the one thing that gets me upset more than anything else. It is an act of supreme ignorance to ban a book. No one should be able to tell someone else that they can’t read something. Period. In fact, I’m rather stubborn about it. If you tell me that I shouldn’t read something, I’ll ask you why. If you tell me I CAN’T read something, I’m going to find a way to read it.

So, why do people ban books? Most challenges to books occur in schools. This frequently has to do with a book that a class has been assigned to read having some content in it that a parent or guardian of one of the readers finds offensive. Case in point: Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is a frequently challenged title. This is usually more because it includes a description of a girl having her first period than because it is about said girl’s questioning of the existence of a deity. Yeah, that’s right, kids. Talking about the changes that EVERY HUMAN BEING goes through are apparently reason enough to stop someone from reading a book. HOW DARE YOU CHILDREN ATTEMPT TO LEARN WHAT YOUR BODY IS DOING!

But yeah, “sexually explicit” and “unsuited to age group” are the two biggest reasons cited when someone challenges a book’s presence in a library. That’s because both of these terms are open to a very loose interpretation. If a parent feels that their precious little snowflake of a child isn’t ready to read about something that everyone else in their class at school has been talking about, then BAN THAT BOOK. Guess what, folks? Mitch Hedberg said it best. “Every book is a children’s book if the kid can read!” Look, if you’re concerned about what your kid might learn from a book, talk to your kid about the topic. It’s called parenting. The librarians aren’t there to do it for you. They’re there to provide information to their patrons, not to keep them from accessing it.

Why should I care? Orwell left us this gem in 1984. The oppressive regime in control of England in the book uses several slogans, including  WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH. It’s quite telling, and a bit terrifying, that 1984 has itself been challenged. We’re living in a world where our ability to access information is greater than ever. Thanks to the internet, we have an unbelievable amount of data that we can use every day, WHENEVER WE WANT. However, there are people who want to limit this sort of access to those things that they feel are appropriate for us to see. Sound familiar? People who want to ban books are proponents of ignorance. Fight them. Peacefully.

What can I do to help? Learn your library’s policy on reacting to book challenges. If someone says that they want to complain about a book, ask them if they’ve read it (Yes, this is a legitimate issue—most of the people I’ve met who complained to me about Harry Potter, for example, had NEVER ACTUALLY READ THE BOOK). Many complaints are based purely on hearsay. I like to think of this as the “Cycle of Stupidity.” Some day I’ll draw you a nifty illustration as an example of the cycle. For now, let it be known that only you have the power to stop stupid people. Fight the spread of ignorance. Embrace literacy. Read a banned book. Judy Blume has a great strategy for getting a kid to read. “The best thing to do is leave the books around the house and from time to time say, ‘I really don’t think you’re ready for that book.'”

Other people can stand where they like on the issue of reading freedom, but me? I’m with the banned.

This week is National Library Week, and so I would like to share a few of the things that have been going on at my library.

We’ve had a couple of very successful programs for our local teens. We hosted a Blind Date With a Book, where library books were wrapped in paper and labeled only with a small singles-ad-style blurb.

Happy Valentine's Day, book lovers.

Happy Valentine’s Day, book lovers.

Teens were encouraged to take home a book based solely on the paragraph attached. This sense of mystery allowed for them to be surprised by an author that they may not have encountered, or to unwittingly revisit an old favorite.

Up next was our Readbox display. I’m sure most of you are familiar with Redbox, the DVD and video game rental kiosks.

It's like a Redbox, only better.

It’s like a Redbox, only better.

And finally, some days it’s important to just have fun at the library. Nothing helps this like a subtle addition to our self-check station.

"Luke, this is where you scan your library card."

“Luke, this is where you scan your library card.”

If you’ve not visited your local library lately, you should. See what’s new. Libraries are evolving to meet your 21st century needs. Happy National Library Week.