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Tag Archives: 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,600 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2013 has been a pretty amazing year. I got to continue to work at two jobs that I love. I got to meet Neil DeGrasse Tyson, William Shatner, and Neil Gaiman. I saw RUSH in concert for the first (and hopefully not last) time. I made a lot of awesome new friends at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, and got to spend time with a lot of my old ones. I got to take my cosplaying in bold new directions. I celebrated the birth of my first nephew.

Looking back over my preview for the year, I’m seeing a lot of great things that I got through. I read Halo: Silentium (and played through Halo 4 with my good friend Hugh), and Dr. Sleep. I caught Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3, and Star Trek: Into Darkness in the theatre, and caught up on a lot of other films once they hit DVD. I powered through the new season of Arrested Development and devoured the first season and a half (thus far) of American Horror Story, plus wrapped up the final season of Futurama.

There have been some rough patches this year. I’m not going to pretend that, as Vonnegut so wonderfully said, “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” It’s not true. I lost one of my oldest friends a few months ago. Lots of people are moving on to do other things with their lives, and I have felt at many times that I am being left behind. I didn’t do a great number of the things that I set out to do at the beginning of this year. However, despite all of these things, I’ve found that the good manages to once again outweigh the bad. I can honestly say now that I believe that 2014 will be even better. I’ll keep you posted. Thanks as always for reading.

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.

On Friday night I got to see my first ever live RUSH concert. My mind is blown. From the opening notes of Subdivisions to the ominous closing words of 2112 Part VII: The Grand Finale, the concert rocked. Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart may be aging, but they certainly don’t act any older. Alex can still play guitar like no one else, with beautifully melodic solos and an intense energy that is only matched and amplified by Neil’s focused drumming (I swear he doesn’t actually look at the drum kit and just KNOWS where each piece is) and Geddy’s bass, vocals, and skipping around the stage. There really is nothing else like it.

A complete setlist from their Denver show can be found here. Note that the string ensemble they had backing them during the Clockwork Angels tracks also played during YYZ. That’s right. YYZ. Live. WITH A STRING ENSEMBLE. I need to go lie down now.

2013 is going to be the best year yet. I say that every year, but that’s because it’s true. Yeah, I’ve had fantastic experiences in the past, but each year that I’m still here, still reading and writing and doing what I love is an even better year than the one before.

What I’m looking forward to:

Books: Halo: Silentium  comes out this year, wrapping up Greg Bear’s Forerunner Saga, a sweeping epic prequel to the Halo franchise that ties in to last November’s Halo 4 release.

Dr. Sleep should hit store shelves this year as well, in late September according to Stephen King’s web page. Shining fans rejoice as we finally get to find out what happened to little Danny Torrance when he grew up.

Movies: Holy shit, have you seen the trailer for Pacific Rim? Guillermo Del Toro is back, and he’s bringing his incredible energy to what seems to be a bit of a love letter to giant Godzilla-esque monsters and massive robots built to take them down.

Iron Man 3 drops in May. I can’t wait to see Marvel’s first follow-up to The Avengers in a few months. Let’s see how Tony Stark handles dealing with one of his oldest comic book foes, The Mandarin.

We get to see J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to Star Trek with Star Trek Into Darkness. Best part about this? Benedict Cumberbatch gets to play a villain again. I can’t wait to see the crew of the Enterprise back in action.

Television: Arrested Development returns at last! Having a Netflix account would be worth it if only for this show. We’ll be seeing an entire season released exclusively via the streaming service sometime this year.

Game of Thrones is back this year as well, with the HBO adaptation of George. R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy series beginning a third season in March.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to be a good year, dear readers. What books, movies, etc. are you looking forward to this year?