Archive for the Books Category

Thrifting Around

Posted in Books, Me, Music on August 27, 2009 by frumpunk

Here’s a secret: I was raised in thrift stores. Everything I ever owned for the first twenty or so years of my life once belonged to someone else. I got my first new clothes when I was eighteen. Green cargos and a blue plaid shirt from the clearance rack at Marshalls. I found it odd when I first met people who shopped at thrift stores when they didn’t have to. For my family it was a necessity. For them it’s fashion or some sort of cultural statement. I could wax poetic on my feeling towards people from affluent backgrounds who slum to pretend to be like people from my actual background, but that’s for another rant that will probably never get written. Fun fact: most of my rants never get written. I just don’t like being negative, not to mention judgmental. And now that I’ve followed my usual habit of digressing from the point in the first paragraph, let’s talk about thrift stores.

Even now that I don’t have to, I still love going back into thrift stores. It’s a blend of reasons, from the personal pride in no longer having to dig through racks of corporate picnic t-shirts to find something vaguely wearable, defined in my adolescence as not being something that my classmates, most of whom were the more affluent sort, to the fond memories of the little treasures dotted around that I’d spend hours with. While my siblings looked for clothes I’d browse the thousands of old and strange books that only thrift stores seem to have or dig through old electronics and computer systems from the eighties.  There’s a line from an Oasis song “my body is young, but my mind is very old”. It resonates with me because my experience of things is from a timeline inconsistent with my age. My first computer was state of the art in 1980, with its green and black screen, dot matrix printer and no hard drive. I was using it in the days when my friends had Windows 95. I read books that were given as Christmas gifts in 1975, when other people were lining up for the latest Goosebumps release. The age of my clothes was a given. I apparently rocked out at Seths bar mitzvah, even though I was only seven at the time.

Thrift stores contain all the little treasures of the past that society has discarded. I’ve never owned a record player but I did own LP’s, because I couldn’t think of anything cooler than owning the original Star Wars soundtrack.  Those cassettes came in handy when I turned seventeen and owned my first car, which in true thrift life aesthetic, was older than I was. A 1984 Pontiac 6000. Originally baby blue, it was involuntarily brown by the time it passed into my hands. And while my classmates got new cars with fuel injection (oooh, how fancy!) I was rocking a carburetor in a rust colored piece of Detroit vintage. In retrospect, I may have unintentionally been an ironic hipster, except there was nothing ironic about it and I wasn’t very hip.

I went back into a thrift store today in a whim. I took in the sights and smells. Appreciated the fact I can now afford to wear clothes that weren’t previously sweated in, and headed to the one part that I’ll never leave. The book racks. After a gut wrenching decision, I left with three new reads I’d never have heard of otherwise. But when I got home I discovered I literally can’t fit any more books on my shelf. I hadn’t realized I was at that point yet. Maybe I should donate some to a thrift store?

…And We’re Back

Posted in blogs, Books, Funny?, Me, Shidduchim on March 10, 2009 by frumpunk

It’s weird staring at a blank page when you haven’t written in so long. It’s like a chore to fill, and I have to say it’s been a breath of fresh air to get out of the habit of checking blog stats and comments several times a day. My popularity has obviously waned with the lack of new content, but after almost a month I was shocked to see I’m hovering around 100 hits a day. Sorry for letting all of you down day by day, or sorry to the one person who checks a hundred times a day for new content. I have no way of knowing which it is.

I did notice that during my absence blog buddies Frum Skeptic and Too Young To Teach got engaged! You know what that means? I think it means that me not posting is a segulah for girls with blogs to find their bashert. I suppose that would explain the fact that the shidduch crises has exploded since I started blogging. I’m sorry, really. Maybe someone can pay me not to blog ever again and end the crises once and for all?

So what have I been up to? Well firstly, I got that nose job that I’ve been promised ever since my sweet sixteen. Now I’m pretty at last. And my back no longer aches from carrying that thing around. While in the hospital, I had a lot of free time to play with my phone since ironically, I couldn’t find the charger for the battery pack I bought for my Zune for such a situation. Turns out my phone has a panorama option for the camera. I took a picture of my ward:

dsc00011I also read some books that I’d been meaning to get to. “Yes Man” by Danny Wallace. (Better than the movie, but a bit slow to start). “How To Be Lost” by Amanda Eyre Ward. (Great, but I figured out the twist way too early, and the ending left me wanting), and also “The Runaway Jury” by John Grisham. (One of his best, mainly because he nails the ending for once. It’s also better than the movie, but the movie was pretty good).

After I recuperated, I flew to Senegal to help save the endangered lemur. That was until we got there and discovered that there are no lemurs in Senegal, and also, noone in the group was quite sure what exactly a lemur was, did, or looked like. Due to a series of freak accidents, we lost most of the group and all of our equipment, leaving me to crawl and beg my way back home on foot. Luckily, I managed to go back in time and publish a fictionalized version of my journey as a novel called “Hatchet“, the proceeds of which I used to pay for the rhinoplasty. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go take a shower.

Stay tuned for a Purim Post.

Nostalgia Tripping

Posted in Books, Me, Music on July 3, 2008 by frumpunk

When I get into something I get into it totally. When I read a book I like from an author I’ve never read before my next step is usually to read everything he’s written until I’m sick of his style. I did it with John Grisham when I was 13, Jefferey Archer a few years later, Nick Hornby in Israel, Woody Allen and Colin Bateman this past year, and it looks like Philip K. Dick is next. This applies to everything, I never understood the pleasure of shuffle on iPods. When I stocked shelves I would listen to my Zune and in a day would usually go through a bands entire discography. I find it jarring to have a playlist or shuffle and jump from style to style. I only use playlists when I want specific songs, but they’re always all from the same band. The only thing this doesn’t work for is movies. Maybe it’s just that I enjoy the script more than the acting, but I’ve never seen a movie that made me want to see other things by the same actor. Well, except for when I saw The Transporter. I watched everything else by Jason Statham over the next few months. It’s been years since I actually watched TV, usually I’ll see a show on DVD, which means I can watch a whole season at once, and if I like the first episode I usually will.

So on that note I’ve been on a nostalgia trip and have been listening to albums I’ve neglected for years. Sunny Day Real Estate are one of my favorite bands. You’ve probably never heard of them, but you know their sound from current screamo bands such as Thursday and Taking Back Sunday. I’d call them the Godfathers of the emo/screamo genre along with Rites of Spring and maybe Fugazi. So after a lull of several years I rediscovered their first two albums ‘Diary‘ and ‘LP2‘. I’ve listened to their last two albums a lot, but somehow neglected the first two for ages to the point I forgot the songs on it. At this point I’ve had them on repeat since Monday and I can’t believe I ignored it for so long. This nostalgia trip had me digging through some plastic tubs that hold my life from about 14-20. I’ve reread an issue of Guitar World from March 1999 that had a whole retrospective on the 90’s. (Does anyone know how to preserve magazines? It’s very tattered and I’d really like to keep it.) That kind of thing was important to me as until the indie movement hit I hated all the music of my generation in favor of 80’s and 90’s alternative and underground. Usually Linkin Park or Limp Bizkit were on the cover of music magazines.

Also I just finished something else I neglected reading for ages, Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’. I’m not usually into Science Fiction but this book transcended the fantasy and went into themes of morality and choice. One poignant passage that I loved: “I lifted you from the tomb world just now and I will continue to lift you until you lose interest and want to quit. But you will have to stop searching for me because I will never stop searching for you.” I recommend reading it in context.

Some Sunny Day Real Estate media to give you an idea:

Snibe | Every Shining Time You Arrive | In Circles | Seven | Rain Song

There’s more to life than books, you know. (But not much more)

Posted in Books, Me with tags , on March 27, 2008 by frumpunk

Frum Satires latest post is an interesting read. We don’t share the same taste in books at all. He’s completely outdoors focused while the closest to the outside I get is when I see it while closing the blinds so my little cozy cave of bed is darker.

But reading is my earliest passion. One of my earliest memories is seeing the words “FP is an avid reader” on a first grade report card. I immediately asked what avid meant and a vocabulary which is both magnificent and underused was pictured in its baby steps.

I would read anything. I remember reading a book of Roald Dahl short stories when I was 20 and wondering why a certain story was so familiar when I realized I read the book when I was about 6. I even finished ‘Go My Son’ (arguably the longest and best of all the holocaust books) before the age of 10. I literally read any random thing that was grown up. I read a biography of Paul Getty around the age of 8. I never read it again, but I’ll never forget the whole bit about his grandson who was kidnapped. He famously refused to pay the ransom saying that “if I pay for one kid, they’ll kidnap all of them”. They cut his ear off with a razor (described in very graphic detail, especially for a kid my age) and sent it to Paul in a parcel. When they realized he was serious about not paying the ransom, they released the kid. I remember being struck by the fact that his biggest upset about the whole ordeal was the fact that he could no longer wear sunglasses. I read a book on the Golom of Prague until I got too scared. I must have been 5, and the book was telling a story of a Priest who tried to start a blood libel that the golom stopped. It described him tempting a boy into the church where he slit his throat with a dagger shaped like a cross and draining his blood. Whichever rabbi wrote that, could have had a brilliant career writing horror books and film scripts.

I used to like gedolim biographies, until I realized they were all the same. I’m convinced Artscroll has a template and they just churn them out by auto-replacing names and locations. (Born poor to a pious family, brilliant and precocious child. Memorized Chumash and Tanach by 5, Mishnayos by 7, Talmud Bavli by 10, at 13 he traveled across: Poland/Russia/Lithuania (pick one) to learn by the gadol of his generation. He learned with the brightest students and outshone them all even though he was so young. etc…).

I was the only one I knew of who enjoyed books in school. I thoroughly enjoyed the novels we had to read (everything from ‘Hatchet’ to ‘Goodbye Mr Chips’ (I was so sad at the end)). I also read ahead in my history and politics textbooks. Even though the latest president in them was Reagan! My school had a list of approved books of course and our english teacher did the best he could with what he had to work with. To teach us racial tolerance we read ‘Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ although the sequels were banned, I believe because Cassie got pregnant in the second one.

Modern times: Lately I’ve been reading Woody Allens works over and over. He wrote four books of the best short stories ever. They’re everything that could appeal to me; witty, wise, philosophical and unabashedly ridiculous. Actually short stories are my new thing. They’re like novels on concentrate. No need to fluff the story up with side plots, just enough time to cover the whole point and distill it down to its purest form. And you can knock out a couple every break, no need to read 400 pages over 3 weeks of lunch breaks and keep wondering whats going to happen next. Edger Allen Poe (remember The Raven from high school) is of course the classic master, but check out Jeffery Archers books, as well as his best novel, ‘Kane and Abel’. Also the aforementioned Roald Dahl, and I’m talking about the adult stories, not ‘The Witches’ or ‘Matilda’ (though those are also brilliant. I just feel his adult stories are under-appreciated). The two most recent books I’ve read are a biography on The Smiths and… erm… a Bloom County collection.