500 and 25

Thursday, 27 January 2010

I’ve commented about this before here, but it’s really disappointing when I pick up a book and find myself fascinated by the idea set forth in the book, only to have that idea been executed poorly. Most recently, I wrote a review of God Hates You, Hate Him Back HERE.

I always seem attracted to books that rank things. I don’t why; I guess I just like lists. My all-time favorite list book is Michael Hart’s The 100: A Ranking of the 100 Most Influential Persons Who Ever Lived. Others have tried to follow suit with Hart’s book, and they’ve always failed miserably.

For example, the book 1,000 Years, 1,000 People: Ranking the Men and Women Who Shaped the Millennium seems like a good idea, but the committee of authors tried to pack too many people into too short of a book (most individuals get only a paragraph). Worse, there’s little argument given for the ranking. That’s the fun of Hart’s book: anyone could say that, for example, Buddha is more influential than Julius Caesar, but Hart explains why. But the 1,000 Years book, just lists off people. Why do they rank Columbus over Harry Truman? Who knows. They don’t say.

Another lousy attempt is The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived. Again, this sounds fun, but the authors don’t bother to say why they feel Joe Camel should outrank Bugs Bunny. I’d love to hear the argument, but, instead, they just give a brief bio on the fictitious characters and we, the readers, are left to figure out why Mickey Mouse was placed here or Tom Sawyer was placed there. A really stupid thing about this book is that they don’t even put the ‘people’ in order. When I began reading, I just assumed the first ‘person’ I came across was the highest ranked…but no. It was the 18th. Why? Again, I have no idea.

Anyways, I was at Borders Books today and I picked up the book 500 Rock Bands: A Line Up of the 500 Best Rock Bands.Though I suspected that this book, like 1,000 Years, would suffer from having too much squeezed into it (it does – a better book would have only 100 bands), I still decided to thumb through it for a while.

I think this book might be the worst of the bunch. First, my primary complaint is that, yet again, there’s no argument for why one band is placed in front of one and behind another. Do author’s not get this? If you’re going to say Led Zeppelin is the 5th best rock band of all time, a brief history of the band is totally unsatisfactory. I could find out a quick history of Zeppelin just by reading their Wikipedia entry. Instead, I want to know why the author feels Zeppelin belongs after the Rolling Stones but before Pink Floyd.

Second, I’m not even going to say which band is #1, because if you can’t guess than you must not know anything about popular music from the last 6 decades. Hint: it’s absolutely the most predictable and safest choice. But I’m okay with this selection, the dumb thing, though, is the author’s selection for #2 and #3: Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. Have you ever heard of a band called Bob Dylan? I haven’t. The author must be referring to the person, but then she explicitly contradicts her book’s title. Sorry, Huffa, Dylan is not a band. Neither is Presley.

Third, where’s #83? As I was paging through the book, I read the entry for #82, then turned the page to #84. Assuming my fingers had clumsily skipped a page, I tried my darnedest to split apart the missing page. Alas, there was no page, #83 is just missing. So…I guess the book just ranks #1-82 and then #84-500. Perhaps her next book will have #501-1,000, with #83 thrown in as a bonus.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s explosion. A few people today mentioned where they were and what they were doing at the moment they found out. It seems many of my peers were watching the shuttle via television in their classrooms. Not me. Here’s my story:

The powers that be at my school, Sky Oaks Elementary, decided to do jack squat for the event. I had no idea a civilian was scheduled to go into space that day. Heck, I didn’t even know their was a shuttle launch planned. Instead, we went about our normal school day. A couple hours into the day, our class headed down into the gymnasium to give the cool kids an opportunity to pick on the nerds. As I walked into the gym, I put my hands in my pockets (that’s where they always were during gym) and felt a piece of paper. Oh no! It was a note form my mom telling the teacher I would need to be excused at noon for a dentist appointment. Shoot! I was supposed to give that to my teacher, Mrs. Hogan, at the start of the day. Mrs. Hogan had left the gym, so I quickly turned and ran out of the gym to look for her.

I found her in the hall walking back towards the classroom. “Mrs. Hogan,” I said, “I forgot to give this to you.” I stopped and handed her the note. It was then that I noticed she was crying. “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” she said weepily, and then marched towards the bathroom.

I didn’t know why she was crying. And I didn’t care.

About a half hour later, I walked out of the gym, grabbed my coat and backpack, and walked out of the school (a daring thing to do without teacher’s permission). My mom was waiting out front and I got in the car. She had the news on, and I listened to what happened.

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