How to Burn Books in the Digital Age

I have to be honest with you. I have burned a book. It’s something I can never live down and it haunts me.

I was somewhere in my early teens. Either middle school or high school. I was a big D&D nut and loved watching The Evil Dead series. I purchased a copy of the Necronomicon. Now I realize how harmless this book is, but at the time, it seemed stunning and real to me. As well as to my dad.

He freaked. He’d had a bad experience with a Tarot deck years ago. For him, it was round two. He couldn’t take the book being in my house. He convinced me to dispose of it. I wish I had said no. I should have. No book deserves this. It’s what people with small minds do to ideas.

I was young. I capitulated.

The barbecue fired up. The book thrown on. I couldn’t watch the whole process. I left.

It seems like people will be burning books forever. Or will they? Recently, there have been a rash of book burnings for Fifty Shades of Grey. Do I think this book is worthy of great literary merit? Hardly. Yet it certainly doesn’t deserve burning. These people bought the book. Thus more money flows to EL James.

It got me thinking. Would we still have these burnings in a decade or so? With the advent of ebooks, we might face a time when there are no print versions of a book to burn. What then? Will people burn their Kindles and Nooks? How silly would that be?

Perhaps they would all press the delete button at the same time. Yeah, cause that would send a message. How anti-climactic.

Maybe future book Nazis will create viruses to attack and delete books. A clever concept, though it might be beyond the scope of their intelligence. Also, deleting other people’s books is tantamount to setting arson to a bookstore.

We all know that there will still be print books in some form in the future. After all, people still print out photos despite the plethora of ways to use the digital pictures. It brings up the idea that a clever author might be able to circumvent the mad book burners if he or she knows the book will be controversial. Future authors could simply print their book only as an ebook.

Although a truly brilliant author would want the book to be burned. There’s no better publicity than setting a book aflame. If it weren’t for the repulsiveness of the act, it’s be a great publicity stunt.

This writer is curious as to how people will take out their wrath on future books. I’m certain they will find a way. Hate always does.

Tim Kane

Advertisements

There is No Peace Treaty with the Ant Kingdom

The ants go marching, not two by two, but hundreds by hundreds.

My house has been ant free for years. Yet this summer’s heatwave has sent them in droves. And they’re crazy. They start by running up drains and cracks. Scrambling around the bathroom sink where they’re no food. I’ve set traps, but the insects ignore them. They somehow know the difference between real peanut butter and the laced with poison type. I’m limited with the types of sprays I use. I have a young daughter and a dog.

The warriors loyal to Achilles were called Myrmidons or ants. They swarmed the beaches of Troy for ten years. Is that how long I must battle?

Brad Pitt as Achilles in Troy with his loyal ant warriors, the Myrmidons

A friend recommended I sign a peace treaty with them. Fat chance. There are only three species on the planet that practice the art of war. That is, violence not for the sake of territory, but simply to show dominance over a foe. These species are humans (obviously), chimpanzees, and ants. Ants will tear the legs off their opponents. They are beyond viscous. As Edward O. Wilson, the most famous myrmecologist in the world, said “If ants were given nuclear weapons, the world would be destroyed within a week”.

Then there’s the strange situation we have in California. I’ve heard people say that San Diego is build on one giant anthill. I thought they were exaggerating. Then I did the research. Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) have taken over California, forming a gigantic super colony. It’s known as the “California Large.” Normally ants would attack each other, but those who live in a super colony tolerate each other (much like humans living in cities). They have millions of queens, but all work together. What’s freaky is the same colony exists in California and Japan. That means if you took ants from San Diego and brought them to Japan, the two groups wouldn’t fight.

When I see ants in my kitchen or house I kill them. Not only for the sake of my sanity. I mean I’ve had to turn to preparing food on the dining room table. The ants swarm that quickly. But also, killing individual ants is tantamount to giving a dog a haircut. It does nothing to the colony as a whole. Even killing the queen won’t stop a super colony. A new queen and colony will come to take it’s place.

So it’s all out war, with no end in sight. Sometimes I feel like Kilgore in Apocalypse Now: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

The horror. The horror.

Tim Kane

How My Coffee Purchases Border on Illicit Drug Deals

I am a coffee snob. There. I said it.

I fool my students into thinking I love Starbucks. I do appreciate the gift cards, though mostly for their sugary treats. Honestly, Starbucks coffee tastes like dirt lit on fire. You doubt me? Try a cup black. No sugar. No milk. No chocolate. Yeah, not so good. Starbucks isn’t a coffee dealer. They’re a sugar and chocolate dealer.

Over the years I’ve tried all sorts of coffee from all sorts of vendors. Now, I can hardly drink most coffees. I can taste the artificial flavor drizzled over the beans. Yuck. Long ago I loved Kona coffee because that’s what my parents drink. I would probably go back to that if I didn’t have another, if somewhat strange, alternative.

I discovered a unique Pannikins in downtown San Diego. I say unique because it was only Pannikin in name. The two ladies that ran the shop took over the site. They’re actually called Hessian Global Goods. They have all sorts of bizarre tea cups and coffee pots. They have a huge assortment of Day of the Dead knick knacks.

Now the coffee is astounding. They import from all over the world. They even have Blue Mountain coffee from Jamaica and St Helena coffee from Napoleon’s exile island. My favorites have always been the African coffee. Typically I get Uganda or Zambia. I know if it’s the coffee or their grinder, but the java is addicting.

Things were going well until the girls closed the shop due to skyrocketing rent. Since then (about a year now), I still by coffee from them. The process looks a little weird. I call the ladies up. (Like I will this weekend. Getting a little low.) We plan a meeting place. Typically this is a park. We meet up and make the exchange. I swipe my card through their phone, and they hand over a brown bag with two pounds of coffee. Yeah, it looks crazy. But the coffee’s worth it.

It may end soon. The ladies are planning on buying another shop. Mostly because all their non-coffee wares are wasting away in a storage unit.

Tim Kane

Iron Sky Rides the Blazing Saddles Vibe

I had the extreme pleasure of watching Iron Sky the other night. My wife surprised me by buying tickets through Tugg. The experience more than delivered on my expectations. I’d heard about Iron Sky more than a year ago. The logline is this: “Nazi’s create a moonbase in 1945. In 2018, then return to invade earth.” What I didn’t know going into the movie, was how funny it would be.

The current President of the United States is a thinly veneered Sarah Palin. Her reelection campaign concept is to send a black astronaut to the Moon (the tagline is: Black to the Moon). Little did she know that Nazis have been holing up on the dark side. You can imagine the shock when the Nazis remove James Washington’s helmet to see a brother.

Although the film plays fast and loose with race, it does take on the task of portraying both the Nazis and James Washington seriously. At one point, the Nazi’s use an Albinoizer to transform him white.

The technology the Nazis use looks astounding. A combination of 1940 tech with diesel-punk. The filmmakers actually make the idea of Nazis living on the Moon for 73 years plausible.

The amazing attack using meteorblitzkrieg

The massive Gotterdammerung spaceship (powered by an iPad)

This is a must see film. Truly a Blazing Saddles for this generation. However, unless you can Tugg it to your theater, you might have to wait for video.

Tim Kane

Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Reluctant Reader

I’ll be honest. I really didn’t want to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian. Reluctantly, when there was nothing else on my reading list, I picked it up. Then I couldn’t put it down. The narrator, Arnold Spirit, says it like he means it. Being poor sucks. Listen to his voice:

Poverty doesn’t give you strength or teach you lessons about perseverance. No, poverty only teaches you how to be poor.

He goes on to say how fried chicken is almost equal to Jesus in his house for the joy it brings. The thrust of the story is a boy trying to find himself and escape the poverty of living on the Indian reservation. When he goes to the white school, he has to pretend he’s rich. Mostly out of embarrassment for how he has to walk to school each and every day.

Yeah, so I pretended to have a little money. I pretended to be middle class. I pretended I belonged.

Nobody knew the truth.

Of course, you can’t lie forever. Lies have short shelf lives. Lies go bad. Lies rot and stink up the joint.

Add to this compelling narrative the awesome illustrations by Ellen Forney and you have a book that’s addicting. Arnold deals with his anger and fears through illustrating. And the pictures are hilarious. Check out these.

Arnold also has to cope with leaving his best friend Rowdy, who’s always there for him.

I was so depressed that I thought about crawling into a hole and disappearing forever.

By Rowdy talked me out of it.

“It’s not like anybody’s going to notice if you go away,” he said. “So you might as well gut it out.”

When Arnold leaves the rez for the white school, Rowdy sees this as a betrayal.

The book deals with Arnold finding his way with his new life and his old friendships. I highly recommend this to any teen or adult reader.

Tim Kane

Writer or Hoarder?

My latest literary venture involves a character who’s a hoarder and I’ve had the most difficult time getting information about this person together. My usual style of banging it out on the computer will not cut it. It seems I have to live a little of the hoarding to get the character right. (Hey, I’m Daniel Day Lewis.)

I’ve found that jotting notes down on scraps of paper work best. And these are any scraps at any time. Receipts, PTA flyers, envelopes. I managed to snatch a mini spiral just so I could keep most of the notes in one spot. Now I’m frantic that I’ll…

A) Lose them

B) Not be able to make any sense of them

So in true loner-living-in-a-cabin style, I grabbed a big notebook and began transcribing. It’s taking forever because at this point I have pages of notes scattered across a few different notebooks. What keeps circling back in my brain is whether I should write it down at all.

I’m a lister. That’s what I do. I like to make lists and notes. However, I often don’t check them. I find just making the list is enough. Same with writing. I often jot down all these details and then hardly look at them. Though I usually need them to get names and dates straight in the manuscript.

Stephen King once said that any idea you need to write down, can’t be a good idea. His thoughts are: If it’s truly captivating, you’ll recall most of it when the time comes.

I’m sorry, Mr. King, but I love to write it down. Mostly because I have snippets of conversation or thoughts that I want to preserve.

The only other interesting thing about my transcription process is the number of delays that have arisen. It seems that almost every time I sit down to work on the notes, something distracts me. A friend’s apartment flood and she needs my help (legit). It’s back to school night at my daughter’s school. I’m dead tired and pass out as I open the book. Or are these simply the hoarders way to put off the inevitable?

Still, I persevere. I yearn to organize these notes the way my character (the hoarder) can’t.

Tim Kane

Why I Need Two Copies of Certain Books

Sometimes I need more than one copy of a book. Usually fiction. Almost always when it’s an amazing read.

AN E-READER ANNOTATION MINI-MANIFESTO

I start everything now as an ebook, though back in the days of long commutes, the audiobook ruled. When the narrative is crisp and alluring, I need to mark it up. Dissect it and see how it ticks. It’s the analytical mind in me. Sure, my Nook lets me highlight words and phrases, but it’s not the same. I need to dog ear pages. Scribble in the margins. Basically mess with it.

That’s when I purchase a second copy. I’ll zip around to spots I remember. My goal is almost always: “How did this writer pull this off?” Was it a subtle nuance of the narrator’s voice? Verb choice? Sentence length? I need to know. I circle and scribble all over the thing.

I recall once (and this will date me) when I had the notion to write a screenplay for The Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells. This was about a year before the Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando version hit theaters (they beat me to the punch). I had taken a pencil (because this was a treasured version of the story) and went to work blocking scenes. Now I wish I hadn’t because I have plenty of erasing to do.

The one book I have in nearly every form is The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. I started with an audiobook. Then bought the paperback (to mark up for a college paper). Finally, I chanced upon a hard bound copy heavily discounted. All I need now is an ebook and my collection is complete.

Am I alone in this? Does anyone else out there snap up multiple copies of books?

Tim Kane