Saturday, August 7, 2010

Back 2 Reading

Back to reading this week; catching chapters between hauling dirt, possessions and groceries.

First up: Hadassah; One Night with the King by Tommy Tenney. We've read and watched many versions of the classic tale of Esther, (part of my educational philosophy of "layering") the latest being the 2006 movie, "One Night with a King." I thought the movie was o.k. but not particularly great because, while it did creatively address some of the issues of the story, I found other aspects just plain confusing (like the king stating to Esther, "I thought I was your Leah" - not confusing from a gender aspect, but confusing from a story aspect). And hile I was fascinated by the movie's visual portrayal of the splendor of ancient Persia I wasn't interested in the book beacuse of what I found confusing. But last week I had time and the book was here, lonely because most of the other books are still tubbed and I started reading. It didn't immediately grab me but once Tenney got into the actual story of Esther it got much better. Very good, in fact. I appreciated the time he took to talk about the political nuances, how he treated the expulsion of Vashti, the Biblical history of Saul and Samuel and the Aggites. And I really like how he addressed Esther's emotional life of being Jewish, her feelings and thoughts regarding competing for a pagan king's adoration and her relationship with a monarch just as ruled and dictated to by protocol and politics as anyone else. While I wouldn't say it's a definitive look at the book of Esther, I do think that it's an interesting addition to Biblical understanding and/or an ancient history study.

Next up: Cosbyology: Essays and Observations from the Doctor of Comedy by Bill Cosby. We are students of humor around here. I heard Diana Waring speak years ago about teaching your kids humor and it's something I've taken to heart. There's a lot to be said for knowing how to tell a good joke, punning (as much as you'll never hear me admitting that to my dh, Dr. Punny) and knowing how to take life and yourself not too seriously.
As a result we have a lot of joke, comic and classic cartoon books laying around, study tropes and poetry (because puns, hyperbole, metaphor, simile, understatement, etc. are all classic ingredients of humor), watch funny movies, like re-makes of Jane Austin's books (cause ohbaby, there are some funny lines and situations in a good Austin novel!) and comedians, like those on "Thou Shalt Laugh" who are truly funny rather than relying on snide comments and bathroom humor (discomfort, crudeness and humor at others expense doesn't count imho) and follow certain comedians, like Bill Cosby. The Cosby show is one of our favs for a number of reasons, the main one being that Bill Cosby is always good for a laugh. He is a master of timing. He can carry a scene on expression alone. He can dead-pan like nobodies business (o.k. maybe Tim Conway is the world's best dead-panner, but Bill is a close 2nd) and he captures the humor in real-life in a way that makes us laugh at situations and ourselves that we might otherwise cry about. So of course I picked up this book by the Doctor of Comedy himself. And it is funny. Its basically a series of sketches for stand-up and if you know his expressions and style well enough you can actually picture him delivering lines. The chapter, "Why I Don't Like Melting Snow Going Down the Crack of My Back" is read and laugh out loud funny, while other chapters, like the ones on his grandparents and wife are poignant and touching. The book is autobiographical in nature and interesting from that pov as well. And the other thing I love about Bill is how tangential he is; he goes off on these crazy tangents that don't seem like they are related but he weaves it all back- a master story teller, educator, and one of the world's great Funny Men. A fast and easy read, but worth every word.

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