Monthly Archives: January 2013

Robin Hood and His Merry Men by Arthur Malcolm

Robin Hood and Little John walking through the forest, OODALALEE OODALALEE GOLLY WHAT A DAY!

robinhood_content_coverSorry, I had to get that out of my system. I recently stumbled across the 1950’s Arthur Malcolm version of Robin Hood and His Merry Men. It was hiding amongst the hideous beautiful messy pile of books that is now covering the office of our new home. After taking a gloriously long sniff between the pages (you can’t beat the old book smell, seriously) I decided to give it a go.

Sometimes I really like the simplicity of old stories. You kind of know what to expect from the plot and the characters are like familiar old friends. The prose that authors used in the 50’s was so much more straightforward and to the point. There are no long dramatic sentences or chapters ending in heart-pounding cliff-hangers. Just a nice story without a lot of fuss, easy and entertaining. A story you could read to a small child before bed time.

That’s what Robin Hood was to me.

The novel was really more of a series of short chapters, with each division being a different anecdote about Robin that meshed into the greater scheme of things. You know how it goes: outlaw, Maid Marion, (not so) Little John, Friar Tuck, the evil Sheriff, etc… This time we got a little more backstory on Robin Hood–like how he got his name and why he got started on the “criminal” path. Haha.

I think Robin Hood may have been the first fictional character (at least that I’m aware of) that demonstrated that just because something was the law didn’t make it right. And just because you broke that law didn’t make you a bad person. In the story it was illegal to shoot the king’s deer. So it was either watch your family starve or break the law.

What would you do?

3 farthings of 5

(By the way, I totally pictured the animal characters from Disney’s cartoon Robin Hood the entire time. I couldn’t help it. The book made multiple allusions to Robin being “wily as a fox”–so I’m guessing that explains his animal form…)

Robins


Survive! Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere–Alive by Les Stroud

I was a little trepidatious to start Survive! simply because I’d read 98.6: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin not too long ago and I hated it.  It was longer than necessary and super boring, and I all really learned from it was to bring a bunch of survival objects with me, cover them all in neon tape, and DON’T GO OFF ALONE IN NATURE, STUPID. A long pamphlet would’ve sufficed. 

So it was a pleasant surprise when Les Stroud’s book was written in a much smoother format and he actually told me things that would help me survive.

Uh… Isn’t that the point? Survive-9780061373510

I actually learned things while reading Survive! and on a recent trip to the camping section I recognized several things he’d mentioned in his book–and I knew how they could be used. (This is no mean feat for me because I HATE camping, tools, and fixing anything).

I liked the fact that he included real life anecdotes about people that had used his techniques to survive–like the couple whom, when stranded in their truck in a blizzard, ripped up the seat cushions and fashioned snow shoes out of them. They then used the shoes to walk many miles to safety (and didn’t lose any toes to frostbite!)

He also mentioned some things that I would’ve never thought of until my “survival moment” happened. Like don’t get all emotional about destroying the environment if it will help you live. I could totally see myself not wanting to rip down saplings to build a shelter or feeling horrendously guilty about burning rubber to generate a signal fire. He makes the point that you can use your bleeding heart for nature’s benefit at a later date, right now you are trying to live to see said later date.

Good point.

Stroud reiterated several important pieces of advice throughout the book, including staying hydrated and being extremely careful about eating any unknown plant matter. He said that many people will die of thirst rather than drink from an untreated water source, but really, when it comes down to it, shouldn’t you be willing to take that chance if it’d save your life? He stated that someone’s irrational fear of stomach upset/diarrhea/parasites outweighs the much more realistic fear of dehydration. He argues that if you make it out of your situation alive, you’ll be able to get treated for parasites later. But you’ll never get treated for anything if you weaken and die because you were unwilling to drink from the puddle beside you.

He also said that many people fear starving to death above anything else. They are convinced that by not getting three regular meals a day they are on their way out. This leads them to make stupid decisions about eating native flora and that in and of itself has caused a number of deaths. You can survive for a LONG time without eating, but not very long without drinking. This means don’t go eating that pretty mushroom or strangely-shaped leaf because your stomach is growling. Be smart about it.

This is a must read for everyone, because you never know when you may need some survival skills!

4 stagnant ponds of 5

survivorman-les-stroud


Quote of the Day: F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self respect. And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be. I love her and that is the beginning of everything.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald


Taming the Beast by Emily Maguire

This was a pretty freaky book. Like not *bump* what was that?? freaky, more like OMFG WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, EW-kind of freaky. TamingtheBeast-vert-right

Taming the Beast chronicles the insatiable sexual appetite of Sarah Clark, whom at 14–after having an illicit love affair with her 38 year old English teacher–goes on a mad sex spree that would make Don Juan and Casanova reach for the penicillin. It seems as though her first sexual awakening with Mr. Carr was indescribably intense. Unfortunately, after his wife discovers the affair and forces the family to leave the area, it is one she must seek to replicate with others. Many others.

This book was compulsively readable because you kept wondering what Sarah would do next. (Or maybe more appropriately who she would do next). Sure, she did have some traumatic things happen to her… but nothing I feel that completely excused her behavior. She had sex with her unfathomably loyal best friend Jamie–before and after he was married, all her friends’ lovers, random back alley pick-ups, and pretty much anyone and anything with a pulse and a penis. Instead of this illustrating Sarah’s extreme sexual potency, it really just made me feel sorry for her.

And honestly question how she avoided disease for that long.

In fact, the only person I truly felt sorry for was Jamie. He really stood by her through thick and thin and was obviously “the One” for her. Too bad she was too busy hate-screwing Mr. Carr when they met up again seven years down the line. That being said, I do NOT understand Jamie’s irresistible attraction to her. Yes, his wife was pretty dull and goody-two-shoes, but he also made the choice to have unprotected sex with her in college. She got pregnant, they got married. Same old story.

He pretty much brought the situation on himself.

But he was the only person Sarah could always rely on, and I feel like she totally took advantage of his feelings for her. Instead of letting Jamie’s kind heart and innate goodness buoy her up, she just sunk further into the tepid pools of anonymous sex. Gross.

I didn’t understand the characters’ behaviors or attractions, but it was addicting…

4 cigarette butts of 5

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