"A Good Book Has No Ending"

I promise not all of my blogs are going to revolve around the list, but then again, I can't really guarantee that...so...I guess I shouldn't promise it.  Number 22 is to "Read 50 of the Top 100 Books according to Random House."  Well, upon further review of this, I found out that Random House actually has two lists of Top 100 Books, The Board's List and The Reader's List.  Now, there are several books that appear on both lists, so in order to compile my list of 50, I started there.  The first 25 or so on my list appear on both of the Random House's lists.  The rest are then a pretty even mixture of books from both lists.  In full disclosure, I did include a few books that I have already read.  I did this because I "read" these books in high school or college, but I don't remember them very well...I'm not really quite sure I actually read them...So, without further ado, here's my reading list:

  1.  A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
  2.  Ulysses - James Joyce
  3.  Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  4.  The Sound and the Fury - William Faulkner
  5.  Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
  6.  Lolita - Vladamir Nabokov
  7.  Under the Volcano - Malcolm Lowry
  8.  1984 - George Orwell
  9.  I, Claudius - Robert Graves
10.  To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf
11.  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - Carson McCullers
12.  Slaughterhouse Five - Kurt Vonnegut
13.  Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
14.  Animal Farm - George Orwell
15.  As I Lay Dying - William Faulkner
16.  Lord of the Flies - William Golding
17.  The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
18.  Light in August - William Faulkner
19.  On the Road - Jack Kerouac
20.  The Moviegoer - Walker Percy
21.  The Catcher in the Rye - JD Sallinger
22.  A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
23.  A Farewell to Arms - Ernest Hemingway
24.  Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
25.  The Call of the Wild - Jack London
26.  The Magus - John Fowles
27.  One Lonely Night - Mickey Spillane
28.  The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
29.  Darkness at Noon - Arthur Koestler
30.  An American Tragedy - Theodore Drieser
31.  Native Son - Richard Wright
32.  All the King's Men - Robert Penn Warren
33.  The Bridge of San Luis Rey - Thornton Wilder
34.  Howard's End - E M Forster
35.  Go Tell it on the Mountain - James Baldwin
36.  The Heart of the Matter - Graham Greene
37.  Deliverance - James Dickey
38.  The Maltese Falcon - Dasheill Hamlet
39.  Scoop - Evelyn Waugh
40.  Sophie's Choice - William Styron
41.  Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
42.  Battlefield Earth - L Ron Hubbard
43.  Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
44.  A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45.  The Handmaid's Tale -  Margaret Atwood
46.  Tropic of Cancer - Henry Miller
47.  Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
48.  Something Wicked this Way Comes - Ray Bradbury
49.  The Door Into Summer - Robert Heinlen
50.  It - Stephen King

Good thing I really like to read!  I've thought about making a short list of alternates just in case I start reading one of these books and it's so bad that I can't finish it...oh well, I'll cross that bridge is I get there, but rest assured, you'll get a review of each one that I read.

Have you read any of these books?  What's your review?

~Blevins - out!

From Here to Eternity

Well, I watched my first movie for the list.  It was From Here to Eternity (1953), starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and Frank Sinatra (love him!).  It takes place in Hawaii just before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  The entire movie is centers around these Army guys.  This one guy (Prew, played by Montgomery Clift) gets transferred to Hawaii and the Captain finds out he’s a good boxer.  Unfortunately, Prew doesn’t want to box anymore so the Captain decides to make his life really difficult by always getting him in trouble and stuff.  Prew is able to rise above some of this by meeting and falling in love with this chick played by Donna Reed.  He also becomes buddies with the guy played by Frank Sinatra (both Sinatra and Reed won Oscars for their supporting roles in this movie).   There’s this other guy named Milton played by Burt Lancaster.  He’s a sergeant that has a soft spot for Prew and tries to take care of him, but he’s kinda busy having an affair with the Captain’s wife, played by Deborah Kerr.  There’s a scene on the beach between Lancaster and Kerr that many people say is one of the best love scenes ever.  I guess it was ok.  I definitely liked the fact that it was not nearly as gratuitous as “love” scenes today, but I didn’t really get all that emotional about it.  Overall, it had a kinda crappy ending, but then again, war never is all that pretty (even though all of this movie happens before America entered WWII) and not all movies can end happily-ever-after.  I really love movies about this time in history (WWII) and I imagine that this was quite a ground breaking movie since it was made less than ten years after the war had ended.  I’m glad I watched this movie, it was worth it…plus, it had Ernest Borgnine in it too, and he will always hold a special place in my heart…(because he’s Mermaid Man in Spongebob Squarepants…)

~Blevins - out!

#23 “Watch 50 of the Top 100 movies”

I love to watch movies…Nick and I have an extensive movie collection and probably watch three to four movies per week (on average).  Unfortunately, I have always felt that my repertoire of movies is somewhat lacking in quality, hence number 23 on my list, “Watch 50 of the Top 100 movies.”  I went to the American Film Institute to find out about their Top 100.  After reviewing the list, I then eliminated any movies I have seen more than once.  This meant that I nixed Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, The Godfather (Part I and II), The Wizard of Oz, It’s a Wonderful Life, Star Wars, The African Queen, E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial, West Side Story, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sound of Music, M*A*S*H, Fantasia, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Silence of the Lambs, Forrest Gump, American Graffiti, Rocky, and My Fair Lady (I must say I was pretty surprised at how many I‘ve seen more than once…).  Then, I decided to eliminate any movies I’ve seen pretty recently and can remember really well, this cut out Fargo, The Deer Hunter, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  This meant that I needed to narrow down the 87movies left down to 50.  Here are the 50 I chose and the year they were released:

  1.  Citizen Kane (1941)
  2.  Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  3.  On the Waterfront (1954)
  4.  Schindler’s List (1993)*
  5.  Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
  6.  Sunset Boulevard (1950)
  7.  The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
  8.  Some Like it Hot (1959)
  9.  All About Eve (1950)
10.  Psycho (1960)*
11.  Chinatown (1974)
12.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
13.  The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
14.  2001:  Space Odyssey (1968)
15.  The Maltese Falcon (1941)
16.  Raging Bull (1980)
17.  Dr. Strangelove (1964)
18.  Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
19.  Apocalypse Now (1979)
20.  Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)
21.  Annie Hall (1977)
22.  High Noon (1952)
23.  Midnight Cowboy (1969)
24.  The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
25.  Doctor Zhivago (1965)
26.  Double Indemnity (1944)
27.  North by Northwest (1959)
28.  Rear Window (1954)
29.  King Kong (1933)
30.  The Birth of a Nation (1915)
31.  A Street Car Named Desire (1951)
32.  A Clockwork Orange (1971)
33.  Taxi Driver (1976)
34.  Jaws (1975)
35.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
36.  The Philadelphia Story (1940)
37.  From Here to Eternity (1953)
38.  Amadeus (1984)
39.  All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
40.  The Third Man (1949)
41.  Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
42.  Vertigo (1958)
43.  Tootsie (1982)*
44.  Stagecoach (1939)
45.  Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
46.  Network (1976)
47.  The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
48.  An American in Paris (1951)
49.  Shane (1953)*
50.  The French Connection (1971)
*These are movies I have seen, but don’t really remember them that well.

Now, I must admit that I’m not entirely thrilled that all of these movies are older than I am (by many years with the exception of Tootise).  We’ll see how this goes.  I’ll be sure to write my own review of each movie as I watch it.  The really cool thing is that after this, there will only be 37 movies left for me to watch of the Top 100.  Maybe that will be on my next list…:)

~Blevins - out!

Jobs of a Teacher…It’s Not Just About Teaching…

In case you didn’t know, this year I have had a very…unique teaching job.  I work for a company that provides Title One services to non-public schools in Baltimore City.  So, basically, I’m a Math and Reading resource teacher in a private school.  I just don’t work for the school, I work for a private company.  It’s been quite a blast and I hope I’ll be able to do it for many years to come (unfortunately, funding plays a large role in my job, so I have to wait and see…which totally stinks…)  I also took on an after school tutoring-type job this year in a Baltimore City Public School…now talk about a challenge!  This being said, I have realized, this year more so than ever, that being a teacher is not just about teaching.  I’ve always loved the school environment.  As a kid, I loved going to school everyday, and I think that’s a big reason why I chose to become a teacher (having summer’s off definitely makes it more appealing as well…).  Also, I have a pretty vast array of random knowledge stored away in my way cluttered brain.  I’m not saying that I’m really smart or anything, I just know more than my share of junk and I have always figured that was another reason I became a teacher, to share what I know.  This year has challenged both of these ideas.  I have come to the realization that being a teacher is definitely not just about relaying important factual information to today’s youth.  It’s about being a sounding board for children who are struggling through life, giving that support that is needed to feel confident and self-assured, sharing advice with those who are desperate for direction…Many of today’s inner city children seem to be growing up with a chip on their shoulders, living life as if everyone and everything is against them.  I have had countless “mini-counseling sessions” with middle schoolers who haven’t a clue.  One of these sessions occurred with a young man who is about to turn 15.  He’s finishing up the eighth grade and is heading on to high school next year (only by the grace of God and because his teachers are ready for him to move on…).  Now, I don’t say this about every student, but this guy has something special.  He’s an incredibly talented actor, just absolutely hilarious, and he’s a good athlete as well…but here’s the problem, I’ve never seen an angrier kid in my life.  One day in class, I literally thought he was going to hurt us all.  It was like a switch was flipped inside him and he turned into a completely different person.  I have never seen anything like this before; it was crazy.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do, I honestly thought he was going to kill this other kid (who has Aspberger’s and really has no coping mechanisms at all, but that‘s a whole different story…).  So here I am, with a room full of eighth graders, one who is about to tear someone to shreds and another who is crying so hard that I’m not sure he’ll ever be able to stop…uh oh.  Long story short, I was able to eventually diffuse the situation and sent all of the students on to the next class, with the exception of the kid who was fuming with rage.  I sat down and talked to him for almost an hour.  He poured his heart out about how he didn’t understand why he flips out like that, and explained that he was honestly scared to death that he would hurt someone one day.  So there’s an eighth grade boy for you, and the middle school girls…oh my…what a mess!  They are looking for attention so urgently from boys that it is sickening.  Fortunately, I was able to actually share with some of the girls how I “waited for marriage” and that I was very glad I did.  I doubt it will really change their minds about things, but at least I put in my two cents worth, right?  The second graders I worked with in the public school after school were so desperate for attention, they would do anything to get it, including behaving like…animals…Any kind of attention, no matter positive or negative, was fine with them.  All they really wanted was someone to make them feel special.  Each day, no matter how hard it was to deal with inappropriate behavior, I knew it would be worth it.  The hugs and “I love you’s” alone made it all worth while.  So, did I truly realize that when I became a teacher, I was also taking on the role of mentor, counselor, encourager, and in some cases, proxy-parent?  Nope, not at all, but I love every aspect of working with children and wouldn’t have it any other way…

~Blevins - out!

Gone Fishin'

A few of weekends ago, our best friend Dave invited Nick and me to go camping with him.  Now, I’m not that much of a camper…I’ve only been like twice, but, as a general rule, I really enjoy it.  He picked out a really fun place that wasn’t too far away.  We played horseshoes, I got my first ever chance to play shuffleboard, and I got to cross another item off of my list, number 51, “Go Fishing.”  You see, there was this small pond at the campgrounds where you could “catch and release.”  I did not know this before we left, so I was not prepared for the possibility of fishing.  Because of this, we had to shell out about ten bucks for the world’s worst fishing rod, so I could try my hand at fishing.  Unfortunately, this fishing trip was a major fail…  It was kinda windy, so my line kept blowing all around and getting tangled up, plus, I didn’t catch anything at all!  Technically speaking though, I did go fishing, so I am going to count this list item as complete, but I’m hoping to have a chance to try it  again sometime…I’ll keep you updated…:)

~Blevins - out!

Water, Water Everywhere…and Lots of Drops to Drink…

Well, so far, I’ve not been that great at blogging since starting my list, but I have been working hard to try and get some tasks knocked out…

The first major task I chose to tackle was number 66, “Drink only water for month.”  I began this journey on  Monday, April 12 and sadly, I have nothing all that monumental or exciting to report.  I made it all the way until May 12, without drinking a single “non-water” beverage.  You may be thinking, “Surely you saw many benefits from drinking all that water,” and I am here to say, no, I did not.  The only thing it did was make me pee…a lot.  I was hoping to maybe drop a few pounds…not so much…I thought that it might help with my constant dry skin and adult onset acne…nope, not a bit…The good thing is, that I realized I wasn’t quite as addicted to caffeine as I thought I was.  I’m gonna be honest here and say that I was really worried about the sheer quantity of caffeine consumed by me each day.  Every morning I had a diet soda on the way to work.  I would typically have one for lunch and then normally at least one at night with my dinner.  That’s a lot of soda.  I’ve recently been reading about the negative effects of the unnatural sweeteners used in diet sodas, so I thought that perhaps this “water break” would do my body good.  When I think about this experiment that way, I know it helped me.  I think I really do feel better knowing that at least what I’m drinking is good for me.  I’ve actually kept on drinking tons of water, even though my month is over (I average about 80-100 oz per day).  Since May 12, I’ve only had maybe three or four diet sodas, three or four Chick-fil-a sweet teas, a (very, very small) glass of milk, and a Coke Slushy (my jam!).  I think that’s pretty good.  Before you worry about the fact that I’ve only had one small glass of milk in two months, let me assure you that I do take calcium supplements as a part of my daily vitamin regimen.  I detest the taste of milk…chocolate milk is not so bad, but in general I think milk is pretty gross.  I also eat lots of ice cream…so I get some calcium from that right?

So, there you have it…number 66 on my list is now a memory…

~Blevins - out!

Amendments to The List

So, after looking over my list, I realized that there are a few items on it that cannot exactly be measured...therefore, I have decided to make some amendments...

I, the Jennifer Blevins, in order to form a more perfect list, establish items that can be documented and verified, and secure the blessings of this list, establish the following amendments:  (my attempt at a humorous preamble...lame, I know...)

31.  Make my front yard presentable.
Well...this is difficult to assess, because what I say is presentable, might not necessarily be so to anyone else.  So, I am going to make a new #31...here it is...
31.  Weed the flower bed in the front yard and spread mulch in the spring.  (0/2)

80.  Give more hugs.
Hmm...how do I measure this...well, in short, I can't...so, here's my new #80
80.  Give blood.

And there you have it folks...all better...:)

~Blevins - out!

101 Things in 1001 Days

Well, I stole this idea from a friend, and I think it is awesome. Basically, you come up with 101 things you'd like to do/accomplish and you have 1001 days to complete the list. I am totally jazzed about this idea. In order to keep me accountable, I am going to blog about each list item as I complete it...wish me luck! :)

  1. Exercise everyday for a month. (0/31)
  2. Read 12 nonfiction books. (0/12)
  3. Have my carpet professionally cleaned.
  4. Organize all of my closets. (0/6)
  5. Go through and purge unnecessary items in the basement and organize what's left.
  6. Paint the master bedroom and bathroom.
  7. Read the entire Bible. (0/66)
  8. Create three pieces of art. (0/3)
  9. Take three career related classes. (0/3)
  10. Take two non-career related classes. (0/2)
  11. Go to the doctor, dentist, and optometrist. (1/3)
  12. Volunteer my time somewhere other than CCC.
  13. Finish my wedding scrapbook.
  14. Explore New England.
  15. Take a trip out West.
  16. Leave the country
  17. Go rock climbing (indoors or out).
  18. Run in a 5k.
  19. Meet 101 new people. (15/101)
  20. Eat at home everyday for a month (or at least meals made at home--no restaurants, drive-thrus, or carry-outs). (0/31)
  21. Organize my kitchen cabinets.
  22. Read 50 of the top 100 books according to Random House http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/100bestnovels.html. (0/50)
  23. Watch 50 of the top 100 movies according to the American Film Institute http://connect.afi.com/site/DocServer/movies100.pdf?docID=264. (0/50)
  24. Memorize 25 Bible verses. (0/25)
  25. Read 10 plays by William Shakespeare. (0/10)
  26. Face a fear.
  27. Build a sandcastle.
  28. Pick out and put up curtains in my bedroom.
  29. See a show on Broadway.
  30. Finish my Chicken project.
  31. Make my front yard presentable.
  32. Power wash the outside of my house.
  33. Surprise someone.
  34. Learn to play 10 songs on the guitar. (0/10)
  35. Grow something from a seed.
  36. Plant a tree.
  37. Write a poem.
  38. Read 5 historical books. (0/5)
  39. Read 5 biographies. (0/5)
  40. Blog 50 times. (0/50)
  41. Try Sushi.
  42. Start a prayer journal.
  43. Slenderize my Mii.
  44. Write 7 letters to my Compassion Child, Kibaki. (0/7)
  45. Go mountain biking.
  46. Go on a picnic.
  47. Make homemade ice cream.
  48. Go canoeing.
  49. Keep a food journal for a month. (0/31)
  50. Do something to grow my marriage (ie. go on a retreat, do a Bible Study).
  51. Go fishing.
  52. Design and purchase my own Nike's.
  53. Deal with "the iPod situation."
  54. Make use of public transportation.
  55. Start recycling paper.
  56. Build something.
  57. Send 5 people anonymous gifts. (0/5)
  58. Send 50 encouraging messages to 50 different people.
  59. Paint pottery.
  60. Play on a team.
  61. Make 3 big decisions. (0/3)
  62. Give up a bad habit.
  63. Solve the towel storage problem in the bathroom.
  64. Ride an elephant.
  65. Go to the Renaissance Festival.
  66. Drink only water for a month.
  67. Swim in an ocean.
  68. Ride on a train.
  69. Replace all of the light bulbs in the house with CFL's.
  70. Get a programmable thermostat.
  71. Install (well, have installed) a dimmer switch in our living room.
  72. Paint our office.
  73. Paint the upstairs hallway.
  74. Go ice skating.
  75. Ride on a motorcycle.
  76. Stay awake for 24 hours straight.
  77. Collect all of the star coins on Super Mario Bros. Wii.
  78. Play Nick in a real game of raquetball.
  79. Pray for every country in the world by name http://geography.about.com/od/countryinformation/a/capitals.htm. (0/195)
  80. Give more hugs.
  81. Get a summer job.
  82. Do something nice for my neighbors.
  83. Host a "themed" dinner party.
  84. Host a game night.
  85. Donate my hair to Locks of Love again.
  86. Get a facial.
  87. Get a pedicure.
  88. Go see 7 movies Nick wants to see without complaining. (0/7)
  89. Put $1 per day in a piggy bank.  (56/1001)
  90. Vacuum and wash my car once a month, weather permitting. (1/34)
  91. Get my rings cleaned.
  92. Try 5 brand new recipes. (0/5)
  93. Clean out and organize our home office.
  94. Take another spiritual gifts assessment and figure out how to use my "gifts" in a significant way.
  95. Read a Beth Moore book.
  96. Write a letter to my 45-year-old self.
  97. Try some kind of "ethnic" food.
  98. Go rollerblading.
  99. Put knobs on my kitchen cabinets.
  100. On November 1, 2012, start a new-list.
  101. Donate $1 to Compassion International for everything not accomplished on this list.

~Blevins - out!

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