Time To Satisfy Your Summer Reading Jones

Sure, summer is great for activities — but it’s also great for reading.

Get a good book, stretch out on your patio furniture with a cool beverage, and read a little in the bright sunshine.  Or take your current paperback to a nearby park, sprawl on the cool grass under the leafy spread of a tree, and really get into the story.  Enjoy the sultry air as you reread a favorite novel and relish, anew, every beloved word.  Lose track of time and lose track of everyday cares as you lose yourself in a great story.

Central Ohio readers can start to get their summer reading jones on next weekend, when the Ohioana Book Festival rolls into town.  Events will be going on all week, and the Festival itself occurs on Saturday, May 12 at the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center.  This year’s Festival will showcase nine featured authors and dozens more who will read from their creations and be available to sign books and talk about their work.

I’ll be there, somewhere, but don’t let that dissuade you!  The Ohioana Book Festival is a great time for Buckeye readers who want to stock up for those long, languid summer reading days — and nights.

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Death To The Bake Sale!

When I was in school, the bake sale was a fundraising staple.  Whether it was for band uniforms, field trips, or a new suit for the school mascot, kids and parents turned on their ovens, got out their mixing bowls, and cooked the goodies that brought in the nickels, dimes, and quarters of which fund drives were made.

Now bake sales are becoming an endangered species.  In the Montgomery County, Maryland school district, bake sales are barred.  It’s just part of a growing national trend.  Why?  Because we’ve got lots of fat kids in school these days, and school administrators and food services kingpins think cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and pies are unhealthy.  As a result, kids can’t sell “non-nutritious” food in schools anymore.  Of course, as the article points out, what’s nutritious, anyway?  Pop-Tarts, which are allowed, or home-baked carrot cake, which isn’t?

Even more ridiculous, the federal government will soon weigh in on this topic (pun intended).  Uncle Sam will be publishing its “national school nutrition standards for food sold outside cafeterias.”  Just what we need!  More federal employees getting taxpayer-funded salaries to advise us about things that really should be left to parents.  No doubt there are other federal employees to police compliance, and still other federal employees to administer grant programs to award money to school districts for programs to encourage healthy eating, and state and local employees who will write grant proposals and administer the federally funded efforts — all to combat the lure of the humble brownie and kids who can’t say no.

C’mon, people!  Have we really reached the point where our schools are outlawing bake sales, and the federal government is giving us advice on what our kids should be eating?  Is there any facet of our daily lives that is safe from the heavy hand of taxpayer-funded government regulators?

Avengers Assemble!

Last night Kish and I decided to go see The Avengers.  She hated it, I loved it.  And, based on the reaction of the packed theater that watched the movie with us, I’d say the majority shared my reaction.

Let’s not kid ourselves.  Movies about superheroes probably aren’t going to be intellectually challenging.  You’re not going to see emotionally charged back stories, or deeply moving interpersonal interactions.  Instead, you’re expecting to see an evil, detestable bad guy who wants to take over the world, or at least a significant part of it, titanic clashes between super-powered beings, and lots of computer-generated special effects.  If you’re lucky, all of these standard elements will be well done, and perhaps a dash of legitimate humor and interesting twists will be added to the mix.  That’s what separates the likes of The Dark Knight from, say, The Green Lantern.

The Avengers meets that test.  The plot could be borrowed from just about any superhero potboiler.  A would-be god (Thor’s half-brother Loki) appears on Earth to tap the power of an energy cube and use it to open a portal so that his army of misshapen creatures can invade and subjugate the world.  A group of special beings — Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, the Black Widow, and Hawkeye — are recruited by Nick Fury, the head of a secret organization, to save the world.  At first they balk at the task and fight among themselves, then they learn to work as a team and kick some Norse god and alien butt.

Of course, the plot sounds silly, and it is.  But along the way there are some great fights between Iron Man and Thor, Thor and the Hulk, and the Black Widow and Hawkeye, some excellent stunts and special effects, and some absolute laugh-out-loud moments that had our theater rocking.  The Hulk in particular was awesome, and Loki was an interesting and enjoyable twist on the typical villain.

Buildings get pulverized, grateful innocents are rescued from peril, the impossible gets done, and the world gets saved.  What more do you want?