Tag Archives: Oklahoma

On the Road

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On the RoadOn the Road by Jack Kerouac

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac’s years traveling North America with his friend Neal Cassady. The novel is largely autobiographical with “Sal Paradise” being the author, and “Dean Moriarty” being Neal Cassady, “a young Gene Autry—trim, thin-hipped, blue-eyed, with a real Oklahoma accent—a sideburned hero of the snowy West.” The two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac’s love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.

I gave this novel 3 Stars — because I Liked It. I read this book as a participant in the Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma, Journey Stories book and discussion program.

They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”

Sal Paradise, young and innocent, joins the slightly crazed Dean Moriarty on a ride back and forth across the United States. Their hedonistic search for fulfillment through drink, sex, drugs and jazz becomes an exploration of personal freedom, a test of the limits of the American dream. A blend of fiction and autobiography, Jack Kerouac’s novel defined the Beat Generation.

They were like the man with the dungeon stone and the gloom, rising from the underground, the sordid hipsters of America, a new beat generation that I was slowly joining.

On the Road was written in three weeks in April 1951. The original manuscript was written on a scroll, a continuous one hundred and twenty-foot scroll of tracing paper sheets that Jack Kerouac cut to size and taped together. The scroll was typed single-spaced, without margins or paragraph breaks. Besides differences in formatting, the published novel was shorter than the original scroll manuscript and used pseudonyms for all of the major characters.

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The Last Azawufe

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The Last Azawufe

The Last Azawufe by Rachel Helms

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

While out for a walk with Thorn, her horse, Leona comes across a strange liquid. When Leona is transported to the world of Polyenses after touching the mysterious liquid she finds life to be very different. Women are wearing tunics, men carry swords, and everyone seems to be a bit more proper. There’s one thing that’s incredibly different about Leona though – she has the ability to communicate telepathically with Thorn, and every other animal for that matter. She soon learns that only an Azawufe has the ability to do that. But what is an Azawufe and how did she become one?

I gave this Young Adult Fantasy novel 4 Stars because – I Really Liked It!! This first time author has spun an exciting tale with an unexpected twist at the end of the novel. I finished the book feeling satisfied as the story reached its resolution, but its ending also left the door opened for an equally satisfying sequel.

A heavy wind went careening across the Oklahoma plains. The wind carried the rain of the heavens, sweetly enticing in its freshness. It swept across the crops of corn and wheat until it came to a large farm. The howling current of air slowed down in the presence of trees, but only somewhat, and then came to rest on a young girl who was brushing her filly.

I have always liked reading books written by Oklahomans, and I am especially intrigued by stories about Oklahomans. This book offered me both. That, and my love for reading fantasy made this novel a book I had to read. And I’m glad I did too, because this book is exceptionally well written and hugely entertaining.

I am acquainted with this author, if only casually. My wife and I have bought fresh vegetables from her many times at the local farmers market. This connection to the author made the reading a little more fun for me as it gave me a measure of insight into the protagonist. I chortled to myself when Leona said, “we had a huge garden. It was filled with everything: watermelon, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cucumbers, corn, carrots, squash, peppers, and even more.”

I look forward to Rachel’s sequel.

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Nunsensations

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sensations_colorNunsensations: The Nunsense Vegas Revue by Dan Goggin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Nuns are back!!! Performing at the Guymon Community Theatre on March 1st, 2nd, 8th & 9th at 7:30, then Sunday the 3rd & 10th at 2pm. Yes, the little sisters of Hoboken are back, and they’re better than ever too.

When a parishioner volunteers to donate $10,000 to the Mt. Saint Helen’s School if the Nuns will perform in Las Vegas, Mother Superior is hesitant to accept. However, after being convinced by the other sisters that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” Reverend Mother agrees. What follows is more nonsense, shtick, and feather-boas than any Nunsense show yet! Performing in “The Pump Room” at the Mystique Motor Lodge, the sisters experience “show-biz” like never before. You’ll meet Sin-City Sue, find out who’s Black and White with Her Money on Red, and try to win a new car with the “Holy Rollers” giant Wheel of Fortune. You’re sure to hit a jackpot with these crackpots.

I gave this show 5 Stars because – It Was Amazing! And pretty funny too.

The format of the show is familiar to anyone who has seen one or more of the five Nunsense shows before this one. The gags may be freshly written, but the act itself really hasn’t changed that much over these six shows. As usual, each nun has done an impressive job of portraying her character’s established quirky identity to a tee, and of course the entire cast remains quintessentially nunsense-ical. The jokes are all new, so you’re sure to enjoy the sisters’ antics regardless of the level of fandom you bring to the theater.

There’s no need to go all the way to Vegas to see a good vaudeville show with a little T & A. These little sisters of Hoboken have brought plenty of Talent and Attitude right here to Guymon, USA.

Death in a Tenured Position

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Death in a Tenured Position
Death in a Tenured Position by Amanda Cross

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Who done it?

If you can manage to read past about chapter eight of this leisurely paced Kate Fansler crime novel, you will probably be able to guess the answer to the aforementioned question. About chapter eight is where the story picks up the pace too, for about a chapter and a half. The book has an unlucky 13 Chapters, not by accident I suspect, since there is also a prologue and an epilogue that are not numbered.

Did I like this book?

I can answer that question with about as much suspense as Death in a Tenured Position. “No.”

I read this novel as part of the Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma! reading group series Private Investigations: Hard-Boiled and Soft-Hearted Heroes. While I did not like the book (did I mention that?), I was fascinated to learn that the author’s own life experiences eerily mirrored those of the books victim, Janet Mandelbaum. I was floored when I found out that Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (pen name Amanda Cross) met her death in 2003 in the very same manner as that victim.

I did not like the book, cannot recommend it, but I am glad that I had read it as part of a learning experience.

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Land Run

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Land Run

Land Run by Mark Graham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A story of a modern day Land Run with twists and turns of fate as extreme as the Oklahoma weather.

This is a really good book with great character development. You will undoubtedly get to know Mark Graham’s characters well when reading Land Run, and if you are like me, they will remind you of real people you actually know.

It was Jake’s turn to clean the kitchen. The room looked like a kind of Moose Lodge for roosters. His wife, Amy Lynn, loved roosters. There were small and large ceramic roosters strewn about the counters. The wallpaper was populated with them. And a serious-looking army of roosters lined up around the room on the wall border running along the ceiling. But Jake was most comfortable in there. They gave his home balance.

It is refreshing to read the thoughts of Christian characters too, people who walk the walk, giving considerable insight into how they think and feel.

She homeschooled their children, sometimes giving oral instruction while grinding her own wheat to bake fresh bread. She made sure that her milk and eggs came straight from a small farm that pasture-fed their animals.

I believe Oklahomans will especially enjoy this book. Although the novel is a work of fiction, you will think you are reading about real people, perhaps your neighbors.

Neighborhood relations, he strongly believed, was essential to home security.

I highly recommend this book.

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Kirby Sucks

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I noticed this marquee at a local office supply store advertising Kirby Vacuum Items, but apparently, they must not sell spelling dictionaries there.

But seeing the vacuum advertisement, misspelling and all, brought back some fond memories and some not-so-fond memories from back-in-the-day when I was a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman. Oh, the stories I could tell you, the stories I can’t tell you, the stories I won’t tell you. The doors slammed in my face, the doors that were opened, and the doors I was thrown out of.

This reminded me of just how far I’ve come, how much I’ve accomplished, and from such a humble beginning too. My claim to fame, my greatest achievement; I used to be a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, but not Kirby.

Kirby sucks.

I’m an Electrolux man.

Here’s Your Sign Award

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A truck driver couldn’t quite get stopped soon enough and took out the crossing-gate at my workplace the other day. Until a new crossing-arm is installed, the security guard decided to find a better way to stop the traffic. So, duh, he installed a better “STOP” sign.

With immense ingenuity and masterful use of duct-tape, this security guard delivered  the driver his own version of the “Here’s Your Sign Award.” Who needs Bill Engvall?

Obviously the old sign was just too hard to understand.