The Lesser Bronte?

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm the youngest of four children, so I've experienced my fair share of sibling rivalry over the years. I may have brought some (or most of it) upon myself, but having siblings inevitably means that you will be compared to them. My siblings and I are all pretty different people and those differences have become more apparent as we've gotten older. Hopefully, we're all past the need to compare and compete.

But what about famous siblings who have similar (or exactly the same) kinds of careers? It's pretty hard not to compare them to each other. In my house we jokingly like to refer to one of the siblings as the "lesser" one. Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Scott and Rob Niedermayer

If you couldn't tell from the pictures these brothers are both hockey players, but one is better than the other. Scott (on the left) has won four Stanley Cups, the Norris Trophy (Defensive Player of the Year) and the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP). Rob has won just one Stanley Cup. Maybe it's not fair to compare the number of Stanley Cup wins since hockey is a team sport and everything, but let's looks a couple of key points:

1) When Scott won the cup in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils they defeated the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim...Rob's team.

2) When Rob finally did win the cup in 2007 he did so with Anaheim. That same year Scott won his fourth cup, also as a member of the Ducks.

3) Scott was the MVP of the 2007 Playoffs, not Rob.

So, you can see Rob did finally win, but it took his brother coming to his team to get it done. Poor Rob. Or as we like to call him in my house, The Lesser Niedermayer.

And there are other examples I could throw out: Beyonce and Solange Knowles, Haylie and Hilary Duff, Peyton and Eli Manning...I'm sure there are other good (and some far more talented) examples.

Anyway, my whole point is that sometimes one famous sibling can overshadow another to the point that people miss out on some really great things that the lesser sibling has to offer. Case in point, Anne Bronte.

Poor Anne never gets any of the attention or praise that her sisters, Emily and Charlotte, have received over the years. In high school most of us had to read Emily's Wuthering Heights and Charlotte's Jane Eyre, but did you ever have to read anything that Anne wrote? Probably not. Can you even name one of Anne books? I doubt it. And, honestly, that's a shame. Over the past few months I've had the opportunity to read two of Anne's novels and I must say I was pleasantly surprised by them both. Both Agnes Gray and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are engaging stories, with great characters and superior writing. And while the literary significance of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre are much discussed and highly lauded, the social commentary Anne offers in her works should not be overlooked.

So, please, if you get the chance check out some of Anne's work. And while you're at it look into some of the other lesser siblings out there. You might find that you enjoy their talents more than those of their "superior" family members.

Hello Love

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just a few words about God's incredible love for us courtesy of Chris Tomlin. I hope you find them as encouraging as I do.


There is love, there is love
There is love, there is love

When our hope is hard to find
And our faith is in decline
We need a cause to stand behind

We all want the way it feels
Time it comes and time it steals
What remains, what is real

There is love, there is forgiveness
There is love in times of need
When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without
There is love

It heals the sick, comforts the weak
Breaks the proud, raises the meek
In this life no guarantees
There is love

There is love, there is forgiveness
There is love in times of need
When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without

Love is the answer
Love will find a way
When we love one another
It's a brighter day

When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without

There is love, there is forgiveness
There is love in times of need

When life is cold there is a promise
You will never go without

There is love

Hello love

Read or Die!: First Quarter Update

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I intended on posting this update about the first quarter of Read of Die earlier this month, but between my April Fool's joke, Project Runway and the NHL Playoffs I was completely distracted. Anyway, I just wanted to give a little report on the reading progress I made so far this year. And if you've forgotten or aren't familiar with the Read or Die reading challenge you can read more about it here. I've developed a handy dandy spreadsheet to keep track of everything. I was inspired by Regina to do this, though my spreadsheet is not nearly as cool as hers (you should ask to see her spreadsheets, they're fully awesome). So here's the update through March 31:

  • 27 books read
  • 10540 pages read
  • 15 new books read (that's 55.55%)
I'm definitely well on pace to read 60 books this year, but I'm not quite on target for my goal of at least two-thirds new books.

Here is a list of the books I've read so far this year and a little bit of commentary (in case anyone is interested):

New Reads

    The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - Several of my friends have also read this book and I find it interesting that we all thought the pretty much the same thing -- not the greatest book and certainly not a wholly original idea, but very exciting. I thought that Collins did a great job describing the action in a way that was very easy to picture. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of second book in the trilogy, Catching Fire.

    The Host by Stephenie Meyer - Another post-apocolyptic pick (I had a theme going) that was very engaging. The premise (alien "souls" that overtake the "hosts" on a given planet) was very interesting. This book is a stand alone, but the story could easily be extended into a series. In this novel Meyer presented a love parallelogram, as opposed to the love triangle she gave us through the Twilight Saga. She ended the story with what I like to call a "pretty bow", meaning that the loose ends were tied in a satisfyingly happy way (which I realize not everyone is a fan of, but I find it refreshing sometimes).

    Inkheart, Inkspell and Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke - The Paige Turners read Inkheart in February and I found it enjoyable, so I decided to go ahead and read the other books in the series. There was not quite as much character development as I would have liked (they are children's books after all), but there were still some fantastic characters, like Dustfinger and the Black Prince. The whole idea of the story and the Inkworld itself was enchanting and I also appreciated that while most of the characters could be placed on either the "good side" or the "bad side", Funke clearly did not intend for the "good" characters to all be likeable. Funke is, in my opinion, a gifted storyteller and at some point I'd like to read some of her other works.

    What Would Walt Do? by D.M. Miller - Christine and Joe were super excited that they stumbled across this book (it was the title) and they were kind enough to give it to me for Christmas. I wish I had liked it. The title and introduction make you think that the book is going to be about Walt Disney's creative process and design ethic, but really it's just a rambling autobiography. It is poorly written and boring and I just wanted it to end.

    Edmund Bertram's Diary by Amanda Grange - I'm a big Austen fan, but I'm not usually keen on the spinoffs and continuing stories that are currently flooding the book market. That being said, I find Grange's retellings of Austen classic tales through the journals of the leading men to be rather charming. And while this one was my least favorite (probably because Mansfield Park is my least favorite of the major Austen novels) it was relatively enjoyable.

    Lady Susan, Sandition and The Watsons by Jane Austen - As an Austen fan I thought it was high time that I check out something other than her six major works. And while I didn't love any of these stories, I'm certainly glad I read them. These works are (with the exception of The Watsons) unlike any of Austen's well known stories and, quite frankly, they lack a lot of the charm of her other works, but when carefully read and considered they provide some great insight into Austen's life and the progression of her writing.

    Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis - Two of my good friends are quite possibly the biggest Narnia fans ever and so I've promised to read the series. I want so badly to like these books, but I'm finding it difficult. I like the idea of the books and when I read them I can see how they could be fleshed out and made into incredibly entertaining movies, but I just can't get passed the writing style. Some people (like James McAvoy) find the loosely woven narrative to be charming because it allows the reader to imagine the action and fill in the gaps themselves, but I don't like it. I didn't like it when I first started the series as a child and I don't care for it now. Sorry, Kristin and Christine. I tried. And I will finish them some day.

    Quiddith Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander and The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling - The Harry Potter series is my absolute favorite, so of course, I loved these books. The information in them was great, the notes written in by Harry, Ron and Hermione were hilarious and the introductions and commentaries by Albus Dumbledore were amazing. If you're even a casual Harry Potter fan you should check these books out. They are short, easy to read and totally worth the time.

    The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls - Wow! That's just about sums the book up. This was another Paige Turner reading and it sure did offer a lot to talk about. This memoir tells the story of one woman's life growing up with very unique (that's putting it mildly) parents. Parts of the story will make you laugh hysterically and parts will just make you angry. This one is crazy, but definitely worth the read.

    The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano - Is it just me, or is it a bit presumptuous to refer to your own life story as "interesting"? And isn't it especially presumptuous to use the word interesting in the title of your autobiography? Thoughts? Anyway, after watching Amazing Grace and reading a truly interesting (and funny) biography of one of my personal heroes, William Wilberforce, I decided that I wanted to read the works of some of his peers. So I started with the former slave, Olaudah Equiano. And don't get me wrong the narrative is fairly interesting and story of Equiano's salvation is very touching, but much of the book seems very repetitive.


    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - This was a selection for my other book club, the Book SMACKers. I had already read this novel, but that was back in high school and I didn't remember it that well. It's a bit long, but the story is still very engaging. I'm eager to check out Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, which is apparently the story of Mr. Rochester's first wife.

    Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - This was another selection for the Book SMACKers and another one that I had read in high school (actually I believe it was the assigned reading for the summer before senior year). Anyways, I actually really enjoyed this book. The story is, at times, really depressing and some of the characters (Heathcliff, Catherine and Hindley) are just about the worst people that I have ever encountered, but I can really appreciate how unique this story must have been when it was published. I'm not one of those people who will go back and reread this over and over (that probably wouldn't be fun), but I can see picking it up again in another 10 years or so.

    Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling - I've mentioned my love for the Harry Potter series before, so I won't go on about it here. This time I'm listening to the audiobooks and they are amazing.

    The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - See my comments on Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader above

    Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - From some of my previous posts you may have been able to tell that I'm a fan of this series. They certainly don't break any literary ground, but they are thoroughly entertaining and as I said above, I'm a sucker for a happy ending. I reread them this time in celebration of our big Twilight DVD Release Party (pictures to come).

    Congratulations to you if you got all the way through this post. I realize it was a bit long and a bit wordy. In the future I'll try to update each month rather than quarterly.

    So, have you read any of these books? Any comments to share? And do you have any suggestions of books I should read? I'm always looking for something good.

    It's Playoff Time!

    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    That's right everyone, the NHL Playoffs have arrived. And if you're anything like my family and I, then you are totally stoked. Seriously, this time of year is one of my favorites. It means Chinese food and Vernor's. It means sleep deprivation from staying up until 3am watching sudden death triple overtime. It means rearranging my entire life around the hockey schedule. What's not to love?

    But more than anything the NHL Playoffs mean one thing:


    Since I started watching hockey I have been fortunate enough to see my team win the Stanley Cup four times! They are the defending champs and I certainly believe that they can win it again this year. In celebration of the playoffs my friends and family are participating in a playoff pool. The victor will not only be acheive eternal glory and bragging rights, but also custody of this:

    Okay, so the winner won't actually get the real Stanley Cup. It's just a replica. And it's made of plastic. And it's only about 6 inches tall. But that doesn't make the it less awesome and it certainly doesn't make the victory less sweet.

    So, to get eveyone in the spirit of the playoffs I will leave you with some pictures of my favorite playoff moments. (I found TONS of pictures and really had to restrain myself from posting 30 or 40 of them.) Anyway, enjoy the pictures and the playoffs and I just know that EVERYONE will be cheering for the right team (If you aren't yet sure of what team that is you might want to reread this post.)

    The Laminated List

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Most of you know that I maintain a separate blog devoted entirely to my laminated list. If you're not sure what a laminated list is (or if you're just interested in looking at some very attractive photos) you might want to check it out.

    Whenever one of the guys on my list has a birthday I like to post a few pictures to, you know, celebrate. Anyway, it was brought to my attention (thanks Katie) that I should post here to reflect those celebratory posts. And so, here they are, the links to the old birthday posts.

    Please be sure to check out the photos of Ewan. Trust me, you won't regret it. And keep an eye open for the flurry of birthday posts that will be appearing next month.

    Carry On, Project Runway!

    I'm a little late getting to this, but for those of you who haven't heard yet Project Runway is finally set to return. Yeah! After months of legal battles it has finally been decided that the show can move to Lifetime and begin airing again. Honestly, I couldn't care less which network the show airs on, but I am super excited that it's coming back. I can't wait to meet the new lunatics they call designers. I've missed seeing the awfully awesome and awesomely awful things that they create for each show. Seriously, what is there not to love about dresses made out of plants/candy wrappers/coffee filters?

    If you're not familiar with the show (shame on you!) here is a sampling of some of the delightful creations we've seen in the past:

    And, of course, I can't post about Project Runway without mentioning this guy:

    Tim Gunn

    What crazy challenges will we see this year? What ridiculous materials will the designers have to change into couture creations? And most importantly, what will be this year's big catchphrase? From a show that has given us gems like, "Carry on", "Make it work", anything-"licious", and "Andre? Where's Andre?", I'm expecting something great.

    Thank You, PopSugar!

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    PopSugar is one of my favorite blogs. It's full of tons of celebrity photos and gossip and I'm not ashamed to say that I find it all totally entertaining. I check it a couple of times each day while I'm at work just to break up the monotony of the day. Well, this morning when I logged on I had no idea that this delightful little gem was waiting for me:

    An article saying that Rob Pattinson dropped out of New Moon! What? Of course it was just those crazy people over at PopSugar playing a little April Fool's Day joke on their readers. And I wasn't fooled for a second. Really, I wasn't. I knew as soon as I saw the link on the first page that this was a joke...and did I laugh? Of course I did. I laughed because my immediate thought was that I absolutely must forward this most ridiculous article to my two good (and sometimes gullible) friends, Kate and Christine.

    Like any good Twilight fans (with too much time on their hands and decent internet search skills) Kate, Christine and myself like to keep each other updated with any Twilight tidbits that we may stumble across. Why just the other day I sent Kate and Christine links about the people that were cast for the roles of Caius and Heidi. So sending them a link to this article wouldn't be at all suspicious. And I couldn't have been more pleased with their responses.

    Christine responded via e-mail with one simple line:

    "LOL I believed it at first! I think I actually gasped."

    I can actually picture Christine opening her e-mail, clicking on the link and being shocked at the title of the article, but it probably didn't take her long to figure out that it was actually a joke.

    Kate, on the other hand, didn't catch on as quickly. And I was fortunate enough to witness her reaction first hand. We were standing at Katie's desk at work when I pulled up the article for her. When she read the title she quite urgently told Katie to move out of her way so she could see better. As she quickly read the article she didn't notice that Katie, Joe and I were all laughing. She didn't catch on when she got to the absolutely ridiculous part about Taylor Lautner taking over the role of Edward. She didn't even see the bold print that said "April Fool's." She stood there, her face turning red, and said, "Read more! Where are you supposed to go to read more?" I finally stopped laughing and pointed out that it was an April Fool's joke.

    Needless to say Kate was quite relieved. And I was victorious! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    Just For a Laugh!

    During my normal morning internet ramble I stumbled across this site. It's called Pocket Edward and it's hilarious. If you're bored or in need of a laugh you might want to check it out. Here are few of my favorite pics from the site:

    Edward goes bowling

    Edward goes zen

    Edward doesn't like germs (For Christine)

    Edward meeting Paul Rudd (Another one for Christine)