#amreading: Advice for the Chronic Worrier, Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal, 28 February 2017

For most people, worrying is a form of problem-solving where you look at challenges in the future and work them out before they happen, which can be constructive . . .  But some people worry too much. Chronic worriers fret all the time, about everything. Pathological worriers are chronic worriers whose apprehension affects their functioning.

— Elizabeth Bernstein (from “You’re A Worrier? Don’t Worry”, p. A13, Wall Street Journal)

First, ask yourself: Are you a “chronic worrier”? Here’s a list of things you can do to end “chronic worrying” and be happy

  1. Start with a reality check. Is the emotion you’re feeling equivalent in intensity to the situation you are worrying about? Usually the answer is no.
  2. Tell yourself a better story rather than focusing on the worst-case scenario. Not only will this help you feel less negative, you will free your mind up to find solutions to your problem.
  3. Make a plan. Write down in detail how you will deal with the situation. It will seem more controllable.
  4. Set a timer. Give yourself 15 minutes to worry as much as you want. Then stop.
  5. Yell “Shred!” (in your head). Picture your worries going through a paper shredder. Visualize them being destroyed.
  6. Distract yourself with music, exercise, a good book or movie. It is hard to focus on the negative when you’re enjoying yourself.

You’re welcome.

Stay tuned.

WSJ Bookshelf: 24 January 2017

William F. Bynum begins a review of Is It All In Your Head? by Suzanne O’Sullivan with this amazing paragraph:

Over a century ago, Alice James (1848 – 1892), sister of the novelist Henry and the psychologist and philosopher William, spent her life going from doctor to doctor with vague symptoms, tiredness and pains most prominent among them. Like Henry, she eventually gravitated to England, where she was happier, because “the god Holiday (was) worshipped so perpetually and effectually.” There at last she got a definite diagnosis: breast cancer. Although it was her death sentence, she was ecstatic, recording in her diary: “Ever since I have been ill, I have longed and longed for some palpable disease, no matter how conventionally dreadful a label it might have.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2nd Quote of the Day: Will Schwalbe in WSJ, 25 November 2016

We overschedule our days and complain constantly about being too busy. We shop endlessly for stuff we don’t need and then feel oppressed by the clutter that surrounds us. We rarely sleep well or enough. We compare our bodies to the artificial ones we see on television. We watch cooking shows and then eat fast food. We worry ourselves sick and join gyms we don’t visit. We keep up with hundreds of acquaintances but rarely see our best friends.

— Will Schwalbe’s Books for Living is just out from Knopf.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WSJ, Monday, 26 September 2016: Women’s Rights

In WSJ World News, a piece by Margherita Stancati: “Saudis Press King Over Women’s Rights”

Saudis sent telegrams to the king on Sunday pressing the monarchy to end male guardianship rules for women, the culmination of an unprecedented monthlong effort to abolish the system.

By Sunday evening, activists estimated hundreds of people had sent a copy of the same message to the royal court asking King Salman to cancel regulations that give men the final say on many important decisions in the lives of female relatives.

It is a change for which women’s rights activists in the ultraconservative kingdom have long campaigned. The telegrams are one of several grassroots initiatives that have sprung up since July, when an Arabic hashtag that translated to “Saudi women want to abolish the guardianship system” first went viral on Twitter in the oil-rich Gulf nation.

Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving has been criticized worldwide.

 

Seamus Heaney’s Translation of The Aeneid, Book VI

Earlier this year, self was in Ireland, cutting out book reviews from a copy of The Guardian at the breakfast table in the Main House of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. She was explaining to a writer from Belfast that back home in California she had file drawers full of book review clippings and now . . .

The writer just smiled.

What is it about the Irish? Self never has to complete sentences there. Never. They’re pretty observant and never waste words.

In the Wall Street Journal of Wednesday, 17 August 2016, there’s a review of Seamus Heaney’s last work, a translation of the Aeneid, Book VI, which according to reviewer Christopher Carroll, he completed just a month before he died:

  • It is his last published poem, a poignant rendition of Aeneas’ arrival in Italy and journey into the underworld to see his dead father.

Right. Self is adding it to her reading list, as well as Heaney’s “Station Island” (1984) and “Route 110” (2010).

Stay tuned.

News, First Friday in August 2016

APPLE MAKES SLIGHT DIVERSITY GAINS (Wall Street Journal, Thursday, 4 August 2016)

And that’s news?

LOL LOL LOL LOL

Stay tuned.

Wall Street Journal Books, July 23 – 24, 2016

Self found a couple of books to add to her reading list while perusing the Books section of the July 23 – July 24 Wall Street Journal:

  • Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln, by Charles B. Strozier (Columbia)
  • The Castle of Kings, by Oliver Potzsch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) — historical fiction, set in 1524 Germany
  • Abahn Sabana David, by Marguerite Duras (Open Letter) — “minimal, dream-like setting” and narration that has “the bluntness of stage directions.” Self adores Duras.
  • The Brotherhood of the Wheel, by R. S. Belcher (Tor) — Resourceful residents of a small town use a HEXapp — an actual HEXapp! LOL LOL — to show the most recent sightings of the local spectre!
  • Richard Cohen, literary critic and Tolstoy expert, shares his favorite British crime novels: The Cask, by Freeman Wills Crofts; Tragedy at Law, by Cyril Hare; Reputation for a Song, by Edward Grierson; The Shortest Way to Hades, by Sarah Caudwell
  • Brazillionaires, by Alex Cuadros (Spiegel & Grau) — nonfiction by a journalist

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

You May Share My Bed, Mr. A. Lincoln

from the Books section of the Wall Street Journal, Saturday/Sunday, 23 July – 24 July:

On the day Joshua Fry Speed met the 28-year-old Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln was destitute and looking for a place to stay in Springfield, ILL. Speed, scion of “a wealthy Louisiana plantation family”, owned a dry-goods store. “On impulse,” Speed invited “this newcomer to share his his double bed in the room above his store, rent to be discussed later.”

In Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln, biographer Charles B. Strozier “maintains that , at a time when only ‘one percent’ had beds, or for that matter bedrooms . . .  Speed’s offer carried none of the sexualized connotations it would exude today . . .  For Lincoln, who had shared beds with other males throughout his impoverished life, Speed’s offer promised company at night, warmth in winter and split expenses year-round . . .  Of course they tossed and turned against each other every evening, but when they were awake they talked about navigating ‘the uncertain world of women.’ ”

A book about Abraham Lincoln’s sleeping arrangements during his young manhood? What next? Self is so there.

Nice review by Harold Holzer.

Stay tuned.

Vonnegut Quote of the Day

Today, self wandered into a bookstore in Fort Bragg. She wandered in to look up some books on her reading list. She handed the young woman at the cashier’s desk a very old clipping from the Wall Street Journal with the following book titles underlined:

  • Ovid’s Metamorphosis
  • Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels
  • Voltaire’s Candide

It wasn’t until a couple of minutes later that she realized it was a used bookstore. With a pretty extensive collection of vinyl. The record player reminded her of the one she saw at her hotel in Trieste, 2013.

Anyhoo, back to the main topic: She’s still reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano. According to the nerds of a feather blog, Player Piano is ranked # 12 out of 15 Vonnegut novels. She really thinks it ought to be ranked much higher. Just saying.

It’s described as science fiction but self thinks it’s more AU (Alternate Universe). The AU comes so trippingly off her tongue now that she is so heavily into reading fan fiction.

p. 182:

  • In analyzing the magical quality of the afternoon during the cocktail hour, Paul realized what had happened: for the first time since he’d made up his mind to quit, he really hadn’t given a damn about the system, about the Meadows, about intramural politics. He’d tried not to give a damn before, but he hadn’t had much luck.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

WSJ on Fan Films: Ready for the Next Parallel Universe

It’s no secret to self’s dear blog readers that she loves fan fiction.

Loves it.

When she finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy, she was so disappointed that there would be no more.

Since self is a very stubborn soul, she went roaming the World Wide Web and stumbled on fanfiction.net

That was two years ago. She’s been committed to Everlark (Katniss Everdeen + Peeta Mellark pairings) fan fiction ever since.

She recently went ga-ga over another trilogy, Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. After finishing the last book of the series, Clockwork Princess, she scoured the fan fiction universe for Wessa (Will Herondale + Tessa Gray pairings).

Much to her dismay, there was hardly anything. (There were a lot of Jem Carstaris/Will Herondale pairings, though. BWAH HA HA!)

Then, she finished yet another trilogy, The 100. Her favorite character was Glass, who wasn’t even in the CW television adaptation, boo. Again self went scouring the fan fiction universe: there was nothing, zip, nada on Glass.

Tragic, so tragic!

A week ago, self bought a copy of The Wall Street Journal. There’s an article by Will Friedwald which is about Fan Films.

Fan Films are, Mr. Friedwald writes, “independently produced movies using familiar characters from iconic science-fiction and superhero franchises.”

“In the digital era,” Mr. Friedwald writes, “fan films have grown to the point where the best of them are not only incredibly sophisticated, often employing professional talent, but worthy of competing with the official product.” Many of the Fan Films, Mr. Friedwald continues, are better than epic studio disasters like Green Lantern (Ryan Reynolds starrer, 2011).

“There’s only one rule governing so-called fan films: They’re not allowed to make a profit.”

And that applies also in the fan fiction universe.

There are authors of Everlark fan fiction who have so completely channeled Jane Austen that they can produce Everlark that sounds exactly like Pride and Prejudice (Self knows because she is a teacher and she has taught Pride and Prejudice)

There is something so pure about the field of fan fiction. There’s one story she likes, Katniss Everdeen Demonhunter, which is set in Hoboken, NJ. You can actually read KED just to find out what modern Hoboken is like, self kids you not. And if you ask the author for Hoboken restaurant recommendations, she will come right back at you. That’s how self discovered that Hoboken, NJ is a really cool place.

Another of her favorites, Synth, is better than I, Robot. Seriously. It features a cyborg named KTNS-12, a scientist named Beetee, and a Junior Scientist named Peeta (And Junior Scientist Peeta is simply adorbs, clucking like a mother hen over KTNS-12). Perhaps the author of Synth is simply a bored high school student who’d rather write her imaginary universe than prepare for her biology final. If she is, then self is here to tell her that she can always write, if all else fails.

(Self just remembered one more Everlark fan fiction: Katniss is a fan fiction writer. The title of Katniss’s story was something like District 12 or The Hunger Games or something self-referential along those lines. Peeta is her beta. They have such good chemistry, they are so — symbiotic. Peeta’s beta-ing makes Katniss’s fan fiction so much better, so much more appealing to readers. So of course one day they arrange to meet. And, well, you know, Everlark happens: WOOT HOOT!)

Friedwald goes on to examine two areas where the fan film universe is particularly rich: the Star Trek universe, and the Batman universe. And he tosses off film titles like Batgirl: Spoiled and Batman: Death Wish.

Star Trek, Friedwald maintains, is “the galactic epicenter of fan fiction and films.” It’s a universe dreamt up by geeks for other geeks. It’s why the characters of Big Bang Theory are the way they are, and why J. J. Abrams and Josh Whedon have such huge followings. No one gets rich doing this, and so it is a pure realm, where people like self can gambol to their heart’s delight.

Stay tuned.

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