Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Book Club Is Better Than Yours

"It’s 20 inches from side to side!"

Just one of the many fantastic quotes uttered from my book club last night. I might be a little bit in love with them. Honestly, it is this group and my group of friends that keep me sane (as much as possible) and grounded here in Sioux Falls.

I started the book club, officially known as Books, Beer, and Bitchin’ Camaraderie (BBBC) because…well, because I needed to. It seems that after university finding intellectual stimulation can be a bear. While Sioux Falls has many fine qualities, creative and intellectual stimulation is in limited supply. The lack of those things was taking a toll on me, thus I decided to do something about it. I created an event on facebook with the initial invitation reading, “Tired of the lack of books, beer, and bitchin’ camaraderie! Me too!” (It should be noted that the “bitchin’” portion of the title is in reference to “cool,” not for “come to my house and bitch about your life”) Apparently, others did in fact feel the same and thus the BBBC was born. And it has taken off and going even better than I had hoped or imagined. We met for the first time three weeks ago at my house, where witty banter and creative intellect reigned supreme. (It also inspired me to start watching Dr. Who.) We decided the first book we would read would be To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Most of us had read it before, but we decided it would be a good first book to get people talking and get comfortable with one another. It proved to do that swimmingly. Lee’s novel lent itself to a lively, diverse, and all out enrapturing conversation ranging from language as culture (particularly the “n-word”) to sexuality and dating to school board elections to identifying ourselves with particular characters. It was interesting to see the varied lenses through which we all inevitably read the book. I naturally gravitated toward the religious tones. One of us is Native American and serves on the Diversity Council and she naturally gravitated toward the ethnic minority themes. Still others read from a feminist point of view, themes of justice, and the pure literary genius of the book. Of course these were just the beginnings of the thoughts, ideas, and conversations that took place outside on a warm June evening.
If my BBBC friends are anything like me, there were more ideas and realizations running through our heads that we either chose to keep to ourselves or didn’t get a chance to share. (We have a tendency to talk a lot and the evolution of conversation occurs quite rapidly.)

This is the beauty of literature. We all come to it with our own lives shaping the way in which we read the same words. We then share our thoughts, our hearts, and inevitably our lives with one another. Ideas flourish. Relationships are made and strengthened. Community is built. Lives are enlightened and enriched.

To you, my fellow BBBC members, I am immensely grateful. You add life to my life.

To others, if you would like to join us, shoot me an email! We would love to have you. Your life will be enriched, I guarantee. Pick up a copy of Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg, as that’s what we’re reading for next time, grab a bottle or two of your favorite brew, and come join in the conversation. (And seeing as how it's by Simon Pegg, I propose a viewing of Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead following discussion.)

Oh, and if you’re wondering, it was the pizza a few of us ordered around midnight turned out to be a right giant. (We decided we needed snacks as we watched the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird after all the discussion) As we burst out laughing when we saw the beast, the pizza guy proudly boasted that “it’s 20 inches from side to side!” every good book store has a cat, we've adopted the neighborhood cat who straggles into my yard from time to time as the BBBC mascot. We named him Vinny, short for Vincent, due to his red hair and missing ear. I think you'll find him adorable.

Vinny the Kitty

It's 20 inches from side to side!

"What the f@*k are we going to do with all this pizza?!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2 Songs

These are two songs I can't get out of my head, and I'm not complaining.

The Death Cab for Cutie song is my present anthem. The Decemberists song is just really good and insanely catchy. I'm a little bit in love with Colin Meloy's voice. (The Decemberists)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sonnets Un-Won

A few weeks ago the radio program Studio 360 featured Arthur Philips' book The Tragedy of Arthur in which Phillips penned an entirely fake Shakespeare play. Apparently, he did it quite convincingly, or so say the scholars he consulted. So, the good folks at Studio 360 and Phillips issued a challenge for listeners to submit their own sonnets. The winner's poem would be read on the air.
I did not win.
My 16th century vocabulary is not up to snuff. And realistically, Shakespeare isn't my favorite. (Which is nearly a crime for many English nerds across the globe.) The winner was much more eloquently versed in the ways of Bill S. But I submitted a couple of sonnets just for fun. Too contemporary to pass as Shakespeare, which I'm okay with, and one had failed iambic pentameter anyway. Here are the two sonnets I submitted.

Wounded Friendship/ Tattered Cloth

Alas! No more shall it be let to mend
For silver thread lies tangled on the floor
Unraveled, a heap, the much hidden ends,
Lay in wait with vain hope to restore

The wardrobe that once was brilliant, it shone
From time, effort, and meticulous care
Devoted to keeping it from being outgrown
Now pauper what was once debonair

The greatest of tailors cannot right what was torn
Only the wearers can sift through the mess
So threading untangled shall not be born
For its keepers refuse to address

Gaping holes in the garments, moth-eaten and frayed
Silver thread for the mending, in dust remains staid

Mark Zuckerburg is My Big Brother

Lord Zuckerberg and your brainiac crew:
Surely you're sly as ten thousand foxes
For certainly it was well known by you
The sick addiction tiny red boxes

Would stir in the minds of weak-willed, poor saps
Such as myself, all my friends, and my kin
Seldom a moment we move from our laps
The book of faces now ingrained within

Too firm your grasp! I barely can stand it!
Ever at hand electronic device
Let’s be honest, I rarely unhand it
These social affairs, though, come at a price

Mr. Zuckerberg, we beg you be kind
It’s our dirty secrets you’ve been consigned

Thursday, June 2, 2011

100th Post-An Announcement

Well well well, it seems like I've reached a relatively minor milestone. This, friends, is my 100th post on waitawaitabide. I was trying to think of some clever way of celebrating this "momentous occasion," like trying to summarize my blog in 100 words or writing a cutesy little poem using "100" in each line or stanza or something. But I'm tossing those ideas to the wind. I’m instead using my 100th post to make my little announcement promised in my last post.
So here it is: in an effort to remind myself of the non-sucky aspects of Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas, as well as to clue residents and passers-by in to these places, I'm starting a website, writing about the non-sucky aspects of Sioux Falls. 
Most of you know that I keep trying to flee Sioux Falls and keep accidentally ending up back here. Well, I’ve decided for the time being that it’s too exhausting to keep fighting and trying to leave. And after a visit from my friend Ray from Alaska a few weeks ago, I was reminded that I really enjoy sharing the places I love around here with folks from elsewhere. Thus, the website idea was born in an effort to share the cool local places Sioux Falls does indeed have to offer.  It will have reviews of restaurants, coffee shops, shops, bars, places of interest, and outdoor locations. I use the term “review” loosely, because I’m not so much critiquing these places as just sharing what they are like and why folks should check them out. The website will also have a section called “Sioux Falls Submits,” where people can send in memories of Sioux Falls and the region, as well as their own creative writing and photographs.
And to be quite honest, another reason I’m starting this website is so that some fancy writer folks will stumble upon it and decide to pay me gobs of money to either continue in the website or come write for them. (Ahem…Dear Argus Leader…You are lacking in quality writing and local features. Please hire me. “The Link,” could use some work.)
I’m shooting for something like a mid-July launch date. I need to write quite a few more pieces and figure out the whole setting up of the website thing. 
Anyway, I’m really looking forward to my upcoming venture. Any help, writing, or advice would come in handy. To give you an idea of how features on the site will read, what follows below is the first piece I’ve written for the site, featuring Black Sheep Coffee.

Black Sheep Coffee
Walk into Black Sheep Coffee and then stop. Stop, take a deep breath, and inhale the sweet sweet aroma that can only be coffee. Breathe it in, for that scent is one of the most comforting and pleasant scents known to humankind. You know you want it. Don’t be shy. Walk up to the counter, order yourself a warm steamy cup of Ethiopian roast or perhaps a chai, a toddy, green tea, mocha, or any other of the delectable beverages on hand, then settle in and make yourself at home.  
Once you’ve got that all enticing cup of joe in your hand, soak up the Black Sheep atmosphere. For a really good time, engage yourself in a battle to the animated death by playing Ms. Pac-Man.  The glorious time sucking joy of 1980’s memorabilia stands against the western wall begging for patrons to step right up, gobble some cherries, and flee from cutesy ghosts. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I know of no other place in Sioux Falls where you can absorb gobs of caffeine and childhood nostalgia at the very same time.
However, if chomping orbs isn’t your thing, Black Sheep is to be enjoyed for several other reasons. Settle in for a game of chess or cozy up with a book. (If you’ve forgotten your own, use one of theirs. A book shelf stands on either side of Ms. Pac-Man for your reading enjoyment. ) Take in the work of local artists or catch a set by local, regional, and national musicians. Should no musical acts be on hand that evening, never fear! The baristas will keep your head bobbing to the finest tunes or fill that very same head with valuable knowledge from NPR.
Black Sheep is one of the few places in Sioux Falls that roasts their own beans. Upon walking in, you’ll see the large red roaster, standing on guard to greet you with the promise of the freshest cup of coffee you’ll find in the city. If you’re really lucky, Corey will be ever near the monstrous machine, roasting the newly arrived beans to perfection.
If your trip to Black Sheep is during the fortunate non-winter months, sit out back on the patio to soak up the sun, smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, and engross yourself in merriment of coffee, friends, and the goodness of life. Just don’t trample the garden!
So get your caffeine fix while supporting local business: go to Black Sheep Coffee. You should, Sioux Falls. You just might like it.