The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut by Paul Nowak

Title:  The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut (Based on the Life and Works of G.K. Chesterton)

Author:  Paul Nowak

Paperback:  55 pages

ISBN:  0977223493

Miscellaneous:  This book is intended to be the first of a series on “Uncle Chestnut.”

Challenges:  2009 ARC Reading Challenge 

“You see, Jack, an adventure is only an inconvenience considered the right way, and an inconvenience is an adventure considered the wrong way,” said Uncle Chestnut.  “When someone complains about the inconveniences in their life – such as hats blowing away, or drawers getting stuck, or delays at the airport – they are missing the adventure in those experiences they cannot control.  The only thing we always can control is how we react.”

“In other words, we can choose to enjoy life, with all its adventures that take place beyond our control, or we can be miserable with all the inconveniences life hands us.  It’s up to you to choose.”

-page 9

Uncle Chestnut is a great storyteller, and he enjoys telling them as much as Jack enjoys listening to them.  He makes faces, uses voices and acts out parts of the tale he’s telling.  When I read this, my mind immediately went to my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Crawford (whose first name, coincidentally, was also Jack).  Mr. Crawford didn’t teach history to us, he performed it.  His face reflected the Pharaoh as he covered ancient Egypt.  I still remember when he was telling us about Israel’s crossing the Red Sea, and he was pretending to be one of the Egyptian cavalry soldiers pursuing them:  “Whoa, Nelly… you can’t drink that water!” was his command to his horse as “Nelly” was getting ready do sample the wall of water.  Mr. Crawford, like Uncle Chestnut, made the stories come alive.

The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnut isn’t a story, specifically, but rather more anecdotal.  In the book Jack, the narrator, is remembering life with his eccentric writer-uncle.  It’s full of wisdom and good sense that’s definitely lacking today.  The author, Paul Nowak, was inspired by G.K. Chesterton, an early 20th century writer who inspired C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, Mahatma Gandhi, just to name a few.  More recently, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have referenced, credited and even created characters based on Chesterton.

As I first started reading this, I thought it was written by the actual nephew, but I quickly realized that wasn’t possible.  Then I thought maybe Nowak was updating Jack’s diary, or that Jack would turn out to be C.S. Lewis.  It wasn’t until the American Idol reference that I finally understood that this book was really a work of fiction.  Yes, Nowak based Uncle Chestnut on Chesterton and used Chesterton’s work to be as true to him as possible, but it is fiction.  It’s such a surprising little book, not at all what I was expecting.  As it is the first in what the author intends to be a series, I really hope the next book isn’t far off, because I can’t wait for my new favorite uncle to visit some more.

Some little things about the book, though…  The only fault I could really find with it other than the few typos about which Nowak warned in the accompanying letter is this:  It is too short.  I had hardly settled in before it was over.  I’m not saying it to be funny, I really mean that the length of the book actually left a negative feeling.  You know, like when you go to the ice cream shop and order a large, thinking you are really going to get a treat, and they hand you a kiddie cone?  Ultimately, somewhere down the line, it might be a good idea to consolidate books into a 200-300 or so page book.  The other off thing I had to say about it is that it’s supposed to be kinda-sorta a kids book, but I’m not really sure it fits that.  Maybe, IDK… it’s a bit Winnie-the-Pooh like in style, which was actually a very surprising thing to have captivated my kids attention.  I haven’t read this book with them yet, so maybe they would really like it, but it just seems like something the kid inside the grown-up would like.

I really do hope The Inconvenient Adventures of Uncle Chestnutby Paul Nowak catches and takes off, it’s very much a needed book and voice of wisdom and reason that could tip the balance a little more toward sanity than it’s been leaning lately.  I know my copy isn’t leaving my library, so y’all will have to get your own :-)  I know I will re-read this one.  5 out of 5 stars, in case you didn’t catch that I liked it. ;-)

By the way, make sure to check out the book’s site at http://unclechestnut.com/ .  There you can learn more about the man who inspired this book, G.K. Chesterton, as well as search quotes and sign up for the Uncle Chestnut’s quote a day newsletter.

Viral Video Wednesday ~ The Best of American Idol is the WORST!

Good morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone :-) Last week’s VVW was about American Idol Rejects who went on to make a career. I picked Renaldo Lapuz, better known as “The Birdman,” who is having something of a singing career and fans who want to have the picture taken with him. Not the big record deal the winners get, but still… better than 15 minutes.

This week’s VVW is all about my favorite part of American Idol. Those people who shoulda been talked off the ledge. Many of them are so bad that their “friends” who told them they’re great and should go for it deserve to be shot for cruelty. I don’t know if it’s insanity, or if they’re trying for a spot on national television as one of the worst, but at least they gave it a shot.

And now, my favorite BAD American Idol auditions

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Some people who audition are more dancers than singers. Others use the opportunity as a vehicle for bigger and better things, like Leroy Jenkins Wells here. OMG, when I first saw him on TV, Mags and I looked at each other and she said, “Is he on drugs?” If I remember correctly, he was arrested a couple days after his audition aired for outstanding warrants. Now why would someone go on national TV knowing that when the prosecutor he’s been hiding out from will see it and now know where to send the po-po? CAN YOU DIG IT? (Check out the guest judge…)

We have laughed and laughed for a year or so at this next vid clip. Sammi, my oldest daughter, loves Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s the song I sing to her when she’s in a funk. No matter how bad things are for her, she’s smiling and singing along by the end of the song. The song will always have a special place in my heart. HOWEVER, Caveman Red here gives an All-Star FAIL performance of it and won a place in Simon’s heart as the WEIRDEST Audition he’s ever heard.

The next idol-wannabe made Maggie bury her head in the pillow and scream the whole way through. It’s a funny thing how people blame Simon for their own lack of talent. Evidently Keith here hasn’t talked with Renaldo, otherwise he’d know Simon is Heaven’s Chosen. :-)

I’m shocked James Lewis here wasn’t in the news for going on a work-place shooting spree after being encouraged (punked) by his co-workers into auditioning. He seems like such a sweet guy, but he might want to get some new friends. I couldn’t help staring at his mouth, trying to figure out what’s wrong with it… is it a palate issue? or is he just that tone deaf?

ROFL… here’s a Don’t Cha compilation… The auditon I was going to put here has turned out to be worthy of an EXTRA edition.

In honour of DevourerofBooks‘s upcoming blessing, Next week’s Viral Video Wednesday topic: Babies!

So now it’s your turn… what’s your favorite worst Idol auditions ever?

VVW ~ All-American Idol Rejects

Viral Video Wednesday makes me Dance!

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  Summer vacation is in full swing:  Maggie’s signed up for the library’s summer reading program and will be kept happy and busy, Sammi started summer school yesterday and is happy to be back in her beloved halls of learning (really, she LOVES school!  weird, eh?), and Gwen’s visiting her dad until he gets tired of her and kicks her back home.  And I’m sitting in a nice quiet house… fan blowing, dog sleeping cat lazying in the sunny windowsill… And all seems right in the world.

Okay, it’s actually cloudy and cool and raining outside, and the cats are sulking somewhere because they’re mad at me for my lack of taste when buying their royal highnesses food… at least the dog loves me.  But the first way sounds so much better, right? 

Such is the case with some of the wannabe Idol contestants.  Their versions of reality do not always line up with that of the other 99.44% of the population of the planet.  But just because they can’t dance, look goofy and couldn’t carry a tune in bucket with a lid doesn’t mean they don’t actually make good.  

Today’s Viral Video topic is:  I didn’t make it on American Idol, and look at me now!

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There are tons of American Idol Rejects out there, and the worst of them are my favorite part of watching AI.  Actually, when it gets down to good contestants I lose interest in the show all together.  With the exception of last season, David and David, I’ve never made it to the end of a season.  And with the exception of which ever season had Constantine in it (*drool big time!*), I’ve never watched it farther than the elimation rooms. 

But, as I said, Maggie and I watched season 7 to the final credits of the final show.  It was the season that made us all Brothers Forever :-)  And one in which one of the audition rejects were invited to sing on the final show.  Renaldo Lapuz has since sang the national anthem at a pro-ball game and starred in an AT&T commercial.

Check it… When Renaldo was on the finale, he even had backup provided by the USC marching band. Pretty cool :-)

It’s a different style, and not entirely unpleasant, of singing The Star-Spangled Banner, and certainly a helluvalot better than Roseanne’s crotch grabbing and spitting screecher-creature version. Watching this on the computer with Sammi, my oldest, surprised me as my sixteen-year-old stood and put her hand over her heart. I must brag, I do have great kids :-D

And with the money AT&T paid, Renaldo spiffied up his duds… but wait? Where’s Simon’s name?? Why did he take Simon’s name off his hat? Did he and Heaven’s Chosen have a falling out?

The one question Maggie asks every time she watches Renaldo perform she asks, “Why does he dress that way?” The following vid clip answers her question and more… like why would a 44 year old try out when 28′s the age limit, inspiration for the song and What is that second reason for putting Simon’s name on his hat? They never let him tell on the show….

So, what All-American Idol Reject is your favorite?

Next week’s Viral Video Wednesday topic: The Best of American Idol is the WORST!
All those bad, scary and train-wrecking-into-a-busload-of-nuns-before-derailing-and-hitting-the-orphanage-in-a-fiery-explosion auditions can come out an play next week :-)

As per Marie of The Boston Bibliophile‘s recommendation, I checked out Rob Paravonian’s American Idol song, and thought we’d let him take out this week’s VVW-


Viral Video Wednesday ~ LOST

 

Welcome to Viral Video Wednesday, May 27th :-)  For anyone who noticed, last week’s VVW was skipped because it coincided with my book blog tour stop of They Plotted Revenge Against America, and I wanted to give the book the whole day.  But we’re back this week, and this week’s installment topic is LOST.

I am a Lostie, for sure… though not quite as much of one as some people.  I keep acquiring, but haven’t read any of, the books that are mentioned in the television series LOST.  I guess since the next season won’t start until FEBRUARY OF NEXT YEAR :-( , then I have time to read said books, but my point is that I’m a middle of the road Lostie.  I do my best to watch every episode, I’ll probably be working my way through the whole series to date between now and the next (and final) season, and trying to get caught up on a lot of the theories floating around.  I’m not so much of a fan that I’m going to build a SIM for it on SecondLife (they already have one, btw, been there… not much going on at the time), nor am I going to make a fan site, change my username to FRECKLES629, or start hiding in the bushes whenever I see a puff of black smoke nearby.  But, I do enjoy the show. :-D

So, in honor of the shows recent season finale, I’m dedicating my VVW to some of the fan and funny LOST vid clips.  I’d love for you to share your favorites, too, either leaving a link in your comment or posting a VVW on your blog and linking up :-D  So, on with the vids!

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During the first half of the series, they showed some silly Lost parodies. So I had to go on YouTube and see what other people were doing. The Fine Brothers have quite a few really funny ones, and they remind me of when we were kids playing with an incomplete set of toys. Barbies, He-Man toys, and Star Wars figures would fill in for whatever character we were lacking, and as kids, we never batted an eye. But, as an adult looking back, sometimes they were funny or even bizarre substitutions. The Fine Brothers make that very point:

Star Trek meets Heroes meets Lord of the Rings meets LOST meets Bill and Ted meets Matrix meets Back to the Future (in other words, just like the season finale :-D ):

I loved reading Mad Magazine when I was a kid, and loved it when they made a TV show. Here’s MadTV’s LOST, guest starring Jeff Probst from Survivor

And The Bohemian LOST Rhapsody, with a Weird Al Yankovic touch:

Jimmy Kimmel’s also a Lostie, and he likes to visit Hawaii… so he decided to combine the two and visit the set of LOST:

And I’ll end my VVW with this LOST clip from fellow Hoosier and Lefty, David Letterman (btw, I sat through all ten… you’ll get that if you do to ;-) ):

So, what’s your favorite thing from the show LOST? Who’s your favorite character? What’s your favorite LOST memory?

OR

Do you hate (strongly dislike) LOST and wish people’d just shut up about it already? If so, What’s wrong with you? Why do you dislike the show? :-D

Next week’s VVW topic is: I didn’t make it on American Idol, and look at me now!

Vral Video Wednesday ~ Misheard Lyrics

Everyone’s done this. Your driving along, or shopping, or cleaning… whatever it is that you’re doing… you’ve got the radio, or your favorite CD, or your MP3 player going straight into your brain… and that song comes one… the one you can NOT help but sing along with. You sing along, almost without even realizing it… loudly… and someone who’ve you either forgotten or didn’t even know was there says, “What’d you say? That’s not the words!”

Today’s VVW is dedicated to those moments.

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This first video was the first “Misheard Lyric” vid I saw on YouTube. Unless you’ve looked up the lyrics to this song, you probably wouldn’t know what the real words are anyway, but you sing along because it’s got a great beat and an infectuous melody… it sounds like a magic spell for fun.

Sean Paul’s Temperature:

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And of course… There would hafta be a Numa Numa misheard lyrics video. Songs in English are often hard enough for English-speakers to understand, and one in another language… especially one so popular… is like Christmas at Ritchie Rich’s house, the presents just keep coming!

Numa Numa misheard lyrics:

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I once saw a commercial with the next vid’s song part of their own misheard lyrics joke. Rock the Cat’s box? Rock the Cash Bar? Sadly, this song is ACTUALLY in English.

Rock the Casbah:

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This next song is on my MP3 player, and I know I always sing along. Whether I sing the right words or not, I don’t know… though, after watching this vid, I’ll probably never sing them right again. They’re hilarious!

Fall Out Boy’s Thanks for the Mmrs misheard:

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And finally, this last vid is one of the best known Misheard Lyrics singing. Thanks to the popularity of American Idol and the globalization the Internet has brought us, the Bulgarian Idol show has made us all wonder…

who in the heck is “Ken Lee?”

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Next week’s Viral Video Wednesday topic: LOST

So what’s your favorite songs to sing out loud and along with whenever you hear them? What’s the worst case of misheard lyrics you’ve heard? or even sang?

Viral Video Wednesday ~ Stalkers!

STALKERS!  We’ve all seen stories on the news about them.  They stalk celebrities, some delusionally believing they have a relationship with the object of their obsessions.  Even Queen Elizabeth had one!

Wikepedia has this to say:

Individuals characterised as stalkers may have a mistaken belief that the other person loves them (erotomania), or have a desire to help the other person. Stalking consists of a series of actions which in themselves can be legal, such as calling on the phone, sending gifts, or sending emails.

And lists the following types of stalkers:

  •  Rejected stalkers pursue their victims in order to reverse, correct, or avenge a rejection (e.g. divorce, separation, termination).
  • Resentful stalkers pursue a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims – motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim.
  • Intimacy seekers seek to establish an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. To them, the victim is a long-sought-after soul mate, and they were ‘meant’ to be together.
  • Incompetent suitors, despite poor social or courting skills, have a fixation, or in some cases a sense of entitlement to an intimate relationship with those who have attracted their amorous interest. Their victims are most often already in a dating relationship with someone else.
  • Predatory stalkers spy on the victim in order to prepare and plan an attack – usually sexual – on the victim.

We’ve all felt rejected at one time or another, and “bumped into” the person more than chance would allow.  Or, had a crush on someone and rearranged our schedule just so we could be where they would be… taking the long way to our destination, for instance, so we could drive by their house. 

Come on… Don’t tell me it’s just me…  I saw you in that bush last week, so fess up!

lol…  But do STALKERS have an anthem, a theme song?  And if they did, what would that song be?  Well, this first video is proof I should update my bookmarks more often.  ORIGINALLY… I had Morrissey’s creepy-as-HELL video of The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get for this spot, but UNfortunately… some bigwigs somewhere threw a fit about the use of Morrissey’s song and all that, and the vid’s now muted.  So… I had to sub in this 1995 Mickey Mouse Club version.  *sigh

Pay particular attention to the lyrics:

I will be
In the car
With my hand
In the spots
I am now
A central part
Of your mind’s landscape
Whether you care
Or do not
Yeah, I’ve made up your mind 

The more you ignore me
The closer I get
You’re wasting your time
The more you ignore me
The closer I get
You’re wasting your time

Beware !
I bear more grudges
Than lonely high court judges
When you sleep
I will creep
Into your thoughts
Like a bad debt
That you can’t pay
Take the easy way
And give in
Yeah, and let me in

Was that a young Jamie Lynn Spears intro’ing the vid?

Yeah, Morrisey’s is definitely creepier than the teenie-bopper one.  PERHAPS, that’s because we expect, or at least forgive, teens to be obsessive.  Morrissey, on the other hand, is a grown and already-mildly-creepy man and should be able to understand reality and have some amount of self-control.

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Until I saw and heard the Morrissey video, the next song was what I considered the theme song for stalkers everywhere.  Ever since I was a teenager, The Police’s song Every Breath You Take has seemed a bit stalker-ish to me.  AND the following video proves that I’m not the only one to think that! Listen to the lyrics:

 

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And then there is FRED. Poor Fred! He can’t help it that he’s in love with Judy, even though she’s such a BRAT! She won’t IM him back at all, so what could he do? Of course he had to sneak in her house, sniff her perfume, go through her drawers, and such. But he’s NOT a STALKER!

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Paula Abdul’s stalker, Paul Marturano, auditioned on the 7th season of American Idol with his offerings of his obsessive love for the F in the AI mfm party.

So, now it’s your turn. Post a link of your fav stalker video in the comments here, or better yet… Blog your own VVW and leave a link in the comments!

Next week’s VVW topic: Sing it loud! Sing it proud! Sing it WRONG… Misheard Lyrics.

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