Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Review- Between the Bridge and the River-Craig Ferguson

Between the Bridge and the River by Craig Ferguson

First- I'm a huge Craig Ferguson fan. I must say that right up front. I have read his other book (American on Purpose) and have reviewed it down below. This book was written first. To make this simpler, because I'm going to reference both books- Between the Bridge and the River will be BTBATR and American on Purpose will be AOP.

BTBATR uses a few situations found in AOP, so if you enjoyed Killer Ducks on acid and depressing Scottish schools that encouraged beatings, then you will see them again. BTBATR gives some of Craig's life experiences to several different characters, so after reading AOP, this book has a bit of familiarity. If you read the books in the opposite (probably correct) order, you would get that "behind the scenes" feeling you get with the special features on a DVD.

BTBATR follows four people: two American brother Saul and Leon who grow up abused and run away from their group home to fall in with a snake handling religious tent show; and George and Fraser, two Scottish boys who grew up as friends then parted ways around 14 or so. I recognized Fraser as a reflection of Craig, and see George as who Craig would have been if he had made other life choices- staying in school, going to college, being boring and respectable. These three stories intertwine, voyage apart, then come back together in tangents, tangles, and then meet in dream sequences. Yes, there are dream sequences, near death experiences, a ghostly Carl Jung, and an overt view of religion as a soulless money making business, and a covert pondering of religion as personal spirituality.

BTBATR is not a light summer read, but it's one of those books you think about later. It's clever, downright funny in parts, but don't expect to laugh through it. There are small bits cleverly placed to keep this from being too heavy. And those of us who are fans will recognize 100% Craig touches. There are the occasional asides where you hear Craig talking directly to you, explaining something in the book. There are parables. There is sex. Blunt and direct, no euphemism-type sex. Funny, sad, touching, mechanical sex. The way it really is.

This book is even better if you are well read. There are references you might not get otherwise. The current references that needed to be changed to stop lawsuits are worth looking for- like Peephole Magazine. Craig Ferguson describes this book as "dirty.' I don't think so. There is a lot of sex in it, and it's described as these men would. It's honest. This is a book about redemption. That's honest too.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Ahhh... back outside!

There's just something about going outside,without a coat, boot, gloves... While I love winter, there's an ease about spring. I just love taking kids out around our pond, and this spring has brought fishing, exploring, snake hunting, and duckling rescuing all back with a rush! The prairie is still being a bit shy, with only a few Golden Alexanders peeking into bloom. Like it knows May sometimes brings enough cold to make flowers shiver at night. I know how exciting the prairie is going to look, but my young visitors...not so much excitement as wariness about bugs, field mice, and spiders.

There's two types of group that come to campus for greenspace tours. (Well, being totally honest- they come for the Challenger Learning Center, and I'm just the glorified babysitter while the other half of the group discovers comets or walks on Mars or something MUCH more exciting than "oh, this plant will look really cool in two months.") Yeah- so back to the two groups. There's the "raise their hands when outside, never leave the path, can you turn off the wind" group. Then there's the herding cats group that I just follow and explain whatever they've discovered. One group, I do all the talking, hope something gets through, and don't bother telling jokes. The other- as long as no one falls into the pond or eats poison ivy, it's a success, and they usually like my jokes. The ones that stay with me learn whatever I decide to tell them. The ones who tend to wander away learn whatever they want to learn. I'm good either way.

If I'm tired, I like the drag and brag group. I can do this in my sleep, which is good because they are asleep as well. The herding cats group keeps me on my toes, with lots of "What's this?" and "I found something!" and "Can I eat this?" I get tired, but I'm energized by them as well. The problem lies when I'm all WOOHOO let's go hiking and I have an "Outside is icky" class. Or if I'm tired because I stayed up way to late mooning over Craig Ferguson and I have a class of Lewis and Clarks ready to go explore the wilderness. Today is rainy, so we all stay inside and talk about bottled water-

Which reminds me- If you have the chance see the documentary FLOW. Guaranteed to get you pissed off at the World Bank and privatized water suppliers.

Time to go babysit another class- Oh I mean educate young minds about evil bottled water...