Novel Uses For (Rap) Genius

Genius started out as a platform for annotating clever rap lyrics but has since expanded to include more than hip-hop, and more than just lyrics. Over the last week I have stumbled across some increasingly novel uses for the Rap Genius website:

  • First was an annotation of Hamilton: An American Musical soundtrack. These annotations are filled with interesting tidbits and insights into the song lyrics, American history, and production plot.
  • Second was an annotation of the entire Great Gatsby. Wonderful.
  • Lastly, Travis Korte used the Genius Web Annotator to create an informative takedown of the GOP’s recent Mainstream Media Accountability Survey. The annotation exposes the confusingly worded questions, sample bias and leading questions used in the survey.

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2015

For many, many years I have put together a list of the top ten most banned books from the previous year, during Banned Books Weak. This year the Office for Intellectual Freedom, did not report the number of challenges (not without buying their official list anyway) so I’m unsure if it has decreased or increased year-over-year. However, this year has brought along a whole new crop of books. This is the first time I recall seeing The Holy Bible being on the list. Anyway here are the top ten:

2015

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

Click these links if you are looking for the top 10 lists for previous years with easy links to Amazon: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001.

Additionally, in 2010, I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association.

The Moon 1968–1972

Project Apollo Archive 41

During all six of NASA’s manned lunar landings, astronauts were armed and trained to use modified Hasselblads. During the Apollo missions, NASA’s astronauts took photos of moon landings, moon walks, the lunar surface, the horizon, and the Earth with these cameras. The results included over 20,000 photographs by 13 astronauts over six lunar landing missions. This huge trove of photographs are cataloged at The Project Apollo Archive. NASA also released a large number of these photos on Flickr back in 2015. The photo above is one of my favorites from this collection.

Though shot originally for scientific purposes, many of the photos have an extraordinary aesthetic value that encompasses an inadvertently artful composition. The fine folks at T. Alder Books have sorted through the nearly 15,000 of these photos and came up with 45 images that consist of “unintended artful compositions” and a “beautiful, deft outtake quality,”. The collection will be released in a book entitled The Moon 1968–1972 that will be released later this month.

At a time when archival images are often hastily assembled into digital galleries that get passed around briefly on social media, it’s especially satisfying to sit with an affordable ($18), carefully edited, designed and printed archive of photographs of historical significance and esthetic value. Texts include excerpts from a speech President John F. Kennedy made about the Apollo program, and from an E.B. White story for The New Yorker recalling the first moon landing.

Bookslut Is Dead. Long Live Bookslut

RIP Bookslut. It has published its final issue. I’m sad to see it go. I was never a heavy reader the site but I always had an affinity for it. See, my foray into the blogging world started fourteen years ago with a book blog that started just a month after Bookslut. So I have always considered Bookslut to be a much more worthwhile, articulate, entertaining and much smarter stepsister-blog to my little “I Love You Too” book blog.

There is an excellent interview in Vulture with Jessa Crispin, the site’s founder and editor. Here’s a favorite pull-quote to get you salivating:

There’s always space to do whatever you want. You won’t get as much attention, but fuck attention. Fight for integrity. Now everyone has a TinyLetter instead of a blog. As soon as the first writer got a book deal for a TinyLetter, everyone’s TinyLetter just became book-deal bait, written the same way. This weird conformity just takes over as soon as the possibility of money or access or respectability comes up. That’s disappointing.

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2014

For the past many years, during Banned Books Weak, I have put together a list of the top ten most banned books of the previous year. Out of 311 challenges (a slight increase from the 307 challenges reported in 2013) as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, here are the top ten:

2014

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
  2. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, by Marjane Satrapi
    Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
  3. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal (The Family Library), by Robie H. Harris
    Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”
  6. Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan
    Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  7. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”
  9. A Stolen Life: A Memoir, by Jaycee Dugard
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
  10. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: sexually explicit

Click these links if you are looking for the top 10 lists for previous years with easy links to Amazon: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001.

Additionally, in 2010, I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association.

First New Dr. Seuss Book In 25 Years

What Pet Should I GetImage via Random House

The first new Dr. Seuss book in 25 years, was released yesterday! “What Pet Should I Get?”” was discovered in a pile of papers by Audrey Geisel (Dr. Seuss’s wife) shortly after his death in 1991. It is thought that he wrote and illustrated the book sometime between 1958 and 1962. And there are more unpublished books from that posthumously discovered pile of papers to come!

I have read “Hop on Pop” to my son so many times I have it committed to memory. I sure he’ll like this new one too.

Mad Men Reading List

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has created a Mad Men Reading List, a collection of 25 titles read by the main characters during the course of the series. These titles are a great way to gain insight into the social and cultural eras in which the series takes place.

DON DRAPER’S PICKS

ROGER STERLING’S PICK

JOAN HARRIS’S PICK

BERT COOPER’S PICK

BETTY DRAPER’S PICKS

PETE CAMPBELL’S PICKS

SALLY DRAPER’S PICKS

LANE PRYCE’S PICK

HENRY FRANCIS’S PICK

Billy Parrott has also written a more comprehensive blogpost that lists books seen on shelves and lying around on tables during the show.

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2013

For the past few years, during Banned Books Weak, I have put together a list of the top ten most banned books of the previous year. Out of 307 challenges (a decrease from the 464 challenges reported in 2012) as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom, here are the top ten:

2013

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
  2. The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
  3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E.L. James
    Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group
  6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl, by Tanya Lee Stone
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  9. Bless Me Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: Occult/Satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  10. Bone (series), by Jeff Smith
    Reasons: Political viewpoint, racism, violence

Click these links if you are looking for the top 10 lists for previous years with easy links to Amazon: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001.

Additionally, in 2010, I put together a list of the 100 Most Banned & Challenged Books Of The Decade by aggregating several lists from the American Library Association.