Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: ray bradbury

Something Wicked: New Read

Let’s talk about Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury for just a few minutes. Have you read it? Did you see the Disney movie back in the 80’s? I have done neither. In fact, I didn’t even know what the book was about. Why did I get it? It was all part of a meticulous plan!

something wicked
Here he is, in my hot little hands! 😀

Nope! You know me. I saw it at the bookstore, love Ray Bradbury, don’t have that one, and dropped on top of my pile at the bookstore in which I swore I’d only get a cup of coffee and maybe buy ONE book. I wrote about that glorious day where I made a modest attempt to brighten the world a bit.

Sheesh…just realized that was nearly two months ago. Time flies when you’re…which brings me right back around to this beautiful book!

I thought it was high time for a novel, so I grabbed the first one I had sitting on my TBR shelf, noted it down in my reading journal and settled down into my comfy spot on the couch.

Two hours later, chills running up and down my spine, and warily looking out the window into the dark wondering if a creepy carnival might set up in my town while I sleep, I closed the book and made a few notes.

“I can see the Music Man movie while I read this. Has that feel. Trouble with a capital T!”

And “Bradbury…the way he writes I fall into the story and can’t find my way out. How does he do that!?”

The next day, after reading for a straight hour and half, I got a text. “Good morning! Come have coffee with me!” Virtually. We’re online friends, states apart.

I reply, “Can’t! I’m in love with a book and I cannot leave it now!”

“Who?”

“Bradbury.”

“Shit. I can’t compete with that.”

“Writers! Put your pens down, this man cannot be beat!”

“Someone has a crush!”

“Shut up. I’m busy!”

I didn’t think I had a favorite author, but here we are. And you know what’s strange? I never was a big fan of Fahrenheit 451. Anyway…

Something Wicked This Way Comes! What is it about? Facing time and death, something I could really use wise words about right now, creative and poetic ones. I love the Stoics and the philosophy does speak to my mind, but sometimes you just need some beauty. You know?

Here’s what I mean.

“…the carnival feels ulcerated egos miles off and lopes to toast its hands at that ache. It smells boys ulcerating to be men, paining like great unwise wisdom teeth, twenty thousand miles away, summer abed in winter’s night. It feels the aggravation of middle-aged men like myself, who gibber after long-lost August afternoons to no avail. Need, want, desire, we burn those in our fluids, oxidize those in our souls, which jet streams out lips, nostrils, eyes, ears, broadcasts from antennae-fingers, long and short wave, God only knows, but the freak-masters perceive Itches and come crab-clustering to Scratch. It’s traveled a long way on an easy map, with people handy by every crossroad to lend it lustful pints of agony to power it on. So maybe the carnival survives, living off the poison of the sins we do to each other, and the ferment of our most terrible regrets.”

Did you get that? Did you look back and realize what poison we fill ourselves with, regretting the past, worrying about the unknowable future? We sit and waste what little time we have with that crap, all the while calling to ourselves more misery to lament tomorrow.

We only have today. This moment right now. Live it just the way it is.

And by that I don’t mean run out and get crazy, spend all your money, or leave what you have in the lurch. I mean actually be aware of the glory of this day.

There are times, too many, when I get angsty about time. I’m wasting it sitting reading this book, doing the dishes again, or laying on the couch watching a movie. Am I? Only if I’m grumbling about what I could be doing instead, pissing and moaning that life could be different. Instead, I take a deep breath and look around me. I have the money and leisure to read. I have made meals and shared them. I am with a person I love enjoying a program we love, making memories.

Anything you are doing is not time wasted if you love what you’re doing. My son told me that.

But what if you don’t? Then do something right now to love it or change it. Make that date, buy that thing, go to that place. Make a plan and do it because tomorrow may never come. It’s cliché, yes, but it’s true.

One more thing before I go. Why do we fear death so much? Everything on this planet dies. It is inescapable.

“Death doesn’t exist. It never did, it never will. But we’ve drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comprehend it, we’ve got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing. And the carnival wisely knows we’re more afraid of Nothing than we are of Something. You can fight Something. But…Nothing? Where do you hit it?”

The Stoics say, “Memento Mori.” Remember death. And it took me a long time to understand why. Humans try to forget there is an end to everything. We’ve built up whole words to explain away and hide the fact that this consciousness ends, as far as we know. How do you fight that Nothing? You can’t and that’s what’s so scary.

Or is it? The older I get, the more I start to see that it’s not death I fear, but a life not lived. When we come up to the end, we look back and realize how much we didn’t get to do. Reminds me of my dad’s story of dragging me out of Disneyland when I was little.

It’s the ultimate acceptance of something we cannot change. The end comes and we must face it. Time does not speed up or go in reverse, not without dire consequences.

If I could get across one thing to people younger than me, to everyone really, it would be to live. Do what you want to do, enjoy the moment you are in, because tomorrow we die. Sounds depressing? I don’t think so. It’s permission to live without regrets.

Oh…and let others do the same. They are not living their life for you and to make them do so would be a tragedy for you both.

The Martian Chronicles: New Read

the martian chronicles

Yesterday afternoon, I was hungry for a snack and I had an hour to kick around while my laundry dried, so I made myself some popcorn and a large iced coffee and picked up The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. An hour and half later, I’m halfway through the book.

I feel like a madwoman reading so much lately, but it feels so good, like exactly what I should be doing right now. I’m getting my housework done, my projects, making sure I’m keeping in touch with people, but reading is what I really want to do. I want to tell you about it and I refuse to feel guilty about that.


I was already tearing up in awe reading the introduction.

“Don’t tell me what I’m doing; I don’t want to know!
What a way to live. The only way.

For pretending at ignorance, the intuition, curious at seeming neglect, rears its invisible head and snakes out through your palmprints in mythological forms.”

Art is as life. If we stop trying to define and control it, it comes out in amazing ways. Ray Bradbury is one of the most beautiful writers I’ve ever read. If Fahrenheit 451 is all you’ve ever read by him; you are seriously missing out. Personally, I think that was one his worst books. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad book by any means. It’s just not representative of how creatively gorgeous he can be.

My first taste of Ray Bradbury was when I read The Halloween Tree to my sons when they were little. I’d found it at a used bookstore just before Halloween and I fell deeper in love with the man after every page. Halloween was never the same!

I ordered The Martian Chronicles after I read Fahrenheit 451 because I heard that it was his best, or maybe his favorite. I can’t remember. I like science-fiction. I love Bradbury. This would a fun read. And I was not wrong. It’s gorgeous and funny and could be a whole season of Twilight Zone episodes.

Googling the title to share a link to the book with you, I discovered it WAS a TV miniseries from the 80’s. I’m sure it’s terrible, even if it has Rock Hudson in it. You know I’m going to watch it, right? I can’t imagine putting these words into a visual format. It’s too…far out?

You’ll love this book if you love Twilight Zone. It has that same feel, the 50’s family and national fears of atomic war and space travel, and so much that translates to our current climate.

It was hard to choose just one quote to share from my reading this morning. There were so many wonderful lines and it all blends so beautifully. This is from a chapter where the astronauts have arrived on Mars again and one of them is angry that they will bring more people, governments, and businesses to destroy the beauty of the civilization the Martians have left behind.

“They blended religion and art and science because, at base, science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.”

The Martians civilization is much older than ours and has seemingly solved the issues humans are only getting started on discovering. Instead of religion being supplanted by science and art being thrown out as a waste of time, they’ve blended it and used each to support and expound on the other.

I think it’s wrong to think humans destroy the earth any more than any other evolved species. We are part of this natural world. We were created as a part of it, evolved in it, with it, and we will continue to do so. If chickens had evolved the same way, they’d do the same thing we do in different ways.

Our evolution has led us to this point, as any other species here now. We will continue to evolve, change, and adapt to our environment, attempting to learn more about this miracle as we go. We’ll find ways to stay alive longer and live better. We’ll learn to live together and make life better for more and more people.

Or we won’t and we’ll go extinct like species that have come before us and the earth will go on without us.

Ray Bradbury is a magic maker. I can’t wait to read the rest!

Hopeful Dystopian Fiction: Fahrenheit 451

“Michelle, come on. Hopeful dystopian fiction? I mean, dystopian means bad…very bad.” I know, but give me a minute here. Things can be bad and there can still be a bright future glimmering inside, maybe not for the characters but for their children or children’s children.

Possible SPOILER ALERT, my dears!

So, I’m reading Fahrenheit 451 and I start thinking maybe I remembered less of this book than I thought. I remember Montag meeting the girl and the hound is chasing him. I vaguely remember him getting away, but I don’t how and I’m only halfway through the book. Maybe I didn’t finish reading it last time?

And then the story is over. What?

It turns out that the 60th Anniversary Edition has bonus material. Sweet! The last 100 pages are “History, Context, and Criticism.” They include critical reviews and a few letters from Ray Bradbury. Those were my favorite! Every word I read from him, the more I love him.

His novels and short stories are not complex but hold so much power.

There was one little thing that stuck out to me on this time around, the “seashells.” He’s describing earbuds that people listen to constantly in Fahrenheit 451. Strange because right before I started reading the book, I had commented to a friend at lunch that everywhere I looked people were wearing those damn wireless earbuds. They look like remote control people.

I’ve never been able to listen to anything on those things. I feel vulnerable when they are in my ears, cut off from the sounds of the rest of the world, all hails and warnings too. I can’t focus on what I’m listening to. When people walk by with them on, it’s clear they want no contact from me. It’s creepy. Like we’re all alone…together.

In 1953, he wrote an article for “The Nation,” called “The Day After Tomorrow: Why Science Fiction?”

“So much depends, of course, on what the individual hears when he gives himself over to the electronic tides breaking on the shore of his Seashell. The voice of conscience and reason? An echo of morality? A new thought? A fresh idea? A morsel of philosophy? Or bias, hatred, fear, prejudice, nightmare, lies, half-truths, and suspicions?”

I don’t use earbuds, but I do listen to podcasts while I drive, as you probably have read in one of my Podcast Roundups. There are so many choices out there and I could fill my time in a million different ways, but I choose book discussions, philosophy, something that will help my reasoning, give me a new thought or a fresh idea, not add to my confirmation bias or stir up angry feelings of injustice.

And what about our smart phones with social media feeds? He couldn’t have seen that from way back there, but I think his feelings about in-ear radios match up quite nicely. Who or what you “follow” makes all the difference in the world.

One more little thing and then I’ll let you go.

“Is there…a delicate interplay where the society does not crush the individual but where the individual realizes that without his cooperation society would fly to pieces through the centrifugal force of anarchy?”

That’s something to think about, isn’t it? Personally, I’m a fan of classic anarchy (meaning “an absence of any form of political authority”) and prefer it to what we are currently running headlong into, but I get what he’s saying. Living in a community is a give and take dance. The bigger the community, the more complicated it becomes. You can’t run onto the dance floor and start a mosh pit while the ballroom dancers are gliding across the floor without inflicting injuries. And, ethically, we can’t force everyone to dance the same dance at the same time, so what do we do? Make space I suppose, take turns, create contracts, set up personal boundaries.

Reading Fahrenheit 451 after George Orwell’s 1984 was soothing. Sure, it’s dystopian, a cautionary tale about where we may be headed, but with a hopeful ending. I closed the book thinking, “See? Even if we screw things up royally, we’ll come back again.” Humanity has been much worse off in the past. I mean, the Dark Ages?!

If you keep your eye on the bigger picture, the one that includes each and every one of us as a thread in larger tapestry, things aren’t so overwhelming. Each of our lives adds a bit of color or texture to the design. Our little piece of string doesn’t seem like much but without us, the whole thing starts to unravel.

Instead of worrying so much about where I fit or what others are doing, I’ve decided to focus on my own life and connect with the people around me. Like the outliers in Fahrenheit 451, I do my best to memorize what I can and pass it forward to the next person.

If you’d like to read more of my posts about this book, pop back over to “Fahrenheit 451: New Read.”

Tyranny of the Majority or “We Vote Against You”

Tyranny of the majority, otherwise known as “mob rule,” is no way to build a nation. A straight democracy, one without limits to its power, is a tyranny as much as any dictator or king.

Where do I even start with this one? It’s like the author could see me struggling from 80 years away.

The words are hard to gather. Once again, I’m sitting here wishing you were here. When we speak face to face, your reactions to my words help my limping ideas along. Your questions and insights, even when contradicting mine, give my mind the steam to organize and move forward at a faster rate. Is it the same for you? I feel that it is.

Reading that line from the book, I’m reminded of that cliché everyone’s mom is reported to say, “If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you?”

I hope not. But then, if everyone found a great new way to communicate, I’d be happy to join the majority and thrive along with them. No one wants to be left out, or left behind, but sometimes we do need to swim against the tide and strike out on our own to find what is true. So how do we know when to stay with the crowd and when to forget our own path alone?

I believe it’s only by conversation, in person, through books and articles, and even through comments online, if we could learn to better listen. But lately, (and by lately, I mean the past five or six years) online in the past, and now more and more often in person, I get the feeling that no one wants to hear the question “Why?”

When the dreaded question is asked, I recoil at the verbal and written violence thrown at them from every side. It’s as if the very idea of questioning anything any “authority” says is an attack on that authority and must be defended at all costs.

How have we come to this point? And please don’t just yell back, “Social media is doing it to us!” It’s too easy an answer. Besides, who is behind the social media? Us. We are the ones reacting in terrible ways to posts. We are the ones throwing the word grenades into the fray. And we are the ones packing our comments with shrapnel in hopes of causing the most damage to our perceived enemies.

We’ve all fragmented into tiny tribes of identity attempting to vote any opposing group or another out of existence.

Personally, I have hope that things will get better again. The world may not be ending, only changing…again. Reading Ray Bradbury’s words reminds me that polarizing arguments like ours have been had before and we came through. The world did not end in a nuclear holocaust, and we didn’t run out of food.

There are loads of statistics and trends out there that point to things getting better, not worse. Authors like Matt Ridley in The Rational Optimist helped me see that. His blog is a wonderful read as well.

The tyranny of the majority has always been a problem for humans. Mobs suck in almost every way. Humans are complex creatures. We crave to be part of a community for our mental health. There is safety in numbers and “many hands make light work” is a truism. But we also need to be true to ourselves, and each of us is different.

When we lived in small communities of distant relatives, it was easier. We generally only fought to the death with those outside our land. Things are different now. Technology has made our world feel so much smaller. So many people, backgrounds, religions, cultures, languages, etc., all thrown into the pot together. There are bound to be serious miscommunications.

Is patience all we need? A little more listening. Maybe.

It reminds me of Star Trek’s “universal translator.” It must have taken decades to develop that and work out all the bugs. If you’ve watched “Enterprise” and “Original Series” you’ll remember some epic mess-ups with it.

Technology is bringing this world is moving forward into unknown territory very quickly. Can we keep the peace long enough to begin to understand each other better? Or will we tear each other apart in fear first?

Go back to my first post “Fahrenheit 451: New Read” to read more.

Fahrenheit 451: New Read

I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury years ago and the only thing I remember of it is that it was stressful to read but not as heart racing as 1984 and burning books but not why.

Fahrenheit 451

Sidenote: Ray Bradbury was at a library event that I was representing a statewide homeschool advocacy group at. He read from The Halloween Tree and stood there, in awe. I couldn’t believe it was him and tried to be cool. The woman I was manning our booth with thought it was funny that I was so struck. The moment I got home, I went and found a copy of that book and read it to my kids. It’s one of my favorites.

P.S. The older I get, the more I wonder if any of my memories are true or just imagined. If I don’t have a picture of it, I feel like I can’t be certain it happened. It’s a tad upsetting.

Back to Fahrenheit 451!

Recently, I was searching for it on my bookshelf because my son had read 1984 and was looking for something similar.

I couldn’t find it. I guess I must have loaned it out or donated it when we moved to the desert and I had this wild idea about diminishing my library due to lack of space and fear of moving hundreds of heavy boxes out to the desert.

Don’t worry. That will never happen again.

I went to order a new copy online and decided to try getting a used one again. Bad idea.

An Image of my Current Copy

Apparently “good condition” means different things to different people, so from now on I will only buy used books in person so that I can thumb through and be sure it doesn’t look like this. I’m tired of paying $4 or $5 for a book that looks like someone was doodling in it. I love books with notes, but this is a tad overkill. And, just some little advice, pencil is so much nicer for the next reader because it’s more easily overlooked.

I looked up the old movie from 1966, thinking I might try watching it again. As I recall, it was a pretty boring presentation, but pretty close to the telling of the book. As I was searching for it, I found a new version from 2018, so I think I’ll give that one a try when I’m done reading.

I’m reading the 60th anniversary edition (2013) with an introduction by Neil Gaiman. Introductions are my new favorite part of the book. I’m fascinated by the context they give.

“Ideas – written ideas – are special. They are the way we transmit our stories and our thoughts from one generation to the next. If we lose them, we lose our shared history. We lose much of what makes us human. And fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gift of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.”

That’s why I write here on this blog every day. I tell my story each day, little by little, inspired to the surface by the words and thoughts of others.

I’m sixty pages into Fahrenheit 451 and I’m already spilling over with things to comment on and talk about. I wish you were here with me so we could read it together. Each time I come across a line that strikes my soul, I could look over at you and say, “Did you read this part?!” and we could talk about it, get some more coffee, maybe a donut, and then keep reading.

Have you read it? Did you see the movie? What did you think? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Read more at
Tyranny of the Majority or “We Vote Against You”
Hopeful Dystopian Fiction: Fahrenheit 451

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