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The Robin Williams I may most remember, though, is an English teacher who inspired his students to seize the day. In Dead Poets Society, Williams plays unorthodox professor John Keating, who rejects the conservative culture of the elite Welton Academy and implores his students to strive for meaning in their lives. In the film’s pivotal scene, Williams tells his students that “we don't read and write poetry because it’s cute, we read and write poetry because we are members of the human race.” He goes on to quote Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!,” a poem that ends by speaking directly to its readers: “the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” Williams then turns to his students and asks the mother of all inspirational questions: “What will your verse be?”
This article reminded me of the time one of my favorite high school teachers (Ms. Messamore) read to us students a poem by Whitman - and maybe it's the mention of Whitman that is reminding me more than the loss of Mr. Williams who played an English teacher. It was a poem that Whitman wrote in response to Abraham Lincoln's death - and I remember that she had to stop on more than one instance because she would begin to cry.
I knew that words read could move you - I've known that longer than I've probably know anything. But it wasn't until then that I learned that words could move you so much that you could forget yourself in public - an adult crying in front of children - and that you didn't care. That the words and the emotion were more important than anything else that was being thought at that moment.
I knew then that I wanted to do the same - to move people to that degree.
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.
From Dead Poets Society
BuzzFeed: Robin Williams: A life in pictures
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Published in Britain as Joss Whedon: Geek King of the Universe and in the U.S. less cheekily as Joss Whedon: The Biography, Amy Pascale's portrait of pop culture's man of just about any recent hour may not make her title subject any new converts, but it is hero-worshipping enough to make devoted Whedonites feel they're being inducted into the Scooby Gang.
Transgressive fiction authors write stories some are afraid to tell. Stories with taboo subjects, unique voices, shocking images — nothing safe or dry.
Burnt Tongues is a collection of transgressive stories selected by a rigorous nomination and vetting process and hand-selected by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, as the best of The Cult Workshop, his official fan website.
These stories run the gamut from horrific and fantastic to humorous and touching, but each leaves a lasting impression.
Some may say even a scar.
An enchanting and staggeringly original debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters
Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, rebellious nine-year-old who also happens to be an aspiring jazz singer. Still mourning the recent death of her mother, and caring for her grief-stricken father, she doesn’t realize that on the eve of Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day — and night — of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia's legendary jazz club The Cat's Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat's Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.
As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night. A vivacious, charming and moving debut, 2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas will capture your heart and have you laughing out loud.
Not typically my cup of tea, but Chris Ewan is super cute.
If you're a security expert, what do you do if your fiancée suddenly goes missing, presumably kidnapped?
If you're Daniel Trent, a highly trained specialist in hostage negotiation, the answer is simple: You find out who took her and you make them talk. But what if your chief suspect is taken as well? How do you get him back quickly—and alive—so you can find out what really happened to your fiancée?
Set in Marseille, Chris Ewan's Dead Line is a fast-paced stand-alone thriller that pitches the reader into Daniel's world, as he tries desperately to secure the release of Jérôme Moreau from a ruthless gang in order to interrogate him on the whereabouts of his fiancée. When things don't go according to plan, Daniel must use all his skills and instincts to find the answers he's looking for, but will he be in time?
Ride Around Shining concerns the idle preoccupations, and later machinations, of a transplanted Portlander named Jess — a nobody from nowhere with a master's degree and a gig delivering takeout. He parlays the latter, along with a few lies, into a job as a chauffeur for an up-and-coming NBA small forward, a Trail Blazer named Calyph West, and his young wife, Antonia. Calyph is black, Antonia is white, and Jess becomes fascinated, innocuously at first, by all that they are that he is not. In striving to make himself indispensable to them, he causes Calyph to have a season-ending knee injury, then brings about the couple's estrangement, before positioning himself at last as their perverse savior.
In the tradition of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley and Harold Pinter's The Servant — not to mention a certain Shakespeare play about a creepy white dude obsessed with a black dude — Ride Around Shining is a striking, propulsive debut that is by turns hilarious and discomfiting, moody and thrilling, and which asks unforgettable questions about the modern tensions of race and class in America.
David is a freshly minted NYU grad who’s working a not-quite-entry-level job, falling in love, and telling his parents he’s studying for the LSAT. He starts a Tumblr blog, typing out posts on his BlackBerry under his desk — a blog that becomes wildly popular and brings him to the attention of major media (The New York Times) as well as the White House. But his outward fame doesn’t quell his confusion about the world and his direction in it.
This semiautobiographical debut is a coming-of-age story perfect for our time. In A Sense of Wonder author Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s words, “If Tao Lin had been born to Gary Shteyngart’s parents and spent his early twenties slaving for pageviews at NewYorker.com, he would have written something like this, the Bright Lights, Big City of the click-here-now generation.”