July 22, 2010

Resume of John Edgar Mihelic (J. Edgar Mihelic)

John Edgar Mihelic
Avers Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60632 jedgar.mihelic (at) gmail.com


Career-track position allowing for utilization of demonstrated communication, customer service, and problem-solving skills demonstrated by years of increasingly responsible and diverse employment.


Motivated, personable professional with diverse educational experience. Demonstrated ability to learn a multitude of different skill sets and apply based on perceived and directed need.
Versatile -- able to maintain calm and composure under pressure. Poised and competent with ability to easily perform multiple tasks quickly and efficiently. Thrive in deadline-driven environments. Excellent consensus-building skills.

• Speaking effectively
• Delegating with respect
• Written correspondence
• Providing appropriate feedback
• General office skills
• Developing rapport
• Gathering information
• Solving problems
• Managing conflict
• Setting and meeting deadlines
• Accepting responsibility
• Project management


Communication: Reports/Presentations/Technology
• Prepare diversified lesson plans tailored to individual classes' aptitudes and abilities
• Author professional correspondence to students, parents and faculty
• Rapidly learn and master varied computer programs; primarily in the Microsoft family of software
• Tailor presentations to technological circumstances, from lecturers to interactive media.
• Communicate difficult concepts at varying levels of discourse to facilitate understanding.
• Research contextual data from various sources of information.

Customer Service/Problem Solving
• Build rapport based on a strong first impression and finding the common ground with clients.
• Determine need through intelligent investigative questioning of the client.
• Provide mediation between clients and colleagues in disagreements.

Detail Mastery & Organization
• Manage all day-to-day operations of both a classroom and a restaurant:
-- Scheduling the shift coverage and class schedule.
-- Maintaining discipline of both employees and students.
-- Finances: inventory, invoicing, ordering, counting money, reconciling store's revenue
-- Responsible and accountable for actions within the hierarchy of the store and school.
-- Trusted to complete tasks while enjoying relative autonomy.


Open Books Chicago–Chicago, IL
Volunteer Work, Current

Esquire Temporary Services –Chicago, IL
Law School Test Proctor, Current

Advantage Chevrolet – Hodgkins, IL
Sales & Leasing Consultant, 2008

Saint Rita of Cascia High School–Chicago, IL
Chemistry Teacher; Assistant Track Coach, 2007-08

Kansas State University English Department -Manhattan, KS
English Instructor; Writing Center Tutor, 2005-07

Whiskey Creek Steakhouse -Manhattan. KS
Line Cook, 2006-07

The Manhattan Mercury -Manhattan, KS
Staff Writer, 2006

Casa D’Amici Italian Restaurant -Morgantown, WV
Cook; Shift Manager, 2002-05

West Virginia University Department of Chemistry -Morgantown, WV
Teaching Assistant, 2001-02

The Daily Athenaeum-Morgantown, WV
Staff Writer, 2003

Quizno’s Subs-Morgantown, WV
Assistant Manager, 2001

Burger King – Clarksburg, WV
Fry Cook, 1997-98

Harrison County Department of Parks and Recreation – Clarksburg, WV
Park Supervisor, 1998

Harrison County Department of Education- Clarksburg WV
Middle School Tutor, 1997


Graduate Study in English, 2005-2007
• GPA: 3.30

Bachelor of Arts in English, 2004
• GPA: 3.65; Magna Cum Laude
• Concentration in Creative Writing
• University Honors Scholar

July 15, 2010

Preying on those who can least afford it: On Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.How the Working Poor Became Big Business

In the last thirty years, real wages for the majority of America have either remained stagnant or even fallen when tracked against inflation. Some parts of the economy have grown their costs at a much faster pace than the usual consumer good: education, health care, housing. If you were to chart a graph, you could easily see the growing chasm between what the status quo was and where the people really are.

This growing chasm is part of what drove the recent economic calamity. Borrowing of all sorts was at unstable highs, and each personal liquidity crisis snowballed onto the next one. The majority of the destruction is, I hope, at this point finished. What we have now to do is imagine a way to recovery.

_Broke, USA_ is not about the recovery, nor is it necessarily about the collapse. What it is about is the industries that grew and profited from the growing inequity: rent-to-own, check cashing, pawnshops, payday loans, money transfers, pre-paid credit cards, subprime loans. Each of these industries has their defenders, whom usually are also the ones making the profits. Rivlin presents a rather even hand in examining both sides of the issue, talking to both the moguls of the industries and the consumer advocates fighting against the industries.

With the even hand though, he still comes out on the side of reform and restriction. Many of these industries represent the free market at its worst, preying on those who can least afford it, and then telling their victims they should be grateful for the attention. The debt trap is real and scary and a direct effect not of greed necessarily on the part of the victims, but perpetuated by a rapacious system.

I read this book quickly and enjoyed it. I enjoyed it not because it was a nice story to hear, but because Rivlin is a fantastic storyteller.

On The Lonely Crowd

Learned people knew that the earth was round long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue. The ancient Greeks were able to make a good approximation of the earth's circumference. What everyone in the west thought for a long time was that the earth was at the center of the universe. In the Ptolemaic, geocentric model, the stars and the planets and the sun and the moon revolved around the earth. Broadly, this view was reinforced by the dogma of the church. You did not question it.

However, many intelligent men and women could look in the sky and notice that there was something wrong. Most of the stars did rotate as if they were attached to the inside of a giant globe, but others behaved strangely. They would slow down relative to the other stars and even go in reverse. To work with this, the astronomers had to change the model. Instead of sliding along a rail, these stars acted and rotated on a second orbit inside of the larger orbit, known as `epicycles'. The models built on these central tenants were highly powerful. They could use the models to predict the future position of stars, they could navigate with the stars, and they could please the church with the models.

The models, however, were wrong. We are not at the center of the universe, and we have had to refigure our astronomy based off a heliocentric solar system. At this point, I ask: What do we make of the old model? Do we mock it, or can we study it for the elegance it was able to show under the constraints given?

I ask these questions because they come in while studying _The Lonely Crowd_. We have less perspective on the changes tracked by Riesman and his collaborators. In many places they were right. A fundamental change in how people see the world and act and react it was going on. In many ways, the book is prescient, as it foreshadows the whole of the text of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. We are (have) shifting from a work-based definition of the self to a leisure-based definition. Power has in many ways moved from a strict hierarchy to nodes of influence, called by Riesman `veto groups.'

But they were wrong. I am sure much has been written about this, as the text is well known in the field, but they got the `why' wrong. The whole explanatory basis of the book is predicated on the idea that capitalism, especially the upper-middle class American version of the culture created by capitalism, was peaking the population. Impending improvements in the mode of production would make population less necessary. Thus, the framework is based on the idea of `incipient population decline.'

The problem here is that while they were prescient on the cultural changes going about, and that we are heirs of, they missed the reason it was happening. They saw much, but not the baby boom that was happening as they were writing. At this point, I ask: What do we make of their model? Do we mock it, or can we study it for the elegance it was able to show under the constraints given?

I still enjoyed reading the book, but with the causation so easily missed, I did not always follow through on the thread of the argument. Instead, I found myself at length reflecting on ideas presented without the context of the greater argument. Even if they were wrong, I can say at least, `This book makes you think.'

Belgians in the Congo!: On King Leopold's Soliloquy

In Billy Joel's song _We Didn't Start the Fire_, there are a lot of lyrics that seem nonsensical unless you can get a hold of a written copy of the lyrics. One of the lines that you don't an interpreter to understand is the words: "Belgians in the Congo". When I was younger I just thought that that was a key word for a generalized dislike of all imperialism.

Naturally, as a product of the American school system, I did not have my earlier ideas refuted. I have learned only tangentially of the horrors that stands behind the idea of what "Belgians in the Congo" really means. It means more than imperialism. What it means is one of the first stabs at genocide in the world, decimating the people of central Africa to take advantage of the natural resources.

King Leopold of Belgium's reign in the Congo was lamentable for many, and a point of inspitation for too many. The actions taken prefigured a bloody twentieth century where the powerful make the powerless submit or be disfigured or killed. As one of the main human rights issues of the time (as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth), not just King Leopold was at fault, but the entire industrialized was complicit in allowing its continuance.

Twain saw the hypocrisy in allowing this to continue, and penned this fine text against the atrocities of the Congo. He takes the persona of King Leopold himself, embattled by the reformers who wish him to change. By taking this voice, or master satirist shows why he in many ways is still the conscious of our country. The argument is made with such force I wanted to go out and do what I could to stop them, even if they are too far away to reverse.

The Soliloquy itself is short, and padded out with extra explanatory detail and historical context the book is still under a hundred pages. I read through it quickly and enjoyed the contextual material. I might search out more of this untold history, but nothing can have the voice Twain gives Leopold.

We deserve good fairy tales: On Stardust

Adults deserve good fairy tales, too ~Neil Gaiman.

I have trouble being honest and critical with a well written book. Someone like Gaiman, in all his work so far, is able to create a world and characters that just pull you in and don't let you go. He is able to create the myths that make me suspend disbelief and the critical and writerly mind and just let go.

He does it here in _Stardust_. I have nothing to add in terms of the conflict or the characters because I lived and interacted with them. Books like this remind me why I loved reading so much when I was younger, before I sucked all the fun out by going to graduate school. Perhaps the resolution was telepgraphed to the reader, but that only comes out on reflection. Go get everything he's ever written, and remind yourself why you liked reading too.

We deserve good fairy tales, and we get them from Neil Gaiman. Thank you Neil.

Fizzy Lifting Drink?: On Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

My memories of Charlie are from the movies. I never read the book, but the movies do add things as movies will do and now I understand the differences arising between the two Chocolate Factory movies. The directors had to add some sort of conflict. Dahl's story is like this: Charlie is poor; Charlie gets golden ticket; Charlie is virtuous where the other children are bad; Charlie is awarded factory by Wonka.

In this, the original story, everything plays out nicely and everything is too simple. Charlie is poor but his family is entirely good. All the others we see are horrible and one-dimensional and their defining traits become the mode for their downfall. But if you're poor you can be good just by keeping your head down and good things will happen to you. I was dismayed to learn that Charlie and his grandpa avoided the Fizzy Lifting Drink and avoided any complexity to their characters as is in the version I cherished.

Wonka is an entirely wonderful and novel creation, and I understand why such talented actors wanted to fill his shoes. However, he is not a hero of the working class. Expelling all your workers as a way to avoid corporate espionage is bad enough, but enslaving a whole race of people as your personal worker-army is a little much. I would hope that the Salts or the Gloops or one of the other families enlighten the government as to the conditions at the factory. Also: Wonka has a beard.

In the end, reading the book for beloved stories like this always create more perspective. Dahl is a talented writer but this creation is written for a different audience than me. In that respects, I feel it is an effective text. For me however, it works in concert with the creative efforts spawned by it to forge a synthetic idea of just Who Willy Wonka and Charlie Bucket really are. I am glad I read it.

On Blankets

I continue to feel that I read graphic novels, or whatever you want to call them, way too fast. A good part of this is that there are far fewer words per page in a graphic novel than in a more traditional novel. Description is laid out in pictures instead of words, saving the reader much time. I think that having pictures creates a stickiness for the reader. The force of the speed pulls you through and makes you want to continue until the end. I'm a fairly quick reader of text, but there's no sense of momentum built up in reading even quick reads as there is in graphic novels. The pile in your left hand grows at the expense of the pile in the right.

One caveat is that this process happens best when the art is there to serve and enhance the story, instead of moving into the foreground and becoming the story itself. Craig Thompson's _Blankets_ uses such transparent art. He uses the genre to pull the reader into the world he created (and recreated from memory), immersing you into his own sort of memories. The novel is a brilliant evocation of the late teenage years. It is a story about love and finding yourself and coming to terms with who you are and brotherhood. It is life, split and worked into a nice and believable narrative arc. The story is alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking and entirely worth your time.

A leftist, radicalized, American version of Joyce: On The 42nd Parallel

The Library of America has printed the entire USA trilogy by Dos Passos in a nice hardcover. U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money (Library of America) I however, do not particularly like hardcover books of many pages - they hurt my left wrist as I read. Therefore, I did not buy the entire trilogy in hard cover. I was also covering my bases. Had I not liked the first novel of the trilogy, The 42nd Parallel, I would not be burdened by having bought and thus `having' to read the whole 1000 pages of the three books. I thought I was saving money, but now I wish I had bought the whole thing to begin with.

Dos Passos is something of a leftist radicalized, American version of Joyce. If that sounds good to you, get the book(s). He does something interesting here about the nature of storytelling and history in the early part of the twentieth century. He weaves together bits and pieces of history and fiction and song and poetry to get at what was real about that time. Some of the bits take you out of the narrative he's stringing together for your elucidation, but they help give you (and reinforce) context of the time. Dos Passos' strength is in creating characters. Too many books that try to bring several characters and have them serve as narrative centers for a time suffer a common weakness: some of the characters are stronger than others. Dos Passos does not suffer from this deficit, and his storytelling benefits as a result. All the characters are rounded out and have a life you want to see played out.

On Bowling Alone

Putnam, in _Bowling Alone_, traces the decline in group membership that happened in the later part of the twentieth century. He shows that we now lack a certain cohesiveness, termed `social capital,' that the generation before the boomers had in spades. In this book, which is heavily researched and supported with much evidence, he shows that this decline is real, that it is bad, there were analogous declines in American history, and tries to find the driving forces behind the decline. Don't tell my wife, but he sees the biggest factor as being the rise of television. Call it anomie, or call it lack of social capital, I feel Putnam's critiques in my own life every time I stay on my couch and watch television instead of going out and making and reinforcing social links.

Putnam also makes some prescriptions for what can be done to turn around our lack of social capital. Interestingly, these prescriptions are made in 2000 for full implementation in 2010. My sense, as I was reading them, is that we have not made adequate progress towards his stated goals. I don't think this is his fault or ours. One thing that struck me while reading this book is that while the book was written only ten years ago, it feels really dated. He was on the other side of the rise of social media, wars, the Bush presidency, cable news, 9/11, and everything else from our turbulent last decade. Many of these factors have helped, in my own opinion, ameliorate the distances we suffer from, while at the same time reinforcing the sense of the `other' we have with those who disagree with. I don't have the data nor the background to do this, but a reexamination of the decline needs to be done in light of these outside changes. I do not suspect that the broad scope would be different, but the details sure would be.

On On the Beach

I had trouble reading the first fifty or so pages of this book. Shute's cadences are hard to get a handle on, and he has some awkward attributive tags on his dialogue. I initially had no sympathy for half the characters.

I had trouble reading the last thirty pages of this book. Once I picked up the rhythm that Shute used to tell his story I became immersed in the world he created. The book changed from a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel to something greater. On the Beach transcends generic boundaries and becomes an elegy for the human race in an extinction that has not happened yet. I had trouble reading because of the tears in my eyes.

On the Beach is one of the most emotionally powerful books I have read in a long time. After putting it down, I tried to reflect and determined it had been almost a decade, when I read Lawrence's _Sons and Lovers_ that I was so moved by a book. I have a tender heart, but this book is not emotionally manipulative in a transparent way that cheapens the effect. On the Beach is powerful because it asks and answers fundamental questions about our being in a way that is truthful to what it means t be human.

Shute asks: "What do we do in the face of death?" He shows that we live as much as we can. We love. We make plans for the future. While we face death individually, we move towards it collectively. We are all cosigned to the same fate, but we do not have the certainty of the time that his characters do. On the Beach is an extended metaphor in a way, and as such is both an elegy and a celebration of what it means to be human. Sometimes that is beauty in the face of horror, and both come from the same root.

Approaching Troilus and Criseyde

There are a few things I am curious about this work. The first distinction is that it exists as a whole text. Compared to the Canterbury Tales, the story is concerned with a solitary narrative arc, instead of a frame story with smaller tales interspersed (much like the Reinhardt / Renard / Reynard stories.) As such, I feel more comfortable approaching the work in a critical manner. Through the introduction, I have already learned the plot of the tale. What leaves me uncertain about approaching the text is how the story is has been constructed through time. The narrative comes from late antiquity and on through Shakespeare, so how do we consider Chaucer's role as a re-visionary of the tale?

In the intro, it speaks much of how this tale comes from the Boccaccio's Il Filostrato, where "[Chaucer] often matched the Italian text stanza for stanza" (xxiii). This is so much emphasized that there are places where this is drawn attention to, and included in a chart in the text. Thinking in terms of my paper, I am weary about making a claim about authorial intent before I know the context that this should be taken in. As such, it is with reservations that I bring this assertion into the text: the character of Pandarus, which Chaucer created, seems like an analogue within the poem for the poet's own narrative voice. From the reading considered so far, this character is a go-between and facilitator for the love that will perhaps develop between the two main characters. If this character is a Chaucerian invention and not coming from the source texts this is one place where we can speak of the edifice of the poet's creativity. That this Pandarus is friend of Troilus and the uncle of Criseyde places him within a level of intimacy with the characters that only a writer knows.

Although Troilus and Criseyde has areas of direct transcription, there are places where he veers from the source text. The most notable one at this reading is Troilus's song in part one. Again, I know nothing other sources of the text, but this song has been presented as the first use of the Petrarchan sonnet in English poetry. This is not pure invention, as the poem is more an adaptation (362) of the original sonnet from Petrarch, and not a new one all together. This is textually interesting to see how Chaucer is writing a poem in vulgar English, but he is taking source material from two different contemporary Italian sources and making something that while not entirely original, is something that is entirely Chaucer's. What makes me curious is this notion of invention as part of how a modern reader hails an author. If we are able to maintain Chaucer in the canon, why do modern readers know Camus, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy, and not the unfortunate forgotten who translated them.

It is again a rhetorical leap to claim that Chaucer was nothing but a translator, but it is an interesting subject to me. I have this notion that the ideas of authorship, ideas of genre, and the divide between written and performed where much more fluid than they is now. Modern readers have build walls around ideas. I can remember reading somewhere where the prize-winning novel The Life of Pi was under criticism because its author wrote a story about a tiger and a little boy and a raft. This represents how modern society puts not the craft of versification, but the ideas behind them in primacy.
A final consideration is the fact that I have been raised to recognize what genre a work fits in, and that is the beginning of a description:

"What are you reading?"
"Oh, this, it's a play by Tom Stoppard."

Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde is not so easily classifiable. There is a narrative arc, creating what might be considered fiction. There's versification, metered lines, and stanza breaks with a regular rhyme pattern within the stanzas. And lastly there is a lot of talking. From what I've read, I can see why Shakespeare made this into a play. He might only have needed to modernize some of the lines and place in stage directions. The fun thing is that it seems Chaucer is self conscious about these ambiguities. Instead of the classic epic invocation to the muse, there is an invocation to a fury. Instead of a love triangle with a jilted lover, there is just the two of them, both free to do as they choose. These subversions show something about Chaucer's own enjoyment of the work he was creating.

Perhaps this poem is also about interpretation and ambiguity. My mind returns to the image of Chaucer at some sort of pulpit or lectern: is he reading, performing, or both?

Ours was the marsh country: On Waterland

Negate the ellipsis. Every story is not about the characters, nor are they about the plot. Oftentimes the story is the story of the landscape, the story of the oppressive home. Our history teacher tells us many things, but most of all, I focus on the landscape. He speaks of the flat, oppressive flatness of the country that surrounds the fens, he speaks of the east wind, biting into his soul, and tearing his family apart as the bitter cold eats away at what the young child knows.

Ours is the hill country. The visitor notices the majesty of the explosion of the colors in the fall. They know the rolling hills and the kindly people who wear the badge of "mountaineer" with pride. The native knows how the hills crush around you, breaking up the sky. The mountaineer knows no concept of the horizon. The horizon is the succession of hills receding in the background. It is the distances that one must pass.

The landscape of home is often the landscape of bad memories. It is the land of dead parents, broken hearts, and forgotten friendships. The landscape reminds us of all of the regrets that we have, and the hope that in some way of eternity, that we might do things differently. The homeland is the land of failure.

No one wants failure. We seek out the differences, the lands that might hold some everlasting promise. This is the root of colonialism, the root of manifest destiny. It is the root of space travel. Humans have curiosity; they look to lands that people might not remember them. They yearn for unfamiliar territory to lay down their claim, and thus proclaim, "Hello, I am different, I have succeeded." The problem is that we keep encounter natives of these lands. You roll forth into a new place, and proclaim that all that you can see is taken in the name of the king. Then the natives come forth and proclaim their own right, and represent their own malaise.

For even if the place that we live is repressive, and full of bad memories, they are still our memories. No man can take these from our possession, and they are intrinsically ours. Natives will defend a barren land with their lives if only to prove that their existence is not in vain. The futility of such things is shocking, but men have amazed us for millennia in their course of actions.

The Dreams of the Cartographer, on Nations and Nationalism

Hobsbawm's thesis here is that with the emergence of a stable dual-polar national power structure, the influence of nationalism based on mythological ethno-linguistic `nations' will fade in the late twentieth century. Writing now, I have perspective on European and Asian nationalisms that give lie to his thesis based on the fracturing of the Soviet Union and its sphere of influence. His historical description and analysis are interesting as he develops further the ideas of Gellner and Anderson. However, one has to doubt his predictive powers:

"For instance, let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that a new `Europe of nations' in the Wilsonian sense were to emerge, or an Asia or Africa of nations. (The scope for a Latin America of ethnic/linguistic nations is considerably more restricted.) Spain would be diminished by the secession of Euskadi and Catalonia, Britain by that of Scotland and Wales, France by that of Corsica, Belgium would become two countries, while further east the states of the present Soviet sphere of influence would go their own way, perhaps with Slovaks separating from Czechs, and the Balkans would be redivided among Slovene, Croat, Serb and enlarged Albanian states, with an independent Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania re-emerging along the Baltic. Can it seriously be supposed that such a Balkanization, extended on a world scale, would provide a stable or lasting political system?" (176-177)

As far as that has happened, and it has happened far enough to make Hobsbawm seem prescient in the opposite direction he intended, I would say that this has provided for a stable system. Although it has created conflicts along the lines that are predictable as there is heterogeneous mixture of `nations' everywhere, the system is relatively stable. While I await a post-`national' world of a singular state and not a singular sphere of influence creating villains from the ether, at least it provides a decent organizing principle behind international football matches. As long as we can keep our imagined differences in the realm of sport, humanity should be fine. Instead we keep creating difference. Hobsbawm asks: "What else but the solidarity of an imaginary `us' against a symbolic `them' would have launched Argentina and Britain into a crazy war for some South Atlantic bog and rough pasture?" (163). He denigrates Falklands, but all conflicts are at best over bog and pasture. At least they have a material and not an ideological basis. I hope that the shocks to the cartographers over the years between the writing of this text and my review are world-historical abnormalities outside of Hobsbawm's thesis and not refutations of it.
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On The Meaning of Hitler

Haffner, in his spare and elegant history tells a story that many people think they know. The life of Hitler has been recorded on celluloid and spread on the History channel so much that we don't question the image of the cartoonish demagogue that is too easily parodied.

_The Meaning of Hitler_ focuses on the political career of the failed Austrian artist in a fair and even-handed way, one that is impressive given the context of the creation of the text. The greatest sin of history is turning your back on the past, and Haffner wants to make sure we do not make that mistake. This translation is easily readable and traces from the highs and lows and the twists and turns of Hitler. Much of his early life is left out and glossed over, but the reader gets a look at the decisions the man Hitler made once he was in power.

Hitler is here humanized, allowing us to approach him not on a pedestal or pillory; this is Haffner's great feat.

On Bone

I wrote to friends while in the process of reading this that it is `better than _Sandman_.' To many of my contemporaries, Gaiman's stories are the gold standard for graphic novelization. Others may disagree on what hold the top spot but for me the quest of _Bone_ is the bee's knees. I wish I had kids so that I could read it to them.

First off, a warning. This volume is thick - over 1300 pages. Reading the text will not be something you can do on your commute or even laying down on your back. Find a nice comfortable place to sit and lay the book in front of you. Make sure there's fresh coffee in the pot and you have plenty of time to kill, because you're not going anywhere.
The story of _Bone _ is that of a generic quest narrative: our heroes meet some friends, battle a common enemy, face uncertain allegiances and overcome several smaller obstacles to conquer in the end the larger goal. The story overcomes the possibility of boring rote fantasy and is actually well done.

What saves the story is the characters. All of them on some level challenge the archetypes that could easily be found for them. Their change and growth (for the most part) creates interest for the reader and it is fun to watch how they interact and come into their own. I think every reader will be able to find a character to identify with and track throughout the quest. I for one have a particular affinity for the `Rat Creatures'.

A final note is on the artwork. It is internally consistent for the whole of the run. This volume is in black and white, so it sometimes looks like a coloring book. However, the story and the art work hand-in-hand, and there was only one panoramic vista that I wished would have been in color. At around thirty dollars, this printing is a bargain compared to what the colorized version would cost, so there is little need to lament the black-and-white nature of the book. The world of _Bone_ is a realistic one, drawn largely true to life.

The three main `Bone' characters are from another place, and their physical structure shows their otherness. They are not outcasts though, but forever belonging to another place. You as a reader belong to another place too, but once you read the first page, you will live in the world Jeff Smith created for your enjoyment.

July 6, 2010

Ten Year Reunion

Ten years ago, I dressed up in a silly looking robe and a flat cardboard had and sat in a stifling gymnasium for a time to commemorate the passing out of high school into some sort of real world. There were 118 of us, if I remember correctly, passing that threshold from members of the class of 2000 to being members of society at large. In the weeks and months leading up to that occasion, we commemorate and memorialized and solidified friendships that would last forever. We lamented each passing last time that an event would happen with a cautious optimism on what the future would hold. Where were you going to school, what would your major in, what job would you work; we all defined a future idea of ourselves as we tried on the clothes of adulthood.

Now, we approach the celebration of the anniversary of that event. Few may remember what was said there. I don’t, and I was one of those with the luxury to speak at the event. Eighteen year olds have little gathered wisdom to impart, and are at an age where they don’t realize this fact. I was guilty of both, but even more culpable because I was aware of neither fact. I for one had it all figured out. I would suppose that on some level we all did. This certainty is one of the amazing but frightening aspects of youth. We can reflect on who we were, who we thought were going to be, and who we are. I bet very few people would see a congruence between those three visions of self. A few lack this chance at reflection, resting below in places unimagined.

I find myself nostalgic for that person of ten years ago that no longer exists but shares my name. I want to go back and give him some tips, but I know two things. The first is that I would be majorly freaked out, if I believed myself at all. The second is that wisdom comes not from the pages of books or the lips of elders but from living life and reflection of events. The turbulence of the last decade was in some was personal, but often interrelated with wider events. I don’t want to over-determine anything, but I feel that I might have gone into physical science much deeper if it was not for the events of September eleventh, 2001. I might have ventured to medical school as the yearbook said was my ambition. I have no way of being exactly certain, but the life I now lead would be different than that one existing in the realm of the never-happened.

I would reject that my life would have been better. I cannot reject nor deny my path. I am largely pleased with it, and I remain bullish on my future potential. I hope that we all can be, and that’s what made me write this. My first reaction on flipping through the 2000 Cougar Tracks is that I am happy we did go to school in a more adventurously fashion epoch. Amongst the embarrassing (and egotistical) proliferation of pictures of me is one where I am posed with my good friend Julie Miker. We had been elected ‘Most Likely to Make a Million,’ and I am obviously pleased with the distinction. I have no idea about the balloting criteria used or the polling method that obtained that result, but I can safely say at this point my peers were mistaken.

If I am not mistaken, the more common phraseology for such a laurel is ‘Most Likely to Succeed’ I have no idea why the yearbook staff uses the highly objective measure of material wealth as a way to gauge success. I can still imagine at the next reunion or the next one after that meeting the burdensome prophecy laid on my shoulders. I may be in a similar position as I am now. What I reject is the criteria: the conflation of monetary accumulation with success.
I have succeeded on many levels. As a teacher, I have challenged and taught and engaged students in diverse subjects. As a writer, I have informed people of the world around them; I have made people laugh and cry and think. As a cook, I have developed effective technique with a flair for the dramatic. As a student, I have put the work in I needed to learn the material. As a friend, I have listened. As a husband, I have loved. I have a roster of successes that I am proud of, and that I will add to as I age. We all do, no matter the turbulence and worries and anxieties that pass. We should not single out individuals for this honor, but we should recognize the most likely to succeed of the class of 2000, and know that it is a group picture.