Thursday, May 21, 2009

Summer reading fun

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — Ah, summer.
I was thinking back to the golden days of yesteryear and what was on the agenda as soon as we heard those magical words: “Schools out!”
For me, the big four were spending time with friends, swimming (in nearby Lake Michigan, the Pere Marquette River at our place up north or at my grandparents’ resort at Lake Margrethe in Grayling, Mich.), staying up late and reading.
My friends and I would lounge on the almost-as-white-as-White-Sands sandy dunes of the Lake Michigan shore and devour all the Baby Boomer classics: Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, Bobbsie Twins and Hardy Boys mysteries, and even some of the classics: “Heidi,” “Little Women,” “Treasure Island,” and “Tom Sawyer.” We shared vast stacks of comic books (now referred to as graphic novels in some circles). There was the popular line of “classics” comic books based on great literature, which mom and dad approved of because they correctly figured they would whet our appetites for the real thing, and my cousins’ sleazy romance comics, which did not delight our parents.
Not that there was any kind of censorship in our tribe. By the time I was a sixth-grader, I’d zipped through “Gone With the Wind,” James Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific,” and potboilers like “Peyote Place” and “My Wicked, Wicked Ways,” Errol Flynn’s “uncensored autobiography.”
My parents’ attitude was that anything I was old enough to want to read and ask them questions about was okay. When I wanted to read “Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” and “Brave New World,” they helped me change the rules so that an 11-year-old could check out books from the “adult” sections of public and school libraries. This was back in a more innocent era, when an “adult” label was not synonymous with porn, but was meant to helpfully wrangle little kids to subjects more compatible with their interests and reading levels.
But as soon as I learned to read, I was unwilling to be wrangled. I still remember my profound sorrow when I realized that I could not possibly read every book in the world.
Those pangs have since been assuaged by years as a book reviewer, slogging through eight to 10 books a week in my prime, some of which I could’ve happily lived without encountering.
But I’ve never quite forgotten that summertime joy of discovering a great new author, hopefully a prolific one, who invites you into rich new worlds that you can revisit at many stages of your life.
I am thankful that the fanatic reading gene seems to be dominant in our family DNA.
Son Ryan and grandson Alexander the Great have shared — and sometimes introduced me to— some of the best summertime reading ever.
Ryan and I shared the enduringly entertaining and surprisingly spiritual fantasy novels loved of Madeleine L’Engle, whose “Wrinkle in Time” and other books have offered us clues for living in strange times. ( “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children,” she once noted.)
During vacations, I’ve shared Las Cruces Harry Potter marathons with Alex, who also got me hooked on the Stephenie Meyer “Twilight” series, long before the first movie hit the screen.
During our last vacation, we did all the things you would do in the outdoor summer paradise that is the Pacific Northwest. We communed with horses and wildlife, hiked, swam and fished. But we also packed books.
Ryan always has some exotic contribution — rocker biographies, maybe, or laugh-out-loud humorists, from Dave Barry to Graham Roumier’s definitive Sasquatch profile: “In Me Own Words: The Autobiography of Bigfoot,” a haunting account of the ravages of fame.
Summer reading is still my fave vacation activity, accessble to us all. What are you reading this summer?
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

Friday, May 15, 2009

Star in the Ultimate Reality Show

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — This may very well surprise you, even if you consider yourself a cutting-edge tech geek.
I’m happy to announce we now have the technology for the ultimate, multimedia, multisensory, cradle-to-grave reality show experience.
That’s right. You can not only see and hear (assuming you have normal sight and hearing) virtually every lifetime experience, but you can also smell, taste and feel every sensation as you enjoy the URS (Ultimate Reality Show).
Imagine. You can experience the world with the zest and wonder of a child, learning new skills and enjoying all the sensory miracles of nature. Imagine the sensation of raindrops, warm sun, cool snow and summer breezes on your skin. The taste of juicy fresh fruit, the fire of a chile pepper, the smooth chill of peppermint ice cream.
For those brave enough, we can also now experience the emotions and thought processes as well as the full range of sensations that are part of the URS.
There are risks, of course. No matter how well you think you can control the technology, there is always the danger of experiencing fear, pain, jealousy, hatred, greed and other unpleasant sensations. But willingness to encounter these things will enhance your skill set and mastery of the URS experiences that will allow you to get to higher levels and MURS (master level URS) experiences that include opportunities to savor things like love, compassion, faith, hope and joy.
If your tastes run to adventure and you have the will, stamina and determination, you can customize the URS to experience the thrill of swimming in a rejuvenating stream or lake. Or skiing or hiking or running through a beautiful landscape, with the wind actually rippling through your hair, the aroma of evergreens and wildflowers surrounding you.
Again, imagine: Experiencing the full spectrum of emotions, thoughts and sensations as you live through a range of “firsts:” first day of school, first friendships, first kiss, first loves, first child of your own, first job, fun vacations ... and all the rites of passage and ceremonies of life: births, graduations, marriages, anniversaries, funerals, honors and triumphs, quiet accomplishments, obstacles triumphantly overcome.
Some feel the URS can be enhanced by texting, sexting, Twittering, YouTube, Skype, My Space, Facebook and iTunes and gadgets ranging from Blackberrys to iPhones, PCs and laptops, Wii or any other state-of-the-art video games. Others think such things are useless distractions in the full enjoyment and appreciation of the URS.
The choice is up to you. You may interface your Ultimate Reality Show with any or all of these things, or even with more primitive technologies and systems, from TV, books and magazines to movies and snailmail. (And, to the surprise of many, even very young tech geeks have reported amazing thrills from interfaces with books and snailmail letters during URS.)
And there’s more: You can also interface your URS with the URS of others. No special attachments are necessary to begin, though I personally feel your URS will be enhanced by interfacing with loving family and friends, especially in the beginning.
Some feel you should proceed with great caution and carefully plan and negotiate terms of endearment before you contemplate any URS interfaces with others.
But I’ve found that some of the most rewarding and exciting URS interfaces can result from spontaneous and serendipitous links with a URS based in a different land and culture.
Again imagine: these interfaces will enable you to expand and enhance your own URS to experience and identify with the adventures of others.
All it takes to successfully navigate such interfaces is a bit of compassion, empathy, and for best possible results, faith, hope, charity, love, imagination, courage and a sense of adventure and humor.
If you haven’t guessed by now, the Ultimate Reality Show is you, your life.
It’s yours to experience, in surround sound, Technicolor, and sensory full-tilt open throttle.
Right here, right now.
Pay careful attention or you could miss the best parts.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at