Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Ray Bradbury”

Igniting a Discussion on Happiness

In my day job as an AP teacher I have the privilege of introducing students to literary works of merit. I look forward to their insights and perspectives.

Image result for f451 images are you happy

We have just begun Ray Bradbury’s classic dystopian tale of government control: Fahrenheit 451. This deceptively easy read contains complicated topics. One discussion topic is happiness. Guy Montag is not a happy fireman, or at least he was one until Clarisse asked him, “Are you happy?”

Image result for f451 images are you happy

So I put it to my students a discussion statement prompted by Clarisse: “Happiness is a choice, not a given.”

A lively discussion developed with a split between total agreement and a few who decided happiness was a complicated issue and they couldn’t come to complete agreement about it.

I then prompted them with this question: “What is the difference between happiness and joy?”

Their conclusions were opposite of my mine.

They said: “Happiness is long lasting, while joy is a temporary emotion.”

Hmm, I’ve always reckoned it to be the opposite. Happiness is a temporary state, dependent on outside circumstances, yet joy lives deep in our being, dwelling in our soul.

Nope. They didn’t buy that. Maybe I did have it wrong. I proceeded in the course of action that all teachers must do when wondering if what they are teaching to their students is baloney. I Googled it.

This is what I found: Joy or Happiness?

What are your thoughts? Is happiness dependent on outside circumstances? Does joy stem from emotional contentment from within?

Interestingly enough Guy Montag, F451’s protagonist, upon realizing he is not happy begins making decisions involving enormous collateral damage. Joy is never mentioned as Guy Montag seeks happiness. Does he find happiness or joy? I will have to reread it and decide if he actually did. And that’s why F451 remains a classic—it keeps asking the reader questions after the last page is turned.

Image result for joy vs happiness
What are your thoughts about joy vs happiness?

Pedestrian Thoughts

I do my best writing while out walking. There is something about the synced coordination of brain and body both exercising at the same time–I now understand the trend towards the new kinetic desks.

After an hour of sitting down at the laptop I get antsy and start moving around, tidying up, doing laundry, futzing and such. Writing in lock down mode doesn’t work well for me. Writers who state they sit down and work office hours have my admiration. This is why I appreciate Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Pedestrian.”

Set in the future a man is out walking one night, his accustomed habit, when he is pulled over by the metro police–suspicious behavior since no one walks anymore, especially at night. The pedestrian ends up being taken in for “further questioning” when he reveals he is a writer–no one reads anymore either.
Fortunately, my walking habit is not deemed odd in our own days and times. Our little town has a refreshing diversity of walking paths and I do relish my times of walking briskly, revving up the muse and muscles. The exercise unknots plot stoppage, uncramps stiff dialogue passages, and opens up new avenues of thought, like blog posts. This one, matter of fact.

Sigh FiE

Science Fiction served as a mainstay of my reading through most of my college years. I stuck mainly to Ray Bradbury, tried a bit of Asimov, dabbled in other authors of that genre and then pounced on science fantasy such as Roger Zelazny.Yet, I can’t say I enjoyed SF as much in novel form as I did in film.

What I really fastened onto was cheesy low budget sci- fi films, you know, the Buck Rogers variety, where everyone is seriously acting as if bounding about in shiny costumes, waving plastic gadgets and battling fakey creatures is going to build their resume and cause the Academy to perk up for Oscar recommends. I left cheesy SF films behind, along with a penchant for snacking on Top Ramen, when I graduated from college. However, as we all know flashbacks are a part of  life.

The MEPA picked up a few movies at the library the other night and amidst the usual travel logs was (I kid you not) The Angry Red Planet. So bad it’s good. Cheese rating: 9/10–making it a major cheddar.

The missing rocket to Mars returns minus a couple of crew members and the leader has a nasty green growth on his arm, but can the lovely traumatized Iris recall what really happened while on the angry red planet?

I can’t say I have totally graduated from my penchant for Sci Fi (I do not, however, ever eat Top Ramen anymore). I have, instead, developed a taste for the art of the science fiction film. A friend introduced me to Alien when it first came to the screen(I couldn’t have been the only who screamed at the baby alien’s untimely entrance at the breakfast table) and I decided scary Sci Fi is not for me. I have since gravitated to artsy Sci Fi, such as Gattaca, The Matrix, and  Inception.  Novel science fiction goes more towards dystopian like Hunger Games and Divergent. Nevertheless,I will always have a soft spot for Sci FiE films.  How many have you suffered through–feel free to tack on your nominees:

1.  All those terrible Godzilla films where the plastic dinosaur is rampaging Tokyo.

2. Those movies that have such bad titles you know that they reek of cheese.

Book Jacket for: Attack of the 50 ft. woman ;3. Or have such laughable cover art, you check them out just because.

 Book Jacket for: Forbidden planet ;

4. Unfortunate adaptations of favorite authors. Ray, did you know about this one?

Book Jacket for: It came from outer space ;

5. Then again, some of them become cult hits, such as Gunsmoke’s James Arness as a monster and Steve McQueen saving the day.

Book Jacket for: The thing ;     

Oh, there are so many truly terribly wonderfully really bad science fiction movies out there that cause one to Sigh (and say) FiE.

What are your loathsome favorites?

Writerly Wisdom IV

WordPress has that playful Pavlovian side in that every time we post a blog we are rewarded with a quote.  I liken it to the prize earned in my Crackjacks box.  The way notable and the everyman combines words to create a noteworthy thought is one of my happies in life and keeps me posting.

Even prior to joining the ranks of WordPress bloggers, I have delighted in gathering words. I save them and savor them. Like with many things in life, I have learned that the best way to enjoy something even more fully is to share it.  And so here–I am sharing my latest gathering of  various quotes, with the emphasis on writing. I hope you also savor their impact, their resonance, their form of sustenance as I harvest them from my hiding places and shake them to send them skittering across the page.  Enjoy!


I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork. Peter De Vries

The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it.Benjamin Disraeli

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.W. Somerset Maugham


English: W. Somerset Maugham British writer

English: W. Somerset Maugham British writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I loved words. I love to sing them and speak them and even now, I must admit, I have fallen into the joy of writing them.Anne Rice


A plot is two dogs and one bone. Robert Newton Peck

Prose…words in their best order.

Poetry…the best words in the best order.

                                                Samuel Taylor Coleridge


 Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric;

Out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.

                                                                W.B. Yeats




A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.

                                                                Robert Frost

The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can’t help it. Leo Rosten

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.Ralph Waldo Emerson

Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.Jules Renard

The scariest moment is always just before you start.Stephen King

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov Hails a Cab

Isaac Asimov Hails a Cab (Photo credit: zzazazz)


My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living. Anais Nin

The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea. Thomas Mann

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Ben Franklin

The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new. Samuel Johnson

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. Robert Frost

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. Anton Chekov

Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off.  Build your wings on the way down. Ray Bradbury

The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon. Robert Cormier


 Nothing’s a better cure for writer’s block than to eat ice cream right out of the carton. Don Roff


image from members


What writerly quotes of wisdom inspire you? Oh, and what ice cream is your choice to thaw out writer’s block?

Happy Pages,



Burn and Turn: Censored and Challenged Books/BB Week #1

What have To Kill A Mockingbird, The Awakening, Huckleberry Finn, and The Hunger Games all have in common?  Easy. Besides making the bestsellers list, they have also made the banned books list. And let’s pause this opening for a bit of clarification. Banned Book Week is actually misleading, since books aren’t technically banned anymore–they are challenged, since we all have, at least in the US of A, the ability to procure what we want to read.

Banned Book Week is the annual emphasis that occurs during the last week of September, and serves as a reminder how society, during given points and times in history, get tweaked about what is available to read.  However, it is not only in the United States that books have created ire in the powers of say so.  Read Tweak happens around the world.  For instance:

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland:  Used to be banned in the province of Hunan, China, beginning in 1931 for its portrayal of anthropomorphized animals acting on the same level of complexity as human beings. The censor General Ho Chien believed that attributing human language to animals was an insult to humans. He feared that the book would teach children to regard humans and animals on the same level, which would be “disastrous.”

Then again sometimes banning is not good enough–let’s just burn the bugger and totally purge society’s ability for intellectual discernment.  Burned books would include:

  • Ulysses, by James Joyce–Burned in the U.S. (1918)
  • The Grapes of Wrath, by John SteinbeckBurned by the East St. Louis, IL Public Library (1939)
  • The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway–Burned in Nazi bonfires in Germany (1933)
  • Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut–Burned in Drake, ND (1973)

Although there haven’t been any recent burnings, Ray Bradbury (rest in peace, Ray, you are missed) foresaw a day when all books would be burned. Not because of poisoned opinion, offended sensibilities, or societal outrage–no, Ray thought books would be burned due to lack of interest.  Intellectual thought via the printed page would be overridden by the quest of Jello entertainment(that ubiquitous substance which has form but no true nutrition and is quite similar to most television programming). In the near future Bradbury believed it would be illegal to own or read books so the government created a mockery out the fireman and had him burn books instead of saving that which would burn.  The paradox is stunningly brilliant, which is why Bradbury and his insights will be missed.

The book I refer to is, of course, Fahrenheit 451. The delicious and sad irony is that F451 was censored for its language in order for school districts to allow it on reading lists.

This week I will be posting views, trivia, and insights about banning, censoring, and challenging intellectual matter, because it does matter.

Banned Book Week.  Read a book and challenge your brain.

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Farewell to Ray Bradbury

cover by Tom Canty of a reprint edition

Photo of Ray Bradbury.
Photo of Ray Bradbury. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ray Bradbury. I discovered him back in college, maybe even in high school.  I devoured his books and reread Dandelion Wine, always wondering why it hasn’t transferred to film like so many of his other stories.  His stories and books are part of my teaching curriculum.  His effortless way with imagery and metaphor are sterling examples I held up to my students as exemplars.  I show his Ray Bradbury Theater episodes in Creative Writing, Freshmen English, Sophomore English, and plan to study his Farenheit 51 in AP Senior English.  I have savored the notion Bradbury has  somewhat been a co-teacher in my classroom. 

Ray Bradbury was and is a favorite author, not so much for his outstanding stories, but for his youthful outlook.  After showing some of his interview clips to students they appreciated his writing that much more.  “He’s a pretty cool guy.” High praise from a fifteen year old.

So, this is farewell, for now, Ray.  Your books and stories, dreams, and innovations and imagination will live on in your words.

Ray Bradbury

Writerly Wisdom

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
Benjamin Franklin

There is creative reading as well as creative writing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Ernest Hemingway
Good writing is like a windowpane.
George Orwell

You fail only if you stop writing.
Ray Bradbury
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