Flowers for Algernon (Review)

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This is a review of the short story. I have not read the novel, but plan to do so as soon as possible.

It is sad to hear that classic short stories such as this one are being taken off the required reading school curriculum and being replaced with stories that are nowhere near as good.

Flowers for Algernon details, in the form of journal entries (progress reports), the life of a mentally retarded adult named Charlie Gordon, who is subject (willingly) to different tests and eventually an operation which will triple his IQ. Daniel Keyes puts the reader in the protagonist’s shoes like no other author can, and describes a startling yet-unexperienced life event: that of going from stupid to smart in the period of a few weeks.

Flowers for Algernon, even in its at-times simplistic and grammatically incorrect writing (remember, it’s entirely written by Charlie), manages to paint an incredibly descriptive picture of Charlie’s life but also manages to craft a mystifying and interesting yet also heartbreaking story, something ostensibly very difficult to do.

Flowers for Algernon is an absolute classic and it will make you rethink your perception of life, the human psyche and intelligence, and mentally retarded. It’s a monumentally inspiring story and should be read by all young adults, either in school or not.

Desert Bus For Hope

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Desert Bus For Hope is a fundraiser for the charity Child’s Play, run by the good folks over at http://loadingreadyrun.com. The first year they raised almost $23 000, and last year they raised over $70 000.

Desert Bus is one of the games on the Sega CD release Penn and Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors, and is said to be the worst and more boring game ever made. The user drives from Tuscon, Arizona to Las Vegas, in real time. The bus cannot go over 45 miles an hour, and you can’t stop. The drive lasts 8 hours. Not only that, but the bus has a slight list to the right, so you have to constantly re-adjust. When you get there, you get 1 point, and have the option to go back. If they crash they have to wait for a tow truck to come, and then tow them back to the start. There is no scenery or curves on the route.

The way Desert Bus For Hope, which started in 2007, works, is that the 4 bussers (who bus in shifts of four hours) bus for as long as people keep donating. The first hour costs $1, and then the cost increases by 7% every time (so that they don’t just drive forever). The event is broadcast live over the internet, at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/desert-bus-drivercam. If you want, you can also see the screen that they’re seeing at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/desert-bus-buscam.

They’ve been featured on TV a few times, and have gained many fans over the three years. It’s a ton of fun to watch, even if you don’t donate, and I suggest you check it out.