11.1.15

Typo Alert!

I've been meaning to post a whole bunch of stuff but... well... I haven't.  Sue me.

Still, tonight as I'm watching the execrable Golden Globes awards (who is writing this crap?  and hasn't anyone told Bruce Villanch that he hasn't been funny for at least two decades?) I've been getting ready for my visit to the tax guy and doing some digital tidying.  These two photos were taken a few days apart over Winter Break.  Both were at eating establishments, where someone should have known better... one hopes.





31.12.14

2014 Year-end Reading Round-up

A slightly updated post from the one I posted in the Semicolon Year-end Lists,

304 books read - 4 over goal! Not as good as last year, and no real reason except work stress. And now I'm down to 2113 books left to read, but at this pace I might go over (I do plan on living more than another 7-8 years!). So maybe I should stop tracking that? For lists and review links, go here, here, here and here (the totals on the review blog won't match these because I don't add the books I read for professional review).

And here's the 2014 reading analysis (2013 numbers in parens):
  • number of books read in 2013: 304 (325) 
  • best month: tie between March and August/38 (April/29) 
  • worst month: April/9 (October/8) 
  • average read per month: 25.33 (27.08) 
  • adult fiction as percentage of total: 18 (24.92) 
  • children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 58 (40.6) 
  • Advance Readers Copies:202 (209) 
  • e-books: 0  (2) 
  • books read that were published this year: 233 (226) 
  • books that will be published in the coming year: 25 (20) 
  • five star reviews (aka "Must Read"):  20 (25) 
  • one star reviews (aka "DNF"): 17 (20) 
 In addition, I met the Reading Challenge I set myself, repeating the one from 2012, regarding "oldies" and Mt. Bookpile is at 252 (down from 2013! At this rate, I'll demolish it in another 15 or so years.). Since life seems to be holding steady just now, my goal for 2015 is to read another 300 books and get the mountain below 225. Let's see how that goes, shall we?

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

With a lot of hard work, I made it to my goal - thank you to the Thanksgiving and Winter Break gods!  Lots of YA this quarter, most of which was picked up at the ALAN conference in late November.  As always, you can see what else I've read over on the review blog

Biography/Memoir
Children's/Young Adult

Fiction/Literature
Horror
Mystery
Non-fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy

2.12.14

Culture Vulturing in 2014

(a post sitting in draft format for quite some time - yes, I am a Lazygal!)

Over a year ago, having moved to NewJob, NewTown and NewState, there was some question of how much culture vulturing could be done - it's plausible that Thing One was more worried than I, but neither of us should have been.  Here's what the past year(ish) has looked like:

Freud's Last Session, produced by a local professional theatre company, was a play highly recommended by Thing Four (yes, folks, there is a Thing Four).  He'd seen it several times in NYC and was thrilled that I'd get a chance to see it.  Being a huge C.S. Lewis fan, it was interesting to see how this imagined conversation unfolds, a meeting of science versus faith.  To be honest, the Lewis character didn't impress me, but watching Ken Tigar as Freud more than made up for it.  Overall, a good way to start our culture vulturing for the year.

Next up was the Jay Geils Jazz & Blues Review in a smallish hall.  I've previously blogged about Bad Behavior during a concert - this was that concert.  The music was good, although having the bandleader constantly reminding us who was whom and the name of the group was a little... disconcerting?  annoying?  unnecessary?  There was no J. Geils Band music played, no Peter Wolf making a surprise appearance, and that was ok.  This was clubland, with a few standards and more original music that sounded familiar and was fun to listen to.

School ending is my cue to start prepping for ALA, this time in unspeakably hot Las Vegas. My Cruise Director, the wonderful Wendy, is a Cirque du Soleil fanatic and suggested Zarkana. I've seen Cirque three times before, all at Battery City Park in a round tent, so seeing them in a traditional theatre was a different experience.  I missed the ribbon dancers, but OMG the sand artist!

Then came summer and our trek to Montreal, in part to see the opening weekend of the International Fireworks Festival - this time, we didn't pay the big loonies to sit in the special seats but found a riverside perch and watched from afar - and in part to see/hear a little of the International Jazz Festival.  We'd missed seeing Rachid Taha and Michel Rivard (still on my To Be Seen List) but got tickets for Coeur de Pirate.  The songs were mostly in English from the Paroles album, the patter in rapid Quebecois with a few exceptions (like Place de la Republique).


What's fascinating is how Monteral handles this festival: an area of downtown, a relatively significant space akin to Lincoln Center and environs, is shut down to vehicular traffic for a few weeks.  Outdoor acts, outdoor dining and outdoor strolling are encouraged; dinner one night was a melange of scotch (sold from a booth, just like any other beverage or food), Belgian waffles, hot dogs and bubble tea.  All purchased from a booth, all eaten al fresco while listening to various jazz and jazz-related groups doing their thing for free in the plaza.  Heaven!

Shortly before school started Thing One, Thing Four and I went to This Is Our Youth, which I'd suggested because 1. it was Steppenwolf (my first job was at Circle Rep, which was transferring a co-production of Balm in Gilead from CRC's theatre to the Minetta Lane) and 2. it was Kieran Culkin, the best actor in the clan (and a former student).  Kieran didn't disappoint, Michael Cera was a bit of a surprise, but the female?  Meh.  And since she's pivotal, it detracted from the production for me.  Thing Four had seen, and loved, the original, and was similarly "meh" about it.

My senior year of high school brought J. Giels' Centerfold and Tom Petty's Refugee into my life... and having seen Jay Giels perform, it was only fitting that my "school's starting" treat was seeing Tom Petty!  The opening act, Steve Winwood, was good, playing only a few songs that others knew, despite a long, distinguished career.  Then Tom and the Pretenders showed up and played a great selection of hits and new music, Refugee among them.  There was even an extended sing-along portion (Thing One did wonder why we'd paid so much to have Petty act as our backup band... but I think he was kidding!). 

That was supposed to be the ending to my Culture Vulturing year but the gods were smiling! On Facebook I noticed that Camille O'Sullivan was doing a three-week residency at Irish Arts (and I know the tech director there) so on a Friday night, with a fever, Thing One and I headed to NYC to see her after seven years.  It was a small theatre, and she needs a slightly larger supper club atmosphere, but she's truly wonderful fun.  Why she never plays the US is completely beyond me!  This year alone I've introduced her song stylings to a few special colleagues and students - and here's a video for you:



So there you have it.  Several months of theatre, music, fireworks and fun.  Who knows what 2015 will bring?

26.11.14

One of life's little moments...



Those of us who have followed Terry over the years know about his art gallery (I've even seen in, albeit years ago before several pieces were added to the Teachout Museum).  What an interesting tweet to read. And then came the follow up, when I sensibly asked what he was before - he responded that he was "The Great Pretender."

There's a lot of literature out there about the Imposter Syndrome, about how people don't feel as though they deserve their position, or the kudos, or whatever it is that makes them feel somehow unworthy of a title or fame.  Don't most of us feel that at one time or another? 

Come on... it's just us here... you can admit it. 

It's a feeling I often have, possibly coupled with those failed fantasies I have.  Somewhere, the "real" Lazygal is living that life, and it's always a shock when I have to remember I am the real Lazygal, that it's the only life going out there.  For me, at least.

But I take his larger point, which is that there is sometimes a moment, or an action, that somehow transcends what you've been doing and makes it more real, or more adult, or more authentic.  For him, it's hanging a painting by an artist.  It could just as easily have been when his first column was published... or his first book... or his first opera was performed. For others it could be the first time they present to a professional organization... or own their own house... or get an assistant.  Obviously it differs for each of us.

Recently I gave up my beloved Stuart, a manual car, to lease StuTwo (or StuToo?), an automatic.  There's Bluetooth and a rearview camera to assist with backing up.  You'd think I've been feeling like an adult for a while now, but for some reason these two features confirmed for me that I really was, in fact, an adult. 

We all have those moment, disconcerting as they may be.  Let's be thankful for them and pause to reflect on how they've created a turning point in our lives.

24.11.14

Failed fantasies

As the end of the calendar year approaches, and as the end of my age year approaches, I've been thinking about my fantasies and how sadly failed they are... maybe I can come up with better ones?

I have this fantasy friend. We get together every few weeks, drinking wine or tea, nibbling on something delicious, sitting in amazingly comfy chairs and we talk. About life, love - all those Big Things like our hopes, our fears. I'm pretty sure those friends exist, because I've seen them on tv and in the movies. But I don't have one of those friends.

I have this fantasy job, where I'm paid what I'm worth to do work that makes me feel great and sends me home at night feeling energized, not ennervated. My superiors appreciate what I'm doing and support my efforts, my colleagues are collaborative and eager to hear about new books and ideas. My job isn't bad, but it's not one of those jobs.

I have this fantasy body, one that's a few inches taller than my current height (current for the past 38 years! I was promised at least 3 more inches, and not the 3 inches the ads say will make my wife happier!) and slender and flexible and not starting to get old. Guess what? I don't have that body.

It's not that I hate my friends, my job or my body. It's that I have these fantasies... unfulfilled fantasies. Maybe I need to stop fantasizing?

31.10.14

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A month late with this list... barely keeping pace with this year's reading goal. We'll see how things go over the last quarter (pretty sure I can catch up). In the mean time, you know where to find reviews.

Biography/Memoir
Children's/Young Adult
Fiction/Literature
Horror

Humor
Mystery
Non-fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy

26.10.14

Slowly coming to...

For some reason, the start of the school year hit me hard. I was in a comfortable groove then BANG! And life stopped. It was all I could do to get from work to home and back. Now things are looking a little better... a little more normal. So stay tuned: blog posts and updates coming soon! In the mean time, how are you doing?

6.10.14

Monday Memories

Regular blogging has been disrupted by a two-week bout of... flu? plague? Some illness. Fever, sinuses, coughing - you name it, I did it. Except vomiting. Yay?

So while I catch up a little, here's a Monday Memory:


My senior year in high school I took a three-course sequence in Asian History.  Each trimester had a required read, and Mishima's Spring Snow was the read for the Modern Asia course.  

The Sea of Fertility tetrology (Spring Snow is the first book) traces the lives of three friends over a period of years, each taking very different journeys.  One (Kiyoaki) is reincarnated anew each book, the other two (Shigekuni and Satoko) continue through (well, sort of... read the books and see).  The thing is, it wasn't just that one of my favorite teachers inspired me to read the other three books - it's that the journey the three take has resonated differently with me at different times.  I remember reading the books and writing to this teacher, back when writing was the done thing, before e-mail was invented, and giving him my response. He wrote back and we "chatted" about it for a while.  A few years later, I wrote telling him how the book had affected me on a second read - and his response made me feel as though I was, in some small way, his intellectual equal (clearly not possible, right?!).  

That was one of the proudest moments of my life, feeling that someone - a man who I admired greatly and who had inspired me - thought I was his equal.  

It's doubtful that any of the students I've worked with have admired me or been inspired by me to the extent that this teacher did me (and not just me - many, many others).  But if I can make one feel as proud to be my friend as I felt to be his... And it's all due to this one book.

5.9.14

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