28.12.09

Notable Quotes

"Cary, you and I have nothing in common," she explains, "because you and I are from different worlds, and it's not just Mars and Venus. It's spaghetti and hydrogen. We're different categories."

25.12.09

Links Galore

Links Galore - more year end lists

24.12.09

The future of the book

This great post on Educating Alice describes some of the trends we say in the "noughties". Some of the items? The rise of literary non-fiction and YA literature that crosses the teen/20s bounderies. I'd add the re-editing of adult non-fiction books to appeal to younger readers (eg, Chasing Lincoln's Killers). And Literary Salon celebrates independent publishers.

Another trend, one I'm less happy about, is the rise - and expansion - of extras. Books Blog brings up some great reasons Why Not. My reasons? I. Don't. Care. Yes, sure, acknowledge your inspiration - or dedicate your work to someone (best recent dedications? The Series of Unfortunate Events). But many of the worst books I've read this year have had pages of dedications (don't thank your writing program!) and author Q&A (it doesn't make me want to read more to know what inspired you). Those Book Club 'helpers"? Create a website for them. Stop cluttering up my book, stop adding pages.

But what about the e-book phenomenon? No Shelf Required has a good round-up post, including this article in the Christian Science Monitor stating that it's in our future and will change the way we read. It's obvious that the lower pricing for e-books poses a threat for the current publishing model (Seth Grodin's response is a must read). Now, I don't think that books - printed, bound books, that is - will disappear in the same way VHS has. Why? It's not just the size and the lack of color and the lack of ability to lend and all the other negatives we now have. But think about pop-up books, like those by Sabuda. Or Pat-the-Bunny. Of course, trust the French to battle back (and the photo of Sarko? Priceless.) Less expected was Sherman Alexie's outburst.

I'm also thinking about the definition of "classic". To me, "classic" isn't just about the Books You Must Read. It's also those books that really speak to the individual reader; in other words, it varies from person to person and can encompass less-than-literary works. It'll almost certainly vary from decade to decade and generation to generation. Example? The Outsiders. 'nuff said. "Classic" also means something that I'd read again and again. One problem is that classics I enjoyed, and would re-read (and, ok, I'll admit it, push on my nieces/nephews/great-nieces) are now, perhaps, unsuitable for them. Why? That pesky politically correct thing. Bah.

Notice, I'm staying away from the whole question of the future of the bookstore.

Culture Vulturing

This should have gone in my previous post, but didn't because I'm getting old, and because this is more than just about the event.

In November I went to see Bob Newhart. Yes, he of the button down mind (I've checked. No hyphen.).

Was he funny? Yes, if you weren't expecting (and I wasn't) pee-in-your-pants humor. There were some genuinely funny moments, but far more often it was the 'comfortable chuckle' than the real laugh. That's ok, though. Chuckling is never a bad thing.

Remember, this is a man that has been doing a comedy routine for fifty years, and things have changed in that time. Things like political correctness. He started doing a routine and out popped an ethnic stereotype - someone (perhaps several someones) gasped. This apparently wasn't a new response, and so he then spent a few moments talking about comedy and stereotypes and the fact that we need to laugh at ourselves sometimes: "I'm Irish and German so I'm an organized drunk" (or words to that effect).

Now, none of his comments were Chris Rock raw. No vulgar language, for example. No "N-word". As I said, the routines elicited the comfortable chuckle. So why get upset when Bob pokes fun at the British, or the French, or whatever? Because we're now supposed to. Because being overly sensitive is now part of our daily life.

My argument isn't that he's old, so let's give him some latitude. It's that our failure to allow ourselves the ability and opportunity to lighten up, to chuckle (or even guffaw!) at ourselves, at stereotypes, at each other has led to a climate that isn't terribly funny so when someone like a Chris Rock comes along it seems all the funnier, with a dash of "I shouldn't laugh, but I'm going to" included.

Towards the end of the show he did one of his old, classic routines (in this case, the driving lesson). For me, one of the heartiest laughs of the evening came when he said "I've changed it a little - it throws me off to see people's lips moving when I'm doing it." I've heard, and don't know if it's true or apocryphal, that Bill Cosby was on Carson years after his famous Noah routine and Carson asked him to do a bit of it; Cosby couldn't remember the entire routine and Carson ended up doing the routine with Cosby chiming in with the "riiigght"s. That Bob Newhart knows we're not necessarily there to hear him debut new stuff and caters to the audience by giving us a classic morsel is to his credit.

The conclusion was a tribute to his career (and his family's history here, dating back pre-Revolution), ending with what I will always contend was the best finale to a tv series ever.

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Book related:
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Culture Vulturing

From old... to young...

I was among the lucky: Leonard Cohen at MSG. Others may argue if it's John Cale or kd lang that interprets Hallelujah best, if you haven't heard the original, well... you just haven't heard it. M. Cohen drew an amazingly diverse crowd - all ages, all ethnicities. Each song was extremely familiar. Each song was completely new. Some of his mannerisms were a bit annoying (the dropping to his knees during just about every song) but his courtly presence made up for them. Truly one of the last chanteurs.

The next event? The Fall presentations from the Columbia Ballet Collaborative. I was very impressed this time around (as opposed to " enjoyed it" from the Spring). An interesting mix of "classic" ballet moves and more modern ones, and an eclectic choice of music made the program fly by, although Thing One questioned the presence of a ringer in the corps. The founders are now starting to leave Columbia, and I hope that the CBC continues without them.

23.12.09

Not bad for middle age!

My wonderful friend Aravis gave me a bookmark (not as wonderful as the one she made me, but still, a Lazygal can't have too many bookmarks, right?). On it are inscribed the 50 Books You Must Read Before You Die. I've always loved lists like this - my first was created from the book on how to prepare for college (a "gift" from my mother when I was in 8th grade) - so of course I wanted to see how I stacked up.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Tolkein
1984 - Orwell
Pride and Prejudice - Austen
The Grapes of Wrath - Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird - Lee
Jane Eyre - Bronte
Wuthering Heights - Bronte
A Passage to India - Forster
The Lord of the Flies - Golding
Hamlet - Shakespeare
A Bend in the River - Naipaul
The Great Gatsby - Fitzgerald
The Catcher in the Rye - Salinger
The Bell Jar - Plath
Brave New World - Huxley
The Diary of Anne Frank - Frank
(** s/b The Diary of a Young Girl!!)
Don Quixote - Cervantes
The Bible
The Canterbury Tales - Chaucer
Ulysses - Joyce
The Quiet American - Greene
Birdsong - Faulks
Money - Amis
Harry Potter series - Rowling
Moby Dick - Melville
The Wind in the Willows - Grahame
His Dark Materials trilogy - Pullman
Anna Karenina - Tolstoy
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Carroll
Rebecca - du Maurier
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Haddon
On the Road - Kerouac
Heart of Darkness - Conrad
The Way We Live Now - Trollope
The Outsider - Camus
The Color Purple - Walker
Life of Pi - Martel
Frankenstein - Shelley
The War of the Worlds - Wells
Men without Women - Hemingway
Gulliver's Travels - Swift
A Christmas Carol - Dickins
Huckleberry Finn - Twain
Robinson Crusoe - Defoe
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Kesey
Catch 22 - Heller
The Count of Monte Cristo - Dumas
Memoirs of a Geisha - Golden
The Divine Comedy - Dante
The Picture of Dorian Grey - Wilde

So, 31 of 50 books. Guess I should ignore the 330 books on Mt. Bookpile and start in on these... or not.

21.12.09

Oh my stars!

A friend left a comment on my most recent review: "What does it take to get four stars from you? Is five even a possibility?"

The answer is, I gave four stars to A Fatal Grace. My last five-star review was for When You Reach Me. Yes, I'm stingy with the fours and fives, and part of the reason is GoodReads' scale.

To them, the scale runs:
  1. Didn't Like It
  2. It Was OK
  3. Liked It
  4. Really Liked It
  5. It Was Amazing
So I've translated that into Lazyspeak:
  1. A Waste Of Ink
  2. If You're Bored
  3. I'd Recommend This
  4. I'd Strongly Recommend This
  5. OMG I Want To Read This Again
I'm guessing that "0" means "Hated It" to them, while to me it means "Sue The Author For My Lost Hours Reading This Crap".

(of course, this is better than Netflix' scale, which jumps from "Liked It" to "Didn't Like It" with no stop at "Meh")

14.12.09

Notable Quotes

"I'm not sure Reine-Marie would be pleased if I became a librarian like her," said Gamache, looking over at his wife talking animatedly with Clara.

"I can just see both of you working at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Montreal, seething resentments between the aisles. Especially if you got promoted."

"That wouldn't happen. I can't spell. Have to sing the alphabet every time I look up a number in the phone book. Drives Reine-Marie crazy. But you want murderous feelings? Hang around librarians," confided Gamache. "All that silence. Gives them ideas."
A Rule Against Murder, Louise Penny

12.12.09

Pardon my dust

I haven't been around much because I'm working on a new project - so if things seem a little different around here, that's why. Stay tuned...

11.12.09

Imponderables

Today at MPOW, we had a divisional faculty meeting. This was a "party" meeting, in that no business was conducted. Rather, we were to expound on our colleagues: give them an award, write a comment (in the style of our report cards), do a Top Ten List, etc. We'd drawn names earlier, and I was pretty pleased with my choice.

When the person who'd drawn my name got up, I was relieved; we knew each other rather well, so there wouldn't be that awkward "what can they possibly say about me without sounding trite or impersonal" stuff.

How wrong I was!

She did a song (to the tune of "King Tut") that contained this line:
    hippie chick from Cambridge
Getting my hometown wrong is one thing, but "hippie"??? Moi???

Links Galore

5.12.09

In which I prove I am truly my mother's daughter

There are some things in life that I very much enjoy: toast is one of them (just like @neilhimself!). My mother wasn't as fond of toast as I am, but she was very fond of bread-and-butter (and sometimes, jam); sometimes she'd go through half a loaf, or more, on her own. I used to have a toaster , but one night Thing Two and I discovered that it didn't work and, well, now I don't have one*.

On and off I toy with the idea of getting another toaster, but I know that, like my mother, there will be times when I just overindulge.

My mother also taught me that people who need to wear other people's logos are NQOT.

But there is something about this (in fuchsia) that makes me go hmmmmmm....











* (when I lived with Thing One, we used his toaster oven, which is hardly the same thing at all)

3.12.09

Annotated Webclutter


  • I guess it's not a secret that I'm more conservative than many of my friends. This discussion of the Left/Right split should be of interest to both sides.
  • Since not many of us are getting the message about Google, or privacy, the lease you can do is learn how to Manage Your Google Reputation. As my students look to college (and beyond) teaching them this skill will be one of the best things I can do as their librarian.

30.11.09

Notable Quotes

Those who care, don't judge, and those who judge, don't care.
Living on Both Ends
(yes, I struggle with this daily)

27.11.09

Review Policy Update

First of all, go hereSunday Afternoon Visits: October 11: FTC, JOMB, and Book Awards for a cogent analysis of the differing opinions on the recent FTC guidelines (and to the This Is Not My Blogosphere for an "outside the litblog" perspective).

So, what, exactly is my review policy? I'll be upfront: I'm a biblioholic. Thing One thinks I need to cut back on my habit, and Thing Two would concur if he wasn't as into CDs/LPs as I am into books. I love me my free books, most of which I pick up at conferences (and some by asking, nicely, for a copy from the publisher).

Having said that, I'm not afraid to give a bad review. Free does not (in my mind) equal a quid pro quo for the positive review. As publishers hand out books, or leave them in great piles for us to take, they must realize that they run the risk of hearing criticism. The idea that some reviewers might accept more than a free book in exchange for their review? Abhorrent.

When I write a review, my goal is to give readers a bit of my reading experience (often difficult to do without spoiling, but I do try!). Publishers can take that or leave that, their choice.

Links Galore

22.11.09

Photo Fun


I don't know if you can actually read the marquee, but New Moon is playing here. Yes, a Bloodmobile is parked right outside. As they say, timing is everything.

Thing One pointed this out:


Now look at the picture:


Don't know how to break it to either HBO or the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, but that looks an awful lot like Stephen Stills. Crosby looks like this.

21.11.09

Rethinking Clutter

I'm in pre-Thanksgiving mode, cleaning and listmaking. And thinking about the cleaning as I read my clutter blogs.

Most say "make your bed daily". I'd like to, but at the time I'm ready to make it, Bogie and Mallory are snuggling into the comforter for their early morning nap. Even if I kick them off the bed, they'll just find a way under the covers for their daily snooze, which means that when I get home the bed will look remarkably unmade all over again. So I tidy it up and hope that Bogie won't have one of his "let me bring the comforter downstairs" moments.

The other Clutter Clues are that you should keep all surfaces tidy, do the dishes immediately and hang your coat up when you get in. All good things, all things that my mother also taught me. But... I live alone. Ok, I do live with The Boys (which occasionally, like next week, becomes The Gang of Four) but I'm talking about humans. Sometimes there are other humans here, but mostly it's just me. Keeping things a little cluttered makes me feel a little less alone, as though someone else is making the mess. Silly? Perhaps. But as Coming Clean says, you need to make clutter work for you.

My advice to you, dear reader, is to do the same. Find ways to make any system work for you, be it decluttering or simply organizing. You'll feel more comfortable in your home if you do.

20.11.09

Links Galore

14.11.09

Better late than never (aka My Review Policy)

I've been really slow in my reading the past couple of months, which may mean that I don't reach last year's record 180 read! Not quite sure why the slowdown or what the cure is, but it seems like a good time to talk about reviews.

As some of you may know, the FTC started issuing new guidelines about posting reviews, accepting ARCs, etc.. The Big Question on everyone's mind was: what will the fall-out be? Can I blog my reviews on my review blog, post them on FB, use GoodReads/LibraryThing, whatever? Even the Wall Street Journal weighed in.

The answer seems to be, I can do anything I want as long as I indicate where I got the book, and be upfront about any other compensation received. Unlike LizB, I'm not an Amazon Associate (although I will no longer point people to Powells when recommending or listing a book; I prefer "real" bookstores to Amazon, and yes I'm a snob about that. Deal with it.).

So what is a review? Shannon Hale has some good advice.

13.11.09

National Clean Your Fridge Day

Rather than taking it easy on Sunday, I'll be "celebrating" National Clean Your Refrigerator Day. Admit it - yours could use a good clean, too. Particularly with Thanksgiving on the horizon. Learn more here.

Links Galore

30.10.09

I just shouldn't be allowed out on my own...

I live in a Town about an hour north of NYC. It's a sprawling town, and there are some oddities (like, I have a street address there but vote/pay taxes in the next Town over and my fire district is a third Town). All the shopping and sidewalks and Post Office are in the smaller administrative unit. This isn't that unusual: my parents live in SmallTown, just outside SmallVillage.

Today I went to buy groceries and saw a sign that read "Hamlet Beautification Project" and the only thing that crossed my mind was, Isn't that why they cast Jude Law?

27.10.09

Ethical?

I've spent a little time over the past two days printing out invitations and planning my schedule for the upcoming AASL Conference. I was reminded of these posts, discussing the ethics of accepting perks from the vendors.

I've consulted for a few publishers, accepting free books in exchange. I've helped another with a new database, accepting a free trial. At conferences, I gladly go to the breakfasts and lunches they sponsor to learn about the new products (or twists on old ones). I'll pick up ARCs, pens, coffee mugs, posters.

Is this ethical? I won't promote a product I don't honestly believe in on this blog - and despite my accepting the freebie, I'll even denigrate one I think is bad (just look at some of my book reviews!). I don't think that the vendors are giving this stuff away to buy good press - although I'm sure they'd love it - or to guarantee a sale. If I treat all vendors, those with freebies and those without, equally, it's ethical.

Some have higher standards, but I suspect part of that comes from a position of higher visibility. If you can sway hundreds, or even influence them slightly, then it's best to not partake. If you speak for an organization, or are clearly associated with one (as I am, in other places and at other times), then a higher level is needed. But here, as Lazygal, I feel freer because I'm not speaking on anyone's behalf. Caveat venditor.

18.10.09

The horror...

Maybe it wasn't actual horror, but it was nearer to Amityville than I've been before, so it just seemed appropriate.

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing #3 Niece marry her boyfriend of 12 years (they met at a basketball game in high school). The ceremony was in Queens, with the reception out on Long Island, so we'd have to spend the night at the Hempstead Hilton. Because of my chronic fatigue, the idea of staying in a hotel with uninterrupted sleep (something I never get), was really appealing.

How wrong I was.

First, the hotel didn't have my room ready. Now, I don't really care about two queens v. one king-sized bed. It's a bed, after all. So switching from one to the other wasn't an issue. What they didn't tell me was that the new room was on a smoking floor (really? a smoking floor? today???). That actually matters. They also failed to mention that the room was an indoor room, directly (as in "10 feet-ish") above the casual dining area, which wouldn't have been that bad. Except...

The hotel was the site for at least one wedding (and the dining area was set up for the evening reception) and was housing three others, including ours, and a class reunion. That dining area could get kinda noisy just as I'm trying to drift off, ya know? So Thing One and I switched rooms. His was on the other side of the building, on a non-smoking floor. All's good, right? Except...

The original room had a decent tub and I love to take baths. The new room was on the old fogies floor, with one of those wheelchair accessible bathrooms and sinks. No bathing. But that's ok, I could still read myself to sleep and get a good nine hours, right? Except...

At 2:19am there was a fire alarm. False, of course, probably set off by one of the cigar smokers from the class reunion or one of the drunken wedding guests. I was sort-of awake after and decided to read for a little longer except...

The light on the bedside table no longer worked. The bulb wasn't blown (I switched bulbs from the other lamp): the lamp just wouldn't turn on. Ok, I'll just go back to sleep. Except...

That's when I noticed that the pillows - ok, 3 of 4 on the bed - reeked of cigarette smoke. Ugh.

According to Thing One, every phone (including the two in my room) was flashing and no one could leave messages for anyone; some guests had to wait over an hour before their rooms were ready; #1 Niece's room contained a broken bed; and two siblings had broken toilets.

Upshot? My planned night of sleeping soundly and rising all ready to face the week with vim and vigor was shot. There's no way I am ever - and I mean it, ever - staying at that Hilton again.

14.10.09

Imponderables

There's a road near me that has been repaved. For the past two weeks(ish) there have been delays as the lollipop guy guided traffic around the area undergoing work; sometimes the line has been so long that it's worth it to go the five miles out of my way to get home (when I leave early in the morning there's no problem). Usually, repaving means that there's grading and a nice layer of asphalt and a real disruption to the roadbed before it's all put back together.

So imagine my surprise when driving along this road now that the work has been finished. This road is New! and Improved! Now with Added Potholes!!

Seriously. They've repaved and added potholes. Wha???

12.10.09

Losing the Symbol

If a student asks me to read a book, I'll usually drop everything and read it (even if I'm in the middle of another read). It's led to some great discoveries, like City of Ember as well as good re-reads (The Bell Jar, for example). Then there are the books I pray I don't have to read: The Lost Symbol being one of them. Thanks to bookshelves of doom I learned that I
could read John Crace's Digested version of The Lost Symbol.

Or even better, you could read his as-he-read-it play-by-play:

Langdon hurried towards the Rotunda. The lecture was due to start in five minutes and he was running late. Still, he was well-prepared. The Symbolism of the Freemasons was his latest research project and what better place than to deliver his lecture than in the hall designed by Benjamin Franklin and so many of the founding fathers of America and Freemasonry? He strode onwards through the clunky sentences and the turgid repetition of pointless information till he reached his destination.

And then there's this list of Brown's worst sentences.

9.10.09

Links Galore

5.10.09

Notable Quotes

The shop's tables, I now sa, were covered with wooden blocks of varying sizes, each one carved with a single letter; the were literally the building blocks of words. There were also blocks carved with every imaginable mark of punctuation. He lifted one displaying a cartoonish "!" and put it in my hand.

"Have you ever held a shout before?" he asked. "How about a question?" He found a "?" in the pile of punctuation marks and placed it in my other hand. "Did you know that this is how a story is built? Inch by inch, line by line?"

Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, Peter Manseau

2.10.09

Am I worthy?

According to the NYC Heat Guidelines, between October 1 and May 1, landlords are required to provide for their tenents when the outside temperature falls below 55F (day; it's below 40F at night). During those times, the heat should meet a <i>minimum</i> of 68F degrees from 6am through 10pm and a <i>minimum</i> of 55F the rest of the time.

The temperature where I live isn't that low... ish, so I haven't turned on my heat. It'll be under 40 for a few hours late tonight. On the other hand, the temperature inside is currently a toasty 61F.

At what temperature will I decide that I'm worthy of a little heat?

1.10.09

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Haven't been blogging as much, but I have been reading (and watching many Netflix - but that's another post!). So, what does Q3 bring? Not quite as stellar as Q, "only" 45 books read, but not bad. All reviews are over on Killin' Time Reading.

Biography

Children's/Young Adult

Fiction/Literature

Mystery

Non-Fiction

Science Fiction/Fantasy


Books left on Mt. Bookpile: 337
Books added: 62
Net gain/loss: +11

28.9.09

Notable Quotes

The past is never really done with, unless you consciously close the door to it with ritual and prayer. Otherwise, it will follow you forever.

27.9.09

Not quite brave enough

It's erev Yom Kippur and despite my not being at all a religious Jew (you know, because of the whole being a Quaker now thing), it's a time of reflection. There's a lot whirling around in my lazy little mind - work things, professional things, personal things - and most of all I want to shout Stop. World. I. Want. To. Get. Off. ... or at least have a brief sabbatical.

I've been feeling as though what I need, in lieu of sabbatical, is a good shoulder (or five) to cry on, to moan to, and to pick myself up filled with resolve on how to get things done better/more sanely/more efficiently, bolstered in the knowledge that my BFFs are totally there for me. The problem is, I'm not brave enough to share many of these things with my BFFs. Yep, I know, that's what they're there for but still... I don't even share some of these things with The Boys!

I look at other blogs, like Unwellness and Little Lambs Eat Ivy and DogKat, and think "gosh. very brave. too brave." Some people at MPOW read this blog. Sometimes my parents check in. And then there are all those that I know in real life that read (all five of you - an elite, but important group).

Anyway, if I'm not around as much, that's why. I'm cowering in a corner somewhere.

Imponderables

Recently at MPOW, I received an invoice. Accompanying said invoice was a piece of paper saying that the vendor was, among other things, going green. So, here's what came out of the envelope:

That's right. Five pieces of paper, two of them copies of other pieces of paper.

Am I missing something in this whole Going Green thing?

24.9.09

Better Late Than Never (part two)

I've known Irene for a year, ever since our wonderful lunch at Millbrook. So how thrilled am I that her book on BFF breakups has been published? Very.

And how upset am I that on my day of resting, I totally missed National Women's Friendship Day? Again, very.

From her blog:
The day is intended to provide an opportunity for women to recognize those friends who play important roles in their lives and to acknowledge how vital female friendships are to women's health and emotional well-being at every stage of life. "Our main goal is to encourage women to recognize the value of female friendship, something that is often taken for granted," says Melanie Schild, Executive Director of Kappa Delta Sorority, the creator of the holiday. "For this tenth anniversary of the day, we encourage women to celebrate the entire month of September."

Whew! I missed the day, but I still have a few days left in the month. Among the ideas that Irene's shared with her readers:

• Plan a girls-only night out, a girls' night in, or weekend getaway
• Meet for brunch or dinner at a favorite restaurant
• Join with friends to participate in a 5K walk or other fundraising event for a good cause
• Organize a book club with female friends and acquaintances
• Reconnect with a friend from the past - Find her on Facebook and make the first call or send a card
• Send your female friends a positive, uplifting message to build their confidence
Join a girlfriend circle
Best of all, celebrate your female friends!

Better Late Than Never (part one)

I should have posted this two days ago, but 10098 Days Till the End of the Year is still a healthy chunk of time, right? As Beth suggests,
For the past two years I have done the Goal's Guy 100 Day Challenge which supports you in your finishing up some of those goals... I want you to think of at least one goal you'd like to focus on for the rest of the year. You can make changes to your life.
I've been pondering the ways in which I can change my life in the next 98 days. One of the extra duties I have at MPOW is to be the Monitor on Duty. This requires me to stand in front of the Middle School for about 30min each morning for a week, greeting students as they arrive. We now have a No Talking on the Cell Phone While Driving rule on campus, but more important to the lives of our students is the way in which they're tied electronically to each other and their parents.

What's the connection? Just one post previously, Beth pleaded with us to Enjoy the People You Are With
Today was a gorgeous 74 degree day with a light breeze. The kids and I saw tons of people on our walk.

I also saw something that surprised me. Many of those people were talking on their cell phones completely ignoring the people they were with. Most which looked annoyed. Kids trying to talk to moms who aren't listening. Wives walking besides husbands who are listening to someone else. Husbands being ignored by wives chatting on the phone. Friends walking together, but one of them is talking on the phone.

What if we all resolved to enjoy the people we're with - to really listen to them, to turn off our electronic tethers to other people and be with just one person at a time? If "always" seems to be too much, what about just for the next 10098 days?

20.9.09

Perfect Sunday

Got up... cleaned the house... an hour's Silence... home to


the first fire of the season and...



Kir, Sahadi's hummus and fresh veggies

I'll be all set for tonight's Twitter snarkfest!

18.9.09

Deja vu

This morning I was watching the news, trying to determine exactly what the weather had in mind so I could dress appropriately. Then a commercial came on - a commercial for Maxwell House ("good to the last drop").

It struck me then that coffee commercials have pretty much disappeared from the tv. I can't remember the last time I heard about Nescafe, Folgers, Chock-Full-O-Nuts, Taster's Choice or any other brand.

Maybe this is a sign of the times: it's cheaper to brew your own than it is to go to Starbucks. Maybe there's something else going on. Whatever, it reminded me of years gone by... in a good way.

14.9.09

Music Meme

For a while over in Facebookland, people were listing the 50 music groups they'd seen live. I've seen no where near that many, but I think my list might qualify as one of the most eclectic:

David Bowie
Jethro Tull
Charles Aznavour
Bonnie Raitt (3 times)
Spyro Gyra
Rolling Stone
Eric Clapton
Lou Reed
Clannad
kd lang (2 times)
Li'l Ed & the Imperials / Koko Taylor
Charlie Musselwhite
Mary Chapin Carpenter
Bjork / Sigur Rus
Steely Dan
"Guns & Roses"
Blondie
Kiss / Aerosmith
Cat Power
Marianne Faithfull

And next month I'll see Leonard Cohen. Make of that list what you will!

11.9.09

Links Galore

8.9.09

Obamavision

There's been such a fuss over President Obama's speech to schoolchildren later today that I'm hesitant to wade in but... oh what the heck.

The problem I have with the speech is that it's window dressing: hey! look! the President wants you to stay in school!

This window dressing comes at lunchtime here on the Eastern Coast. So, the President wants to interrupt what might be the last good meal kids get until the following morning? And if older students aren't at lunch, they're probably in the middle of their first day of school - another good time to break into the flow of things. Few classrooms have cable access to C-SPAN, and I'm really doubtful that the White House servers can handle the flow of all that streaming video. So let's interrupt everything, herd kids into an auditorium, get them quiet, watch the speech and then get them to what remains of their next class (a process that will take at least as long as the speech itself).

And the kids that started school weeks ago? It's clearly more important to hear the President than it is to continue actually, you know, learning.

The thing is, it's not an important speech. Think about it: today, the President tells you to stay in school - to strive - to want to be something. And tomorrow? Next week? June? Who is going to tell you that? If you're in an environment where school is not valued, where the teachers don't care (and there are plenty of them, believe you me), where the school is failing, what good is the President's speech going to do you???

A second-grader in Detroit may be all puffed up because that guy in the White House actually looks like him. The speech is inspiring and he works his little second grade heart out. But to the HS junior in danger of dropping out? Not so much. One speech is not going to change that life.

I'm not suggesting that this isn't a case of good intentions. It is. Same with Reagan and Bush pere when they gave their Back to School speeches. And I'm not suggesting that it's "indoctrination" or "socialism". It's not. But the execution and timing and lack of follow-through at the micro, school/family level is criminal.

Before we Drop Everything And Listen, let's fix our schools. Let's give those in danger of failing some measure of support and hope.

4.9.09

Links galore

3.9.09

Not the battle we need to fight

Several people pointed out this article in the NYTimes. In it, the "new, experimental" method of allowing student to choose their own books is highlighted. Nothing new there, and the comment that "Letting students choose their own books, they say, can help to build a lifelong love of reading" should inspire a huge DUH in all readers.

One of the comments I read was "where is the school library?" Really? That's what we're focusing on? Seriously, stop. This "we're the trained book people" has got to end. English teachers are perfectly qualified to help students choose books - at least, I'd hope they are! And who's to say that at these schools, the children don't choose their books from the library? So it's not mentioned. Get over it.

Monica's post about teaching reading sums up what I hope teachers are doing. No one could accuse Monica of not having a good relationship with her librarian (the incredible Fairrosa), or of working in a school that doesn't value the library..

I'm more concerned about Cushing Academy, where the library is being gutted in favor of electronic resources. At MPOW we're moving to more eBooks/databases than before, but the value of print still resonates. Even worse, at CA they don't appear to have librarians (or it's sloppy reporting and no one asked a librarian what they thought of this new phase). As one friend pointed out, they're using free resources, not paid-for databases. Free's good, don't get me wrong, but the implications of only using free is problematic: what if the resource suddenly becomes "pay for"? who assure the accuracy and usefulness of the resource and/or information? And devaluing the library in this way smacks of balancing a budget without thinking about the consequences. I'm also troubled by the statements from the students of using Google and Wikipedia as sources, rather than being taught how to do research and evaluating the information they find.

In short, let's pick our battles more carefully. A school encouraging readers does not necessarily mean it's a school that doesn't believe in libraries - but a school decimating its collection in favor of an internet cafe is to be fought at all costs.

Priorities, people.


ETA: There's a wonderful post and discussion on the YALSA blog about CA's decision.

30.8.09

Book Meme

Found this over on Bookgirl's Nightstand and just had to play along: Using only books you have read this year (2009), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe yourself: Along for the Ride (Sarah Dessen)

How do you feel: Beige (Cecil Castellucci)

Describe where you currently live: North of Beautiful (Justina Chen Headley)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? The Crow Road (Iain Banks)

Your favorite form of transportation: Peace, Locomotion (Jacqueline Woodson)

Your best friend is: You or Someone Like You (Chandler Burr)

You and your friends are: Deep in the Heart of High School (Veronica Goldbach)

What's the weather like: Genesis Books 5-10 (Bernard Beckett)

You fear: Sharp Teeth (Toby Barlow)

What is the best advice you have to give: How to Say Goodbye in Robot (Natalie Standiford)

Thought for the day: Sworn to Silence (Linda Castillo)

How I would like to die: Bone by Bone (Carol O'Connell)

My soul's present condition: Immortal (Gillian Shields)

Imponderables (cat edition)

While I may not be that large for a human, I'm definitely multiples of volume larger than a cat. So it's a bit puzzling when I wake up, our of a relatively heavy sleep, to discover that I'm sleeping damn nearly on top of The Boys - backs scrunched under my side, a tail caught under my hip, etc. And when I move they stretch as if it say "what happened? I was comfy!"

This, of course, from the same Boys that can fall asleep on my windowsill, with the gutter for the window frame pressing into them.

29.8.09

25.8.09

How remiss of me!

While in Niagara-on-the-Lake, I stopped by the Doug Forsythe gallery. Marsha Forsythe's works spoke to me - so, of course, I had to pick up a print to add to my "gallery.

Nice, eh?

24.8.09

La creme de la creme

I used to be one of the elites, one of the “1,300 women in Connecticut and urban gay guys in Manhattan” who read the Critical Shopper column (among many others). I'm here to tell you, I'm neither in Connecticut nor am I an urban gay guy. And the WSJ makes my points about that column for me.

As you know, I stopped subscribing to the Times. When I spoke with the customer service person, as part of their "retention" spiel I was asked where are you going to get your news if you don't subscribe? Talk about elitist attitude! Let's see... the Globe and Mail. The WSJ. The Economist. The Boston Globe. BBC News. (and, oddly enough, the NYTimes' own website) Among others.

A close friend works for the NYTimes; she's been asked to take a pay cut, she's had more responsibility given to her, and her job is uncertain. Maybe if the paper went back to including All the News That's Fit To Print and dropped its elitist attitude she wouldn't have to worry.

23.8.09

Creature comforts

It's pretty hot and humid out, the kind of weather that makes you stick to your sheets and wish it were fall already. So, of course, The Boys need to cuddle with their Mommy.

Last night I had Bogie wrapped around one arm, cuddled into my belly with his heat on my hand. At the same time, Mallory was lying over my left foot and ankle.

Hot? Uncomfortable? Definitely.

But every so often they'd flick their tails and cause delicious goosebumps... and purr.

Heaven.

Vacation: the good, the bad and the ugly

I just got back from a week's vacation in Maine (a house on Little Cranberry Island, to be precise) and thought I'd share the good, the bad, etc.

The good
  • Little internet and cell phone availability (so you can really get away from it all)
  • Lobster
  • Very friendly people
  • Sea air
  • Local restaurant, library, artists
  • Close to NEHarbor, SWHarbor and Bar Harbor

The bad
  • Little internet and cell phone availability (difficult when trying to coordinate with people and/or when something major happens at work)
  • The ferry on/off island stops running pretty early
  • Really pre-thinking your meals
The ugly
  • Eight.Hour.Drive. (one way)
  • Driving through carwash level rain to get home
The incredible

21.8.09

Links Galore

14.8.09

Links Galore


11.8.09

Culture Vulturing, Summer Edition

I've been a busy Lazygal over the past three weeks, spending time on travel and Culture. It's been fun - of course, the problem is, as always, being away from home and the comforts therein. Without further ado, here's what I've had going on in Chicago and Niagara-on-the-Lake:

Shows:
Up (Steppenwolf Theatre) I've been a fan of Steppenwolf since working (front of house) on Balm in Gilead in 1984. Yet I've never been to their theatre... until this summer. Up is based on the true story of Larry Walter's 1982 balloon/chair flight. I can see this transferring to Off-Broadway, because it's not a Big Play, something the current gods of Broadway seem to require.

Little Brother (Griffin Theatre) is an adaptation of Cory Doctorow's book/polemic against Homeland Security. The production was a little frenetic, and my first impression was that this would make a great college/high school production (it's akin to The Laramie Project). Beyond that... I clearly remember September 11, and don't want to live through another day like that one. Thing One's comment was that, as someone who had protested Vietnam and who held freedom dearly, watching people jump from the Twin Towers' windows made him reassess how he felt about losing some of those freedoms (for those of you that don't know, he works on Wall Street and his office literally overlooks The Pit - he saw the second plane go in to the Tower).

Brief EncountersBorn Yesterday* (Shaw Festival) is, of course, the play upon which the Judy Holliday movie is based (ok, there was also a remake but let's not dwell on that, shall we?). The Shaw's production has an incredible set and the main actors are wonderful in their roles. "Billie" did have a few ticks (it took me a while to realize she was more like Carol Burnett than Ms. Holliday), but the chemistry between her, Verrell, Brock and Devery was very real and made for many amusing (and dramatic moments).

Star Chamber (Shaw Festival) was part of the original Tonight at 8:30 series that Coward wrote - apparently he decided it was too on-the-nose and it has rarely been produced since. This year, the Shaw undertook to present all ten plays, something rarely done. Clearly, this was an update in terms of costume to the 1960s and the Mods but really the themes here are timeless. Self-absorbed actors? Check. Flustered and ignored lawyer? Check. Desire to Do Good albeit blindly? Check.

Albertine in Five Times (Shaw Festival) tells the story of Albertine's life using five actresses ranging from 20 to 70. Her sister interacts with all five, asking questions, prompting memories and helping Albertine make sense of (and come to grips with) her past. Tremblay's play is very powerful and I now need to see more of his works.

In Good King Charle's Days (Shaw Festival) reminded me why I never go to certain shows and talk about certain topics with my father, the Emeritus Professor of Physics. Since one of the leads here is Isaac Newton, of course he had an opinion - not about the acting, or the portrayal of the character, but on the historical figure (note, he's commenting on the person not the accuracy of the play). Thing One and I enjoyed the play up through the last act - yes, Shaw pontificates and bends history and does things to get his point across. But as a work of drama, the first two acts hold. The third act is very weak, and the ending? Let's not talk about that. Benedict Campbell's Charles was well-worth the next strain (we had second row seats), ditto Graeme Somerville's Newton and Ric Reid's George Fox. The others were varied in their abilities with only one totally miscast.

Back to Coward, with Play, Orchestra Play. Usually one thinks of Coward as a writer of relatively light, frothy fare, but in Shadow Play he disproves that. Fumed Oak reminded me of The Autograph Hound (henpecked husband finally rebels, except here he leaves), and Red Peppers had moments but mostly felt like bickering for bickering's sake. None of these grabbed me as Must See Again plays.

Finally, Brief Encounters brought my Coward total to seven. The performance was saw was the final one of an all-day Coward marathon put on by the Shaw. 300 intrepid souls made it to the end; we saw the last two shows of their day. Perhaps the knowledge that this was a Big Day inspired the actors, because this was the perfect series to end on. Hand Across the Sea was (is) the weakest of the series, again proving that Coward can be hit-or-miss. Even there, though, Thom Marriott manages to be watchable - and his Albert in Still Life is lovable. As for We Were Dancing, how many Coward plays leave for intermission with a Bollywood musical number? Truly an inspired choice.


Food in Chicago:
Pops for Champagne I love fries, and Pops has some of the best I've tasted. Couple that with some rose champagne...

Eno. Wine... cheese... chocolate. Who needs more? Oh, all right. Add some olives and charcuterie to the meal. (ps - try the Serena with your dessert)

Adobo Grill This is my new favorite Mexican restaurant! I'm a huge fan of avocado, but not such a huge fan of guacamole... until I ate here. They make it at your table. And the ahi tuna ceviche? Those two are all I need to have a yummy meal. (Thing One and I aren't sure if it's better than, or equal to, Tamales... guess we'll have to eat at both again and judge!)

Misc:
Shedd Aquarium (Chicago) The last time I was at an aquarium was in the early 1980s. Perhaps I've held on to some romantic notions of what they're like, but the Shedd didn't live up to any of them. A visit to Coney Island or Boston is called for, methinks.

Peller Vineyards
and Inniskillen Winery - two of the many that dot the Niagara peninsula. Lunch at the Peller is a must, but take a tour of the many vineyards; I promise you'll develop a real appreciation of icewine.

Nothing cultural on the calendar for quite some time - I trust you'll agree that I've been there, doing quite a lot and now deserve some time with my books and Netflix.



* thanks to Everything O for pointing out embarassing typo!

9.8.09

My new Canadian friends

Just got back from a long weekend at Niagara-on-the-Lake's Shaw Festival (about which more later). You know how much I hate leaving The Gang, even though I know they're in very good hands while I'm gone.

Well... here are my new friends, who very kindly helped me get over missing everyone:

(Taz)


(Squeegie)


(Nipper)


Their humans, Gloria and Henry, run a lovely B&B, Bernard Gray Hall. I can't recommend staying there highly enough!

4.8.09

Building an ARC

(I know, it should be "ark" and honestly, given that the Pacific Northwest and the Atlantic Northeast seem to have traded places this summer that wouldn't be bad but this post is about books, not boats)

Sassy, among others, complained that there were too few ARCs at the recent ALA conference. Me? I got about 60, my norm. Granted, I grabbed with abandon, but I could have gotten more had I been less discriminating. The trick? Get 'em first thing in the morning, Day One of conference. Beyond that they were pretty scarce on the ground.

LizB and I had a conversation about the whole business about blogging and ARCs. There's been a movement from someone (the IRS? someone else?) that I agree with... sort of. Yes, if you're provided with a product and then paid to review it, you should consider that as "income". But people like me and my bunhead friends who pick up free copies of books, read them and then review? Not so much. On the other hand, I completely agree that we should be transparent about where our books come from - if they're from the publisher, whether requested, won in a twitter contest, or grabbed from a pile in a made frenzy, say so.

The blog with integrity movement makes sense.
BlogWithIntegrity.com


The other issue we talked about is that there seem to be fewer ARCs out there, that publishers are cutting back the number sent and to whom they send them. That's too bad. Not just because I love me some free books, but because it lessens the number of opinions Out There about said books. Granted, not everyone that gets an ARC blogs. But the vast majority of my friends that read ARCs are enthusiastic readers and equally enthusiastic pushers of books.

When I read The Lightning Thief, I knew I'd found a great series. And I've raved about it here. Reading that ARC was so exciting: my next step was to talk to a student, Jacob, and tell him about it. How the lead character reminded me of him and how I knew - just knew - he'd love this book. Know what? He did.

Getting ARCs of new series (eg, The Hunger Games) but an established authors of other series is great. Ditto new directions by authors (I'm thinking Benjamin Black, aka John Banville). New authors? Wonderful. More, please. What I don't need quite so much are second books in a series (although I did not pass up the new Skulduggery Pleasant or Catching Fire), so if publishers are looking to cut back, there's a great place.

The thing is, we rely on three sources for ideas for our next read: friends we trust, professional book reviews, and professional readers (book bloggers and librarians). Cutting back on that will lower the excitement for new books, new authors, new series, and stifle conversation about books. Honestly now: when was the last time you read a bad book review in the newspaper? or a bad book blurb? And how many books a week (or month, or year) does your local paper review?

So bring on the ARCs, bring on the conversation. And let's be honest about where we got our copy. Win-win-win.

26.7.09

Re-ranting

I've said it before, but danah boyd says it so much better: sometimes, the photos and tweets are Too Much.

24.7.09

Links Galore

20.7.09

Notable Quotes

The ping of an email or chirrup of a text message promises instant communication without the intimacy of a handwritten letter.

19.7.09

I'm in love with a big, blue frog

Glasses? check
6' 3"? check
Rhythm? check
PhD? check
Best of all: he loves me!

So of course I had to buy this for my father:


(don't know the song? for shame!)




(And, ST, you can't possibly top this for an earworm)

16.7.09

What kind of fool am I?

(which could also be read as "when I go on vacation, I really go on vacation")

Tonight Thing One and I were dining and it started to rain - neither of us had brought an umbrella (he'd left his at home; I'd left mine in the hotel). So we asked the waitress for the whereabouts of the nearest store.

As we walked there, I thought I saw the store ahead. Thing One said, "no, that's not it" and shot me a very strange look. As we got closer, I realized it was a library: stacks, computers, etc. all in plain view of the street.

You'd think that, as a librarian, I'd recognize one a little quicker than I did tonight.

10.7.09

Links Galore

6.7.09

Beyond Lazy

One of the things I've been thinking about (or working on, depending on your point of view) is who I am. Some definitions are easy: daughter, sister, catMommy, school librarian, colleague, etc.. But what do those mean? And - more important - how do those on the other side of the relationship see me?

Recently one of my oldest friends needed help with her mother's house. When I was in school, we'd spent several Saturdays getting the house ready for spring or winter (putting up storms or screens, taking care of the gutters, etc.). Since the house is about two hours from where I live now, of course I volunteered to come do what I could. We haven't spent much time together since she graduated (a year ahead of me) but we do occasionally e-mail or leave Facebook messages. What would this reunion be like?

It felt like we'd seen each other just yesterday. In a way, that's good, right? But in a way it's bad. Am I the same person I was "back then"? Is she? The ease of conversation made me question all that. Let's suppose either of us has changed - did we then regress to our teenaged selves, or had the other changed in a parallel fashion, or were the changes not as great as we'd expected or hoped? I found myself reacting to her in the same way I'd done decades ago and wonder if she found the same on her side.

The same holds true for another reunion, this one with someone I hadn't seen in even longer, but with whose life I'd kept up (thanks to our parents close friendship). Again, it was easy talking to her. Was it a "best behavior" meeting? Or was this who we really were?

There are other friends I have that have changed - one of whom has changed in some not-quite-subtle ways that make me not want to spend time with her. Perhaps spending more time with my "recently regained" friends would lead to the same feeling on one or the other sides.

Years ago I worked for an executive recruiting firm. Two of the tools they used to identify and help clients were the Birkman and the Myers-Briggs. While the former is a little too complicated to explain, the latter boils down to 16 behavior types. Turns out, depending on the day, I'm an INTJ or and ENTJ. Neither are the soft, warm fuzzy types. Do these friends sense the lack of warm fuzzies? Do they care? Or are they comfortable with that because they aren't warm-fuzzy either?

The same questions arise when I go to conferences - my friends, my colleagues see me in one arena and have certain thoughts and expectations of what I will be like. Am I really that person, or is that just the Conference Me?

All things to ponder as I spend this summer at conferences and catching up with my lazy life...

1.7.09

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Another banner quarter with 66 books read - at this pace, I should hit over 200 books this year (a personal record!). All reviews are over on Lazygal Reads.

Biography
Milk: A Pictoral History of Harvey Milk; Dustin Lance Black
Leaving Glorytown; Eduardo Calcines
Duchess of Death; Richard Hack
A Round-Heeled Woman; Jane Juska
Hold On to Your Dreams; Tim Lawrence
In Hanuman's Hands; Cheeni Rao
alibaba; Liu Shiying

Children's/Young Adult
Chains; Laurie Halse Anderson
Murder at Midnight; Avi
What I Saw and How I Lied; Judy Blundell
Beige; Cecil Castellucci
Catching Fire; Suzanne Collins
Tombstone Tea; Joanne Dahme
Candle Man; Glenn Dakin
Metamorphosis: Junior Year; Betsy Franco
Secrets of Truth and Beauty; Megan Frazer
Inkdeath; Cornelia Funke
Angel in Vegas; Norma Howe
Back Home; Julia Keller
Sahwira; Caroline Marsden
Exposure; Mal Peet
Jimmy's Stars; Mary Ann Rodman
Immortal; Gillian Shields
Horrid Henry; Francesca Simon
How to Say Goodbye in Robot; Natalie Standiford
Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love; Lauren Tarshis
Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have; Allen Zadoff

Fiction/Literature
The Children's Book; A.S. Byatt
The Winter Vault; Anne Michaels
The Moviegoer; Walker Percy
Goldengrove; Francine Prose
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle; David Wrobleski

Horror
ghostgirl:Homecoming; Tonya Hurley

Mystery
The Kill Call; Stephen Booth
Sworn to Silence; Linda Castillo
To Kill or Cure; Susanna Gregory
Midnight Fugue; Reginald Hill
The Blood Doctor; Barbara Vine

Non-Fiction
Totally Awesome Money Book for Kids, Revised and Updated Edition; Arthur Bochner
Other Powers; Barbara Goldsmith
Eco-Barons; Edward Humes
Three Cups of Tea (Young Readers Edition); Greg Mortenson
I Used to Know That; Caroline Taggart

Science Fiction/Fantasy
City of Ashes and City of Bones; Cassandra Clare

Books left on Mt. Bookpile: 326
Books added: 53
Net gain/loss: -13 (yay!)