31.12.11

2011 Year-end Reading Round-up

Counting down from last year's 3381 books left to read, I've got "only" 3131 more books to enjoy. What did I think about books I've read this past year? For lists, go here, here, here and here.

And here's the 2011 reading analysis (2010 numbers in parens):

number of books read in 2011: 250 (200)
best month: August/29 (July/37)
worst month: May/12 (September/7)
average read per month: 20.8 (16.6)
adult fiction as percentage of total:  21.2 (14.5)
children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 54.4 (43)
mystery as percentage of total: 9.6 (11.5)
Advance Readers Copies:  (106) - to be updated later
books read that were published in 2011: 172
books that will be published in 2012: 15

Five star reviews: 18 (20)
One star reviews: 11 (6)

This is what I said last year: "200 books. A nice, neat, tidy number, but wholly unexpected. I'll be very surprised to repeat that feat in 2011. And since I added 184 books, Mt. Bookpile only shrank by a mere 16, leaving my goal of <300 for next year." HA!  What did I know?  250 books read (not matching Wendy's exhortation to read a book a day, but still not bad), and despite adding books, Mt. Bookpile is down to 290!

Given that my circumstances will change in 2012, 250 is optimistic, but we'll try for 200 and further reduction on Mt. Bookpile.

Oh, and if you're looking for other lists (and To Be Read inspiration), Sherry over at Semicolon has done an amazing job of collecting booklists and year-end-round-ups.  Go.  Make a list for your 2012 reading.  Enjoy.

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

Whew! What an amazing year of reading... and this quarter brought 60. Reviews in the usual place.

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

Non-Fiction
The Road to Petra; D.C. Baramki
Mysteries of the Middle Ages; Thomas Cahill
The Perils of Peace; Thomas D. Fleming
Exploring Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials; Lois H. Gresh
The Story About the Story; J.C. Hallman
Sympathy for the Devil; Virginia A. McConnell
Living With Ghosts; Prince Michael of Greece
A Train in Winter; Caroline Moorehead
The Filter Bubble; Eli Pariser

Poetry
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Suspense

30.12.11

Surprising Moments of Joy

My sense of myself is not of someone who has many friends.  That's not to say I'm a loser/loner, but that my natural state is to have a few people that I'm friends with outside work and then a bunch of people at work with whom I'm friendly.  This past year has taught me that perhaps that's not quite the case!

There has been a Big Life Change, a Massive Disruption if you will.  While part of me embraced this as being a much needed change, part of me was (is) quite nervous and scared.  Those surprising moments of joy?  The incredible number of people who have been supportive and who at times saved me from my worst inner demons.  So here is a list, in no particular order, of all those who have shared a good meal, offered advice/comfort/support, provided a laugh or otherwise brought joy into my life:
Ellysa, mk, Amy, Kath, Wendy, Lucia, Jo, Suzy, Marion, James, Jack, Flavia, Julie, Jean, Kevin, Michael, Waits, Phil, Mac, Danny, Bill, Cate, Thomas, Amelia, Carol, Robert, Julia, Alice, Lisa, Betty, Philip, Elizabeth, Heather, Anne Marie, Jo, Angela, Steve, Ted, Charlotte, Caroline, Rayona, Gail, Karli, Renee, Dave, Susan, Clara, Jen, Rowena, Daryl, Yapha, Karen, Liz, Maya, Francey, Carla, Buffy, Deb, Connie, Chuck, Karen, Diana, Rudy, Tobe, Alex, Cece, Beth, Brendan, Jonathan, Cathy and Terry
Here's to many more such moments, and my hope you all have been as blessed with friendship as I am.

25.12.11

#Reverb11: Week Three

The third week of #Reverb11 prompts - here are my responses:

Prompt 8: Limits
We often learn our limits the hard way. Were there any limits you realized this past year? Alternately, what self-imposed limits were you able to move beyond this year?
- I'm not sure that I realized any new limits this year, but I have become more aware of the limits to my energy levels, my ability to deal with unreasonable people and desire for a cluttered life. As for moving beyond, perhaps clutter isn't a limit, per se, but moving towards a simpler, "loser"-oriented life definitely is.

Prompt 9: Superpower
If you were a superhero, what would your power be?
- This is not a "superpower" but I'd like to have some artistic talent. Even being able to sing on-key feels like it requires powers far beyond me!


Prompt 10: Soul Food
How do you nourish your soul? What activities are essential nutrients for your soul’s well-being?
- It's axiomatic that cuddling with The Herd feeds my soul. Beyond that: spending time with "family" (those related to me and those relatives-by-choice). choosing to eat (drink) only quality food (or drink). Meeting and silence. reading curled up in front of my fireplace.

Prompt 11: Anticipation
What is the one thing that you are most looking forward to in 2012?
- Moving on to whatever the next phase in my life is (those of you that know me IRL will understand that one).

Prompt 12: Mistakes
It’s easy to focus on our mistakes—to reflect with 20/20 hindsight and berate ourselves for what went wrong. Bring your awareness to a mistake you’ve made over the past year. Unveil one positive lesson from that mistake. How can you actively use this lesson moving forward?
- Not moving past a relationship that wasn't working; my not finding a positive way to do this has (I believe) hurt the other person, which I feel guilty about because that wasn't the intention. The lesson? That dealing with those with whom I feel anger/hurt/resentment/irritation/etc towards still demands grace and thoughtfulness on my part. And I intend to try to make amends now, as well as being more aware in the future.

23.12.11

Can you say "bias"?

When I work with students on evaluating information, one of the things we discuss is how polls are conducted: how are the questions asked becomes one of the critical pieces. This e-mail blast from my Congresswoman really illustrates biased questioning:

(for full message, go here)

I've been appalled by the irresponsibility of the Republicans, whose only goal seems to be "defy the President" rather than doing the work necessary to help their constituents. If this is how one of the Conference Committee members is presenting the issue, nothing will get done. Silly me, I thought that committee was dedicated to finding a solution.

My suggested solution? Vote 'em all out, Democrats and Republicans equally. Let's start over with a whole new cast of characters.

22.12.11

Yet another crash blossom!

Yesterday I saw this in my e-mail inbox:

Did they mean that you could use Christmas to inspect your car? St. Patrick's Day as a coaster? Sadly, this is what they meant:


(yes, my sense of humor leaves something to be desired)

18.12.11

#Reverb11 Round-up: Week Two

The second week of #Reverb11 prompts asked us to think about the topic of giving. Here is my response:

Prompt #7: Giving
“The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.” (David Viscott) What is your gift to give?
- I'd like to think that my gift to give is my loyalty to my friends, trying to be there when they need me, offering hope, encouragement and an ear/shoulder as required. My gift to give to my profession is practicality, looking at the what the thinkers and doers are up to and trying to work out ways that others can emulate and adapt their ideas. My gift to give to my employers, colleagues and students is hard work and help with their reading and information needs.

One friend told me that we only have three things to give: time, treasure and talent. I often freely give of my time and talent (such as it is), but treasure? That's a goal to work on for 2012.

16.12.11

I just know I mis-read this


At 4:15am, blearily glancing at this, I wondered "how does one become ex-French"? Then as the fog cleared I realized they meant "former French President". Thank you, WSJ, for today's crash blossom!

11.12.11

Getting into the holiday spirit

For the past few weeks I've been complaining about the Best Buy commercials that feature women buying many, many gifts for family (and friends) and then sneering at Santa for not being relevant or needed. My thoughts are along the lines of "isn't this mean-spirited? why do they need to go there?"

The other day Thing One sent me this link to a WaPo article about these commercials (they include recent Target and Walmart ads that are equally snide)
Months ago, there must have been a roomful of Best Buy mucketymucks who were presented with this atonal, needlessly mean-spirited ad campaign and were utterly delighted by the notion, laughing their heads off. I wonder if anyone in charge had second thoughts.

There's a lessening of civility throughout society and these commercials exemplify it. I won't go into my "bring back the good old days" rant, but I do encourage others to not shop at those stores or to complain to their management. Unless, of course, you also think those ads are funny.

On the other hand, I found this photo my parents forwarded to be funny... and a great commentary on consumer "can-you-top-this" culture:

#Reverb11 Round-up: Week One

As I mentioned at the start of December, I've been participating in the Reverb11 meme. And as promised, here's a round-up of the first week of prompts and my responses.

Prompt #1: One Word
Encapsulate the year 2011 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2012 for you?
- For 2011, it would be scary: many life changes on the horizon, with too many unknowns. For 2012, I want it to be serenity, having found peace in my personal and professional lives.

Prompt #2: Writing
What piece of writing are you most proud of from 2011? How does this piece differ from your other pieces?
- I think several of my professional blog posts (yes, posts) are my "most proud" pieces of writing. Recognizing that the prompt asked for one piece, my response is still the same. My other writing (for professional journals and at MFPOW) was less heart-felt and far less personal.

Prompt #3: Year in Review
As you reflect back on the happenings of 2011, what were your high points and what were your low points? What do you notice as you look back on the year as a whole?
- Low points were definitely professional - realizing that my vision wasn't shared, that my talents weren't appreciated and that my input was discounted. The high points were accepting the lows and moving on... finding time to reflect and refresh... discovering friendships I hadn't appreciated fully before... and, most important, starting to live my life in a way that doesn't compromise things I feel deeply in favor of expediency.

Prompt #4: Beauty
How have your standards of beauty shifted in the past year?
- They haven't. While I can appreciate something that's beautiful, it's the inner essence that's really attractive and if there's an imperfection in the external face it doesn't really matter to me.

Prompt #5: Reading
What has been your favorite book (or books if you can’t pick just one) that you’ve read this year?
Of course I can't choose just one or two - but these are the 5-star reads from 2011:
The Artful Dodger, Nick Bantock
The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes
Noah Barleywater Runs Away, John Boyne
Where She Went, Gayle Forman
fathermothergod, Lucia Greenhouse
The Shattering, Karen Healey
Mr. Chartwell, Rebecca Hunt
When She Woke, Hillary Jordan
The Lantern, Deborah Lawrenson
Exposure, Kimberly Marcus
The Tiger's Wife, Téa Oberht
The Invisible Ones, Stef Penney
A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny
Please Look After Mom, Kyung-Sook Shin
Press Here, Hervé Tullet
Before I Go to Sleep, S.J. Watson
Lost in Shangri-la, Mitchell Zukoff

Prompt #6: Ease
What can you do to add ease to 2012?
- Continuing to create a house that welcoming, where I can find comfort in addition to inspiration and healing will be the biggest "to do". It's essential to the process of mental decluttering and learning to let go of the past (a book I recently read talked about forgiving not equaling a reinstatement of trust or forgetting what happened; I need to work on remembering and practicing that).

5.12.11

Notable Quotes

Things are better now, but for a while it seemed like there was a Puritanism running through children's publishing that bore no resemblance to reality.  Kids were thought to be unable to separate the mildly gross from the debauched -- to my mind, a horribly patronizing attitude.  My children adored Roald Dahl, and they had no problem separating out his diet of squashed worm sandwiches from their real dinner.  Fortunately, the socially correct tourniquet around children's books seems to be easing, but a new Big Brother arrived on the scene.  One that says, "We mustn't frighten children with long words and complexity."  It's curious to note that a first-time submission of Alice in Wonderland would probably be passed over by the majority of present-day children's book publishers, and Lewis Carroll would be piling up those little rejection slips.  It really shouldn't be a matter of choosing between Grimm and bland, but as long as we underestimate our children as much as we overestimate ourselves, we will reap the inevitably unpleasant rewards.
Nick Bantock, Artful Dodger

2.12.11

#Reverb11

Scanning my RSS feeds this morning, I saw a post on A Beautiful Ripple Effect that talked about Reverb11:
The purpose of Reverb11 is to reflect on the past year and usher in the new year with intention. Rather than blindly entering 2012, you enter the new year with a renewed sense of purpose and empowerment. This new perspective enables you to be more proactive rather than merely reactive.
Having spent much of this year decluttering and reflecting, this is the perfect way for me to end 2011 and head into 2012. For my daily posts, there's my twitter feed or my lifestream over on the left. And I'll post a round-up at the end of the month (or early January). Feel free to join in!

27.11.11

I'm a loser!

No, don't try to tell me I'm not.  I am, and I'm proud of it.  Recently I've been on a losing streak:
  • I decimated my weight (yay!!)
  • I've "lost" nearly one third of The Collection, mostly to my local public library, but a few went to friends, a niece, or the children of friends
  • This huge pile o' stuff went to the Vietnam Veterans Association (use this link to find charities that will actually pick up from your home - it doesn't get easier than that, does it?!)
  • My Start of Fall To Do List has been completed (kinda like inbox zero)
  • It's taken time, but I've made my peace with the "problem people" in my life and am moving on without them weighing on me
Of course, all losses need to be offset by gains:
  • I gained two websites (thanks, as always, to Aravis for tech support and to my idea crew for their feedback)
  • New projects are being weighed against stress levels, need for the work and personal enjoyment
  • One of my "lost" BFF's is back in my life, something for which I will be eternally grateful.  We'll call him Thing Three.
  • All the losses have given me a lighter load (physically and metaphorically), a definite plus in my life
Onwards and upwards!

23.11.11

Another Thing

I almost called this post tertium quid, but that's an inside joke and the insiders don't read this blog... anyway, let me introduce to you Thing Three.

Who is Thing Three?  He's my BFF from college, so predates Things One and Two (and I just realized that I've numbered the Things in reverse order of how long I've known them, which must mean that a putative Thing Four would come from my HS years... or earlier).  Thing Three and I were often assumed to be "in a relationship" but never were - just ask his girlfriends.

Yes, we spent many a night together but it was talking or teching.  We originally hung out on different fringes of the same larger group but by Spring Semester of our first year, we had a schedule that synced one afternoon after lunch, so hung out and chatted while others did labs or something else.  Turned out we were both Government majors, but he was pre-theological seminary.  I was still pre-law at that time, but by junior year that dream ended as I found other things that interested me more.  He was my go-to guy for quick shopping trips off campus (or to my parents' home), for testing new recipes and for general hanging out fun.

When graduation happened, we both came to NYC.  He to start his career as a minister, me to start mine in non-profit theatre management (no, neither of us really wanted to make money then.  how idealistic we were!).  It was such a blessing to have someone nearby who was up for going to theatre (I got a lot of free tickets back then) or movies.  And yes, having a good friend in the Big Bad City made things more bearable.

Then, in 1988, he left for his first congregation.  We spoke on the phone and sent letters/cards back and forth but the inevitable happened - he met his lovely Lady Wife and I met Thing One.  For a variety of reasons we lost touch, but thanks to a mutual friend and Facebook, we're back in each other's lives.  Not the way we were, obviously, but still... I'm so grateful that he's there.

Despite my desire to declutter, having another Thing around feels good.  I'm sure you'll be hearing more about him as the blog rolls on.

14.11.11

"What do you love?"

I had a blogpost all prepared to go today. It was about two guys I know, M1 and M2. Both have made choices about how they would live their lives that were admirable, particularly since those choices come with consequences that weren't always comfortable. Recently, however, I've lost my respect and admiration for them. I was going to go into detail and rant, but at Meeting yesterday I realized that was a lot of negative stuff that just didn't need to be put out there... doesn't mean that I respect or admire them, though.

What prompted this was (in part) a quote from the book I read Saturday, Born Wicked. At one point, the main character, Cate, asks Finn "what do you love?" She meant "if you didn't have to worry about making a living... paying bills... providing for a family... what would you be doing? what's your passion?" It made me think of two other friends, Chuck and Bekkie, both of whom have also made choices and are doing what they love.

Chuck has a day job that I can't imagine he's crazy about (we've never talked about it) but on the weekends he goes to take photos, or drives up to Canada to work with the NBLC. Why would anyone spend that much time on the road driving from place to place? Because they love it.

Bekkie was one of the smartest people I knew in high school. She was also probably the only friend I had who was on a sports team (the rest of us met our PE requirements and that was it). In college she majored in something to do with science (another thing I avoided) and yet since then she's mostly worked at jobs she took mostly to give her the money she needed to travel and run marathons. Her goal was to run marathons in all 50 states (plus DC) by the time she was 50, and she met that goal at the 50th running of the Peachtree Race.

As I sat there yesterday I reflected on how lucky I've been to be able to do the things I love: my BFF K. can tell you that I was recommending books to her in 3rd grade, and there's a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring that I inscribed "Dear Daddy, I think you'll like this book. It's great." in 1972. Research is also fun for me, and helping people find the right book or the right information makes me glow inside. Even before getting my MLS I was doing those things!

As we move closer to Thanksgiving, isn't it time for all of us to ask "what do I love?", find a way to do it, and then be thankful that we can?

13.11.11

In my e-mail today...


Do you think it's because I'm a member of AARP? Is someone trying to tell me something? Am I overthinking this?

10.11.11

Rape Is Rape

I've been watching the whole Penn State/JoePa mess unfold and this interview just made me sick:

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

It's so clear that Franco Harris Just.Doesn't.Get.It. At all.

The statements that "it wasn't a football thing" turn my stomach.

It made me glad - for perhaps the second time since graduation - that I went to Hamilton College. The firing of Eugene Tobin was one such time, not because I disliked Tobin but because there was a principle at stake and Hamilton did the right thing (which hasn't always been the case).

But there was one other event, something that happened while I was there, where the Right Thing was done. A friend of mine was on a sports team - she also had a slight drinking problem. One year, at the winter sports banquet (held off campus) she had a little too much to drink and wanted to go "home." She mentioned this and one of the assistant coaches offered to give her a lift. The Big Coach approved. And on the way home, the assistant coach stopped the car...

I got involved because my friend came to my room, very upset and disheveled. She told me and another friend what happened, after which the other friend took her off to another dorm. Which was a good thing because shortly after the assistant coach came to the dorm looking for my friend. According to him, "she was upset and drunk and [he wanted] to make sure she got back to her dorm safely." Only problem was, according to my friend, he'd told her to go to her room, take off her clothes and he'd be up as soon as he'd parked the car. I mean, a car's so uncomfortable, right? So why not have a follow-up in a real bed?

My friend reported the rape. The school investigated (I was questioned) and - unlike at PennState - both the Big Coach and the assistant coach were fired. Immediately.

Now, Hamilton is a much smaller school. When I was there they were Division III and didn't play in any post-season tournaments. PennState, of course, is Division I and makes a ton of money off that. Still, rape is rape. That the right thing wasn't done until now? Unforgivable.

7.11.11

Notable Quotes

I certainly believe we all suffer damage, one way or another.  How could we not, except in a world of perfect parents, siblings, neighbours, companions?  And then there is the question, on which so much depends, of how we react to the damage: whether we admit it or repress it, and how this affects our dealing with others.  Some admit the damage, and try to mitigate it; some spend their lives trying to help others who are damaged; and then there are those whose main concern is to avoid further damage to themselves, at whatever cost.  And those are the ones who are ruthless, and the ones to be careful of.
- Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

25.10.11

The few, the proud... and me

You know how sometimes things bug you, and you just sort of let them, and then suddenly somehow it triggers something from your past? That happened to me as I was drifting off for my nap...

Growing up in SmallVillage, the schools went K-6, 7-9 and 10-12. That meant that when you were in 9th grade, traditionally lowest on the teen totem pole, you were actually King of the School. No, it doesn't quite make sense to me either but that's what Junior High is filled with, things that don't quite make sense. 9th grade is also when many (most?) girls are blossoming into women and boys are devolving into something not quite man-like.

One day, a group of girls I knew somewhat well and who, like me, were rather well endowed by their Creator, came to school wearing t-shirts that said IBTC. I think there was a book (possibly by Judy Blume) that included that acronym, but it certainly wasn't information that the boys would have had. I asked one of the girls why and she said that I certainly could join the IBTC... I declined the invitation. Their reason was that they were reclaiming the word or disempowering the boys or something like that, which seemed like an ok reason but it also made me feel like Groucho Marx. At that time in my life there were more than enough ways to label me and while one more wasn't going to hurt, it seemed that there wasn't a point to it (or, as my mother once said, there wasn't any two points to it).

Ahem.

So I find myself in a similar place. There's another group of self-selected "in" people reclaiming words and empowering themselves and blah blah blah. Again I could join. And again, I declined. I've written about my reasons elsewhere and they still stand: with or without the official title/t-shirt/tiara, I already know what tribes I'm a part of and that's enough for me.

As I drifted off to sleep I thought of the IBTC and how it could have really been powerful if the original five had brought in 200 or so t-shirts, one for every girl in the grade. That I could have bought into. And how powerful it could be if this new group did the same.

Until everyone is gets the t-shirt, you can keep mine.

14.10.11

Friday Inspirations

Today is a good time to mention two of my friends, both of whom have, in very different ways, achieved something quite inspirational.

Chuck writes a blog for the Albany Times-Union - to his credit, he's blogged every day for over two years. Even better, tonight he's being inducted into the Albany City School District Hall of Fame. Congratulations Chuck!

Patti, on the other hand, has had a more difficult time. Currently she's battling both brain cancer and MS, but she's not one of those who dwells on the negative. Even before her cancer diagnosis, she was working on establishing the PattiStrong Foundation, whose mission "is to provide funding, training and support globally for women to achieve entrepreneurial success, and to do so in ways that encourage the development of both enduring enterprises and strong families." There's an auction to support the Foundation on BodilJewelry (click on PattiStrong Auction) consisting of pieces crafted by Patti, or favorites from her collection, as well as pieces donated by others. Go forth and do well by others!

13.10.11

Never Say Never...

Years ago there was this guy I met - we were in grad school and fell in like with each other. There were a number of classes shared, and a loose group within our cohort formed. I'd even gotten to know his wife, whom I liked quite a bit. After graduation the ties got looser as lives and jobs took us on different paths. Luckily there was e-mail and we were able to keep in touch.

His wife was, well let's be honest, morbidly obese and decided to get some variant of the stomach surgery; as so often happens, the weight dropped and she changed. One summer I got an e-mail from him: he'd discovered that she was having an affair with someone. This wasn't just a casual affair, it was the end of their marriage and one of those ugly ends (fights over custody of the cat, who got what proportion of the proceeds of the sale of the house, etc.). ENOUGH - he's done with marriage For.Ever. He'd never love again, never get trapped again, never get into THAT situation again. Ever. No way, no how.

Now, I love the guy and I know that he's one of those that is very comfortable around women. So I knew that he'd be out looking for some female companionship, and I wasn't wrong. Like virtually every guy I know that's done the on-line dating thing, he had an easy time finding a great gal.

Digression: I think that the reason that virtually all the guys I know have had an easier time is because they're princes. As every gal knows, ya gotta kiss a whole bunch of frogs first, so of course my princes have a successful experience. Unlike the gals, dealing with all those froggies.

At first it was casual dating... then spending weekends together... then practically moving in together... then moving in together... Can you see where this is going?

Not so fast: trouble arose in paradise. But our Prince-Hero decided that he'd work through the trouble with his new gal, and they've stayed together. He even started talking about the impossible. Which, last month, became very much the possible.

So today I had breakfast with him, hearing all the gory details about dress and music and how they'd eloped. Now, dear readers, you know me really well by now and you know - really, absolutely know - that I said those four little words. As a matter of fact, I think they were the second sentence I said to him after "hey there".

Never, and I mean N.E.V.E.R. say never.

9.10.11

Meeting Musings

Today was one of those days when my two religious faiths collide: the Judaism in which I was raised and the Quakerism I've chosen. Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and during Meeting I mulled over this blog post about a Day of Non-Atonement Atonement.

Now, the author here seems to have stuck her tongue in her cheek, but I did think about the intent: things that I'm not particularly sorry I've done, because they were done honestly and with a pureness of spirit. For example, there are people who read this blog and believe I've blogged about them when in reality, I'm blogging about someone else (I was actually accused of this by one reader). That they read a post about a person or event, felt that it was about them and were hurt is not my fault, and if they've taken some of what I said on board and thought about changes, well, that's all to the good. Another example is when I've had to tell people things that aren't pleasant to hear but that were necessary - like when, as the head of the student theatre group in college, I had to tell a director that his play would not be produced because after weeks of rehearsal, it was no where near ready for the public. The difficult conversation should not be atoned for, ever (delivery is another thing, obviously).

This isn't to suggest that I've let myself off scott free, and there are people I'm reaching out to to say "look, I'm sorry if I made your life more difficult this past year - please forgive me for that".

The other thing that I started to mull was getting rid of my to do list. The fall is a time for beginnings, right? School starts, tv seasons start, etc., and for many of us it's another opportunity to rethink how we're doing things. So when I read Kill Your To Do List, it started to resonate with me... and then Lifehack showed me the value of a Not To Do List.

What's the tie-in between the two? Number One on my Not To Do List is to not allow others to make me feel the need to apologize because they've decided I need to - unless I have, however inadvertently, hurt them. Number Two is that I will not dwell on Number One past the conversation (whether or not there's an apology given).

May all of you be sealed in the Book of Life for this year.

7.10.11

Links Galore

I haven't done a Links Galore post in, well... far too long. So here goes!

1.10.11

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

A better-than-good quarter, with 73 read. You know where to find the reviews.

Biography
Children's/Young Adult
Fiction/Literature
Mystery
Non-Fiction
Science Fiction/Fantasy

30.9.11

Time to let go

A friend e-mailed me after my last post and mentioned that some things should be held on to; while I agree that while you want to learn from the past, clinging to it and letting it have an adverse affect on your future is not helpful.

Here's an example (taken from real life, names changed blah blah blah):
Years ago, I worked with this guy we'll call TT. TT was in his early 40s and lived with his mother and sister out on the island. While I don't believe that pot is physically addictive, he was definite proof that there is an addictive quality to it: he'd smoke a joint in the morning, one as he walked to work from the train, one at lunch, one on his walk back to the train and one in the evening. He was also obsessed with sports. By "obsessed" I mean that he followed teams and decorated the walls of his office with scores and tickets stubs. During the weekends he'd travel to various areas/stadiums to attend games, mostly staying overnight in his car in the parking lot.**

Many years earlier, shortly before graduating from college, he and his girlfriend traveled to Florida (I think Orlando) for Spring Break. Now, March is also time for the NCAA Basketball Playoffs - this was before March Madness without the the television frenzy that we now have. TT wanted to order pizza and listen to the game in the hotel room, his girlfriend had other ideas, particularly since sports really wasn't her thing. Unsurprisingly they broke up.

When I met TT he was still obsessed with this woman. He informed me that 15 years after the break-up his college had beaten her college in the NCAA finals and she must be just writhing with embarrassment. You'll have to imagine his shock when I suggested that she was completely unaware of this (based both on her not caring about NCAA basketball when they were dating and on the likelihood that she'd moved on with her life). It was a further shock to him when I told him that it was probably not the best idea to celebrate their "25th anniversary" by buying two tickets to a hockey game and hand-delivering her a card with one ticket inside (this after she'd asked him to stop sending cards). My guess was that she was just tossing the cards in the garbage without opening them.

Long anecdote short, after this long, he should have moved on from this relationship. Sadly, it still informed who he was and how he related to the world. My point? Often I find that I, too, have held on to a relationship (with a relative, former friend, employer, colleague, whom ever) for far too long, finding reasons not to move on from what happened and thinking about ways in which my current actions have somehow affected them long after we ended.

They've forgotten me, right? Isn't the best sign that I've moved on to forget them? Decluttering those memories can only be healthy.


** TT invited me to come with him to an Oriole's game at the newly built Camden Yards; I passed.

29.9.11

A tale of two lunches

Recently I had the pleasure of lunch with two friends.  One was someone I'd known since college, the other a former student I've known a few years.  The difference between the two was more than age and gender, it was attitude.  Between them I've been pondering things a lot.

You see the college friend had a difficult childhood and since then he's seen himself as a survivor.  As a matter of fact, he spent time during lunch trying to convince me that he'd had a horrible time in college: no one was as poor, friendless, fish-out-of-watery as he was.  My take?  Others had as difficult a time, perhaps in different ways, but difficult just the same.  But that attitude spills out into his adult life, and often his blog posts reflect it (though he is trying to get better!).

My student friend has had a difficult time in a different way.  Her attitude is "that's the past, and I'm over it."  She's taken what lessons she can from what's happened and is moving on to more interesting things.  She hopes.

I know (because he basically told me) that college friend thinks I had an easy time of it - au contraire.   My childhood was not easy (one could argue that my adulthood has not been easy, either), and there are many  people (and events) that caused long-lasting pain.  But I've worked hard to overcome this and at this remove, I've managed to forget most of them.

My student friend agrees that this is the best revenge: the past has no power over me because I've forgotten them.  When I told my college friend about this revelation, he seemed skeptical.  I hope, truly hope, that he manages to get to this point in his life - he's got a girlfriend, his hobbies are making him happy, and his life seems to be heading in the right direction. 

Me? I'm continuing to declutter my mental life and drop those things that I haven't managed to forget.

27.9.11

Missin' the point

Today's Best of the Web tackles the question of editing the President's speech.
The Obama case is different in two ways. Militating in favor of Hunter's position, "cleaning up" Obama's quotation does not involve changing his words, only spelling them in the usual way rather than phonetically to capture his pronunciation. That is a common practice. When someone says "gonna" and is quoted in print, it usually reads "going to." When Rick Perry, in a debate earlier this month called President Obama what sounded like "an abject lahr," it was quoted as "an abject liar."
So this is the issue?  Whether we insert the missing g (I almost wrote missin g but then thought better of it)?  Would we be asking the question if the President had given the same speech to the DAR, or if Obama were a white president? 

All of which brings to mind an exercise we did with our Middle School during the last presidential election.  Close your eyes and listen to this ad:



Yes, there's slurring and eliding.  And yes, it's a Southern accent.  Would we have the same conversations about this speech as we're having about President Obama's speech?  And doesn't this sound remarkably like President George W. Bush?  

So let's focus on content, not sound, ok?  I mean, isn't that the important thing?

26.9.11

Notable Quotes

"That may be true, Max," Simon said, "but I think Shelly was talking about a more imminent end.  What if you found out you only had a few months to live? Or even weeks? Do you whip out your list of 'things you need to do before you die' and race to check things off? Or do you lock your loved ones in a cottage somewhere and hug them until they can't breathe?" ...

"When you get to my age, you would hope that there wouldn't be much left to cross off.  And that's exactly how it was before I met Rose, to be honest.  I was nearly done with my short but respectable list.  But now," Jonathan said, "my list has grown quite long.  Afternoon tea, quiet walks, rainy mornings -- nothing I haven't done before, but everything I need to do now with my Rose as many times as I can, while I can."
Before Ever After, Samantha Sotto

22.9.11

Updates...

Two years ago I posted a list of groups/musicians I've seen live. Clearly, it's time for an update, so, in no particular order:
    Eric Clapton (again) 
    Jeff Beck 
    Charlotte Gainsburg 
    AIR 
    Jessie Baylin 
    kd lang (again) 
    Sybarite5 
    Cima Trio 
    Blondie (again) 
    Bruce Daigroponte (left off original list) 
    David Johansen 
    Larry Coryell 
    Rachid Taha

On the horizon - another visit to Sybarite5, and Ray Davies.


*****


One of the Partner A/Parnter B's that I wrote about earlier has split up after 30 years together. 30 years. I'm sad, because while I'm related to one, I like the other (not just like - really admire) and hope we don't lose touch. Guess I'll have to take my own advice re: invitations, should the occasion arise.

Speaking of invitations, rumor has it that the wedding invitation mess has still not been resolved. The bride-to-be called Partner A in tears, only to be told that the person to apologize to is really Partner B. Thus far, Partner B has heard nothing...


*****


In January I set a personal goal of reading 200 books (based on having read 200 books in 2010). My bigger goal, of course, is getting Mt. Bookpile below 300. Well, with 3.5 months left in the year, I'm on book 182 and Mt.B is down to 323. Of course, AASL is around the corner but I really think I can do it. Ya gotta believe, people!

21.9.11

They walk among us...

Surprisingly, I was late to the The Big Bang Theory party. But now I'm here and so happy that it's just started syndication so I can start the series from the very beginning (of course I'm still keeping up with the new episodes!).

I'm here to tell you those people really exist. I know because I've met them. In my own family. Seriously: I definitely have a Leonard, and if you took three others, took them to CERN and smashed them together in the Large Hadron Collider you'd get Sheldon (and yes, I know that the LHC wasn't created for that purpose - call it comic hyperbole).

They walk among us... but they're pretty harmless.

16.9.11

You know it's a bad book when...

I have really been trying to get away from being a "clean plate reader" and moving towards recognition that life is too short for me to read bad books. 

Now, some books I do slog through because I think they'll help students or be of interest to their YA target audience, or even because I've been asked to read it for professional review.

But recently I read a book that was so bad it was almost laughable.  I read a couple of sentences to Thing One, who thought I'd read well above and beyond what was needed - I compared the book to a car wreck, so bad you just had to see what would happen next.

One of the things I love/hate about Mallory is that he tends to nuzzle what I'm reading. It's loveable, because he wants to be with Mommy, but it's annoying when I'm actually trying to read. Occasionally he loves the book so much he'll bite the pages and (once or twice) head butt my hands away from it. He didn't come near the book I just read beyond an initial nuzzle. Today, it's lying on my bed and he just literally jumped away from in as though it had shocked him. I've
never seen that reaction before.

Do I need to change my rating system from stars to nuzzles?

12.9.11

Meeting Musings

At the rise of Meeting the Greeter asks for what in Brooklyn we called "Not Ready for Prime-Time Messages" - officially known as Afterthoughts. These are Messages that are perhaps not quite prompted by the Inner Light but are things that have occurred to us all the same (FCE has a great flowchart describing what a Prime Time Message is here).

During yesterday's afterthoughts, one Friend said that she and her mother had been watching some of the September 11th remembrances on tv, and how she noticed that there was an attempt to include some silence during the reading of the names. She commented that today, a "moment" of silence usually was fewer than 30 seconds and how uncomfortable people are even with that length of time.

Another Friend mentioned the difference between these events and those of the 10th anniversary remembrances of the last major attack on the United States on December 7, 1951. Then, she said, there was more time for silence and it felt more somber. The barrage of images, public speakers, movies and our current need to be publicly seen to be mourning/remembering made her uncomfortable.

We agreed that as a culture, as a country, we could benefit from more silence, particularly at times like these.

5.9.11

Notable Quotes

"Yes," said the Inimitable, smiling towards Ceclie Macready as if in apology for the interruption of his narration. "You know the incomparable and - I would dare say - unique feeling ne has when reading. The focus of attention to the exclusion of all sensory input, other than the eyes taking in the words, one has when entering into a good book?"

"Oh, rather!" cried Dickenson. "The world just fades away. All other thoughts just fade away! All that remains are the sights and sounds and characters and world created for us by the author! One might well be anaesthetisied to the mundane world around us. All readers have had that experience."

Drood, Dan Simmons

3.9.11

Missing the old you

I have a friend, but they're more like a "friend" than they used to be.

For the past while communication with this person has been difficult. By "difficult" I mean, I don't look forward to seeing the name in my inbox. We used to be close - I used to be able to say anything, without reservation. Yet somehow that's changed, and this isn't the person I feel comfortable talking to or turning to when I need advice or guidance.

I know that Irene's Friendship Blog has tons of tips what to do in situations like these. And there are others that I've spoken to about this person, and our relationship (or recent lack of), at least one of whom feels the same way. It's like we've moved on, we've changed, and the relationship (or the other person) hasn't. Or maybe that's the problem: they've changed, and in ways that I haven't. That's not the critical important part, the blame/reason part. It's the change that's important.

What's tricky, of course, is not wanting to hurt the other person. Explaining how things seem different, and difficult, is awkward. Gentle hints aren't working, and I suspect that a direct approach will either be ignored or cause more pain than I want to cause someone who was, for a while, a very important part of my life.

Yet as I sit here, cleaning up after the mess Hurricane Irene made of my kitchen (luckily few frozen foods were lost, but those that were caused quite an "uck"), I've been thinking about how this is perfect timing: it's September, start of a new academic year, and there's physical cleaning-up to be done, so why not also do some personal relationship cleaning-up? Maybe the best thing to do is send the message "I miss the old you" (or, more accurately, "I miss the old us") via e-mail, phone, text, smoke signals, or real snail mail.

Because I do, I really do miss the old you.

1.9.11

An Unending Darkness

Yes, this is a complaint post - thanks to my BFF Irene, there's no power at the Lazyhouse. None. And there's no clue from my utility (NYSEG, in case you want to call and complain on my behalf) when it'll be restored.

I'm not an unreasonable person, really. I understand the difficulties evaluating the extent of the damage, and repairing lines, etc.. What I don't understand is how this utility (essentially a monopoly under NYS rules about territories) can be so lacking in the communication department.
  • For the first 24-26 hours, nothing was posted about my street and its status.
  • Then we moved to "Assessing". 
  • Then the website indicated that our power would be restored by noon, Wednesday. 
  • And by six pm Tuesday the street had been removed from their site. 
Except... no power.
So I called them, only to get an automated message saying that power had been restored at 5:23pm that night.

Uh, no. Not really. Trust me, I can tell the difference between "power" and "no power".

And it wasn't just me, it was every one of my neighbors.

Another call, this time to complain that the communication and information was erroneous. Result? We're back on the list of streets missing power. But unlike virtually every other street in our town, we're neither "assessing" nor being assigned a restoration time/date.

One of my neighbors said that his homeowners policy has a $500 deductible for these things, and there's no way he'd lost $500 worth of food - and he has two 20-something children living in the house. Me? The Herd's food is fine. And there's no way I had $500 worth of food in my fridge/freezer. So, no luck there.

But I've had well over $500 loss in terms of inability to do work (although I am reading up a storm, pardon the pun), inconvenience and general irritation. Can't recoup that, can I? And NYSEG's spokespeople? So understanding (oddly, they've all been through a similar outage, so they do know what I'm going through).

But essentially useless.

Feh.

22.8.11

Judging a book by its cover

You may (or may not) be interested to know how I choose which books I read and in what order.  It's a really simple system: I get books in, I put them in a pile, I semi-sort them by release date/level of interest, then I pull the top book off the pile and read.  Sometimes I mix it up a little, so that I don't read five dystopian YA novels in a row.  But mostly, that's the system for new books.  Older (Mt. Bookpile pre-2007) books are just pulled off the bookcase in clumps, put in a pile, and then read as I get to them.

I'm down to a mere ten books gotten at ALA, and so for most I don't even remember the cover.  The other day, I pulled Tempest, by Julie Cross off the pile... and promptly screamed "aaarrgh".  Then I took a photo of the cover and complained to Aravis; I then decided to share my dismay with all of you.  Note: this is my reaction to the cover, without having read the book.  My reaction to the book was actually far better!



  1. "A major success already in the making" - say whaaa???  How can it be a success in the making?  Aren't you a success after you've been made???
  2. The only way Summit Entertainment could "pre-empt" something is if they advertised Film A and then when audiences went in, surprise: It's Tempest! What they mean is "Optioned by Summit Entertainment". Seriously bad use of the language.
  3. "epic trilogy" - unless I'm really wrong, this could have been edited down to one really good book.  Plus "epic"?  Trust me, it's not on the scale of LoTR or the Iliad. Now those were epics.   Even GWTW is an epic.  This?  No.
I'm also wondering when I missed the memo that states that 99% of all debut novels are "incandescent" or "luminous".  There are many other words I see mostly in blurbs, rarely in real life, that set me off.  At least I'm not reading limn that often...

16.8.11

The path less spoken of...

Recently I was at a baptism - seven little children joining the Catholic family. The priest spent time explaining each part of the ritual (including the part about exorcism, which apparently has alarmed people who were supposedly raised within the faith). After all the children were anointed, he gave a little speech in which he talked about how we don't really know much about these infants, but that one of them might grow up to be president of the United States... or a great inventor... or someone who finds a cure for disease... or an artist.

It made me think of Let's Make a Deal: those futures are what's behind Curtain One. But, Carol, let's show these families what's behind Curtain Two! One of these lucky children could be:
  • the next John Wayne Gacy
  • patient zero for a global pandemic
  • the inventor for a new color of sprinkles
  • absolutely average
Why don't we ever (at baptisms, kindergarden graduations, etc.) mention the Curtain Two possibilities?

Dear readers, here's your opportunity to add to that list.  What path less spoken of do you think we should mention?

14.8.11

Meeting Musings

15 (or so) years ago I began attending Meeting in Brooklyn. The Meeting is relatively large, and there are usually a few messages each week. For the past six years I've been attending another, much smaller Meeting, but today I back went to Brooklyn for the first time in years.

A few things struck me: on the facing benches were seven people, with probably another 30-40 on the other benches. My current Meeting is lucky to get seven in one week! Brooklyn has heat and electricity, my Meeting does not (well, not in the Meetinghouse, but the First Day School has both). And Brooklyn has people who serve as Greeters, those who close Worship and then a social hour committee - at mine, you do everything on "your" week (and if it's winter, you get there 2-3 hours early so that the wood stoves can warm the place up for others). It was good to be back at Brooklyn, but the outside noise was city noise, while I've become accustomed to country noise.

That led me to thinking about one of the people I follow on Twitter, @robinmsf. She's been live-tweeting Pennsylvania and New England Yearly Meeting, among other things. And BBC Radio 4 has a broadcast called "Sunday Worship". I can't imagine live-tweeting my Meeting - what would one say? - much less broadcast a Meeting for Worship!

Am I crazy?

(aka "someone needs to read Miss Manners/Emily Post")

There are two people, let's call them Partner A and Partner B. They've been together for a long time - let's say over 20 years. Not married, not living together, but definitely a couple, and usually treated as such. For example, when Partner B's family was being honored, A was invited to the celebration. When A's family has events, B gets an invitation (and vice-versa). A is included on B's family e-mail list. Etc. Invitations to a Major A Family Event recently arrived, one to A's home and one to B's. And another invitation to a Major B Family Event came to B's home addressed to "Partner B and Partner A".

So why, after all this time, does an wedding invitation arrive addressed to "Partner A and guest"? I think that means that B isn't invited... or am I wrong?

11.8.11

Sometimes, life is good

The past few days have really made me realize how lucky I am in terms of many of the people in my life. Somehow, without quite realizing it, I've ended up with many really great friends and I am truly grateful.

Two quick examples:

Yesterday I went to see Comedy of Errors at Boscobel. It was suggested by a former colleague/friend - we'd picnic and then see the show. Now, she's not just someone with whom I worked, she's also a member of the "80/84" club, and the mother of two of my students (one of whom is featured in my upcoming webinar). So this wasn't going to be the two of us, it'd be all four. And it was fun seeing her and the boys, as well as another student currently working at HVSF. If someone had asked me last year, I'd have never considered her as someone to spend time outside work with, but I'm so glad I did.

Then today I spent time with my sister-in-books, Aravis. She's helping me rework the Meeting's website* (to be honest, I'm not doing much more than providing login information while she's doing all the heavy lifting). Once again I realized how lucky I am to have her in my life. We talked books, health, school, etc. and then got down to work. All this and I got laptop envy (she has this, which isn't available any more so I got this to replace my dead laptop and soon-to-die desktop). What'd she get out of the bargain? Lunch and a bag'o'books (mostly ARCs). Seems unfair somehow.

And those are only two examples! I've gotten some great phone calls and e-mails from people recently, some with invitations to get together with friends... it's almost enough to make this homebody/lazygal get busy socializing!




* credit also to Thing Two for helping with the initial set-up of the site

6.8.11

Don't Presume

Recently, some things have happened that make me wonder what others are thinking.  I'm talking about the presumptions we have about other's thoughts, ideas, motivations, etc. despite evidence to the contrary.

Here's an example: Person A screens their calls, using Caller ID and an answering machine.  Person B calls but the Caller ID shows "out of area" (or "blocked call" or something similar), so Person A doesn't pick up.  Person B then takes umbrage that their call went to voice mail, despite being told by Person A that would happen.  Huh?  If Person B knows that will happen and wants to avoid it, they could e-mail saying they'll call at a specific time, or find some other way of letting Person A know when they're trying to call so that the call will be picked up.

Another example: Person A is holding a party.  Persons B and C aren't on the best terms, so Person A asks Person B if they should invite Person C.   Miss Manners would suggest that Person A invite both B and C, under the assumption that they'll behave because they both like A and they're adults.  Besides, if C finds out that A (with whom they though they had a good relationship) allowed B to make the decision, won't that ruin the A-C connection?

A third example: Person A says "my knees hurt" - Person B shouldn't then decide that A has the exact same problem with their knees that B has.  It could be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, a simple strain, or any number of other things.  Telling A that they're treating their knees incorrectly doesn't help A at all.

Or what about Person A loving kabuki, while Person B has no interest whatsoever.  Person A's insistence that B come to shows will only create stress in the relationship.

And finally, Person A suffers a loss or is going through a stress-filled stretch.  They say they really don't want to talk about it - yet Person B insists on calling and talking, while Person C sends funny cards just to say they're there, whenever Person A needs.  Guess which on Person A will finally open up to?

Reality is, we're all different.  The medical, physical and emotional things that trouble me are not the same as those that trouble any one else - they may be close, but they're not the same.  And the way in which I deal with things is different than the way others deal with them.  That doesn't make my way right, and yours wrong, it just means that they're different.

My claim isn't to perfection in this area, but my goal is to get better about presuming that what I need or want or feel in a situation is what others need or want or feel, and to assume that adults can be - and act like - adults (difficult as that may be to believe on a daily basis).  The stress of doing otherwise is mental clutter I just don't need, do you?

30.7.11

Who Came Before...

I've been cleaning up my house and came across a set of photos that show the Original Three cats: Howard, Pravda and Marlowe.  Howard you've read about, Pravda and Marlowe were litter-ally siblings that Thing One brought with him when we moved in together.  These are my favorite photos - hope you enjoy them.


This is Howard in his role as Business Cat (note the Filofax!)


Pravda (aka "Poo") was a very feminine cat, flirting with any male in sight.  She was particularly distressed when Howard proved immune to her wiles!  Isn't she just sooooo cute?


One of these things is not like the others...


Poo and Marlowe were often found curled up together.  I don't think I have any photos of him alone, but Marlowe was a talkative kitty who seemed to think that all humans were related to Thing and never understood why our hands didn't follow him around when he wanted to be scratched.


And finally, all three together on the couch.  Yes, Howard is larger than both of them together.  Blame the steroids he took to control his asthma.

For those following the Herd's progress:

Howard (1987 - 1998)
Pravda aka "Poo" (1987 - 2000)
Marlowe (1987 - 2000)
Bogart aka "Bogie" or "Monster" (1995 - )
Mallory aka "Squeaky" (1999 - )
Lulu aka "Lump" (2000 - 2008)
Greta (2008 - )
Francis (2008 - )
Cyd aka "Squid" or "Squidlette" (2010 - )

Yes.  Many of them have nicknames.  Sue us.

22.7.11

Culture Vulturing

So, how does Lazygal spend her time January through June, besides reading? Well, this Lazygal watched a ton of tv... rented 31 movies and 8 tv series from Netflix... and then there were the shows and concerts. Herewith the reviews:

January brought John Gabriel Borkman at BAM. Don't know the play? Then you clearly weren't reading my blog back then, when I reviewed the play.

February was That Championship Season, with Keifer Sutherland, Chris Noth, Jason Patric and others. The language was dated - but the themes were timeless. If you don't know the play (or movie) it's the reunion of a championship basketball team at their coaches. Things Get Said... Incidents Revealed. Of course there's tension and the Big Resolution scene. The surprise for me was Jason Patric, whom I really didn't know as an actor. Noth was, well, solid and Keifer had a few Jack Bauer-like moments, but it really was Patric that struck me. Someone to watch for!

In March I spent a wonderful night listening to the Sima Trio play at an unusual location - DROM. The combination of ethnic and classical music in a more rock setting was interesting, as was the crowd. It was a short concert, only five numbers, but it felt like more would have been too much. They're playing similar, small venues and I recommend seeing them.

April was not the cruelest month - it was the busiest. First came Company, the all-star concert version that has been playing in movie theatres and will probably become a whine week staple on PBS. Much of it was enjoyable, but nothing grabbed me and made me think "wow!". Maybe it was the all-star casting, some not known for their musical abilities (Stephen Colbert) or the fact that they didn't have much time to rehearse as an ensemble. Most numbers were sketchy in terms of choreography, which was understandable. The two disappointments for me were Patti LuPone's "Ladies Who Lunch" and Neil Patrick Harris' "Being Alive". While Patti's voice didn't do that annoying warble it occasionally lapses into, I didn't feel the song the way I have done (as when Elaine Stritch or even Barbara Walsh sing it); NPH was perfectly fine up to the end, but, sadly, his voice just didn't carry "Being Alive". All-in-all, this was an all-star version of a high school production.

Then came King Lear, starring the incredible Derek Jacobi. The set was very minimalist, so your imagination had to take you to the locale: the rainstorm was one of those amazing stunts that will stick in my mind. Of course the acting was up to Jacobi's standard, with Gina McKee's Goneril reminding me a little of her Irene Forsythe. The other sisters were credible, but the real drama was the Edmund/Edgar conflict, with Edmund chewing what scenery there was and Edgar quietly going about his business.

Finally, there was kd lang previewing her new album at La Poisson Rouge. Despite a long wait to get into the venue, and the overheated space, it was so worth it. She's in good voice, and the intimate setting highlighted that. Having seen her at much larger spaces (Radio City, for example), I can say that the smaller space is better. So if you have the option, grab it. And kd? She could sing the phone booth and sound incredible. It's still one of the great puzzles that she's not a bigger star than she is.

Finally, we come to May and War Horse. Sniff! The story is obvious, with the big emotional moments telegraphed from miles away. Since this is based on a children's book, there's little subtlety. And yet... somehow, it works. Yes, those are puppets (amazing puppets, but puppets all the same) on stage. And yes, the message hits you over the head. But if you don't respond to the show, well, there's something wrong with you. My favorite puppet was actually the goose, which was really one of those push toys the children have, but within a few moments the goose had become real. I went with Thing One and another friend; the friend and I were in tears, as was most of the audience, while Thing One was dry-eyed. Says a lot about Thing One, doesn't it? And I honestly believe that the Speilberg movie version will lack that emotional punch, so come to NYC and see the play instead.

This fall is currently a little sparse, with Blondie at the Highline my only current plans.  However, one never knows... and Thing One did want to see a lot of ballet last year.  Maybe this year, we will.