Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Great Presidential Photos

This week's ALA e-newsletter included a link to this great blog post on photos of presidents. The post includes 22 funny, interesting, and/or awkward photos from presidential libraries. It's nice to see that heads of state can appear in just as strange of photos as the rest of us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy birthday, Jane!

Today, in honor of Jane Austen's 234th birthday, I am sharing a short poem from the authoress's juvenilia:

At Eastbourne Mr. Gell

At Eastbourne Mr. Gell, From being perfectly well,
Became dreadfully ill, For love of Miss Gill.
So he said, with some sighs, I'm the slave of your iis;
Oh, restore, if you please, By accepting my ees.

In reading this poem, it is interesting to note that Mr. Gell and Miss Gill were in fact real people; the young Miss Austen read a newspaper announcement of the marriage of Mr. Gell to Miss Gill of Eastbourne and, being so tickled by the similarity of their names, wrote this little ditty. Talent, indeed, I think.

Take fifteen minutes or so today and reread your favorite Jane Austen passages; or, if it better suits you, watch your favorite scenes in whichever film versions you prefer. Whatever you do, take a moment to celebrate the birthday of a literary genius like Jane!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Remember when I was talking about Jane Austen sequels? And how they kind of don't live up to the real thing? At all? Not even close?

Well, way before the uber-expansion of the Austen sequel genre, there was Scarlett. I remember picking it up in the bookstore one day after I had read Gone With the Wind. It starts something like "Mrs. Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler..." That's a lot of names. And quite a way to start a sequel, right?

I never read that book, but I recently watched the (EXTREMELY LONG) miniseries version of it with my best friend. We sat through the whole thing over the course of two weekend visits. And let me tell you, it was a lot of overly-dramatic nonsense to sit through.

And then, the end.

Now, do you remember how GWTW ends? "After all, tomorrow is another day!" That's epic, completely epic.

But then you have the end of Scarlett: "That's a lot of property." ** I'm not kidding you. Those are the last words. THE LAST WORDS. Doesn't that just make you mad? And I just sat through the whole darn 7 hour movie, I didn't even read the big honkin' book.

I really think there should be some kind of sequels police. Scarlett, go straight to jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.

**In case you think I'm joking, watch the video clip from about the 8:45 mark. Then, around the 9:25 mark, go ahead and get mad.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving! (Now let's eat.)

For those of you who need something to do to stay out of the kitchen while Thanksgiving dinner is in progress, I have an interesting distraction.

Check out this great graphic slideshow from the New York Times; it maps the relative occurrence of 50 Thanksgiving food recipe searches on yesterday, state by state. I found it particularly interesting to discover which foods are traditional in the Midwest (corn casserole, peanut butter pie) vs. the South (macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie) vs. the Northeast (butternut squash) vs. the Great Plains (cherry pie) vs. the West (yams), etc.

Funny, slider stuffing was nowhere to be found among the top 50 search terms. Strange.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oxford University Press Word of the Year

I got an e-mail this morning informing me that the Oxford University Press has compiled it's list of new and popular words from 2009, culminating in their selection of the 2009 word of the year:


I understand the timeliness and social relevance of "unfriend," but it's kind of a downer of the word. Lexically, isn't the selection of "unfriend" as word of the year basically summing up 2009 as a year of variable friendships? Not so positive an idea.

Let's hope 2010 brings us words with more positive connotations.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

2012: The Movie

By now, it's pretty much common knowledge that I love the movie Independence Day. I love it for many reasons: Bill Pullman as the President; Jeff Goldblum's cheeky geekiness; the idea of world unity; the pre-battle Independence Day speech that makes me get all teary-eyed every. single. time.

I also, despite the sardonic disapproval of some others, love Armageddon. Despite the fact that some people somehow find it campy and silly, I always enjoy watching it. Even though I know substantial parts of it by heart. I mean, come on! Billy Bob Thornton as a NASA genius? Bruce Willis as a guy who shoots a gun on an oil rig? The biggest bunch of misfits who are the only people who can save the Earth from destruction? And (again) a speech that inevitably makes me cry?

My love for these two movies should have indicated that I'd love 2012, as well. I was still a bit skeptical, though, right up until the movie started. Once it had gotten going, I knew I was going to love it, too.

Now, I'm not a huge fan of conspiracies (middle school Amy, however, was a totally different story), and I find all of this 2012 Apocalypse hoopla to be nonsense. But let me tell you, it makes a great premise for a disaster movie.

2012 got everything right as far as disaster movies go: it gave proper explanation for the disaster at hand, gave said disaster impressive (but not over-the-top) special effects, but at the same time did not treat the disaster as the main character. It has all of the different, appealing, and ultimately intertwined relationships as ID4. It has all the last minute heroics of Armageddon. It has suspense and intrigue and questions about humanity and, ultimately, that all-important sense of we're all in this together.

And, yes, it made me cry.

Surprise, surprise.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th of November

Today is my momma's 50th birthday. How exciting is that?

I'm heading home to the Region today to celebrate her birthday weekend with her (obviously) and pretty much the whole family. I can't wait to see everyone, and to give my mom a big hug especially!

**Interesting fact: Today, her 50th birthday, is Friday the 13th. She was, apparently, also born on Friday the 13th. What to make of that?


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cloud-Watching, Drawing, and Haikus

Once upon a time, there was a land in which everything was strange and wonderful. All of the people in this land always had fun -- ALWAYS.

And it shouldn't be hard to imagine why, because their days were full of adventures in the trees, building sandcastles of ancient cities on the sandy shore, and reclining near the mulberry trees to cloud-watch, draw, and write haikus. In this land, every cloud looked like something spectacular; every drawing was worthy of being in the Louvre; and every haiku was perfect, regardless of whether it contained exact 5-7-5 structure.

In this land, the nights were full of songs and happy shouts and wonderfully sticky cooked-over-the-fire concoctions. Even the worst of storms was an excuse for singing.

And in this land, birthdays were an occasion for a jolly good catch-up with an old, furry friend or two.

Who could not be always having fun?

This land existed. Exists. It is where we carry it. The people of this land cannot miss it, because it is always with them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ode to a Library Card

From the original post:

Ode To A Library Card

by Anne Waldman

Ah modest microcosm-
gateway to vast diamond worlds
vital imaginations!
An admission ticket, a permission
You are so much more satisfying
than television, and quieter
We want to unplug & sign up now!
O library card
You connect us to outer space,
ancient histories, modern too,
engrossing fiction, wild poetry
diverse languages, tantalizing cultures,
deep politics, traveling from the Jurassic along unfathomable future neural pathways
You, marvelous library card
Friend to the citizen, unlocking the universe
Endless source of panoramic knowledge
Panacea to all ignorance & ill!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A chicken in Amy's pot

Today I roasted my first chicken.

I guess that might sound rather anticlimactic when one considers that I roasted my family's Thanksgiving turkey last year, but that feat was achieved well within the supervision of my extremely cooking-savvy mother. This chicken was roasted all on my own.

Right now I'm feeling incredibly satisfied, having enjoyed the juicy wonderment of a Nigella-style chicken (it's so simple, really!) with a healthy helping of creamy homemade mashed potatoes. The broccoli that was meant to give color and more vitamins to the meal ended up being a bit too old to eat, but that really didn't affect the overall caliber of the meal. Nothing could, when the chicken was this good.

There's just something satisfying in knowing that I have the chicken-roasting skill in my kitchen arsenal. And now I'm working on the chicken-soup-from-roast-chicken skill, too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hmm, zombies again?

I'm feeling a little let down, despite general intrigue and excitement, about the recently-announced 3rd book from Quirk Classics: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls. On the one hand, it's good that they're trying to give their first zombie hit a bit of back story.

On the other hand, why are they doing a prequel already? Do people not realize that Jane Austen wrote more than just P&P and S&S? Because, honestly, Persuasion and Pod People would work so well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mario and Luigi

I've only every really played one video game: Super Mario World, on the SNES I got for my 10th(?) birthday. As a result of my commitment to this single video game, I have a strong nostalgia for all (most?) things Mario. That movie everyone hates? I love it.

But, this. I already don't like the Wii. But this new Wii Mario, where the game can play itself if you get stumped? Don't you think that's defeating the point of the whole playing the game? And, unfortunately, it's just adding to the whole instant gratification that is leading these new generations of young people astray. You can't do it yourself? No problem! Someone will do it for you.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Literary Crushes, again

After substantial consideration, I have determined that compiling a list of ten literary crushes is not a possibility for me; I simply haven't read that many books with the literary-crush frame of mind. I can, however, give you my top three:

1. Captain Frederick Wentworth, Jane Austen's Persuasion
2. Tristran Thorn, Neil Gaiman's Stardust
3. Jake Barnes, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises

I love Captain Wentworth for his very human responses to the complications of true love, and for his eternal devotedness to his Anne, and for his remarkable letter-writing abilities.

I love Tristran Thorn for his general bumbling-ness, and for his mortal/Lord of Stormhold mix, and for his ability to finally see the shimmer of love accompanying him.

I love Jake Barnes for his devout affection, and for his ex-pat cynicism, and for his "isn't it pretty to think so" attitude.

All good men, I assure you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Who are your top ten literary crushes?

My well-read friend posted her weekly literary list last night. This week's list is her top ten literary crushes (and good ones they are, too!). I'm going to try to think of my top ten; you should, too! Go ahead and sound of in the comments.

They Might Be Giants

Last night I went with my roommate to a concert in Indy. The band was They Might Be Giants, and all I knew about them before last night was that a) they sing the Malcolm in the Middle theme song, and b) their cover of Istanbul (Not Constantinople) was on the Muppets one time. That's it.

The concert ended up being fantastic! They Might Be Giants is definitely a nerdy band, with songs like "I am a Paleontologist," "Meet the Elements," and a song about meteor/ites called "What is a Shooting Star?" As I remarked to my roommate last night, it's refreshing to know that a band can be fun and cool without having a myriad of tattoos, being incredibly profane, and packing heat.

Some highlights from the evening:
  • the opening act, The Guggenheim Grotto (try their single "Waking Up in America"; it should totally be in a movie!)
  • the woman in front of me in line to get into the club; she had on an acid-washed denim jacket with the old school Nickelodeon logo on the back
  • the large proportion of concert-goers who were wearing glasses (this proportion far outstripped that in normal, everyday life)
  • the large proportion of concert-going males who looked like Seth Rogan (again, much higher than in real life)
  • the abundance of multi-colored confetti that was propelled from the stage
  • the sock puppets
If you don't know much about They Might Be Giants, check them out. I'm glad I did!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Two things about me

  1. Today I discovered my first gray hair.
  2. I am not above putting on a sweater over my pajamas so I won't get cold while eating an icee pop.


As I was getting ahead on some reading today, I came across this gem of a passage:

"...true bibliography is the bridge to textual, which is to say literary, criticism. Before a critic can attempt a definitive evaluation of the contents of any book he must be in possession of every fact which has any bearing on the history of its text." -from Fredson Bowers's 1949 Principles of Bibliographic Description

Really, Fredson? We need to know everything about a book -- its history, context, physical makeup -- before we can do any legitimate literary analysis of its literary contents? Really? Because I really do not buy that argument.

I would offer that the variety of packagings that encase most any book these days -- think the variety of bindings of any given book you read in college, where you might have a different copy, different cover than the person next to you -- stands in direct opposition to this claim for bibliographic necessity. So what if my cover is different than yours? The words are the same, and it's the words I'm analyzing!

I think that these sorts of statements -- the ones that inflate the importance of the appearance and condition of a physical volume at the near-total expense of consideration of content -- are exactly what bother me about the rare book world. I am always hesitant when library students say they want to be librarians because they "love books"; after all, a love of books alone cannot be sufficient to do well in what is primarily a service profession. That said, however, I do love books. And I love them because of the stories, the ideas, and the information that they contain. I love them because of what their words can do. I really think that someone who loves books for their trappings and trimmings -- who judges books by their covers, or their rarity -- is seriously lacking in their book experience.

And yes, while statements that expound on the book's physical virtues alone make me angry, my ultimate emotion is quite different. Ultimately, I feel sorry for you if you can't/don't/won't look deeper, because I can assure you that you are missing something grand.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Food Porn Cookie Conspiracy

Before anyone gets offended or shocked by the title of this post, let me clarify what food porn is. Food porn is the colloquial name for all those pretty, glossy, want-to-tear-out-and-eat-the-page pictures of food that are becoming more and more common in cookbooks but which have been a staple in food magazines (R.I.P. Gourmet) for quite some time. Food porn is the technique largely used to get people to make the recipes featured in these resources. If it looks good, readers will want to make it. Makes sense, right?

But I think I've discovered a conspiracy within cookie food porn. No matter what type of cookie, not matter from what magazine I got the recipe, my cookies always turn out much darker and crispier than those featured in the food porn photos. It might be my oven, you say? Maybe, but I've noticed this over-baked-ness for quite some time now, during which period I've worked regularly with five very different ovens, always with the same results. Coincidence? I think not!

Here's my theory: fully cooked cookies, at least of the type that the magazines hype today, are simply not as pretty as undercooked cookies, which they photograph. But off course said magazines cannot publish under-cooked cookie instructions because of possible negative health side effects. So, instead, they publish over-cooked instructions next to under-cooked photos, leaving the reader to wonder at the perpetual crispness of their supposed-to-be-soft-and-chewy cookies. The nerve.

I see two options: 1) don't try cookie recipes found in magazines, or 2) when I do try magazine cookie recipes, decrease the cookie time or oven temperature to some degree.

I've never had this problem with Betty Crocker cookies, by the way.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I like books AND bikes!

This guy exercises his mind and his body with his Book Bike. What a wonderful idea!

I particularly like his statement that "cause publishing" is the future of publishing. It may be idealistic, but hey, whatever gets the ball rolling.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jane, Jane, Jane...

I've spent practically my entire morning compiling a list of Austen sequels published since 1980. I have a good reason for doing it -- a class assignment. I do have to wonder, though, if the writers of these sequels have good reasons for writing what they have. The genre of Austen-based writings, you see, is much larger than I would have guessed.

To illustrate:
  • my current bibliography lists 102 titles, all of which are specifically sequels to Jane Austen's works; they are not books that are simply based in the Regency period, books that retell Austen's tales in a more modern setting, or books that feature Austen herself as a crime-solver (not even joking)
  • those 102 titles were written by 46 authors, some of whom are one-time Austen-sequel writers, others of whom seem to not write about anything else
  • of those 46 writers, 3 are named Jane
  • only 2 of the authors were actually related to Jane Austen and may have some vague claim to continuing her creative legacy
Now, as I'm sure we've all established, I do love Jane Austen. But really, have we nothing better to write (or read!!) about?

Saturday, October 3, 2009


On the one hand, I thoroughly enjoy scrolling through the Cake Wrecks blog from time to time. It's fun to see the interesting decorating decision of professionals...

On the other hand, I was rather proud of the cake I made (triple layer vanilla bean cake with white chocolate buttercream) for my roommate's birthday party last night:

It may look like a cake wreck to you, but the party was a murder mystery dinner party. So the cake decorator was murdered with the knife sticking out of the cake. Get it?

Regardless, it tasted delicious.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Revenge of the Chandler-Style Sweater Vests

Remember how on the TV show Friends Chandler's penchant for wearing sweater vests was a relatively consistent butt of jokes? Well, I suppose I laughed right along with the canned laughter on the show, but that was way before I had seen my friend who teaches modeling his new teacher wardrobe.

Take that, predictable fashion jokes!

And not only does he look great in his sweater vest ensembles, he teaches the youth of America too. Check him out!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A sign that perhaps things have gone too far

I've been moderately interested in graffiti for several years now. My casual interest in what people choose to write on an available surface in moments of boredom or as an attempt at leaving a lasting presence only deepened when, in college, I attended a lecture on ancient Greek marketplaces and learned that the same types of graffiti that are most common now -- think "So-and-so was here" and phallic drawings -- were also common then, when one had to actually carve into a rock surface to leave a message.

Today, however, I encountered something entirely out of the realm of what I'm used to. What I thought was just regular bathroom-stall scrawling quickly proved to be out of the ordinary: practically every message written in this particular stall was an opinion of some guy named Edward.

Some vampire, as it turns out. (Perhaps it is relevant information that this all occurred at a Borders store.)

There were many messages to the effect of "Edward is hot" and "Edward sucks," with corresponding responses and occasional cross-outs. But there was one message that went beyond: "Edward isn't real, but he represents the ideal man."

I kid you not.

On the one hand, maybe it's good that girls are graffiti-ing about a creepo chastity club vampire. It means they're reading, right?

On the other hand, it means they're reading that drivel. And then applying it directly to their lives and ideas about ideal men.

And people say my love of Jane Austen novels is bad.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

So you want to write a story...

...but you don't know where to start? Try this!

It's a rather fabulous sci-fi-ish story generator, something akin to Mad Libs but with choices so that no one picks intentionally sexual words that in the end make no sense. What would your story be about?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another reason to love Bloomington

On Tuesday mornings I have one of my rare books classes, and then in the afternoon I volunteer in the children's department at the public library. These two commitments leave a gap of just over an hour during which I can walk from campus to the main drag toward downtown and grab my lunch. Already, it's a really pleasant scenario.

Last week, as I was making this said walk at said time, I heard music. Turns out the City of Bloomington sponsors a Tuesday lunch concert in a little park right along the main street. Last week I got my bagel to go and grabbed a seat at one of the picnic tables surrounding the music. It was remarkably pleasant, and I made a mental note to return this week.

And woah, am I glad I did! Today, in celebration of it now being autumn, the lunchtime concert was not the only goings-on. There were also a few informal booths: one where you could pick a pumpkin and win a prize (I did!); one where you could try some pumpkin bagels (I only discovered this after I had eaten lunch, unfortunately); one where you could get some apple cider (currently in my fridge); and one where you could get some homemade pumpkin ice cream (it was marvelous!). Talk about a fun, impromptu, welcome-to-fall festival!

I absolutely love it here, and I haven't even seen the beauty of the leaves turning yet.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Star Wars

I was watching the Star Wars trilogy on tv today (because apparently it takes me an entire weekend to recover from going out on a Friday night... wow, 23), and my total familiarity with the movie got me wondering. Back in the day when I first saw the film -- i.e. when I wasn't able to anticipate every line pretty much exactly -- did I feel more suspense with the storyline? Would I get concerned about the fate of the characters? Basically, did I at one point react to the movies' plot twists with genuine curiosity as to what would follow?

It just got me thinking about what the various appeals of movies are. I know several people who will watch a movie once and then never watch it again. And they don't repeat movies because they didn't like them, just because they've already seen them already. They know what's going to happen, so no use in watching it again. I suppose I'm like that with some movies. And I definitely enjoy sitting in a dark theatre or just at home on the couch watching a plot-twist filled movie for the first time. It's exciting to not know what'll happen, how things will end.

But at the same time, I love having personal "standard" movies, ones that I can watch over and over and over and never really get sick of. Like the Star Wars movies (ahem, the real ones). There's something comforting about knowing what's what on screen and not having to get too invested in the fates of the characters. And besides, if you watch the same things over and over, you're still bound to find new things in them, new ways of looking at old favorites. Really, that's probably what I love most about movies: seeing something new amidst the comforts of familiarity.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Another Jane Austen something

We all know I love Jane Austen. Love. As in, to the point where I will willingly finish some not-so-good, practically-fan-fiction books simply because they give me a little fix.

But I legit like this great little piece of imagination that was in this month's Jane Austen Centre Newsletter. It poses an interesting question indeed: What would Jane Austen do if she had a wifi-enabled laptop?

Notice the great picture that accompanies the short piece as well.

A day in the world of rare books

Today, as I sat in my chair in the Lilly Library during my Rare Books Librarianship class, my professor pulled a book off of the library cart he'd wheeled in for the class. He was making a point, I know; I just can't remember what that point was. Why, you ask?

Because he opened the book to the title page, and it looked like this:

I was a mere six inches away from a First Folio of Shakespeare. So close that I could see the little details, like the fact that the "W" in William was actually printed using two "V"s (as in VVilliam Shakespeare). I could smell the book.*

Holy moly.

I think my complete and utter awe means I'm in the right sorts of classes.

*A certain well-read friend has taught me that the smell of a book can be a very important visceral part of reading. Try it. You'll notice that your books smell differently.

Monday, September 14, 2009

RIP Patrick Swayze

Seeing as this blog is loosely named after a line from Dirty Dancing, I think it is appropriate for me to mention Patrick Swayze's passing. He had pancreatic cancer -- a notoriously hard-to-beat illness which claimed my high school government teacher as well -- and lasted much longer than anyone would have guessed. And, if you ask me, he had the proper attitude throughout: fight it, yes, but don't fight it so hard that your remaining time is unbearable.

An interesting cartoon series from a now-popular author

Audrey Niffenegger -- a.k.a. that woman who wrote The Time Traveler's Wife -- wrote a series of comics for the Guardian newspaper starting a year and a half ago. The series is titled The Night Bookmobile. Obviously, the name alone was enough to get me sufficiently interested. But trust me, if you've got, oh, maybe 20 minutes of free time, you should definitely check it out. (Make sure you start with the first frame, the one publish 31 May 2008.) By the end, it combines two of my very favorite things: libraries and Airstream trailers. Brilliant.

Side note: The main character and time traveler in Niffenegger's novel-cum-feature film was employed by the Newberry Library in Chicago. Then she wrote a comic about a library... Do I sense a theme?

Sighting! (kinda)

Yesterday, coming out of church, there was this guy pulling into the parking lot who looked like a my-age version of McGee. No joke.

I thought about turning my car around to feign having forgotten something in order to get a better look / maybe meet him, but then I thought better of it. With things like that, if it's meant to be it'll happen, right?

Anyway, I was excited.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

An odd sort of homesickness

Today, while I was sitting on the #6 bus heading home after a work meeting, I was suddenly overcome by a wash of homesickness. For Scotland.

All it took, strangely enough, was a look at the sign stating that riders must use correct change to purchase their bus fare, as drivers cannot make change. That got me thinking about the intercity buses in Aberdeen, where drivers do make change when you purchase your fare. And they make change with wonderful, cool, pound coins, which are really so much more practical than paper dollars when you're talking about small monetary denominations.

That got me thinking of taking the bus from Aberdeen to Stonehaven, the city with a variety of Dunnottar-y hiking activities. Like a ruined castle on a gorgeous peninsula. Or the fairy tale-like "bath" swimming area on the old Dunnottar property.

By the time I got off the bus, I was a bit frustrated at the beautiful 70-degree Indiana September evening weather. Why couldn't it be 55 degrees, like it is in Scotland?

Why is the sky never as blue here?

I miss it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ice Cream

I consider it a matter of personal pride that I can eat a well-scooped waffle cone of ice cream, regardless of how hot the temperature outside, without any of my ice cream melting sloppily and giving me the grown-up equivalent of jam hands.

I have now tried three ice cream places here in Bloomington: Jiffy Treat, the Chocolate Moose, and Brusters. All are really good. For year-roundedness compounded with quirkiness, however, I shall have to give Bruster's the highest ice cream honors. Go there!

Air guitar anyone?

Check this out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Something sad

Honestly, who would ever think of a library without books as being a good idea? It barely even makes sense to call such a book-less place a library! What is this world coming to?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another reason why Glamour just doesn't live up to JANE

This month's reason why Glamour magazine could never even hope to live up to the memory of JANE magazine, even though JANE readers were told to replace their magazine-allegiance with the fashion-y women's mag after JANE folded one sad day in 2007:

Glamour actually had to ask readers if having a stripper pole in your bedroom is a do or a don't.
And 30% of readers said it was a do.

Come on, people! Seriously???

(Glamour, October 2009, pg. 57)

Of all the mortifying things in the world

Doing some reading for one of my rare books classes, I stumbled upon this phrase:

"...nothing is so mortifying as to discover an imperfection in a book which has been on one's shelves for years."

Now, maybe it's just me, but I can think of a lot of things more mortifying than that. It could be that I'm not interested in rare books from a personal collection standpoint -- collectors must have pride in their collected items, after all -- but instead drawn to rare books librarianship. I want to work with these old texts, not have them for having's sake.

Regardless, though, I can still think of more mortifying scenarios. Like falling of the bus into a crowd of people. Like spilling food on my fancy dress at the beginning of the party. Like spilling food on someone else's fancy dress, regardless of how long the party will continue to last. Like getting divorced on reality tv. Like being on reality tv in general.

Do I make my point? And is it just me?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I love the ALA weekly newsletter!

Today's wonderfulness:
Doesn't it all just make you want to be a librarian, too?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


It seems that when you've been on a semi-hiatus from your blog because of a temporary change of scenery (read: going home), starting up again can prove rather difficult. I just haven't been thinking my usual thoughts in any sort of blog-aware way. I just think them, without considering how they might translate to here. Strange, right? Regular thought. Imagine.

So I suppose the moral of this post is that I can't think of anything interesting to post about. I'll try to be more conscious of self tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I got so lost on campus today that I had to call a friend from high school who goes to IU in order to figure out where I was and how to get to where I had meant to go. That never happened at DePauw. Or at Aberdeen. Why now? Craziness.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The small happinesses of a future librarians

Yesterday I got my first ever ILL (inter-library loan) book from the Library of Congress. I had a Library of Congress seal in it and everything. And you know something belongs to the Library of Congress when they stipulate that sure, you can borrow this, but you can't take it out of your own library. It was lovely.

It was a pretty awesome book, too, on the Gardens at Versailles. Which are very lovely themselves.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's not eavesdropping if they're talking loudly

I overheard this remark while leaving the public library this evening:

"I wasn't expecting so many girls to have rocks on their fingers, when I came here!"

Evidently it is not only for female students to remark upon how many of their male classmates are either married or engaged. Good to know.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On the last day of class

Two things:
  1. In my class this evening, the professor asked if we had any questions about our take-home finals, which are due Thursday. I was the only student to ask any questions, and I asked three. Are you not supposed to ask questions about exams in grad school? Or am I the only one who's actually looked at the exam and so could ask questions at all? I really don't know.
  2. SLIS does their course evaluations via Scantron. When we pulled the Scantron sheets out of the evals envelope, a wave of panic spread over me. I hadn't seen a fill-in-the-bubble sheet since high school. The panic resulting from first seeing the Scantron suggests that perhaps I was a bit stressed out about things like tests and grades in high school. On the plus side, I seem to have mellowed out since then.

Austen Hero Order of the Day

In the style of my entry dated 22 June 2009, and in the order of my current preference (with #6 being blah and #1 being ooh la la):

6. Mr. Edmund Bertram (Mansfield Park)
5. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
4. Mr. Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility)
3. Mr. Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey)
2. Mr. George Knightly (Emma)
1. Captain Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion)

On the positives of owning up

I just finished reading a book that (surprise surprise!) is focused on a woman who really likes Jane Austen. Like most chick lit based on or around Austen, this woman has the distinct feeling that Austen has ruined her love life with such characters as Edmund Bertram and Mr. Darcy.

Now, first of all: Edmund Bertram? That nitwit? Has this author even read any other of the Austen novels? For that matter, has she read any at all? Or just watched the movies? Because, and maybe it's just me, but I would never ever ever put Edmund Bertram on any sort of pedestal even remotely associated with romantic perfection. Ever.

Second of all (which does indicate that perhaps the author is an Austen-movies-only kind of girl): Mr. Darcy is not her main character's pinnacle of romantic hero. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy holds that honor.

Now, I will agree as much as the next person that Colin First as Mr. Darcy is fantastic. Spot on. Smoldering in an "I-have-an-attitude-despite-this-frilly-neck-cloth" sort of way. And that's not even considering the (superfluous) Darcy-in-water scene (even the BBC isn't perfect?). Add that into the mix and wowza. But the thing is, that's not Darcy. Sure, I'm of the camp that Elizabeth may be a far more faulted character than her true love Darcy. But I also believe that, regardless of his affections for Elizabeth, Darcy would still treat everyone else pretty much like crap. I mean, come on, he's not even particularly polite to Caroline Bingley, and he's around her all the time. What makes any self-respecting female think that he'd treat her any differently? That he'd deign to remove his attention from Elizabeth for even a second in order to address her?

However, and maybe this has more to do with my favorite Austen hero not being Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, I have a bit of a problem with this main character's (let's just say it) obsession. Unfounded and misplaced, it may be. But still, it is hers, how she feels. And she is wholeheartedly ashamed of it.

Like to the point of hiding her Pride and Prejudice dvd set in a houseplant so that no one will find out about it.

So, let's see... is this book telling me that I should be ashamed by my Austen-philia, even though I really and truly love Jane Austen? Because I'm not ashamed, no way Jose. Nor will I be induced to think I should be ashamed. The only thing that I get out of this specific incarnation of Austen chick lit is that people should, above all else, stay true to themselves. And perhaps people wouldn't be so screwed up if they'd read and not just trust things to movies.

Oh, and maybe they shouldn't think that highly of Mr. Bertram, either.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lotus flowers...

...make for a very cheery way to begin one's Saturday!

And it's not as if I don't have anything else to look forward to today, either. I'm going to have a visitor shortly, and we shall be exploring Bloomington and the surrounding area. Maybe even going for a dip in my pool. Good food? Definitely. Good times? Most certainly!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Jane Austen and a variety of dark creatures

I know it must be rather evident, based upon my musings on this site, that I love Jane Austen. All things, Jane Austen, really, excepting those that include shaggy-haired men where there should be clean-cut gentlemen and annoying ninnies with wavering tones where there should be ladies of firm voice and character. All things Jane Austen not excepting this year's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

That's right: there exists such a thing as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And, while I was skeptical at first, I must say I am quite a fan of the book now. It really is incredibly nuanced and true to Austen's original characters. I must admit that one can learn a lot about one's favorite literary figures when the stakes of a familiar situation are changed ever so slightly.

Now, I am excited to realize, I can anticipate September 15, at which point another retelling of an Austen classic runs ashore in bookstores: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Really, it makes sense; Marianne always seemed to fancy herself something of a vixen mermaid. I cannot wait to see how this one plays out.

For now, the book trailer:

"I can't believe I gave my panties to a geek."

Right up there with "I carried a watermelon" is a particularly favorite quote of mine from Sixteen Candles: "I can't believe I gave my panties to a geek." It perfectly sums up Samantha's frustration with how stagnant and uneventful yet embarrassing her life is, even when she does something out of the ordinary (like lend her underwear to Farmer Ted). It's like she's saying, "Is this really my life?"

It's also a really great stand-alone quote. I would hope most people could identify it as being from Sixteen Candles, and for that very reason -- the quote's memorability -- it would do a great job of expressing frustration in most any life situations. Something akin to the more bland "I can't believe this is actually happening to me."

Go ahead, use the quote in everyday life. Worst case scenario, no one knows what you're talking about. [Of course, then you can just pride yourself on having better taste in and knowledge of movies than them.] Best case scenario? You'll realize that maybe your life isn't that bad; after all, you probably didn't give your panties to a geek. Right?

News of John Hughes's death made me start thinking about Sixteen Candles again. Man, was he great at those movies about how awkward yet fairy-tale-like high school can be. I love them. In fact, I think I'm going to go put Sixteen Candles in my dvd player right now...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Adventures away!

Tomorrow, my best friend and her family, as per years of tradition, shall be loading into their vehicles and heading for Minocqua, Wisconsin. It's a great place, full of Dan's Fudge and Charlie's Cheese (& ice cream!) and Minocqua Bats. And that's not even considering Paul Bunyan's, the possibility of Crazy Days, and all of the backyard fun of swimming, fishing, paddle-boating, pontoon-ing, tubing, and water-skiing on Lower Kaubashine.

I've been lucky enough to get to take part in the family vacation several summers. While I won't be joining them this summer (ah, grad school...), I know they'll have lots of fun. And I can rest easy in knowing I'll get to hear all about everything once we're all back home in the Region again a week from now.

Happy vacationing, Johnsens and Mumaughs! I'll be hoping for great weather for you =)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A self-discovery of sorts

Remember when I said that thing about how I'm not a pretty crier? Well, I may have neglected to mention that, in addition to being a not pretty crier, I can cry for nearly any reason. Case in point: shelf-reading books at the Monroe County Library this evening.

155.937. I will try my best to avoid this call number from here on out. Why? Because it's the "living with grief" section. And I'm sorry to say it, but seeing a book called After Charlotte's Mom Died just makes me sad. Teary-eyed, even. I mean, come on; add the not-cartoonish illustration on the cover (it's a children's book, after all) of a really, really sad girl clutching a teddy bear that looks similar to my Teddy, and I just don't stand a chance.

It was enough to make me want to skip ahead to the 200s and all of their redundant Bible-story glory. Now, don't get me wrong, because I love Jesus and everything. But shelf-reading the 200s would be so much easier if each Bible story didn't have its own, thin volume (multiplied by at least 5 because all the publishers want in on that market). I distinctly remember a colorful children's Bible from my youth. It had all of the important stories in there. All of them. Keeping Bible stories bound in a Bible would really speed along the shelving process.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A perfect combination?

I love Garrison Keillor, and I love fairs. Put the two together, mixed in with the great photos of National Geographic?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer reading

NPR recently took a poll to determine the best beach books ever. Perhaps not surprisingly for an NPR audience, many of the books aren't exactly your traditional beach reads -- Anna Karenina, anyone?

I have to agree with the number one best beach book, anything Harry Potter (including this great fan fiction that, as far as I'm concerned, is the eighth in the series). But I'd have to expand the number 5 Pride and Prejudice to include everything Jane Austen. After all, what's better than sunshine, cool waves, and some serious romance to make it feel like summer?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Matt Connor!

I just got back from Detroit for my cousin Matt's wedding. Let me tell you, this was a five-star affair! The ceremony was beautiful; the bride was unbelievably lovely; the groom and groomsmen wore Chucks; and the reception was a full-blown East-meets-West party extravaganza.

I decided to let the photographers handle all the photos, and so I only have my one shot to share with you: the cake. Atop the four-tiered cake, instead of the traditional bride and groom, there are spun sugar figures of a kangaroo and a male deer. The kangaroo is for Romey, who grew up in Australia; and the buck is for my cousin Matt, who hails from Michigan. The cake was gorgeous and tasty--which is the best kind of wedding cake, really!

I'm so excited for my cousin and his new bride. Congrats, Matt and Romey Connor!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A challenge...

Can you guess what children's song this is?:

"Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivivic,

Would I could fathom thy matter specific.

Lustily proud in the ether capacious,

Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous."

[oh, diction, how fond I am of you!]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Two highlights from today's American Library Association e-mail

  1. Evidently libraries are hotbeds of sexual tension -- in particular the British Library (which happens to be my favorite library, although for their treasures and not the whole sexual tension thing)
  2. The strange and wonderful phenomenon of marginalia gets its 15 minutes of fame in my favorite UK paper, the Guardian.
Aren't libraries just dandy?!?!

Observations at the Monroe County Fair

  1. Why are all bunnies so cute? I thought I could deal with bunny cuteness when the only bunnies I ever saw were the relatively plain brown ones found outside all over Indiana. But now that I know there are bajillions of types of bunnies, and all of them adorable? It's too much!
  2. When one rooster crows in the poultry pavilion, be prepared to exit said pavilion. Apparently roosters have some sort of mine-is-bigger contest prompted when one of their own lets out a crow. I wonder how far we can analyze that...
  3. There are lots of kids in Monroe County who appear to be rather crafty. They cook, sew, scrapbook, take photos, draw, make jewelry, build things with Legos, build things with flowers, decorate cakes, etc. And that's not even getting into the traditional 4-H events.
  4. Despite how things work at my home county's county fair (or, at least, despite how I remember them working; I haven't been to the Lake County Fair since my mom swore never to take my brother and I back when I was maybe 9), food vendors are not particularly open for lunch. How's a girl supposed to get an elephant ear??

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Good one, Grandma!

This conversation happened for real when I went with my mom and aunt to visit my grandma in the hospital over the weekend. It's safe to say my grandma's comment surprised us all.

(talking about some sort of party or barbecue she has/had)

Where did you go to get the meat?

Dunning's. Oh! Now I remember. Amy, I almost gave this guy your number while I was there.

(raises eyebrows skeptically)

He was tall and in an Army shirt. He seemed nice.

I would rather you didn't give my information to random men you see at delis.

Dunning's is more than a deli!

Yeah, they have the best foods. And lots of cute, younger guys seem to shop there.


It's a real meat market.

[Side note: My grandma seems to be doing better, at least better enough to be moved from the main hospital to their physical rehab center. If you're the praying type, however, I'd appreciate it if you keep her in your prayers.]

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gaye Holud

This past Saturday, I went to Detroit with my parents and grandparents for my cousin and his fiancee's Gaye Holud. It's a traditional Bengali pre-marriage ceremony. According to my uncle, in traditional arranged marriages the bride and the groom often meet for the first time at the Holud. The entire ceremony is about the uniting of the two families. There's lots of gift exchanging, all of it meant to symbolize that the bride's family shall take care of the groom, and the groom's family shall take care of the bride.

Both my cousin, Matt, and his fiancee, Romey, processed into the ceremony under canopies. He followed a procession of all his present family; she followed a procession of all unmarried friends and women in her family.

Once the groom and the bride processed into the ceremony, they were seated in fancy chairs--thrones of sorts--under a larger canopy and surrounded by foods and gifts. While they sat in their seats of honor, guests were invited to bless the couple by putting a bit of turmeric on their foreheads and feeding them something sweet.

Romey's mom was gracious enough to outfit Matt's entire family in traditional garb. That means that I got to wear the sari I purchased while in India in January 2007. I have to say, for a group of very white people unused to things like saris and tunics, we ended up looking pretty good.

Note to everyone: partying is a sari is rather comfortable. You know, for future reference.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I am glad to once again be a prime numbered age. Yay 23!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Thought

Today, as I was walking back to my apartment from the bus after my morning class, I passed an almost two-dimensional chipmunk. At first I thought it was a big leaf on the asphalt, but as I was walking past it I noticed that tell-tale chipmunk striping. It was like some crazy optical illusion. I love chipmunks, so seeing this poor guy completely run over and splatted on the ground was sad.

Now, I'm normally a person who is entirely grossed out, to the point of reflexive shuddering, by roadkill without even the smallest trace of blood or guts to hint at its demise. And that's driving past said roadkill at 50+ miles per hour. So you'd think I'd be completely horrified by this chipmunk, right? Especially since I was walking past it, and not all too fast?

Not so. Didn't bother me a bit.

I think maybe I've been watching a little too much NCIS, with all of their graphic murder victims and autopsy-table close-ups.

Things to look forward to

I'm pretty excited about this upcoming weekend. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I'll be driving home to the Region in the morning. Plans for tomorrow include hanging out with my brother; seeing what the heck is wrong with my phone battery; the best pizza in the world; my favorite birthday cake, which my mom makes wonderfully; and a show starring two of my best friends.

Then on Saturday I'm off with the family to Detroit for a Gaye Holud -- a Bengali pre-marriage ceremony in which the bride's family and the groom's family exchange gifts and, in general, get to celebrate the forthcoming joining of the two. I'm pretty excited; I had never even heard of a Gaye Holud until this spring when my cousin's soon-to-be wife's family sent us the invitation. And now I have a legit excuse to wear the sari I got in India back in January of 2007! I knew there had to be a purpose for it.

Right now, my plans are to drive back to Bloomington via Greencastle on Monday so that I can see some people and attend a fun little gathering. I'm going to ignore the homework component of the weekend until it's absolutely necessary to think about it. Should be fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The beauty of a Wednesday

Today, I did not make my bed.

I made myself a big breakfast of potatoes, eggs, and cheese with a glass of oj.

I did not get out of my pajamas until I went out to get the mail around 3 o'clock.

I spent a bit of time volunteering at the library.

And I watched a couple of episodes of NCIS, my recent time-waster.

It was glorious.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dear Frankie

I've gotten a little behind on watching my Netflix dvds. Today, however, with no cleaning, laundry, or homework to do, I hunkered down on the sofa to watch a film: Dear Frankie. I was immediately drawn to it when I saw a preview on some dvd or other that I actually own, both because the story looked amazing and because Emily Mortimer is in it. She's one of my favorites (Lars and the Real Girl, anyone??).

The movie was great -- even better than I had anticipated it being, which is saying something. The story is fantastically moving, and I really got into the characters. Plus, the whole thing takes place in Scotland. That accent, I think, shall forever be a soft spot for me. I am definitely recommending this movie, which is uplifting in all the right ways.

I really can't think of when I enjoyed a drama this much.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Emily Post meets the internet

Everyone's always connected nowadays, it seems. Cell phone, Twitter, Facebook, Meebo, and all of that G3 whatnot. It also seems as though connectedness and social manners are inversely related; i.e., the more connected we are, the less polite we are in general. A travesty, indeed. What ever happened to consideration?

I was happy to read today that Wired magazine will be running a piece on etiquette in the digital world in their August issue. I hope people will read it and take heed. After all, if this is the direction in which communication is going, I sure hope we can be nice to one another down the line.

  • Don't lie with your Facebook photo.
  • If you can't buy it online, feel free to BitTorrent.
  • Don't hesitate to haggle on Craigslist.
  • Don't Google-stalk before a first date.
  • Never broadcast your relationship status.
  • Texting in the company of others is OK.
  • Never BCC anyone.
  • If your call drops, call back.
  • Don't blog or tweet anything with more than half a million hits.
  • Friday, July 17, 2009

    And the winner is...

    I thought that, since I brought up the topic earlier this month, I would enlighten everyone as to the 2009 winners of the fifth annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship. Evidently the competition was a heated one. Congrats, Oak Park Public Library in Illinois!

    Take a look at the Des Plaines Public Library's second-place routine. Ah, librarianship.

    Thursday, July 16, 2009

    Words, Words, Words; Desolate, Desolate

    Tonight in my library class we were talking about vocabularies. In the context of libraries, where information and document retrieval is a constant reality, that often means controlled vocabularies. You know how you'll look in a book's index for one word, and it turns out that concept is actually indexed under a synonym (i.e. "internet" instead of "World Wide Web")? That's a practical example of a controlled vocabulary, wherein a controlled set of words is used to represent information. That way, when you want to look something up, you don't have to spend half an hour reading about a, b, and c when all you really wanted to know was x. In the context of a library, it makes everyone's job easier.

    But then we got to talking about whether it would be more efficient to just streamline everyday language as well; in other words, why don't we just get rid of all the fancy, longish words that "no one" knows and stick to the basics that everyone can understand?

    Does anyone else have a problem with that???

    I love words. I love them because they can sound beautiful in and of themselves (pastiche!). I love them because certain words trigger memories in my head. But I love them most of all because they help me to understand and communicate real things. I love words because they don't dumb down definition. They force you to truly comprehend, because each word has only certain meanings. With a real, non-controlled vocabulary, a person can express whatever he or she feels.

    Without so many words, we wouldn't have the tools to express ourselves in any meaningful way. We wouldn't be able to know anything more complex than "the cat sat on the mat" (etc.). We wouldn't be able to think.

    Vocabulary is such a human thing. Complex minds, complex language. Simple language... can't you see where that leaves us? Vocab is not elitest. It is not inefficient, because efficiency isn't determined by time alone. It is necessary.

    Or else we shall all be in a desolate, desolate state. And we wouldn't even know how to express that.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    Some Good News, and Some Bad News: The Good News

    Harry Potter!

    I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this morning, and despite my immensely excited anticipation, it did not let me down. Where comedy was possible, it was wonderfully funny. And where plot points necessitated certain events? Well, I cried just as much as I did reading the book for the first time.

    Which is a funny story, actually. I have a history of my anxiousness getting the best of me, and such was the case when the sixth Harry Potter book came out. I had reserved a copy via, since my family and I would be in London at the time of the release, and I didn't want to risk Borders being sold out upon my return. It took seeing just one Underground train of Londoners reading their copies of the book to convince me to walk to Waterstone's and get a British copy of my own. During my family's afternoon rest/prepare for dinner time, I read it. And when a certain event occurred, I just started bawling. Loudly. Out of nowhere. My family, coming from the next room, asked what was wrong. Of course they hadn't read it yet, so I couldn't tell them. So there I am, crying on a hotel bed, unable to talk about it.

    And I am not a pretty crier. I get all blotchy, and my voice all quivery. Luckily it's dark in movie theatres, and they frown upon talking.

    But it was amazing. Go see it, immediately!!!

    Some Good News, and Some Bad News: The Bad First

    It seems there is a reason that no one has ever really instituted a formal Literary Quote Month: quoting something literary on a daily basis is darn difficult. Maybe it wouldn't be so hard for someone with a remarkable verbatim recall ability. But for an average reader like me, even if I'm particularly enthusiastic? It's difficult.

    So the bad news is that I'm discontinuing Literary Quote Month. By all means, work literary quotes into your day-to-day conversations when appropriate and amusing. It's better then painstakingly trying to think of a suitable literary quote by the end of the day.

    Sunday, July 12, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 12

    "I am glad you are come, for there is such fun here!"
    -Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

    My parents came to Bloomington for a visit this weekend. It was lovely, and we explored parts of Bloomington I had yet to experience. Also, we found a fabulous Tibetan place. You should come visit, too, for there is such fun here. =)

    Saturday, July 11, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 11

    "This wine is too good for toast-drinking."
    -Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

    Today I went with my parents to the Oliver Winery just north of Bloomington. The grounds are beautiful, the tour was interesting, and the wine.... Oh, the wine was good. I really didn't know I could like wine this much. Happily, my wine rack is now full!

    Did you know that, in Indiana, where blue laws prohibit the purchase of alcohol on Sundays, wineries are the only people who can sell their alcoholic wares on Sunday? Good to know.

    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 10

    "I do hope there's pudding."

    I did hope there was pudding after my wonderful dinner at FARMbloomington this evening. And pudding there was: in my case, lemon and lavender ice. It was amazing.

    Thursday, July 9, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 9

    "Which leads me to my candy collection."

    Really, my candy is rather a stash more than a collection. It includes my favorite chocolate bar from the UK (Cadbury's Crunchie); some lovely lemon lollies; teacakes which will finally get enjoyed for my birthday party; shortbread; and Dove chocolates. I always like to be prepared for a sweet tooth, although somehow it always works out that I don't crave it when it's around. Probably a good thing.

    I'm glad that embedding audio and video is so easy...

    ...because some of this stuff is seriously too wonderful NOT to share.

    If insomnia shook you all night long...

    Working in a library is amazing because you find all sorts of things you would never have guessed even existed. Case in point? A wide selection of lullaby renditions of real, adult bands. We're not talking the Wiggles here (if you don't know who they are, don't bother looking them up; Raffi was way better). We're talking AC/DC. For little kids. For bedtime.

    I kid you not.

    Wednesday, July 8, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 8

    "Mighty Casey has struck out."
    -Ernest Thayer, "Casey at the Bat"

    This evening I was at the Monroe County Public Library again, both shelf-reading in the children's music section and supervising in the Preschool Education Center. There was only one child in the PEC during my hour shift, and quite a cute one he was. His M.O. for the evening was clearly to stack things; whether they were meant to be stacked was entirely immaterial. Thus it should come as no surprise that certain unstable towers tumbled, despite his best intentions.

    Tales From Band Camp

    In high school, my friend Melissa put her ample writing talents to use in writing Tales From Band Camp, a series of scenes based on actual events that occurred during our time in band. More often than not, these scenes capture verbatim the sorts of things that went on in our daily band lives. I was extremely lucky to receive a complete version of Tales From Band Camp: Seasons 1 and 2 as a high school graduation gift. Four years later, I still pull out the volume when I'm in need of a little cheering up.

    Well, when doing the reading for my library class that ended in Twitter discussion, I was reminded of a particular tale from band camp. This particular reading was talking about humans as users of language, artifacts, and methodologies in which they have been trained. Trained... Does training have to mean the imparting of knowledge from an authority to a novice? Or can training be self-supplied? Will we ever get an answer to such questions?


    [Another piece of Melissa's amazing oeuvre was recently performed at a playwright's event at IU. Snaps for Melissa!!]

    P.S. Hm... This is weird! It's exactly four years from then! Melissa, are you a psychic?

    Tuesday, July 7, 2009

    Despite my Twitter rant, I do like...

    ...this experiment in converting legit lit to short form. The idea of conveying something as nuanced as Jane Austen's Persuasion within the constraints of something like Twitter is interesting on an intellectual level. Some of the time it's funny; other times it's obvious that Austen cannot be edited down.

    Either way, I'm glad that the speed read version can't hold a candle to the real deal.

    Literary Quote Month: Day 7

    "The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now."
    -George Orwell, 1984

    Today in my library class we got to talking about augmenting technologies. That is to say, we were discussing technologies, in particular online communication technologies, that theoretically help us to be more efficient in our communications. The starting point for our discussion was MySpace; then we moved on to Facebook; then we reverted chronologically a bit to instant messaging platforms before reaching the online communication du jour: Twitter.

    Twitter, in all honesty, creeps me out. Why on earth should I care what anyone has to say at all times? Why do I care what everyone else is thinking about? Don't I have enough going on in my own immediate space to keep me perfectly engaged with the world and occupied? Additionally, why would I want for other people to have access to my every thought and musing? I have plenty of privacy issues with Facebook as it is; I'd cancel my account if it wouldn't mean losing touch with people. So why would I want to fully put myself out there with something like Twitter?

    I think, too, that the hyper-abbreviation that 140-character limits breeds will ultimately cause our thinking process to stagnate and then recede. If you can only express in 140 characters, eventually you're going to start thinking within those limits as well. Talk about thinking inside the box. To the worst extreme.

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    In case you need something to smile about...

    I can't remember if I shared this before or not, but watch it anyways.

    Literary Quote Month: Day 6

    "That is to say..."
    -Jane Austen, several of her collected works

    Many a character in Jane Austen novels uses this phrase as a sort of rhetorical time-buyer; that is to say, they use this phrase when they are trying to say something important that could be misconstrued in a more clear, yet just-as-socially-polite-and-seemingly-neutral, way. If my memory serves me right, only the heroes and heroines use this phrase. Probably because only the heroes and heroines see fit to be intentional and thoughtful with their words. The Mr. Elliots don't bother with clarification because they never think of anyone but themselves.

    Sunday, July 5, 2009

    Literary Quote Month: Day 5

    "Many others who did not kneel prayed in their hearts."

    Not everyone kneels at mass. Not everyone kneels to pray on their own. But hopefully we all still pray.

    Saturday, July 4, 2009

    Amy versus the Outsiders, Part IV

    Evidently, there is an upside to it raining all day long. Turns out that wasps don't like to come out of their sneaky little nest in my porch siding unless the weather is pleasant. So, like the brave person I am, I Raid-ed the heck out of that thing. AND I sprayed all around the windows and sliding glass door with the bug barrier stuff, which should hopefully now allow me to open my windows on appropriately-temperatured days without facing an onslaught of many-legged visitors come nightfall.

    For now, at least, I'm going to claim victory in my battle with the Outsiders. Ha!

    Literary Quote Month: Day 4

    "Balls to that."

    Yeah, I know, that's not much in the way of a literary quote. But, in my defense, my using that particular quote as my one for today should be acceptable because I used it within the context Powell herself does. Whenever something would go a little wrong with one of her recipes, or if one of the Julia Child's instructions was just too much, Powell would say "Balls to that." And so did I today when, after the farmers' market and additional stops at a grocery store and Target, I arrived home only to discover that I still didn't have all the necessary ingredients to make pesto.

    I knew I should've bought that garlic. Balls to that.

    Friday, July 3, 2009

    Amy versus the Outsiders, Part III

    I was about to go out to my porch to spray the window and door perimeters this morning, I really was. But then I saw more wasps, hovering right on the other side of the screen door and flying in and out of the hole where the porch light should be fit tightly against the siding. Silly me, putting the can of Raid in the porch storage closet so that I can't get to it without having to go past this new wasp hang out.

    It's going to be all I can do to bring myself to continue to water my basil plant, because I really don't know how a short person like me can adequately combat wasps in the wall when the hole is reasonably high up, even with a can of Raid than can shoot over 20 feet. The angles just don't match.

    Fortunately, though, my parents are visiting next weekend. Dad, I have a job for you...

    Literary Quote Month: Day 3

    "You can't show your bosom before three o'clock."
    -Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind

    I said this to myself (and, because I hadn't seen her standing there, the dressing room attendant) while trying on clothes at Anthropologie and seeing how some of them looked in the three-way mirror. I'd like to think that the more cleavage-y shirts were so revealing because they weren't cut for a petite torso. Whether that's true or not, I don't really know.