Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Tell Me the Truth"

Although i usually take a certain amount of pride in my non-conformity and don't just follow along with the crowd i did decide to read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, even though it seems to be what everyone else is reading. I have seen so many reviews and recommendations for it and it just sounded like something i would enjoy so i went ahead and jumped on this bandwagon, and it did not disappoint.
This is a book for book lovers. It is about relationships among solitary people and lonely families. It definitely sucked me in--and that's in a good way.
Margaret Lea grew up surrounded by books in her father's antiquarian book shop in London. She was raised on the classics and enjoyed a solitary life alongside literature. One night she comes home to find a letter from Vida Winter, "England's best-loved living writer" requesting Margaret to write Winter's biography. Though Margaret has never before that night read any of Winter's writing, preferring literature of past centuries, she reluctantly travels to meet Winter and such begins the dark novel with the classic gothic flavour of days gone past. Vida has always been a teller of stories. Margaret deals in truth. These are two different things...
Read it, love it. Or don't. I know i did. But you, of course, are your own person...

you never know what knowledge lurks in the stacks...

One of the most difficult parts of weeding is not reading every interesting book i come across, because i am interested in so many different subjects and discover something new to be interested in almost constantly. So these are the two most recent titles that stopped my tasks at hand (of course they're both juvenile titles so they were quick enough reads to not take too much time away from the actual work i had to do): Bedbugs in Our House: True Tales of Insect, Bug, and Spider Discovery by Jennifer Owings Dewey (after reading this i decided to save it for one more cycle even though it had low circ stats--here's hoping) and Poisons in Our Path: Plants that Harm and Heal by Anne Ophelia Dowden (and doesn't she just have the perfect middle name for someone writing about plants? not to mention it's one of my favorite names after my very favorite dearly departed cat who of course was named after the much maligned Shakespearean character)
Anyway, Bedbugs in Our House tells of a childhood fascination with bugs which began with a discovery (foretold by the title) of bedbugs, was encouraged by a science teacher (sounding like a lot more fun than any science teacher than i ever had) who demonstrates survival of the fittest insect in the classroom, and continues in the most interesting of ways. I did have a few quarrels with the book flaps though. One statement " All bugs are insects, but not all insects are bugs." was in direct contradiction with my weeding reading of just a few moments prior. And another describes Jennifer Dewey as the very successful author and illustrator of many children's books (not just bug books) while she claims in the book that her lifelong love of bugs led her to become an entomologist. GRRRR!
Information and anecdote are well balanced in Poisons in Our Path. I consider myself to be rather well informed in herbology and such but i learned quite a bit in this little volume. Dowden throws in a little history and mythology, folklore and medicine, black and white magic, literature and history. Not intended to be comprehensive but quite enjoyable nonetheless. For instance did you know that in the early pioneer days on western prairies "sheep, cows, and goats ate St. John's-wort and were so damaged by its photsensitizing chemicals that they suffered terrible burns from sunlight"? I didn't, call me strange, and you wouldn't be the first, but i like picking up trivial bits of knowledge like that. A wonderful book for Dowden's illustrations alone.

Monday, October 30, 2006

these are a few of my favorite things...

Now that many of my coworkers have disparaged Halloween as being a “non-holiday” i must claim it as one of my very favorite holidays (along with New Year’s—which those very same co-workers would also probably call a non-holiday). I'm not really sure what it is about Halloween--whether it's the idea of dressing up (New Year's, of course, is another masquerade kind of holiday), pretending to be someone else; the parties; that nip of fall in the air (i just love fall); and then there are the decorations...
One of my biggest weaknesses is acquisitiveness. There are certain items that I am just driven to have. Halloween decorations are one of them. Of course books are another...
But hand in hand with Halloween decorations goes my mask collection (about 200 or so at the moment). I think that at one point i decided masks were a perfect decorative collectible for me because they were unique, expressed my love of theatre, and i because i find the whole idea of masks in and of themselves fascinating. One of my problems is i don't have quite enough wall space for all of them (just as i don't have enough bookcases)
I have what they call an addictive personality or at least that's what many personality tests tell me--goes hand in hand with depression (which is a foregone conclusion). And by the by, the diagnosis on that front is double-depression which basically means i am chronically depressed and experience bouts of major depression--fun, aye? Anyway, back to the addiction issue, even given this pre-disposition to addiction i don't seem to be physiologically disposed to addiction, how do i know this--well back in my younger, self-destructive days, i did QUITE a bit of experimentation, or should we say OVER-experimentation with QUITE a number of substances and not a one of them "stuck" (luckily enough). Now this physiological uniqueness of my body has been observed in a number of situations (the most common refrain i hear in physicians' offices is "Hm, I've never seen this before", in fact if i EVER hear "This is quite common..." i think, hm, you better check again, or well there is more to this story and i am always right) but again i am sidetracking. The way my addiction(s) manifests itself/themselves is in my collections. It is rather interesting that they have managed to amass themselves since i do hate shopping so (in fact my hatred of shopping has managed to enable the addiction in some strange way because i would rather just buy something RIGHT NOW and get the whole thing over with than extend the damn shopping trip any longer).
So along comes the Internet, curse and blessing that it is. And me being a librarian with my superior research skills...all the better to feed that addiction...HAPPY HALLOWEEN
...or should that be blessed Samhein

drugging the cat

Katushka (my four year old cat) has more than a bit of a problem. She has bouts of walking around the house meowing constantly, clawing at walls and doors expressing general discontent. I have no idea what is causing her agitation--she always seems to act like this in the spring or fall--if i didn't know better i'd think she was in heat (she HAS been spayed). She has always been an inside cat.
The vet has prescribed megestrol acetate which she has been on for five days now and i'm not sure that's it's doing any good--in fact she seems to be more agitated than ever and tonight my cat decides to go on a two and a half hour walkabout (causing her normally neurotic owner to go a bit over the top) oh well--que sera sera.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

what makes an artist?

Now there's a loaded question (worth years of pondering...) I've been on a Hitchcock binge of late. Alfred Hitchcock was an incredibly prolific director, just in case you didn't know. (and as i was watching Suspicion my mom came to visit and, distractable as she is, got involved with it for about twenty minutes when i mentioned it was a Hitchcock film she suddenly had to flee my house because she's so afraid of his films--even though she'd been watching it for twenty minutes with no incident--now most of Hitch's films were more suspense than horror but don't try to tell her that) anyway, when i was in college i did a research paper on Hitchcock's work for one of my film history classes and read a couple of biographies of him and didn't find much exciting about his life (at least he was someone i didn't think i would want to spend much time with--even as a fly on the wall), tho i love his films--and i have found that to be a rather common theme in many of the artist's lives i most admire (Margaret Atwood and Nabokov are the first to spring to mind).
I used to have a theory that you had to be a little "off" in one way or another (be it depressed crazy whatever you want to call it) to be a great/good artist because you would have to have a slightly different perspective on the world to be able to see it in a new, unique, exciting, artistic (or whatever you want to call it) way. And although there are quite a few artists who have led rather intriguing lives there are quite a few others were i'm just not feeling it (do they just save it all for their work or keep it well hidden?)
Thoughts to ponder for the night/day.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"i don't remember the title or the author but i think it had a green cover..."

How many times have we librarians heard a question somewhat like that? Now i think it would be somewhat ridiculous to start organizing ALL the books by colour--we COULD make some kind of search engine to allow for it could we not (or is that just encouraging the stupid questions we all so abhor/adore?)
*thanks to Morten for this lovely photo

Friday, October 27, 2006

The psychology of loss--the pain of an orphan from an unknown world; or where the hell is my continuity, damnit?!?

okay, i am really not into comics (aside from the obligatory collection of Buffy comics) *and in the spirit of full disclosure i must admit i read Richie Rich, Little Lulu, and Archie as a kid but, as you may or may not have noticed, i have been taking a closer look at them of late--somehow, not being a visual person, the whole comic thing is lost on me, though i'm loving reading the history, mythos, and analysis of it all--call me weird--it won't be the first time. But, when The Man from Krypton: a closer look at Superman (completely unauthorized)--and doesn't that just make it all the more interesting??? edited by Glenn Yefeth showed up on our new releases cart i must admit it peaked my interest (as WAAAAAAYYY too many books do--such is the nature of addiction) so i checked it out--at least i haven't bought it YET! This is a collection of essays that gives me what i hunger for. It covers the comics, the radio shows, the animated series, the movies and the T.V. series (those what got me curious about back story to begin with--series like Lois and Clark--almost ashamed to admit that i loved it--own the DVDs and Smallville (a boyfriend's friend who WAS into the comics recommended it and got me hooked--tho i haven't watched all of them--have those DVDs too--and now i'm terribly curious as to how closely it follows the rest of the Superman canon.)
here are the essays and a brief synopsis of my take on them:
Previous Issues by Lawrence Watt-Evans—discusses the fact that Superman essentially wears his security blanket
A History of Violence by David Hopkins—discusses whether or not Superman holds back his power and whether he is a violent individual
You Will Believe a Man Can Walk by Sarah Zettel--Christopher Reeve IS Superman
Jewel Mountains and Fire Falls: The Lost World of Krypton by Chris Roberson--the world-building and eventual writing-out of Krypton
Man of Steel Woman of Kleenex by Larry Niven (reprinted from All the Myriad Ways) --a rather silly essay speculating reproductive possibilities between a kryptonite and a human
Actor and Superactor by Keith R.A. DeCandido--the different actors who have played Superman on the radio, animated series, television series, and movies
A Tale of Two Orphans:the Man of Steel vs. the Caped Crusader by Lou Anders--the ever-changing relationship between Superman and Batman
God, Communism, and the WB by Gustav Peebles (reprinted from The Believer)--very interesting essay about the threat of Big City Capitalism on SMALLVILLE
Supermyth! by Steven Harper--Superman as heroic legend
Six Things that Plain Don't Make any Sense about Superman by Adam-Troy Castro--entertaining piece about how even when one suspends every other disbelief there are still a few things one just can't let go of
Is Superman a Superman? by Adam Roberts--we're talking Nietzsche here folks!
The Mirror of Gilgamesh: the Foe Superman fears the Most and the Ally he can't do Without by John G. Henry--Clark Kent as absolutely necessary to Superman's survival
The Golden Shield: Image as Superman's Greatest Power by Paul Lytle--(image is everything BAAAYBY) without Superman would crumble--or at least run and hide!
Superman by Moonlight: Can Clark and Lois break the Curse? by Evelyn Vaughn--can we stand to see our favorite characters live happily ever after?
Speeding Bullets and Changing Lanes by Joseph McCabe--how Lois has been represented throughout the decades and different medium (medias?)
A Word of Warning for Brandon Routh by Lou Anders--is there a Superman curse?
Superman's Moral Evolution by Peter B. Lloyd--Superman does exactly What He Wants regardless of Terran rules (but Batman hold a ring of green kryptonite--Just In Case...)
Brains versus Brawn: the Many Lives (and Minds) of Lex Luthor, the World's Greatest Villain by Bob Batchelor--the ever evolving character of Lex Luthor
Superman, Patriotism, and Doing the Ultimate Good: Why the Man of Steel did so Little to Stop Hitler and Tojo by Paul Levinson--this all seems a little obvious to me, non-comic-book-reader that i am, but it does make some very interesting points (mainly that the comics live side by side on the newsstand with the real world!)
This is a Job for... by Larry Dixon--we should all act like superheroes (blah, blah, blah...)
i'm still somehow hungry for more--more of the mythology, more of the back-story, and mostly more continuity--damnit all!!!
Speaking of missing continuity--here's a confession of a guilty pleasure: Days of Our Lives, which i've been watching for the last twenty-five years (gasp)--with a few gaps here and there--and at one point i thought i wanted, needed to be their continuity editor to keep them on track with all their story-lines (i'm sure they don't really care--tho i Really Do!)
i sometimes wonder if my need for continuity comes from the fact that i'm adopted as is, of course, Superman...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

horror movies and dark chocolate, what could be better?

The other day i saw a commercial for m&ms that had orange & BLACK m&ms for Halloween which i thought was pretty cool but today i saw this site which has fifty dark (read horror actually, after solving a few, i'm not so sure i'd call ALL of them horror per se) movies hidden in a painting which i also think is mighty dec--check it out! I could only get 33 so far (with a little help from my friends--but then i am not a big visual person and i have a raging migraine--i know excuses, excuses) have fun--and let me know how you do...
i also kinda dig the music--nice ambient tone.
on second thought when it didn't turn off...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

not terribly necessary

So i went and bought this book: The Rational Guide to Google Blogger (Rational Guides) by Wei-meng Lee.
A not so bright move right? Right, you are. I was thinking somehow that it would give me some tips and tricks that i was missing out on...no such luck. Mostly screen shots and things that already seem (at least to me) pretty basic. This is what the synopsis says about it:

With this book, you will learn how to use Blogger's Post Editor and Dashboard to create sophisticated postings that include images and hyperlinks, and how to change the look and feel of your blog templates. Other topics include making money using Google's AdSense and Amazon.com's Associates program, using photo blogging services, adding a site counter so that you can track your readership, using Blogger Mobile for mobile blogging, and how to archive your blog. For those of you who have your own Web hosting, you will learn how to publish your blog to your own server. this book takes a rational, no-nonsense approach in a compact guide. The book is written to give you the basics fast! Technical accuracy is assured by Biz Stone, Former Senior Specialist on the Google Blogger Team.

but it seems to me that if you're here and blogging that you pretty much already know most of the things this book has to say. I will give it a little credit--i did pick up a few things here and there--but not quite enough to justify the (discounted even) expense.

hey--here's a thought: check it out from your library ;)

Monday, October 23, 2006

trauma bonding...

...refers to the relationship formed between perpetrator and victim in violent attacks. I have been working on reading this book forever--not sure why its taken me so long--because it Really IS an interesting read--maybe just takes a lot of contemplation: Strange Piece of Paradise: A Return to the American West to Investigate my Attempted Murder--and Solve the Riddle of Myself by Terri Jentz.
here's the blurb from the front flap:
In the summer of 1977 Terri Jentz and her Yale roommate, Shayna Weiss, are on a cross-country bike trip, they pitch a tent in the desert of central Oregon. As they sleep, a man in a pickup truck deliberately runs over the tent. He then attacks them with an axe. The horrific crime is reported in newspapers across the country. Robert Pinsky describes it it in his book length poem, An Explanation of America. No one is ever arrested. Both women survive, But Shayna suffers from amnesia, while Terri is left alone with the memories of the attack.
Fifteen years later, Terri returns to the small town where she was nearly murdered, on the first of many visits "to solve the crime that would solve me." She makes an extraordinary discovery: the violence of that night is as present for the community as it is for her. And slowly her extensive interviews with the townspeople yield a terrifying revelation: many say they know who did it--and he is living freely in their midst. Terri then sets out to discover the truth about the crime and its aftermath, and to come to terms with the wounds that broke her life into a before and an after. Ultimately, she finds herself face with the suspected axeman.
Absorbing and eloquent, and paced like the most riveting of thrillers. Strange Piece of Paradise is the electrifying account of Terri's investigation into the mystery of her near murder. A startling profile of a psychopath, a vivid portrait of a small town, a sweeping reflection on violence and its acceptance in our culture, and a moving record of a brave inner journey from violence to hope, this searing, powerfully written book is certain to be unforgettable.

Some reviews have mentioned that Jentz talks about every thought she has, does too much "navel gazing" while she goes through her process of investigation, but for me that is part of its appeal. It is an examination of our culture's fascination with violence of the workings (or perhaps disfunctionality) of our justice system, of the many varied ways that we can react to traumatic events--both those that happen to us personally, or just impact our community. This book really had me thinking about the nature of violence, the nature of justice, and perhaps most of all--our almost hypnotic, consumptive thirst for blood and gore (the 364s as they are called in my world--although that is not where this book is shelved--and i'm not sure it would really appeal to the "true crime" audience per se--and it doesn't seem to be marketed as such). I wouldn't call it fast-paced (nor exactly "riveting") but it is fascinating and i would highly recommend it--as i said-a contemplative work.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Driving in your Car

You stare straight ahead

My hand brushes your knee

You do nothing to acknowledge my touch

my hand hangs lifeless

My mind chants

I will not be crushed by this

I am the same person

without you

as I am with you

I never saw Forever

in your eyes

We do not have to Be


I sense the weight of the sky

and the spin of the ground


I know

I fear

I just Don't know

How Much

Friday, October 20, 2006

Of cliches and mid life crises

i've decided that a midlife crisis happens when you finally come to terms with who you are and your body suddenly decides that that is no longer who you are. For instance, i've always had MAJORLY Naturally Curly Hair that has always been at least a little bit moody (slightly like its owner)--when i was young i used to finish my bath and wrap the towel around my head and pretend the towel was my long, strait hair and flip it around and around because my hair was always too curly and too frizzy to flip! Now i come out of the shower and i have this stuff hanging from my head that acts nothing like MY hair--it just hangs there like the towel used to do. "Be careful what you wish for, Right? Which brings us to the matter of cliches--ever wonder how they got to be cliches? Because they're so Damn True!!!
I'm hoping this whole tragic thing is just a hormonal fluctuation, that all natural hair dye i tried out which was a big mistake, or some other temporary trauma and is in no way connected to this whole turning-forty thing!
It's so strange to have something that you hated for so long (or thought you did) be so wrapped up with your identity after you have lived with it all your live!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

where were we again?

So it's the middle of the night and i'm sleeping (not terribly soundly, as the case may be) all three cats are rampaging (where could they possibly get that from???) through the house; i hear the racing paws, various hisses and growls, small bodies running into furniture and walls, the bells ringing on their collars, etc. (the usual nighttime feline antic sounds) and say, in my best authoritative tone "Please remember that you're in the library," suddenly i am fully awake and realize, that, actually, no, i am not in the library. Of course none of it had any effect on the cats...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pluto's a dog not a planet; or poor, poor Percival Lowell

This week i had to go through all our solar system books and place stickers on them explaining the August 8, 2006 decision of the International Astronomical Union to redefine the status of Pluto as a "dwarf planet" and not a "planet". In the process i came across a few books i just had to read (you know how it is) including Ten Worlds: Everything that Orbits the Sun by Ken Croswell. Not quite sure why this particular juvenile title perked my interest except like many juvenile books it gives you just the right amount of interesting introductory information without boring you beyond belief. It covers the solar system; the sun; Mercury; Venus; the earth; the Moon; Mars; asteroids; Jupiter; Saturn; Uranus; Neptune; Pluto; the tenth Planet; comets; meteors; the solar systems birth; the ten planets; the seven big moons; the first four asteroids; and extreme planets (yes i just gave you the table of contents--good thing i'm not doing a school report here right?) But it does have some beautiful pictures and did tell me some interesting things i did not know (so much for that college astronomy class).
And about Percival Lowell: the poor guy kept trying and he kept failing. First he thought he saw canals on Mars--waterways the Martians had built--other astronomers made fun of him. To prove he was a good astronomer he wanted to discover a new planet, studying the motion of Uranus he believed the gravity of a ninth planet was pulling it--he searched and searched but never found it--he died in 1916. When a new planet was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh at Lowell Observatory on February 18, 1930 it was named Pluto at the suggestion of a little girl (for the god of the underworld--because he lives in darkness as does the planet being so far from the sun) and because the first two letters were P L for Percival Lowell. Now with this downgrade poor Percival is foiled yet again.

Monday, October 02, 2006

how to hide a map

I came across this great picture book on one of our displays the other day: Show Way by Jacquelyn Woodson (Newberry Honor book)
"Soonie's great-grandma was only seven when she was sold away from her parents in Virginia and sent to South Carolina. All she had was a piece of muslin from her mother, two needles, and bright red thread. She was raised by Big Mama, who cared for the plantation children and at night whispered stories of freedom. Big Mama taught great-grandma how to sew messages and directions into quilt patterns, a "Show Way" The quilt-making tradition is passed down through successive generations of women in the family. Finally, readers meet the narrator, who grew up to become a writer and tell the stories of many people's Show Ways. A poignant trail at the end of the book shows eight generations of women and the author's baby painted against the background of quilt patterns. Show Way is a sophisticated book that introduces readers to the passage of time, family traditions, and the significance of quilts and their patterns in African-American history. The gorgeous, multimedia art includes chalk, watercolors, and muslin. An outstanding tribute, perfectly executed in terms of text, design, and illustration."–Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved
love the art, love the story--check it out if you get the chance
just thought i'd share :)