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9.29.2010

Hogwarts Humor

This is absolutely my favorite thing the internet has produced in for-ever. Check out what it looks like when Hogwarts gets Wi-Fi!!

9.28.2010

The New York Times discusses recent developments in west coast libraries. Is privatization taking over our public literacy and education? This article makes it sound like a bad thing, but there have been other examples of such developments working better than we'd like to admit.

9.25.2010

Recently, literary legend Neil Gaiman posted a photo on twitter of Diana Wynne Jones and Robin McKinley that he'd taken when the three of them crossed paths at Diana's home one pleasant afternoon. The photo was much squealed over, for what fantasy fan would not want to be in the room at such a meeting of minds? Robin subsequently blogged about the post, which led to Leila, my go-to YA librarian blogger, linking to it, which led to me clicking and scanning and oohing and aahing over one thing and another. The real gem in all this (because the only people who can really, truly appreciate three such writers sharing conversation and tea are those three writers themselves) is that I stumbled across the first three chapters of Robin McKinley's next book, Pegasus. You may read them here.

9.23.2010

Dreams

Last night, I dreamed that Dr. Lundin and I were musing over the development of humor in a young mind while reclining under a summer tree waiting for the principle to unlock my apartment. I had just saved the entire student body from being confined in the main building by happening to have the second key for a small window. After filing most of the students out between the panes, we rested there. My boat to the mainland wasn't leaving for a while, and I had temporarily lost my passport anyway. He told me he was teaching a summer course on punctuation, and I begged to audit. The schedule was convenient, and I forgot I wasn't a student. At last, the truth behind the elusive ellipses would be discovered! Then I woke up and realized I had slept in . . . again.

9.22.2010

Limited

I have always been fascinated by limited edition books, books as art, cover graphics, unique bindings, etc. So you can imagine my fascination and delight when I came across Puffin's limited edition collection of Treasure Island, The Secret Garden, James and the Giant Peach, and several others. It reminds me of the Penguin video made in response to the ebook phenomenon during the series of clips made for the publisher's 75th birthday (yes, that's this year) in which some Penguin designers discussed the increased importance of cover graphics in the digital age. We will be much more likely to consider a physical book worth spending money on if we find it beautiful on the outside as well as within.


Penguin has long taken that seriously, and this is yet another testament to how much so. My only sorrow (apart from the fact that the Lauren Child edition of The Secret Garden is already sold out) is that these are products of Penguin UK - not Penguin USA. Deep, deep sigh.

9.21.2010

Okay, this is not nearly as interesting or important as Amanda's work in Madagascar, linked below, but . . . I sooo want to see this movie.


Check out Amanda's most recent blog post on her work with Operation Smile this past week. You can see pictures and read more about it here.

9.11.2010

Remembering

I tried posting this as a Facebook status, but it was too long. Apparently, Facebook has limits. I'd be frustrated, except for the awareness in the back of my mind that something requiring this many characters probably shouldn't be relegated to a forum of glib, occasionally clever, momentary comments on a social networking site. The blog, awkward and ethereal though it may be, proves a better shelf.

It occurred to me this morning that fourteen and fifteen year olds probably only know why this day is a big deal because they've been told about it. Not because they remember it. Which doesn't make me feel old, actually. It just keeps me fascinated by the workings of time and the nature of history. Like when I first realized I was not only alive when the Berlin Wall fell, but old enough that I could easily have remembered it if I'd been paying any kind of attention.

It's the sort of realization that inspires me to turn on the news - though a few minutes of that quickly dispels the inspiration. One thing I remember vividly about the events of 9/11 was how surprised I was at the number of people who just 'woke up and turned on the TV'. The likelihood of me just happening to wake up and turn on the news is about as likely as me waking up and deciding to go for a jog. It's not completely unlikely, of course. It happens once every three or four years. The likelihood of me doing so on the precise morning of a national disaster, well, that's a little closer toward the impossible. It was interesting, though. Amidst all the emotional turmoil, national feeling, shock, awe, confusion, and what-have-you, there was this mental poll going on in my head. 'How many of you woke up and turned on the TV?'

Everyone shares where they were when they heard the news. I was in my morning psychology class. Most people, including the sloppy, lazy, Freudian 'professor' with her 7-11 soda and uncombed hair, were late to class. That is, if they bothered showing up at all. The 'professor' (whose name I have chosen not to remember she was so completelyhorriblyawful) immediately launched into a conversation about the planes and the towers, and I had no idea what she was talking about. It was a full half hour of her rambling before I realized she was discussing some sort of attack that had happened that morning that she had witnessed after she just 'woke up and turned on the news'.

There is some information that can only be delivered with care. If information of a certain tender nature is not delivered with a special kind of honor, reverence, dignity, and mourning, it will take much longer for the receiver to process than it should. It reminds me of the first time I came home from college for Christmas. I went to church and was lovingly greeted by my dearest friends. The service was starting in a matter of moments when one of them plopped next to me, giving me a big hug and welcome home. The first words out of her mouth were 'Did you hear about Levi?' Her face was glowing with her first greeting. She spoke with a kind of eagerness that made me half expect Levi to pop up behind her saying, 'I'm visiting your church because I love the Lord and have found peace at last!'

Levi was a friend from high school whom we'd all been praying for for years. He was a ballroom dancer, and I took algebra II with him, occasionally passing notes between desks on our graphing calculators. I used to give him rides home in the gold 280 Z. He always seemed a little disgruntled, at odds with life, or himself, or something. The kind of kid that you remember to pray for years later. 'Did you hear about Levi?' 'No! What!' I am filled with sudden excitement, readiness for joy, an anticipation of long-awaited good news.

'He was stabbed to death in his dorm room at school. No one knows why.' Another friend walks up with a big smile to welcome me home. The service starts. We're hugging and smiling and singing and I'm wondering, 'What did she just say?'

There are ways to deliver all kinds of news. Maybe that's why people turn on CNN the moment they wake up, so that a professional can deliver it to them in impersonal tones the moment it happens. Sitting in my psychology class, having my grungy gnome of a teacher allude to the planes and the fall of the towers like we all knew what she was talking about - not the way to go. Amy DiBello, my English prof, made up for it later on that day. She had us write it out. We sat in some silence, and later we talked it through. There is a way to honor a tragedy. I am not sure if I've learned that way myself, but I know it when I see it. It's something other than pity. It's reverence for an experience close to you that may or may not be your own. There are words, like 'murder' and 'attack' and 'death' and 'grief' that should be spoken slowly and with a careful eye to the person who hears, to watch their minutest reaction, to know whatever change in heartbeat or bat of eye signals 'slower yet,' or 'now keep quiet'.

Almost ten years now, and we argue over mosques that do or do not honor the dead. I wonder if perhaps the passing of time unlearns our reverence. Our awareness. Our closeness to these things. And I wonder how to learn them again.
When I grow up, I want to be Marilynne Robinson. It's not gonna happen, of course. But I guess it's something to strive for, right?

9.08.2010

Mockingjay

Finished reading Mockingjay yesterday. Much as I utterly love these books, this third and last one did, in fact, bother me a bit. Apart from the unnecessary reliance on death and destruction this book resorts to - in measures wholly different from the first two, it seems - there was something generally dissatisfying about the main character's attitude throughout the whole. Laura Miller dissects this feeling in her article at the Salon, here. Don't read it if you haven't read the books! Spoilers beware!!

9.04.2010

More Other Blogs


Emily, I'd ask you to add this to your list, but I think Jenny B will have to take this one. The other blog I would write if I wasn't already blogging five times over (more or less) would be one on maps. I have maps hanging in my bedroom in Long Beach and a very well-framed map hanging in the guest room that occasionally bears my vague sense of ownership over at Emily's in Oxnard. They give me the same sense of security, familiarity, and comfort that a full bookshelf does. My maps are not the bright blue and red kind that you get for free from AAA. They are usually sepia toned, whether by accident or design, and feature places I care about, like Rome and Edinburgh. They are all gifts (though now that I think of it, I don't think I technically own two of them).

The mapping blog would discuss the various necessaries of a map, which truthfully I know nothing about. It would mostly go into the history of things, narrowing in on clever and perhaps even fanciful anecdotes about various characters and events in the lives of one or another map. There would be book reviews, critical comparisons from east to west, interviews of geography experts, and reproductions of maps both actual and fantastical. Posts on the relevance of maps appended to fantasy novels. Posts on the creation of maps during Imperialism and their effects on European worldview. DIY projects involving discarded maps. Maps in elementary schools. The translation of maps online. The pros and cons of the GPS mindset.

There is so much one could do!!!!

9.03.2010

Blogger blog blog...

I know. I hardly post at all for months, and then three rapid fire posts in a day. What can I say? Guest blogging over at the Freesparrow blog got me inspired, I guess.

Anyway, just wanted to drop a note to say that I have reorganized (and added to) all the links on the left. You now have a summarized version of my Google Reader subscriptions, at your fingertips. You'll find them sorted, in general, by topic. From authors I'm following either because I publish them or, as in the case of Shannon Hale, because I wish I published them - to the book blogs that keep my eye more or less fixed on the industry's pulse. Okay, we all know I follow Penguin and Chronicle because I wish I was them. You'll be able to watch Amanda's gradual developments in Madagascar, take a look at causes I care about, and much more!

It's a veritable link-fest. Whatever a link-fest is.

Other Blogs

Everyone has a blogger they follow that they'd really like to be friends with, but aren't. (Can I explain how hard that sentence was to construct?) You know, like the cool kid in school you wanted to be best buds with. But weren't. Anyway, there are two blogs I follow that are written by very different women living radically different lives. One of them I have always known I wanted to be friends with. Someday I will comment on her blog in a non-stalkerish way and express that fact. Not yet.

Today, I realized for the first time that I do, in fact, wish I was friends with the other one as well. I post links from her blog all the time, so I hesitate to give away the source of so many of my blog's more interesting features. Oh well. It's only fair: http://bookshelvesofdoom.blogs.com/

Blogs

I was thinking on my way home today, pretending to be a spy, that I should write a blog called "How To Be a Spy". It would be like a spy version of 1001 Rules for My Unborn Son, only probably not actually anything like it at all. Except it would give a few little tips and things every couple days. Like 'Spies blend in' and 'spies always drive carefully except during a chase' and 'spies keep their personal and professional lives rigidly separate.' It would be the coolest blog, like, ever. Eventually it would be printed as a book that would sell tons of copies around Father's Day.

Unfortunately, I just don't quite have the time. If you'd like to write it for me, I'd happily contribute a post or two in a few years when I'm not busy anymore.
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