Sunday, December 13, 2009

Real Live Blog Posting on Ruby Oliver and Real Live Boyfriends

Hello miserable and abandoned readers!

I've finally written and published a blog post! My first in months. It's not here. It's over at The Misfits Bookclub, a YA bookclub I participate in with a bunch of friends. So, if you want to know how I feel about a set of redesigned book covers changing this:

to this:

You can find out right here: Ruby Oliver, Faceless No More

Sunday, April 26, 2009

5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Better Library Patron

So, BEDA is going to be over in just FOUR days. And I am obviously not caught up. But my goal is to get a couple more blogs in before the month is over, and so I am allowing myself another quick one, to help with numbers.

  1. 1. Do not re-shelve your books. No, really. Just don't do it. I know it seems counter intuitive BUT you have to trust me, it's really much better if you don't. You need reasons? Well fine. Reason A) You're going to put it back wrong. No, seriously. I know you know Library of Congress/Dewey Decimal/your alphabet. I know that the space you took it from is STILL RIGHT THERE. I don't care. You're still more likely to put it the wrong place than I am, and if you do, then we're SO EFFED. Reason B) EVEN IF you shelve it right, you're still doing us no favors, because part of how we keep track of a given book's popularity/usefulness is by how many times, inside the library, it's picked up and moved around. Here in MIT's Ivory Tower, we track it electronically with little portable scanners. Out in Public Library Land, where there is no funding/staff to be had, dedicated librarians, like reader Anna, keep track of it off hand. So, guideline number 1: leave shelving to the professionals.
  2. Card first. THEN books. I know this one is tricky, and I CONSTANTLY get it wrong myself, because you can't *get* your card while your hands are full of books, so I'm prepared to be patient while you put your books down and dig out your wallet. That doesn't mean, however, that I want you to hand me the book and then stare at me like a brainless lump for 15 seconds until I prompt you "Your card, please." And it also doesn't mean that I won't like you better if you approach the desk, card in hand, like a library pro. So, guideline number 2: Be my favorite patron, and give me your card first.
  3. In the same vein: if you're looking for a specific book, come to me with the necessary information to find it. Don't tell me you know the title when I need the call number. Don't tell me you remember the color of the book when I need you to tell me the author. If you don't have the pertinent information, go look it up. The computers are over there reserved for JUST THAT PURPOSE. Go use them. And don't glower at me or sigh aggrievedly when I tell you to. If you are really old, or nice but in a huge hurry, then I might do you a favor and look it up for you. But otherwise, don't ask me. In summary: Know the call number or similar for any book you want me to help you find.
  4. Remember: I am a circulation staff worker, not an IT person. I know a certain amount of useful information about how to use all the electronics devices we have in our library-- yes, even the microfiche reader, as much as I hate and fear it. However, if any of them break, there is only so much I can do about it. Beyond your basic, computer-neophyte Ctrl+Alt+Del, unplug-it-and-plug-it-back-in-to-see-if-the-problem-goes-away type diagnostics, I'm pretty much no good to you. If the situation requires something more complex, odds are you're out of luck, because if I'm here it's usually because more important people (like our IT guy) have gone home. If this happens to you, DO NOT GIVE ME LIP. ESPECIALLY not if you're an outside user.[1] I am genuinely sorry that our technology has failed you, but I do need you to understand that fixing it is not my job. So, if something breaks, remember: it's not my fault, don't yell at me.
  5. Please, please, please: don't argue with me about your late fees. I don't care if you thought you could renew your books, and didn't bother to check until the last possible minute. I don't care that the courtesy notice "never came"-- it's a COURTESY to remind you of the date your books are due, not an obligation. Unless you had a legitimate medical emergency or otherwise, I am not likely to waive your fines, ESPECIALLY if you act like a dick about it. You get these books for free, but you get them with the obligation of keeping track of them, and returning them on time. When you don't, you pay a TINY FINE. Suck it up. Pay your fine, and don't complain, or return your books on time.
So, there you have it folks. Five easy steps towards improved relations with your local circulation monkeys. If all these fail you, please keep in mind: gifts of candy are always appreciated.

[1] This is MIT-speak for someone who isn't a card carrying member of the MIT community. Mostly, these people are crazy/homeless/crazy AND homeless, and generally here exclusively for the access to free internet, which they occasionally attempt to use to watch porn.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Murder with Your Malted

So, as many of my loyal readers know, I've just recently started a new(ish) job. I've been working as a circulation monkey [1] at the MIT Libraries for a year and a half now, but just a month or so ago I switched from the Business and Social Sciences library to the Science and Humanities Library. Which means many things, but primary among them is that I now have unfettered access to NOVELS. This is, like I've told many friends, kind of like letting pill-addict become a pharmacist. Except instead of stealing things and putting the library in danger of criminal prosecution, I'm just giving the library's circulation stats a huuuuuge boost.

I can't do ANYTHING without finding another book I want to check out. If I go to stack in the Humanities section, I generally end up taking at least 1/4 of the books I'm supposed to shelve home with me. Mostly, I pick up books by authors I know, or one's I've been meaning to read forever. But sometimes, a title just grabs you, with nothing context. Like, for example, MURDER WITH YOUR MALTED! By Jerome Barry, for The Crime Club of Doubleday, Doran & Co. I mean, truly, how outstanding is that? And that's not even considering its summary! Which is so outstanding, I'm rewriting it here for your enjoyment:

Amusing, exciting, and set against a unique background, MURDER WITH YOUR MALTED is the first full length mystery story by a writer whose short stories have become popular in the slick paper magazines.

To the fascination of a behind-the-scenes account of a large metropolitan drug and lunch store Mr. Barry has added the suspense of threatening letters from a dead man, sympathetic interest of a pleasantly told love story, and the wise-cracking, up-to-the-minute Broadway sophistication of a soda-jerker narrator.

Sprinkled with the jargon of the soda-fountain trade, but losing nothing in the way of suspense because of its sophistication, this book is a real find in mystery fiction.

Did you read that?!?!?! A SODA JERK NARRATOR with UP-TO-THE-MINUTE BROADWAY SOPHISTICATION! An exciting behind-the-scenes look at a Metropolian Drug and Lunch Store--- which I have always heard were veritable HOTBEDS of intrigue and suspense! And a SYMPATHETICALLY-TOLD love story to boot!! I have no idea if I will ever read this book, because I don't know if it could ever be as good as the book I've imagined. But I am so, so glad to have its potential for OUTSTANDINGNESS in my life.

[1] N.B. This is not my official title-- that's something like "Public Services Assistant"-- but unless you know that, at MIT, "Public Services" is newspeak for circulation, it would tell you NOTHING about what I do. So, "circulation" because that's where I work in normal-people speak, and "monkey" because my job is so easy a monkey could do it.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Five Answers (un-not)

Here are the answers to the five questions I posted last night, then got too distracted to answer.

1. First, background on the question: I started asking this of everyone when I was 20, and suddenly thought that half a lifetime ago I was a WHOLE semi-adult person, capable of forming her own opinions of things-- and people. So, at 20, I wondered what 10 year old me would have thought of 20 year old me, and I decided I would have been really impressed with me. I think me-then would have liked me-now a lot. But I mean, 10 year old girls are easy to impress. When you're 10, all you know about being 20 comes from watching television shows, so it's guaranteed to seem glamorous. Therefore, any 20 year old who pays you the slightest bit of attention is OUTSTANDING because they seem both glamorous *AND* nice, because they're talking to YOU instead of glamming about with their presumably awesome boyfriend in their fancy car. So, OF COURSE, me-10 would think me-20 was cool. But it was fun to think about just the same, and a fun question to ask people, because the answer was almost always yes, and it was pleasant for all of us to realize that, even though we felt lame most of the time, our 10 year-old selves would still admire us.

The question doesn't just end there, though, of course. Because once you've taken the lid off the box of past-yous, they just start wandering around, giving opinions on everything. To keep it simple, though, when talking to others, I try to stick with me-10-years-ago model. It's easy to articulate. So, now that I'm 23, and most of my friends are 23, I ask what would your 13 year old self think of you now. Which is a much, much thornier question, at least for me. Because as a 13 year old, I was undoubtedly the worst person I was ever going to be-- I think most people are. I had just started a new school and I stumbled in to being friends with the popular girls. It was a right long year of being rotten and group-thinky until it all dissolved hideously because I bought a purple tank top for myself without getting the group leader's OK and was ostracized because purple was HER color.1 So, I don't necessarily know if 13 year old mean girl me would like 23 year old dweeby librarian/trivia-enthusiast me, at least not immediately. But I think if we had an evening together, at a boring party or similar, she'd come around to liking me. I doubt, however, that she'd ever mistake me for cool.

2. Background on this question: this is one I came up with last year when I was working in a children's bookstore in Cambridge, because it was a fun way to get to know my fellow booksellers. It's slightly more original than asking their *favorite* book, because different people approach the question in very different ways. Some people, for example, were utter pragmatists, and they picked Harry Potter, because then they'd be millionaires. Which is very smart. Other people were idealists-- one girl picked The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, for example, because she thought it was the most impressive accomplishment of any author in the store. And all the others were, for lack of a better description, stylists. They thought about themselves, the kind of things they liked, and the kind of things they produced, and picked the book that was the most superlative example of that style.

Although I find the pragmatic approach tempting, now that I know of it, I am at heart a stylist. I would never have thought to pick the highest earning book, and even when wishing, I don't think I'd wish to make something that didn't seem like ME, no matter how impressive I found it. That sort of seems like a different wish-- I might wish I were THE KIND OF PERSON who could write Middlemarch, for example, but even when playing pretend I know I'm not. Even though I don't write (as my lax blogging indicates), I have a sense of the kind of stories I'd produce if I did, and I feel bound to pick something in that style. So, when answering this question, I try to think of a book that seems like a Me Book, but me done the very best possible way.

When I answered the question last year, I picked I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith2, because the book is light and funny and a good bildungsroman about a smart girl with a screwball family and a fondness for Austen. And it's set in a castle. And all those things felt me, but superlatively so. Now I think I'd say The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, although even WANTING to have written that book feels like unpardonable hubris. However, it's about the complicated ways people relate to one another and P.G. Wodehouse and the difficulties of being a smart girl and wordplay and feminism and situationist ideas so... it does fall within the realm of me. And it's an incredible book that I think could help a huge number of girls make sense of the world, so I certainly wish I had written it.

3. This is a tricky one, because I have such a profound love for so many different fictional worlds-- Jasper Fforde's fake England was a serious contender, as was the world of Harry Potter (as frustrating as those books become for me by the end of the series). At the end of the day though, I can't help but pick The Enchanted Forest, as imagined by Patricia C. Wrede in the Dealing with Dragons books. It's intensely and impressively magical, but magic with a wry sense of humor, and it's blessedly low-stakes. As much as I enjoy reading about, Regency England, for example, there are far too many ways to end up seriously unhappy. Ditto Jasper Fforde's England and Rowling's Harry Potter. In the Enchanted Forest, however, although you can be unhappy, it's usually your own fault. You can be punished for being greedy, or stupid, or mean, but if you keep your wits about you, use your common sense, and treat people respectfully, you'd be ~relatively~ okay. And the thick, green carpet of moss it's supposed to have is just too inviting to turn away from.

4. Either the story of how I got the scar above my eyebrow in 7th grade math class , or the story of how I broke up with one of my boyfriends the night after we visited Auschwitz on a school trip (which, I SWEAR, is not as evil as it sounds). Both stories are too long to tell here, but you guys let me know which one sounds more interesting, and I'll tell the whole thing in a later post.

5. My friends in college once paid me $30 to sing "I Touch Myself" by the Divinyls in our school's Spring Fling Karaoke competition. I did, it was awesome, I should have won, but didn't. There is video footage out there SOMEWHERE that will surely come back to haunt me some day.

Bonus question 1: I am a serious YA lit enthusiast, and I found Brotherhood 2.0 in March of '07, when John had his eye ailment. Libba Bray is another YA author who's friends with Maureen, and she has a blog, and she also has a glass eye. So she went in to visit John and amuse him with it while he was in the hospital, and then she blogged about it, and linked to Brotherhood 2.0 where I went and promptly fell hopelessly in love.

Super bonus: Oh, John. Completely John. I like them both, but I like John best.

Triple super bonus: For a long, long time, I thought I would never get over Christopher Eccleston, and then Human Nature/Family of the Blood happened, and I realized that David Tennant owned my whole heart. Series 3 is my favorite and, bucking the general trend, Martha is my favorite companion, although Donna Noble has gained siginificantly. Rose, who I loved for so SO long, grew markedly less awesome when her whole plot became will she come back/won't she, will she and the Doctor/won't they. I still miss Jackie, Mickey, and Pete though. ESPECIALLY Jackie.

Oooof. This is a lengthy post. I hope you all will forgive me my wordiness.

[1] Well, it was little more complicated than that but yes. That really did happen.
[2] Which is, in case you don't know, the book I get my blogger pseudonym from. Cassandra Mortmain is the book's narrator, and the entire book is written like it's her diary, so it seemed appropriate for a blog.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Five Questions, Five Answers (not)

So, as proposed, I am going to ask five questions of my BEDA buddies here, and then answer those same questions myself. Anyone else who reads my blog (aka Anna and Jeremiah) is encouraged to answer the questions as well, if they're interested. I figure this is a better way of spending my library desk hours than playing DeepLeap, as there's no way to pause the game when a patron comes along needing help. I've given one too many person an exasperated stare they really didn't deserve for interrupting my games-- but it's so addictive! I don't know how to stop!

So, I'm going to try to blog instead. Coming up with 5 questions is harder than I would have thought, probably because I am continually second guessing myself. But here's what I've come up with:

1. If your 13 year-old self met you today, not knowing who you were, would they think you were cool?
2. If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick to be yours, and why?
3. If you could live inside any movie, book, or play, which one would you choose?
4. What story about yourself have you told more times than any other? Can you tell it to us?
5. What is the strangest thing you've ever been paid to do?

Bonus question, for the nerdfighters amongst you: How did you discover Brotherhood 2.0?

Super double bonus nerdfighter question: Hank or John?

Triple secret bonus question for Doctor Who fans: who's YOUR Doctor? And who's your favorite companion?

... And I'm going to write the answers to these tomorrow, because I came home and got distracted by watching Mean Girls and 30 Rock with my roommate, because I am obsessed with Tina Fey and think everything she does is perfect. But I wanted to post the questions at least!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hello BEDA Buddies!!

Hi Dave, Kasey, and Shecaptain! Welcome to my sorry excuse for a blog. I though, maybe, that a fun way for us to begin getting to know each other would be to come up with 5 questions each, and then answer both our own and those submitted by the other three. I've been having a hard time coming up with topics for posts, but I love love love asking people questions, and I definitely enjoy answering good ones myself. So this is a very self-serving suggestion, but I hope a good one as well.

What do you three think? If you're all in we could take the night, and post our 5 questions tomorrow.

Why so gloomy, Batman?

So, color me embarassed. I've just gone over my sorry attempt at keeping up with BEDA and, not only have I not blogged every day, but good golly, have my posts been whiny. And ranty. Which is funny, because April has, so far, actually been a pretty great month. So far I've:

  1. Started a new job with great coworkers in a pretty, pretty building stuffed to the brim with lovely books.
  2. Frolicked in the sunshine.
  3. Looked longingly out the library windows at OTHERS frolicking in the sunshine while I was stuck behind the circ desk.
  4. Looked gloatingly out the library windows at others scampering miserably through the April showers.
  5. Read, and adored, Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson.
  6. Rediscoverd my all-consuming passion for Lord Peter Wimsey.
  7. Seen one of my all-time favorite singers in concert.
  8. Met baby Annabel!
And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head, in terms of good things that have happened this month. I know I could come up with even more if I thought about it. But all I have written here is grousing. My cupcakes turned out poorly, I hate the ads on the MBTA, etc. etc. Who knew I would be such a dour blogger?

NO MORE, though. I'm turning over a new leaf. I will blog more regularly, and more cheerfully. Really, I promise.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome Annabel Kristine Buenaventura Halloran!

As Jeremiah has ever graciously pointed out, I am *decidedly* behind on my BEDA entries. Maureen assures me that this is okay though, and I agree-- there's nothing to be gained by feeling defeated, only something to be gained by actually blogging as often as I can bring myself to. Today, I am very lucky because the world, via my friends Greg Halloran and Katty Buenaventura Halloran, has provided me with an unimpeachably awesome subject:

Annabel Kristine Buenaventura Halloran, their brand spanking new 8-pound bundle of adorable newbornousity. She is the first baby my group of close friends has produced and, therefore, is guaranteed to be adored by one and all. I cannot wait to meet her and shake her teensy, tinsy hand. In honor of her birth, I'm going to make a list of 5 things I already like about her:

  1. 1. Her totally awesome name-- Annabel Kristine! In addition to *sounding* pretty, Annabel means "loving", so it's great on multiple levels. Also, all the best people have four initials.
  2. 2. She has excellent taste. I mean, you Boston people, take a look out your window-- can you imagine a nicer day to be born? I couldn't.
  3. Even though she's only 12 hours old, she's already established herself as completely crafty. Her parents were determined to be surprised by her sex, and she really committed to obliging them. From small, folklore-ish signs (being carried high in her mom's womb) to more definitive medical ones (causing a rash that indicates a boy 70% of the time, possessing a slower heartbeat), she really tricked everyone into thinking she would be a boy. I am hoping this is a sign of great things to come-- like an illustrious career as an international super spy.
  4. Even though her hands are absolutely bitsy, she has one hell of a grip. Even though she's barely a day old, she's already strong!! So that's awesome.
  5. She will provide me with an excuse to buy SO MANY CHILDREN'S BOOKS! I've already given her four board books-- Down By The Bay by Raffi, Quiet LOUD by Leslie Patricelli, Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Allsburgh, and The Monster at the End of this Book By Grover (as told to Jon Stone)-- and I will soon give her ever so many more!! Every picture book I've ever been unable to justify purchasing for myself, I will give to her. I am ATWITTER with ideas already!!!
So-- there we are. Five things about the utterly remarkable baby I met today. May her awesomeness grow with every passing day!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Red Velvet Cupcakes OF DISAPPOINTMENT

Dear readers, I am in a pickle. As a nascent baker, I have encountered a problem I've never had before: I have made a batch of markedly mediocre cupcakes, and I have no idea what to do with them. Just yesterday afternoon, when I carefully chose my recipe, full of hope and anticipation, I had been planning on giving them to my friend Elissa as a belated birthday present. They were going to be Red Velvet Cupcakes of Atonement!

The blog I got them from seemed so confident-- they were going to be bright red and full of real delicious chocolate flavor. They were going to be decadent and magical. One commenter described them as "dense and cakey" and so I imagined them dense and smooth and, you know, velvety. But readers, I was led astray!! Although I'm sure our $13.98 Proctor-Silex hand-mixer (the "low" setting on which whirs away fast enough to chop off fingers) can't have helped matters, I'm confident the recipe is largely to blame.

There were so many problems with it that, looking back now, I almost feel ashamed I didn't know IMMEDIATELY this would go poorly. For starters, the recipe had been HALVED, a clear sign of idiocy. I mean really-- what person in their right mind would want to make TWELVE cupcakes when they could have 24??? That way lies madness!! The new proportions threw me off and kept me from realizing that the recipe was all wrong. Not enough egg, butter, and other fattening things to make it awesome. Nothing to give it levity or richness. There wasn't even enough food coloring to make it truly RED, the true goal of a red velvet cupcake. There was only enough to make it a pallid and unappetizing mauve, a color which matched the cupcakes' leaden consistency. Their flavor was good enough, and they made acceptable vehicles for my cream cheese frosting but over all they were such sad, disappointing little things. A cupcake isn't supposed to be the kind of thing that sits around until, with a shrug, you say "Well, I guess I'll have one." They are things of dreams and happiness, of light and adorableness. If they don't fill you with longing, if they are anything less than tantalizing, then they can hardly be TRUE cupcakes.

These Cupcakes of Disappointment were no ones' dream. I couldn't bring them to Elissa, that much was clear. She deserves better than pallid Cupcakes of Disappointment. No more could I bring them into work to get rid of them, for fear of making my new coworkers think I was a terrible, terrible baker. I couldn't even bring them into my old work-- it would be like going out see an ex-boyfriend in sweats and unwashed hair. They may not be your boyfriend anymore, but you never want to think "Man, she sure has let herself go. What did I ever see in her anyways?" Only, you know, with baked goods rather than hotness. I couldn't give them away to someone I liked, because I hated them myself, and I didn't want to give them to someone I didn't like, for fear that they would come to expect cupcakes in the future. So they just sat about, Disappointing me like it was their job. Thankfully, before they could become fossilized emblems of my failure, Bruce the roommate manned up and ate them all. But it's certainly not a recipe I'll be returning to any time soon.

My Thoughts on Productivity Timers...

I'm reading about a million blogs, and writing precisely zero of them myself but here-- a link with some commentary.

This how-to from LifeHacker teaches you how to make a productivity timer on a Mac using Apple Scripts. You basically set your computer up to ask you, once every 20 minutes, "Are you sure you're spending your time wisely?" If you click "Yes" the timer starts over again, and you continue what you were doing before.

On one level, this seems like the greatest idea ever. If I had I known this existed while I was writing my thesis senior year, I would have made about 82 different varieties of it. Every 20 minutes "Margaret, stop searching for terrible music videos on YouTube. Your facebook competition with Kjero and Terrell is not as important AS GRADUATING. Click YES if you value your future." Every 10 minutes "No, Margaret. You aren't hungry. You have 8 trays of food from the dining hall. You have NO EXCUSE to go to the market. Click YES because you know I'm right." Every 2.5 minutes "You know, Margaret, looking up EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. in the built in OpenOffice Theasaurus might SEEM more prodcutive than trolling YouTube. But it isn't. So stop. Some acceptable synonyms for YES you could use to answer this reminder are 'Affirmative','Amen', 'Beyond a doubt', 'Indubitably', and 'Without fail.'" I would have thought they were the ANSWER TO ALL MY PRAYERS.

But you know what they really would have been? Another meaningless form of procrastination. Because when that little window that I'd probably spent 4.5 hours making popped up and said "Margaret, you can't sit here playing ColorJunction on your iGoogle home page, waiting until your iGoogle theme switches from its "Late Night" color scheme to its "Sunrise" color scheme just because you're curious exactly what time the change happens. YOU HAVE REAL WORK TO DO."? I would have been like "SHUT UP WINDOW! YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE! Yes, I'm spending my time valuably!" And then I would have been like "....well. Just one more game of ColorJunction then..." It may have made me weep tears of frustration (SO MANY WINDOWS TO CLOSE! All these subscripts are making my computer SO SLOW!) but it would have done NOTHING to motivate me because? Anyone useless enough to need PRODUCTIVITY REMINDERS is probably too useless for them to be effective.

I also like how, basically, these grown-up computer programmers are crafting little widgets to behave like their mother. "Honey, shouldn't you be in bed now?" "Honey, are you sure sitting in front of that computer is the best way to spend your time?" "Honey, shouldn't you go out and enjoy the sunshine?" If they wanted this kind of treatment, why don't they just move home and live with their mothers? It would be less effort, save them the expense of an apartment, and allow them to be nagged to their hearts' content.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Things I Think Too Much About: Ads on the MBTA

As an individual without a driver's license, I spend a lot of time on the MBTA. As someone with a BA from a liberal arts college, I spend A LOT of time analyzing things that, ultimately, were never meant to be analyzed deeply. When these two qualities combine, the outcome is obvious: I spend a lot of time on the T over-analyzing really stupid ads. Sometimes, this habit of mine is relatively benign-- I'll joke with my roommate about how ill-suited the image of a girl staring dreamily out at a blue sky is with the ads copy, which is trying to track down hypochondriacs for a Harvard Med School study. "Worried you have brain cancer? Heart disease? A tumor?....well, it sure doesn't look like it, but hey: call us anyways." More often than not though, they make me really deeply annoyed.

A couple months back, Kaplan test prep bought, like, every third ad on the Red Line and Oh. God. Did I hate their ads. The tag line was "You'll be a different kind of _____. But first, you have to get into ____ School. " and it had the DOUCHIEST MODELS EVER. Like, apparently, being a "different kind of lawyer" meant you MEDITATED. In a BUSINESS SUIT. In THE MIDDLE OF A COURTYARD. "Different kind of doctor"? Daisy in your lab coat pocket. "Different kind of business man"? Look like a douchietty douche face and don't wear a tie. And call business school "B-school." HaaAAAaaaaaTE. The mere sight of these ads practically enraged me-- they were so SMUG about their pseudo-nonconformity. You could just imagine the douchy douche who they were obviously meant to target, the person who was like "Oh, I'm going to Law School, sure, but just to SUBVERT THE SYSTEM. But I won't consider anything that's not an Ivy." And they'd tell all their friends they were going to do Legal Aid or whatever, and get all self-righteous in people's faces about how they weren't just ANY Law School Clone they were there to DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL. And then they'd end up working at, like, Goldman Sachs doing copywright law. But still be insufferably self-righteous. Those ads were directed act the kind of person who, while doing EXACTLY what all his peers are doing, still thinks gloatingly that he's some kind of daring individual. And good, dear lord, did I ever hate them. Even thinking back on the ads now, with them gone for MONTHS, they STILL annoy me.

Sometimes. however, there is a bright spot among all the rage. Something that consistently makes me laugh, even though it's not trying to. Like this ad:

Which never, ever fails to make me think "FART ATTACK!" and snicker to myself. Seriously. I defy you to see *anything* else when you look at that picture. It amuses me so much, so consistently, that it almost makes up for the Kaplan ads.


I'm still doing BEDA, I promise...

So, here it is, seven days into blog "every" day April, and I have made just three posts. That's pathetic guys. Not necessarily surprising or anything, but still pathetic. I sit at my library desk, and I know there are plenty of things I could write about, but oh, look at how many articles there are in my google reader feed, and I mean, jeez, I shouldn't just write ANYTHING just to meet some kind of arbitrary deadline, unless I have Deeply Important Thoughts on a matter, what's the point. So on, so forth. But deep down I do know there's something worthwhile about just putting fingers to keyboard and banging something out-- maybe I don't have something to express at the beginning, but I can find things along the way.

SO. I am sticking with it. I will try to make up the missed posts throughout the month, but I'm not going to use them as an excuse to quit. That said, I am going to try to write a post for today.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Falling down on the job already...

I know, I know. I'm not even THREE DAYS IN before I miss a post. I am such a BEDA failure. But I am planning two posts today, to make up for my laxness. BUT WHAT AM I GOING TO POST ABOUT? I am feeling singularly uninspired. All I want to do is sit here at my library desk and online shop. I mean, just look at all the adorable things I'm finding:

I know, guys. It's hard to believe your eyes. But they're REAL SNEAKERS made to look like WATERMELON. And more importantly, they are sold in GROWN UP SIZES!!! I don't just have to sigh longingly over itsy-bitsy child footwear and long for the halcyon days of 1995 when my feet were small enough to fit them. I can buy my very own pair RIGHT NOW for just $43.00 and recapture the sartorial glee of a toddler who's just been given permission to dress herself!!! Maybe I'll even wear them with a tutu-- WHO KNOWS? With grown-up sized watermelon sneakers, the sky is the limit! And if anyone wrinkles their nose up at my taste and calls it immature, I can pretend to be grown up about it too, by describing them as "witty" shoes, or saying they are "inspired by the same Dadaist spirit that guided Elsa Schiaparelli." So, in summary:

Awesome Watermellon Shoes: $43.00

Employing you liberal arts education to justify your love for thoroughly ridiculous footwear: Priceless.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Super Quick Recipe Post

This is cheap, but I just had a 45 minute discussion with my mother about the vagaries of coming home from work at Midnight and what buses am I taking and do my coworkers walk me to the train and well if they drive couldn't they give you a ride and you know what? I am bone tired of it, and just want to READ and be anti-social.

But I am Blogging Every Day in Blog a Day April, so, blog I must. And I am going to do so by detailing my super uncomplicated recipe for my-- apparently-- legendary Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting. I used this to frost my Valentine's Day cupcakes and brought it into work and subsequently discovered from my now former coworkers that this frosting was a huuuge hit. So I promised to write it up and send it to them...and am doing it on my blog. Two birds! One stone!

disclaimer: I didn't take this picture, or cook this cupcake
I deleted all the pictures I took of mine, and just stole this from a blog
it sure is pretty though, isn't it?

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting


1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Between 6-8 strawberries, I used frozen, but I imagine fresh would work just as well

1. Take the frozen strawberries, microwave them till they're defrosted, and mush them up with a fork (the poor girl's food processor). Refridgerate newly-made strawberry goo.

2. Soften cream cheese and butter so they're easy to mix. I usually do this by putting them in a plastic bag, and then submerging that bag in warm water in a metal bowl. This can leave the butter a bit melty, but it sure is easier on my mixing arm.

3. When cream cheese and butter are pliable, mix them together thoroughly in a big-ish mixing bowl.

4. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it's all encorporated.

5. Add the vanilla.

6. Retrieve refrigerated strawberry goo. One tablespoon at a time, add it to the frosting mix. Stir carefully after each one, and taste for strawberry intensity. If the flavor isn't strong enough, add another-- I don't know how many I used, because I wasn't this exact when tomfooling around in my kitchen. You have to keep an eye on it, though, because if you add too much goo, you compromise the structural integrity of the frosting and end up with a glaze. So, go a tablespoon at a time, mix, eyeball it, and taste, until you have the right balance. I bet 2 or 3 will do it.

7. Carefully lick clean all implements and bowls used to mix the frosting. If you just wash them, the frosting will turn out wrong, seriously guys. I promise.

And that's it folks. That's the strawberry frosting that brought you all joy. Use it well

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Blog Every Day April?

Well, Maureen Johnson is doing it, and so... I might as well try, right? I have LOW EXPECTATIONS of success, much like Ernie and the Automatics and their debut album. But I dig Maureen, and I'm trying to blog more, and this seems like a harmless way to do so.

So, my subject for today: my profound gullibility, and the number of April Fool's Day pranks I've fallen for, and then been really disappointed were, you know, pranks. ThinkGeek has left me particularly bereft today-- their April Fool's day products are great. Many people were disappointed to discover that the Tauntaun Sleeping Bag was a fake,1 I, however, think I might be one of few disappointed about the Buzzword wristband being fake. I mean, like, how neat an idea is that? I *know* I use like too much, and maybe some mild electro-shock therapy is exactly what I need to get better. Jeremiah Graves, on the other hand, would probably be crushed to know that the advertised Squeez Bacon is not, in fact, available for purchase. I think he would have had to buy a gross of it, had it been real.2

All in all, these pranks are more heartbreaking than funny. When will I get my Buzzword? What will Jeremiah do without his Squeez Bacon? And without a Tauntaun sleeping bag, what will warm my heart from the Hoth-like cold of these crushing disappointments?

Only time will tell, friends.

1 Actually, SO many people were disappointed, that ThinkGeek is going to try to make it for real. Which is kind of outrageously awesome.

2 Can we also agree, officially, that if Squeez Bacon ever becomes real, the collective noun for a large group of Squeez Bacons would be a gross? Example conversation:
Person 1: Oh, I was at the supermarket, and a gross of newly-sentient Squeez Bacons attacked a pregnant woman and devoured her whole.

Person 2: You mean ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY FOUR bottles of Squeez Bacon came TO LIFE??? And ATE A PREGNANT WOMAN????

Person 1: *eyeroll* Dude, they were eating a PREGNANT WOMAN. I couldn't get an exact count. With Squeez Bacon, a gross just means a whole bunch of them-- you know, like a flock of sheep, or a murder of crows, or a hush of librarians. Duh.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Obessisons, Part 1: Neko Case

I'm trying really hard to blog more frequently, even though only about two people ever read this. I figured a good way to motivate myself would be writing a series of posts about people or things I simply can't get enough of, hence the "Obsessions, Part 1" in this here post's title. Credit to Jeremiah for the general concept, clearly, as he's very fond of list making on his blog. My first subject in the series, Neko Case, is an obvious choice as I have listened to her new album, Middle Cyclone, about 85 times since it was released.1On Tuesday. And I'm nowhere near tired of it yet. And that's just this album.

I have four others as well (Blacklisted, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Furnace Room Lullaby, and The Tigers Have Spoken), and, according to my profile, I've listened to the 67 tracks contained on these albums 597 times, out 0f the 12,396 "plays" it has recorded, in total, since I joined. That means, according to, that about 5 out of every hundred times I'm listening to a song, it's by Neko Case.2 Considering the fact that my library has 630 artists in total, that's a pretty solid testament to how much I like her.

Suffice to say, I love the crap out of her. And here's why:

1. Her voice. Her other-worldly, elemental, lure-your-boat-to-the-deathly-rocks incredible voice. It's not a simple voice, or a clean voice, it's pure, but not like an angel's. It's strong, even harsh at times, but you can feel its beauty right down in your bones. When, at the beginning of Middle Cyclone, she sings a song from the perspective of a tornado in love with a man, you just listen and think to yourself "Yup. That's what a tornado would sound like if it could sing." I can't think of anyone else with a voice so magnetic.3

2. Her songwriting is out of this world. As far as music goes, I'm usually a lyrics girl first and foremost. A song can be a really bare-bones, 3-chord progression number, but if it's got lyrics that are smart I could care less about the rest. But with Neko, it's not simply a case of lyrics, because if I write down the words alone they just don't have the same meaning. Like here are the lyrics from my favorite bit of the title track on Middle Cyclone, which is (basically) about being in love with someone but trying to fight it:
"It was so clear to me/That it was almost invisible./I lie across the path waiting/Just for a chance to be/a spiderweb trapped in your lashes/for that I would trade you my empire/for ashes--/But I choke it back/How much I need love."
The words alone are strange, and smart, and beautiful, no question. But it's the writing of the song itself, and how Neko delivers it, that really sells the meaning. The lines in the song are generally very short, and sung rythmically to a brisk, waltzing beat-- until it gets to the part about a spiderweb. Then the reigning waltz tempo gets abandoned, and things slow down-- like Neko is so absorbed in relishing the intimacy of that spiderweb, that she forgets herself. And then, just when that languid phrase reaches the peak of its longing, she cuts herself off abruptly, returns to the 3/4 structure, and "chokes back" how much she needs love. The very fabric of the song mimics the way the thoughts would happen in your head-- that dreamy interlude where you let yourself feel, really feel, how much you care about this other person, and then that quick interjection of sense that says-- no, don't do this to yourself. Choke it back. It's incredible, and you can find moments like that everywhere in her songs.

3. Her subject matter. I'm a pretty self-centered person, when it comes to art consumption, so it's hard for me to really be obsessed with something if I don't personally identify with it. So Neko could write the best songs with the most perfect lyrics in the world, but if I didn't hear them and think "Hey, that's exactly what I've thought and felt but never figured out how to say!" then she wouldn't be my second most-listened to artist. Neko writes about heartbreak, but roundaboutly and wryly, so I can listen to her when I'm heartbroken without feeling like I'm just moping. She's sings a lot about women who are tough and smart and don't apologize for who they are, and even though I'm not always like that, she makes me feel like I am. Like I won't take any shit. And that can be great to feel.

4. Do you know those songs that are so perfect, that you love so much, that before the song can even end, you've already whipped your iPod out and skipped back to the beginning? I think Neko has more songs like that than anyone else. There are at least three of them on each album. And that's pretty impressive.

5. And did I say that she's awesome, and her music sounds great? Because it does. And that's obviously the biggest reason why you guys should check her out. In fact, you can listen to the entirety of Middle Cyclone for free, including the title track discussed above, at NPR's First Listens series. So give yourself 40 minutes and check it out. I don't know if she's everyone's cup of tea, but she's sure as hell mine.4

1 This is probably a slight exageration, but since I haven't unplugged from my iPod long enough to sync it since uploading the music, I don't have up-to-date playcount information to give you.
2 And that's just her solo albums, by the way. If you add in the amount of time I spend listening to The New Pornographers, it jumps to 6 songs out of 100.
3 I'm not the only one who thinks of her as a siren, either. She was cast to do vocals as one in an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force, too.
4 Yeah, that's right bitches! I figured out how to put footnotes in my blogs. SUCK ON THAT!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Previously, on As The Pier Glass Turns....

Loyal reader(s) will remember that, in October of '07, I told you (based on extensive personal research conducted while cataloging the Stephen Feinberg Memorial Holocaust Library at BLS) that:

If your book about the Holocaust is worth the paper it's printed on, then Elie Wiesel's name is on it somewhere. Maybe he wrote the foreword, maybe he wrote the afterword, maybe he did a blurb for the back of the book, or maybe your agent paid someone else to mention his name in their blurb. Either way, if Elie isn't involved, it might as well not be about the Holocaust at all. - "Do YOU Know the Call Number of Evil?", by your own Cassandra.

Well, apparently that goes for Ponzi schemes as well.

In (Belated) Defense of Valentine's Day

I think I can safely say that I am not overly romantic, or at least not romantic in a profoundly cliche way. I mean sure, I like Jane Austen novels and When Harry Met Sally, and I have even been known to read the occasional romance novel-- mostly after being led into temptation by regular blog reader Anna. However, when it comes to love, in general I prefer the rough and wry to the saccharine, the clear-sighted and honest to comforting and vague, and a sharp tongued aphorism to a drippy platitude. I'm not a cynic, not by a long shot, but I can safely say that if someone gave me a dozen long-stemmed roses, I'd be more likely to roll my eyes at their lack of originality than fall into their arms in wondering gratitude. And yet, I am a staunch supporter of Valentine's Day, considered by most to be the pinnacle of syrupy sweet greeting-card romance. And not only do I support it, but I think you, dear readers, should as well.

Yes, I am aware that:

a) The way it's commonly marketed is hideous.
b) The way most people celebrate it is stupid, cliched, and gross-- more about showing off/demonstrating status than actually celebrating love.
c) If you're single and unhappy about it, the lead up to the holiday can feel like a month and a half of being punched in the stomach.
d) If you're in a relationship, happy or unhappy, it can feel like a month and a half of pop quizzes you haven't done the reading for.

BUT I don't think any of the above points are intrinsic parts of the holiday itself, and I don't think any of them are grounds for valid grounds for hating THE DAY.

I know, I know. This doesn't make sense. I can hear you asking: What do you mean, Margaret? How can the DAY be okay if the way it's celebrated is hideous and it makes everyone feel unhappy, regardless of their relationship status?

Well, readers, let me explain by way of a parallel or six. Let's start with Christmas. Is it marketed hideously? Yup. Do many people celebrate it in a shitty or cliched way? Totally. All the people who are out being dicks on Valentine's Day are probably out being dicks EVERY holiday, Christmas is no exception. Is it stressful for the people who celebrate it? Yes, often almost unbearably so. And is it lonelymaking for the people who don't celebrate it? Absolutely. But on December 24th, you don't have billions of people posting on their blogs about how much Christmas blows. Nope. They're decking the halls, being merry, and finding awesome ways to celebrate the day with out a second thought for all the dicks out there who may or may not be missing the point of it.

In Almost Famous, the fact that Frances McDormand's character forces her family to celebrate Christmas on a random day in September, when she can be sure it won't be commercialized, is a sure sign that she's batshit insane. When Ebenezer Scrooge says "Humbug" to his nephew Fred, he gets harassed by ghosts until he mends his ways. And yet, every year, when millions of cool, smart, decent people opt out of Valentine's Day, we think they're not only compltely sane, but morally righteous. People who do celebrate the day appear are thought to be, at best, unoriginal and, at worst, kind of shitty jerks. Both holidays are an equally complicated amalgam of old-school Paganism, Middle Ages Christian co-opting, and modern crass commercialism, so why are they perceived so differently by right-thinking people?

I imagine this rift started because Valentine's Day celebrates something more exclusive than other holidays. Halloween, Thankgiving, Christmas, New Year's, the 4th of July-- they all have their detractors, sure, but the majority of people are not barred from celebrating them. Valentine's Day, on the other hand, is marketed almost exclusively as a holiday for couples, automatically pissing all the non-couples or unhappy couples off, and leaving the nice couples feeling more guilt-ridden than celebratory. BUT, there's no reason Valentine's Day HAS to be celebrated this way-- in fact, by a significant portion of the population, it isn't. That's right folks: I'm talking about elementary school students. Remember, back in the day, when you brought in Valentine's Day cards for everyone, and February 14th was just another excuse for seasonal decorations, themed candies, and general, all-in good fun festivities? WHY shouldn't it be that way still? Why should we let it be the exclusive territory of smug couples whose real goal in celebrating their love is making us feel bad that we don't have any?

The holiday itself is pretty neat and well-intentioned. It either marks the seasonal pairing up of birds for the spring (Paganism) or the good works of the (likely fictional) Saint Valentine, who was exectued for marrying Christian couples in violation of Roman law. Either way, it's just a day to take time and celebrate romantic love so, unless you're anti-love, you really can't complain about the holiday's stated purpose. As for how you choose to celebrate it, well, that's up to you.

If you have someone, then great, take the opportunity to celebrate them in whatever manner works best for your relationship. If that means roses and diamond rings to you, fine, but if it means staying in and watching TV together there's no harm in that either. If you don't have a significant other, there's no need to let the relentless advertisements make you think you can't celebrate, any more than you'd let them think your Christmas will only be successful if you buy their product. You can bake cupcakes for your coworkers, write notes to people who are important to you, send flowers to your mother, enjoy one of the many billions of great works of art dedicated to the subject, or simply scope out the candy aisle of your local CVS for soon-to-be-discounted seasonal candies. A holiday is whatever its participants bring to it. If Valentine's Day sucks, it's at least in part because clever, creative smarties who could celebrate the holiday with verve have instead thrown up their hands in disgust and boycotted.

And that's why I'm pro-Valentine's Day, and think you all should be too. Because it's never going to get any better if all the good people won't celebrate it. So next year, stay home in your sweats or go out in fancy togs, but whatever you do: don't dismiss the day out of hand. The only thing intrinsic to the holiday is the idea that love is important, and that taking a pause to think about it is well worth doing. So take the time and, in the gloom of a deep New England February, do something that makes you, and maybe someone else, feel a little happier and a little more special. It doesn't have to cost you a thing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

25 Things About Me, Finally

This is basically just for Jeremiah, because I promised to blog more, and I promised to do this meme for him. So, Jeremiah, I hope you enjoy it. And if you're not Jeremiah, be prepared to be not so surprised by some of these revelations.

1. I have many deeply ingrained food phobias. American cheese makes me nervous (it feels like it's suffocating my tongue), I don't trust cold cuts (they glisten strange colors), Mayonnaise terrifies me (no explanation needed here).

2. I am secretly a very competitive person. While I can playfully resign myself to losing in situations where winning is completely beyond my grasp, I generally avoid doing anything I'm not good at. I don't have to be the best (although I prefer it), but I really need to feel like I'm better than most to feel content.

3. This shortcoming makes it very hard for me to get better at things I'm not immediately good at. This is what happened to sports (not that I had much inclination in that direction), acting, and I'm worried it's what's happening to writing too. Which is why I'm trying to blog and journal more. Although with quite mixed results.

4. I have one tradition I've pretty well adapted: I write down when and where I start my books, and when and where I finish them. I stole this trick from my brother, he started doing it while he was traveling around Scotland, and then never stopped. I love doing it. I love doing it so much that sometimes I make a point of starting and finishing books in interesting places, so that when I look back at them I'll have something more compelling to read.

5. I am trying to make traditions for myself. There are small ones, like writing in my journal every day and writing down all the books I read in a month. But then there are more ornate ones, such as: I want to be able to read "The Dead" by James Joyce to celebrate the first snow of every year.

6. Even though "The Dead" by James Joyce is one of my favorite pieces of writing ever, I've never finished reading the other short stories in Dubliners, nor have I ever read anything else by Joyce. But damned if "The Dead" doesn't just break my heart every time.

7. I have an odd fascination with names. I think it comes from being the fourth living Margaret on my mom's side of the family-- Nana, mother, cousin then me. All the good nicknames had been claimed, and so I've always been a fiendish nicknamer, and now as a grown-up a frequent baby-naming sites collecting delicious options. Eleanor, Beatrice. Jasper, Owen. They just call to me.

8. Even so though, I really like family names if they're done right. I really love my name, and I love that I'm Margaret the Second because my mom, the feminist, didn't want me to think girls weren't important enough to get a family name. I love the family names on my dad's side, that alternate between Robert Bayard Willison and Frank Armstrong Willison all the way back to before the Civil War. But I don't think my kids will have family names.

9. Unless I become a single mother, and give birth to a son, in which case I'm naming him Obadiah, after my very first documented American relative: Obadiah Willison, who fought in the Cumberland, Virginia militia in the Revolutionary War. In this version of my life, I'm moving to some small town in New England, turning my entire house into a used bookstore called Bleak House Books, and becoming the domineering and dynamic maternal figure in a yet-to-be-written John Irving novel. Because Obadiah Willison is clearly the protagonist of a John Irving novel.

10. One last point about names (I wasn't kidding about being obsessed with them): I'm only a
Margaret by chance. If things had worked out a little differently, my parents would have named me Grace.

11. Although my dad liked to kid that I would have been named Purity Supreme, after the supermarkets, if he'd had his way.

12. I'm oddly superstitious. I don't know where it comes from, but you can see it above in my asterixed ifs (don't jinx it, don't jinx it). I think I go through life knowing that I've been given an undue amount of luck. I worry if I don't take care, and tiptoe around a bit, someone in the world will figure it out, and make things even again. Like I've been given the wrong change, and want to leave the store unobtrusively so no one thinks too carefully about things.

13. I like it when hotels don't have 13th floors. It seems quaint, and old fashioned.

14. It breaks my heart to know that, except for Marie Harb, none of the people I'm good friends with now ever really knew my father. It's just so strange and disorienting. Some of them might not even know his name, because it's so hard for me to talk about him. This strange anomynity he's acquired is one of the most tangible, and therefore painful, ways his death has manifested itself. He's known more by his absence from my life than his actions in it.

15. This list has turned out a lot more maudlin than I would have anticipated. Maybe it's because I'm writing it while watching Oliver Twist on PBS?

16. Despite being a complete vocabulary snob, I am a rotten speller and know little beyond intuitive grammar-- much to Kerry Mullin's eternal chagrin.

17. I will, however, always know the difference between "it's" (contraction for it is) and "its" (possessive pronoun), because getting them confused was my father's pet peeve, and what little grammar I know I learned from him. I would write out all my papers long-hand, and he would type them, and then together we would sit and edit them. And so I can tell it's from its.

18. Even though he beats me by like a million points every time, I still play at least one game of Scrabble with Jeremiah Graves every Saturday. Because that's how addicted I am to Scrabble.

19. I have a poisonous relationship with my snooze button. I tend to set my cell phone alarm to start going off about two hours before I want to get up, and then reset it thus: first, I give myself an extra hour. Then when that hour is up, I give myself another 1/2 hour. And then, when that alarm goes off, I switch over to the plain old snooze feature, and hit it three times, with 10 minutes between each alarm. And then, sometimes, I finally get up.

20. Sometimes, when I think about it, I worry habits like this will make me absolutely impossible to live with if I ever acquire a live-in boyfriend or spouse.

21. That is, when I'm not worrying if I'll ever have a live-in boyfriend or spouse or whether marriage is really a viable institution in the first place. Which are all things I spend a stupid amount of time worrying about.

22. I would be extremely easy to disable in a fight to the death. Not only do I have weak ankles, but I only have one mostly good eye (my left one) and its easy to pick out, because it correalates with the scar I have above my left eye brow, from when I knocked my desk over in seventh grade Pre-Algebra class and had to get stitches.

23. Which is the only time I've ever had to get stitches and the only time I can remember going to the emergency room. I went once before, when I was too small to remember, because I fell out of my stroller trying to reach for a container of yogurt. Other than that though, I am accident free and broken boneless.

24. I do, however, have a predeliction for getting terrible, terrible cough that last forever. In a Victorian novel, this would mean I have consumption, and probably result in a tragic early termination to whatever passionate and ellicit love affair I was obviously conducting at the time. In real life, it just means that for weeks on end, I'll cough so hard I get dizzy, and go to bed with aching stomach muscles.

25. It took me over 3 weeks to write this list, and that's if you don't count the length of time between when I was tagged, and when I finally started. And even so, I think it's probably pretty trite.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Charlie Taft, Kindred Spirit

I found this tiny gem of a factoid in a story about the craze surrounding the (admittedly adorable) Sasha and Malia Obama. It starts with the girls, then goes on to discuss first children generally, and it ended (brilliantly) here, with Charlie Taft:

And on a much lighter note, Anthony recalls that Charlie Taft, also 11, “was not at all impressed” as his father, William Howard Taft, took the oath of office in 1909: “He was entirely engrossed in reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, ’Treasure Island.”’ - First Sisters Likely to Enthrall US Public, AP

Awesome, Charlie. Awesome. I wish I had a way back machine so I could go back in time and marry you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For the one regular reader of this blog (other than Tom! Hi Tom!)

In case you ever wondered Anna, here's unequivocal proof that Sarah Palin does not read your blog:

"I would think we all tear up during the national anthem at the beginning of a baseball game, don't we? That's an alikeness between Alaskans and New Yorkers." - Sarah Palin to Esquire Magazine

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Theory, A (likely to fail) Resolution

First: I am currently reading a really interesting article from The New Yorker about adolescent sexuality in Red States v. Blue States. As one would assume from its provenance, the article has only good things to say about adolescent sexuality in Blue States (virginity lasts longer, teens are more likely to be sensible about contraceptives, tight-knit families are more important than pledges etc.) and cites the following fact to back up these theories:

The highest teen-pregnancy rates were in Nevada, Arizona, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas (all red); the lowest were in North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Maine (blue except for North Dakota). - "Red Sex, Blue Sex" by Margaret Talbot

Now, they make one red and blue alignment-- political voting habits-- but looking at that list, I'd make another: temperature. The 5 states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates? All freezing cold 70% of the year! Maybe it's not morals, or tight-knit families, or career ambitions, or comprehensive sex ed. Maybe it's just a question of opportunity. I mean, if you're an average 15 year old couple in the Northeast, your sexing up options are severely limited by weather. It's certainly a simpler theory.

And my resolution? Predictably, it's to write more, both here and in my private journal.

We shall see how long it lasts...