Saturday, April 30, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I haven't had my usual 46 ounces of caffiene today, so this entry might be more subdued than normal. I know, I know that's not fun for you, but listen, I am no ones dancing monkey. Ok the truth is actually I forgot my debit card at home and had minimal cash. This is horrible. Is this how you people live? Its like everything is in slow motion. My brain is taking, like, FOREVER to process its next thought, its awful. Its something akin to: usually, the train of my mind goes express to Kenmore, but right now we're going the full above-ground route and I'm forced to stand uncomfortably close to some undergrad wearing too much body spritz. TORTURE. COME UP TO THE FRONT TO PAY YOUR FARE.
For those of you that do not have the joy of riding the MBTA, know now, that I hate you.
I just finished reading "The God Of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy for one of my classes. It's an excellent book, although I did feel like the prose was a bit forced at times, but that could just be because Roy uses a lot of metaphor, and overuse of metaphor/simile is a crime I have been accused of committing. Its possible, therefore, that these critical eyes were watching out for that too closely. What? Do you guys not remember that Bob Dylan song "These Critical Eyes (Are Dissecting and Analyzing Social Change)" ? Weird. Pretty sure it was on "Blonde on Blonde", but okay.
The title of the book comes from, essentially, (and I'm paraphrasing here) a woman who falls in love (or lust, hard to tell) with an Untouchable, and, unable to face the larger reality involved with being with an Untouchable, the couple focus on the small things when they're together. The small details about being with each other, and about nature and being human are what categorize the moments they spend in each other's company, and not so much the huge details of who they are and what their liaisons could result in.
That's always one of those slightly cliche things that people tell you is the secret of life: to notice the details and take pleasure in them. I don't think the sentiment is cliche, but I do think thats kind of an open ended statement. How do you even begin to "notice the details"? And isn't everything "the details"? That is not to say that I don't agree; I think we, and when I say 'we' I mean people in the same economic bracket as myself, see the forest for the trees. Proper introspection (what! That is really a word?! Seriously, can you guys believe I'm an english major? I embarrass my co-workers on, like, a day-to-day basis. I don't know why they let me have a blog day, probably so that, in comparison, the other entires look approximately a million times better. Despite the fact that they are already choice entries to begin with) is important in life, and I think that's one of the many messages of this novel.
I recommend this novel. I recommended stopping. I recommended introspection.
Okay. Now that that's done with, lets get on to what REALLY matters:
THE ROYAL WEDDING: THOUGHTS? PLANS? HOPES? DREAMS? Email all your thoughts to email@example.com
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Michell's License is one for every boy (and girl) who dreams of getting their license once they get the hang of their own two feet. Mitchell tells his parents that he cannot go to sleep without a license. So, when his dad gives him one, guess what the car is! The tires look quite similar to his dad's slippers. When inspecting the engine, Mitchell seriously looks over his dad's stomach. Oh, have to make sure those glasses, I mean, windshield is clean. And boy oh boy, does his car move! Until it runs out of gas, and "gas is a cookie!" Well, let's just say sometimes cars have a mind of their own.
Did you notice that Mitchell looks like he could be Bink's brother?
Okay, the book is kind'a like this:
~~ ~~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~ ~ ~~ ~~ ~~ ~~
Knuffle Bunny, Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator! Having a little alligator for a best friend can be quite funny, hysterically amusing, and very un-lonely. The way Amanda and Alligator surprise each other in each of the six and half stories -- yes, six and a half -- is just as exciting as finding the pigeon and a similar Knuffle looking creature in the illustrations.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I just finished watching Pom Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, the new documentary on advertising by Super Size Me filmmaker Morgan Spurlock that’s playing over at the Coolidge Corner Theatre. I definitely recommend it, because it’s fascinating and light-hearted. Through the whole thing, Spurlock is winking at the audience, and there are some brilliant comic moments (the in-movie commercial for Mane N’ Tail brand shampoo is pretty priceless). But it also had a few sections that triggered real brainwaves for me.
One is just the ubiquity of advertising. In the film, Spurlock travels to Sao Paolo, a city that has outlawed outdoor advertising. And the whole place looks naked, somehow unnatural. And when you see the video of Sao Paolo intercut with video from Times Square, the cognitive dissonance is astounding.
Of course advertising is everywhere. We all know it. We all accept it as the price we pay for modern convenience, to a certain degree. If the big companies are willing to pay the expenses of the shows, concerts, even some book tours, in exchange for getting a little bit of our attention, then doesn’t that make everyone happy?
But what occurred to me while watching The Greatest Movie is that, no, it doesn’t make everyone happy.
Part of advertising, of course, is making a customer aware of a certain brand and its benefits. If, for example, flame-retardant vest A is 50% more flame-retardant than vest B, you might tell your customers that in an ad. But what if vest B is still plenty flame-retardant for your purposes? What if you don’t need anything more flame-retardant than good old vest B? Then advertisers have to do something else: they have to convince you that you need something you don’t (incidentally, this is where SPF 50 comes from…every study has shown that 15 does just as well for practical purposes, but still, there is 50 and 75).
If you, like most of the country, are part of the lower to upper-middle class, then the gap between what you need and what you have is probably pretty minimal (food, clothing, shelter, water, books, internet), so advertisers have their work cut out for them. They have to convince you first that you need coffee, then that you need an iced double-espresso machiatto (I don’t know if those words make sense together—I drink iced tea). They have to convince you that it’s not enough to be clothed, but that you must have hip-hugger, bun-lifter, crotch-tweaker jeans (idea copyright Evan Perriello 2011). And the only way they can do this is to convince you that your life, as it is, is deficient. Where there is no gap, they create the semblance of a gap (incidentally, this is also the advertising slogan of the aforementioned jeans).
The net effect of this is that, not only are you seeing 10,000 advertisements a day. You’re seeing 10,000 signals all telling you the same message: You are deficient. You are not good enough without brand X. And unless you have millions of dollars, you won’t ever have all the brand X’s that are out there, so you will always be deficient. We wonder why, according to the WHO, the US has the highest rate of depression, but in no other country is one subject to the same amount of metaphorical mud-slinging (the notable exception being Japan, which is in a similar situation, mental-health-wise).
In many forms of entertainment, advertising has been around forever. I love watching the old Twilight Zones with their original ads for doctor-recommended cigarettes. And while the ads have become more prominent and have blurred the lines between the show and the ad, (anyone watch Biggest Loser and notice that the entire 2 episodes spent in New Zealand were one big travel ad interspersed with “trainer tips” that always recommend a distinct brand-name product you can buy?) it has always been part of the accepted territory of television, of radio, of magazines, of newspapers.
But what about books? Books, it seems to me, are the last unconquered terrain for advertisements. Or at least they were…until now. As good independent book-buyers, I’m betting you don’t follow Amazon that closely, so what I’m about to say is going to be shocking and horrifying. They’ve released a new Kindle, their proprietary e-reader, that gives you “special offers.” That’s right. As you prepare to flip open your copy of Moby Dick, you can get a few advertisements for a new Buick or special credit card.
I’m not against e-book readers, per se. I don’t have much use for them myself, because I prefer real, physical books. But I can see their purpose. Still, there’s something sickening to me about the thought of setting down my book, coming back to it, and finding the page has switched to an advertisement while I was away. I don’t want a character to grab a Pepsi from a fridge and have the word link to Pepsi.com when I click it. If I ever publish a novel, I don’t want to have to change a single word, from “car” to “Honda” or “hot sauce” to “Tabasco” just so that I can afford to publish. And more than anything, if I ever have a daughter, I don’t want her to have to click off an advertisement for makeup when she’s trying to read Wuthering Heights for the first time.
And it makes me wonder what the world would be like if instead of walking through a jungle of signs telling us what we’re missing from our lives, we walked through the same number of signs telling us things like, “Love your family,” “Be good to your friends,” “You’re beautiful,” “You’re smart.” If an e-book reader would say something like that every once in a while, maybe then it would be worth interrupting the narrative. But in the meantime, I think I’ll pass on the “special offers,” and just get back to my book.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
The thing about big families is that, unless you all live really close to each other, its hard to know each specific kid really well. Kids can cycle through phases pretty fast, I remember at one point my baby sister having strong, serious convictions about becoming a Lepidoterist. To the unwashed masses, let me inform you, this is somebody that sudies butterflies and moths. For a while, I myself thought I wanted to be a gaudy, wealthy divorcee who could tuck her linen suit into her many golden bangles and retreat to her yacht to brood and drink expensive booze from squat, handblown glasses.
Oh no, wait, that phase is still going on. Right. Ok nevermind.
My point is, in my family I kind of got the label of "creative, talented, misunderstood and angsty" which, while totally accurate, led to a landslide of gifted journals that inevitably got re-gifted. People figured that I had a lot of feelings, and that I must want to record them somehow, because presumably all young girls love journals. My mother was the type to have a gift closet, and there was always fresh store of unused journals on hand for her to dole out, almost all of them gifts themselves from a distant aunt.
I'm not saying I was ungrateful for these journals, but its just kind of a shame, since I'm not the journaling type. I'm kind of a talker, don't know if you've noticed. I can noodle around on any subject for a fair amount of time, regardless if I actually know anything about this subject. This talent has served me well in school when called upon to give presentations, or numerous times in the book store when Book Seller X who I want to think I'm cool asks me about such-and-such-cool-thing-I've-never-heard-of. At this point I've been there for long enough that I can just look them straight in the eyes and start to drool a bit, and they usually get the memo. But it used to be like, "Oh, yeah, totally, Wolfmother, yes. Uh huh Infinite Jest, so deep, I was touched. Yes. Stone Ground Mustard, love that band, they really rock. Oh its an actual...ok nevermind."
Thats why I recommended the "VS" journals we have at the store for my staff rec this month. What an amazing idea. These journals are basically a game of "would you rather..." in journal form. You can open the book to any page and you'll get a prompt: unicorn vs. pegasus, megaman vs. rocketboy, The Tick vs. Spiderman. the possibilities are endless. Not everybody was like me; don't let my preferences effect your gift-buying decisions. I myself have gotten a fair number of young relatives journals of their own; it's a right of passage, and some of them do get used and are beloved. A few years ago, my mom, knowing all about my background relationship with dairies, etc, bought me a beautiful leather-bound journal with a little brass clasp, and I still have it and use it all the time. My best friend faithfully kept a diary all throughout grade school and well into high school, I know because she used to read me excerpts while we read 17 magazine on her bed after school everyday. If you're wondering, Steven really didn't have a crush on me, he was just using me to get to Sarah F. because she got boobs when we were like, 10.
Not to end this post on a bummer, but harsh, Steven. Way to crush my brittle 11-year-old heart. Its probably your fault that I'm like this.
As ever, peace to the homies, no love for the scrubs. Steven.
oh, also, I just saw Emily's post underneath this one, and "Yikerz!" is awesome. Emily and I were playing it just the other night, it would actually be a great game to play on your luxury yacht. In case you were wondering.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Place the magnets down one by one, but don't let them zap together. Even though they make a really cool sound, the object of the game is to get rid of all of your funky shaped magnets. I played a couple of rounds with the staff, and they had a great time with it. The beauty of this game is that there is a solitaire version -- beat your time to try to fit all of the magnets on the board without any zaps -- for when there is no one esle around. Or, you can also play with about 5 other players. The game manufacturer claims that this game is for 14 and up; however, I say age 8, as long as the child knows about magnet safety.
Think of the fun that magnet geeks would have with this game!
$14.99 and great for travel
To watch a really fun demo, please visit here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4dlLOryWM4&feature=player_detailpage.
I lived in Allston for about six of those years, and worked here at the Booksmith. I would pass the Beals St. intersection on the course of many of those trips, and I would look in appreciation over the hedge at the quiet (as possible) lawn under tall trees, designed to be a small leafy canopy of stillness, with a pair of picnic tables and a few sitting stones in the ground gathered respectfully around one standing stone. Perhaps six feet of this boulder is exposed above the earth.
Today on my way in for the night shift I was walking with my sketchbook out, revising my course of action on the painting that is waiting for me at home, and I come to an idea that requires me to sit still and keep the lines straight. So, holding that thought I come upon the hedge, and the lawn under the trees, and, in the back corner, the boulder. It amazes me that I have never sat against that boulder in all these years of passing by. And wouldn't that be the place to sit and pull this idea down to the paper.
The boulder, after I found the right stone to be my seat, and just when I leaned back in order to find out if this was, indeed, as it appeared, the perfect seat for my butt and, yes, the smoothest surface for my back, just sort of scootched back like it was a big jug empty of milk.
Sometimes when you find out that things are not what they seem you just laugh and laugh and laugh. On most days you won't find me heartily approving of plastic ferns, but this particular practical joke has been patiently waiting for my participation for more than a decade. I have to admit, that was a good one! You really got me! I bet you never thought, when you bought this giant plastic boulder, that you'd be stuck with it for twelve years. Now you can finally get rid of it. Right? I'm so sorry it took me this long to walk onto the set of your big production.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
As a person who LOVES birds, I own several different bird guides but my favorite one is the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America. It's my go-to guide every time. David Sibley's drawings are amazing and it's a really user-friendly guide for beginners. When I first started bird watching I'd just flip through the book until I landed on what looked like the bird I saw. Then I'd read the descriptions and puzzle through the identification. After awhile I started to just know birds from a lot of page flipping. And once you get going there is a GIANT world of birds out there. It is SO exciting the first time you see a new bird and are able to identify it yourself.
We have a large selection of field guides here at the store. Some people prefer drawings, some prefer photographs. There are pros and cons to both. We have both! (There's also a new guide by Richard Crossley called Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds, that looks mighty interesting, but I haven't had time to examine it thoroughly yet. It's unlike most bird guides I've seen.) I'd be happy to show you around this section if you are just getting into birding or if you know someone who is.
I'll leave you with an interesting bird tidbit. It's not a surprise to see red-tailed hawks living in the city and they are a common sight perched on weather vanes, billboards or balconies. (Squirrels and pigeons make for good eats!) However, lately I've been noticing turkey vultures in great numbers soaring high up in the air. They are huge and sometimes travel in groups. I've only ever seen them in the country-side or suburbs so I can't help but wonder what is bringing them to the city. Obviously food, but why all of a sudden? I am fascinated by this. If you have any insight, drop me a comment!
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
"When in doubt, relax" the inagural 7-minute Brookline Booksmith Interview : Christopher McDougall -Born to Run-
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Ask Elizabeth. There is no charge, just come on downstairs to our events corner. After the talk she will be signing books (she will also be glad to sign one memorbilia item per fan -- such as a Saved by the Bell poster -- as long as you have also purchased a copy of the book).
Most of you may know Berkley from numerous television shows, particularly Saved By The Bell and CSI: Miami. But, she is more than just an actress. Did you know that she founded a "not-for-profit organization that facilitates self-esteem workshops to empower girls ages 11-18"? Ask Elizabeth is a compilation of letters from teens nation wide grasping all concepts of life -- first love, sex, family issues, loneliness, self-esteem, body image, and much more.
I found Berkley's advice and responses to be well thought out and down to earth. Additionally, this book is more than advice from Berkley as well as other teens. It helps to reassure you that you are not the only one. Most of us, at some time or another, all have similar embarrassing hard-to-ask questions. Questions that you think no one will ever want to hear or answer.
What do you do when your friends turn on you? How do you know who you can really trust? What can I do to gain confidence? What do I do if someone likes me? Why are girls so judgemental of each other??!! How can I be more outgoing? What do you do if someone is jealous of you? What are some ways to make new friends? I hate my nose... I hate how big I am. I get really tired of being the fat girl with the pretty face... My mom and I don't get along anymore and all we do is fight. Is it going to be like this forever? My grandmother was my best friend, then she died...
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Props to the guy that makes my mochas for this resulting rush of mildly entertaining observational humor and poor grammar.
I have real content to present, but first, a mini rant about hyperbole. My generation has been accused of abusing hyperbole, probably because of our close and personal relationship with the internet which has caused our collective imagination to turn ever so slightly...visual hallucination-y. The internet is a place where Paula Deen is photoshopped into photos riding various celebrities, public works installations, produce, etcetera (PaulaDeenRidingThings.com). It is a place where people take .jpegs of Disney princesses, draw glasses on them, give them hipster dialogue (Hipster Disney Princesses) and we all thinks its hysterical. Somewhere in that primal soup of ridiculousness, the word "literally" started getting pushed around. "But guys I literally just waited like a hundred hours for this mocha. Like somebody please use me to irrigate your fields, because I am Old Man River now. There are endangered Grizzly bears lining up at my banks to grab red salmon out of my rolling waters, thats how long the wait was."
(this is clearly a lie, we all know how I feel about the mocha guy: <3 <3 <3 moving on.)
So I will admit the fact that this "literally" has been abused. HOWEVER, if I may, I would also say that, you older generations, you guys are just as guilty. My stepmother Derby likes to keep the saying "More ____ than you can shake a stick at" in rotation. Oh really? Really. More of one thing than you can shake a stick at. That is a staggering amount of something; I have pretty poor upper body strength and my right shoulder keeps mysteriously clicking because I keep putting my backpack on one shoulder (Because that makes you cool, right? Scholiosis is pretty 'in' I think) but I am pretty sure I can shake a stick at a lot of stuff. Its really more of a general, boundary-less area/direction in which the stick is shaken, so technically...
Ok. Presumably you get my point. Just saying. This generational discrimination shall not stand! Except for all the other stuff thats true. Okay. Moving on.
Having said that, I am NOT, repeat NOT dipping into said generation's still, serene pool of hyperbole to say that Tina Fey changed my life with her career and her personality. I am a silly lady and so I look to other silly ladies, like Tina Fey, Maria Bamford, Margaret Cho, Tig Notaro, among many others, for advice on how to best pilot my anxious-heavy and caffeine-supported 20's. Fey was the first female writer on SNL. Right there, you can drop the mic right there, because that is so badass that all arguments are rendered invalid. Isn't Saturday Night Live on its like 38th season? In TV world that's like a "Gold Statue From The Arc Of The Covenant" anniversary, because you start out with stuff like sticks and paste and work your way up to gold and silver, but 38 years of a TV show isn't even a thing. Of course, Fey didn't even come along till '97, and didn't become head writer in '99 (Thanks, wikipedia) and there were several other talented female writers on staff that came before her, but to be head writer on an establishment like SNL is a pretty major accomplishment. I look up to Tina, she is one of my role models.
Her autobiography came out on tuesday. Last night I bought my copy and carried it around like a security blanket all night. I have only read the first 20 pages, but Fey is just as funny in print as she is on film. I am trying to blackmail our events director, Evan, into booking Fey to do an event, but he won't even tell me if she's going on tour because I want it too bad and he delights in my pain. He said it "is like candy" to him. From the mouths of jerks, I tell you. D'awwwww.
Well internet, that's all friends. I'd like to thank my parents, the Mocha Guy, Tina Fey, the Nerdist podcast that I listened to while crafting this deep, meaningful and well-thought out response to the fast paced world of popular media and the consumption thereof.
Haha jk Lolololol <3 Zoe loves ridin' the sugar wave
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Of course, there are more interests out there, aren't there, toddlers?
Touch and feel books? Well, those too...
But I'm also talking about board books revolving around food. No way around it. Don't convince me otherwise. Food is a necessary part of life. Every single day. And, at least, three times a day if not a little more. So, what I like to read myself sometimes are Lorena Siminovich's I Like Fruit and I Like Vegetables. Smooth green apples, one rough orange or two, and a yellow bumpy pear. Smooth peas outside the pod, tall yelllow corn, or a soft pumpkin to
Yes, food is an adventure!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
From my desk/perch above the Kids' section just now, I overheard a conversation among some folks - clearly a family with several generations in tow out for a Sunday visit to Booksmith. One person was expressing his enthusiasm for the store and all that it does/has/is. A couple of others concurred. Standing in front of a bookcase, another fellow said, "Hey, let me see if this title is on my Kindle! It's so cool to stand in a bookstore and order a title online!". Since this has become a topic of some concern for us physical bookstores of late, I waved from my window and said, "Hi there. Just to put forward another perspective, how would that work if the bookstore weren't here? And would you all be okay with the bookstore not being here anymore?" It was all very friendly and civilized - smiles all around and agreement on that being a subject to ponder and discuss.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
"What did you do at school today, Jack?"
"...yeah? Nothing, really?"
"I just stared at the wall."
Which of course isn't true, it's a joke that his mom playfully uttered one day when he was stonewalling her, and he's a born comedian so he picked up on it immediately.
I watch him through the open door of the preschool, and he's calling out letters and numbers, stretching to touch his toes with the best of them, shuffling along in line with his eyes on his feet on their way back from the playground. He does stuff. He can't fool me. But, as his teacher assures us is natural for kids this age, he doesn't enjoy volunteering information about stuff that happened when we weren't there.
Maybe that's the key: we weren't there. He shares stories with me about something that happened when he was with Jess. And vice versa. But when neither of us are there...is that perhaps sacred ground? Or is it too real, too personal, to be offered up without a fight? Or is it maybe unreal? A parent is always part of the context, is always there blocking or reflecting light, up to a certain moment. Then suddenly they are not there. For the first time. What does something that happens mean to a child when their parent isn't there? It must take a while to understand events when that context is removed; when all you have is yourself. And then it must take a while before you can really know how to open those experiences up again for mom and dad to share.
I think about writers, about painters, about actors. All of them, all of us, must have had that moment, must have undergone that change, when understanding that our experiences are entirely different when nobody that knows us is around to share them. Other people being in our presence changes the way we experience things. It's why we read by ourselves, and it's why we perhaps join a club to discuss what we've read. We're getting a dim flicker of the warmth that we felt when we read books together with mom and dad.
And then I think about books in the future, if, as many say, the paper book is not long for this world. And how it may be that someday soon we will all be able to download any book in the world onto the screen in our palm, from the solitude of our own home. And I wonder how that will change our understanding of each other. And of what we experience. And will we curl up and get in dad's lap and download Dr. Seuss and he'll leap off the screen and start talking to us and the walls of the room will sprout floppy trees and I say, no Dad, not this one, we did this one last night, and when I look up at his face to tell him I don't want this one tonight, I want the ocean one, he looks like Sam I Am but that doesn't scare me, in the books he never looks like dad unless I want him to.
How will I know what it is to be alone, then?
What do you think reading will be like in a hundred years?