Friday, March 13, 2009

Birds of a Feather

So, here's the thing about nerds (1): when given the chance to flock together they become this entirely other animal.

First though, I need to clarify "nerd." I'm not talking about your classic popular culture nerd caricature. No thick rimmed glasses (2), no pocket protector (3) and as my current professional situation has been inspiring a particularly annoying and persistent series of breakouts we're not going to touch on acne or skin issues of any sort (4).

I'm talking about folks whose passions or pursuits fall just outside of what most folks would consider to be "fun" or "interesting (5)". Think comic book conventions, dog shows and NASCAR races.

I spent my evening at such an event (6) and it never fails to fascinate me (7). Everyone laughs at jokes that would translate no where else. They share solutions to problems that will never, ever appear on Oprah...ever. Ev-er.

And the guy who was probably the least cool person in high school is suddenly a minor superstar who can command the attention and the respect of a convention center ballroom full of people.

It kind of gives you hope.

1. Or geeks if you prefer.
2. Which are totally cool.
3. I have never seen a pocket protector in real life. Really.
4. And, frankly, it hardly seems fair.
5. Which I think is pretty much down to American Idol in terms of events with generally accepted mass appeal. I hate American Idol.
6. No. I'm not telling you.
7. Mostly because I'm not a "nerd" in this particular community...I'm more an interested observer. This event isn't my nerd bag, baby. But I have my moments. Like now, where I'm winding down drinking wine, eating M&Ms and watching that show where a team of ghost hunters travel to haunted places and film it.

Dance Break.

{Tall and tan and young and lovely...the girl from Ipanema goes walking...and when she passes...each man she passes says, "aaaaaah..."}

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Not blue...just beige.

But the dress is good, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Burn Baby Burn

So, when I saw mention of this book on another blog this morning I thought, "I remember that book. I really wanted to read it."

Then I thought, "That title is complete genius."

Then I thought, "Who is that woman? Is that supposed to be Emily Dickinson?"

And then I thought, "If Emily Dickinson was on fire would she yell:

help save me im on fire
like the colors of an autumn forest
alive with mad rushes
and straining vibrant life

And then I thought, "This is why you used to eat lunch alone."

And then, "And that sounds nothing like Emily Dickinson."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quote the raven, "No...really...I LOVE you man..."

So, earlier today I was listening to a radio talk show discussion about the Kindle and e-books in general and whether they really represent some bold new world or simply the death of books as many of us love them (1).

The callers brought up things I had never thought of before. How in the name of sweet Mary above does one get an e-book autographed? What about the actual craft of book making (2)? And the fonts? What about the fonts!? Won't someone please think of the fonts (3)!?!

The tech guru on the show gave some explanation about being able to video a clip of the author and attach it to the book or some such thing but I don't know. I think he had something to say about the font issue but, frankly, I was kind of tuning him out a lot of the time (4). The whole Kindle thing doesn't really do it for me.

Right now, in my bag, there is a moleskin reporter notebook, a spiral bound school notebook and random scraps of paper with information that I'm sure I'm going to need soon. (Well, yes, of course, there's a book in there...) I write things down. I always have (5). I'm big on the "to do" list. Big on the reminder note. Huge fan of the grocery list.

Some researchers are already noting that we're collectively losing handwriting thanks to computers and electronic organizers and the ability to go through life without necessarily having to put pen to paper.

And that's not only sad in a whole Frankenstein monster kind of way...but because one day folks might not be able to enjoy the discovery of notes like this from the writers of tomorrow:

"Will you be so kind enough to put the best possible interpretation upon my behaviour while in N-York? You must have conceived a queer idea of me — but the simple truth is that Wallace would insist upon the juleps, and I knew not what I was either doing or saying."

The author of this "Dude, I was so wasted" missive?

Edgar Allen Poe, who apparently woke up the next morning swearing, "Never more."

It seems that Poe and his friend the poet William Ross Wallace downed a few (6) drinks before Poe was to meet with publishers J. and Henry G. Langley. And apparently, Mr. Poe could not hold his juleps.

The University of Virginia now has Poe's letter on display as part of an exhibition marking the author's 200th birthday (7).

Maybe it's me but I'm thinking it wouldn't be the same to walk into a gallery to see a display of drunken text messages of famous authors.

1. I'm maybe a little bias.
. Not like Freddie Fingers the art of creating literary books.
3. Yeah. That's right. I read the font notes.
4. Okay. I'm totally biased.
5. I attach Post-It notes to my computer screen. Sorry trees.
6. ..dozen...
7. Here's hoping the University of Virginia never decides to celebrate my birthday.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Well that's spooky...

So, as I was hitting "Publish Post" on my last post--which included a shout out to reading aloud--NPR's All Things Considered played writer Emily Wylie's essay on the "Bedtime Story Showdown" taking place in their house.

Audio isn't going to be up until 7PM ET but it's like they were reading my mind.

I knew today was the wrong day to take off the tinfoil hat.

See me. Feel me. Touch me. Read me.

Sometimes you trip across something at just the right time. Other times you luck out and a perfect stranger pushes you over it.

In the midst of a bad day that has grown to be a steady stream of bad days (1) I read about a blog called Seen Reading. Bookmark it now.

Writer Julie Wilson sees people reading in book stores, estimates where they are in whatever book it happens to be, and then uses that place as a jumping off point for a bit of flash fiction (2). Her blog entries include where the person was seen reading and a brief description of the reader in question.

And if that's not enough cool for you she also podcasts herself reading the entry (3).

It's kind of fantastic.

And today it made me feel just a little bit better for just a little while.

Oh, and did I mention that she's Canadian? A little bit of trivia that makes her that much cooler in my eyes.

Credit must be given to another great site, Book Ninja, for giving me yet another place in the blogosphere to hide out and avoid writing. The Ninja is also a resident of our neighbor to the north...a country with the good sense to stock Aero candy bars and Asterix comic books.

1. You are so lucky that this isn't one of those highly confessional blogs. Then again, I think I know all three of my readers already know what's going on. The book blogging is far more interesting, right?
2. Try that with a Kindle.
3. Which I love because it allows you to read along with Wilson. While I realize the relative impossibility of dealing with all text in a read along fashion its astonishing how that simple combination can open up the language and take it in entirely new directions. I continue to wonder if Elizabeth Alexander's inauguration poem would have been better understood if those who criticized it had been reading along...seeing the line breaks and understanding the poem's construction.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dear Madame

Dear Woman-in-Front-of-Me-at-Cosi-with-the-Kids-Who-Still-Have-a-Shot-at-Being-Good-Human-Beings,

Based on your general attitude and the look of utter disgust you had plastered on your face as you regarded your surroundings, I'm going to say that you are either new to the general fast food franchise thing or you want to give the impression that that is the case (1).

Here's the thing...if an establishment is displaying large bottles of admittedly overpriced and, again admittedly, environmentally unsound bottled water they would like you to buy that water. Hence, the whole prominent showcase in the refrigerator shelving by the register.

That's part of how the place makes money to pay the minimum wage earning folks behind the counters. You know, the ones you refused to thank or directly acknowledge.

So, when one of those folks behind the counter hands you free cups of water your response should either be this: "Thank you very much." Or, as you took issue with the temperature of the water you were handed, this: "I'm sorry. Could I please get some ice for the waters? Thank you."

Your reaction should not have been that stricken face you made followed by, "This water is warm. I mean...warm. *phah* (2)."

You're not aboard the Pequod. A little warm water won't hurt you (3) (4).

1. Honestly, I'm not positive which of these things is the case but I'm going to go with the latter. There was something more trailer park than old money about you.
2. I don't know that I can translate the rest of your obnoxious and childish behavior into words but the little huffing sigh and hands up in disbelief were notable. It's probably good that your husband was able to take care of this warm water for you. Otherwise you might have had to strike the cashier.

3. Here I will refrain from adding "Unless some of the water spilled on you causing you to slowly dissolve into the floor screaming, "What a world, what a world...I'm melting..." But I could have.
4. Mood? What mood?