Monday, December 29, 2008

Bargain Hunting for Books

This NYT article about book bargain hunters points out that no industry undermined by its greatest partisans will thrive long. It's true - gone are the days when I happily spent $1,000/year on books (and I don't think that included my law books, which were certainly expensive) and who could love books more than I do?

I alternate between thinking I left publishing at the right time and wishing I were still at Wiley where I could do my job in my sleep - and some of my colleagues surely did. It was a great place in many ways but definitely one of those companies where 10% of the people (mostly sales and editorial) did 90% of the work. And don't even try to get something done on Fridays when quite a few individuals said they were working from home. This would have been more convincing if they ever responded to email. It always annoyed me that my ability to get my job done was negatively impacted by their laziness or desire to spend time with their kids.

My friend Charlotte was interviewed on NPR on the state of the industry.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Political Appointments

It is so exciting to see former Harvard basketball player Arne Duncan be named Secretary of Education and Tony Blinken from Kirkland House, previously Biden's staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will follow his boss to the White House, where he will serve as Biden's national security adviser.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trying Times for Bedtime Stories

The Boston Globe offers some helpful suggestions for possible book topics if authors want to provide realistic and topical bedtime stories or if parents really wanted to subject their offspring to such depressing topics . . . Personally, the children in my family prefer fantasy for a reason!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Hoc Signo Vinces

The Boston Globe had a nice story the other day about one of my favorite judges, Judge Richard Stearns of the District Court of Massachusetts. In addition to describing the selfless way he uses his vacation time to promote judicial reform in Eastern Europe, it mentioned that he was inspired by A Child's History of the World by V. M. Hillyer, the very book my mother cherished so much growing up that she brought it to school proudly as her favorite book for show and tell, and was teased by her classmates. I am not sure if the copy we own is my mother's childhood copy or if I found another in the intervening years but it is an outstanding book.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Betsy-Tacy annual ornament exchange

Every year the Betsy-Tacy listserv has an elaborate (and anonymous, due to the hard work of Betsy Sundquist and her elves) ornament exchange which pays tribute to the Christmas shopping expedition that Betsy, Tacy, and Tib make in Betsy-Tacy Go Downtown. Here is my tree with many Betsy-Tacy ornaments prominently displayed! You can't see all of them clearly but quite visible are the canoe and lantern from the Indian guide on Carney and Sam's honeymoon, a Big Ben ornament representing Betsy's sojourn in London, a dressmaker's dummy from Miss Mix, a purple ornament from the Deep Valley Class of 1910, and various dog ornaments received this year from Tony Markham . . .
For those who like to examine bookscases, as you can tell from the Dummies books in the background (some from before we were careful to design all the spines to match), these are primarily nonfiction shelves.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's not fair!

I am devoted to my nieces and nephews but they all know that one thing I can't stand is complaints of "It's not fair!" With my eldest nephew, I simply leave the room (like my grandmother who never really believes I will hang up on her, he always seems surprised when I actually depart). So it is somewhat disturbing to learn that dogs have an intuitive understanding of fair play and become resentful if they feel that another dog is getting a better deal . . . Is there nowhere to hide? Let us hope they are more accurate/sparing in their assessments of such situations!


Should Caroline "inherit" Hillary's seat? I do not doubt her intelligence (hey, she went to college with yours truly, more or less) or aptitude and I see no reason why she wouldn't be a good senator. However, she hasn't earned it, and there are better qualified New Yorkers who should rank ahead of her. I am not a huge fan of Andrew Cuomo but what about Carolyn Maloney, who I think was my old congresswoman? And not that great oratorical skill is essential but I was suprised by Caroline's weak delivery at the convention. Perhaps she was nervous but I expected a little more presence (she did look fabulous, however).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Buy books for Christmas

It appears I left the publishing industry at the right time (although I can't say that law firms are doing well - half the associates in my office don't have enough work to meet their billable goal this month) but it is very disturbing to read about all the layoffs at publishers that have always been very stable. I hope all my colleagues at Wiley are safe (well, except for anyone who ever dissed me, which - luckily - was few).

Please buy someone a book for Christmas! Make that several someones...

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Everyone had been recommending this book to me, so I bought it for my sister's birthday and thoughtfully read it first to make sure she would like it. I actually found it very charming and with a real flavor of a bygone era - not only is it set just after WWII, it reads very much like a D.E. Stevenson written in that era.

The premise is that writer Juliet Ashton is tired and depressed after the war, to the point that she can't even enjoy the success of her bestseller because she feels it is trite and the people who admire it are shallow. She is already worried about finding her next topic, when she unexpectedly receives a letter from Guernsey where a local farmer has unexpectedly come into possession of one of her books (with her address inscribed on the flyleaf). Through their correspondence. she is drawn into the lives of the islanders and eventually travels to Guernsey to write about their struggles and triumphs during the war. Of course, the project distracts Juliet from her war-induced weariness and helps her regroup and start anew but it doesn't feel like a cliche.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


After all my years of working with people from Indiana (seven, and no jokes about counting in dog years as I am very fond of many of them), it seemed odd for Duke to be playing the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, yet not have anyone I knew talking trash to me all day (she observed disappointedly). It's not as if I am hard to find, but maybe they didn't realize Duke has never lost a game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and did not intend to do so tonight. Kyle Singler played extremely well, and looked very happy (albeit a bit goofy) on the court. Jon Scheyer just looks intense but was also in good form.

I did email Joe Wikert but cravenly he has not yet replied (I doubt his new job has reduced his time for sports because he was badmouthing my Patriots a day or so ago). I did not bother to email Dave Linn because I would have been so disappointed if he and his wife, both Purdue alums, were not watching.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Word of the Year

Having worked closely with Webster's New World, I know well that it is the dictionary of choice, and I am reluctant to provide publicity to its rival from Springfield, MA.

However, there is indeed no doubt that the word of 2008 is bailout!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Harvard - Yale

As David Brooks says in the NYT, "If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed . . . "

(not that I think most of these people are the type who attend college football games).

And, by the way, we beat Yale 10-0 earlier today. As the Patriot Ledger commented, the frostbite afternoon wasn’t going to stop the home team. I wouldn't say it was the coldest I have ever been but it was very very chilly, especially once the sun disappeared. My friend Lamar, up from South Carolina for 24 hours, kept speculating on the actual temperature which almost made it worse. We had great seats, thanks to my very first employers, Alice and Marty Gordon, who had to go to San Diego for the weekend.

It was a nice moment when the scoreboard showed Senator Kennedy, sitting with his friend and teammate former Senator John Culver of Iowa, enjoying the game.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mad Men

I finally had a few hours to catch up on the last few episodes of Mad Men, which I find quite fascinating. In some ways the characters are hard to identify with (although I am always amused by John Slattery, whom I liked years ago in Homefront - remember, Linda Metcalf met him at her factory and thought he had a crush on her but he really liked her mother and eventually married the mother - and I only recently learned he went to St. Sebastian's, the brother school of the school I went to for junior high) but the show is very skillful at creating sympathy for every character in turn, even the fascinating but infuriating Don Draper! However, until the final episode, I had not realized that Peggy, the Brooklyn born heroine had begun to catch up with Don in ambition and vision, and it was a very clever way to end the season.

How interesting that GQ has picked four incredibly different men as its men of the year: Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, Michael Phelps and Jon Hamm! Why DiCaprio? I know Revolutionary Road is getting a lot of buzz but it hasn't even opened yet!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Post Election

Gail Collins gets my vote for as NYT columnist of the year, in part for writing as funny as this:

Americans are going through election withdrawal, trying to adjust to life without poll numbers. Really, we’ve heard quite a bit of whining on this subject lately.

But there’s still Minnesota! The U.S. Senate race there is up in the air. You may want to consider becoming totally obsessed with it, jumping out of bed every morning and racing to the computer to check for the latest vote count.

Or perhaps not. Still, it’s something to hang on to.

There are actually three Senate races that are undecided, and if the Democrats won them all, they’d hit the magic filibuster-proof number of 60. Alaska, determined to continue in its role as the vortex of all things politically strange, still hasn’t counted tens of thousands of ballots. Georgia has a Senate runoff Dec. 2, and the Democrats have dispatched tons of canvassers to help their candidate, Jim Martin. Martin is a long shot, but we should all be grateful that they’ve found something to do with the Obama campaign workers, who would otherwise have been set loose to wander the country, muttering about change and attempting to register household pets to vote.

What's in a name?

New acquaintance: "Constance . . . as in . . ." he hesitates.

I wait expectantly.

"As in English class!" he finishes triumphantly.

Not sure what exactly he had in mind!

He turned out to be a Tarheel fan, so two strikes against him.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

If You Were President ...

Help Obama pick his Cabinet! Although I can't imagine Hillary taking a job in this administration, unless perhaps it was a Supreme Court nomination. As yet, the only Cabinet position I feel strongly about is Secretary of State; since my brother works for the State Department, I do think it could be potentially helpful to have the Secretary be someone he interned for in high school (although it would have been better had Kerry been elected in the first place, obviously)! I think Obama owes John Kerry any position he wants, having first provided the opportunity for him to become a household word at the Democratic Convention.

Colin Powell once judged a chili contest for youthful members of the Foreign Service, then told them he wished he could stay to eat it with them but was expected at the White House for lunch! As I recall, my brother thought he said it with real regret.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Goodbye and good riddance

Katha Pollitt says goodbye to Sarah Palin! I like the part about "the kids named after bays and sports and trees and airplanes and who did not seem to go to school at all." How is Bristol going to be able to home school that baby if she can't even finish high school?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Can you imagine a cuter ladybug than my youngest niece on her first birthday?

Friday, November 7, 2008

First Dog

Now that Obama has been elected president, the first order of business is to find the right puppy for his daughters, and apparently the whole country is weighing in...

"Most advised going to a shelter, as the Obamas have said they intend to do. 'As a volunteer at the local shelter, I think it would be a great message to the country about the benefits of adopting a dog, and I like the political spin that in America, any dog can make it to the White House,' one wrote."

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What a nice gesture!

BOSTON - All is forgiven for more than 50,000 children who use the Boston Public Library.
The library will waive all the fines and lost book charges rung up by the children on Saturday. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan will summon a magician to make the fees "disappear"

I feel as if I should check my shelves...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

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Take's weekly quiz and find out what you can recall.

Miss Manners

Dear Miss Manners:

What's your beef with a cash bar at wedding receptions? Weddings are incredibly expensive, and a couple starting out shouldn't have to go in the hole for thousands of dollars just to throw a reception where Miss Manners and a bunch of other deadbeats can have unlimited liquor. I thought you were a classy broad!
If we should encounter each other at a wedding reception, then your first drink will be on me, and you can hustle the rest yourself! I DARE YOU TO PRINT THIS!

Suppose you go first and explain why anyone would want to stage a thousands-of-dollars event for people whom they think of as deadbeats, and why other people would want to attend the wedding of those who thought that of them. This will give Miss Manners a moment to think of a tactful way of saying that she does not care to drink with you.

I do love Miss Manners!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Election coverage

Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan,Illinois and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty . You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines, 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.Finally, we're taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out, Blue States

(anonymous email forwarded from my friend Gilly)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Absentee Voting

I like Thanks, But No Thanks to Absentee Voting from the Washington Post's Marie Coco:

"I’ve always been slow to embrace new fads. I didn’t go for brown as the “new black,” and since purple is now the “new black,” I’m certainly glad I stuck with the old. The same for following my parents’ example of never buying on credit. Boy, did that one work out.

As Election Day approaches, I revel in my fuddy-duddy habits. I live in the battleground state of Virginia, where voter registration has increased 10 percent in advance of November’s presidential election, where Democrat Barack Obama has invested huge sums in a sophisticated get-out-the-vote operation and where Republicans are pushing their precinct captains to hang onto a state that hasn’t gone Democratic since 1964. Election officials are so fearful of a chaotic crush at the polls that they’re urging people to vote early with absentee ballots. Though absentee voting in the commonwealth requires voters to meet one of several conditions, officials have nonetheless made it clear that -- ahem -- it’s easy to qualify. (And voters requesting presidential-race-only ballots don't even need an excuse.)

Sorry, I just can’t. I know that if I do vote early, I’ll miss out on long lines, sore feet and the possibility of confronting an over-taxed electronic machine that might malfunction.
But here’s what else I’ll miss -- and what can’t be replaced by a quick-and-convenient early vote: Being pressed to take that one last flier from a volunteer as I walk toward the elementary school; purchasing a treat from the PTA mothers who will set up a bake-sale table outside the polls; enjoying the children’s artwork in the hallway as the line to vote snakes through the school corridors; chatting with neighbors I haven’t seen in months.

There is something magical that happens at the polls on Election Day. It is a renewal of civic culture that marks the first moment of reconciliation after the incivility of a contemporary presidential campaign."

This is why I want my nieces to come with me to the polls on November 4th, although of course they have gone with their parents!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rays or Phillies? do we care?

It is hard to decide who to root for in the World Series, partly because I just don't care now that my team has been eliminated. Overall, I am for the Rays because I like Carlos Pena, who played for Northeastern and briefly for the Red Sox, and Rocco Baldelli, who is from Rhode Island. And how can anyone root for the Phillies when their fans are so unpleasant (at least, the Flyers and Eagles fans seem to be nasty and surely it is primarily the same fan base). But I do like Jamie Moyer who is pitching tonight for the Phillies. His wife is still very beloved by the Boston radio announcers although it must be many years ago that he pitched for the Red Sox.

I like this endorsement by Ron Howard for Obama.

Associated Press

The Washington Post has an interesting article about the changing role of the Associated Press.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Let them eat cakelets...

Now that I have volunteered to spend Election Day as a nonpartisan volunteer protecting voter rights, I should not allow myself to be amused by this blog, which is showcasing some very timely Williams-Sonoma bakeware...
Although as several have pointed out, voter registration fraud is not the same as election fraud, and it is unfair for Acorn to be tainted for the actions of just a few people. But isn't that the way it always is?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

You say potato....

Here is an interesting chart of regional speech differences, and it addresses (but does not really answer) why some of my friends mispronounce the word mischievous (which they frequently apply to me). My friend Squire consistently said, "Mis-cheeve-ee-us," which I found quite odd but he is not alone...

And at my law school in NJ people called spigots "spickets," which I also found very odd. I found this out in my quest for hot tea - there was a plot to withhold caffeine from the evening students, who obviously needed it (especially when taking Property).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sign of the Times

The National Debt Clock situated near Times Square ran out of numbers as the federal government's debt soared to $10.2 trillion. The billboard style clock, which was erected in 1989 by late Manhattan real estate developer Seymour Durst, was only equipped to handle a debt of up to $9,999,999,999,999.

Section 337

I have bought many books in my life, some of them more expensive than others, but was stunned to learn today that this book about the International Trade Commission costs $655.00! I am lucky the librarian at my job bought it for me (she did make sure I knew how expensive it was when she presented the new edition to me today). The annoying thing is that I don't even think it is a very good book but there is so little available on the ITC that every practitioner needs to have it. But even if I knew enough about Section 337 to write a more complete guide (with a better index), I doubt it would be a bestseller. The irony of owning such an expensive book that is not a delight to read . . .

Now imagine how many books I could get from for that much money! I keep thinking about my friend Suzanne's copy of Carney's House Party, which I seem to recall cost $700.00, and was surely the most thoughtful birthday present anyone ever received (and how was her husband to know it would be back in print ten years later?). That is the only book I can think of in the same realm as this, price-wise, in my experience. I own an advance reading copy of the first Diana Gabaldon, which I assume is valuable, but do I want to part with it?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Say it ain't so, Sarah

Steven Pinker, writing for The New York Times tells me:

And no, “nucular” is not a sign of ignorance. This reversal of vowel-like consonants (nuk-l’-yer —> nuk-y’-ler) is common in the world’s languages, and is no more illiterate than pronouncing “iron” the way most Americans do, as “eye-yern” instead of “eye-ren.”

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Study: Omitting cell phone users may affect polls

WASHINGTON—People with only cell phones may differ enough from those with landline telephones that excluding the growing population of cell-only users from public opinion polls may slightly skew the results, a study has concluded.

The finding, in a report this week by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, may increase pressure on polling organizations to include people who use only cell phones in their surveys. While many major polls including The Associated Press-GfK Poll already interview cell phone users, some do not, largely because doing so is more expensive.

Earlier studies -- including a joint Pew-AP report two years ago -- concluded that cell and landline users had similar enough views that not calling cell users had no major impact on poll findings. The new report concludes that "this assumption is increasingly questionable," especially for young people, who use cells heavily.

Combining polls it conducted in August and September, Pew found that of people under age 30 with only cell phones, 62 percent were Democrats and 28 percent Republicans. Among landline users the same age that gap was narrower: 54 percent Democrats, 36 percent GOP.
Similarly, young cell users preferred Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama over Republican nominee John McCain by 35 percentage points. For young landline users, it was a smaller 13-point Obama edge.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fragile X Syndrome

I'm very proud of my college classmates, Katie Clapp and her husband, Michael Tranfaglia (who I think was in my freshman dorm), who started a group called FRAXA to research treatment for Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic disorder which can cause mental retardation and autism. It takes amazing people to do more than simply cope with their own family stresses and challenges.

It was not the first time but it is still startling to wake up and hear NPR interviewing a classmate! One feels very ordinary and underachieving going to work after that!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


A movie that isn't out yet has spawned a book that doesn't exist . . .

"Fireproof" is a movie set for release at the end of the month about a firefighter asked by his father to take a 40-day marriage challenge before divorcing his wife of seven years. The challenge involves reading and following an invented book THE LOVE DARE, "which eventually transforms him and his view of love, marriage, and faith." So test audiences for the movie asked how they could get the book--which didn't exist.

So two ministers in Georgia who had directed and produced the movie, "shut out the world and wrote for several weeks" to create a book "that helps readers learn each day about a unique aspect of the nature of love and offers a 'dare' to help implement that characteristic into their marriage." A publisher has apparently already sold 300,000 copies in advance of the movie's release.

This reminds me of Dorothy Gilman's book The Maze in the Heart of the Castle, which is a story about orphaned teen Colin who must find his way out of the maze. However, Gilman first described this story in her adult novel, The Tightrope Walker, a somewhat wistful standalone in which Amelia Jones begins her own journey of self discovery with references to Maze as being Amelia's favorite childhood story. Gilman must have fallen in love with her own description of Maze, so subsequently wrote it. I always wondered if anyone besides my sisters and me noticed this sequence of events. Gilman is certainly better known for her Mrs. Pollifax books but the others are very good too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

My nieces and I went to see the Kit Kittredge movie yesterday, which we greatly enjoyed (Despite the loud and poorly behaved children in front of us - yes, it has been a long time since I went to a kid movie but I don't think people should bring two year olds - we had to move several rows away and later the father unnerved me by tapping me on the shoulder and asking if I had taken their umbrella! Also, the roof started leaking on us halfway through the movie). I think my older niece would enjoy any movie so long as she got popcorn but at one point she leaned over to her younger sister and said, "We definitely need to own this one!" which I found amusing. They thought it was a lot like the recent Nancy Drew movie, which I had not seen.

I kept thinking that Meredith Grey was crazy not to pick Chris O'Donnell (here, playing Kit's father)!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sarah and Diana

The LA Times has an interesting article about similarities between Sarah Palin and Princess Diana. And Ellen Goodman, brilliant as always, discusses the Republicans' flip flop on working mothers.

Yesterday, Jeffrey Sachs was the keynote speaker at a lunch I attended, and was very eloquent and impressive about the disaster McCain-Palin would be for the country. It was hard to believe anyone could listen and be unaffected but the associate sitting next to me got up and left the room. It was true we'd been at this event for HOURS but still. How often does one get to hear a brilliant speaker trying to improve our world?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mad Men

I love the show Mad Men, but hadn't realized until I read this interview with actress Elisabeth Moss, who plays the determined Peggy Olson from Brooklyn (who started out as a secretary but has since been promoted to copywriter) that she also played Jed Bartlett's daughter on West Wing. And Sal's ignored wife played the tiresome Hannah in Everwood.

In addition, John Slattery, who I first loved in Homefront and who plays one of the name partners in Mad Men's ad agency Sterling Cooper, is from Newton and went to St. Sebastian's, just two years ahead of me!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Academic Elitism

In this weird election, it has somehow become acceptable to bash academic achievers - in contrast to McCain, known to have graduated at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, and Palin, who bounced between six universities in obtaining her college degree . I don't suppose Barack Obama ever thought he would be put on the defensive for obtaining the best education he could get at Columbia and Harvard Law School!

Apparently, such attacks on the educated are more common in England - to the point that Cambridge University is trying to influence the story line on television shows such as Eastenders and Coronation Street to include characters of modest means going to university. "We're very keen to attract the brightest and best students regardless of their background. One of the better ways of communicating directly with potential students is to talk to them through the soaps and other programs they watch."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Election coverage

NPR has had the most entertaining stories about the media coverage of Sarah Palin, and how the best way for the Republicans to garner support is to bash the media.

Judith Warner has a good piece in today's NYT. And the rock group, Heart, tells the GOP not to play their old hit Barracuda for Sarah Palin:

"Here's a statement by Ann and Nancy Wilson:
'Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image. The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The 'barracuda' represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there.'"

Other musicians have expressed similar views.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

90210 Redux

Beverly Hills 90210 is back starting Tuesday, September 2! The new version is described as "an edgy, contemporary spin-off of the iconic drama Beverly Hills, 90210."

I will admit that I watched and enjoyed the first season or two, and was amused by the premise: teenage girl [and twin brother and parents] from Minnesota moves and must fit in at new school / neighborhood - echoes of my own [unfinished] novel about Jackie Kirk, who moved from Edina to Boston in her junior year of high school but fell for someone more wholesome than Luke/Dylan.

I always resented the fact that the only "smart" character on 90210 was bespectacled Andrea Zuckerman, so obsessed with the school newspaper that she never got the air time of the other women on the show. Funny that she ended up at Yale like my sister Andrea!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hydrox are almost here!

Hydrox cookies should be back in stores by the end of the month, according to Kellogg's! For those who don't recall, they are really much better than Oreos! I just hope that the reformulated Hydrox without transfat don't taste different. There is now an entry in Wikipedia describing the outpouring of emotion from fans that resulted in Hydrox coming back, although apparently Kellogg's will pull the plug again if sales aren't satisfying. Sort of like Harper Collins and the Betsy-Tacy books!
Last winter, trying to console myself with Oreos when I thought that was my only option, I entered a sweepstakes in which my family would take on Peyton, Eli and Archie Manning in an Oreo cream filling contest. I had forgotten all about it until I saw a commercial during the Olympics in which Peyton and Eli were eating Oreos, and wondered what happened to my entry. My sisters say the Mannings are so competitive we never would have won. I had to investigate and now I see that an Ohio grandmother won the chance to compete against sibling pro quarterbacks Eli and Peyton in the Oreo-licking contest.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Take a literary tour of Boston!

This map was a great idea but they should have asked me / readers for nominations! I can think of several books that should be on this list (not even including all the books affiliated with Concord). They did include Make Way for Ducklings and Joy Street but are missing Johnny Tremain and Maida and Mr. Bear Goes to Boston, and I would somehow have gotten in Lois Lowry's Anastasia, although I think she lives in Cambridge, and a mystery by Jane Langton. If I can include Cambridge, I would add Paper Chains and Death of a Harvard Freshman, first in a two book series I was crazy about.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


People are already speculating about what will happen to Senator Kennedy's seat, which is gruesome. In addition, it is hard to believe his wife would get that much support - she is a lawyer with a background in handgun safety but no political experience.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Woman Arrested for Not Returning Books to Library

GRAFTON, Wis. -- A woman has been arrested for failing to return two books to the Grafton Library.

Heidi Dalibor was arrested after she failed to return the books, "Angels and Demons" and "White Oleander", last year.

“I said, what could they possibly do? They can’t arrest me for this… I was wrong,” Dalibor said.

Dalibor did not respond to four notices from the library, two phone calls and two letters. The library forwarded the case to police, who issued a citation for Dalibor's failure to return the materials or pay the fine. The citation included a court date, which Dalibor admits she ignored.
With arrest warrant in hand, police showed up at Dalibor’s door and led her away in handcuffs.
While the police have been criticized for going so far, the police chief said they simply followed the law.

“None of this would have been necessary if she followed the agreement and returned the books,” said Grafton Police Chief Charles Wenten.

Dalibor paid her $170 fine and was released.

“I completely take responsibility for not paying my fine on time and not going to my court date,” Dalibor said.

Still, she isn’t planning on returning the books.

“I still have the books and I don’t plan to return them because they’re paid for now,” Dalibor said.

Football season approaches

Nowhere to go but up for Duke football, and Harvard and Yale are picked to dominate the Ivy League. Of course, Coach Murphy hates being considered a favorite so will downplay it all he can.

Annoyingly, I have to go to Dallas the week Harvard opens the season but I hope to be back by 9/19 when we play Holy Cross.

A Harvard player I don't remember named Andrew Hatch, a Mormon, who left Harvard to go on his mission, subsequently transferred to LSU and after sitting out a year is now vying to be the starting quarterback for the Tigers. I hope he can do it! The previous quarter back was kicked off the team for bad behavior but I doubt that will happen to Hatch. LSU's first game is on ESPN before a national audience - quite a change for this young man.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fan mail

I liked this Washington Post article by writer Chris Bohjalian in which he obsesses (somewhat tongue in cheek) about the random things his readers say about his books online. I must admit that like one of his critics, I had dismissed him for his Oprah popularity, but I picked up The Law of Similars while I was in Italy two years ago and couldn't stop reading, so I should forgive him for his success (easier to do now that I see signs of his sense of humor). His new book, The_Double_Bind, sounded interesting but too violent, although I suspect I will read it eventually. 

I am suddenly reminded of the fact that Jonathan Yardley did not reply to my lovely letter (several months ago) in which I responded to his 11/07 article, "Laura Ingalls Wilder's Well-Insulated 'Little House.'" He had asked for help identifying a childhood favorite, which turned out to be Gramercy Park, Memories of a New York Girlhood by Gladys Brook. I found the book, read it, and photocopied the first chapter for him. You'd think he could have sent an appreciative email. Clearly, he is not of the race that knows Joseph. Somehow I think Chris Bohjalian would have written back . . .

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Quote of the Day

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future, 1962.

I came across this quote while doing document review at work yesterday (in the documents! I was NOT procrastinating elsewhere, really) and have decided my new ambition is to get it into a brief somehow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

YA Fantasy

Tuesday night in a truly bizarre game at Fenway, which the Red Sox eventually won 19-17, Dustin Pedroia drove in five runs and scored five runs. The way our announcers have repeated this information, you would think he was the seventh son of a seventh son . . .

Perhaps I am thinking about such traditions because I am reading Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, which I am enjoying so much that I was disappointed this morning to run into a friend at the bus stop (preventing me from reading all the way to work). The heroine is brave but awkward, and while the plot is fairly easy to predict, it is well done. I bought it originally for one of my nieces but realize there is probably too much internal thinking and not enough action for her. However, it would have been perfect for my undergraduate essay on Female Warriors. Funny, how that topic has become so much more mainstream since I was in college - at least in terms of popular literature. Thanks to a friend at work I have been reading much more fantasy than in recent years, including The Darkangel by Meredith Pierce and A Curse as Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce (another brave but obtuse heroine).

Two of my college classmates just lost their 16 year old son in a car accident. I have been trying to write a condolence letter for several days but it seems so pointless - as if anything could comfort people going through such agony.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Desert Island Books - or someplace even worse

You have probably been asked what books you would want with you on a desert island (I know people whose first response is to ask whether the Lord of the Rings can count as one book instead of three, and really, who can blame them? I would be grabbing box sets if that were the rule) or which you would snatch if the house were on fire. What, you've never been asked these questions? You clearly move in the wrong circles, my friend.

The infamous Clark Rockefeller, who in a week has gone from distraught father kidnapping his child during a supervised visit to suspected murderer/man with multiple names and no passport was yesterday tentatively identified as a German who came to the US as an exchange student and never returned home (not a crime, in and of itself). He is in jail in Boston with (alleged) amnesia, and requested two books: one on the rules of baseball and one on Paris during World War I. Maybe he heard that the Manny trade for Jason Bay was the only other news this past week, and wants to be as informed as possible on the national pastime.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Pauline Baynes

Pauline Baynes, who died recently, had been one of my favorite illustrators since I first picked up the boxed set of Narnia books my mother had brought back from England and (she thought) hidden securely for Christmas. It was the summer between first and second grade so my reading skills were not well developed, nor was my sneakiness (both improved over time). I had not previously seen the delightful casing that boxed sets come in but unerringly pulled The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe out of the box and started reading. It was appealing but just too difficult. I put it back after a chapter or so, but kept thinking about it, and foolishly asked my mother later that day or the next, "What is Turkish delight?"

Friday, August 1, 2008

It is a truth universally acknowledged tra la la

Normally the idea of a Jane Austen musical would cause me to roll my eyes but my friend Eileen, Patroness and founder of the Georgette Heyer list, just forwarded me a link to a conversation with Lori Bajorek, who is the producer of a Broadway-bound Pride and Prejudice musical, and I have to say it sounds quite interesting. Eileen is particularly fond of Robert Beaumaris, hero of Heyer's Arabella, to the point that I once sent her a package of books addressed to "Eileen Beaumaris." I guess her husband didn't think it was as funny as I did, but he must have softened when he allowed her to name one of their daughters Darcy!

Too many passwords?

Gina Trapani, Wiley author of Upgrade Your Life, was asked (among other things):

Q. Do we need a system for managing all of life’s various passwords, and if so, what do you recommend?
A. Here’s the quandary: you should use different, unique passwords for everything you log into, but remembering those passwords can be impossible. Like any information you want to easily recall without having to memorize it, having a secure parking place for passwords is key. I use a program called KeePass, which is free and compatible with both Mac and PCs. It’s a secure database where you can store all your passwords — WiFi networks, Windows and PC passwords, bank PIN numbers — and even arrange them into folders. There’s one master password that you have to remember that unlocks it all. To get started, you could just input those passwords you know you’re not going to use too often but might need three months from now. Firefox (and most other browsers) can save Web page passwords and I use that a lot to save time. But Firefox can’t save, say, your WiFi password or your bank’s PIN. KeePass is like a backup to Firefox.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Books for Every Mood

Hallie Ephron, a mystery writer who writes for the Boston Globe, has written a nonfiction book called 1001 Books for Every Mood. Our taste differs but it is always interesting seeing other people's favorites (like looking at their bookshelves). And now that I think about it, she did like the Nicola Upson book about Josephine Tey that I was entranced by. I haven't met her but she blogs with Hank Philippi, who is very nice as well as being what we call "an aggressive self promoter."

Speaking of Josephine Tey, I was very surprised to learn earlier this month that my sister Andrea had not read Brat Farrar. I quickly lent her Three by Tey, with instructions to read Brat Farrar first.

Monday, July 28, 2008

On the street where you live

Unbelievably, one could buy the house across the street from Betsy Ray's and next door to the Kellys in "Deep Valley" for only $125,000:

"Step through the window into the past to the turn of the Century of Deep Valley in the Historic Betsy-Tacy neighborhood of Mankato. Step back in time 112 years in this Victorian house nestled into the hillside on a quiet dead end street. Enjoy a little bit of country in the city with the deer and wild turkeys. Walk the hiking trails or sit and reminisce on the Betsy-Tacy bench. There is tons of potential in this 4 bedroom, 1 and a half bath, 2-story Victorian home. Original woodwork and floors, various stained glass windows, stained glass transoms above bedroom doors, even a working 112 year old door bell! Front Parlor, living room, dining room, kitchen and half bath take up the first floor. Four bedrooms, a full bath and a sleeping porch occupy the 2nd floor. There is a back deck to gaze over the Valley View and a front porch to relax on."

Of course, it might be a tough sell if the potential buyers learn of the eccentricities of some of our members . . . And it doesn't seem to have a garage which is a deal breaker for me, as I keep telling brokers here. Note that in Boston, $125K would barely pay for a garage!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Manny being Manny

What should we do with Manny Ramirez? Have the Red Sox had enough? I have!

Converted Churches

I am somewhat fascinated by a church near me that is being turned into overpriced condos, on the other hand, I seem to be able to waste infinite amounts of time gazing at any and all real estate listings as I try (without noticeable success) to find one right for me.

I can't think of a book where the characters actually live in a church (although obviously there are many where they live in a vicarage) but in Five Farthings by Monica Redlich, the family moves into quirky lodgings across the street from St. Paul's Cathedral in London to be near their father who has been hospitalized and make the city their own. The book itself is very hard to find (I think I borrowed it from my friend Emily in NY when I read it) and the original illustration for the frontispiece (I love that word) is or was on sale for £3,750.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ballet Shoes

There's an interesting story in the NYT about an intensive summer ballet program sponsored by the Bolshoi Ballet, but the part I liked best is where one of the students says she thought her instructors would have canes!

Has she been reading about Madame Fidolia in Ballet Shoes or perhaps the Maestro in Lorna Hill's Sadler's Wells series?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Walking on Broken Glass

The light fixture in my hall just fell down and smashed into a zillion pieces....

Ice Cream at Harvard

Drew Gilpin Faust, the president of Harvard, has more of a sense of humor than I had realized - at an ice cream bash in the Yard earlier this month, she served ice cream flavors called Lamont Lemon, Cookie Endoughment, and Berry-tas.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Manny scolded for jaywalking!

Funny to think of Manny Ramirez being scolded in Seattle for jaywalking! And the fact that the policeman didn't realize who he was is funny (did he figure it out once Manny showed him ID?). The Red Sox' hotel must be very close to the Seattle stadium* for him to be strolling there by himself.

During my one summer in DC, I remember the Capitol Police asking me to refrain from jaywalking but I also recall that when I explained I was from Boston, they mostly laughed and rolled their eyes. Maybe Manny should have tried that . . .

* The address of the stadium appears to be Royal Brougham Way, which sounds like something from a Georgette Heyer.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I keep meaning to try Alan Furst's espionage novels, and am disappointed I missed seeing him in Boston earlier this month.

Despite a power failure yesterday (which prevented me from vacuuming my apartment for tonight's guests and forced me to my parents' to power my laptop and try to finish a memo due today - naturally when I emailed about 1 am to say I was nearly done I was told that it was no longer urgent and I should work on something else for tomorrow - do you hear the gnashing of teeth?), I managed to make quiche and blueberry torte (from Elegant but Easy). I even have a Beverly Gray wrapped up for my friend Marlene's birthday, which was yesterday. She will be very surprised as is not the type to be sentimental about children's books (more's the pity) - this is the one thing from her childhood she has ever mentioned reading.
Recently Marlene, her husband, and our college classmate Art went to dinner in Concord, and I insisted on our seeking out the house from The Diamond in the Window. Many years ago Jane Langton had drawn me a map of where the house is that inspired the story. Somehow I had managed to hold onto this fragment of paper all this time but must say that when we examined it all we could figure out was that the house was on Walden Street. We drove slowly and carefully, scanning both sides of the street, without success, and I was annoyed not to have written to Jane Langton before our visit, although I had checked her website. So can you believe this - the next day I found the actual address on Wikipedia! Concord is not far away but it is rare that I go there unless bringing tourists so a return visit will have to wait.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Apocalyptic fiction

I find this trend (mini-trend?) toward apocalyptic YA novels a bit odd but any time Newsweek decides to write about children's books it should be encouraged. Coincidentally, I decided it was finally time for me to read Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life as We Knew It, and began reading last night. I have read many, but not all of her books, and among my favorites are Starring Peter and Leigh, The Year Without Michael, and Most Precious Blood (which I got to read in manuscript form when I was at Bantam, I believe). Those may be more my style but several friends whose taste is similar to mine really liked Life as We Knew It. Moreover, I admire authors like SBP who don't simply write the same book again and again. On the other hand, she has written some real potboilers such as her books about the March girls.

1) Note that apocalyptic is not easy to spell!

2) I remember now that I didn't care for the acclaimed How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, which also falls into this genre, but that was partly because the heroine's relationship with her cousin seemed kind of creepy and incestuous. The author's deliberate lack of punctuation was annoying but I think I just found the book boring once the heroine left New York.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Please help me identify this china pattern!

We think this china belonged to my great aunt Lillian, for whom I am named. There is no identification on the china itself, but we are very curious about whether it is part of a pattern and whether we should try to complete the set. I took several photos but it is such a pale pink most of them didn't turn out. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thanks!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Reading

Nancy Pearl, who is a charming and energetic librarian-turned-book personality, discussed the horror of being stuck on a plane without a book on NPR the other day and provided Summer 2008 reading recommendations. I thought they would all be recent fiction or nonfiction, so was delighted to see An Infamous Army (and also Sunshine by Robin McKinley - I can see its rank shot right up on Amazon). Pearl is also a fan of Betsy-Tacy.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stuck Song Syndrome

The Boston Globe asks, Can science explain why ABBA is so catchy?
It only takes a single exposure, and in an instant, your whole day can change. The infection is rapid and feels potentially unending. One minute you're minding your own business and the next you find that you can't stop thinking, humming, or singing "Dancing Queen."

NPR says such insistent repeating melodies often occur during the summer and provides some of its favorites.

Stuck song syndrome annoyed, frustrated, and irritated women significantly more than men. And earworm attacks were more frequent -- and lasted longer -- for musicians and music lovers. Slightly neurotic people also seemed to suffer more.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Judge tells verbose lawyer to make it snappy

TACOMA, Wash.—A federal judge in Tacoma has told a lawyer he needs to make it snappy.
Judge Ronald Leighton balked at a 465-page lawsuit that made its way onto his desk. He invoked a rarely used rule that requires a "short and plain statement" of allegations.
The title of the racketeering lawsuit filed by attorney Dean Browning Webb was eight pages long.
The judge issued his order in a limerick:

"Plaintiff has a great deal to say,
But it seems he skipped Rule 8(a).
His Complaint is too long,
Which renders it wrong,
Please rewrite and refile today."

I am sure the judge I clerked for last year was amused by this: he is also a fan of short and snappy but despite being devoted to literature is unlikely to issue an order in verse.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Book Adoption

I feel as if I have often been compelled to adopt a book, whether because it was one I loved so much I had to introduce it to as many people as possible (Betsy-Tacy, The Blue Sword, Sabrina, Angels and Men) or the occasional situation when a book insisted on accompanying me home (Confusion by Cupid, memorably, in Charleston, South Carolina).

However, the American Antiquarian Society, which is headquartered in Worcester and where my brother spent one summer doing research on his (alas unfinished) doctoral dissertation on French-Canadian immigrants to New England, has a more structured (some would say authorized) program where generous donors can adopt a valuable book in its collection. While Gary Francione might want me to adopt the early vegetarian cookbook, I was more intrigued by The history of Primrose Prettyface; who by her sweetness of temper, and love of learning, was raised from being the daughter of a poor cottager to great riches, and the dignity of lady of the manor. London: 1818. If only I had $1100 to spare!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Luckiest Girl

I knew when my classmate Nick Kristof wrote a NYT piece called The Luckiest Girl that he was not talking about my favorite book by Beverly Cleary.  Although he is from Yamhill like Beverly Cleary . . .

However, I think Shelly herself would be moved by not only by his story of Beatrice and her accomplishments but the chilling description of all the things that could have gone wrong, preventing her from reaching this goal. And perhaps she ate a donut hole or two once she reached Massachusetts and Connecticut!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Songs that make you cry

I had completely forgotten about Lobo! Don't say, "And with good reason!" He had quite a following in the 70s and is apparently still touring. The website says "Fans of" so clearly there are more than just yours truly.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Austen's own Darcy

A portrait of the man with whom Jane Austen allegedly had a romantic relationship is for sale but I am amused that the article describes Darcy "the brooding landowner who, after a series of misunderstandings, seduces the spirited Elizabeth Bennet." Maybe he didn't read the same book I did!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Quote of the Day

(from Bill's last day on the job)

"The most poignant moments came when Gates dropped out of technology prognostication mode — the coming switch to using ink, voice and gesture to interact with computers, for example — and shared candid and sometimes self-effacing banter about his early days with buddy Ballmer.

Freshman year at Harvard, Gates said, 'I was in this dorm up at Radcliffe, where the anti-social math types hung out. I belonged there.'"

We won't tell my mother he said that . . .

Goodbye to Brigham's!

One by one the retail locations disappeared - the Brigham's in Newton Centre where my siblings and I were sometimes allowed a cone after Sunday Mass (they cost $.20 at the time) is now a travel agency - but the ice cream was still available in area grocery stores, and I am still devoted to their peppermint stick and their chocolate while my mother likes Big Dig and my sister Andrea swears by the oreo cookie.

Now it is revealed that Hood will buy Brigham's which I find very sad, although I have great respect for John Kaneb who owns Hood (he is a loyal supporter of Harvard football, and I sat with him and his wife Ginny at last November's end of season banquet). Perhaps I should write to him to emphasize which flavors they simply must continue.

Nancy Drew

The perpetual appeal of Nancy Drew . . . she is about to get her first video game adventure, and while I did not find Wii at all appealing I am definitely in the minority.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Still Crazy After All These Years

Did you even know the B-52s were still performing? Let alone that they have a new album, Funplex! I wish I had known about the tour in time to see them in Boston! Or even in their prime... The new album is getting good reviews, mind you.

Athens, GA (hometown of the B-52s and REM both) seemed pretty remote then (despite my having relatives in Dublin, GA), but now our friend Claudia lives there and works at the famous vegetarian restaurant The Grit!

(Claudia was practically driven to become a vegetarian by a frightening experience involving her cat Tibsy and an unlucky squirrel - you would have to ask her for the details - what I could tell you is only hearsay, but I know I will never forget the shrieks coming from the house. They were what we in the law call 'excited utterances' and others might call banshee wails.)

Happy Birthday, Prince William!

See Prince William become a Knight of the Garter!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Beat LA!

Celtics win! My sister and I tried to wake up the oldest nephew to enjoy the last few minutes of the game and see the celebrations but for someone who sure didn't want to go to bed after the first quarter, he was impossible to wake up. Finally, my father told us not to harass him. As if! It will be a pity if he has to wait 21 years for another NBA Championship.

The Boston Celtics Victory Soundtrack includes more than just Queen. . .

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jo March

Does Jo March live up to expectations, as was discussed on NPR recently? I have been thinking about LMA a lot recently, after reading Susan Cheever's American Bloomsbury, and then visiting Concord briefly last Sunday. The approach from Route 2A leads directly past Orchard House, which I have taken out of town guests to fairly often. I think Shawn Kennedy, formerly a book buyer for Brentano's, a very nice friend I have completely lost touch with, won a virtual prize for being the only male on a tour back in the early 90s.

I read every Alcott book repeatedly, even the short stories. I liked Little Women but was certainly in the camp of "how could Jo turn down Laurie for that awful Professor Baer," although my mother tried to explain how German intellectuals were considered very sexy during this era. I was not convinced!

Rose, the heroine of Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom, was my favorite Alcott heroine.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Justice Scalia meets Sarah Jessica

"It made for a delicious gossip item in New York magazine—except, apparently, it's not true. The magazine's Intelligencer column reported this week that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had a chance encounter with actress Sarah Jessica Parker on a sidewalk in New York City on May 29 as they were both taking a smoke break. She had just finished taping a television interview, and he was on his way to or from a symposium."

Justice Scalia is sure in luck - dinner with me this month, Sarah Jessica last month! How can the rest of his summer live up?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Celtics Retriever

(from today's Boston Globe)

Quote of the Day from Doc Rivers

Doc Rivers, who never won a title as a player or as a coach, said some people unfairly diminish the accomplishments of players such as Patrick Ewing and Charles Barkley because they never won a championship.

"Patrick Ewing is one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, ever, whether he won a title or not," he said. "He shouldn't be faulted. He had teammates like me. That clearly didn't help his case."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

With Justice Scalia on June 2

Although we did not agree on many issues, it was delightful to see him at the Supreme Court's Historical Society gala event.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Great news!

My sister just emailed me to say that Hydrox are coming back! But is this just a temporary tease? And will they taste the same? They were always so much better than Oreos...

Hi, Drox!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Talking parrots

Could Kiki, the Blyton parrot, have done any better? Not that any bad guys were captured...

Fusty musty dusty!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Glamorous Airline Travel

Can you believe this? I can perhaps see charging for the second bag but do they expect us to travel with nothing more than a toothbrush?

American Airlines, the nation’s largest air carrier, said Wednesday that it would begin charging $15 for many passengers to check their first bag, eliminating a free service that passengers in the United States have come to expect during the modern jet era. . .

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Manny Being Manny

Only Manny Ramirez would high five a fan while making a catch in Baltimore the other night! I don't find him a bit charming and the media would not have been quite so amused/rueful if he hadn't come up with the ball (it was a dramatic catch).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Books and Fudge

A woman in the Christian Science Monitor describes a charming little library in an unnamed town that is on the second floor above a fudge shop! I know what she means about loving her old-fashioned library: while I appreciate the convenience of being able to request books online, then go in to pick them a large armful every week or so, I mentioned to my mother recently that as a result I never browse in the library any more. I don't need to, since my books are held for me behind the circulation desk.
But I have been thinking a lot lately about the library at my elementary school which had a pretty amazing collection of books, including Beany Malone, Noel Streatfeild, Karin Ankarsvaard, Carol Ryrie Brink, Joan Howard, the Mummy Market (which I was reading the day Man walked on the Moon - I was irritated that the teacher kept trying to distract me to watch television), and all the Childhood of Famous American biographies. However, it was the yellow clapboard Boys and Girls Library in Newton Corner where I participated in every summer reading program, and one summer even persuaded the librarians to let me describe every book I'd read to them orally since I was bored filling out the required forms. I don't know whether they thought I was a pain or loved me because I was their best patron (my siblings think the former). Regardless, they would point out the new Margaret K. McElderry books as they came in (I remember in particular eagerly awaiting the new Ruth Arthur) and new books by Barbara Willard. I am not sure I still have my original library card but I recall the number was 18931.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Four-Story Mistake on NPR

I loved Belong to Me, the new book by Marisa de los Santos (but do read the earlier book first, Love Walked In - charming albeit highly improbable) and was very interested to hear on NPR that she is also a fan of the Elizabeth Enright books I like about the Melendy family. There is something very poignant about finding out you share affection for a beloved book with someone else: granted, it is usually someone you are actually acquainted with - or is it?

Think of the online communities of book lovers many of us have come to know, and how we are influenced by them. The Betsy-Tacy listren have definitely enriched my life, and frequently we share both love for childhood favorites as well as suggestions of new books we are reading (and sometimes more than verbal recommendations as Betsy just sent me the new Diana Wynne Jones). I enjoy my Georgette Heyer list too but I could have continued to enjoy Heyer on my own.

Back to Marisa who "dreams of living in a house with a cupola" - what a kindred spirit! If Sarah Jessica Parker really makes a movie of Love Walked In, I think Marisa will get her cupola... When will I get mine?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Which candidate would you want to have a drink with?

The Boston Globe asked which candidate you would want to have a drink with. Of course, that begs the question of whether that is the appropropriate way to choose the leader of the free world. Not to mention the fact that supposedly Bush won that "likeability" vote last time, and look where that got us...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Russell Baker

I like this old Russell Baker Column from May 4, 1996, repeated in today's NYT:

Observer: Here's What Mad Is By RUSSELL BAKER

After a consortium of auto, asphalt, oil, trucking, garage-mechanic, traffic-cop, used-car-salesman and median-strip-landscaper lobbies, in collusion with the United States Government, made it impossible to live the good American life without a gasoline-powered car, though preferably two or three to show your patriotism, I gave up and went along.

Now Politicians-in-Chief Clinton and Dole think I'm mad because gasoline prices are rising. They don't know the half of it. They don't even know the twentieth of it.

Sure I'm mad about the price of gasoline, but what I'm really mad about is having to buy the stuff just to go to the grocery.

I'm mad about the grocery having relocated from just around the corner to three miles away in what used to be a cornfield out in the country. And why? Because the grocer needs 15 acres of parking lot to accommodate cars that have to be driven three miles every time you want a bag of grapefruit and a gallon of milk.

I'm mad about physical-fitness cranks always saying, "If you can't even walk six miles to and from the grocery carrying a bag of grapefruit and a gallon of milk, you ought to join a health club and get in shape."

I'm mad about being told to join a health club and get in shape because, for one thing, health clubs are more expensive than gasoline, and, for another, because people who are in shape are always looking down their noses at people who aren't but are often superior in every other way to people who are in shape. Did Albert Einstein look like a man who was in shape?

I'm mad about not having a bus or streetcar system left like the one that once enabled people to travel those six miles for a little pocket change.

I'm mad about spending my life looking for a parking space in the city, mad about paying breathtaking sums of money to parking garages, mad about my fellow Americans who dent my car on free-parking lots and drive away without leaving their insurance agent's name.

I'm mad about having to spend more for auto insurance per year than I spend for gasoline.
And how do I feel about knowing that every time I take the car out onto the highway I may be shot because a sniper wants to enjoy a bit of sport with his new gun, or because a testy, armed fellow motorist resents my being in his lane or despises me because my car radio is playing music not to his taste?

How do I feel about that? Mad. That's how I feel.

I'm even madder about being unable, unless you live in one of a few big cities, to travel anywhere anymore without having to drive from 30 to 3,000 miles, all the time burning that increasingly expensive gasoline and inviting snipers and cruising gunmen to shoot you, thus exposing you to hospital or mortuary bills compared with which the price of gasoline is nothing.

I'm mad, too, about people who can't drive being rendered immobile by the national drive-or-else policy.

I'm mad about having to do all the wretched, dull, dreary, miserable driving myself when one of these hopelessly immobilized Americans is the only person accompanying me on a journey of 1,000 miles.

I'm mad about feeling hatred for these immobilized passengers, who are, after all, my fellow human beings and sometimes beloved relatives and should not be detested simply because American culture enables such persons to slumber peaceably in passengers' seats while saps loyal to the auto ethic do all the driving.

I'm mad about the neighbors and their children laughing at me because my car cannot go from 0 to 80 miles an hour in five seconds, and I'm mad about caring enough to be mad about it because it suggests I have fallen in with the loathsome American habit of judging people's character by the car they drive.

I hate being responsible for remembering to change the oil every 3,000 miles, and for checking the belts to make sure they aren't rotting, and for making sure there is enough antifreeze in the radiator, and for knowing how to replace the transmission fluid and how to change a tire when it goes flat at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, and I'm mad about being part of a society that insists on such stuff.

Bill, Bob! Wake up! Why stop at being mad about the price of gas?