I have a new blog for 2012 – Assignment 35.
In honor of the 35th anniversary of my move to Denver, I’ve adopted a random set of assignments which involve the number 35.
See you over at the new place.
Posted in Blogging, Books, City, Culture, Current Events, Denver, General Suz-ness, Good things, Life and death, Movies, Music, Travel, tagged 2012, blog, blogging, books, Denver, Movies, music on January 7, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding is a short children’s book in which a little girl worries about “losing” her favorite Uncle Bobby because he’s getting married. It’s on the shelves of the Douglas County public libraries. Dougco is the southernmost county in the sprawling Denver Metro area, and at least until recently one of the fastest-growing (as to population) counties in the USA. It’s affluent, super-suburban, and deeply Republican.
Dougco’s public library system is headed by Jamie Larue, who also blogs at myliblog.
I found his blog today, and am just blown away by the wonderful, thoughtful letter – printed in full in this blog post – he wrote to a woman who objected to the library’s having Uncle Bobby’s Wedding on its shelves in the children’s section. She objected because Uncle Bobby’s marriage is to another man.
I urge you to read Jamie Larue’s letter to that woman if it’s all you read today. It’s a wonderful statement of what public libraries are about, among other things.
Sadly, he now reports more negative feedback. Which looks like an organized “ban the book” campaign. Some people just don’t get it.
Best wishes to Mr. Larue as he deals with this, and to the Dougco library board of trustees who no doubt will be pushed and lobbied and harangued by the bookburner fringe over this.
My amazon Kindle has been a constant companion for the last six days. In airports, on airplanes, in my hotel room, at home, at a couple of restaurants when I ate alone, and in the doctor’s waiting room yesterday. I’ve read three books on it – all mysteries, my favorite kind of escape from reality.
I’m still mainly using the Kindle to read books. I still haven’t figured out using it to read my email although it’s supposed to be possible, but I have used it for a little web browsing.
As an e-book reader it’s a winner. After a little use it really has seemed to “disappear” and I’m just focused on the words on the page. Yes, the page. Not the screen. It seems that natural now.
The “wowzer” is not only about the Kindle. It’s about the book I just finished reading on it: I Shall Not Want, by Julia Spencer-Fleming. It’s the sixth in her police procedural series with soap opera overtones (it’s also been called “strongly character-driven”) featuring rugged Russ Van Alstyne (police chief in small Millers Kill, NY), the unconventional Rev. Clare Fergusson (local Episcopal priest and military helicopter pilot), and the elephant in the living room which is their deep attraction to each other. This book rocked and rolled. I forgive a few too-convenient plot twists, because besides some fast and furious scenes of violent confrontations, it had me literally laughing out loud toward the end, and finally sniffing with a few sentimental tears.
There’s an afterword in which the author briefly describes her evolution as a writer. Starting with science fiction, then moving into romance, then finally realizing what she was really doing (whodunits with strong characters). She writes:
I’ve come to believe that the work chooses the writer, and not the other way around. We’re not creators so much as we are dowsers, wandering over the literary landscape until our forked twigs twitch. We dig, and in the digging discover if our wells are sweet or bitter, rock or clay. I thought I was going to be a science fiction writer. I would have liked to write romance. But it turns out that what I’m really good at? Is killing people and hiding the bodies.
I’ve been busy offline lately. Work. Play. Puppy. Volunteer activities.
And a hot new thing has entered my life. Is it love or just infatuation? Does it have staying power or just fast-fading gimmickry?
It’s too soon to tell, but so far I am loving it. It’s my new Amazon Kindle. Reading on it is more like the paper and ink experience than I expected an electronic device to achieve. It will take some time for me to learn all the things I can do with it, but I’m loving just reading books on it for now.
How delightful to think that when I fly off tomorrow for a short trip I can take literally thousands of pages of books with me – in an eleven-ounce package that slips into my purse! Probably only someone who fears being stuck somewhere without reading material can feel the joy.
So far I have downloaded free sample first chapters from several books, and have purchased these books for my Kindle:
Those books in print total 3228 pages. I’ll also get some free books from Feedbooks. So far I’ve downloaded Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience* and A Tale of Two Cities because I want to read Dickens again. Download from amazon.com is instantly wireless, the rest of the stuff is loaded via USB cable. A snap.
Before I hit the road (and the skies and then the road . . .) I have lots to do here at home. If I can put down the Kindle long enough.
*or, as it’s spelled on the site, “Civil Disobediance.” [Eyerolls]
I’ve been busy offline the last couple of weeks. This morning I visited some favorite blogs for the first time in awhile. I felt a touch guilty heading over to Go Fug Yourself - after all, it’s pretty snarky and I’m trying out this Complaint Free World thing. Which doesn’t work if I get all snarky.
Silly me, why did I worry? That’s where I learned about the Dewey Donation System. Getting kids’ books into libraries and thus into the hands of kids. Kids who may not have a bunch of books – or any – at home.
Decisions, decisions. It’s not whether I’ll donate, it’s when and what and to whom.
Last night I had dinner with friends at the new Limelight Supper Club. I had salmon; the meal was good and the service almost too enthusiastic – no doubt a reaction to a recent newspaper column slamming the Kevin Taylor restaurants, including the Limelight, for shoddy service.
The Limelight’s just opened in a space formerly occupied by a lackluster restaurant, and we hope the new operation keeps up to its current standards. It’s right there in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, steps away from the DCPA, the Ellie, the Buell Theatre, and Boettcher.
I’ve had DCPA season tickets for years now, and this is so far the most powerful, memorable season-kickoff lineup they’ve had. All three plays are winners, and I’m hoping the rest of the season can keep up this pace.
Our House – reviewed here - is playwright Theresa Rebeck’s brutal, dark, hilarious satire of reality TV and its effects on the people who watch it. As the Denver Post reviewer says:
What distinguishes “Our House” from lesser pop-culture satires is the writer’s sharp, unapologetic anger. One can imagine Rebeck writing this pointed diatribe in an inspired fury, skewering random targets like reality TV, media mergers, gun control and more. “Our House” is an absurd play, but it’s not a farce. It’s too close to real for that. Instead it’s a mind-bending activity that will send departing theatergoers off with synapses firing like so many sniper’s bullets.
That’s not to say “Our House,” now in its world premiere staging by the Denver Center Theatre Company, is fully satisfying just yet. It’s ferociously performed and ideologically compelling from start to lickety-split finish. But it’s also at times contradictory and always intentionally messy. . . .
But Rebeck doesn’t want you to love her play. She wants you to listen to what it has to say — if you can tear yourself away from “Celebrity Apprentice” long enough to hear it.
Rebeck’s unabashed triumph is her creation of two utterly original and somehow alluring lowlifes. There’s Merv, a St. Louis grad student and TV-obsessed narcissist who has reclined his way into $4,000 of debt, creating a powder keg of antagonism with a roommate who calls a house meeting to vote on his eviction (a brilliant machination that harkens “Big Brother”).
And there’s Wes (Danny Mastrogiorgio), the network boss obsessed with Jennifer (Molly Ward), an ambitious anchor beauty who pronounces “Shiite” as “shyte.” Wes plucks her from his news division to host a reality show because, sadly, it’ll give her greater exposure (they’re mercilessly patterned after real-life married CBS power couple Les Moonves and news anchor/”Big Brother” host Julie Chen).
Presented in a single 90-minute act, Our House was a little messy, a little shocking, horrendously funny in spots, and utterly fascinating. Although I’ve never watched any of the broadcast networks’ “reality” shows and barely recognized Julie Chen’s name, I surely thought twice about grabbing the remote to turn on the tube when I got home last night.
[T]he Denver Center Theatre Company’s massive world-premiere stage adaptation [by Eric Schmiedl] of [Kent] Haruf’s best-selling novel, a sweeping panorama about an unremarkable, fictional cattle-ranching town on the plains east of Denver.
. . . While “Plainsong” is an ultimately uplifting story about family, Haruf writes unflinchingly about harsher realities of small-town life, such as drunkenness, sexual abuse, adultery, violence and depression.
News of the novel didn’t reach me under whatever rock I was living beneath, back when it was a bestseller, so I haven’t yet read it. A friend said that’s probably best, because my experience of the play wasn’t colored by my memory of the novel. Thank goodness, I also missed the soppy Hallmark TV adaption of the novel, which Haruf said embodied every single thing he told the producers to avoid. Yeesh.
I liked the play so much I wouldn’t mind seeing it again. And if you don’t know how easily I get restless sitting in a theatre, you have no idea what a tribute that is.
The third new play is Lydia, which will probably be the most controversial play in this trio. By turns lyrical and brutal, realistic and mystical, it may have been the most thought-provoking for me. It had the most hard-to-watch moments. The play built skillfully to the climax but then, I thought, the playwright (Octavio Solis) failed to bring it as adeptly to a close.
Finally, on the book front, Patti Thorn at the Rocky published a thoughtful analysis of Our Mayor’s “One Book, One Denver” program which got off to a so-so start four years ago and has lost ground since then. Thorn writes:
Maybe you remember my recent column, headlined “One Book final event one snoozer.”
In it, I recapped what has to rank as one of the more dreadful evenings of recent memory: Sitting in a dark, cold high school auditorium, listening to author Nick Arvin read from his World War II novel to the unfortunate accompaniment of an electric guitar approximating the sound of bombs going off.
It was part of Denver’s 2007 community reading program, One Book, One Denver. And I have to admit, I was embarrassed for the city. The event was ill-conceived, poorly executed and uninspiring.
Far worse was the underlying sense, amid the discordant guitar riffs and drowned-out prose, that One Book, One Denver itself was bombing. Only 100 others joined me that night, a paltry showing if you consider the main author event has attracted as many as 800 in past years.
Indeed, the community reading series designed to encourage all Denverites to read and discuss the same book hit a participation low in 2007. Record-keeping has been irregular at best, but city staffers estimate that book sales and library circulation totalled around 16,000 in the program’s first year in 2004. This time, they plummeted to less than 5,000.
Any further drop and One Book, One Denver is in danger of earning the label one local writer gave it in jest: One Book, One Reader.
She interviewed the manager of the program in Seattle, which started the first citywide reading program, and compares key aspects of the two programs. Bottom line: Denver’s program is committee-driven, inconsistent, a victim of political correctness and fatally flawed by trying to be all things to all readers of all ages.
OK, enough of this writing about culture. The Super Bowl’s about to start. Not that I really care which team wins. And I may wait to change channels until this BBC America documentary that I have on, “My Big Breasts and Me,” is over.
|I took the “If You Were a Spy…“ quiz on gURL.com|
I am a…
HT to Ms. Kitty for this. If you click on “read more” above, you’ll learn:
In 1943 Hannah Senesh was just 22-years old when she enlisted in the British army in the hopes of liberating her mother from Nazi rule. As one of the first females to volunteer as a paratrooper, Hannah proved herself fearless, however she didn’t make it further than her first mission–she was captured by German soldiers in Budapest. Her captors tried using torture to make her reveal her secret communication code. . . . She never did. She went to her death keeping her secret and her comrades safe.
Today, Hannah’s memory lives on through her beautiful poetry and letters she wrote during World War II.
It’s an appropriate result to the quiz, in that lately I’ve been reading accounts of WWII spies. Just because I’m interested. Starting with The Wolves at the Door, about Virginia Hall. Then there was A Life in Secrets about Vera Atkins who was not (exactly) a spy, but in charge of many. Tonight I’ve just started reading Between Silk and Cyanide. Waiting on the shelf: Sisterhood of Spies.
An unsung writer of book jacket copy blew out some brain wiring over Rosie O’Donnell’s new book, Celebrity Detox. The jacket copy ends with a flourish:
Rosie O’Donnell illuminates not only what it’s like to be a celebrity, but also what it’s like to be a mother, a daughter, a leader, a friend, a sister, a wife…in short, a human being.
You know, isn’t it wonderful what these selfless celebrities will do for us poor clueless regular unfamous dregs of society? I mean, Rosie could be out walking her dogs or calling her hogs or otherwise living her exciting famous Hollywood star life. And instead she sat down at a computer and sweated out a WHOLE BOOK to tell us WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A HUMAN BEING.
And I for one am damn grateful for this sacrifice. Just the other day I was wondering about this human being business. I mean, do I really know what it’s like to be one?
I could have been doing it ALL WRONG, for all these years. And never known.
So I checked this critically important and helpful book out of the library last night, so that at NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE (unless I keep it out too long and incur overdue fines) I can finally learn what it’s like to be a human being.
I’m sure I will want to take notes when I’m reading it.
An evocative list of subjects (Ross – University Hills branch).
Uneasy shelf-fellows (Schlessman branch).
One thing about digital photography: you can take literally hundreds of pictures in a short time. Especially if you carry spare batteries and memory cards – which I do. But another thing about digital photography: you have to do something with all those pictures you took.
I’ve been editing the photos I took on a few recent trips. I’ve spent hours at it over the last couple of weeks. And I’m not done yet. I’m posting the finished products on my zenfolio page.
The most time-consuming project: the zillion or so pictures I took on a 26-day vacation trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji last May. That’s my longest trip ever. We flew 22,000 miles on commercial flights and covered a few thousand more on road trips. During which I decided I prefer aisle seats on airplanes; a practical choice. In an aisle seat you can get up and move around without bothering your neighbors (or waking them up) during the flight, pop up and get something out of the overhead bin, and position yourself to get the heck off the aircraft after it lands.
What you lose, of course, is the view out the window. I’m glad I had a window seat on the flight from Melbourne to Alice Springs. I was so awed by the vast red landscape below us that I snapped some pictures of it through the window, including this one. Knowing of course that taking pictures through airplane windows is a dubious proposition. Although I’m often fascinated by what can be seen from those windows.
I’m rethinking my aisle seat preference, because I’m reading Window Seat, a book by Julieanne Kost which you just need to go get your hands on. Now. It’s subtitled “The Art of Digital Photography & Creative Thinking” and it’s full of cool pictures and thought-provoking words. (more…)
Sometimes things aren’t what they seem at first glance. My current life, for instance.
A casual observer – although I don’t see anybody else around here – would look at my life these days and say I am lazing around. Goofing off. Maybe even (and chills run down my arms as I type this) Letting Myself Go.
After all, Casual Observer would say if asked, I’m not working at any job or scheduled volunteer activities. I’m not earning money; I’m living on a modest retirement income. I sit up late reading books and magazines with the TV on. I sleep later than I ever did when I had a job, then take my sweet time about getting dressed and leaving the condo. I spend lots of time online, and have devoted untold hours to editing my digital photos – and wandering around town taking even more photos, which I then sit down and edit. I go to movies and plays with friends, dine out with friends, hang out with family. I’ve taken two serious trips to foreign lands and a few road trips in the USA. And so on.
But our C.O. is – besides being hypothetical – not getting the whole picture. (more…)
Read any good books lately? Well, I have. Two, in fact. And I’ll tell you about them.
First, Bill Bryson’s The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. A memoir of childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, USA, in the 1950′s. Bryson is in fine and funny form, showing us his own eccentric family in the context of the prosperous, confident, happy, and long-vanished society that was the United States of America in the 1950′s.
If you don’t like messing up your books, then don’t read this one while eating or drinking. Because I guarantee you will start laughing helplessly at some point when your mouth is full. At which time you will have to choose between choking or showering the open pages with at least a few drops of that diet Coke or beer or bite of burger. (Don’t tell me that in your case it would be Chardonnay or Chivas, and a light salad – I doubt anybody with refined taste would be reading this blog to start with. And anyway, you just don’t read this book while eating exotic foods, such as yogurt, which were unknown to folks in Mid-America in 1957. It just wouldn’t be right.)
Bill Bryson’s love for Australia (more…)
My inner child is a pretty happy camper this month. Having convinced me it was time to retire – I swear she wrote that notice of retirement letter to my boss – she’s sleeping late and eating lots of treats and reading lots of fun books. And going to movies. Way more movies than has been the norm in my so-called adult life.
Day before yesterday my inner biker chick picked the flick: Wild Hogs. Certifiable Princess had recommended it, and we weren’t disappointed. It was a complete hoot, with a fun plot, lots of nice loud action, and so much eye candy of the male variety onscreen that it was easy to watch. Sweeet. The theater I saw it in – Colorado Cinemas’ Cherry Creek Stadium 8 – leaves much to be desired. Explanation below the fold.
You know what’s so funny and sad about us human beings? . . . We are constantly torn between the all-consuming desire to be loved and the terrifying fear of being known. Deep inside we don’t believe the two things can exist together, that if anyone really knew us, they would surely never love us, so we spend our whole lives concocting this wonderful, plastic shell that we fight like madmen to keep pristine. But eventually the plastic cracks and what is inside is a raw, quivering mass of imperfect humanity that has always been lovely and precious enough for God Himself to love.
*Although the title suggests a book about marriage, it is the name of a traditional American quilt pattern, and the book is a crime novel.
I signed up at LibraryThing on June 15.
As of last night I’ve catalogued a total of 1,005 books there. That’s about it unless I find a stray volume or two in the car or under the bed.
Now I’ll export my catalogue to an Excel file, which will be my return on that investment of time (and a bit of money).
Joined LibraryThing: June 15.
Number of books catalogued as of 6:00 a.m., June 16: 107.
I’m loving this. Especially with my handy bar-code scanner. Click on the ISBN bar code, the book info appears almost instantly onscreen, click to add it to the catalog, add some tags, then go on to add another book.
I’ve had to add only a couple of books manually so far. I’ve had to type in a dozen or so ISBN numbers from books without bar codes. And I’ve scanned in a few book jackets for which no image was located by LT’s efficient search capability.