Wednesday, May 30, 2012

design copyright Chris Fow Cohen

On Mondays

On Mondays when the museums are closed
and a handful of guards
look the other way
or read their newspapers
all of the figures
step out of golden frames
to stroll the quiet halls
or visit among old friends.
Picasso's twisted ladies
rearrange themselves
to trade secrets
with the languid odalisques of Matisse
while sturdy Rembrandt men
shake the dust
from their velvet tams
and talk shop.
Voluptuous Renoir women
take their rosy children by the hand
to the water fountains
where they gossip
while eating Cezanne's luscious red apples.
Even Van Gogh
in his tattered yellow straw hat
seems almost happy
on Mondays when the museums are closed.

from Coda. © Autumn House Press, 2010.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Will the Real Jenny Lawson Please Stand Up?

Why did no one tell me this video existed? It proves, once and for all, that Let's Pretend This Never Happened is one of the funniest memoirs on the market today.

For the love of the Bible, just read it. I did, and I'll never be the same. Once I'm recovered, I may be able to write a quick review. I might have to re-read it first...

Anyway, read the book. Just read it.

Do it for the mouse.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day: A Poem of Blue and Gray

Memorial Day was designated at holiday after the American Civil War, celebrated on May 30 because there was no momentous battle on that day for either side. After World War I, the holiday was changed to recognize all American military personnel who fell in battle.

Below is a poem written by someone who lived through the Civil War, who reminds us that no matter what side the soldier may be on, a soldier has fallen.

The Blue And The Gray

By the flow of the inland river,
    Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
    Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the one, the Blue,
            Under the other, the Gray

These in the robings of glory,
    Those in the gloom of defeat,
All with the battle-blood gory,
    In the dusk of eternity meet:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day
        Under the laurel, the Blue,
            Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
    The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers
    Alike for the friend and the foe;
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgement-day;
        Under the roses, the Blue,
            Under the lilies, the Gray.

So with an equal splendor,
    The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
    On the blossoms blooming for all:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Broidered with gold, the Blue,
            Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
    On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
    The cooling drip of the rain:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment -day,
        Wet with the rain, the Blue
            Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
    The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading
    No braver battle was won:
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day;
        Under the blossoms, the Blue,
            Under the garlands, the Gray

No more shall the war cry sever,
    Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
    When they laurel the graves of our dead!
        Under the sod and the dew,
            Waiting the judgment-day,
        Love and tears for the Blue,
            Tears and love for the Gray.

by Francis Miles Finch
Courtesy Poems and Songs of the American Civil War 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Time Travel in Fiction, in Discos, in Colorado

If you are a fan of time travel fiction, you must pick up The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser.  This novel features one of the most unique storylines I have encountered in a long time.

Readers meet Shay, a 20-year-old blonde living in Boulder, Col., on the eve of her wedding in 1978. Her parents would like to dissuade her from this decision, but she won't budge. As her grandmother enters her bedroom, she sees the young girl trying on her bridal veil and modeling it in front of an antique mirror. The family is shocked when Grandma Bran, mute for decades due to a stroke, cries out, "Corbin!" a and drops to the floor.

Shay doesn't have time to wonder: she herself also falls to the floor — only to awaken in what looks like the same room, but can't possibly be. The people are different, the furniture is different, she is different. The veil, however, is the same, and so is the mirror.

Shay has not just traveled in time, but wound up in the body of Grandma Bran on the eve of her wedding to Corbin Strock in 1900. She knows it's the mirror that caused this (and the evidence is fascinating and irrefutable), and she focuses on how to get back to her own time and body before her 20-year-old grandmother, Brandy, weds a man her family has never heard mentioned.

At first, I was impatient. The story seemed to remain too long with Shay as Brandy, and I wondered how the other time-traveler was doing at the same time. However, I decided to trust Millhiser, and I am glad I did. It was an amazing story, a time travel tale different than any other I had yet to read.

Imagine living in someone else's body, knowing what was going to happen — kind of. There is enough mystery in any life, no matter how well you think you know someone (especially your parents or grandparents). You might wish you had paid closer attention to family lore. You might wish these family members had revealed their secrets so you'd understand better the life you found yourself living.

There is danger and folly in knowing the future. Are you causing your family to live the life they were intended to live, or one you have created because it already happened? Worse, what if they don't listen? Even worse than that, what if they do listen and think you insane?

A person from the future living in the past may be confused, but at least she has an inkling as to what will happen next. How about the woman of 1900 suddenly thrust into the world of 1978, with disco, sexual revolution, sports cars, processed food and science? Add the fact that you're surrounded by "family" totally unknown to you who think you're mentally unstable, and you'll have Brandy's life in the body of her granddaughter (that harbors a surprise of its own).

The storyline was intriguing, unpredictable, entertaining, compelling and educational. Shay was confident that she knew what was on the horizon, but it's amazing how many times she was surprised by what happened in her life.

The characters were delightful. I worried about both Shay and Brandy, both out of their elements and in danger of being "helped" by those who loved them the most. Boulder was as much a character as Shay and Brandy — as was the insidious, manipulative mirror.

In the end, Millhiser's novel was brilliant, innovative and thought-provoking. (It also made me want to return to Colorado.) I am glad I trusted this author, and I strongly suggest readers give this book a chance. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Logo property of blog editor, not for public use

The Day Disco Died

It is 12:15 in Washington D.C., a Monday,
the day after an earthquake in Italy, and I'm listening
to "I Feel Love," the song Bryan Ferry said would change
music for good. In Afghanistan a Marine
sergeant tweets about boredom and generators
from a gritty keyboard in Combat Outpost Marjah.
I conjure up the unrelenting sand he describes
in 140 characters while a new Barnard BA strategizes her type
of rekindling and a poli-sci grad at Liberty types up an op/ed
on Romney and values,
and stories get made this way, then taken down.
Just as quickly, the imprint of one a ghost
in the other, the way Harvard links two opponents,
the way a fracture is also a seam.
Songs about rivers inflect an Italian art revolution
against austerity,
or we're forces multiplied both in the streets
of Chicago or in the alliances of nations.
Or we once listened to a soundtrack in falsetto
that sounded like the end of the past
and also the future as our parents waited hours for gas,
but still danced to these new thumps in the analog network
we made of our lives then,
except that time or history whispered their own songs
along the keyboard
and pushed us into the tangle of before,
and the web of last
where everyone and I are still that held breath,
made sharp and vital harmony.

by Carmen Gimenez Smith, NPR news poet

All Things Considered's NewsPoet is produced and edited by Ellen Silva with production assistance from Rose Friedman.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Going E — But Only For the Articles

Kindle Fire, courtesy Amazon
It wasn't my idea.

Okay, it was my idea, but there was some peer pressure.

Well, not "peer" pressure, but a suggestion on how they could come in handy.

"They" are e-readers — specifically, Kindles. My bookish friend and fellow print-lover, Carole, received one right around Christmas, and she mentioned that she could access her favorite magazines (and recipes) without having to keep the magazines. Nothing, she noted, can replace rifling thorough a magazine rich with color and texture — but the e-mag sure is convenient.

So, I pondered. What magazines did I like to read but didn't want to cart about? The New Yorker, my guilty pleasure. They show up every week and I read as much as I can until I have to abandon the mostly-read and sadly-unread copies to the thrift store (if, of course, I haven't chopped them up to save the cartoons). I'm always surprised by what I choose to read, and delighted at what I find.

I also love Smithsonian, but recently gave away an entire year's subscription, unread. I was too sad: it was Smithsonian that provided me with information about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates in Central Park and a magical, snowy weekend on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in February 2005. Alas, I never sat in my own living room and read them. (The Gates article? Read on the elliptical machine at the gym.)

Magazines are like movies: too decadent to enjoy as part of my day. I used to go across the hall to Alicia's house and read her People. Somehow, that wasn't "wasting time." (After all, my laundry wasn't wrinkling in the basket at her house.)

But e-readers are evil. They're destroying the publishing industry — right? First, readers lose bookstores because people "stop buying books," or just stop buying books at ridiculous MSRP — $35 for a hardback, my, er, ear. My use of Amazon was not at the expense of My Borders, which I rewarded with frequent purchases because they shelved Marge Piercy and other delectables. 

Then there's the question of owning a book. With e-readers, we purchase use of the book — but the publisher can remove the book from a device. I want to own the books I buy.

But can I reconcile my e-reader with my love of paper? Will I go to the e-side for everything, leasing a book rather than holding it in my hands? We will have to see. For the time being, I'll see how magazines read on it. (Don't worry, I'll continue to subscribe to print — I may be experimenting, but I'm not totally insane.)

Share with me: how do you use your e-reader? Has it changed the way you read, and is that change for the better?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Unbelievable Book Art

While some of us can see the art in a book, how many can make art out of a book?

Check out these amazing sculptures created from books.

Thanks to Book Riot for the tip.

Friday, May 18, 2012

That's Not a Desk — This is a Desk!

I was a graduate student, just moved cross-country with second-hand furniture and plank-and-cinderblock bookshelves. I knew that as my studies grew, so would my book collection (and my bookshelves). I managed to get a "den," a few bookshelves from Ikea — but I was stumped about a desk.

Then I read about someone who grabbed a nice, thick board, stained and shellacked the heck out of it and attached it to two filing cabinets. I was intrigued: I could make a desk as big as I wanted.

Computers were new at the time, so I needed something big. (Well, bigger than what I had used for my typewriter.) I also had a cat who liked to sit between me and whatever I was working on, so it had to be wide. (Mao, God love her, was wide. Furry. Think Maine Coon, but a moggy.)

The board was beautiful, rich reds and browns under enough shellac that you could cut vegetables on it and not a mark would appear. Between the bolts on the filing cabinets and the walls, that desk was going nowhere.

But I was — after graduation, I purchased a townhouse. A new one. Brand spankin' new, with pristine white walls. I could not drill a desk to those walls (well, and not faint). My dad bought me the biggest desk on the market, with a four-foot flat-top retractable shelf and a place for my computer tower, keyboard, thick monitor and lots and lots of disk storage.

I didn't want to part with my beautiful board, so I leaned it up against the wall in the guest closet, behind the door, and waited.

A decade and a half later, the desk was given a new home. As computers evolved into laptops and the space of the room in which it had sat for 16 years needed to be "sold" to a fickle home-buying market, it was deemed "too big." It had served me well, but now it needed to belong to someone else.

Fast-forward a year: as packers emptied the storage units that held my family's belongings for the better part of a year, one of them struggled out with a huge board swathed in bubble wrap.

My desk.

A trip to Home Depot provided a set of table legs and, after only one incident involving cat paws and dark brown stain, the new-old desk sat in the middle of my dream library, with my comfy chair tucked under the window.

It's a work in progress — lighting, pencil holders, where to put supplies and how to position power cords so I don't kill myself, whether the legs are too dark — but for now, I have the desk that saw me through grad school and waited patiently for me to return to continue writing on it. We're both home.

Bookselves on every wall, a glass of iced tea; life is good.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More Dennis Hopper, More Poetry

I love the sound of his voice, so I give you: Dennis Hopper reading from Letters from a Young Poet by Ranier Maria Rilke. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fill In the Gaps, the 2012 Edition

I've gone particularly slow on this task....  Shame on me. However, in my defense, I've had a lot happening in life in the past year, and many good "new(er)" books have passed through my hands. Plus: National Poetry Month.

Also, to my credit, I have finished a few recently (including The Land That Time Forgot, which was a disappointment, and I wish I had chosen Princess of Mars instead). 

At any rate, I've adjusted the list — again. I think I'm one short, but I started out with seven extra, so it all balances out in the end. (The books on the list I have read are marked with √ — and I warned you!)

Are any of these on your list? Can you recommend any to add (or subtract) from this list? Feel free to share your comments, either in the comments section below or via e-mail.

Fill in the Gaps, the 2012 version

1.  1001 Nights / Arabian Nights            
2.  Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
3.  Highsmoor, Peter Ackroyd
4.  Foundation, Isaac      Asimov
5.  Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
6.  Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
7.  √ Sundays With Vlad, Paul Bibeau
8.  The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
9.  The Early Fears, Robert Bloch
10.The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck
11.A Little Princess, Frances Hodgson      Burnett
12.Cold Sassy Tree, Olive Ann      Burns
13.√ The Land that Time Forgot, Edgar Rice      Burroughs
14.Tobacco Road, Erskine Caldwell
15.The Plague, Albert Camus
16.Ender's Game, Orson Scott      Card
17.Death Comes for the Archbishop, Willa Cather
18.O Pioneers!, Willa      Cather
19.Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
20.The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
21.The Stories of John Cheever,  John Cheever
22.Girl with the Pearl Earring,      Tracy      Chevalier
23.Remarkable Creatures,      Tracy      Chevalier
24.The Woman in White, Wilkie Collins
25.Moll Flanders, Daniel DeFoe
26.The Brief Wondrous Life  of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
27.A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
28.Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens
29.Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
30.The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
31.The Man in the Iron Mask, Alexandre Dumas
32.The Last Cavalier, Alexandre Dumas
33.A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers
34.Middlemarch, George Eliot
35.So Big, Edna Ferber
36.Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
37.Where Angels Fear to Tread, E.M. Forster
38.The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
39.The Quiet American, Graham Greene
40.The Talented Mr. Ripley Patricia Highsmith
41.√ "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", James Hilton
42.Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
43.Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
44.The      Lost Weekend, Charles R. Jackson
45.√ The      Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
46.The      Portrait of a Lady, Henry      James
47.Three Men in a Boat, Jerome K      Jerome
48.Up the Down Staircase, Bel Kaufman
49.On the Road, Jack      Kerouac
50.Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Jean      Kerr
51.Under the Dome, Stephen King
52.The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
53.The Jungle Books,      Rudyard Kipling
54.The Man Who Would Be King, Rudyard Kipling
55.A Separate Peace, John Knowles
56.Little Drummer Girl, John LeCarre
57.The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, John LeCarre
58.The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
59.Sliver, Ira Levin
60.Elmer Gantry, Sinclair Lewis
61.The Monk, Matthew Gregory Lewis
62.What the Dead Know, Laura Lippman
63.The Call of the Wild, Jack London
64.√ The Best of H.P. Lovecraft, H.P. Lovecraft
65.One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
66.Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
67.The Road, Cormac McCarthy
68.The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers
69.√ Atonement, Ian McEwan
70.Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurty
71.Peyton Place, Grace Metalious
72.Beloved, Toni Morrison
73.Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
74.Suite Française, Irene Nemirovsky
75.A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy O'Toole
76.Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
77.Bel Canto      Ann Patchett
78.Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig
79.Anubis Gates, Tim Powers
80.Gravity’s Rainbow      , Thomas Pynchon
81.All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
82.Home, Marylynne Robinson
83.The Human Stain, Philip Roth
84.The God of Small Things, Arundathi Roy
85.Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie
86.Sarum, Edward Rutherford
87.√ A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
88.Prayers to Broken Stones, Dan Simmons
89."Enemies, A Love "Story, Isaac Bashevis Singer
90.Angle of Repose, Wallace Steigner
91.Dracula, Bram      Stoker
92.The Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Suzanne
93.The Magnificent Ambersons, Booth Tarkington
94.The Man Who Fell to Earth, Walter Tevis
95.Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
96.Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
97.War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
98.All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren
99.Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
100.        Night, Elie Weisel
101.        Journey to the Center of the Earth      , H.G. Wells
102.        Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
103.        The Inimitable Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse
104.        In the Woods, Tana French
105.        Unbroken, Lauren Hildenbrand
106.        Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dede's Favorite Poet: Martin Buxbaum

Welcome to a new feature here on Hedgehog Lover: Poetry Wednesday. Don't forget to share your poetry suggestions for future use. Thanks to Dede Robinson for sharing her favorite poet (and poetry book) — and for helping launch Poetry Wednesday!

The Child Without a Christmas

     When all the world is silent . . . 
on this holiest of nights . . 
In a million beds, the small ones dream . . . 
of Christmasy delights.
     But some awaken sadly . . 
and their tiny hearts are numb . . . 
when they realize through tear-filled eyes . . . 
that Santa didn’t come.

     A bit of cold or hunger . . . 
are things they understand . . . 
but a Christmas without toys . . . 
to hold in heart and hand . 
means that someone has forgotten . . . 
that someone didn’t care 
that someone failed to listen . . . 
to a very special prayer.

     It’s, oh, so very hard to tell . . . 
a disappointed tot . . . 
just why she had to be the one . . . 
that Santa Claus forgot.

by Martin Buxbaum
from Rivers of Thought

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Discovering Wild Things Are, Thanks to Sendak

Maurice Sendak, the writer who gave us a most honest view of childhood, died today at the age of 83.  Click here for the lovely write-up of his life by AP reporter Hillel Italie: 'Where Wild Things Are' author Maurice Sendak dies.

I have to admit, I skipped over his books when I was a child and didn't visit them until much later in life. Sendak's work was very much like what already was in my head: gray lines, dun colors, fear and fascination for what I alone seemed to see. I should have been drawn to the contrast of round, soft bodies and heads with sharp claws and horns, but I wasn't, not at that age. I was the kind of kid who read Very Special People when I was in grade school (and looking up some of the words I didn't recognize taught me more than the words themselves did). I knew about poltergeists before I knew about princesses.  I wasn't a morose child, but early loss made me less Disney and more Tollbooth.

However, I made a special trip to Manhattan during the summer of 2005 to spend most of a day in the Jewish Museum, peering into the life-size world of Wild Things and more. I left with a few books (imagine that) — but not the ones everyone else seemed to favor (imagine that, too).  I didn't want his round, soft monsters, but his dark, illustrated folks tales and fables. What I was most glad to take with me from the museum was a new appreciation of an author I finally took the time to meet. I thought much about him as I meandered through the city, munching on an H&H bagel and wondering if the night sky would be the same color now that I had been in his world.

I am grateful for his vision and respect for children, to trust them enough to tell them what he really thought. I wish him, his family and his fans peace. May we continue to appreciate his vision and how he gallantly recorded it — but most of all, how he generously shared it.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How Are You Celebrating Children's Book Week?

It doesn't take much to stoke my interest in a book.  If I read a note in a magazine or see a title that amuses me, I'll read it. I don't care who the intended audience may be.

So when I read about a scientist discussing dinosaur feces in a book, I was excited.

I was even more excited to see it was written for children — especially with Children's Book Week being celebrated May 7-13.

Did you know that the science of studying fossilized dung was named long before the first dinosaur was?

Do you know how to tell what kind of dinosaur eliminated what waste?

Do you even know how to tell the difference between waste and other fossils?

Read this and find out those, and many more, answers.

Then choose your next favorite children's book and read that, too. You have all week to read it up. I think I'll find my new (to me!) copy of Ginger Pye, in honor of another Ginger:

Ginger Galore!

Now we can return to our regularly scheduled blog.

I also will check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid from my local library so I can discuss it with my godson, who also read it recently.

Don't forget to thank your librarian(s) for their excellent service: without libraries, I shudder to think where we might be. (Even though National Library Week was last month, I celebrate it year-round.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Looking for Books in a Border-Less World

I miss My Borders.

The cultural blog/aggregator Flavorwire was kind enough recently to tell me about "10 of the Most Hilarious Memoirs You’ll Ever Read." Intrigued, I checked it out — and found a memoir that sounded really, really good:  Let's Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by The Bloggess Jenny Lawson.

Two words: must have.

In the olden days, I'd have stopped by My Borders on the way home from the gym that night and picked up my copy, maybe even started reading it in the store (with a cookie and a latte from the cafĂ©).  Alas, that is no longer my life.  Instead, I checked a couple of resources to see what this book would set me back. (For those of you keeping score at home, the publisher has set the manufacturer's suggested retail price, or MSRP, at $27.99.)  

Amazon featured it for $12.99, which was a fine price, but add in shipping and the fact I'd have to wait, and the price became less attractive. Plus, after seeing the cold, heartless inside of an Amazon warehouse, I do not find Amazon the panacea it once was.

So on to Barnes & Noble, my nemesis.

First, let me explain: I do not find the local Barnes & Noble as inviting as My Borders was. I hate encountering a Nook-shiller during my first breath in a bookstore. (Yes, I know e-books are as much "book" as "e," but that's not what B&N makes me think it thinks.)

Second, I feel as though the books are shoved into shelves which are scattered about the store without rhyme or reason in a vain attempt to make us wander past every shelf so we encounter more books we want to buy. 

Third, they have no Marge Percy in the poetry section any time I visit.

Fourth, I was offered only a few months' free membership in the B&N membership club when they took over Borders Rewards. My Borders membership information, had they bothered to review it, should have earned me a free one-year membership. B&N didn't care about me as a customer, so I don't care about B&N as a consumer.

Okay, back to the matter at hand. 

So, I check B&N's website to see how the price compares. 

B&N charged a dollar more than Amazon, but my husband David's membership would provide free shipping to my location of choice. Plus, I could see if B&N had the book in stock at the local brick and mortar store. Which it did — but, wait! The cost was listed as the MSRP. Didn't the website list it for half that? Thinking the website didn't reflect the in-store sale price, I called the store to confirm the cost.

The bookseller who answered the phone was very enthusiastic about the book, and confirmed the store price: full MSRP.

Stores with both Internet and street presence need to clearly, boldly list the price differentiation. Sure, that's counter-intuitive to your "suck me in and make me enter your store so I'll buy it anyway because I drove all the way out there" approach. However, you have only once shot at that before I get to decide: be sucker-punched whenever I walk in the door or accept that I have no idea what an item costs in your store until I walk in and see the tag. 

Let me warn you, I don't forget easily. I still hold a grudge against Mattress Discounters for charging me extra for delivery of a bedframe because the salesperson didn't reserve it in time at the warehouse and I had to choose whether to accept the floor sample with an insignificant discount or decide I lost half a day's wages waiting for the store salesclerk to hose me. That was in 1996, people, and not only did I choose another store for my latest new mattress, but I share that story with everyone who speaks the phrase "Mattress Discounters."

Okay, back to the matter at hand.

I wanted the book — but would I buy it?

I didn't want to travel across town to a bookstore I didn't like for a book at full MSRP (minus David's discount, because I don't buy books from B&N). I didn't want to wait a week for a mail-order. I didn't want to pay Amazon shipping and I didn't want to buy it from a store that didn't differentiate between online price and in-store price.

I was still mulling it over when I saw it on the shelves during an "unexpected" trip to Target. (Are any trips to Target really unexpected?) In-store was a 30 percent discount. It was there, I was there, I already had coffee, a To Kill a Mockingbird Blu-Ray, an Avengers t-shirt and cat treats in the basket. David was perusing the magazines, looking longingly at the summer movie issue of Entertainment Weekly. Target lists their prices online as "online."

"I miss My Borders," I said.

"I know," David said.

I put the book in the basket.

So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the book. David has devoured his magazine. We drank the coffee this morning. 

Target: 1. 
B&N: 0. 
Borders: still breaking my heart.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Greeting May With Eliot

One cannot simply stop reading poetry. One may wish to moderate it somewhat, but not cut it off completely.  (At least, that is my approach. Cold turkey my, er, foot.)

So, as we venture into May, I give you a poem I quoted in part to my son-in-law Jessie, when discussing the naming of a small tawny kitten he and Valerie blessed me with in December. You know this kitten as
Miss Ginger Galore Cohen!

Here is the poem I mangled for poor Jessie, bless his heart.

The Naming Of Cats 
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
         His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name. 
by T.S. Eliot
from Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats