Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Short Break

There will be no posts today and Monday. However, since tomorrow is National Dog Day, there will be a Poetry Friday post with dog poetry! And not to short-change cat lovers, here's Sir John Tenniel's Cheshire Cat.

Courtesy The Morgan.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Freebie You Won't Want to Miss!

Tomorrow, August 25, through Sunday, August 28, admission to National Parks is FREE! What a lovely gift to the people of our beautiful land, and to visitors from abroad. It may be too late to book reservations to Yellowstone, or the Blue Ridge Mountains, but there's still plenty of parks to visit in our neck of the woods! Many are a short drive away! Click here to find which ones.

If you haven't been to a National Park, let NY Times columnist, William Kristol, inspire you with this opinion piece, "This Land Is My Land (And Yours, Too!)," which was published on Saturday.

Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

Ken Burns' documentary, The National Parks: America's Best Idea [DVD 333.783 NAT] provides a nice overview of the history and growth of the National Park system since its beginning. Warning: watching it may result in a lump in your throat, a tear in your eye, and the feeling you may burst with pride.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Art of Book Covers

You shouldn't judge a book by its cover (but we all do), yet you should judge a cover by its art!

Since a book cover is an instantaneous advertisement for a book, and we all know advertising's sole purpose is to sell a product, then wouldn't you expect all books to have eye-catching, if not beautiful, covers?

One thing I know for sure, the design of the cover should in some way reflect what you will find within the book itself. I'll bet we've all read a book where there's a gorgeous girl on the cover, only to find that the main character has severe acne and wire braces on her teeth. She may be beautiful, but not in the way she's portrayed on the cover!

Periodically, websites will feature book covers. Shortlist had "50 Coolest," Flavorwire showed us "20 Most Iconic."

The most surprising book cover I've come across is the cover for Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan [F SLO]. The book was recommended to me by a friend, but the cover was never mentioned. Imagine how freaked out I was to discover that, with the lights out, the book on my nightstand glowed!

If you're interested in the topic, may I suggest checking out Pinterest. Here are two boards that are a delight for the vintage book art lover: Book Bindings and Vintage Book Covers. There are many, many more!

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Battle of Stalingrad

On this day in 1942, the Battle of Stalingrad began as the Germans attempted to capture the Russian city of Stalingrad, now know as Volgograd. It was not to be. After five months, and the loss of 750,000 Russian troops, 400,000 Germans, 200,000 Romanians, 130,000 Italians, and a massive number of civilians, the Germans surrendered.

As Americans, with our own battles to recall, we often forget about the actions our allies took part in that didn't have American involvement. You can correct that oversight by doing a little reading from Antony Beevor's Stalingrad [940.54 BEE] or William Craig's Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad [940.54 CRA].

Friday, August 19, 2016

Poetry Friday--Good Poems

Yesterday was "Bad Poetry" day, however, I spared my readers any bad poems. Instead, I included resources to help poetry writers not to write bad poetry.

I thought that today I would counteract the "bad poetry" vibe, created yesterday, by looking at an anthology called Good Poems (selected and introduced by Garrison Keillor) [811.008 GOO]. The poems in the book have all been heard on Keillor's radio segment, "The Writer's Almanac." If you're not familiar with the daily offerings, you owe it to yourself to browse the website. (For a listing of stations that broadcast "The Writer's Almanac," click here.

Keillor writes in the Introduction, "Good poems tend to incorporate some story, some cadence or shadow of story." I believe he's correct, don't you?

Photo by aspasso.

Here's one of the poems from Good Poems that I think is really, really good:
by C.G. Hanzlicek

I’m scrambling an egg for my daughter.
"Why are you always whistling?" she asks.
"Because I’m happy."
And it’s true,
Though it stuns me to say it aloud;
There was a time when I wouldn’t
Have seen it as my future.
It’s partly a matter
Of who is there to eat the egg:
The self fallen out of love with itself
Through the tedium of familiarity,
Or this little self,
So curious, so hungry,
Who emerged from the woman I love,
A woman who loves me in a way
I’ve come to think I deserve,
Now that it arrives from outside me.
Everything changes, we’re told,
And now the changes are everywhere:
The house with its morning light
That fills me like a revelation,
The yard with its trees
That cast a bit more shade each summer,
The love of a woman
That both is and isn’t confounding,
And the love
Of this clamor of questions at my waist.
Clamor of questions,
You clamor of answers,
Here’s your egg.

Head over to Dori Reads for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up and more good poetry!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Are You Guilty of "Bad Poetry"

Today is "Bad Poetry Day!" I'm glad it's today and not tomorrow, because tomorrow is Poetry Friday, the day when I share a poem each week. I wouldn't want to share bad poetry when there's so many good poems out there!

However, since it's Thursday, I don't have to share a poem, but, I will share some resources on reading and writing poetry. If you follow the advice given in these books, I foresee good poetry in your future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What the Heck Is a Hack?

A hack, in the sense we're going to explore it today, is listed as the #6 definition at Merriam-Webster online dictionary
a usually creative solution to a computer hardware or programming problem or limitation

With the recent proliferation of social media, this definistion is out of date. For most of us on social media, a hack is a creative solution to any type of everyday problem. There are cooking hacks, knitting hacks, car hacks, etc. You can find new and unusual ways to trim your own hair, or to clean the ugly mold off your shower, or to rid your yard of crabgrass!

Individuals have created careers in hacking. Take a look at Crazy Russian Hacker on YouTube. He has filmed videos for hundreds of hacks! Plus, his presentation is always entertaining.

If you don't want to get sucked into YouTube rabbit hole. We still have plenty of books that list what would today be called hacks, but in the recent past were simply referred to as hints and tips. Here are a few:

Ask the Experts: 2500 Great Hints & Smart Tips from the Pros. [640.41 ASK]

Kent, Cassandra. Organizing Hints & Tips: [More Than 1,000 Ideas to Help You Organize Your Work, Home, and Family Life]. [640.41 KEN]

McMahon, Tom. Ten Tips: A Practical Survival Guide for Parents with Kids 11-19. [649.125 MCM]

Minecraft Ultimate Guide: Minecraft Tips, Hints and Ultimate Redstone Guide. [eBook]

1001 Hints & Tips for Your Garden. [635 ONE]