3/31/2010 9:00:21 AM
In a delightful Hip Mama essay called "Everything I wanted to know about motherhood I learned from Animal House," Christina-Marie Wright, publisher of the Gonzo Parenting Zine, kind of nails it:
Raising kids is like living in a frat house. There are too many all-nighters, there is never enough coffee or Top Ramen, the toilets are never clean, it's no surprise if someone is puking and you never know who is going to be in your bed when you wake up.
Source: Hip Mama (article not yet available online)
Congratulations to Hip Mama, which is nominated for a 2010 Utne Independent Press Award for best writing.
3/30/2010 5:06:43 PM
The French writer Flaubert dreamt up the satirical “Dictionary of Received Ideas,” a reference guide to positions and thoughts that “right-thinking people” ought to hold for various subjects. The Point, a new journal in our library, saw it fitting to amend the work. “Social situations have arisen of which Flaubert could not have dreamed,” writes Justin Evans, “while others have fallen away, and now as then the good citizen needs an aide for those tricky moments in life when saying or thinking the wrong thing could lead to social disaster.”
Evans keeps a few of Flaubert’s entries, but most are new. Note: The ~ symbol is used to refer back to the original term, and words in italics are defined elsewhere.
Here’s a sampling:
Beard: a common symbol of individuality.
Conversation: “~ is a lost art, I’m afraid.” Blame electronic media.
Darwin: i) always right. ii) always wrong.
Hamlet: over-identify with him.
Heat: “it’s not so much the ~ as the humidity.”
Lawyers: mock ~, but want your children to become them.
Martyr: don’t be one: it’s irritating.
Pirates: back in style!
White people: mock what ~ like, particularly their ideals.
Source: The Point (article not available online)
3/22/2010 11:15:27 AM
Tucked away in the new issue of Small Farmer’s Journal, among discussions of sprouted horse feed and asparagus beetles, is Vermont farmer Suzanne Lupien’s lovely remembrance of Nell, “the funniest, happiest cow that ever lived.”
What a hard day to have to say goodbye to that gem of a Jersey I’d milked for 12 years, enjoying her marvelous personality as well as her creamy yellow milk. I hand-milk my six or eight cows, and have come to value the time spent by their sides on the milk stool. Especially Nell! Her personality was so exuberant and fun, and so easy to read!
Nell was something of a rescue animal, as Lupien explains—injured, emaciated, a “little waif of a cow” when she joined Lupien’s small farm—but she flourished, calved, produced wheel upon wheel of top-of-the-line camembert, and lived to be 19. All with a great deal of personality, too:
Not only was she as fit as a fat fiddle, she was HAPPY, and she never stopped expressing her enjoyment of and gratitude for all the good that came her way. Good hay! Apples and pumpkins! Rearing her own calf! Wonderful brushings! Fields and woods! Plus she had the cutest Jersey face and everyone loved her.
Open House potluck? She’d hone right in on the bowl of corn chips and suck them down before you could think of intercepting. Bread making in the outdoor oven? She knew when it was Friday and she’d sashay over to the bread table and inhale 20 lb. of bread dough and any warm loaves of bread stacked in baskets for the farmers market. Opportunities and ideas sprang up in her mind as fast as dandelions in a field.
You know how a cow behaves in spring finding herself in a lush green field for the first time? Twirling and jumping? She was the Ginger Rogers of the Fields. And when she was younger she didn’t limit her performances to that initial turnout day—she did it anytime. It was impossible not to notice her exuberance, her glee: always coming when I called her, always ready for anything.
Lupien’s appreciation of her funny, spunky cow is quite beautiful, the sort of lively gem I love finding in Small Farmer’s Journal, an oversized quarterly in which practical advice shares space with personal experiences like Lupien’s.
Goodbye, dear Nell. Thanks for being the best four-legged friend I’ve ever had! I’ve got three lovely Jerseys to milk still, but it will never be the same without you.
Source: Small Farmer’s Journal (article not available online)
3/19/2010 10:37:28 AM
In November 2003 we published a blog post called How to Find That Book You’ve Spent Years Looking For. Years later, the post is consistantly one of our most popular.
The online resources in the post are all still active and so is the comment thread. Mostly people post desperate appeals from readers who have forgotten the title of a book they loved. These appeals make for wonderful reading. Here are just a few. Can you help these people? Do you have an appeal of your own?
I’m looking for a children’s book, about a little old Chinese lady, and she makes these rice patty balls and they fall off the table and roll places and she chases them and she ends up chasing them through some cave.
I am searching for a book based in England. The subject went to a boarding school and was befriended by a lesbian type girl who was on the hockey team.
I'm looking for a book about a girl who travels into the magical realms through these energy paths. Everyone is fighting for control of the land and I believe she meets Satan (possibly her father)?
I am looking for a book that I read back around 1992 about a boy and a girl that were trapped in the basement of an old theatre or something to that effect.
I'm looking for a book I read about 10 or 15 years ago that takes place in heaven. It's a mystery about a murder/death of an angel.
I read a nonfiction book 20-30 years ago about a homesteading family in Canada that had a pet goat named Annabelle. Anybody ever hear of it?
I'm trying to locate a book I read in the mid or late 70's. I think it was book about Casper but it could have been another ghost. There were three ghosts all together, I believe, and it had robbers in it.
I'm looking for a book about a girl and her brother who go through a mirror or something similar and end up in a castle (I think) and there's a girl there who is the girls twin, only evil. It's not a scary book.
I'm looking for a book that I read as a child about a little girl that goes to visit her grandmother (I think it was her grandmother) and has some magical experiences. The one part I clearly remember is when she is pouring water into the wash jug in her room the wall opens into a garden or something like that.
I'm trying to find a book that I read as an elementary student in the 80’s, but I think the book was old. It’s called Best Friend or Best Friends. The main character is a young girl who is embarrassed by her eccentric grandmother who wears bandannas and fixes bikes.
In the ‘90s, I was reading a book about a girl who couldn’t find a lover since she thought no one would be a better lover than she was to herself. Anyhow, I lost the book and forgot what it was called. Does anyone know what book I'm talking about?
I am looking for a book I read in HS is was about a guy who was born into a techie future city, he is curious about things meets a joker type guy. He discovers a hidden passage in a statue which leads to a station with many ways out but only one way was kept up. He meets other people who are more mentally developed. In the end he is followed up a tower were he gets into a space ship and leaves.
I am looking for a book from the 1980’s or 90’s about a reporter who meets with a man. The man forces him to drink a potion that turns him into a werewolf. The first half of the book is about the man killing people. The second half is about him in a test facility where he escapes and stalks the people in the facility. This is driving me crazy.
I am going CRAZY remembering a book from early childhood (late 60's early 70's) about a glockenspiel.
Looking for a science fiction book I read years ago. I can only remember that earth was changing and people were having to move farther and farther north, they had wall to wall plants in their homes for air purification and there was one man that for some reason was chosen as the only one that the whole world would listen to so that they could change the way we used the planet's resources. Any idea?
I am trying to identify a book I read as a young lad around about 1960ish. I found it in my local library in Southend, England. I have no title or author. The story was about a young American boy who was a hobo, traveled on trains and got a job setting up pins in a bowling alley. I remember it as an absorbing story and would like to rediscover it.
There is this book I read over 3 years ago I never got to finish it because I was going into 6th grade. I don’t remember the title but the plot was about this boy when he went to sleep his sister was kidnapped in his dreams he went to go save her on the way he met up with this girl who was a warrior (guess you could say) who saved him from the people that they were in war with but that was her job to help people like him but he wanted to save his little sister they couldn’t leave unless they had a master of some sort (I guess you could say) witch he did and made the girl his apprentice he was the same man that was her older brother’s master and I remember on there journey there the boy met the leader and gave her some kind of plant leaf she signed the papers then burned the plant along with papers to get rid of the smell. That’s all I remember please if you no about that book help PLEASE!
Image by Bacteriano, licensed under Creative Commons.
3/16/2010 3:29:25 PM
Considering memory loss in the new issue of Urbanite, Richard O’Mara stumbles upon a surprising way to drum up long-buried memories: Re-read a book (in his case, by accident), and uncover a vivid impression of your life at the time of the initial reading.
For O’Mara, it’s The Black Obelisk, a book published in 1956 by the German author Erich Maria Remarque (best known in the States for All Quiet on the Western Front). O’Mara picks it up a bookstore: “I loved it for the first sixty pages—at which point I realized that I had loved it before, forty-odd years ago.”
It was in 1964; I was seated at a café by a beach in Argentina, hearing Vaughn Monroe’s voice pour out of a scratchy loudspeaker, singing “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” A wild storm broke over the town of Miramar that night, where we were staying, my wife and I and our new daughter. I recalled hearing the waves crump like mortar shells on the beach.
Why, I asked myself, had I not retrieved these memories before? Why had I let them lie there, darkened by the decades that had fallen over them like soot? My mind, or the office within it responsible for organizing and filing memories, apparently decided to lock away those recollections for good. It took the late Herr Remarque to spring them. That these memories had nothing to do with the book itself suggests that anything buried deep in the brain, when dredged up, can have clinging to it things that have nothing to do with the object recovered.
Image by Gibson Claire McGuire Regester, licensed under Creative Commons.
3/11/2010 5:54:17 PM
In the latest issue of Gastronomica, Robert Dickinson unearths the history behind the oldest continually produced soda in the country. Moxie has been around since 1884, and its flavor has had an infamously polarizing effect on drinkers—some comparing its taste to sarsaparilla and battery acid or licking a telephone pole. After reading scads of testimonials on the internet, Dickinson simply had to try it for himself—but getting a sample would involve more than a trip to the supermarket.
The specialty brew isn’t available in the southeast where he lives, and he didn’t want to shell out a lot of cash to order through an online soda merchant, so he tried an old-school tactic: bartering. Dickinson penned a charming letter to both the Catawissa Bottling Company and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, asking for six-pack in trade for some regional treats from Tennessee—a box of Goo Goo Clusters, a bag of pork rinds, and a photo of Elvis.
Surprisingly, both companies were more-than-happy to oblige. Catawissa sent diet and regular versions and a sampling of other specialty soft drinks—the representative enjoyed the letter so much she passed it around the office and noted that the barter system was often used since the company’s inception in 1926. Coca-Cola sent an entire fridge pack, and was very enthusiastic about receiveing the Goo Goo Clusters.
Dickinson gathered friends for an official taste test. A few found it tolerable, though most were not fans. His reaction?
At first sip, Moxie is reminiscent of a weak root beer. Not bad, but not memorable either. Then the bitterness takes hold. Like medicine. Like the tar on a telephone pole. Like the sludge at the bottom of the barrel that you’re supposed to just throw away. But Moxie is a complex beast and once the initial shock wears away, the bitterness mellows, and one is left with a bittersweet taste that isn’t so bad and may even quality as, dare I say it…pleasant.
We published a piece back in 2007 about a specialty soda shop in Los Angeles that sold Moxie Original Elixir, among other varieties. The author, Jeff Penalty, had his own Moxie review: “Each sip starts with a cola, morphs into a root beer, and leaves the aftertaste of some sort of evil black licorice potion from Satan’s private reserve.”
Top left image by KidMoxie and bottom right image by Joe Schlabotnik, both licensed under Creative Commons.
3/11/2010 1:23:24 PM
If you want to be the most important poet in America, don’t bother writing great poetry. It’s too time consuming. And even if you manage to write a great poem, all your other poetry will look worse in comparison. Instead, Jim Behrle told a crowd at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project, poets should devote themselves to relentless, 24/7 careerism. In remarks reprinted on the Poetry Foundation website, Behrle advises: “Your friends are really just contacts, and you have to think of them that way. If dropping their name isn’t worth anything, you may have to ditch them.” Poets should Tweet, Facebook, and ask for fame from friends and anyone who listens. According to Behrle:
How can you become the most important poet in America by tomorrow? It’s not as hard as you think. Poets used to have to pass out poetry-reading flyers by hand, one at a time, or publish poems one at a time in magazines, slowly building a career. But technology has changed all that. Now you can spam every poet in America with every new poem. Start a fan page for yourself and your books on Facebook. Blog about your every thought—they don’t even have to be astute thoughts. Most poets in America have boring office jobs in which they are screwing around on the Internet most of the time. Just mention the names of as many contemporary poets as you can in all your blog posts. You will catch all the self-googlers self-googling. Self-promotion is the only kind of promotion left. Without poetry reviewers to rely on, only you can spread the word about your product. And if you spread it suddenly, relentlessly, brutally, then you’ll have name recognition from here to Hawaii . . . and that’s all you need, because there are two kinds of poets: those you’ve heard of and those you haven’t. Almost all of us fall into the latter category, but not you! If only you take my advice.
(Thanks, The Awl.)
Image by Nic's events, licensed under Creative Commons.
3/2/2010 1:12:44 PM
Deeply personal stories are hidden inside the dog-eared pages of ingredient-stained cookbooks. Notes scribbled in margins conjure memories of meals and relationships past. For Sarah McCoy, writing for The Millions, cookbooks are literary treasures. She writes:
The truth is, I read cookbooks like novels. Cover to cover, page by page, the dedication, the acknowledgments, the indexes: I devour everything. Like the literary works on my bookshelves, I can give you the plot, characters, themes and favorite scenes; however, ask me a recipe and I’d be hard-pressed to name one I’ve personally prepared.
Source: The Millions
, licensed under
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