Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Spice Girls Reunion

How timely that the Spice Girls announced their reunion world tour just after Carlie posted about the career arc of one of their god-daughters, Avril Lavigne. People of the world, get ready to have your lives spiced up once more!

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My Avril affection: It makes things so complicated

In the same way I'm not supposed to watch The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll or admire Courtney Love or admit that I would rather read Meg Cabot than Moby Dick, I'm not supposed to like Avril Lavigne as much as I do.

When I first moved to New Jersey I was staying temporarily with some relatives of my husband, a couple I shall refer to as Mr. and Mrs. Awesome. Mr. Awesome and I were shopping at Best Buy one afternoon, where I picked up some CDs by bands I've liked for years, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Rolling Stones. Mr. Awesome bought Let Go and said, "You have to listen to this. I think Avril Lavigne is really talented."

"Really?" I asked. I'd heard a few of Avril's songs on the radio and thought they were certainly listenable, but most of my music lust was reserved for bands that had at least one dead member. I like Top 40 music when I'm in the mood to dance or generally need something uplifting, but the percentage of Top 40 artists I'd consider talented is, erm, not a majority. (Some top 40 artists I DO think are talented: Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Amy Winehouse, Gwen Stefani, Bon Jovi.) At the time Mr. Awesome gave me Let Go, I knew I wasn't supposed to like Avril because educated adults and cynical teens, both of which I am depending on the hour, thought she was "a poser." Whatever that was supposed to mean. Aren't we all posers in one way or the other? The deity of your choice knows that I certainly pose as a responsible adult every day. I think the Avril detractors meant something along the lines of her "posing" as some kind of punk. Okay, so maybe she's not Joey Ramone, but you know what? I don't care.

"Really," Mr. Awesome said. "Take a listen."

So I did.

Mr. Awesome did not fail me. When I listened to Let Go, I heard a girl who could sing (and hit a lot of notes that I struggle with), play the guitar, and who sang about something else OTHER than how much she wanted to get into the pants of the guy standing next to her. Opening the liner notes, I saw black-and-white pictures of a girl with straight dishwater blonde hair, who sometimes wore glasses, who didn't feel the need to wear the trendiest, most low-cut thing. The songs appealed to my inner alternagirl, were fun to sing along to, and didn't try to be anything by Britney Spears.

She was a great musician, and I was a girl. Could I make it any more obvious?

I kept Let Go in my regular CD rotation for a year or so until Under My Skin came out. UMS was, to me, sort of a less polished version of LG. (If you're into mashups, btw, try putting the lyrics of "Sugar, We're Goin' Down Swinging" by Fall Out Boy over the instrumentals of "Freak Out." Fun times.) I liked it, but not as much as LG. Still, I admired Avril for her actual-girl-power, as opposed to girl-power-comes-from-wearing-really-low-rise-jeans lyrics and her writing her own music and lyrics. I didn't make an effort to go see her in concert, but I didn't change the radio station if one of her songs came on, either.

Recently, Del Rey Manga came out with Avril Lavigne's Make 5 Wishes, which I have not yet had the chance to read beyond the previews on Del Rey's site, and its companion site, Make 5 Wishes. The gist of the series is that a lonely girl named Hana, who idolizes Avril, is granted 5 wishes either by visiting a website or by a Stitch-esque magical being granting them to her. The first book in the series was reviewed favorably in Publishers Weekly, although no one in my library system has it yet. Previews and videos are available on the Del Rey and Make 5 Wishes sites. The manga looks to be appealing, with color pictures and Japanese-style characters, and not entirely fluffy. The problem that follows the manga, though, is the same problem that follows Avril's music: Loyal fans will clamor for it and those opposed to her image/music/being married to Deryck Whibley will reject it without so much as picking it up. But such is the right of any reader.

After Make 5 Wishes, there was The Best Damn Thing, which unfortunately isn't.

The media has been pretty harsh on Avril since the release of TBDT and her updated punk-cheerleader image. Gone are her melodic lyrics about an unstable life and being the dishwater blonde in black in a world of platinum blondes wearing pink. Instead, much of TBDT sounds like a tribute to Toni Basil and features a platinum-blonde Avril with pink streaks in her hair on the cover. Most of the lyrics are either about guys that completely suck or guys that are totally great, sung over pep band drums and hand claps.

But you know what? I still like it. I still think Avril is a great singer and sings about things that girls really feel, albeit it a small range of those real feelings. She's taken a lot of criticism, some of it a little silly, for TBDT, including:

"She's married now, so how does she know about wanting to break up or breaking up with a guy, or other teenage feelings?"

(Um, she hasn't been married all her life! By this logic, no one of the age of 19 should write a YA novel.)

"She's sold out!"

(Someday I'm going to figure out where the line gets crossed between making music people want to listen to and buy, thus sustaining your living, and selling out. This from someone who thought the Black Album was the best thing Metallica ever did.)

"She's become a Heather!"

(Technically I know it's wrong to want to be a Heather, but I always looked good in red and I envied them. Oh the humanity.)

In general, my response to all of this is: So what? So what if Avril's blonde now, and favors pink t-shirts with skulls and hearts printed on them? So what if she likes her shout choruses and has abandoned her angst? So what if she hates the girl her ex is with now? She's still a talented musician. She's still doing what she wants and if she wants to wear pink while doing it, that's her prerogative. And her management's. I don't follow Avril's career closely enough to know how much of this morph from sk8er grrl to pep rally leader is her idea versus how much of it is her record label's, but I'd be interested to know. Is it a case where the record label is selling an older, more mature act to the same audience it was selling to when LG came out? Or maybe Avril said, "Hey, I missed some of the fun silly stuff that teenagers do and say, so I'll try to make an album about that?" Either way, she (and her record company) knows what she's doing, because her songs continue to be smash hits and TBDT spent some time at #1 on the Billboard charts. And frankly, I don't know anyone who hasn't wanted to say at least once in their lives, in any capacity, "Hey, you, I don't like your girlfriend."

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Please note that this is a very rough draft. The holes are mainly because I haven't made up my mind.

Thursday June 21.

Drive down with Carlie Webber. Worst case scenario: we find a Lush store, spend all our money, and have to beg for coffees and danish for the rest of the conference.

Friday June 22.

Sins of YA Preconference. I'm not sure what time it starts or where it is.

YALSA Happy Hour at Old Dominion from 5 to 7.

YALSA 50th Anniversary Party from 10 to ???. Renaissance Ballroom West A/B, Renaissance Washington

Saturday June 23.

Morning, YALSA All Committee at Grand Ballroom North Central, Ren. Washington Hotel, Grand Ballroom. 1030 to 12. Or maybe, 11?

3:00. Exhibits; Ysabeau Wilce & Laura Bowers are signing at booth 3210.
3:30 Book Launch, Mitali Perkins/ First Daughter, DC / MLK Library

After -- Kidlit Fun!

6 - 7. Random House Reception.

8. Random House Dinner.

Sunday June 24.

8 am. YA Author B'fast at 8 AM. AM I INSANE???? Holy Hannah that's early. Yeah, Breakfast is early. But still. Anyway, the Ren Washington. Grand Ballroom.

11 am. Cecil Castellucci is signing, Candlewick, 3245. (I thought it was Saturday, but hey! I fail at reading schedules.)

The rest of the day I... I'm not sure! I haven't made up my mind. Maybe YALSA Programs? Maybe some other division? Maybe find a spa and get a facial? Go to a museum?

Note to self: Find out where the other cool kids who are not going to the Newbery are hanging out. Note to self: You're not cool. Amend. Note to self: Find out ... Oh, just forget it.

Monday June 25

8 am You Must Write It: 50 Tips for Publishing with YALSA. But 8! And no breakfast! Conv. Center, Room 146 B.

2:30. YALSA President's Program, Convention Center, Room 144 A C

8 Printz Reception.

Tuesday June 26.

Home again home again jiggity jig.



Introduction and Favorite Things

As Sophie mentioned in a previous post, I'm Carlie Webber, and I'm new to Pop Goes the Library, so...hi! Can I do the Eight Things meme as an introduction? Sure. Here are Eight Things about me, four personal and four professional.

1. Professional: I hold a MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh and have been a YA librarian for six years. Currently I work for the Bergen County Cooperative Library System in Hackensack, NJ.

2. Personal: I am married and have two cats, Henry and Beezus.

3. Professional: My favorite part of being a librarian is doing reader's advisory. (How odd, I became a librarian because I like to read!) When I grow up I want to be Diana Tixier Herald. Or Nancy Pearl.

4. Personal: I have had driver's licenses in four states (Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey) and been to Disneyland over 20 times, but I don't have a passport yet.

5. Professional: I live for public speaking! I've presented at conferences recently on the topic of book vs. fanfiction reviewing and using social networking technologies with teens.

6. Professional: I've been a YA book reviewer almost as long as I've been a librarian. I review for Teenreads.com, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) and Kirkus Reviews. I serve with Melissa on YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults and am the chair of the 2008 YALSA Publishers' Liaison Committee.

7. Personal: Before I went to library school, I trained to be a professional percussionist. I also sing.

8. Personal: I'm completely addicted to sushi. Mmm, hamachi.


On to three of my current favorite pop culturey things:

1. Snakes and Arrows. Rush has been my favorite band since I was twelve, and I really like the new album (particularly "Far Cry" and "The Larger Bowl"). My two favorite Rush albums are still the Rupert Hine productions, Presto and Roll the Bones, but S&A is nothing to sneeze at. It's got a more lyrical sound than its predecessor, Vapor Trails, and includes two instrumental tracks. They're playing Madison Square Garden in September and I already have tickets.

2. Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School. One of the things you'll come to learn as I post more to Pop is that I love really really bad television. I watch it all short of Jerry Springer: Engaged and Underage, Judge Judy, Maury, The Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll, etc. Last spring, I was flipping channels and found that I could not pull myself away from the awesome trainwreck that was Season One of VH1's Flavor of Love. And because I have a well-developed case of Trainwreck Syndrome when it comes to television, I have watched all the FoL spin-offs. The one currently airing is Charm School, in which rejects from Seasons One and Two of FoL attend an academy of manners led by comedienne Mo'Nique. The girl who best follows the ten commandments of Charm School (Commandment One: Thou shalt goeth, girl!) and stays the longest wins $50,000.

3. 1bruce1, the Sweet Valley recap community on LiveJournal. Inspired by Claudia's Room, some smarter-than-I snarky recappers have taken to dissecting everyone's favorite '80's teen paperback series. It's like Television Without Pity for your book nostalgia. My personal favorite Sweet Valley book? Definitely SVH #32, The New Jessica. Hair dye and a credit card can go a long way towards a brand-new image.

(Other things I wanted to write about that didn't quite make the top 3 cut: Vanilla Coke Zero, Tarte Cosmetics Rhett & Scarlett lip gloss duo, the new Pete Hautman novel that I haven't read yet, BellaSugar, Top Chef...why I'm so into a cooking show when I hate cooking I will never know..., the Sidekick 3, and Neil Gaiman.)

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My Latest Obsessions: The Mighty Boosh, Percy Jackson, Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend"

To me, there's no better source of My Next Favorite Things than recommendations from people whose taste I trust to be good & adventurous. I like to think that my own taste is both of those things -- veering occasionally into the trashy, ridiculous, and snobby, but veering all about is part of being adventurous, right? -- so I'm here to share three of my current favorite things:

Avril Lavigne's song "Girlfriend": If you have not heard The Song of Summer 2007 (I know it's early to call this race, because we could easily have a "SexyBack"-style late entry sometime at the end of July, but I'm willing to be wrong later), get thee to iTunes immediately. It's probably peaked in popularity already, but it's so insanely catchy and earwormy that I just...can't...shake it. I'm a little bit perturbed by Avril's apparent 180 from bratty, yet at least sort of empowered non girly girl to still bratty, but stereotypically pretty girly girl. Still, there is no denying the Toni Basil-inflected, crunching guitars, crush on crack appeal of this song. Listen, and then listen again.

The Mighty Boosh: Like most good comedy, this BBC 3 show is almost impossible to describe, but I'll try: Howard Moon, jazz enthusiast, and his friend, the super-fashionable Vince Noir, are zookeepers at a bizarre zoo called The Zooniverse, but they spend very little time there. Instead, they spend most of their time on absurd adventures and quests that take them to places like Monkey Hell, where they help the Ape of Death overcome his coiffure problems, and the Tundra, where they attempt to capture the Egg of Mantumbi, a huge sapphire. Oh, and there's always a musical interlude in each episode. It may not sound hilarious, but trust me: it is. Check out this clip, the introduction to the first episode of Series One:

Marcus & I are now Boosh-aholics, inviting each other out for violent quiches and pulling Mod Wolf moves. The show isn't available on DVD in the US, but there are clips aplenty available on both YouTube and the BBC website.

Percy Jackson: Well, I'm certainly late to this particular bandwagon, but better late than never, eh? I am always on the lookout for good fantasy series to read, and while I'm waiting for the next installment in Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom and that famous wizarding kid's last stand against You Know Who (please don't kill Ron please don't kill Ron please don't kill Ron), son of Poseidon Percy Jackson is a very welcome new character. Rick Riordan's books, which posit that the gods of Olympus are very much alive, well, and cantankerous as ever, are rollicking good fun. The more Greek mythology you know, the more fun they are, but you don't have to know Zeus from Cupid to enjoy the ride.

I think this is a potentially fun meme, so I'm going to tag a few people. If you want to continue the fun, tag some other folks in turn. What are your three current favorite pop culture-y things? You're it: Carlie Webber (our newest team member), Pete Bromberg, RL Hartman.

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Summer Blog Blast Tour

A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy is where I blog about all things related to children's and teen literature.

What's going on right now in the world of the kidlitblogosphere that you may be interested in?

A little thing called the Summer Blog Blast Tour, organized by Of Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray.

Basically, it's a bunch of author interviews at several lit blogs. The authors range from children's to teen to graphic novels. It's a great way to take a peak at some of the top kidlit and lit blogs, as well as a wide range of authors.

If you want to take a peak, here is the schedule:

Sunday, June 17

Gene Luen Yang at Finding Wonderland

Monday, June 18

Tom & Dorothy Hoobler at Chasing Ray
Mitali Perkins at Big A, Little a
Sara Zarr at Interactive Reader
Justina Chen Headley at Hip Writer Mama
Justine Larbalestier at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Dana Reinhardt at lectitans
Brent Hartinger at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Laura Ruby at Writing and Ruminating
Jordan Sonnenblick by Bildungsroman
Ysabeau Wilce at Finding Wonderland

Tuesday, June 19

Laura Ruby at Miss Erin
Bennett Madison at Shaken & Stirred
Shaun Tan at A Fuse #8 Production
Chris Crutcher at Bookshelves of Doom
Holly Black at The YA YA YAs
Kazu Kibuishi at Finding Wonderland
Christopher Golden at Bildungsroman
David Brin at Chasing Ray
Kirsten Miller at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Sara Zarr at Big A, little a
Sonya Hartnett at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Wednesday, June 20

Mitali Perkins at Hip Writer Mama
Svetlana Chmakova at Finding Wonderland
Dana Reinhardt at Interactive Reader
Laura Ruby at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Holly Black at Shaken & Stirred
Hilary McKay at Bookshelves of Doom
Kirsten Miller at Miss Erin
Julie Ann Peters at A Fuse #8 Production
Carolyn Mackler at The YA YA YAs
Jordan Sonnenblick at Writing and Ruminating

Thursday, June 21

Eddie Campbell at Chasing Ray
Sara Zarr at Writing and Ruminating
Brent Hartinger at Interactive Reader
Justine Larbalestier at Big A, little a
Cecil Castellucci at Shaken & Stirred
Ysabeau Wilce at Bildungsroman
Jordan Sonnenblick at Jen Robinson's Book Page
Chris Crutcher at Finding Wonderland
Kazu Kibuishi at lectitans
Mitali Perkins at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Laura Ruby at The YA YA YAs

Friday, June 22

Tim Tharp at Chasing Ray
Justina Chen Headley at Big A, little a
Ysabeau Wilce at Shaken & Stirred
Dana Reinhardt at Bildungsroman
Julie Ann Peters at Finding Wonderland
Cecil Castellucci at A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Bennett Madison at Bookshelves of Doom
Holly Black at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Justine Larbalestier at Hip Writer Mama
Kirsten Miller at A Fuse #8 Production

Saturday, June 23

Justina Chen Headley finishes out the week at Finding Wonderland

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Grown-Ups on Facebook: Bad Idea Jeans?

The NY Times has this nifty weekly column, called Cyberfamilias. I love that, in part because we sometimes call my Dad The Paterfamilias, and I just think working Latin words into everyday conversation is funny, and in part because our age is such a perfect one for portmanteaux. Also, every time I see a word ending in "-familias", I think of George Clooney in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? shouting about being the "Got-damned paterfamilias".

Where was I? Oh yes, Cyberfamilias. How appropriate that my introduction to the column was this gem, "omg my mom joined facebook!", which details the mortifying process of a mother of teenagers attempting to join her daughter's online world, only to be coolly and thoroughly rebuffed: "everyone in the whole world thinks its super creepy when adults have facebooks.”

Looking at my own anecdotal evidence, I'm starting to think she's right.

I have a MySpace, which I signed up for thinking it'd be a good way to keep in touch with the teens who use my library. Turns out the teens who use my library aren't all that interested in being friends with me on MySpace -- they're perfectly cordial in person, but they seem to regard The Internets as their world, not mine. At any rate, I haven't logged in since January, at least, and I don't foresee logging in anytime soon. I may delete it, I may not. Turns out, it's a nice way to find long-lost friends from high school.

I think what it comes down to is that often in libraryland, some of us who are into technology (and I am most certainly including myself in this category) suffer from what Marcus calls "Oooh, shiny!" Syndrome -- we are like magpies, hunting down and hoarding up anything new that we think we can use to better connect with our patrons. This is not intrinsically bad, but when we adopt a technology without thinking through how we're going to use it, or how much time it will take to make it yield the results we're hoping for, we are setting ourselves up to look really stupid.

I'm not arguing against experimentation, or trying things out, and certainly not against chucking our field-wide terror of Not Doing Things The Right Way. I'm just saying that just as "Oooh, shiny!"-itis is not intrinsically bad, neither are all of the nifty little (and not-so-little) technological innovations intrinsically useful for us.

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I was double-tagged by Liz and Gigi , who likes shopping for cute shoes as much as I do, so here are 8 Random Things about me.

1. I know all the words to Don Maclean’s “American Pie.” But since I am completely tone deaf you really don’t want to hear me sing it. Trust me.

2. My favorite thing to read is satire and humor, which leads me to number 3.

3. One of my best used book finds ever is a Random House Modern Library copy of “The Best of S. J. Perelman” copyright 1947 with many of his articles from The New Yorker and dedicated to Robert C. Benchley. In “Nothing But The Tooth” Perelman writes, “I am thirty-eight years old, have curly brown hair and blue eyes, own a uke and a roadster, and am considered a snappy dresser in my crowd. But the thing I want most in the world for my birthday is a free subscription to Oral Hygiene, published by Merwin B. Massol, 1005 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA.” If this were an online personal ad today I would answer it.

4. The best thing I saw on television last night was Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers pitching the team’s first no-hitter since 1984.

5. The best sports moment of the week belongs to Rags to Riches--the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in 103 years. You go girl!

6. The most fascinating television series that I am watching right now is “The Universe” on The History Channel.

7. The Boys of Summer. My favorite team is the New York Mets, but my favorite baseball player is Mike Lowell of the Boston Red Sox. And of course I adore David Ortiz aka “Big Papi.” My favorite humorous baseball moment was in the May 3 game against the Seattle Mariners when Big Papi decides not to run over Mariner’s short stop Betancourt as he tags him out and gives Betancourt a giant bear hug instead. Very funny!

8. I exercise every day and when the weather is nice I am out on the tennis court as often as possible.

Gosh, everyone I know has been tagged so that’s it for me.


I am Intrigued

I am intrigued by Liz’s latest post over at “A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy.” What a curious article by Adam Kirsch of The New York Sun. I must admit it is very well-written. After reading how Mr. Kirsch lumps all bloggers together as resentful, inexperienced, isolated and disenfranchised, I thought perhaps it may have been written in the vein of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” For example, he must not be talking about me in his description of bloggers. I am a rather sunny, optimistic librarian who has some experience with literature and I just went to a soiree last week—so much for that isolation thing. He must be writing tongue in cheek for surely the quality of one’s writing is not entirely dependent on the premise that one is paid to write. Why, that would mean that all writers who receive a publisher’s check are good, just as surely as it means that there are no good undiscovered and unpaid writers laboring with a pen or pc in a cramped Manhattan studio apartment or in some small town off of the New Jersey Turnpike. And is writing not a solitary endeavor by nature, whether one is writing for a newspaper or a blog? After all in the most elemental form it is just a man or a woman sitting in front of a blank screen, or piece of paper, waiting for inspiration to strike. Of course, I suppose that it could also be a dog. I once owned a truly amazing German Shepherd dog that could have written the great American novel if only she could have learned to type. And what thoughts go on in the mind of the average housecat would surely make a scandalous bestseller. As for those poor talented book reviewers who are losing their jobs due to new technologies and changing interests, just as manufacturing workers have dealt with the same situation in decades past, perhaps they will find new audiences and appreciation via blogs or online newspapers. That is one of the charms of the Internet. I am also intrigued by Mr. Kirsch . Perhaps he is quite a darling and we should invite him out for a cocktail at ALA in D.C. I always enjoy good conversation with people who have opinions, whether I agree with them or not.


8 More Random Things

I'm fairly certain I posted 8 random factoids about me some months ago, but since Janie tagged us all, I'm happy to share 8 more. Here goes:

  1. I'm the eldest of three girls. My youngest sister (who returns from a fabulous semester abroad in Scotland tonight!) is 10 years my junior.
  2. When my Mom was pregnant with my youngest sister, I wanted my parents to name her Scheherezade. I couldn't pronounce it, but it sure did look pretty.
  3. Eventually, we all (yes, this was a group effort) settled quite happily upon a different name: Charlotte.
  4. I just attended my 10-year college reunion, where one of the activities was singing songs of praise to the Goddess Athena in Ancient Greek. I'm not kidding: traditions are very big at Bryn Mawr. Photos forthcoming on Flickr.
  5. My favorite Coen Brothers movie is The Big Lebowski. My favorite movie of all time is Rushmore.
  6. I can mimic a variety of English accents: Home Counties/posh, Manchester, and general (not posh) Londonish. My husband is sort of freaked out by my ability to speak in these accents.
  7. I have zero skills on the mic, and in the unrelated but no less important department of present-wrapping, I am also a total disgrace.
  8. I am (possibly unhealthily) obsessed with Hello Kitty. Don't judge me.
  9. 8:49 PM: Rock! My parents and sister just called from the airport to say they've picked up Charlotte and are on their way home! T-minus 10 minutes till I see my baby sister!

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BEA Report

The first part of my report on BEA in NYC is up at A Chair, A Fireplace And A Tea Cozy.

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8 Things

Since it's been far too long since a post from PGTL (and we've all been tagged several times for the 8 Things meme) here's my 8 Things Meme entry.

(This is supposed to be 8 random things about me? Sheesh. Random UNKNOWN things? Or just 8 random things? We'll go with unknown or obscure.)

1. While at Wiscon this last weekend, I had lunch with New York Times Bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club). See, that was a totally random fact about me. (And I like to name drop, so nyah!)

2. I never worked in a library until late in 2005.

3. I once worked for a waste management landfill weighing trucks.

4. I like to flatten things while I cook. For example, when cooking spaghetti meat sauce, I will eventually make the whole surface of the sauce flat and smooth. I do the same thing when making vegetable dips. Any type of thing I'm cooking that is not liquid enough to flatten itself (soup, sauces, caramels, etc.) but not too solid to resist flattening (turkey, ribs, chicken, etc.) I will flatten into a smooth surface. Same thing for peanut butter, butter & cheese (I straighten the edges from where the last person cut), and so on. Weird, huh?

5. I absolutely love brussel sprouts. Love them. LOVE. THEM. (great, now I'm thinking food at 10 in the morning and now I'm starving)

6. The biggest rat I have personally seen I thought was a cat (and a fairly big one at that) until I got closer to it. This was downtown Milwaukee near the river.

7. Speaking of Milwaukee (where I grew up), while home from college in 1991, I was driving around with some friends. There was an apartment that had more police and resuce vehicles in front of it than I'd ever seen in my life in one place. It took us forever to get past them and back onto our random driving (ah to be young again!). When we got home, the lead story on the news was "Police are removing another victim from Jeffrey Dahmer's apartment. We don't know how many victims will be found in total." Wha? I just drove past that place! Kinda creeps you out. As I relate the story to my dad, he then tells me a story of when he went hunting as a kid near where Ed Gein used to live. My dad is certain that the man he saw walking through the woods with some dogs was Ed Gein. (OK, no longer hungry, and no longer looking forward to sleeping tonight...)

8. My favorite (in no particular order) songs (the songs I would want as a theme song when I enter a room) are: Sex Machine by James Brown, Sex Bomb by Tom Jones, Greasy Granny by the Charlie Hunter Trio, Virtual Insanity by Jamiroquai, Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake (I know!), and Something Beautiful by Robbie Williams (Robbie wrote this for Tom Jones and decided to keep it for himself). There are more, I'm sure, but this is a good list. These are all songs that when they come on, I literally stop whatever I'm doing (it could be anything...I mean that: ANYTHING) and get up a groove. What's bugging me now is that just the other day I looked at my wife when a song was playing and I said "I think this might be my favorite song ever" but I don't know what it was anymore.

I am not tagging anyone. This madness must stop! :)

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