Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Best Picture Books. Ever.

All right, let's see if I can come up with ten. I have the tendency to sit down to do something like this with about half the list in my head, and then I get a huge mental block and can't come up with the rest of the list until I've published the post and walked away from the computer.

My second class of four was cancelled today though, because the Professor has the plague. Which is nice for us, not for him, and not as nice as it would be if the last class was cancelled.

On to the books! The Guardian has come up with their top ten, which can be found here. Don't get scared by the creepy doll book. Actually, there are a couple of creepy doll books.

My list looks like this:

1. The Cat in the Hat- Dr. Seuss - This HAD to be number one. It's genius. Not only does it contain 236 of the 250 core words, it's FUN.

2. Madeleine- Ludwig Bemelmens - I don't have a particular Madeleine in mind, I like all of them.

3. Where the Wild Things Are- Maurice Sendak

4. The Stinky Cheese Man - Jon Scieszka

5. The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter

6. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day- Judith Viorst - I love the ink drawings, AND the story.

7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Eric Carle

8. Harold and the Purple Crayon- Crockett Johnson

9. The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg

10. Strega Nona - Tomie De Paola

11. Swimmy - Leo Lionni

12. Curious George - H. A. Rey

13. Corduroy -Don Freeman

14. Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type - Doreen Cronin

15. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault

16. Goodnight Moon -Margaret Brown

Ha! You get 16...I found a list that made me remember all my favorites.
And I still have time to kill before my next class. Perhaps I will print more patterns.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Don't Call Me Shirley

We'll miss you, Leslie Nielsen. You were the best. Thanks for the laughs :)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday or Bust!

Our store went the "bust" route today, although honestly I can't really even tell you what that means. No astronomical sales figures, though. There were so few shoppers that I can't even give you an amusing "Don't do this to your friendly neighborhood retail worker" list.

Here's a general "don't do" item:

When it's ten to nine, and I've just finished mopping the floor and am getting ready to shut the gate DO NOT come in, wander through my clean floor and wander out without buying anything. It happens, without fail. People are rude.

I can give you a short list of things to not do on Black Friday, in a small locally owned business however.

1) Ask for deals that are not there.

When there are signs clearly marking the items that are on sale, don't pick up something completely different, and clearly NOT on sale and ask "What kind of deal can you give me on this?"

That price tag? That's the deal.
We are not Wal Mart. Not EVERYTHING is on sale, mmkay?

2) Ask questions that can be answered by opening your eyes.

Lisa reported this exchange that happened between her a woman this morning.

Woman: Do you have those puzzles that make noise?
Lisa: Yes, we do.
Woman: Well, where are they?
Lisa: Right there. [literally. the rack RIGHT in front of this woman]
Woman: Are they on sale?
Lisa: No, just the chunky puzzles are.
Woman: Where are they?
Lisa: Right there. They say chunky puzzle.
Woman: Do they make noise?
Lisa: No, just the sound puzzles make noise.
Woman: But are they on sale?
Lisa: The chunky puzzles are on sale.
Woman: Well, what's the difference?
Lisa: The chunky puzzles are...chunky. The sound puzzles make noise.

I can't remember, because I was laughing too much, but I'm pretty sure the woman didn't buy anything, because the noise making puzzles still weren't on sale.

And there you have it. Happy Shopping.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Books of the Year, Already?

It seems a little bit early, considering November isn't even over yet, to be listing the books of the year, but Quill and Quire has done it. Head on over to their site because Google is being a little bitch today and not linking things properly.

While I am wasting time in the Science Library before my last class before Thanksgiving Break (can I get a hallelujah?) I thought that I would blog my own list and I've also decided to go print a whole bunch of crochet patterns on their printers. Because you know what? The university gives you printing money every semester, and I never use it. This being my last semester, I could probably print three hundred patterns. I won't, but I'm going to use some of their money for sure, because they have no problems taking it from me.

RANTing aside...

Le List.
(Side note- I'm pulling these from the strictly book blog and my facebook page, so if the reviews sound canned...they are.)
(Side side note- No particular order. I'm not that organized.)


I LOVE this movie. It is my absolute favorite.
How does a story about a prostitute become one of the most beloved movies of all time?

1- Genius writing

2-Genius adaptation.

The novel is short- just about 100 pages, which I suppose would make it a novella. The writing is wonderful, though. Many of the scenes are the same, but with slight twists given to them in the movie to fit the overall romance plot that is non-existent in the book. Holly is a thoroughly lovable character, the same character really, that she is in the movie. The book however, is tragic. I cried.
Yes, people who know me are saying "you cry every time you watch the movie"

It's a different kind of cry. The book is tragic. But beautiful. Capote is great, read it.


This book came to me with high recommendations, and having read The Historian, I had high expectations. That said, this book didn't disappoint that much, but a little bit. It was as good as The Historian, but it was by no means a bad book, just different. It was much slower paced, more cerebral, but still engaging, with interesting character arcs involving people that I got to know and like. It could be a little bit shorter, which was really the only problem that I had with it. It was a little dry at times, but overall, I definitely recommend it- it's quite good.


Horrifying. So horrifying, in fact, that you just can't put it down. Great characters, great story, I can't wait to read the rest of them. And this is coming from someone who doesn't like Young Adult as a general rule. Definitely find the time for this book.

4. THE MALTESE FALCON -- DASHIELL HAMMETT (he has one of the greatest names, ever)

Having seen the movie first, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hollywood had done an excellent job in adapting the novel to the screen. Sam Spade may be one of the most likeable scoundrels ever created. Hammett's dialogue is flawless, and the novel as a whole is a completely enjoyable experience. Highly recommended to those who are fans of the genre


I really liked this book. I'm a sucker for anything Spain, especially the Spanish Civil War, and this book explores Franco's rise to power in the subplot of an epic novel about the life of a cellist. What really resonated with me was a point made at the end: Mussolini was overthrown, Hitler killed himself, Franco ruled destructively until his death in 1975. How did the world let that happen?
Overall, this was a really engaging read, likeable characters, easy to read style, I recommend it.


This book was a little dense at times, and a little bit confusing, with all of the characters and the shifting back and forth in time. I was incredibly impressed with the author's ability to work in almost every historical figure from the French Revolution somehow, and the mystery of The Montglane Service was a good one. Also, it was fun to try to play the Chess Game along with the characters. overall, I recommend it; it's a good, intelligent mystery with a little mysticism thrown in too.


For about 200 pages of this, I didn't think I was going to like it at all- it started slow, and I thought it was just another love story. I was completely wrong. The second half of the book flew by and it was amazing how all of the stories from the past were tied together and tied to Inferno. Brilliant, and not just another sappy love story!

Okay, that's it. You get seven. And, as I'm sure you've figured out, this list differs in that it is not books of the year PUBLISHED this year, it is books of the year that I read this year.
Also, it is my goal to read a whole bunch more between the end of the semester and the beginning of the new year, so you will probably get a further list at the actual end of the year.

And now, to print patterns with university resources. Epic win :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I Am Haunted By Humans

This is the last line of Markus Zusak's novel, The Book Thief. Telling you the last line doesn't make it any less powerful when you get there, though.

Narrated by Death, who is not who we think he is, the book tells the story of a girl who steals books in Nazi Germany, from book burning piles, from the snow, from the mayor's library. There are other stories woven in, belonging to other people that Liesel comes in contact with, and of course, World War II is the backdrop of the whole thing.

The characters are fantastic- people that you'll care about, and miss when the book is over. And Death is the perfect narrator for something like this. World War II has been done so many times, but this offers such a unique perspective.

What I liked the best, though, is how beautifully it's written. It's easy to read, and not overly dark, especially considering the setting. Maybe it's morgue humor, but Death does a really good job adding just a little bit of light and humor to the thing so it's never depressingly heavy. In addition, there are so many little one line gems through the whole thing. The title is one, but there are a ton. And they're wonderful.

The Book Thief.
Markus Zusak.

Go forth and read.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eat 'Em Up, Yum!

I'm sick, so this blog post will be short, because my sinus-infected head can't take much until it has some medicine in it. And soup. And more tea.

Next Christmas: Fish Hats all around.

Seriously. Start thinking about what color you want.

Ohhhh I almost forgot the "it's not my pattern" part. It can be found here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Read. A. Book.

This article from the Telegraph is today's topic of discussion.

Reader's Digest claims that 1 in 20 "youngsters" have never read a book. EVER.
The fact that is a poorly constructed survey with much too small of a sample size is irrelevant; I think the findings ARE relevant. It is no secret that literacy is rapidly in declining, and if this is even a little bit accurate, it's terrible.

For the record, parents are NOT blaming themselves unnecessarily. It is absolutely their responsibility to get their children interested in reading. When the child gets to school it is still their responsibility, but it is also the teacher's as well. We need teachers that can pick good books, and teach them well so the kids enjoy reading, and don't get forever turned off it by something like The Scarlet Letter.

Finally, this article states that the biggest influence on these kids (what age, I don't know, because they label them with a generic colloquialism) is their peers. I think the answer to this conundrum is quite simple- if every parent and teacher focuses on getting kids excited about reading, they will likely see other kids excited about reading, and then we can exponentially increase the excited-about-readingness in general.

So, people, let's stop making reading something that we just do, and start making reading something that we do for fun.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Perks of Being a Pack Rat

We all hear horror stories about level 5 hoarders, right? Those people that are psychologically incapable of letting go of anything, and therefore save everything?

I'm not saying that this is something you should aspire to. It's a real disorder, and so not funny. However, I have learned the hard way that one should never delete anything. Especially if one plans to continue their education.

My unnamed, expensive, rather stuffy, but top notch Grad School wants a 20 page writing sample for the application. I believe something stops being a sample at 10-15 pages, but that's just my opinion. What do I know?

Now, I have never had to write anything this long, so I wrote something new- 12 solid pages (because I would rather have a good 12 page paper than a rambling, bullshitted 20 page paper) but I needed the other 8 pages. So I said to myself, "oh, that mythology paper was good, and I think it was nine pages, that will work."

And I went on a hunt for said Mythology paper, and guess what? In the interest of a clean computer, I had deleted it. And the midterm paper. And the final paper from the fairy tale class the semester before that was also pretty good. Actually, I had deleted everything right up until this past summer session.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

By the Grace of the Little Russian Lady, who has officially become my hero/patron saint of Grad School Applications, I will be able to get my fairy tale final back. She saves things for a year.

I have now learned my lesson the hard way, so I pass on this lesson to you. The easy way.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's Play a Game


Let's call it the "Move to Philadelphia Game."

Here's the backstory: You're moving to Philadelphia.

Here's the object: You need to bring as little as possible for various reasons including
-moving sucks
-moving in winter sucks worse
-you don't want to clutter the apartment

The challenge: You want to have everything you'll need.

What do you bring?

Monday, November 8, 2010


I need to feel like I CAN get everything done.

Things that I accomplished today:

-Returned, renewed and paid for late library books
-changed the cat litter
-covered for Lisa for two hours at work
-washed, dried and even put away laundry
-dug the pumpkins in the garden out of three inches of snow
-cooked above pumpkins and made 11 cups of goo to cook with
-got the shovels out because it's now winter
-made a few more motifs for Laura's tablecloth

I think that's it. I started a paper, but then decided that I'm just not going to write it. I can do the next three and still have an extra grade. Woot.
Five weeks til graduation.

Now, I'm going to read a little bit of The Book Thief and then go to sleep because I have to get up and dig myself out before I go to class.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sacre Bleu! Invaders!

Or not. But it's always fun to work in a Jerry Orbach/Beauty and the Beast Quote.

Today's topic, isn't really a topic, more like sharing and gushing.

This article is about Toni Morrison being presented the French Legion of Honor. Because she's awesome.

I can't think of another contemporary female writer that even compares. Actually, I can't think of another female writer period who compares. She's just the best.
I know that some people take issue with her because she knows that she's the best, and she's not afraid to tell you that, but I think there are far more positive aspects of this than negative.
She IS the best, so why try to hide it?
Also, every little girl needs a strong female role model, and she's a fantastic one. Little girls need to know that they CAN be strong, independent, confident in their own abilities, and they can rise about their working class background to win every literary award known to man and teach at Princeton.

I have not yet read all of her books (I'm working on it) but of those I've read...well, I've loved them all, that's why I've just spent a blog post gushing about how wonderful she is...but I think Song of Solomon and A Mercy are my favorites.
But go forth, and read as much of her as you can.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Eveline's blanket is finally finished. I'm quite pleased with the way it turned out.

And here's a song for you to listen to. She's bizarre, quirky, but I like her voice for some reason, and I'm really into the music.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Vote, Vote!

I know everyone's been overwhelmed with the "get out and vote" messages. But really, you should. Exercise your rights before you lose them.

I just encountered someone, who is a middle aged man, who has NEVER voted. For anything. In his LIFE. Why? Because "he never really thought about it."

WHO doesn't think about the people that govern their lives?

So my message today is simple, and three part-ed.

1. Go Vote
2. If you didn't vote, shut your mouth.
3. If you did vote, you have every right to complain. There is a complete lack of good candidates this election.

Next time, let's all write in Mickey Mouse okay? Disneyworld doesn't have a multi-billion dollar deficit last time I checked. Way to go, Walt!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Get Thee To the Mutter Museum!

A place where one could do many productions of Hamlet because there are LOADS of skulls.
There could be interesting variations of Hamlet too, because there are human skulls, animal skulls, shrunken heads....and tons of other body parts including full bodies (of siamese twins) in jars.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, Ben and I went to the Mutter Museum which is part of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia for Halloween.

We were not allowed to take pictures of the abundance of medical oddities, but you can take their virtual tour here and you can see the sliced sections of a man's face, Fibrodysplasia (curvature of the spine) and a set of conjoined twins. In a jar.

There was a display of weird medical contraptions such as the Iron Lung, the Pedoscope, and a birthing chair (shudder.)

Possibly the coolest part was the exhibit on the assassination of Lincoln and Garfield. We can now say we've seen both John Wilkes Booth and President Garfield in person, in the form of little preserved pieces of them from their respective autopsies.

In addition we saw, which you can't on the virtual tour I don't think, the gigantic skeleton (7 feet 9 inches, I think?) and the...dun dun DUN... MEGA-colon! 25 inches wide...gross!

It's a little gross, for example, I had a hard time looking at babies in jars and the 70 pound ovarian cyst, but I really liked the bones of the fetus exhibit from...when they develop bones to 9 months. They're pretty much a little blob of goo for the first tri-mester.

So, yeah. If you're in the Philly neighborhood, get to the Mutter Museum. It's worth it.
...And there's an umlaut over the u. So it's pronounced Mooter Museum. They're apparently a little touchy about that.

Stay tuned for more Philly News (since I'll be there to stay in roughly 8 weeks) and of course, NaNo rants.