Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Pretty Good Haul

It's not like I needed more books. My sister (the supermom C) got me hooked on Harry Potter. I whipped through the first three pretty quickly. Imagine my surprise when I saw the sizes of 4, 5 and 6! As anyone who has read them knows, the books get much longer as the series goes on. So these next three should take me awhile. Not to mention the books I already had on my TBR pile. However...

I babysat for C and her husband last night so they could see a musical with our parents. My adorable niece E and the never-tiring nephew I behaved very well; we had plenty of fun and I stayed overnight. We decided to head out this morning looking to keep the kids occupied, and I remembered a used bookstore not too far away.

Fortunately, my niece loves to read and my nephew can usually find something to occupy himself. I wandered around the bookstore and quickly came up with a pile of 10 books. All for around $34 -- and that included a hardcover and two trade paperbacks.

I've been thinking about Stephen King's short-story collection Night Shift for awhile now. Not sure what originally got it in my head, but I remember that it's one of the first "grown-up" things I read in my teens. When I found that, I also found another short-story collection I had forgotten about, Skeleton Crew. And in the same section (though it probably shouldn't have been) was On Writing. I've read about it on a couple of blogs, so I thought I'd give it a try.

E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime was an impulse; I've never read anything of his so I thought I'd give it a try. I've had Philip Roth's The Plot Against America on my list ever since it came out. The Nanny Diaries is pure fluff for when I feel like reading without thinking too much. I picked up The Good German mostly because the movie sounds so good. A Student's Guide to 50 British Novels has a cool cover and was only $.50. How could I miss?

Finally, I picked up Elizabeth Bowen's To the North. I know I read about her on someone's blog and I'd love to give them the credit; I just can't remember who! Finally, there's The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (which also includes three other stories). The 1945 movie is really great if you've never seen it; it's got a clever twist which I won't reveal because it will spoil the surprise.

This should keep me occupied for awhile. I hope.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hey, I Can Cable Knit!

While I've got more things on needles that I care to confess to, I felt compelled to try something different with my knitting. I was always a little puzzled by the idea of cable needles, but I thought I'd give it a try. I have a nice little pattern book that gave easy instructions for a simple cable stitch. So I tried it. And it works! Not sure if I'll finish this for a narrow little scarf, or try something more ambitious.

Friday, February 16, 2007

More Literary Gifts

I swear, I don't really go looking for this stuff. It just kind of finds me. Today it's the The Library Shop at the New York Public Library. I know I'm probably coming late to the party, but there is lots of cool stuff to see if you've never been to the site. My favorite (so far) is this mug with a quote from Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre -- starting with "Reader, I married him."

Lots and lots of book- and reading-related stuff. Try not to spend too much on yourself!

Via SheFinds.Com via Rare Bird Finds

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow Day!

Two years of working at a university finally paid off. We have a snow day today! I'm going to curl up with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and not even think about shoveling (although I'll have to do it eventually if I want to get the car out of the driveway). Hope your V-Day is warm no matter where you are!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Backup, Backup, Backup!

For all of you with Blogger blogs, here's a really easy way to back up your blog. Let's face it, we all spend a lot of time on our blogs. You should be regularly backing it up to save all of your pithy and witty comments! This short and very easy-to-follow article also allows you to save all the comments you get from your fellow bloggers. Do it today!

Confidential to WordPress bloggers: I'm pretty sure that WordPress has a built-in method for backing up your blog. You should do it today too!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

10 Things I Like

Heather at A High and Hidden Place has invited me to play along with a new meme. So, here are 10 things I like that begin with the letter M (the letter Heather gave me). If you want to play too, just leave a comment and I'll give you a letter.

1. Mom! I have the best mom in the world. It is from her that I acquired my love of books and reading.

2. Mochas. I love Starbucks' Mochas. My preference is a grande -- caffeine, whole milk and whipped cream. My boss (a decaf, nonfat grande capuccino) has been trying to persuade me to go nonfat, no whip to reduce the calories. But it's just not the same.

3. Museums. I worked in a history museum for 7 years and it was probably the best job I've ever had (and I'm a Gen Xer so I've had a lot of different jobs). I learned a lot, both about history and about myself. I met people who became the closest friends I've ever had. Visiting museums is always on my wish list.

4. Mafia. As I confessed recently, I have this weird attraction to the Mafia. It's fascinating to me -- the culture, the history.

5. Movies. Netflix is one of the best things ever invented. I can be unbelievably lazy about some things, like going to the video store. Netflix saved me. I can watch all the movies I want and never have to leave the house. If I had to pick one favorite movie, I'd choose Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

6. Meetings. I know, I'm weird. Most people hate meetings. But I had to run a lot of meetings when I was a project manager. After awhile, I got really good at it. Pre-meetings with certain people to figure out all the ways the meeting could grow wrong (therefore being prepared), getting input on agendas, keeping conversations on track, compiling notes and getting them out quickly. Despite their bad reputation, meetings can be incredibly productive if you know what you're doing.

7. Makeup. I can be very girly sometimes. And I tend to be somewhat of a sucker. When some new product comes out raving about how good it will make you look, I just want to hop on over to Sephora and buy it -- even while the rational part of my brain is telling me it's all marketing hype. This is the one area of my spending that I really have to watch closely or I'll go completely overboard.

8. M&Ms. Really, because who doesn't like M&Ms? Although it may be too late for Valentine's Day, you can still get M&Ms printed with your own custom message. Or you can go here to become an M&M.

9. Manners. Because "please" and "thank you" are words you just don't hear enough these days.

10. The Magic Kingdom. Because everybody should go to Disney World at least once in their lives.

Remember -- if you want to play, I'll give you a letter. Have fun!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Off Topic

Over the weekend, I finished the last few episodes of the HBO series Carnivale. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend adding it to your Netflix queue.

I came late to all the HBO series, as I only subscribe to basic cable. But I enjoyed both Sex and the City and The Sopranos thanks to Netflix. I think Rome will be next on the list. The advantage is, of course, that you can watch an entire season in just a few days.

Carnivale is something you rarely find on television today: highly literate, unpredictable, with excellent writing, directing, acting and camera work. The series takes place in the early 1930s and follows a travelling carnival. As the series unfolds, a timeless tale of good vs. evil is revealed. I really can't recommend it highly enough. I'm almost tempted to watch all 24 episodes all over again.

One caveat: For all of you who preferred "tidy endings" on the meme that was floating around the last couple of weeks, you won't get that with Carnivale. The series originally aired between 2003 and 2005. The storylines really aren't wrapped up and it appears that HBO has no plans to produce any new episodes. If you can handle that, you won't be disappointed watching this fascinating series.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


I have a confession to make. I have a strange attraction for anything related to the Mafia. I love all three Godfather movies. And as good as the movies are, the actual book by Mario Puzo is even better. I own Casino and have watched that and Goodfellas more times than I care to count.

I'm not really sure what the pull is. I guess it's because it's this kind of dark, shadowy, other-wordly thing. For a girl who grew up in clean, white, new suburbs, the world of mobsters, crime and corruption seems as far away as the worlds of the Brontes or just about any science-fiction writer. There's a certain unreality to it.

I started reading a new book the other day called Brotherhoods: The True Story of Two Cops who Murdered for the Mafia. It's a great story about the fine line between the world of cops and the world of mobsters. I guess I was a little surprised to learn that in some parts of New York City, it's not uncommon for the members of one family to belong to both groups. Or at least that was true during the events in this book: in the 1980s and 1990s when the mob was imploding because of new RICO statutes that allowed for easier prosecution and the growing prominence of rats -- mobsters who testified against other mobsters.

Reading something like this also allows me to read more than one book simultaneously. Stefanie had a great poster recently about reading more than one book at a time. Because the three books I'm reading right now are so markedly different, I'm having no problem in keeping each one straight in my head!