rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
I like doing this every year, it gives me a nice reference, particularly as I'm getting older and all the years start blending together. Was that THIS year? No, it was three years ago. But this OTHER thing was this year, except I nearly forgot about it... well anyway.

THE STUFF THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED LISTS

Top 5 Biggest Life Events of 2018

  1. That would be the sudden— well, hinted at for a long time, and then suddenly going into action—remodeling of our kitchen. More on that in my last post.
  2. Oh, I also painted the living room and added some Ikea shelves and made that room look totally new, too. Home improvement definitely became my new favorite hobby of the year, if only it wasn’t so expensive a hobby!
  3. Driving home from the library in late May, I got T-boned in the intersection of Pike and Jefferson. No one was hurt, but my car bit the dust. Lucky for us, a friend of Jason’s had a car he was willing to sell us for just about what the insurance gave us. The only problem was getting the cigarette smell out of it, which eventually, we did.
  4. While I wasn’t hurt then, I DID have surgery later that summer, because round about where my gall bladder had been removed last summer, I now had a hernia that needed repaired. THIS HURT A LOT. I’m better now though.
  5. In happier news, in September I saw Paul Simon in his next-to-last concert with my best friend and our parents. I really wanted to write about this at the time, but I didn’t have time. Angie is the biggest Paul Simon fan I know, but she lives in Colorado, so I half-jokingly asked if she’d happen to be back east about the time of this concert, and she was like, “actually, yeah, I was thinking of coming out and taking my dad to it for his birthday.” “That is a great idea, I should see if my dad wants to go, too!” He DID, and we got tickets for all six of us (us, my parents, her dad and his girlfriend) together, which was the best, because half of my joy was watching the joy on MY dad’s face at that concert! Simon started out seeming kind of old and tired, but he gained energy as the concert went on, as if the music itself was fueling him, and after awhile it was pretty much a spiritual experience— Angie looked like she was having a spiritual experience for most of it, and I’m pretty sure I hit spiritual experience during “Graceland” at least.

The Top 5 Biggest New or Unusual Library Programs I was Involved In
  1. Yoga Storytime: I once or twice ran into my library director at yoga class, so when she got it into her head that we needed to offer Yoga Storytime weekly, she hoisted it upon me! But the program has proved to be both a hit and even a lot of fun for me, and it’s surprising both how MANY yoga-themed story books are out there, and how NOT ENOUGH there are when you’re doing them in storytime every week.
  2. A One Book visit from Zach OHora. Look, I may still be a little bitter about getting unceremoniously dumped from the One Book Every Young Child project, but I’m not going to back out of the chance to actually help host one of the library-festivals-with-visit-from-the-author that I used to write about theoretically each year. OHora is a repeat One Book author, so I’d gotten to talk with him a lot when writing the activities for Stop Snoring, Bernard! So it was fun to talk with him again for My Cousin Momo. But it was even more fun because I got it into my head that, if we were having a huge event after all, I needed to construct a five-headed library monster (as seen in The Not-so-Quiet Library). And everybody LOVED my five-headed library monster, including Zach OHora, and it stayed up most of the year.
  3. Hogwarts Party Mach 2! It wasn’t called that. But being that it was the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter showing up on this side of the Atlantic, and so many people wanted a repeat of the Hogwarts Party from a couple years ago that wasn’t while they were away on vacation, we did it again this September, with experience on our side— the experience that taught me, most notably, that I can only set up and clean up for Potions Class ONCE during the party, even if I could easily split the people who CAME into two classes. And even with only one Potions Class, I STILL didn’t get to wander around looking at other stuff much! This year the teen advisory board hosted an escape room and baked Sorting Cupcakes, so a bit of the workload was off my shoulders, anyway.
  4. Happy Monday: This is one of the director’s brainchilds (brainchildren?) that came out with the Yoga Storytime plan. I guess she thought our storytime advertising wasn’t specific enough? And so she wanted a "Happy Monday" storytime to counteract the Monday Morning Blues. Except the people coming to it either have no concept of Mondays yet or they currently don’t have to deal with Monday Morning Blues because they spend EVERY day of the week with people who have no concept of Mondays yet, so whatever. It’s fun to do storytimes with no other theme than Something Happy, though, and having the excuse to play upbeat music and do the Chicken Dance.
       187 or something. Saturday Baby/Toddler Storytimes: We needed to offer something for working parents to bring their babies to on the weekend! our director said. We’ve tried Saturday storytimes, but no one ever comes, Barb and I responded. Maybe they’ll come THIS time! You two switch off every other Saturday! our director said. Guess what. No one ever came. So anyway Saturday Baby/Toddler Storytimes are back off the schedule again come January.

Top 5 Family Night Themes of 2018:
  1. Cardboard Construction: I actually got in trouble for this one, because there was SO much cardboard I didn’t get cleaned up in time. But it was so awesome, and I didn’t lose Family Night after all, that the pain of that scolding has faded and the awesomeness remains.
  2. Magical Journeys: In fact, it seemed THIS would be my Last Family Night Ever, because maybe I was too ADHD to handle programming and I should concentrate on collection development and learning to catalog and posting on Facebook or some junk. Of course, by August suddenly I was not only going to resume Family Night in September, but I was also starting Yoga Storytime and Happy Monday and Saturday storytime and special events like the Hogwarts Party and… WELL ANYWAY, so Magical Journeys would have been a good high note to end on, nonetheless. We did “magic” white crayon watercolor paintings, and since one of the main stories we read was Mem Fox’s Possum Magic, I found some recipes for some of the unique Australian foods in the book and served them. DUDES, WHY HASN’T AUSTRALIA BEEN SHARING THEIR YUMMY DESSERTS MORE WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD? Click the link and make them, you won’t regret it.
  3. It’s a Mystery! Mysteries were always my favorite genre as a child, so I liked finding mystery picture books for this program, see below. Then I made a treasure hunt type puzzle, where they had to look for clues—pieces of a picture that fit together like a puzzle— that led them to another place in the library, where they had to find MORE clues to piece together, and so forth. Only one family came, but they had a great time!
  4. Korea: for the two weeks of the Winter Olympics I had thematic Family Nights, including one week where we explored the culture of the host country. This included the book No Kimchi For Me! (by Aram Kim), about a young apparently Korean-American girl, I mean cat, who can’t stand the spicy-sour pickled relish salad her Korean grandmother serves with everything, so her grandmother makes it into a pancake instead which makes it finally palatable to the girl. So we tried this ourselves, and her grandmother was totally on to something. The batch of kimchi I made was, WHEW, strong— no one, not even the grownups, could do more than smell it, let alone eat it. But when I put it in the pancake recipe from the back of the book, it was pretty tasty, even by the standards of (some of) the kids! One mom pointed out that it reminded her of some spring rolls she’d had, so I took home the leftovers and made fried wontons with it. There’s still a couple in the freezer I keep forgetting about. They do make my breath pretty scary. Anyhoo.
  5. Winter Olympics: speaking of which, was a fun topic on its own, as I tried to make versions of winter sports that could be played inside. So we had Lego Bobsled races, a marble slalom run, and rug hockey, naturally. I had some really cute pictures but can't seem to find them now.
THE MEDIA REVIEW LISTS!

In Which I Apparently Didn’t Actually Read Very Many 2018 Picture Books This Year
I did a search of all the 2018 picture books the library got this year, and there were so many I was like, “Oh yeah, I wanted to read that, but I didn’t,” or “I know I MUST have read that, but I can’t remember a single image from inside it.” Here’s the ones I DO remember actually reading, though:
  1. The Day You Begin, by Jacqueline Woodson. One of those “I’m just going to flip through this one real fast before I put it on the shelves oh my all of a sudden I’m crying in the stacks” situations. Just a lovely story of having the courage to be yourself and learning to accept others and everybody’s got their own stories and so on and so on…
  2. and
  3. 2 1/2? Animal Colors and Animal Shapes, by Christopher Silas Neal. I buy a lot of board books for the library because they get worn out easily, and they’re relatively cheap so I don’t put TOO much thought into them, and for these two I was like “animals, colors, and shapes, perennial board book topics, made a list of recommended new board books, okay sold.” But then I actually read them in preparation for one of those baby/toddler story times no one showed up to. These books are so fun! Neal merges the animals and shapes and/or colors together in both words and pictures, making up funny new portmanteaus (and there’s color mixing in the color one, too). The baby/toddler storytimes may have bombed, but they did alert me to all the wonderful things being done in the board book genre…
  4. A Parade of Elephants, by Kevin Henkes. I had a Kevin Henkes-themed Family Night this fall on his birthday (which happens to be the day after my dad's), and we’d just gotten this book in, so…. I found this very hypnotic. “Round and round and round they are. Round and round and round they go,” is just sticking with me forever now.
  5. They Say Blue, by Jilllian Tamaki. Very dreamy. I know this is making a lot of Mock Caldecott lists this year so maybe I won't be too far behind. But the truth is, I'm going to cram a whole bunch of 2018 picture books in a few weeks right before MY Mock Caldecott, which reminds me:
Top 5 2017 books I read in a hurry in January when prepping for my Mock Caldecott/Mock Geisel:
  1. Dazzle ships: World War I and the art of confusion, by Chris Barton and more notably in this case illustrated by Victo Ngai. This ended up being my top vote in our Mock Caldecott because this wacky psychedelic camouflage was worked into the backgrounds of every page, and it was pretty mindblowingly trippy for nonfiction…!
  2. Claymates, by Dev Petty and again most notably in this case illustrated by Lauren Eldridge. This won our Mock Caldecott so overwhelmingly that no books came close enough to win an honor! I knew it didn’t have the Distinguished-ness to win the real Caldecott, but I adored this basically stop-motion-cartoon-on-paper so much I wished it did.
  3. Snail and Worm Again, by Tina Kugler. I can’t remember if I had this up for the Geisel or the Caldecott or both, but it's a definite winner on the Geisel front— there's so much delight in such simple language!
  4. Frankie, by Mary Sullivan. But this won our Mock Geisel, a sweet little story of canine sibling rivalry told in a few simple but effective words.
  5. After the Fall, by Dan Santat. Such a heart-rending tale of perseverance!

Top 5 Other Picture Books I read for the first time this year, some of which are also from 2017 but I didn’t read them during the Mock Caldecott cram session:
  1. Dot and Jabber (series), by Ellen Stoll Walsh. Oh my, who knew such books existed! I found them while prepping for the Mystery Family Night, see above, and was so thrilled to find stories simple enough for storytime that are yet classic genre mysteries, with clues to follow and solve, and they’re nature stories, too! Good on so many levels.
  2. Raindrops Roll, by April Pulley Sayre. Nonfiction, we have it in, a factual book about rain, except it’s also poetry and the words roll like the raindrops. And the photographs are fascinating, too.
  3. Grandma’s Tiny House: a Counting Story, by JaNay Brown-Wood. I read this to several different storytimes right before Thanksgiving— while it’s not overtly a Thanksgiving story (and if it is, it’s in a climate a bit warmer than Western PA), it reminded me so much of when my extended family used to have big Thanksgiving parties at Aunt Peggy’s or, long ago, indeed in Grandma’s Tiny Duplex, with more and more people coming and everyone being totally welcome but it all getting out of hand. It amazed me how much FEELING could come across in, as the subtitle says, a simple counting story.
  4. Maybe Something Beautiful, by F. Isabel Campoy. I needed something beautiful that day— it was right after the synagogue shooting in Squirrel Hill, and I even had a friend who knew a couple of the victims, and I was just so sick of all the hatred and ugliness, then here was this book about sharing your own beautiful visions and art to brighten up your world, and it was something I could do. I had everyone in Happy Monday make a beautiful picture (of their own definition of “beautiful”) and make a gift of it to someone else. I drew a butterfly for the downstairs circ desk. ;)
  5. The Babies and Doggies Book, by John and Molly. You know how I said I tend to buy board books for the library without too much deliberation? This was totally the case here. “Babies and Doggies? Sickeningly adorable, totally buying it.” When I finally actually read it, it proved to be even more sickeningly adorable than advertised. I bought it for Jason’s baby nephews for Christmas and then made everyone else in the family read it before I wrapped it, too. BABIES. DOGGIES. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT.
The Exactly 5 2018 Longer-than-Picture-Books I Read:
  1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: 2 Fuzzy 2 Furious, by Shannon Hale. Because Squirrel Girl is the greatest, as we discovered this year.
  2. Whiskerella and
  3. Little Red Rodent Hood, by Ursula Vernon, because hyperactive rodent-girl superheroes are the theme of this list apparently. Yes, the Hamster Princess series continues to be a delight.
  4. Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas, by Dav Pilkey. Okay, rodent-girls and dog-men. People/animal hybrids fighting crime with wackiness.
  5. The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare, by Shannon and Dean Hale. Not a person-animal hybrid, but still fighting crime with wackiness. Yes, basically the only new novel-length books I read this year were continuations of series my kids have been following for at least two other years, not counting Squirrel Girl.
The Top 5 Older-than-2018 Longer-than-Picture-Books I Read for the first time this year:
  1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, by Shannon Hale, and even a few of the comic books by Ryan North, because even though comics make me mildly dizzy, I loved Squirrel Girl so much I needed more of her, so I made it work. The Squirrel Girl doll Maddie got for Christmas is sitting in our Christmas tree now, by the way.
  2. All the Wrong Questions (series), by Lemony Snicket. I may have enjoyed this series even more than the Series of Unfortunate Events, being that it’s slightly less unfortunate, and slightly more straightforward-mystery. I loved getting to know Lemony Snicket more as a character, too. I’ve got a crush on him now, actually (in his adult form— he’s a kid in these books), because he’s obviously a sensitive, intelligent book lover. Shame that the actual Daniel Handler was being an ass again while we were reading this, because Lemony Snicket the character is something else all together.
  3. The Lie Tree, by Frances Hardinge. I can always count on Hardinge to give me a unique reading experience, which is why her books seem to be the only ones I ever pick up to read on my own nowadays.
  4. Greenglass House, by Kate Milford. Took me a few chapters to really get into this one, but it was perfect for us once we did, because it takes place at Christmastime and we READ it at Christmastime (well, a couple weeks ago), and it turns out a D&D-like game is a major plot point, which this family can really appreciate. Also, the main character likes to sit in the nook behind the Christmas tree and Maddie has been totally doing that, too, and I can’t stop thinking about that now.
  5. The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, by Mark Twain and Philip Stead. I think I enjoyed this more than anyone else in the family— I brought it on one of our camping trips, and Jason was just like, “what,” and the kids were slightly more open to it than he was, but also a little confused, but I thought it was wonderfully weird and full of character. I loved the way Stead framed it as a sort of conversation between Twain and himself, and I loved getting to share Twain’s VOICE with my kids without having to worry about problematic racial issues and the like.

Top 5 Rereading Experiences of This Year:
Having a hard time ranking these, but I’m pretty sure the first will have to be:
  1. Howl's Moving Castle. There was a read-along on Tumblr the other month, and I was like, Oooo, let’s see what they’re discussing! And then I was like, ooo, must butt in with my own long rambling observations! And then I was like, Okay, I can’t just participate in the discussions, I need to reread it again MYSELF! And then I was like, Okay, it was too much fun rereading this, now I’m going to foist it on my children whether they like it or not! (they liked it). It’s like I forget how much I love that book, it only gets better with each reread.
  2. The Percy Jackson series. Maddie claims she likes these better than Harry Potter now. They are super-fun. And I seem to get more of a crush on dorky-dad-Poseidon more every time I read it, too.
  3. The Young Wizards series up through Wizard Abroad. Wizard’s Dilemma is next and even though it’s my favorite, it’s also dang heartbreaking, and I’m not sure I’m up for that with the kids just yet. Anyway, they were ready for a change after four books, anyway, but they really enjoyed it, and I was again struck by how utterly MADELEINE L’ENGLE-LIKE these books are! Speaking of which:
  4. A Wrinkle in Time and When You Reach Me: Sam was reading the latter in school about the time we were reading Young Wizards, and he wanted us to read it at home, but I was like, “I’m not reading that to you until AFTER we read A Wrinkle In Time,” so we did. Both. See GeekMom article about it.
  5. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and A Christmas Carol. We finished Greenglass House a little more than a week before Christmas, and I wasn’t in the mood to read a NON Christmas-set book NOW. So I was like, “I read this to you a couple years ago but I don’t think you appreciated it enough,” and read the Best Christmas Pageant Ever to the kids. I still don’t think they appreciated it enough. But it’s short, so we were done in three days, and I still wasn’t ready for a non-Christmasy book, so I was like “Hahhah, time to introduce you to Dickens!” And it’s been a long while since I read A Christmas Carol and I was struck by how relevant and timely it felt (except maybe the Tiny Tim bits). Also how close the Muppets’ version keeps to it, which Sam had just watched in school so he was extra excited about that.
Currently we’re in the middle of The Hobbit, which is full of interest, first of all in the way Maddie said “Hey, this is like D&D!” fairly early on. EXACTLY. Welcome to Middle-Earth, the original D&D world! And eventually I look forward to foisting Lord of the Rings on them. I mean Maddie got to experience her literary namesake this year, Samwise will need his soon enough. Also I have found that rereading the Hobbit right now has given me the added side effect of more frequent dreams about Martin Freeman, nightly. Quite nice really. Speaking of movie stars,let's move out of print media and into visual:

Top 5 Movies I Watched For The First Time This Year
  1. Thor Ragnarok: Of all the MCU movies, I’d never gotten much into the Thor ones, but this one was just sheer delight from start to finish. I like a superhero movie that makes me laugh as much as thrill. I looked at my list— I actually saw more than 5 movies this year (not in the theater), there were nine or ten or something— and was a little surprised when I went to rank them, but this one probably did make me happiest of all of them.
  2. A Wrinkle In Time: Though in retrospect, the more disappointed I become in the way Camazotz was handled (what? Were there people there or not?), it was still a thrill at the time and had a big influence on me this year, what with my first three months of GeekMom articles (a quarter of all articles I wrote this year!), and my reading to the kids later on. Also Meg in my head actually does look more like Storm Reid than myself now, this last time we read it. Movie Mrs Whatsit, never, but Movie Meg, yes.
  3. Black Panther: Finally my favorite actor gets a major role in an MCU movie, but you know, the rest of it was so cool I really didn’t think about him much. It just LOOKED cool. And Shuri is the best.
  4. Coco: I was only half-watching this while it was on at my parents’ at first, but was so quickly sucked in and teary-eyed. It was a lovely movie, and I hope it becomes all the more beloved over time in the ranks of Pixar.
  5. Cargo: While I was recovering from surgery (see above) I had a “Let’s watch everything Martin Freeman was ever in on Netflix” day— I didn’t quite get to everything, but I never would have suspected that my favorite (Black Panther wasn’t on Netflix until, like, a week later, so it’s not included in this particular binge) would be a zombie movie. But it’s lovely and heartrending and deep and you get to see Martin interact mostly with kids which is the most adorable. Also it was kind of frightening and gross, but besides that stuff it was quite sweet.

Top 5 TV Shows and Other Things With Episodes I Watched This Year
  1. The Good Place: Holy motherforking shirtballs, this probably tops the list of Top New Things I Discovered This Year Across the Board. It filled a hole in my heart Community left behind for unorthodox sitcoms that respect the intelligence of their audience. I love that every episode is a genuine lesson in moral philosophy while at the same time being abso-forkin’-lutely hilarious, AND the characters also regularly make you cry. I love that it’s a show about GOODNESS, because there’s far too much negativity in the world and it’s so great that something so positive is also just so much fun. I love every time I have to log into Wordpress now by clicking the box that says “I’m not a robot.” I love that my sister-in-law is moving to Jacksonville next year and every time I hear about it I snort-laugh to myself and try to avoid explaining why.
  2. Series of Unfortunate Events: Is this really all the way up at number 2? I docked my other returning favorites for not being AS good as usual, whereas this year’s installment of SoUE had me even more enthusiastic and interested in what’s coming up and how the background mechanics of the VFD are going to be explored further, and laughing out loud, than the first season did. So it’s got a bump up that way. Can’t wait for the last installment.
  3. Jessica Jones: This was the only Netflix Marvel series I finally got around to watching this year after watching The Defenders last year. I watched it during the first part of my surgical recuperation, when laughing hurt the most, because it is DARK. SO DARK AND HORRIBLE. You’d think I wouldn’t care much for that, but what saved it was the characters, particularly Jessica herself. I just LIKE her SO MUCH, which is funny because her biggest character trait is that she’s a complete misanthrope. She should not be likable, but I love her!
  4. Agents of SHIELD: While the half-a-season that was on this year wasn’t the most outstanding thing the show has ever done— kind of run-of-the-mill— it’s still everything I like about television in one place, and I still wish the MCU would give it more credit. I mean Agent May OUGHT to show up in the next Avengers movie, if the rumors are true that Captain Marvel’s going to come looking for Coulson, because who was Coulson last with? AGENT MAY. She and Captain Marvel would totally dig each other.
  5. Legion: You weird, weird show. I love you for your weirdness, but at the same time I think you got a little lost up your own butt this season. The middle of the season seriously suffered from a lack of direction and an even more serious lack of Loudermilks. Loudermilk twins make everything good, and they were all but forgotten for about three episodes in the middle there, darn you. But on the other hand, there were still so many moments of brilliant weirdness, and the beginning of the last episode, a massive psychic sky-battle-slash-musical-number, was possibly the most amazing thing I have ever seen on TV. So get yourself together for season 3, that’s all I ask of you. Bring me weirdness with an at least marginally arching plot. Oh, in related news, I spontaneously joined a Legion-related fanfic exchange the other month, for which I made certain there would be no lack of Loudermilks. I wrote two stories for it. All the stories in the exchange are here… mine are the ones marked “Rockinlibrarian” obviously. The one that was written FOR me is also quite lovely (there are Loudermilks and dream logic and music so yay!).

CHRISTMAS GIFT ROUNDUP

Top 5 Presents I received:
  1. This experience of Christmas Miracles I wrote about last week. Relatedly:
  2. The new kitchen. This was technically like a birthday/Christmas/Mother’s Day/Everything present.
  3. A pair of squishy “pain relief” shoe insoles. You know you’re old, I tweeted, when your favorite gift Christmas Morning is a pair of pain relief insoles. Really, though, I have been enjoying them thoroughly all week.
  4. Also relatedly, two squishy mats for standing on in the kitchen.
  5. An old file cabinet, which I plan to use to deal with the pile of papers I have all around this room just as soon as we can get it shipped out here from my inlaws'.
Top 5 Presents I gave:
  1. Laptop &
  2. tablet, ie Electronic devices for my kids. Notice, I didn’t have to fight anyone to get to my own computer and type on it just now. So there! Hah!
  3. A personalized jigsaw puzzle for my parents. Made a collage of pictures of them and the kids together and uploaded it to the Ravensburger page, where they turn it into an awesome Ravensburger quality (because it is) puzzle for you. Utterly perfect for my parents, who are big jigsaw puzzlers and who have been sharing that love with my kids lately.
  4. Pajamas for the kids! Snuggly jammies! For Maddie I found a flannel fabric that was RAINBOWS AND DONUTS. AND DONUT BUTTONS. She was dumbstruck.
  5. I mentioned above getting the Babies and Doggies board book for Jason’s nephews. I got a few others, too, notably a couple Dinosaur vs. books for the 2yo who is definitely in a roaring a lot phase. But I had bought some snuggly fleece with doggies that look like his dog to make a yearly sweatshirt for my brother, and it was the end of the bolt so I got some extra half-price, and as I cut out the sweatshirt Jason said, “is that a baby blanket for Max [the 5 month old]?” and I was like, “not at the moment, but there’s going to be a lot of leftover and that’s a great idea!” I combined the leftover snuggly fleece with some other leftover fleeces and a velvety stretch fabric and some matching blanket edging I happened to have and voila. I wrapped Babies and Doggies in a Doggy Baby blanket! And Christmas evening as my sister-in-law held the baby after a feeding in the blanket, she said, “I think he already loves it.”
One Notable Gift Someone Else Gave Someone Else:
Maddie got a lava lamp in the pile from the school. Lava lamps are really kind of awesome, aren't they.

OTHER STUFF I WROTE THIS YEAR FOR YOU TO REVISIT

The Exactly 5 Other Things I Posted Here:
Okay, actually there were six. But I've already linked to "Christmas Miracles and Gifts of Grace" twice, even though that should really be number 1.
  1. And then I already linked "My Personal Wrinkle In Time Movie Review" too, but we'll make that the new number one.
  2. "Thoughts on the Autistic Spectrum part One" and "...part Two" ...are technically two separate ones, fine. Actually three separate ones, since apparently I accidentally posted part one twice. BUT ANYHOO this is me comparing myself to what people describe as "mild" female autism, not so much trying to decide if it describes me but more exploring HOW it describes me, if that makes sense. Weirdly, the other month I listened to a podcast on how to tell the difference between ADHD and ASD when there are overlapping symptoms, and was shocked to discover most of my autistic symptoms DO seem to be caused more by ADHD than indicative of a true ASD. NOTHING I KNOW ABOUT MYSELF IS TRUE!
  3. "Pro-Life Revisited" and
  4. "Thoughts on the State of the World" are mostly me complaining about current events and people and stuff, still, but I'm SMART and RIGHT, dangit.
  5. "Missing Viewpoints" explores how I didn't have anything like a "typical" adolescence and how that is a total bafflement to me. Incidentally, To All the Boys... just missed making BOTH the book AND movie lists this year, so this is the only mention you get of it.

The Top 5ish Articles I Wrote for GeekMom:
  1. Well let's cheat and sum up everything from the first quarter of the year with "In Anticipation of the Wrinkle In Time Movie," which acts as a master list for all L'Engle content I wrote this year. Long-time readers of my personal blog will recognize much of the material freshened up from my original Year of the Tesseract series, but better, so I'll just highlight a couple that did not appear in that first series in any form, such as "Judging A Wrinkle in Time by Its Cover," "Mrs Who and Verbalizing through Quotes" and "What to Read After A Wrinkle In Time."
  2. "Self-Medicating Through Music," on how my favorite things affect my brain, and speaking of my brain
  3. "Emotional Labor and the Executive Dysfunctional Mom" sums up a lot of the things I'd learned about how ADHD manifests in adult women over the past couple years.
  4. "Mental Health Awareness Through Fiction" was an interesting evaluation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, among other things
  5. "Perils of Gardening While Imaginative" explains what goes through my head while I'm working outside.
  6.  
  7.  
Happy new year! Please leave me comments if you want to discuss any of these items further! Or even if you just want to say "me too"!
rockinlibrarian: (love)
 "In Life's name, and for Life's sake, I will use the Art for nothing but the service of that Life. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so, till Universe's end." --The Wizard's Oath, Diane Duane

Kids and I are reading the Young Wizards series now. Such a powerful statement, the Wizard's Oath, and when I'm reading it out loud to the kids it's like, watch it, those are words of power, a serious prayer, a vow before God, or, in this series' terminology, The Powers That Be. But I answer myself, That's only a problem if I don't mean it. And I mean this. I believe in the Wizard's Oath. I will do my best to live it even if I don't have literal magic powers. Whatever human powers I do have must be used in the service of Life.

I've discussed this before, in earlier posts I don't feel like looking up to link to, but I was raised Pro-Life, in every sense of the word. Anti-abortion, yes, but also pro-environmentalist, pacifist, anti-death-penalty, guarding growth and easing pain, as the wizards say. I believe in the Positive, as I've said in another earlier post somewhere, I believe in What Is. 

Now when I was younger, and a bit sheltered and naïve, I had no problem embracing the Pro-Life Movement as it was defined by my Church, with my grandma and aunts and cousins who were all deeply involved in it. Then I got older and began to notice problems, most importantly that laws against abortion didn't actually prevent abortions, they just made abortions more dangerous. It seemed to me (and still does seem to me) that more abortions could be prevented not by changing the laws, but by changing people's minds about having them. And that involves giving them options, giving them the means to raise their babies safely or finding other trustworthy people to do so. It means giving mothers the actual means to survive in this unfair world.

There was a bit of a hiccup in the Church's Pro-Life stand, that I didn't fully appreciate until I was married, in that the Church's multi-part issues of Pro-Lifeness included a stand against birth control, and you know what? PREVENTING pregnancy is an awfully good way to prevent UNWANTED pregnancies, and therefore abortions. I can see how the birth-control prohibition fits in the Pro-Life philosophy, because let's make all the life we can, yay, except that it's not practical, and the implication that maybe you shouldn't have so much sex then is unfair, particularly when your partner wants it more than you, and darn it, at least you're not KILLING anything! But this is just the start.

Because, apart from that hiccup, there were other prohibitions in the Church's Pro-Life stand that seemed to be curiously forgotten by the Republican lawmakers who claimed to be Pro-Life, like the prohibition against capital punishment. I'd hear political ads that contradicted themselves in the same sentence: "I'm Pro-Life, and I support the death penalty for violent offenders!" Dude, you're not Pro-Life, you're anti-abortion. It's different. That's not even mentioning the people who bomb abortion clinics, which is nearly ironic as you can get.

But currently the discord between Pro-Life-as-in-believing-the-Wizard's-Oath vs. Pro-Life-the-Political-Movement-to-Overturn-Roe-vs-Wade has reached levels so painful I am screaming inside, screaming that my loving, genuinely good-hearted relatives still support the most anti-Christian politicians possible just because said politicians have so twisted the Pro-Life movement with propaganda, just because said politicians give so much lip service to their own "Christianity." They've come to trust Fox News because it tells them what they want to hear, and not the truth that exposes the hypocrisy of the Pharisees of the Christian Right.

And even when faced with the truth? That these so-called "Christian" politicians are adulterers and rape-apologists, that they applaud the accumulation of wealth before the safety and well-being of the huddled masses, that they're applauded by and often are themselves white supremacists and neo-Nazis, that they separate families and hold children custody, that they tell bald-faced, easily-disprovable lies and commit treason? Well, those are just downsides we'll have to accept, as long as that anti-abortion legislation goes through!

NO. NO NO NO. THIS IS NOT WHAT JESUS WANTS FROM YOU. THIS IS NOT WHAT JESUS WOULD DO.

These politicians are now trying to convince us that a mass migration of poor and desperate souls fleeing danger in their homeland for a slightly more hopeful chance in our country are a dangerous invasion that must be stopped with military force. WHAAAAAAT? It's stupid, bewilderingly stupid, for one thing, but for another thing where do you honestly believe Jesus would stand on this matter, were He here to remark upon it?  He doesn't NEED to be here, we already HAVE His words on the subject. "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

BASIC CHRISTIANITY, here. Basic Christianity calls us to stand up to the Pharisees who are quickly turning our country into a Fascist state. 

Basic Christianity calls me to type this. It's kind of a scary thing. I've been working on it for over a week, and I keep running away from it-- "What if people argue with me, and I can't get my words out? What if people decide they won't listen to me anymore? What if people question my own sources of information as if I don't have a FRIGGIN' MASTERS DEGREE IN INFORMATION SCIENCE? What if...?" But I can't keep watching good people who call themselves Christian aiding and abetting --and voting for, next week-- these literal anti-Christs! So it's All Saints Day. A good day to hunker down and do it. The Christian Right has been gravely misled and is deep in crisis, because they've forgotten who Christ really is. You know, the guy who gave the Sermon on the Mount.

I'm not asking anybody to go out and encourage people to have abortions, for gosh sakes! Stay Pro-Life! But think about what Pro-Life MEANS when you take your political stands, and pay attention to what's going on, and what people who've been manipulating you for political ends have actually been saying! Look objectively at these people and see the truth before it's too late. 
rockinlibrarian: (rebecca)
 So.

Got stuff on my mind that I want to get out but having trouble getting started here. Going to do chronological train-of-thought, so bear with me while I get to the point.

Recovering from abdominal surgery again this week. This time I needed to get a little hernia fixed that popped out months after/but in relation to last summer's gall bladder surgery. On one hand, it's a simpler and less pervasive surgery, so it required less anathesia and is all focused in one place, so I felt BETTER much sooner than last year. On the other hand, it's a DEEPER surgery,  so it FRIGGIN' HURTS more afterward. So most of my body is all, "Oh, I'm fine, let's go do stuff!" but then my abdomen screams, "BUT NOT THAT!" so it's kind of awkward.

But beforehand I was like, "so, recovery time means I'll get to watch a lot of TV!" Though of course I'm not quite as immobile as I thought I'd be. I did binge the rest of Jessica Jones during my first day or two. It's a very dark show but I like Jessica so much as a character it was worth watching, and anyway, the darkness came in handy because LAUGHING FRIGGIN' HURTS, and since I tend toward funny shows I didn't have a lot of other choices on my want-to-watch list. Yesterday I felt like watching SOMETHING but was tired of not-funny, so I put on MST3K, AND THIS WAS A MISTAKE. It still hurts to laugh.

That SAID, Saturday night I risked something light but not ROFL-hilarious instead, which worked out nicely, more of that, please. Teen Rom-Com. To All the Boys I Loved Before, based on the book by Jenny Han.  I read the book a couple months ago, to be honest, BECAUSE I saw the trailer for the movie and it was frickin adorable. I had bought and recommended the book in the library of course, but I hadn't bothered to read it because it's not my genre. 

And after I read it, having quite enjoyed it, I was still left with this feeling of it's not my genre. It's not-- me. It's describing this world I don't understand. Somehow I have no trouble understanding dystopias and fantasy kingdoms, but a realistic high school setting? I felt...strangely lost.

And the sad thing is that Lara Jean and I have a lot in common. We're both dreamy romantics, who work out our PASSIONATE crushes by writing letters to our beloveds, though I wisely only addressed mine when I actually INTENDED to mail them, and THEN only when I was certain I'd NEVER ACTUALLY HAVE TO SEE THE GUY AGAIN, which was incredibly NOT so wise because I was utterly wrong about that, and, yeah, I could be the main character of a teen rom-com, too.

...Except I couldn't. That was the thing that was nagging me. Like, the whole point of the story is that Lara Jean went from imaginary relationships to figuring out how relationships with ACTUAL PEOPLE work. And I mean, yeah, maybe I got there eventually in my life. Emphasis on the "maybe." Because I've noticed that lately I've completely closed myself off to the idea of New Relationships. I don't mean romantic relationships. I mean relationships AT ALL. If I should lose my husband, I don't ever want to date again, yes, but I don't want to make friends, either. I don't want to deal with it, how much effort it takes to be social. 

And so anyway, I was thinking, even Lara Jean, who in some ways is so much like me, had more of a social life than me. And I started thinking, "You know what that means, don't you? You just wrote about this. If you feel excluded from stories, it just means your story is missing. YOUR story needs to be written." Now, the irony of that is that article is about the need for Representation in Stories as explained by a relatively Default person to other Default people. One reason "To All The Boys..." is getting a lot of attention is it's one of the first teen rom-coms-- or THE first-- only counting American shows-- with an Asian-American protagonist, so... REPRESENTATION IS AWESOME. And I noted that in the article. If you are a relatively Default person, and you still feel excluded by stories, it's not because stories have excluded your DEFAULTNESS. It means there's something NON-Default about you that you're hungering to see.

I'm missing from Realistic Teen Fiction. That's why it's not my genre. I can't see myself in it.

But you know why I got into writing as a child? Well, because I had crazy dreams, actually. But the ONE RECURRING THEME that has always, ALWAYS shown up in my work is "People have adventures together and become friends." I couldn't make friends in the realistic fiction way. So I wrote about it. I wrote fantasies, mysteries, science fiction adventures for characters based on real people because an out-of-the-ordinary adventure was the only way I figured I could break past the awkward social mores that existed in real life. I never wrote realistic fiction. It wouldn't be realistic. I couldn't make it work.

My story needs to be told in Realistic Fiction, because that's where MY story is missing.  That's what they say, right? We need the missing voices. But I want to tell stories with happy endings, and I don't know what that ending could be. The happy ending of your lonely adolescence is COLLEGE, when you finally get away from the shallow-minded casual bullies you grew up with and meet people who are open to meeting YOU, but you're still carrying around repressed wounds from when you were 9 and your two "best" friends were not only always fighting with each other, but didn't even want to be friends with YOU if other people were around, the weight of countless microaggressions from all those kids, very few of whom meet the stereotype of "bully," but who made you feel so much lesser and excluded anyway, so now you have social anxiety for the rest of your life, and... see I'm not sure where I was going with this paragraph, which is my point. What's the ending? What's the moral? How does this story wrap up? Lara Jean's moral is she STOPS living in her fantasy world, and so grows. I started writing SO I could live in my fantasy world. It makes me feel like a fraud, like I've spent my life writing lies, even though I'm firm defender of SPECULATIVE FICTION AS SUPER-TRUTH. 

But, like, apparently the story that's actually missing from the world is not the story I want to write, and that's what's got me hung up this morning. 

Just... felt like sharing.
rockinlibrarian: (tesseract)
 I'm going to write up something more universal--and less of a specific review, because there's already a review there-- for GeekMom, but I want to share my Individual Fan perspective with other Individual Fans, ie Emily, and probably other people but Emily's the first person I'm thinking of because I know she's going in from a similar mindset, even though I liked the made-for-TV movie more than she did.

First of all, the previews were liars-- I was worried they seemed to be ignoring the book, but no, it was definitely My Book alright. I think it definitely did justice to all the book stands for. And yes, thank goodness, they do use the term "tesser" frequently. The previews were also liars because there were a lot of things in them that ended up not showing in the final movie, which is sad, I hope there are LOTS of deleted scenes in the future DVD release (and please let them release it on DVD, we don't have Blu-ray). The previews were also liars because-- well, I don't think they marketed it correctly, but I'll go into more detail on GeekMom. 

I sat in the theater in a fairly perpetual state of joy, though. That's speaking as a superfan of the book. I think a lot of details weren't quite explained or explored fully (for example, scene in previews that wasn't in the movie? The String-and-bug tesseract explanation), but it's hard for me to say, because I KNOW the book so well that my own brain filled in those details. Yeah, non-book-readers may not have been getting the full effect. 

But I didn't ever feel like, "No, you're not getting it right." It felt like My Book. I actually laughed out loud at a completely non-funny moment just because it so completely captured the image in my head that I almost swore I'd seen it before-- and the image in my head looks like an abandoned school room with a mysterious column in the middle, not like the Sea of Holes in Yellow Submarine, but EVIL CHARLES WALLACE was so exactly channeling my interior Charles Wallace at that point that after laughing out loud I actually SAID out loud, "That's Charles Wallace," which is kind of ironic because the point was he WASN'T really Charles Wallace, but, you get my drift.

Charles Wallace, incidentally-- whew, they did a good job finding that kid. I've always said he'd be a hard character to cast, because you need to find a kid who can be a supergenius without being intolerable, and he pulled that off. Meg, also, was SO VERY MEG-- I already said that from the previews alone-- those lying previews-- she was already starting to paste her looks onto the Meg in my head, so that I see Storm Reid now even when I'm thinking of something non-movie related. 

It fixed both the Major Issues I had with the TV movie-- like I said from the previews, they got that street in Camazotz right, although with the other changes they made to Camazotz the issue is a little more confusing-- it's really hard to say what's real and what isn't. So maybe they didn't quite get Camazotz right? They just got THAT part of Camazotz right. And the big issue of Meg not single-handedly saving the universe, but merely winning a major victory in her own way, and having the Mrses show her that she's a fighter for Good who will keep doing so-- that actually happened just right, and I was worried about that going in.

I do have one new Major Issue with this version, though: Mrs Whatsit is WRONG. I was going to say ALL WRONG but there's a lot about her that IS right-- her curiosity and eccentricities. But she is not full of love as she should be, and her wisdom seems to have been all given to Mrs Which. But luckily this did not interfere with my feeling that the movie got the book Right-- in fact I had to think about it to figure out what I didn't like. I was like, "Well, this version fixed the things I didn't like in the TV Movie, so do I have any issues with it? I could have used more Mrs Who, but that's not a bad thing, that just means I loved Mrs Who-- OH BUT MRS WHATSIT WAS WRONG." It wasn't like Studio Ghibli getting Howl Jenkins-Pendragon wrong (speaking of Jenkinses, we have another perfect Mr. Jenkins with this movie, we can go ahead and shoot Wind in the Door now), because the whole story hinged on that character change, and that's why that ruined that movie for me. In this case, the necessary parts of Mrs Whatsit seemed to be carried all right by Mrs Which, so the story remained intact. But the Mrs Whatsit in my head is still an old wise LOVING woman in too many coats and scarves-- movie Whatsit can't make a dent in it.

Although personally I do like "flying lettuce" (as Maddie described it) Uriel-Whatsit better than centaur Uriel Whatsit. That's more of a visual preference than a heart-of-the-story difference, though. 

DAAAAANG the visuals are trippy and therefore wonderful. Who knew my love of psychedelia and my love of Wrinkle In Time were so closely linked? Maddie was all like, "Okay the movie's over, time to go," when the credits started, but I was like, "But they're PRETTY! They're PRETTY credits! I want to watch the pretty credits!" (and Sammy for some reason just wanted to wait until the lights came back up in the theater). I wanted more. My brain kept making up new scenes or, you know, scenes from the book that weren't in the movie, in this trippy visual palate. My visual imagination just did not REALIZE it hadn't been imagining wildly enough before. 

There are other issues I have when I think about it-- like, they cut out the escape to Ixchel for movie-making time/pacing reasons (though at least they nod to its existence), but this means that we don't get the power of Meg CHOOSING to go back to Camazotz because she realizes she's the only one who can do it. She did choose to STAY and save Charles Wallace, so she's not without agency in that decision entirely, but it's not quite as powerful. This also reminds me that Mrs Who doesn't get to quote Corinthians. They did seem to cut all overt references to Christianity in the movie, although it's still spiritual in general-- and she quotes Buddha, so she COULD'VE quoted Corinthians, and it's such a meaningful quote-- "to make me not hate me for being only me," as book-Meg says.

But the other, surface changes to the book read as just fine by me. I didn't miss the twins, or even the New England setting (I mean, it's ANNOYING that Hollywood is so Hollywood-centric, but it probably did save money for trippy visuals instead so why argue?). The Happy Medium was even more masculine than the androgynous one in the TV-movie, and I like both those changes-- he's still on the androgynous side and that just makes SENSE for someone who is all about balance, I dig that. Uriel on the other hand was more FEMININE than in the book-- not that it was masculine in the book, but, you know, centaurs are pretty masculine-- and I loved that, too. Camazotz I'm mixed on, because I liked the additional settings there, and the mindbendingness of that Sea of Holes room, but like I said, it was never clear what was real or not, so you could never tell if there are actually PEOPLE there being oppressed or if it's all just illusions. I mean, the whole everyone-there-gave-into-IT-because-IT-offered-them-security-and-"peace" is a pretty powerful theme, and I think it got lost in the trippiness. I loved how Mrs Who almost spoke ENTIRELY in quotations and I loved that she pulled quotations from such a wide variety of sources (a few of which didn't even exist when the book was written!), which is part of why I wanted more of her-- I just wanted to see the variety of quotations she could come up with and incorporate into any situation! And I was kind of worried about Mrs Oprah Which, because she is so very Oprah, and not so very incorporeal, but she didn't bother me in context of the movie. I liked that they acknowledged her sometimes getting physically-manifesting "wrong," -- and I also liked her retort of (something to the effect of) "what is 'wrong' anyway?" 

So as a book fan, I am satisfied, though I don't know how it will work for non-book-fans. My kids enjoyed it, but didn't say anything like "BEST MOVIE EVER," so I'm not sure how to measure it: Maddie named as her favorite scene the one scene that wasn't remotely in the book, so that was kind of awkward (I did also like that scene, it gave Meg the opportunity to use her brains), but Sammy's response to what his favorite part was, was kind of complicated: "The thing about Love being stronger than darkness"-- ah, he got the point, yay!-- "...that's the same thing My Little Pony is about!" Okay, so maybe it wasn't quite a life-changing experience for them. I do hope they'll let me finish reading the book to them someday (we got a couple chapters in once, last year, but I don't think they were ready for it, and then we got distracted by Harry Potter). 

I do have a couple more things to write up before I end my series on GeekMom-- a more universal response to the movie, as I said, and a what-to-read-next article-- you can catch up on everything Wrinkle I have written there through this post here. See you around!
rockinlibrarian: (Default)

 Hi there. I know I don't type all that much over here anymore because I'm always trying to get in a weekly GeekMom article instead, and those take priority, and are sometimes hard enough to squeeze out of my brain (I'm reworking Ye Olde Year of the Tesseract series over there now, in anticipation of the upcoming movie,* if you haven't noticed-- and even with those first drafts written over here still sometimes I TAKE FOREVER). Have I mentioned I've had "This person has ADHD--Inattentive Type" officially on my official medical records for exactly one year and one week now? Yeah. Interesting how long it has permeated my life without me realizing what was going on. But anyway. A month ago my computer died. I had wanted a new computer for a long time anyway and was kind of disappointed I didn't get one for Christmas, to be honest. It was like my old computer felt sorry for me and decided to force us to make it happen. I luckily had almost everything backed up in THE CLOUD (pictures in Snapfish and Shutterfly, music in Google Play, non-article-writing, which I haven't exactly done anything with in the past few years, anyway, on Dropbox). Anyway, my point is, also, that I got a laptop this time, which means I'll be able to do work in the summertime when the kids want me to take them to the pool, and so on, and at the moment I am on the "desk"-equipped exercise bike, trying to counteract my recent bate of sedentariness. Spellcheck says that word should be "absentmindedness," which no, is not what I meant to say, but is equally true. Exercise helps my brain focus, I just don't like to admit that or more accurately ACT on that. This is a bit awkward on my wrists, though.

Anyway, I'm mainly here to get the whole world off my chest.

Just before I woke up this morning, I dreamed I was giving a bunch of my relatives a spontaneous lecture about information literacy, because I'd seen they'd "Liked" an article that led with a Pro-Life stance, but ended up also jamming into it a bunch of slightly related points that were NOT very Christian if they'd JUST TAKEN A MOMENT TO THINK ABOUT IT-- I mean, in the dream this was all very literal, my conservative and I should also add GOOD relatives had Liked an article and I cautioned them about reading their sources more acutely, but in real life this is a thing that has happened across the board-- lots of "good" people following biased news sources and suddenly finding themselves believing things they wouldn't at all believe if they stopped and thought about it.

Then I wake up and my clock radio is like, "...the latest school shooting has prompted more people to put more pressure on Congress to do something about mass shootings," and I actually went, "HAH, THIS Congress?!" out loud. THIS Congress won't even face up to the MASS TREASON happening all around them! THIS Congress won't even throw out the Madman In Chief who keeps trying to provoke a nuclear war! THIS Congress is ripping up every social support institution in the government calling it a waste of money, and yet accepting GENUINE wastes of money like border walls and deporting law-abiding members of society and Military Parades! and THEIR OVERBLOWN SALARIES. 

I'm AGOG. I'm agog that we as a society haven't been able to do anything with these hypocrites yet.

And I'm sad, because while there are lots of conservatives who've backed away from this mess, who actually see what's going on, there are STILL PEOPLE whose indoctrination by Fox News et al has been SO DEEP that they will do and say anything to deny the hypocrisy, the DEEP LEVELS OF HYPOCRISY involved in trying to defend any of this. "Democrats do bad things, too!" is about the best they can come up with, and it never looked like a worse excuse. 

And I'm scared, because I have a feeling it's only going to get worse until it gets better. People who are really scared to admit when they've been wrong just get more and more zealous about insisting they're right. A lot of people will be hurt in the process, whether emotionally, through losing access to resources or livelihoods, or outright physical violence. These issues cannot just go silently into that good night. This is civil war. I'm not CALLING for war by saying these things, mind you. I'm identifying it. It's on our doorsteps whether we want it or not.

But I'm hopeful, because whether it seems like it or not, we have made some progress as a society over the past year or so. GOOD has become more vocal, too, and though that means often exposing terrible things, which shakes up the status quo, forces us to admit how Problematic our Faves can be (though I still hate that concept). and causes the bad guys being exposed to do MORE terrible things... small changes are happening.  People are waking up. People are taking action in small everyday ways and in big institutional ways, if not quite national government ways. 

This past week there's been a lot of dirty laundry being aired in the Kid Lit world, many writers joining the #MeToo movement by calling out fellow authors for sexual harrassment. It's especially rough because we're all in KID lit, you know, we're supposed to be better role models? Though a lot of the names coming up (especially the worst offenders) I've not been particularly fans of, there are a couple of my faves getting called out, but even them I'm not entirely surprised by, and I find it even hasn't stopped me enjoying their work...mostly I guess because my faves have been called out for being creeps but not outright predators. And that's an important distinction, because that's where the most change can come into play-- like this:

I saw this on Twitter this morning. I admit-- call me a terrible librarian, I'm sorry-- to not being familiar with this guy or his work, but he wrote a response to being called out in this conversation, in which he didn't try to defend himself, make excuses, or say "I'm sorry I'm a jerk but I guess you'll just have to live with it because that's who I am," but actually owns up, says I WAS WRONG AND I AM GOING TO TRY TO BE BETTER. Now, when a guy apologizes for being a jerk, there's a risk of "praising him for doing what a decent person would have done anyway." It reinforces the whole patriarchal men-get-more-leeway-to-mess-up thing. I'm not trying to do that. I'm trying to point out that there's HOPE. People CAN own up to their mistakes and work to do better. I definitely hope all my Faves take this same, introspective route instead of doubling down on their innocence or making excuses or complaining how people can't take a joke. 

And maybe, the more crap that comes to light—in every discipline, in every problem area— the more of these people who have done wrong will step up to make it right, even if it seems the majority of them fight against it all the more savagely. Maybe they can't DO much to fix damage too long done, but they can help stop future damage from occurring. And maybe then more and more problem-people will follow their example, leaving behind the Dark Side and standing with the Light. And maybe, MAYBE, humanity has a chance to get better, after all.

---
*Which I'm STARTING to get a little worried about, to be honest? It's just that, so far, in any of the trailers or TV spots, I haven't heard an ACTUAL LINE from the BOOK. The closest is in how the tesseract is illustrated with a string and a toy bug-- but am I hearing correctly? Have they actually replaced the word "tesseract" with "wrinkle"? Yeeeah. I can deal with poor adaptations existing, but this one is just so BUZZED and people are so EXCITED about it, that it would be a real disappointment if it's just a really pretty movie that has nothing to do with the book (particularly when the much-reviled TV movie WAS relatively true to the book, it just wasn't a great movie). Especially because I'm already starting to like Storm Reid so much as Meg that, after 30 years of INTENSE fandom, she's even managing to creep into my head and replace my old looking-a-lot-like-ME mental picture of Meg. And this Calvin is a cutie: I just love the LEETLE perking up of his eyes in this gif, I think he IS going to be perfect. The Mrs Ws, I just don't know about, I think they could win me over as long as Mrs Whatsit comes INTO the Murry house looking more like a tramp than an angel princess--it doesn't look like she stays that way long if she does. I guess you can't have someone bundled up that way in southern California, which is why they shouldn't have changed the setting. :P  
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
I am going to add a cut here for archival-scrolling purposes, but I do want to encourage you not only to click through and read, but also to comment, because there are lots of fun things to comment on! Let's trade opinions and junk!
Read more... )
 
  • I got actually, officially, medically diagnosed with ADHD-Inattentive Type, which in retrospect is so obvious I keep being amazed no one thought of it years ago. Indeed, it's been sort of comforting to realize how many weird and/or stupid things I do are actually extremely common among women with ADD. I have noticed I've been a lot less depressed this year, too, and I suspect a lot of it is that the voices in my head who used to put me down all the time, "You never learn from your mistakes, you're a wash-up, how can you be so smart and fail so bad at life?"-- well, now there's a voice going, "oh, that's totally ADHD, there. You know what you're doing."
  • I took the plunge and did Weight Watchers, and annoyingly enough I totally felt better. Turns out this may only partially have to do with the loss of excess weight, but as an added bonus, cutting simple carbs back is, it turns out, really important for making an ADHD brain work better, too. So I'm not on Weight Watchers anymore, but I've been trying to keep in mind many of the things I learned through the experience. Also I lost about 35 pounds.
  • ...which has its drawbacks. Apparently being overweight and then suddenly losing a lot of weight can make ones gallbladder FREAK OUT. So round about June I got violently ill and it turned out to be a wonky gallbladder. So in July I had surgery-- my first major surgery ever-- to get the nasty thing removed. The doctors messed up my expectations by calling the outpatient procedure a "band-aid surgery," because it then took a lot longer for me to recover than I expected it to. Like, a month. At least. But by now, I am indeed feeling much better all around. Thank you for leaving, gallbladder.


  • In September the kids and I went to see Dav Pilkey at the Carnegie Library, which is officially the first time I've ever met one of my "celebrity" crushes in person, and got to shake his hand. He was so sweet and awesome, and is also a huge spokesperson for ADHD so the year has a theme, here.
  • In the fall we made a new furry friend. A Neighborhood Cat, who we took to calling Marshmallow, adopted us. We are at this point 99.9% sure that Marshmallow has an actual home with someone else in the neighborhood, but when she goes out roaming, it's us she visits right away. After I wrote this follow-up piece, mourning that we hadn't seen her for a month, she showed up again! Looking even fatter and healthier than usual, so, yeah, definitely not a stray.


 
Top Five Library Programs I Ran This Year:
  1. Messy Art: I made this the last Family Night of Spring, in late May when it was not likely to be raining, because we HAD to do it outside. We had Alka-Seltzer paint bombs, watercolor-filled squirt gun target practice, turkey baster Jackson-Pollock-esque painting, and the cross between the three that happens when small children get paint everywhere and just try to take advantage of it. To make the evening even more nuts, about three times my usual crowd turned up for it. It was chaos, and it was fun. I read Edward Gets Messy by Rita "Screwy Decimal" Meade, and probably something else but I can't remember what.
  2. Visual Music: More controlled, indoor fun with paint. I made a playlist of a variety of instrumental pieces-- one of the moms there knew all of them except my cousin Ian's acid-rock guitar ramble, which I would have been super impressed if she did-- there was John Williams, Scott Joplin, the Beatles and Pink Floyd, Mozart and some Romantic-era composer I can't remember now because it was kind of boring but made for variety. Anyway, I put it on and we painted to it and it was a delight. I read The Noisy Paintbox, which I loved, see review below, and also probably something else I can't remember. Oh, Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet. That was fun.
  3. Underpants: I was kind of excited about our Dav Pilkey visit (see above), so I threw this topic in, even though I didn't actually read any Captain Underpants. We read Creepy Pair of Underwear! by Aaron Reynolds-- which to be honest, actually is pretty creepy-- and The Underwear Book by Todd Parr, which is always a hit at Outreach. Our project was simple-- they just designed a pair of underwear on a plain line drawing of a pair-- but they were so pleased with it, they unanimously demanded I display their designs on the front desk. So I did, to the additional delight of everyone who came up to the desk for the next couple of weeks. That little program brought a lot of smiles!
  4. Solar Power: It was the Build a Better World Collaborative Summer Reading Theme and a couple weeks before the solar eclipse, so here we go. I read Sun Bread by Elisa Kleven and The Day My Dogs Became Guys by Merrill Markoe (which is about the WEIRD POWERS of a solar eclipse). I had built some pizza box solar ovens, but it was too cloudy for them to work, but luckily that's why I'd decided to make s'mores in them-- so the results were still edible. There WAS just the right amount of sun for photo-sensitive paper art with found objects, though, and the gasps when we rinsed the paper in cold water were totally worth the failed solar ovens.
  5. See The World: I set up stations around the room for each continent (actually I split Asia into West and East and combined Australia/Oceania and Antarctica into one), with books and flags for each. I WAS going to set up a laptop at each station with bookmarks on various interesting sites on Google Streetview, but it turned out most of the library's laptop collection had vanished. So I had to improvise: West and East Asia had to share a computer after all, and I used my Nook and the library's iPad, but the latter two were annoying because it turns out the mobile versions of Google Maps don't HAVE Streetview, so I kept having to "request desktop site." BUT I saw so many awesome places on Streetview while prepping for this program that I wrote this article. I can't remotely remember what I read for it, though.
 
THE MEDIA REVIEWS (which also include Real Life Moments):
 
Top 5 2017 Picture Books:
  1. 50 Cities of the U.S.A, by Gabrielle Balkan: This is more of a thin coffee table book than a proper picture book, to be honest, but it's so awesome I have to put it here. Two different GeekMoms had reviewed it favorably, and I saw it had Pittsburgh and I'm always looking for more local history for the library's children's collection, so I put it on the library's Amazon wishlist. Yes, I gave the library its own Amazon wishlist. A few weeks ago I looked at the list and noticed the book had gone on deep discount, like 5 dollars (while MSRP is 30?), and I have Prime, so I was like, hey, Merry Christmas, library, I'm getting this for you. When it came I turned right to the Pittsburgh page so I could give it a knowledgeable evaluation, and was totally impressed at the variety of cool trivia they included. I especially loved how, for each city, they also spotlighted several contemporary children's authors (not even superstar names!) from the area. For Pittsburgh they picked Megan McDonald ("got her start at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh" AHEM she spent most of her library career at Adams Memorial in Latrobe, thanks!) and Sharon G. Flake!
  2. The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. What, I can't possibly put one of these lists together without it including at LEAST one Barnett and/or Klassen, and this year gave me two. I will rank this one first because I can really see reading it at a story time, once I find a good excuse to.
  3. Triangle: As much as I adore Mac Barnett, I have to admit Klassen's brilliance impresses me the most. The things he can do with simple eye position! Mac's work is a little more the highlight of the first book, but Jon's work is definitely the highlight of this one. I'm apparently on first name bases with them now.
  4. Hilda and the Runaway Baby, by Daisy Hirst: In the "notes" column of my possible-books-to-get list spreadsheet I just wrote "the pictures are hilarious." Indeed, when this eventually came through Junior Library Guild, I just sat there beaming at each page. It's not so much laugh-out-loud funny as just delightful-funny.
  5. Accident! by Andrea Tsurumi: I already know I do not yet appreciate this book enough. These pictures require extended study, which I have not partaken of yet. But already it's fun and everyone wants to go to the library in it, so good.
 
 
Top 5 2017 Longer-than-Picture Books:
  1. A Face Like Glass, Frances Hardinge: Technically this book came out something like five years ago in the UK, but only made it across the pond this year, and it's just so...creative? I'm not sure of a better word to describe reading Frances Hardinge. She's a word-weaver, threading her books with magic like the craftspeople in this book thread magic into their wares. This is the only book in this list I did not get out to read to my kids-- it's just good enough to motivate me to read it anyway. When I was writing it up for GeekMom, one of the GeekDads spotted the cover in the image library and started freaking out with excitement that someone else was reading it!
  2. Princess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz: (That's a Betsy Bird review there. It was just one of the first results of the search, and I was probably highly influenced by this review when I put it on the library's to-buy list, so hey, it'll be my link)...But it had actually been in the library several months before I was like, "Oh wait, that's a perfect Maddie book [humorous fantasy, strong-willed princess, third-grade reading level], I need to bring it home." Then we fought over who actually got to read it first.
  3. Real Friends, by Shannon Hale: I love Shannon Hale so stupid much. Anyway, this book I actually bought for us at home, because it pretty much WAS written for Maddie right where she was-- a graphic "novel" (actually memoir) about the ups-and-downs of elementary school friendship? So Maddie. And so everyone else who remembers how traumatic the elementary school social scene actually was.
  4. The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart, by Stephanie Burgis: I confess I bought this for the library just because it sounded perfect for our family read-alouds, though it's more in the style of the books we were reading earlier in the year than when we finally got around to it after Series of Unfortunate Events (see below). Still, middle grade fantasy about CHOCOLATE. It was hard not to crave chocolate while reading this.
  5. Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever., edited by Betsy Bird, speaking of me being highly influenced by her literary opinions. She called together a diverse group of truly funny women (the aforementioned Shannon Hale? My Imaginary-big-sister Libba Bray? The mentioned-right-after-this Ursula Vernon?) to contribute to this book. Being an anthology of this nature, the results are mixed, but there are definitely some pretty hilarious stories in here, and the bests were actually from women I knew very little of. As I mentioned in this Between the Bookends review, which also includes more about Real Friends, the funniest story is "Dear Grandpa: Give Me Money,” by Allison DeCamp, but the all around best story is Carmen Agra Deedy’s “One Hot Mess” —which stuck with me so much I watched a TED talk by her the other day. Turns out she's a professional storyteller. Obviously.
Honorable Mentions I Didn't Put Into The Countdown On Account of Their Being From Series I Have Already Discussed and They're More of the Same But Still Awesome:
From Ursula Vernon's Hamster Princess series, Giant Trouble, and there's another Hamster Princess book coming out next month, too, yay! I never get tired of them. Maddie got a pile of pet-related Rainbow Fairies books for Christmas and we both got a big laugh out of one of them being called "Harriet the Hamster Fairy." "It's Harriet the Hamster PRINCESS!" Maddie insisted gleefully.
And of course my bae (I can't believe I just used that word. UGH! It just feels like the right word here anyway. Darn you, "bae") of the year Dav Pilkey released some more Dog Man books, and Dog Man Unleashed and A Tale of Two Kitties were both freakin' hilarious. We also just got Dog Man and Cat Kid which officially came out this week, but I haven't gotten to read it yet.
 

Top 5 Older-than-2017 Picture Books I Read For the First Time:
  1. Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis: I was a guest reader for Maddie's second grade classroom and wanted to do a "lesson" on how reading pictures was just as important (if not more so) to reading a picture book as reading the words is, so I brought in one of my favorites from last year, They All Saw a Cat, and then I thought of this one we had just gotten, and this one turned out to be the favorite. I asked the class if any of them knew how to speak bug, and insisted that by the end of the book they'd be able to, and they dove in to decoding bug language with relish. It ended up becoming Maddie's teacher's new favorite book, too!
  2. The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art, by Barb Rosenstock: I got the idea for the Visual Music Family Night (see above) without having any particular read-alouds in mind, but this picture book biography of an artist with synesthesia seemed perfect, subject-wise. So I read it and, word-wise, fell in love. It's a perfect length for a read-aloud (not always easy to do with biographies), and I kept thinking, "I would have understood abstract art SO MUCH BETTER if I had had this book as a child." Indeed, synesthesia makes abstract art make more sense, and this picture book makes synesthesia make sense, and it's all a lovely tribute to art in any form.
  3. We Are Growing, by Laurie Keller: I wanted to do a mock Geisel in addition to a mock Caldecott this year, so I pulled out all the 2016 easy readers, and this one made me laugh so much I might have biased our results with my enthusiasm when the group showed up and I was all, "Listen to this one!" So when the votes were totaled, this was our clear winner, but that was all right, because when the actual Geisel committee's votes were totaled this was their clear winner as well, so I guess our taste is pretty good.
  4. Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, by Javaka Steptoe: Speaking of Youth Media Award Medalists and of picture book biographies of artists I'd never heard of, it took me a long time to overcome my doubts and give this one a try. I didn't bother ordering it all last year even though it kept getting rave reviews, because bio of a little-known artist? Who's going to check that out? Then it won the Caldecott so I figured I'd better get it, but I still never bothered to open it up until I did a "Family Night At the Museum" Family Night this fall, and-- well, it didn't win the Caldecott for nothing. My jaw literally dropped several times at the gorgeousness of these illustrations. And it's also a picture book biography that's a decent length and flow for a read-aloud, so yay!
  5. Katie Meets the Impressionists, by James Mayhew: This is a book that was made for child-me. Impressionism has always been my favorite visual art style, and this is a story about a girl who walks into great Impressionistic paintings and explores them, so like gah, that is Amy's dream. It's another one I only bothered to pick up while prepping "Family Night at the Museum," and was so glad I had.
 
Top 5 Older-than-2017 Longer-than-Picture Books I Read For the First Time:
  1. The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, by Adam Gidwitz: I'm pretty sure Adam Gidwitz is a kindred spirit and am mildly disappointed we're both married. Gotta love me a folklore geek with a sense of humor. I also wrote up this one for Between the Bookends on GeekMom, too.
  2. The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill: As did I with this one. It really makes me feel like I need to write less here. Sorry about that. Go, click on my longer reviews and read them.
  3. Island of the Aunts, by Eva Ibbotson: While trying to tide my kids over on humorous British fantasy after I insisted they weren't yet ready for Goblet of Fire (see below), I pulled out my copy of The Secret of Platform 13, which incidentally also has Island of the Aunts in the flip side, two books in one. So we read the first, and then I keep squinting at the second: you know, I've seen this around for forever, obviously, but why do I get the feeling I've never actually read it? Indeed, we started that one next, and I hadn't read it before. But I loved it. And dang, she's funny, and English wasn't even her native language.
  4. The Girl Who Could Not Dream, by Sarah Beth Durst: Also, already reviewed for Between the Bookends. Sophie (the GeekMom in charge of Between the Bookends, not the main character of this book, although they are both named Sophie) wrote it up in the post summary using the term "the dream economy" and I'm just kind of taken by it. It feels like it must really exist somehow, with a name like that. The Dream Economy.
  5. So You Want to Be a Jedi? by Adam Gidwitz, again: There's another Between the Bookends review in the same link as the Face Like Glass note above. But seriously, Adam, buddy, fellow student of Joseph Campbell, we really gotta talk shop, here. Turn one of my favorite movies into a second-person monk-training manual and, well, you have made me your best friend forever. So nerdy. So much fun.
Top 5 Rereading Experiences Worth Mentioning:
This is a new category I have to put in just because so much of my reading with the kids was super-memorable and yet of books I personally had read before. And occasionally I do a reread for a storytime that makes me see a book in a new way, too, as in this number 5.
  1. Yes, I have finally introduced the kids to Harry Potter this year and now I have fellow fans. (Oh, and the kids and I are all Hufflepuffs, or more accurately Sam and I are Huffleclaw and Maddie is Huffledor, so the Sorting Hat might have debated a bit. Jason's just straight up Gryffindor, no question). Just the first three books, as they still weren't ready for the end of Goblet of Fire (as it was Chamber of Secrets thoroughly freaked Maddie out). Since then we've read some pretty intense books so they might be ready now, but then they'll want to rush straight through to the end once we pick it up again, and I don't know, then it will be over... but I just have so much I want to share with them in Order of the Phoenix!
  2. A Series of Unfortunate Events was our major read of the year, being that it's thirteen books long. That took us from the end of June to sometime in November, actually. That was an example of some pretty intense content, even though it's presented so tongue-in-cheek. But rereading gave me new appreciation of the cleverness and the ways clues were woven in. Look, I kept forgetting the kids wouldn't learn who Beatrice actually was until the last word of the last book, because my whole understanding of the series was shaped by my knowing that fact now, and I had to stop myself from letting it slip a few times.
  3. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass: Maddie's a fan of Ever After High, and her favorite character is, naturally, Madeleine Hatter. And Sam's definitely clever enough to get most of the wordplay. So I was like, GOOD, you guys are finally ready for one of my favorite books ever. And indeed? That is just a really friggin' good book(s), and it's even more fun to read out loud (I had read it out loud to my brother decades ago so that wasn't entirely a new experience); and it's just SO NICE to be able to make references to it and have them know what I'm talking about.
  4. Speaking of which, that's why I decided to read them Holes. Sam was complaining something was too hard because he wasn't strong enough, and I shot back, "Then you just need to practice, like carrying a pig up the mountain," and then I was like, whoa, you don't get that reference, but you totally will now let's read this! I realized it had both the complicated mystery-building and over-the-top tongue-in-cheek unfortunateness of Series of Unfortunate Events so they'd probably like it, and indeed, they loved it. And I again got to read what is probably a perfect book, so hey. It also contains one of the Other Fictional Sams I Love, though granted one that dies quickly and violently. Oh, we also got to discuss the history of race relations, so, yay?
  5. The Polar Express: It's a Christmas classic, yes? But I'd never got into it much. But I'd somehow run short on Christmas outreach books the other week, and I was bringing this one class a bag of books about trains, and we have three copies of this in the main library proper, so I was like, what the heck, I'll throw that in. But I totally had my doubts, because it's long, and these were four-year-olds, but what the heck. I started to read, and THEY. WERE. MESMERIZED. No other way to describe it. If somebody had rung any jingle bells in that room at that moment, everyone's hair would have stood on end. So, okay, I get the Christmas classic thing, now.
 
Top 10 Moving Picture Media I Watched This Year:
 
I got confused trying to sort these into "Movies" and "TV." There's Netflix, which shows stuff it calls TV shows, even though it isn't actually broadcast on TV. There's that TV show that's really like three separate movies. There's a feature-length production broken into episodes and shown on You-Tube. Oh, there's an educational YouTube series I stuck in at the last minute because I forgot about it, too. So, we'll put it all together and call it good.
 
  1. Legion: Holy cow. Combine an X-Men storyline with Noah Hawley's storytelling chops and how can you make a show any more up my alley? You make it friggin' psychedelic. It's number one on the list even though there were times I wasn't even sure I really liked it-- I just loved it-- which is something psychedelia does, makes occasionally unpleasant experiences awesome. Ahem. And the characters are all so great. It's so. weird. and I know that makes it therefore not for everybody, but I WANT everybody to see it anyway just so I can talk about it.
  2. Edgar Allan Poe’s Murder Mystery Dinner Party: This was a small webseries-- basically a feature-length film broken into twelve episodes that I referred to above-- that was strongly influenced by the Clue Movie in all the best ways. It's a mystery-farce starring a variety of famous 19th-century...ish authors (the anachronisms are part of the fun), it's utterly ridiculous, and for some reason I felt the need to watch it over and over and over. I even rented it through their site (I mean, it's free on YouTube) so I could watch it with commentary (and yes, support their good work monetarily in retrospect because they're awesome). And I'm kind of addicted to the music. I want everyone to watch this, too, just so we can quote it to each other. The team behind it just released a new mini-movie--a mocku-noir this time-- but I haven't watched it yet for fear it will mess up my carefully curated end of the year list here.
  3. Agents of SHIELD: Still my favorite currently-running TV show-- we're only five episodes in to Season 5 and I only LOVED the most recent one (which may say something about the necessity of Fitz?), but the back half of Season 4, in the first part of the year, was some of the finest TV I've ever seen, thanks. It continued to upend expectations and show off fantastically scene-stealing villains (Mallory Jenson where's your Emmy dangit) while growing the characters we already loved. Why is it not universally hailed as the best not-cancelled comic book show on TV? Oh yeah, because Legion exists. But besides that.
  4. Moana: Great, another future classic Disney movie. I just genuinely enjoyed it, though, even on rewatches (THAT STUPID CHICKEN cracks me up so hard). And that dang crab makes me go to my kids, "Look, this show is rated TV-MA and there's no way I'm letting you watch the rest of it but YOU SHOULD WATCH the first scene of Legion episode 4 because that crab is playing the BEST CHARACTER" and perhaps lucky for them Legion isn't on demand anymore, darnit, you see what I mean about me and Legion, anyway. And for some reason I was super-attuned to all the mythological tropes while watching and that made it even more fun because I'm a dork that way, or more likely because I was watching "Crash Course Mythology" and they even did a whole episode on Maui soon after I saw the movie, you're welcome. OH WAIT I FORGOT: ---4a. Crash Course World Mythology: I've seen individual Crash Course videos before, but I'm such a Comparative Mythology junkie that I've been outright following this one. If I was going to be an academic I'd do Comparative Mythology. Where's the current writing on that, anyway? I know Joseph Campbell isn't considered completely "correct" by current academics but is anyone supplanting him? Besides Adam Gidwitz (see above), I mean an Academic. I WANT TO READ COMPARATIVE MYTHOLOGY THEORIES LIKE A DORK.
  5. The Defenders: We got Netflix back this fall, and rather than try to watch all the Marvel shows Netflix had put out in that time, particularly since the reviews were mixed, I figured I'd catch up with them all at once just by watching this one. And indeed, I enjoyed it so much that now I'm going to have to go back and watch some of the individual shows anyway. At least Jessica Jones because I love her. And probably Daredevil if only because Matt Murdock is super-cute. Which is totally creepy for me to say because J's super-paranoid Survivalist buddy goes by the name "Matt Murdock" online, and I'm absolutely not by any means talking about him.
  6. Doctor Strange: The extent of my review to Jason after we watched this: "I liked it, it's trippy" (See review of Legion, above).
  7. Lego Batman: Pretty sure this was the first (and so far only) movie we all four together went to see at the theater as a family. And we all four enjoyed it lots, too.
  8. A Series of Unfortunate Events, Netflix Series Version: See book rereads section, above. We saw the first one or two episodes at my parents' house, then after we got Netflix, catching up was the first thing we did. I can't wait to see how season 2 goes and where the background stories go from here. (Is Jacqueline Snicket a cross between Jacques and Kit or is Kit yet to appear as well? How long will the show draw out the full nature of Beatrice's identity?) It might have gone higher on this list but the theme song really bugs me. Sorry, Neil Patrick Harris.
  9. Sherlock: This might also be higher on the list if I didn't rather hate the first episode of the season. Well, "hate" is a strong word, but I just didn't ENJOY it like I have pretty much every other episode, even the not-so-good ones. It depressed me. But that's counteracted by the second episode being absolutely fabulous, by which I mean Martin was so fabulous I spent the next week like, "Yep, that's MY Imaginary Husband, he's awesome." And the third episode was equivalent of watching any other episode of the show, so the grand average works out okay.
  10. -(tie) Sing/Trolls: Both of these are cases of me being pleasantly surprised, after having to listen to my daughter play the (unimpressive to annoying) trailers on YouTube over and over for months, only to discover the movies themselves were both well-written and enjoyable, with actually-pretty-good soundtracks. So okay, Maddie, thanks for making me watch with you.

Okay, 3 P.S.es I watched while I was writing this, so I'm not going to try to fit them into the countdown and mess up my nice lists. I actually watched a lot of things that didn't make the list at all, but these three were all so good that they probably WOULD have made the top ten but I'm not going to attempt to figure out where:
  • Like I said, The Case of the Gilded Lily: you GUYS, I couldn't just have that link open above and seriously expect myself to wait until after the new year just so I wouldn't mess up this LIST, when I had a spare 40 minutes and it was CALLING to me. This is the mocku-noir the Poe Party team made, and it is further full of hilarity. These folks are geniuses, somebody make them famous beyond the internet already.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2: we watched on Netflix Friday night while the kids were at their grandparents. I, naturally, most appreciated the on-point use of classic rock music-- even that UGHHHH "Brandy" I hate that song so friggin' much, but I have to admit it was USED excellently (and actually sort of highlights some of what makes the song so disgusting). Did I mention the on-point use of music was one of the things I loved so much about Legion, too? Okay, enough.
  • Then, as promised, we finally squeezed in a matinee of The Last Jedi Saturday afternoon, and the theme of on-point music cues continues, because I'm pretty sure John Williams was the main reason I cried for the whole last like twenty minutes or something. When the moment, I'll avoid spoilers but I'll just say, my favorite original trilogy theme to play on the piano started up, I couldn't hold back the eye water, and more original trilogy themes from that point on kept me suitably moved. Not to mention a moment in the credits, likewise. WHAT WILL WE DO WITHOUT CARRIE, PEOPLE. It's been a year and I still cry when I think about her. Ahem anyway, the movie was absurdly long and could probably have done with some trimming up, but that's the only negative I have to say about it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  • EDIT FOR POSTERITY: This happened:
I don't have a music list this year because I can't think of anything to put on it. So, moving on:

THE CHRISTMAS LOOT ROUNDUP
:
 
Top 5 Presents I Gave:
  1. Homemade Blankie Tails: I've wanted to do something with all my scrap fleece for ages, and I saw those Mermaid Tail Blankets and was like, yeah, Maddie has a mermaid thing, and both kids love to cocoon themselves in blankets to the point they wear their sleeping bags out. Sam's not so much of a mermaid dude, and I'd seen a lot of "boys' versions" that made it look like a shark was eating you instead, but that didn't seem very Sam, either. Then I remembered the inflatable blue orca they liked to take to the pool, and thought Sam would love to be TOTALLY INSIDE an orca, with the head as like a hood? Both of these took longer to make than I thought they would, but the kids assure me it was totally worth it. Here is them sleeping snuggly: kids in blanket tails 
  2. This Freakin' Rainbow Alpaca Maddie had an excessive Amazon wishlist, and on it was this "rainbow alpaca" that was one of those one-cent-plus-shipping-from-someplace-in-China things, and I was like what the heck, we'll throw that in, and I was expecting it to be like Beanie Boo size but it's like a foot and a half tall, and it came after the other things, so I wasn't sure how to wrap it, so I just set it under the tree looking cute. Then Christmas morning I hear Maddie squealing "OMIGODOMIGODOMIGOD" and I'm like, what on earth is causing THAT reaction. And it was this alpaca! She apparently did not even know how badly she wanted it until she saw it live, and now it's her best friend and lover and goes with her wherever she goes. WHO KNEW. with rainbow alpaca in the car
  3. The MP3 Player: Maddie has been stealing my phone to look up videos of songs she likes, and I'm thinking, when I was her age I had a boom box and cassette tapes of my favorite songs. What would be the equivalent nowadays? Now, earlier in the year I had bought myself a cheap mp3 player, but I kept forgetting it existed, so I thought, maybe that would be better for Maddie for her own music collection. I started that collection by going through my own collection for songs I knew she loved or thought she would like at least, then I added some more I never would have added for myself, mostly through Freegal, things like the soundtracks to Trolls and the My Little Pony Movie. I also borrowed some old Disney soundtracks from my parents to add, and purchased the soundtracks to Frozen and Moana. Speaking of music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, I even left "The Room Where It Happens" on there just to be obnoxious (she thinks Hamilton is annoying), and she STILL thinks Santa Claus was the one who curated that mix, not her former deejay mom. ;) According to Maddie, her favorite gifts from Santa are this and the alpaca, and her favorite gifts from ME are the mermaid tail and the doughnut sweatshirt I made her.
  4. A New Mattress: Sam sleeps in Jason's childhood bed-- his whole childhood bed, including 40-year-old mattress. So Sam has actually been asking, quite awhile, for a new mattress to help him sleep better, and hey, I'm all for that, since he's always a nicer kid when he gets enough sleep. I thought it would be kind of fun to see a gift as big as a mattress under the tree Christmas morning, but as it is, mattresses actually get delivered super-vacuum-packed. Though that's still a pretty big package: Sam opening a mattress box wrapped in a sheet As not-a-toy as that present is, he was very happy with it: Sam and Maddie try out new mattress
  5. Matching Reindeer Sweatshirts: I wasn't sure what to get my Dad or brother, then I wondered if there were any cute Christmas fleeces at JoAnn's that I could turn into festive sweatshirts. I found a pre-cut "blanket" swatch with reindeer and snowflakes, that was "2.5 yds" long but I don't even know how wide. When I cut it out I realized I had a lot of extra fabric, so I also made a festive sweatshirt for Jason and Sam, and STILL had enough scraps left for a slightly different style of sweatshirt for Maddie. You know what we forgot to do, though? Get a picture on Christmas Eve with EVERYONE wearing their reindeer sweatshirts. Here's my dad though: Dad in reindeer sweatshirt
BONUS: Cthulhu Cthulhu
 

Top 5 Presents I Got:
  1.  A Storage Cabinet: I have a large pile of fabric in the corner of my bedroom. I'd love an easy way to access/organize it and yet keep it out of the way, so I put a random storage thing that would do the job on my Amazon list. But my mother-in-law found a proper cherry-wood-looking-at-least cabinet with shelves inside. It is currently still unassembled on the floor of their living room, because it won't fit in our car to transport it, so we need to wait until J's dad can use his truck to bring it. But it WILL definitely come in useful.
  2. Jo-Ann Gift Cards, obvs: So I can buy more fabric to no longer leave in a pile in the corner.
  3. ...in a cute little BB-8 tin: My sister gave me her JoAnn card in this very cute little tin (I think that's the one, though the size listed seems small). There was also candy in the tin, so bonus.
  4.  Pretty wrap cardigan: Quick selfie: me in wrap cardigan It's from my parents and it exactly matched the skirt I was wearing Christmas Eve, except the shirt I was wearing was too bulky for me to put this on top of it.
  5.  Books: Got the aforementioned Betsy Bird's scandalous history of children's lit; the two illustrated Harry Potter editions I didn't yet have, a Muppet coloring book and... I think that's it, in the way of books. 
To be honest, I didn't really get much this year. 
 

Top Presents Other People Gave Other People:
  1. Thomas: We're trying to convince Sam to part with his huge Thomas Trackmaster collection, if only because he never plays with it anymore and it takes up a lot of space. The BEST way of course is if he gives it to his little cousin, who has just started getting into trains-- that way it's still in the family, and if someday the cousin no longer wants it, he can give it back to Sam. It was hard, but he started with one box that he filled with some tracks, a tunnel, and one Thomas engine with cars. The little cousin LOVED it, and Sam felt a little better about giving it. L with Thomas
  2. Switch: Sam, meanwhile, wanted one thing for Christmas: a Nintendo Switch. We were NOT going to freaking get him a Nintendo Switch. But his Grammy said, That's all right, I'LL get it for him, so, well then. He was definitely... pleased puts it mildly.
  3. VR headset: This was sort of for me in that it was for the whole family. My parents must have found a deal somewhere. We had some trouble finding an app that would work with my phone, but the kids are getting the knack of it a lot faster than I am.
  4. Karaoke machine: This might also be a terrible gift, depending how you look at it. But it's a really cool little karaoke machine, with colored lights and everything. It was from my parents to my kids.
  5. Doughnut mold: My sister had these on her wishlist, silicone doughnut baking molds. I nearly got them for her myself, but I'd found too much else for her. So my brother got them for her, instead. Maddie is totally jealous.
 

OTHER POSTS I WROTE THAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO REVISIT
:

I linked to a lot of the posts I wrote this year throughout this roundup. You're encouraged to click through and read them to enhance your understanding of what I've written in this post! But here are the top ones I HAVEN'T mentioned:

Technically the Top Five Other Posts I Wrote On This Blog, But That's Nearly ALL The Other Posts I Wrote On This Blog, Because I've Been Busy Writing a GeekMom Article Every Week:
  1. "Mission Statement of an Information Scientist": Librarians are rebels, yo.
  2. "Truth vs. the Stories We Tell Ourselves": me kind of working up to that later post
  3. "A Note About Invisible Racism (for Fellow White People)": painful observations I made of a library patron and her family. BTW, the little girl now goes to the same daycare I read The Polar Express to the other week, see above. She's really tickled that I come to her school but she already knows me from coming to the library.
  4. "Political/Fictional Parallels": in which I notice that a piece of writing I've mostly given up on still has a lot of very relevant things to say about real life.
  5. "More on Racism and Fascism": Because I've got something to SAY, thanks.

Top 5 Other Posts on GeekMom This Year, I Think. I think they're the Top 5, I mean. I KNOW they were on GeekMom this year.
  1. "Am I Different? On Claiming Identities": I did a lot of writing on labels and identity this year, but this is the post that kind of sums everything up.
  2. "How We Did Our Minecraft Birthday Party": Sam's birthday didn't make my list of notable real life events above, but it probably could have.
  3. "What Are Your Movie Adaptation Non-Negotiables?": The Wrinkle In Time trailer had the nerve to come out the day after my gallbladder surgery. I had so much to say but I couldn't sit at my computer to type it! Somehow over the next week I managed to pull this together!
  4. "A Beginner's Guide to Grocery Store Gifting": "Hey," somebody suggested on the GeekMom Slack, "how about instead of trying to put together typical gift guides, everyone picks a specialized topic to do a gift guide on instead?" What specialized topic could I offer, books? Heh. But suddenly I thought of this thing I do almost without thinking, and I put my name down for doing it before I could stop myself, and I kept writing it in my head, though while I was typing it on the computer I was like, "This is so obvious, why would anyone care?" On the contrary, it seemed to really resonate with a lot of people. 
  5. "How Deep Is Your Geek?" Another one that really seemed to resonate with people.
     
 
 
 
So, feel free to discuss any of this stuff with me, please!

rockinlibrarian: (Default)
 Good morning! I'm at work. This is not technically work, but I can't focus on anything, so no work is getting done here anyway unless I do something about my focus issues, and I know what that something is-- I need to WRITE. Not write anything in particular. Just journal. I seem to have misplaced my private paper journal, but I don't think writing in a paper journal at the reference desk will really work out anyway, so I'm typing instead. Obviously if someone needs my help, I am here and available and ready for the interruption, it's just instead of reading book reviews or outlining future programs, I'm freetyping in effort to get my brain sorted.

I've been reading this book about ADHD-- Healing ADD: The Breakthrough Program that Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD by Daniel G. Amen-- my aunt with ADHD sent me an article about his theories that was quite intriguing: obviously Jason and Maddie exemplify classic ADHD, his Type 1 (although using the numbers always confuses me because my first thought is Enneatypes, and in Enneatypes Jason is a Counterphobic Type 6 and Maddie is probably a Type 4 if not a Type 7, hard to say at this stage in her life and it's possible the 7ish traits are just, in fact, her ADHD, but anywho), and I'm a lovely why-didn't-we-see-this-years-ago portrait of Type 2 Inattentive Type, but Sammy, the one having the most problems with it right now, seems to be his Type 3,* Overfocused ADD. So it's interesting to read about not only how the different types present themselves but also how they also require slightly different courses of treatment.

Except all types-- well, all three of OUR types at least-- do best on a high-protein, low-simple-carbs diet, which explains why I felt so much better so quickly on Weight Watchers; but darnit I LOVE my simple carbs! And it was just Halloween so simple carbs abound! And Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming to bring me more! ...but anyway. So, as if it wasn't hard enough to feed this picky family.

Actually it's always driven me nuts that my daughter, who otherwise isn't THAT picky, doesn't like tomato sauce, when spaghetti is my number one comfort-food-quick-and-easy-dinner-favorite. AS IT TURNS OUT, though, we've been tracking down this apparent stomach issue she's had for awhile that seems to have gotten worse since the start of the school year. And we haven't officially got it labelled as such yet, but at present it SEEMS to be abdominal migraines, and they SEEM to be triggered by...wait for it... tomato products. IT ALL BECOMES CLEAR. Meanwhile, her EXTREMELY picky brother only likes about five different meals, three of which involve tomato sauce. If we all had to live on the meals everyone in the family can and/or will eat, it would be nothing but mac and cheese. Day in, day out. Unless we add in, like, pancakes. I suppose we could also live on pancakes. But those aren't exactly high in protein OR low in simple carbs. 

Anyway but that wasn't what I originally was going to talk about. Have I mentioned I have ADD? :P No, he also pointed out that it's extremely common for people with ADHD of some type to have trouble getting their thoughts on paper, with learning disabilities in various forms of dyslexia abounding-- there's Jason for you. Maddie seems to have a bit of slight dysgraphia, too, not as bad as Jason, but she does tend toward out-of-proportion spelling errors and a lot of letter flipping. And all four of us have terrible handwriting. BUT of course, I work opposite. The connection between my brain and MOUTH is the one that's troublesome, and it's in WRITING that I'm able to spout out all the unconnected garbage that comes to mind. He said in the book though that this does seem to occur sometimes in a type of ADD that is otherwise CLEARLY NOT me-- hah! I don't have the book with me right now to give you specifics, but yeah.

Anyway, this book is not perfect. I don't particularly like his negativity toward ADHD-- he definitely frames it as a neurological disorder rather than a neurological divergence-- which sounds like a small issue of terminology, but when you're reading it you kind of feel like "YES, it's giving me problems, but it also gives me some unique skills and perspectives! Stop calling me broken!" Okay, yes, my brain is not working properly, but still, it's just the tone. He's also pretty braggy. OUR special tests, MY special supplements, etc. etc. Also, for someone who claims not to have ADHD himself, he repeats himself a lot, like he wrote it on Scrivener and kind of dumped his notes into various chapter folders where they might apply, then wrote each chapter separately and compiled them all without looking over the whole thing to realize he kept reusing stuff. But that's just me reviewing the book as a whole, as sort of evidence why I don't buy everything in it, to explain why he's a bit wrong here.

And he's not so much wrong, as just, well-- just because you've got seven different types identified and acknowledge they all get treated differently, people STILL aren't cookie cutter examples within those types, of course! In MY brain, the words just want to come out through writing!

I always called it Writeritis as a kid. My brain just got so swollen with words and stories that I had to write it all down, stat. Over time I came to realize that this was a way of organizing my brain. As a kid I just figured it was evidence that I was a WRITER, thank you. It's what I do! 

One thing I definitely learned from this book which was surprising but SO CLARIFYING, is that when people with ADD try to concentrate, it actually makes them concentrate WORSE. Like, physically. They've mapped the brainwaves of people and determined this. That's why it's so HARD to concentrate, because TRYING to concentrate is what ruins your concentration! That's why kids like Maddie and I didn't/don't have the red lights going off in school that makes teachers say "Whoa, problem here, get this kid an IEP!" because we were/are interested in learning things and so don't HAVE to make ourselves pay attention in school for the most part, so we just DO... until, for example, I got to 10th grade geometry, and my brain just turned OFF the moment my teacher started talking. I always blamed her voice. I said she talked in a monoclip-- too fast for a monotone, but equally boring. I just COULD. NOT. pay attention to it. Now I know it wasn't so much her, but me. Yeah, she was boring. But I wasn't exaggerating by saying I COULD. NOT. pay attention. I LITERALLY WAS INCAPABLE of paying attention, and decided I hated math until I took college courses on how to teach elementary school math, and they were totally fun, and since I didn't have to WORK at paying attention, I COULD again. And Maddie can whip off her homework in no time, but when it starts to build up-- like, she keeps missing school because of abdominal migraines-- then suddenly the same homework becomes excruciating torture that lasts all evening, just because there was a little more of it.

So I understand a little more why writing fiction when I was younger was so much easier. BECAUSE I WASN'T TRYING. I was just doing it because I felt like it. But when I freak out about the fact that I CAN'T, or don't have TIME, or don't have IDEAS, trying just makes me LESS ABLE TO, and it spirals down into this DECADE LONG BLOCK.  But the last time I wrote any good fiction-- the Pipeweed Mafia Stories-- I could because I was just playing around. Which also explains why FINISHING writing is so difficult, because then I have that GOAL in mind, so I start TRYING, and then my brain turns off. WHAT THE HECK.

Okay, I have to go eat lunch now. I've got a very low-carb frozen meal awaiting me. Let's see what happens after this.

*In Enneatypes, not to confuse the issue, of course you know I'm a textbook Type 9—an extremely attractive type for someone whose brain is wired as Inattentive ADD in fact— and Sam's a Type 6 like his dad, but much less counterphobic. I like Enneatypes! But they're much more about psychological philosophy than actual brainwiring, and this book is talking about actual brainwiring, so I'll shut up about it.
rockinlibrarian: (voldemart)
I was talking politics with my mom the other day (it's nice having an in-real-life person who agrees with you politically to talk to sometimes), and I mentioned this really interesting blog post I'd read a few months back that unfortunately I CANNOT find now. Sorry. I really wanted to link you to it. It's about how this president—at the time of the article he was president-elect or even just a candidate, I'm not sure—uses language. The article posed that it wasn't so much that he is a pathological liar as much as he's using—I think this was the term—prescriptive language in situations when most people would use (and would assume he is using) descriptive language. Descriptive language describes reality as it is (or as it at least appears to be). Prescriptive language describes reality as the user intends it to be. For example, "You're fired!" The phrase isn't true until it is said, then saying it makes it true. That's an obviously iconic example of how he's used to using this sort of language, but think about it—he's a spoiled rich kid who could get whatever he wanted, with a major entitlement complex—he's USED to whatever he says being granted, or at least, that the making of whatever he says happen is other people's problem. 

As I told her about this, I remembered how some of his original supporters liked how he was a businessman-instead-of-a-politician, so he would "run the government like a business." Right, the kind of business where the Boss is IN CHARGE and everyone must do exactly what he says. That's what they wanted? I guess that IS what they wanted. And THAT made a scene pop into my head.

Shut up a minute, Star Wars prequel-haters, I'm not saying the acting and/or dialogue itself of this scene was fabulous or anything, but it DOES FIT here. You know the scene in Attack of the Clones when Anakin and Padme have been frolicking in the fields of Naboo and he starts teasing her about being a politician and she's like what is your problem with politicians, and he's like The system doesn't work, we need everyone to sit down and work out what's best for everybody and then just do it; and she's like But that's what we DO, it's just that people don't always agree on what the best thing is; and he's like well then somebody needs to MAKE everyone agree; and she's like Hold up you're crossing over into Dictatorship territory here; and he's like Well maybe that's what we need then; and then they go back to flirting as if he hadn't just admitted that he's totally someday going to be the Emperor's Right Hand Man and will totally kill hundreds of innocents to make it happen. 

So I'm like oh shoot, that's totally what happened, all these people are like Hey, a Dictatorship's fine and dandy if I AGREE with the Dictator. Let's give the Chancellor unfettered power because he'll TOTALLY make everything right in the galaxy again because he'll just MAKE it that way! Yay, everybody we disagree with just being TOLD WHAT TO DO! That could NEVER backfire!

...I mean it's not like people haven't totally glommed onto the Rebel Alliance as a symbol of resistance to all this or anything.

Meanwhile, the kids and I have made it to The Last Battle in our Narnia reading. Ugh, we're back to the problematic racist Calormene portrayals, which is ironic, because the real life parallels otherwise are very pro-Rebel Alliance, I mean Resistance. Eerily so, reinforcing that we seem to be living in an apocalyptic scenario. But look: we start out with Shift the Ape creating a False Aslan, which IMHO nicely describes certain prominent folks in the Religious Right preaching the "Prosperity Gospel" and linking the professed "Christian" culture with big business and exploitation of workers and destruction of the environment and other stuff the real Aslan would DEFINITELY NOT APPROVE OF (and omg the dwarfs who are all like "NEVER AGAIN" when they find out they've been had, are all those people driven away from the very idea of Christianity by the actions of these sort of Christians). And, ugh, that Shift, the way he gaslights poor Puzzle—I keep interrupting my own reading and saying to the kids "I REALLY do NOT LIKE this guy!" —personality-wise, and the more he gains power, the more he becomes Our Esteemed President in this scenario, to the point that he becomes the ineffectual puppet of sly Ginger the Cat—that'd be Bannon—and the Calormene general, who is definitely effectively Putin, looking to take over Narnia from the inside (yes, government. Calormen may LOOK like the Middle East, but get over your xenophobia/Islamophobia and look at the ACTUAL ACTIONS). I mean, dang. The Prophet Clive Staples Lewis says we're screwed, folks.

Oh, speaking of which, the end of The Magician's Nephew inspired some interesting/creepy conversations with the kids, too: talking about dying suns, and Maddie's like, "Will the Sun really DIE? Like our great-great-great-great grandkids won't have a sun anymore?" and I'm like, "The Sun will eventually die but not for billions of years, humans will probably die off from something else long before then," which just made the kids like, "WHAT? How could all the humans die?" and I'm like whoa I sat in it now, and said, "Well, like the dinosaurs died off. It could be something like an asteroid strike covering the sky with dust so the sun can't peek through so we can't get food, or it could be—" and then I realized I was heading into frighteningly relevant territory "—the climate just changes so much that it can't support human life anymore, or—" why on earth was I saying this out loud to my sensitive children, it just poured out of my mouth "—when he said that bit about humans discovering a horrible secret like The Deplorable Word that could wipe out all life? I'm pretty sure, since he wrote this right after WWII, he was hinting at nuclear weapons—" SHOOT I'm going to have to come up with a comforting spin on this somehow— but then I noticed the kids had actually stopped paying attention to my nihilistic rambling. But seriously folks. I saw a tweet the other day that was like "Hey, remember those couple of decades we DIDN'T think we were all going to die in a nuclear war? Good times." SIGH.

Anyway, last week I was writing my latest GeekMom article, about Labels vs Symptoms (btw, Megan, someone wrote a glowing response to your comment on that), and I was thinking about Billy (H)arrison's superpowered autistic tendencies and wanted to use some of "his" actual quotes on the matter, so I went into my files and scanned over my related writings, and, let me tell you, some of the plot of my book, which had seemed ridiculous when I wrote it, suddenly looked prophetic. Reading tweets about the president's rally in Florida this weekend made me tweet this, in a series of linked tweets copied here into an easier-to-read paragraph:

"There's a scene at a political rally that is just REALLY EERIE right now. Not to mention gaslighting and attempts to control the media. I don't think it will ever be good enough to officially publish, but I almost want to share it as-is now just to say 'READ WHAT I WROTE DECADES AGO! It was about an OVER-THE-TOP evil take-over-the-world plot! OVER-THE-TOP, I say!' Do you think it would be a bad move to self-publish something I don't think is perfect or up to traditional publishing standards just because I want to share some of the scenes NOW? I mean, it's as good as or better than a lot of fan fiction that's out there. It just doesn't have a built-in audience. (The fact that it has Real Person George Harrison fanfic in its backstory is not obvious in text). But I'm not trying to sell it/get famous from it. I'm just like READ ABOUT THIS RIDICULOUS WORLD DOMINATION PLOT & TELL ME YOU DON'T SHIVER!"

Well, I had several people respond that they WOULD like to read it. I think the easiest way to do it, though, is just share the file (non-editable) right off the Dropbox it's already in.

So here, if I've done this correctly, is the link to Ian and Co, aka The Incredible Adventures of Four Teens Who Are More Than They Appear, aka The One With Billy 'Arrison In It. I'm pretty sure I have not given you permission to edit the document, but just in case, um, politely refrain from editing. And by "editing" I mean "changing the document itself" —I'm all FOR you leaving constructive criticism with the Comments feature or whatever. I'd love to hear your ideas! Keep in mind, if I ever do come back to these characters' stories, it may be ENTIRELY different. I already have a completely new beginning written which has Ian more of a marginally-more-innocent bystander in what ought to have been Billy's adventures, which is most likely how I will take it in the future (I said once that Ian is Watson to Billy's Holmes and that suddenly made the whole concept click into place better). But DANG is this Swish plot relevant NOW, which is why I'm sharing THIS edit as-is.

Now here's something I considered doing awhile ago, which is COMPLETELY OPTIONAL, mind you. But since I'm kind of self-publishing my book, above, there, and I've written other good stuff you might like, and we still need to replace our patio/retainment wall that fell down in the back last summer, if YOU would like to donate to the cause of ME WRITING STUFF, I've got here a nice PayPal.Me link: https://paypal.me/rockinlibrarian  So, whatever you think my book is worth to you, go ahead and pay for it here! If not, don't! I probably wouldn't because I'm cheap (but then again I might anyway if I really love it and am not currently broke—I guess I have done such things before). Because after all it isn't quite up to standard, but it's still pretty fun and I did take decades writing it!
rockinlibrarian: (portrait)
It’s time for the yearly roundup, and while 2016 is pretty universally known to have been a pretty crappy year, it’s had its bright spots too. As I’ve done for the past few years, I’ve rounded up events and reviews into Top Five lists for your perusal. It makes for a long post, but I’d love for you to read it, and chime in with comments on anything you see that you agree with, disagree with, or feel enlightened by, because I do these things to talk to people, you know.

Cut for length and pictures )
So yay! I hope you've stuck with me through this long, long post! Drop me a comment!
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
So, unlike people living in Bubbles of Blue, I was not shocked. Disappointed, absolutely, but not surprised. So why did it hurt so much? Why was I crying? Why have I been unable to shake off the tears that keep coming all day?

I mean, there's the usual. The stuff I've already explained, about why I was voting the way I did in the first place. I want to thank those who voted differently but acknowledge that they're not necessarily happy about it, or who even, plain, don't gloat at all, because for some of us this IS genuinely not just a matter of the-one-we-liked-lost, but the-one-who-won-gives-us-literal-panic-attacks-and-it's-going-to-be-rough-for-us-to-watch-the-news-for-the-next-four-years.

But as I tried to explain to the kids, doing a very bad job because my own emotions belied every "it's going to be all right" I said, it's not like the world is suddenly going to erupt into nuclear war this afternoon.

Besides, WE are lucky. WE don't have to deal with systematic racism. OTHERS are much more directly fearing for their lives.

I began to get the sense that there was something slightly selfish about my grief. It felt so personal, like I wanted to shout "But look what you've done to ME!" at everyone who voted. What HAD they done to me? Voted for a guy who triggers my bully-anxiety, so what, it's not like my health care or marriage legality or right to freakin' live in this country is in danger. Sure I could TRY to nobly insist it was all alturistic, that I really felt so bad for EVERYONE ELSE, but no-- I mean, yes, I DO feel bad-- but no, this personal grief IS INDEED personal. What bugged me so much?

Eventually I unearthed it. It's because I always started crying harder when I read inspiring messages like this:










And most notably, this:


Because THAT is one of my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE QUOTES OF ALL TIME. I was keeping a quote book when I first read Fellowship, and at that I'd jumped up and ran to grab the dang thing because I needed to write that one down. It hit me hard in the chest this morning, like J.R.R. Tolkien had taken me by the shoulders, given me a little shake, and said, "How could you have forgotten what I told you?!"

"I'm sorry, Professor. I hear you. I hear the others. I'm just having a really hard time believing you right now."

WHO NEEDS MY VOICE. I worried for ages that my voice is useless because I'm too Privileged, because I'm not from a population that's been historically silenced. Ah, but then I found it again. I found it not enough to feel that I had any FICTIONAL stories worth telling, but I at least had, not just the right, but the DUTY, to speak up for those who AREN'T as privileged as me. So I started getting political. I started getting BRAVE. I started making statement after statement and long essay after long essay.

And I voted. Because Every Vote Counts.

Yeah, but I look at the returns for my county, and although it was obvious from the signs along the road, it just felt disheartening to see that MY vote, in my county, had been outnumbered two to one.

And I thought about my essays. My impassioned pleas here and on Twitter and Facebook, and the time last week I finally absolutely BLEW UP at my husband for his continued insistence that both candidates were awful so he'd stick with the one who "wouldn't take away [his] guns." And I thought, did it even matter?

Who even reads what I write except people who already agree with me? Who even CONSIDERS what I have to say? WHOSE MINDS HAVE I CHANGED by writing these things? Nobody. Nobody cares. I have no effect. I've failed.

Writing has failed.

So I had a well-timed counseling appointment this afternoon. By that time I'd pinpointed this problem, this stupid selfish thing that was upsetting me. As I said last time, my therapist was unsurprised by my general anxiety about the thing because that was going AROUND in her office. "What can help you from getting stuck here, though?" she asked. "What are you going to do in your own life? What do you have control over?"

She was paraphrasing Gandalf. I smiled.

But my eyes teared up again. "It's just that nothing ever changes. No one listens to me. I spoke, but I didn't change anyone's mind."

"Maybe you've got the wrong goal. Maybe you're going to fail if you go into it thinking, 'This one beautiful essay will CHANGE PEOPLE'S MINDS.' That starts to sound kind of nasty, actually, wanting to CONTROL WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK, you know?" She looked hard at me. "Instead, make the goal to be strong in your own beliefs. Believe in yourself enough to put your beliefs out there. You've done that. You've made something beautiful. It may seem like a small drop, but it's something. A small drop still makes waves.

"Besides, no great social movement happened overnight. Do you think it took just one pamphlet to win women the right to vote? Did Martin Luther King go out and make one beautiful speech and suddenly win equality for all? I bet all the great leaders had days where they came home, said to their families, 'Why do I bother? No one is listening.'

"But what did all those great heroes have in common?"

I grinned sheepishly, because again J.R.R. Tolkien supplied the answer, popping immediately into my head:


Why SHOULDN'T that answer have been ready in my head? I NAMED MY SON AFTER THIS GUY BECAUSE OF THIS SPEECH.

Heroes have lots of chances to turn back, but they don't. That's all. That's what makes a hero.

I could actually feel light seeping back into the wrinkles of my brain, sitting there. I started to believe in the inspirational messages again.

"So, what are you going to do now, so you don't slip back into that stagnant water?" she asked me at the end of our session. "What action are you ready to take, to keep things moving?"

"I--" I started to laugh. "...I actually want to write about it."

The Lone Power is always trying to get me to SHUT UP, one way or another. I've said it before and I'll say it again, because over and over It feeds me excuse after excuse, why I should just give it all up, stop trying to write, stop trying to be heard. It's always something new, but it's always the same in the end: "SHUT UP, AMY, NO ONE NEEDS YOUR OPINION." And it always results in entropy taking over, which is how I KNOW it's the Lone Power's doing.* You'd think I'd be able to catch It in the act quicker now. You'd think I'd recognize it sooner. But I guess that's how It works.

I need the reminders, every so often, that the only thing that makes a hero different from everyone else is that they don't turn back.

Don't. Give. Up.


*God bless you, Diane Duane, I don't know how you so deeply infiltrated my own personal theology, but it sure is handy for expressing my dilemma.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
YOU GUYS. Remember when LiveJournal was actually social media and new Harry Potter books were coming out and we'd just DISCUSS THEM excitedly RIGHT HERE as we finished reading?

That was a decade-ish ago. Since then I've learned to Blog Properly, and have networked with loads of Librarian-types, or have made online friends with just various cool people I haven't actually met. (Since then also my baby has gotten quite grown as has his sister who wasn't even conceived yet). I've gotten into the habit of Writing Reviews, in which I DO in fact go on about my feelings about a work or whatever, but what I write can better be described as a typed book talk: "Here's this book, here's why you might want to read it! No spoilers, no discussion, I'm just RECOMMENDING!"

When I finished reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child --The Script, I felt curiously incomplete. Well, partially because I have not yet fully experienced the story by seeing it performed. But also because I felt "Okay, I've finished, now I need to frantically post to all my friends who are also probably finishing about now! Right? That's... that's how reading these works."

...it's different now, a decade later. A lot of us have kids, which means me reading this three days after its release was actually EARLY, not late, and who knows who else has managed to get to it yet. And online, I have followers. Loads of people I don't actually know, who keep expecting me to write brilliant things instead of just chat. We speak a language of reviews. We carefully avoid spoilers. We don't just spill our thoughts.

BUT I WANT A SPACE FOR THAT AGAIN!

Anyway, here is my Spoiler-Free Response post. Those of you who want to hash things out in more spoilerific detail, use the comments section right here on LiveJournal, rather than on Facebook or Twitter or whatever-- that keeps the discussion all in one place and, ironically, makes it harder for people to stumble upon spoilers, because the comments aren't just OUT THERE like they are on Facebook or whatever. You do not need a LiveJournal account to comment-- you can log in with another type of account or just do it as Anonymous (but please sign your name)-- Anonymous comments won't show up right away but I DO get notified and I WILL put them up eventually. Anyway.

Make no mistake, this is a SCRIPT. Reading it is not magical like seeing it performed would be, or even like reading a book that's actually crafted to be your whole experience is. It's a placeholder, a consolation for those of us who CAN'T see the show on stage, so that we don't miss out on the story itself. But you can tell that this really is just an OUTLINE of the experience. This is meant to be viewed on a stage-- that's how the story is crafted. You really aren't getting the whole experience just reading the script.

But that never stopped anybody reading Shakespeare.

I saw in passing a tweet in which somebody said somebody ELSE had called it fanfiction, which IS technically not true, but I can see where the thought might be coming from. After all, some theater guys did the actual WRITING.* It's just Jo Rowling helped shape the story, making the story, therefore, canonical. But there are lots of reminders and callbacks to things in the books that may just be reminders but also kind of feel like jumping-off points actual fanfic writers MIGHT use. And, being written almost a decade on, it kind of takes the part of-- what's the word, fanfic people? "Corrective" fic? Something that rolls off the tongue better? Anyway, that-- it's able to fix some of the problems the original series had. Notably, we get our first actually likable and heroic Slytherin House characters. (In fact, if you'd told me ahead of time who my favorite new character would be? ...well, didn't see that coming). And yes, they're ambitious and cunning without being evil or snobbish!

We also get to play around with AUs a little bit for those people who weren't always sure about Granger-Weasley marriage concept, and we get FURTHER SATISFACTION THAT RON/HERMIONE IS INDEED THE BRIGHTEST TIMELINE for those of us who are still passionate shippers after all these years. That wasn't a spoiler. THAT WAS MY HIGHLY OPINIONATED TRUTH. ...it was LOVELY to see them together as adults, their ever-beautiful chemistry still melting my heart after all these years. I liked the reminder that they really are one of my absolute favorite fictional couples ever. SO SUE ME.

It's scary. I was surprised how scary it could be simply reading the script-- imagine seeing it in the theater! The stakes get high and they get there fast-- "this is happening in only Act Two? Of Four Acts? Only the BEGINNING of Act Two at that?!"

There are twists and turns you don't see coming. It's just plain fun.

When I finished I had to go look at production pictures. I know, that sounds funny-- I can read BOOKS without pictures just FINE. But it was strangely comforting to see some of the scenes I'd read, like, "oh good, they DID complete this script by performing it, PHEW!" And, just reading about grown-up Harry, and then SEEING grown-up Harry... it was just good to see him there, you know? I kept staring at him. "That's Harry Potter, grown up." Now, I see Daniel Radcliffe as a grown-up and I go "aw, look how well he grew up!" but I don't actually think of him as HARRY grown up. THIS is Harry grown up, and it's just nice dangit.

I guess I'll stop there. Chat in the comments if you like!

*Just like an old-fashioned LiveJournal journal entry, I'm not bothering to look up their names for accuracy because I don't actually CARE. It's not like you won't be able to FIND it.
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
Today is Billy 'Arrison's birthday. It's a thing I still say that only makes sense to a few of my friends now, but still when I see any other references to any other aspect of Geek Pride Day, asking me where's my towel or my lilac or arguing over whether the day has anything to do with Star Wars or not (look, I'm a Star Wars fanatic, but we already have May the Fourth AND a Saturday in October for Star Wars Reads AND nowadays most of December as new movies keep coming out, so we really don't have to claim any more)-- anyway, fan as I am of all those things, I still want to say "...but none as important as BILLY 'ARRISON'S BIRTHDAY," even though it ought not to mean anything even to ME anymore.

Because it DOES still mean something to me. even if I said I've given up trying to give him a story. May the 25th rolls around and I realize I can't ever give up on him. And in the meanwhile, have you noticed, the superhero genre has become more prominent in prose fiction in the past couple years? Both the big comic publishers have licensed their characters out to prose writers lately, and that's not even counting all the stand-alone books about original superheroes like my Billy. And I realize how many of my favorite shows and movies are superhero related and every so often I'll go, "Hey, there's a genre I'd feel comfortable writing in, the superhero genre," and then sometimes it doesn't even hit me then that I'VE TOTALLY WRITTEN IN THAT GENRE BEFORE and my favorite character I've ever created not-counting-D&D-characters* is a superhero.

And then I'll see discussion of superheroes and start to say, "Oh yes, that's why Billy... um, sorry, I keep forgetting nobody knows who Billy is." Today, in fact, on his birthday, the comics fans on social media were talking passionately-yet-vaguely about various developments, none of which I really got any actual idea of but that doesn't matter because that's not what I'm talking about. What I AM talking about was what I saw someone said about different perceptions of what superheroes are FOR. For some, the focus is on "HERO," for others, on "SUPER" (as in superPOWERS). It made me think about the old Marvel vs. DC argument, which I'll admit that I'm on Team Marvel even though I don't read comics, because I find the characters more interesting (and my favorite TV show ever DANGIT ABC revolves around a Marvel character who was little more than a passing reference to a one-time girlfriend in the comics, but anyhoo INDEFINITE HIATUS NOT A CANCELLATION NEVER SAY NEVER) *AHEM* what was I talking about? Right, the old Marvel vs. DC thing. The idea being that DC characters were more Other, like, superheroes as a whole different breed, whereas Marvel characters were more like people who had to deal with superpowers on top of being people, that's all. And that's KIND of what the guy on Twitter was saying, some more HERO, some more SUPER, but on the other hand...

...How do I put this? He was referring more to the purity of heroics vs. dark and edgy anti-heroes (which in the movie universe, Marvel and DC kind of flipped their old stereotypes haven't they? Deadpool doesn't count). But I prefer my superheroes somewhere in the middle. I prefer them not to be the infallible demigods but the regular people who happen to have superpowers instead. But on the other hand, I DO prefer those people to be heroic, not antiheroes (well, except sometimes). I want them to be faulty people who TRY. I want to see what a regular person would DO if they had more power than the average person, and I'd like to see them make the right choices. Because with Great Power, as the saying goes, comes Great Responsibility.

Which brings us back to Billy. When he was very young and training himself to be a superhero, he patterned himself after Superman. But the older he got, becoming an awkward, nerdy teenager (albeit one with superpowers), the more drawn to Spider-Man he became. Here was another nerdy kid trying to figure out how to manage his Great Power. Superman PRETENDED to be a nerd so people wouldn't notice he was actually an all-powerful alien. Peter Parker WAS a nerd. With spider powers. And that's why Billy found comfort in him as a teenager. He needed a role model he had a CHANCE of emulating.

So I take this argument kind of personally, on Billy's behalf. Heroes can be faulty and still have good intentions. Supers can have powers and still have problems. It's what you DO with what you've got that matters, whether your powers involve flight and telekinesis or whether they're just a bit more experience, a bit more money, or a bit more opportunity.

In conclusion... I guess I should keep holding out for a new story for Billy after all.

*Her name is Coriander Lemongrass and she's a Kender if the campaign has Kender but if not she's just an ordinary Hobbitty halfling, and her class also changes depending on the campaign-- right now she's a "thief" because that was the only appropriate class open to her in this campaign, but usually she's had some sort of magic, too-- bard seems to be the best fit. The best thing is, when I pulled her out and dusted her off for this current campaign, after YEARS, I looked up and said in shock, "You know what? Cori is totally Maddie. I CREATED MADDIE BEFORE SHE WAS BORN." 
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
I touched on my personal problems with Lit Analysis in my last post (which, by the way, I have edited to include thoughts on Agent Carter's season finale, if you care), and as I continue to read a wide variety of opinions-expressed-as-truth about shows and books and etc, I thought it might make a good GeekMom post. So I pulled up something I'd written before about Lit Analysis to see if I could pull any of it for a new piece.

This had been one of a series of "memoirs" I'd written about my first years of college during my last year of college. Yeah. Kind of stretching the word "memoir" here but whatnot. As I read it I both laughed and cried. The bits and pieces I might use in an article would need a lot of reshaping to sound like a proper article, but I kind of want to share the whole thing as-is right now.

(I think I shared the one I wrote about my birthday once a long time ago, too. I'm going to go look for that! Oh, it was friends-locked because I used real names. I've un-friends-locked it due to like three people actually ever reading this while logged in on LiveJournal anymore. If anybody is called out by name in this who would not like to be, let me know!)

I'm not going to change or remove names in this one, either. Just shout at me if you think that should change. I've added a few notes and edits to clarify things for people who didn't know me in college, and taken out some chunks that are completely off-topic, but otherwise, I'm leaving it. I want to get other stuff done today!

And so I present to you "April 1997: The Trouble with Lit Analysis":

As written by me about 15 years ago! Not editing at all! So don't judge current me! Unless in a good way! )
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
This format worked really nicely last year, so I'll stick to something of the same:
Long and Full of Pictures )

When I was talking about the GeekMom thing with some relatives on Christmas Eve, I said kind of bashfully that I shouldn't let my writing confidence be affected so much by how many people read and respond, because writers write even if only for themselves, but a couple of them said, No, it makes sense, because while that might be so, a written work technically isn't complete until it has an audience, because it TAKES A READER. So please, indulge me, and chime in in the comments with your opinions on any or all of the things discussed here, because I like being heard!
rockinlibrarian: (beaker)
NOTE: I'm kind of unsure about my personal blog, now that I write on a MUCH LARGER PLATFORM over at GeekMom. I could kind of count on being mostly ignored here on my little corner of the internet, just talking to the few people who knew I was here, so I could just WHINE STUPIDLY to the universe every so often and no one would care. So I apologize. This is one of those whiny depressing unhelpful-to-anyone-else posts so if you're looking for something professional from me, this isn't it.

Well then, if you're still here, let's begin:

I couldn't figure out why I was getting depressed sitting at my desk in the library. I LOVE the library. I LOVE my job. Sure I have depression issues but I'm managing them and anyway it's just something about this desk that's weird. It's not all the time. It's not when I'm working on programs or booklists or specific orders or helping patrons (unless I'm already depressed, then my INTROVERSION kicks in). It's days like today, when I have to catch up with review reading and updating my Massive Spreadsheet Of New Books.

Right now I've got 1317 books on that list. 1317 books published for children through teens by a traditional publisher in the past two years that I HAVEN'T BOUGHT for the library yet, and considering I have just $37 dollars left in my teen budget for the year (at least I still have a thousand in children's) it's a good bet most of them WON'T get bought. But I'm thinking, "SO MANY BOOKS! WHY CAN'T WE HAVE ALL THE BOOKS?" And then I think how I'll never get around to reading most of the books I HAVE bought, let alone all the books from the past I haven't read, and all the ADULT books (as in, not children's or YA, not, like, "Adult"), period (disclaimer, I'm reading an adult book right now, the Bloggess's latest, Furiously Happy. But that's because I love her desperately and so have made the exception), and you add in self-published books and magazines and blogs and fanfiction, it's like SO MANY BOOKS! SO MANY WORDS! INFORMATION OVERLOAD! TOO MUCH TO READ!

And the blogs and other review sources I use, they've got me on the We Need Diverse Books train. Because we do. But we always hear how putting diverse characters in books is good and all, but when people who aren't that minority do it they usually do it wrong even when they're trying, so what we really need is diverse AUTHORS, and I'm as un-diverse as can be. Books have been full of mirrors for me FOREVER. Maybe that's why I got into books. A white straight American mainstream-Christian able-bodied cis-girl who dreams and reads in her happy middle-class home with both parents, OH GAH THAT'S LIKE EVERY CHILDRENS-YA BOOK IN HISTORY. Well, some writers will reassure me, you can't please everyone so just do the best you can adding diverse characters and accept that somebody might say "Hey, you portrayed that wrong!"

But it doesn't MATTER, because it will take a huge effort to get myself writing fiction again, and how can I ever feel like I can start when I see ALL THE BOOKS and I know IT'S NOT MY VOICE that people need?

It doesn't MATTER, because I have so much to fill my time as it is. I share books with children, maybe that's my part, I can connect all sorts of books with all sorts of children and I will give them the windows and mirrors they need to grow and THAT'S ALL I'M NEEDED FOR in the world of story. I write BLOGS occasionally, ARTICLES, and now I have an even bigger platform for my articles. I have my journal, where I can do the writing I need to do to keep my head on straight, just for me, which when people say "writers can't stop writing," THAT'S the thing I can't stop writing, just my journals. I don't have any STORIES I need to tell. And I have two children and a husband who feel I never give them enough attention, and a house that I KNOW I don't give enough attention, and I have my sewing projects, which have been my major outlet of creativity lately after library programming which is probably my BIGGEST outlet of creativity, to be honest.

I just DON'T NEED to write fiction. I have no stories pouring out of me, and nobody would need to hear them even if I did. There are too many books, and my voice isn't needed.

So why does this continual realization of basic fact make me so depressed.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
I've felt a bit of a fraud for a long while. I'm a children's librarian, you know. Part of my job description is "Encourage parents to read to their children because this will improve literacy, empathy, family dynamics, and their entire childhood!" There's a poster on the Youth Services office door of a Mafia-looking baby demanding "Read to me 20 minutes a day or I'll tell the librarians on you!" And reading aloud is one of my personal favorite things to do.

So why is it so hard to do with MY OWN KIDS?

I get jealous, reading online, other parents discussing all the chapter books they're reading as a family. Sometimes I think people DO go too far. When they're like "I'm going to read Harry Potter to my 4 year old now!" I'm like "NO. STOP. You're wasting it. Start with My Father's Dragon. Build UP for crying out loud! Sometimes age appropriateness has a point!" Besideswhich, people give up on picture books too fast. There are brilliant picture books that can really only be appreciated by school-aged kids instead of preschoolers, but everyone's in such a hurry to get to the chapter books that these get lost.

That's all true. But my kids could barely sit still for picture books, let alone chapter books. I DID start with My Father's Dragon, several years ago, when the girl was just a baby and so didn't get nearly as much out of it as her brother. We enjoyed that one. But the boy wasn't much into stories, really. He's a nonfiction reader-- give him a book about trains or Lego or Minecraft and he'll read for hours-- anything else, he's not interested. His sister enjoys stories more, but the same ones about her favorite characters over and over, and even more often she'd rather read what SHE calls "picture books," which are what I call photo albums. And that's great, too, she learns about her extended family and their history and her own past and it's every bit literacy-development.

But a CHAPTER BOOK? When there wasn't a picture on every page? How could they pay attention to that? They jumped around and talked through it so I couldn't read, and we'd try to pick up again a few nights later (a consistent reading schedule is hard, too, when I work until their bedtime several evenings a week) and neither could remember a thing that had happened before then.

When I said "hyperactive" in the title of this post, it wasn't hyperbole. They literally both have ADHD. They literally both CANNOT focus on one thing without interrupting with an unrelated thought, they both CANNOT sit still unless for some reason they're using my Nook and suddenly they're psychically shackled into place for hours without outside intervention. Maybe I was crazy to even THINK they could sit and listen to a long-form story.

So they're 8 1/2 and 6 1/2 now, and in the course of their lives we have completed only four short chapter books together: My Father's Dragon as previously mentioned, and Beverly Cleary's Mouse and the Motorcycle books. The last three I managed by reading during their bath, but since then they've been taking separate showers instead. And we've started and stopped several other Cleary books, and Lois Lowry's All About Sam because obviously, and my Internet friend Kate Coombs' very fun Runaway Princess books, and a lot of Disney fairy easy chapter books my daughter was REALLY EXCITED to check out of the library, but a few chapters in and we'd get distracted and not work our way back until the books were overdue or we'd entirely forgotten what happened and had to start again.

I was FAILING at this family read-aloud thing. How would I ever introduce them to my favorite childhood classics the way my mom had done for me? How would they DEVELOP PROPERLY without them?

But last week I was sorting a box of old paperbacks my parents had found in their house that hadn't managed to travel with me when I moved out because apparently my siblings felt they had a right to read them or something like that, and Maddie became fascinated with the cover of Edward Eager's Half Magic. "Can we read this one sometime?" she asked, and I said, "sure" in that offhand way that meant "Yes in that theoretical SOMETIME in which we read ANYTHING." But she kept asking, again while I was shelving the new-old books, and again when it WASN'T EVEN IN SIGHT. That's the most interested I've EVER seen her in a book that wasn't about Disney characters or My Little Pony. Somehow Katharine in half a suit of armor was nearly as good as a fancy princess!

So I grabbed it down and I sat deliberately in the room where her brother was playing, and we started to read, and by the end of the first chapter they were both asking questions. For the second chapter they both actually sat beside me for awhile, though there was bouncing involved and I occasionally had to stop reading to scold them down from walking behind me on the back edge of the couch. But that's all right-- they can't sit still, okay, but they WERE listening. When they interrupted, it was to DISCUSS THE STORY. If they were going to go off track, it was only to share what THEY would wish if they had a magic nickel. And that was the most I've EVER heard them engage with a chapter book.

Soon Maddie was coming up with all kinds of predictions and other theories, including the rather mind blowing observation that if she wished for two more magic nickels she'd get one more, or two total, and then if she wished BOTH coins would grant half the wish WHICH WOULD MAKE ONE WHOLE so she'd only need to make regular wishes from then on. And Sam? Sam was asking me to read to him.

HE NEVER ASKS ME TO READ TO HIM.

He'd rush to get ready in the morning so we'd have time to read before school! He'd get ready for bed without complaint to we could get on with reading! He'd even FOREGO MINECRAFT to read! What sorcery IS this?

Half magic, apparently.

They both started asking for a sequel even before we finished. Half Magic's the only one I have, in both my personal AND public libraries, but I got on the system's OPAC and ordered Knight's Castle from the next library over and it showed up the next day (that being today). Maybe this is the start of something. Maybe I WILL read them Harry Potter in a year or so and The Secret Garden next spring (that one has to be read in the spring), I'll read them Dahl now and try Cleary again, and eventually in a few more years we WILL sit down for a few months of Lord of the Rings so I can finally show Sam WHY he's named Sam, and THEN I will have succeeded at motherhood.

I hope.

But at least this was fun while it lasted.
rockinlibrarian: (rebecca)
Time and again I've mentioned how far away I've gotten from my two #1 childhood-- and adolescent and early adulthood and basically PRE-MOTHERHOOD-- hobbies, reading and writing. I guess I keep moaning about it because it gives me an identity crisis, that's how tightly BOOKS have been tied to WHO I AM my whole life. People STILL associate me with books. I'm always getting Facebook-tagged for something book-related, or someone reads/hears/sees something bookish and is like "I was thinking of you today." The tie is so strong that even POST-(the-beginning-of)-motherhood, at least six years post, my daughter was being tested on basic vocabulary in preschool, had to identify a book, and allegedly immediately volunteered "my mommy knows a lot about those," as soon as she had. Well, okay, I am a librarian, and people do associate librarians with books even if there's so much more to it than that. But beyond the library tie-in, when people say to me "YOU! You're the one who loves BOOKS!" part of me kind of blinks and feels like a fraud, because... maybe I really don't?

It's not true, though, that I don't. It's more like I avoid reading and writing because I'm a little terrified of them. Maybe it's BECAUSE they're so tied up in my identity. Maybe cause and effect is backward, and I'm terrified of reading and writing because I've been having an identity crisis. MAYBE IT'S ALL A GIANT COLE SLAW OF CAUSES AND EFFECTS CAUSING PSYCHIC INDIGESTION.

READING is a bit less traumatic. Okay, I used to read approximately one novel a day; whereas now I've managed to complete two novels in the past three months or so.* I still get excited when a new book by an author I love is coming out (which both those books naturally were), but whether I get around to READING them is something else. But it's not because I don't LIKE it anymore. I'm just afraid to start because it always happens: if I love it (and why bother if I don't?) I will eventually NOT PUT IT DOWN. I will not be able to manage being a Responsible Grownup while reading. Everything else will be shunted aside. It's my fatal flaw Inertia rearing its head again: if I start, I can't stop; if I stop, I can't start.

But once I stop, it's easy to trick myself into forgetting the magic. I'll read the internet for awhile-- quickly written bits and pieces of essays and opinions and comments, so my brain is swarming with words and ideas and opinions thrust on me by the masses and I'm like "JUST BE QUIET FOR A LITTLE BIT, WORDS! I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF WORDS TODAY!" But when I DO get sucked in to a REAL BOOK, a work of fiction, one that's been finely crafted by a master (because again, anymore I'm likely to only bother picking it up if it IS by someone I know is a master), I remember WHY, WHY I would bother to suck so many of these down in a sitting. THESE are words that unlock the imagination, let you experience a true alternate reality in the comfort of home.

So yesterday morning I woke up, having gotten to bed late because I'd gotten into the climax of that last book and couldn't stop until I finished, and my brain was telling stories to itself. Basically that's WHY people write, isn't it, because their brains won't stop telling stories. Anymore my brain does all its storytelling late at night when my inhibitions are turned off and I'm securely dreaming, but reading had apparently reminded my brain that I don't HAVE to stop dreaming when I wake up. But I'd already written this story. This was one of my former Works In Progress. I'm not sure when they officially STOPPED being Works in Progress, somewhere between 3 and 5 years back, but if you've been around long enough you might remember me blabbering about Ian Schafer-- or more likely, his superhero best friend Billy 'Arrison. Loved those kids. In the back of my head I always thought, "when am I finally going to give them a book worthy of them?" I got pretty far. I drafted a whole book during a correspondence course, and the instructor thought it had genuine promise. Still needed work. Rewrote the first few chapters a few times. Had one of those initial chapter rewrites critiqued by Bruce Coville at an SCBWI conference and he didn't hate it, which made my entire life for awhile. Decided to rewrite the whole thing from scratch with an entirely different opening chapter, which I wrote and then... I stopped. It just wasn't happening. I just wasn't happening.

But yesterday I woke up smiling as I watched the final showdown with the big bad playing out in my head again, and thought, "That was fun. I want to read that book again. Just as a reader." So I did.

Yeah, still needs work, if it is to be Publication-worthy, but I'm not sure it CAN be fixed. Maybe I've never been able to wrestle the plot into submission because it's not MEANT to be wrestled into submission. Maybe its technological confusion over whether it's the present day or the 1990s, or its insistence on being a middle-grade story with a 17-year-old protagonist, is just PART of it. Maybe it's all just silly fun. Maybe it's time to leave it be and move on. It was a great practice novel.

And I feel okay about that. I can let it be. I'll always have Billy and Ian and Hannie and Ashlynn even if nobody else does.

That said, it was also way better than I've given myself credit for. I mean I ENJOYED it as a reader, reading it now several years later when I haven't been thinking about it. I fell in love with those stupid teenagers and their awkward chemistry all over again. There was a lot of REALLY GOOD STUFF THERE. When I left it I only saw its insurmountable problems that would never find it a home with a publisher. But I haven't been trying to get it published for years. I haven't been trying to publish ANYTHING for years. I've just been trying to WRITE again.

...or BELIEVE in myself enough to even ATTEMPT to write again...

So this time I still saw the flaws, but I saw the good stuff too, and it was GREAT stuff. It Wasn't Half Bad. I did that. I wrote an entire book and the characters made me laugh and cry and the plot took some neat twists and there's these lovely little character-building details you'd almost miss and there's Overarching Themes and STUFF.

Oh, and here's the best part. I also found an even earlier draft. That, too, had some good stuff, but the latest draft was SIGNIFICANTLY BETTER. That means I can learn.

So I'm still too terrified to attempt to write something. I'm still swirling through this identity crisis thing. But-- there's one rope for me to hang onto, at least.

*BOOK REVIEWS HERE, for the interested:
The other month I read Elizabeth Wein's most recent of her books about young pilots in WWII, Black Dove White Raven. This one was not quite as devastating as the other two, but considering this one included a detailed mustard gas attack on a Red Cross hospital camp, that really just tells you something about how devastating the others were. The most interesting thing about this one is it takes place in Ethiopia, which, seriously, I know We Need Diverse Books makes me feel worthless as a writer, but as a READER, I'm like, DARN YOU Colonial Europe with your stories of Savages in Darkest Africa, why did you hide all this FASCINATING HISTORY from us?! Everytime I read a book set in Africa that is not starring animals or happening in Ancient Egypt, I feel this way, this TELL ME MORE, TELL ME ALL THIS STUFF NOBODY TOLD ME EXISTED! Specifically in this book, among other things, did you know Ethiopia had its own branch of Christianity dating back to the beginning, not through some colonial missionaries? Didn't you, like me, just think ALL the early Christian sects eventually were united under the Roman Empire, and then didn't separate again until the Orthodox churches broke off? NO DUDES, there was a completely DIFFERENT sect down in Ethiopia all along, and they have a big part in this book! How COOL is that? I DIDN'T KNOW THAT AND NOW I WANT TO KNOW ALL THE THINGS!

*AHEM*

The book I finished the other night was Frances Hardinge's Cuckoo Song. I never adored her Mosca Mye books as much as a lot of people, but The Lost Conspiracy blew my mind, so it was on the strength of that I decided to read this one. It was slow going for the first chapter or two, to be honest: our protagonist is very confused and has a lot of blanks in her memory, so it was a little hard to grab onto for a currently-sort-of-reading-averse person like me. But then I got through a whole bunch of chapters at one sitting that involved a lot of waiting, and then I couldn't wait to get back, and got more and more SUCKED IN as I went along. This is a very creepy book, creepiest at the beginning when you're not sure what's going on-- a well-read adult will figure out what basically had happened to our heroine long before she does, but it's still creepy, and it's twisty and full of delicious details and there are enough moments of triumph throughout that you're not bogged down by the horror, and, as in Hardinge's other books, the characters are all so layered that everyone spends some time feeling like a good guy OR a bad guy, except maybe the Very Big Bad, I don't remember him having ANY Good Guy time (okay, EDIT: I'll give him that his motives are extremely noble from a certain standpoint. He's just pretty awful how he goes about things).

Anyway, so me finishing a book is in-and-of-itself a thumbs-up from me (me write negative reviews? I would, but I DON'T FINISH THOSE BOOKS), but now you know that these two passed the test.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
Well, after a day and a half or two do you have any idea how long it took me to finally finish typing this up?!?!-- well, I STARTED typing after a day or two of severe stomach issues, when I finally felt comfortable enough to sit at my computer long enough to type,* which is about time, because my brain was all like "I need to type up these reviews! I can't start the next book until I type these up!" Which is kind of amazing when you know how much trouble I've had SITTING DOWN TO RELAX WITH A BOOK over the past 5 years. I think the key factor in this is Diana Wynne Jones. Because if anybody can capture my attention, she can. And it so happens to be #DWJMarch again over with Kristen M, so I said, "Okay, going to finally read Islands of Chaldea, then," which turns out to be an Official Read-along book, and then I ILL'd another of the official read-alouds, The Spellcoats, which I actually turned out to have won my own copy of yesterday. But meanwhile the ILL copy is here, and I've been sick, and reading is such a nice thing to do when you can't sit up. But I didn't want to confuse myself with having too many different DWJ stories floating in my head at once before I wrote out a response!

So first I'll discuss Islands of Chaldea so that all you folks only interested in #dwjmarch can cut out on me right after, but then there's a couple other stories (both paper and film) I've wanted to respond to on here, too, so I'll get to those after.

The Islands of Chaldea, by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones

This is the book she was working on when she died, leaving it unfinished; and, according to her sister's afterword, everyone sat around like "BUT WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? HOW WILL WE EVER KNOW WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?" until they finally decided they'd have to write the end themselves. So the task went to her sister Ursula, who did a decent job, and you can't pinpoint exactly where she picked the story up. But to be honest? There IS a subtle difference between the first part of the book and the last. The characters and settings and details are just so much more VIVID earlier on. No offense to Ursula Jones, because the last part of the book was perfectly fine, even good, but who CAN compare to her sister Diana when it comes to making a story spring vividly to life?

It's a pretty basic fantasy-adventure, made special thanks to DWJ's way with details. Our herione, Aileen, is a Wise Woman in training who thinks she failed her initiation, but before she can worry too much about that, she's swept up on a quest to rescue a kidnapped prince from beyond a magical barrier, which can only be breached with the help of a few special folks from each island of Chaldea. But the characters jump out at you with only a few words of introduction, and their adventures are never straightforward.

The titular islands are basically your typical quasi-medieval British Isles, except perhaps more so: Skarr, the heroine's home island, is clearly this world's Scotland, and the next stop on this island-hopping adventure, Bernica, clearly stands in for Ireland. But I'm not sure about the final two islands, not knowing enough about Wales I suppose to tell if: a) the third island, Gallis, is meant to represent Wales, while the final, magically-barriered island Logra is England; or if b) Gallis is meant to represent Wales AND England while Logra is, say France (because sometimes it seems like Chaldea refers only to the first three islands and Logra is something separate, besides the fact that there's literally a magical barrier separating it from the others); or if c) Gallis is where Ursula picked up the story and she decided to veer away from the overt British Isles parallels entirely.

Actually, I'm pretty sure Ursula DOES pick up the story somewhere in Gallis. That's about when the details and new characters stop feeling QUITE as vivid as they did on the first two islands. Also I somehow feel like Diana would have thrown a lot more complications at her characters before the end!

But I didn't actually notice the break while reading, I just kept enjoying it to the end. The ending DID feel a little rushed and haphazard, but that's a pretty common fault I find with DWJ's books (as much as I can find faults!) so it's only fitting.** But I'm overcome with wondering where the story would really have gone, had Diana finished it. As I said, I'm SURE there would have been more complications. And who can imagine how SHE intended the characters to breach the barrier. Or what secret conspiracies were really in place. Or what if this is yet another of her stories that involve parallel universes and Gallis DOES parallel Wales and in fact they were going to meet Howl and Sophie in Gallis because only their magic/world-hopping knowledge could take down the barrier?!?!?! But WE CAN'T KNOW, SO WE'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT.

And that's really all I have to say about that one. I recommend it for any light-hearted high fantasy lover, and certainly any DWJ fan. It's not her most memorable work, but definitely is a pleasant, fun read. As long as you don't get too hung up grieving over how you'll never know what was REALLY supposed to happen.

So now it's time to discuss a completely different, but excellent, middle grade book:

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander

Remember how I said, in my Youth Media Awards*** roundup, that I COULD probably read the Newbery winners I hadn't read (I mean, THIS year's, not ALL of them) in no time flat? That was totally true, because I read The Crossover at work, in bits and pieces, picking it up here and there and only putting it down when I realized I had other things I was SUPPOSED to be working on. Because it was easy to get sucked into, and that might be what's so brilliant about it.

And I feel like talking about this book BECAUSE the brilliance may appear deceptive, at first glance. You have a narrator with a very strong voice, and that voice is a 13-year-old boy who likes to rap and is obsessed with basketball (granted, he's very GOOD at basketball, too). It doesn't SOUND like a stodgy and-incidentally-white academic's definition of "distinguished." But to be prejudiced by that is like believing an easy reader must be equally easy to WRITE (SPOILERS: IT ISN'T). First, it HAS a strong voice-- a strong, consistent voice. You believe this is Josh's story, that this is how Josh tells his story, that he thinks in poetry and basketball terminology. And yes, it's written in verse, which just highlights how carefully each bit of character development and each bit of foreshadowing is woven in-- a lot is said in just a few perfect words. And it grabs you emotionally before you even realize it, and you're aching with Josh as he and his twin brother are growing apart and their dad's health is taking a downturn, and you forget that, at the beginning, this SEEMED to be just a book about a kid who loves basketball.

I have absolutely no interest in basketball, but this book still grabbed me. But what really tickles me is the thought that a sports-lover who's a reluctant reader WILL want to pick up this book, and WILL get sucked in, and before they know it they'll have EXPERIENCED LITERATURE. HAH! And I'm really glad to see that trick recognized with an award for distinguished writing, because that's an important and underappreciated trick-- to be able to write so reluctant readers can get lost in the story. AND heavily-experienced readers can appreciate it just as much? That's a super-distinguished book, thanks. Big kudos, Mr. Alexander!

Moving on to Television, let's talk Agent Carter:

Announcing my favorite TV of 2015 already! Like I did with Fargo last year, I've saved this announcement until it's all over so you can (if you've missed it) go marathon the whole thing! Or I saved it until the end because I didn't realize exactly how badly I wanted to gush about it until it was over. Honestly, I prefer the miniseries format of storytelling-- or the BBC short-season (series) format for returning series, you know, like Sherlock. You can get the intensity, the solid arc-building, and the general quality of a movie with MORE TIME TO GET INTO IT ALL. And then you've got a complete whole there that you CAN marathon, as opposed to the average TV show which goes on and on indefinitely unless it gets cancelled, so you either are left unsatisfied because it ended with too many loose ends hanging OR it goes on and on and on and STILL doesn't feel like a complete whole. I like getting a story I can take as a whole-- but if I get another season about the same characters with a NEW story arc, I certainly won't complain.

So, while Agents of SHIELD was on winter hiatus, Marvel/ABC decided to fill the gap with an 8-episode miniseries about the woman primarily known as Captain America's Girlfriend but more PROPERLY known as one of the founders of SHIELD, Peggy Carter. Now, I love
Agents of SHIELD, and I was on edge at the end of the midseason finale, unwilling to wait two months to find out how things turned out, but now that it's back I'm kind of worried, because it just cannot live up to the complete awesomeness that was Agent Carter.****

This was a show that even LOOKED gorgeous. The colors, the lighting, the cinematography, the 1940s costumes and props and sets, all added up to something that felt slightly noir and yet very true to its comic book roots. It felt like a movie, which is something else you can do with a miniseries I guess, though "it felt like a movie" was my exact reaction to the first episode of The X-Files I ever saw years ago, too, so it's about something more than brevity. Anyway, you need substance to make style worth anything, and luckily Agent Carter had that, too.

The writing is funny and exciting and twisty and basically everything you could ask for in a historical espionage adventure with occasional sci-fi elements. And the character development is so smooth and well-rounded: EVERYONE is deeper than they first appear, everyone has both strengths and faults, even the most awful people sometimes inspire sympathy and the best people sometimes make you angry. Peggy herself is a fabulous heroine-- brilliant, funny, tough, yet sensitive, able to stand with (and exceed) the Men yet feminine, both a product of and ahead of her time, having epiphanies and making mistakes, thoughtful and sometimes rash. In other words, a fully-realized character rather than a Type, heroic and human at once. And her actress, Hayley Atwell, is absolutely brilliant at conveying ALL of it. I hope they recognize her come Emmy-time and don't overlook her out of anti-comic-book snobbery-- but the miniseries category pool is relatively small, she might have a chance.

And then when you TAKE a bunch of fully-realized characters, played well, and throw them together, you get brilliant chemistry, too. The chemistry is electric, complex, and refreshingly almost entirely not romantic (and the very small hints of romance are ENTIRELY complicated by the plot to the point that the farthest it ever gets is a turned-down asking-out-for-drinks at the very end-- but to be honest, I still ship it). See, Peggy's last boyfriend's airplane just went down in the ocean not too long ago, so she's not INTERESTED in romance at this point in time-- so it doesn't have to get in the way of the story! And for future reference-- you know I just possibly confusingly said "I still ship it" in the last parenthesis?-- yes, I totally ship Peggy with Agent Sousa, her cute sweet smart noble amputee-vet coworker with a crush on her, but SHOULD they ever get together, the romance shouldn't dominate then, either-- it shouldn't be one of those things where the couple is constantly BANTERING and having PASSION. Sousa's more of a steady rock type. Peggy gets to BANTER with everyone ELSE. Like her partner in crime/or anti-crime/or whatever, Jarvis, Howard Stark's loyal butler, who is happily married-- their totally-platonic chemistry is an absolute delight. I know, when characters have delightful chemistry, people want to ship them, and Jarvis is awesome and adorable and I go back and forth on whether I have more of a crush on him or Sousa*****, but in this case I cannot see anything other than a beautiful bantery friendship and it's so REFRESHING that way! And then you get Peggy and HOWARD, who is in fact a deplorable womanizer, but she won't stand for that and he respects her too much to resent her not standing for that, so you even have this wonderful bantery yet-totally-platonic friendship with a guy who tends to be anything BUT platonic. With all this platonic female-male interaction it's almost no wonder that a lot of people DO ship Peggy with her best girl friend, Angie, to which I say, hah, go nuts you crazy kids, but to me that's just yet another refreshingly platonic relationship. Angie serves as Peggy's link to "normal" life. She's a grounding character.

Anyway, people are all freaking out that the ratings weren't good enough to be renewed, but I don't really understand this. First, I don't really get how it could possibly have worse ratings than Agents of SHIELD, because I don't understand why everyone who watched that wouldn't also watch this, BUT Agent Carter is the sort of show that could attract people who not only gave up on AoS, but also people who normally don't have any interest in comic-book properties, because there's something just more mainstream about historical spy hijinks as opposed to superhero stories. Don't ask me why that is, but it is. As is, my mom watched and loved Agent Carter and the rest of the Marvel Universe loses her. Apparently the actual numbers don't support my theory, but I think I SHOULD be right. Never mind, my next theory IS evidence-based: Marvel and ABC are BOTH Disney companies, so it's all internal maneuvering, not some plucky outside talent begging the network to give them another chance. If they want to make more, they'll BROADCAST more. Agents of SHIELD keeps getting renewed even when ratings say it shouldn't. Thirdly, it's a SELF-CONTAINED MINISERIES. It's not like a show that can get CANCELLED or RENEWED. They can just make ANOTHER miniseries at any other time and show it again, whether during next year's AoS break or a few years down the line, like a BBC show. And sure, great ratings would make the network more LIKELY to buy another miniseries, but so will a devoted fan base, a lot of after-the-fact streaming or DVD buying, or future Marvel movie tie-in opportunities. Which I think this show is very likely to get if it doesn't have it already. There are so many individual opportunities for self-contained stories about the early days of SHIELD, and I will be thrilled to see Agent Carter tackle them at whatever schedule of recurring mini-series it's able to pull off. AND IT WILL.

SO I think it's about time I posted this, considering I've finally managed to type it. Seek these recommendations out! Enjoy them! Tell me about them in the comments! (Have I mentioned lately that I really like comments? I do. They let me know you're listening. Don't be shy!)

-----
A Large Mass of Footnotes:

*A story of fun times with stomach viruses! I wake up Sunday morning with a sharp pain in my abdomen, and moments later the boy bursts in to announce that his sister has thrown up FIVE TIMES all over his room-- including a rather impressive projectile-spraying of four feet of doorjamb. By the time I get that cleaned up, I'm feeling sick, too, but is it merely sympathetic or am I likewise contaminated? Clearly, it is the latter. Anyway, I finally feel like sitting upright long enough to start typing this monday evening, a time I normally should be at work, but that's not happening. Tuesday on the other hand, I and everyone else feels okay enough for work/school/whatever, which means I don't have all that much time for typing. Wednesday morning at 3 AM the boy joins the throwing up party. But that morning his sister is acting funny, too: "My HEART HURTS, Mommy, it's beating too fast, and my legs don't work," and she's drowsy and falling asleep where she sits. Aware that she did NOT take in enough fluids during her illness, I suspect dehydration and call the doctor, who-- well, the triage nurse-- suspects the same and says YOU MUST GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM IMMEDIATELY, so I bundle up two sicky kids, including one who is still clutching the throw-up-bucket to his chest, and off we go. But by the time we get there, the girl has perked up, and her brother looks like death, so I take them up to the check in desk and point to the one that's bouncing around and say "Believe it or not, we're here for that one," and she explains to the emergency room doctor that she DID feel sick this morning but now just her knee hurts, while meanwhile her brother is nearly passed out on my lap. The doctor grins and says it probably WAS a little bit of dehydration but not enough to worry about now, so let's get the BOY home and everyone get plenty of fluids. She also writes a prescription for an anti-nausea med, technically in Maddie's name because she's the patient, but she (the doctor) says, "it's actually for HIM-- or anyone else in the family who comes down with it." By the time we're done it's too late for Maddie to go to school, so they're both home the rest of the day, and Sam goes to bed early with a mild fever. I figure he won't go to school today, too. But then school gets cancelled anyway. So here we are.

**SPOILERS: My only real disappointment with the ending is that Aileen's reunion with her father seemed completely glossed over. You'd think it would have a LITTLE more affect on, if not the plot, at least the character development, but besides the initial embarrassed recognition, he could have been any other rescued kidnappee.

***Random thing I just noticed today: YMA is my name backwards. ALL THE MORE REASON TO LOVE THEM.

****Having seen the new AoS since I started typing this, I'm pleased to report that I can enjoy it just fine after all, thanks. Agent Carter is in another league entirely, sure, but that doesn't make AoS NOT fun as its own thing. And I love Fitz so much, so there.

*****It's funny, one of accusations lobbied against "Fake Geek Girls" is they only know Marvel characters from the movies and they only LOVE the movies because they have crushes on the guys in them, but for all the Tumblrs devoted to Tony Stark and Thor and Loki and Captain America, Agent Carter is probably the FIRST Marvel show where I'VE crushed on anybody (except maybe a little bit on Cap because he's so noble-- Peggy and I share taste; and possibly James McAvoy as young Charles Xavier, if you count all Marvel CHARACTERS even if it's not technically Marvel MOVIES, and that's basically just because James McAvoy is a beautiful, beautiful man anyway), and it's given me TWO somebodies to crush on. Heh. BUT, yes, I do admit that I am a huge fan of Marvel movies, but I don't know squat about the comics. But this is only because I don't really like long-form panel-based reading, not because I'm not truly interested! I've actually always fallen on the Marvel end of the Marvel-vs-DC argument, mostly because I DID follow the Spider-man comic in the NEWSPAPER, oh, and I watched the Spider-man cartoon too that Stan Lee always introduced in voiceover, which absolutely fascinated me (who WAS this Stan Lee guy? Wait, he INVENTED Spider-man? And he's talking on the CARTOON? COOL!), so Spider-man was always my favorite superhero, and I watched other Marvel cartoons too. Then again, I also watched Batman, but still, I liked the Marvel characters more. I always found them more nuanced and interesting.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
I have nothing but contented feelings toward this year's Youth Media Awards. It's a gut reaction I couldn't actually pinpoint, but I'm just pleased. Someone online pointed out that it's a very kid-friendly bunch of honorees this year: not just award-bait that teachers will push on kids for decades, but books kids will willingly scoop up on their own. Someone else pointed out how diverse in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks sense the winners are, but me in my privileged place HAD to have that pointed out to me, because everything and everyone is so clearly there on their own merit, which just makes non-diverse award lineups-- like the Oscar noms-- suddenly look like "Oh, yeah. That IS weirdly whitewashed in comparison to what could be." So perhaps these are factors that affect my gut satisfaction, but whatever the factors are, they're just all mixed in to make a general soup of "Oh, I like this!"

Which isn't to say I can't find anything more specific to say about the full list, which I will put under a cut for posterity's sake:
Read more... )
rockinlibrarian: (portrait)
Back in the day I could write an entire post JUST ABOUT THE BOOKS of the year. Not happening anymore. But I can write about the WHOLE year in small Top FIVE lists, so I'll do that instead:

Top 5 Real Life Things That Happened. In My Life. Not The Outside World. You Can Go Read About the Outside World Anywhere Else

1. A tree fell on our house. This isn't exactly a TOP thing that happened, as in "Best," but it was certainly the BIGGEST thing that happened, and we did end up with all new roof and siding, which insurance covered MOST of, though paying the difference did knock out our budget for the rest of the year. But now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's move onto the actual GOOD stuff:
2. Seeing FREAKIN' SIR PAUL FREAKIN' MCCARTNEY IN FREAKIN' CONCERT, FINALLY! Just read the post if you don't understand.
3. I actually managed to complete an entire draft of an early-chapter-book. Granted, I haven't managed to get around to REVISING it yet. At all. But it's better than I've done in a long time.
4. I successfully Outreached to loads of small children, who excitedly pointed me out to their parents in public while squealing about the "library lady" and lots of their favorite stories. This is the best kind of famous, you know. If I'm going to be accosted by fans every time I go out in public, I much prefer to be hugged around the knees by a three-year-old than shoved about by paparazzi.
5. My son brought home a couple of guppies from the class fish tank on his last day of first grade. I never expected them to last as long as they did, but now they are officially our first family pets. Actually, one of them died a couple months in, but the other one turned out to be pregnant, and gave birth to eleven more. She ate all but one of these. The survivor got by on her (we think it's another her) speed, so earned the name Zippy. Her mother never actually got a name, so is now Mama Fish. We also have two snails now. One is growing. We think it might turn into a monster and take over the tank.

Top 5 Presents I Got For Christmas

1. A New Dishwasher. Our old dishwasher sprung a major leak that we weren't able to fix, and it never cleaned very well anyway, so our two sets of parents went in together to get us a new one. It's AMAZING. It makes things not only CLEAN, but SHINY! And it does so QUIETLY, and WHILE KEEPING ALL THE WATER INSIDE IT!
2. A Good Set of Kitchen Knives. While we were camping this summer, I went to chop up a potato only to realize I hadn't brought a knife, so J whipped out his hunting knife, and WOW could that thing slice. "It's not because it's a hunting knife," he said, "it's just because you're used to using those crappy knives that won't hold an edge." "Oh," I said. But this exchange inspired him, and he bought a set of GOOD kitchen knives actually made by the same company that made his hunting knife. THEY CUT WITHOUT YOU HAVING TO PUT PRESSURE ON THEM. Which means I really have to watch my aim.
3. A bunch of other kitchen supplies I never would have suspected, back in the day, would one day make me so excited to get. I got a big tub of storage containers, a couple of chopping boards, and a new spoon spatula. Granted, I bought that spoon spatula for myself and just stuck it in my stocking, but it was still exciting.
4. This scarf. Appropriate, no? Also a much cheaper leopard-print scarf from Old Navy that EVERYONE got-- okay, at least four people in my extended family-- so now we might start a cult.
5. My sister saved the day and got me Desolation of Smaug, because for some reason Jason didn't. Actually he didn't get a single thing off of my wish list. For me. I've had the complete set of Animaniacs on there for years, so he did get that, but he gave it to Maddie, our own Dot Warner. That was actually a very appropriate move on his part, though.

Top 5 Presents I Gave Other People For Christmas

1. My daughter wanted an Ariel costume. I looked it up: all the Officially Licensed costumes kind of sucked, so I decided to make one myself (note: sometime in October I also got a new sewing machine on account of my old one kind of breaking beyond repair. I thought of considering THIS a Christmas present, but Jason said, no, you just need a new sewing machine, you can have OTHER presents!) I found THE most PERFECT fabric at Jo-Ann's, so LOOK:
SAM_0538 I did not make the wig, though.
2. Also for Maddie: her artistic expression CANNOT be hemmed in by silly things like Personal Property. Not only does she draw in my journals, she's also always absconding with my camera to take pictures and video. Well, among Amazon's Cyber-Monday deals I spotted it: a kids' camera/camcorder. With Hello Kitty on it. For thirty bucks. It was MEANT TO BE.
3. The boy needed pajamas, and I found a pattern for boys' pajamas in his size among my grandmother-in-law's sewing stuffs, so I bought some appropriate fabric along with the mermaid fabric. Well, almost appropriate. It's a train print, and trains are still Sam's Favorite Thing Ever, but I didn't know if it was SLIGHTLY babyish for an almost-8-yo? But it was the most insanely soft material, so I figured, eh, he's just wearing it to bed, anyway. Then, the last day of school before break, they had Pajama Day. "Okay, Sam, I'm going to give you a present early, just in case you might want to use it tomorrow. But I won't be offended if you don't." Well, he did. He's pretty much been living in those pajamas ever since. He's only put on clothes when we've had to go someplace.
SAM_0536
4. In other things I sewed, I also found some insanely soft fleece, so made some cute sweatshirts. I'd tried making a sweatshirt for my brother last year but made it too small, so this year I tried again: SAM_0511
I was so paranoid about making the KIDS' too small that I actually made them too big, SAM_0542 but they'll grow.
5. I got J an Agents of SHIELD (see below for more) wallet as a sort of joke, because we started playing a SHIELD RPG campaign and I said this way he has proper identification. He loved it way more than I expected him to.

One Present Other People Gave Other People That Is Notable
A funny thing happened to presents people bought for Jason this year: they kept getting lost in the mail. Actually, ONE of those incidents turned out to be a misunderstanding: his sister, who lives in Spain, had bought him something and shipped it here under my name, but this happened to be one of the things I'd strongly considered getting him myself, to the point that I FORGOT I hadn't actually purchased it even though I bought something ELSE to go along WITH it, so when the thing from his sister arrived I thought I'D ordered it even though it came way before everything else in the order, so I wrapped it up for Santa, and... anyway, that's where that confusion came from. My sister ordered him a few things that never showed up, as well, and printed him a copy of the order which she stuck on a pack of beer. He would have been happy with the beer. My brother had bought each of us these little figure thingies to go with our Wii U which we don't actually understand yet, but for some reason only Jason's, again, didn't show up. So my brother called and asked if I thought it would be all right if he gave Jason something he'd originally bought for himself, only to decide he didn't really want it after all. "Does he like Back to the Future?" he asked me. "Uh, yeah, but... okay, whatever you want to do, Dan." So he ended up giving J this model DeLorean. Of the time-machine variety. And it's really detailed and awesome and kind of insane of my brother to buy only to decide he didn't want it and yet NOT send it back for a refund. BUT it came with a card with information about the real DeLorean Motor Company, which Jason looked up, and contrary to popular belief it actually IS still in existence, and now he won't stop talking about how he wants a real DeLorean. So the substituted gift was actually WAY more appreciated than the intended gift, in the end.

Top 5 Programs I Did At The Library
Because it's my calling and junk.
1.The Beatles Family Night!
2. Marble run!
3.The Spontaneous Time-Travel Program
4. Magic-- as detailed a bit toward the end of this post, because it impressed people, had a good turnout, and everyone learned something, so yay.
5. Rory's Story Cubes-- that wasn't the name of the program. It was just one of the Grimm brothers' birthdays, so I decided to do a storytelling theme for Library Explorers. And we'd been kicked out of our usual room for a special event, so we didn't have much space, so I grabbed these cubes I had never before actually tried, to see what we could make of them, making up stories in a circle. And they were such a huge hit I needed to write down what they were called for all the grownups there, who wanted to buy their own sets.
Bonus: Chocolate Covered Anything Day. There wasn't really anything all that creative about it as a program, and I didn't have any great tie-in books or stories, but WE GOT TO DIP THINGS IN CHOCOLATE, so surely this belongs among the top programs of the year, no?

Top 5 New Picture Books
My new regret in life is that I'm not a decent illustrator. Picture books are my new favorite kind of book and now I want to make them. I suppose I can still WRITE them, but my heart wants to be able to do it all! Anyway, here's my favorites of the stuff we got in at the library this year:

1. Rules of Summer, by Shaun Tan. I WANT TO LIVE IN SHAUN TAN'S BRAIN. Have I mentioned that? I probably have, because it doesn't stop being true. Here's a nice interview about the making of this book, too.
2. Battle Bunny, by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matt Myers. Technically this came out last year but we only got it at the library THIS year. And it's just notable, because you would think it'd be a one-joke book and get old after awhile, but somehow it only got BETTER as it went, and it's ready-made for creative spin-off activities that really work with kids. That might have made my Best Library Programs list if MY kids hadn't been there that day to drive me nuts. ("I AM NOT YOUR MOMMY RIGHT NOW I AM THE LIBRARIAN PLEASE SIT DOWN AND BE QUIET.")
3. Quest, by Aaron Becker. I actually bought Journey for myself at my kids' book fair this year. Sure, kids, I'll buy you each a book, too, but this one's Mommy's. Anyway, I smuggled this out of the tech room as soon as it came in. I don't love it QUITE as much as Journey but it's still dreamy-perfect and we had fun exploring it together. I think my "Too bad I'm not an illustrator" problem is that WORDLESS picture books are REALLY my favorite thing.
4. Flashlight, by Lizi Boyd, speaking of which. Like on the surface this is so much simpler than, for example, Quest, but there's still so much going on, so much to see, so many little surprises. I JUST LOVE WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS SO MUCH GUYS I CAN'T DEAL WITH IT.
5. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett (again) and Jon Klassen. Barnett and Klassen came to speak at the Carnegie the other month, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit how long I fretted about having no one to come with me to see them, only to realize at the last minute that I HAVE KIDS IN THEIR TARGET AGE GROUP. It was great for all of us! And it was much more fun listening to the KIDS talk to them than it would have been for me to think of something halfway interesting to say. Mac Barnett enjoyed meeting someone with the same name as one of his heroes (both the BOOK'S "hero" Sam, AND the original Sam-and-Dave-the-blues-duo!)SAM_0329 And Maddie told Jon Klassen all about our cannibal fish! It didn't occur to me until later that this was fitting, as she WAS talking to the man who wrote This Is Not My HatSAM_0331 They were awesome. I've always had a crush on Mac Barnett, but in person I liked Jon Klassen best-- he totally seemed like a guy I could hang out with. If I was in the habit of hanging out with Caldecott Medalists.

Top 5 Older (than this year) Picture Books I Only Just Discovered Are Awesome for Reading Aloud This Year

1. Chloe and the Lion, by Mac Barnett DARNIT MAC BARNETT STOP BEING SO ENTERTAINING YOU'RE HOGGING THE LISTS and Adam Rex. I just really like Meta. And Mac Barnett likes meta too, which is why he keeps writing books I like. But please let's not ignore Adam Rex in this discussion because the illustrations really make the book. And that's also kind of the point of this book. They're two great tastes that taste way greater together.
2. What Floats in a Moat? by Lynne Berry. Some very handy blog post about Books You Might Want For a Fizz Boom Read Summer Program Storytime alerted me to this fine title, which INDEED fit with a Things That Float program I had planned. Funny and clever AND educational! Thank you, fine blog post!
3. My Lucky Day, by Keiko Kasza. A different blog post somewhere named this a sure-winner for read-alouds, and it happened to be in one of my outreach bags, so I said, Hey, I'll read THAT one to this group! And guess what. It IS a sure-winner.
4. The Really Really Really Big Dinosaur, by Richard Byrne. I mentioned this one in the above-linked all-the-programs-I-did-in-October post. I just enjoyed me and the mom and the little sister cracking up while the older sister rolled her eyes and tried not to laugh while complaining that she wanted a SERIOUS dinosaur book instead.
5. The Buzz Beaker series by Cari Meister. It looks like there's also some older titles by a Scott Nickel but I haven't read those ones so as to guarantee their quality. These are, as possibly evidenced by their having multiple authors over time, leveled readers out of one of them there book packagers in Mankato Minnesota. Which means I wasn't expecting them to be nearly as entertaining as they are. Again I stumbled upon them for summer reading programs, because they're a treasure trove for actually-fun-stuff-to-read-aloud on STEM topics!

Top 5 Longer-Than-Picture-Books Books I Read This Year, aka The Only 5 Longer-Than-Picture-Books Books I Finished Reading This Year

1. Dangerous, by Shannon Hale. As indicated by my movie list (see below), I love a good superhero story, but I can't get into comic books. Shannon Hale, who is truly one of my very favorite people on the Internet btw, decided to address this-- people who read better in paragraphs than in panels-- by actually writing a great superhero story entirely in prose. It is EVERYTHING I love about, say, watching a Marvel movie-- and even better, solid female representation!-- but in novel form!
OH I FORGOT TO MENTION-- we'll make this 1.5, though it's not much longer than a Buzz Beaker book-- Hale's The Princess in Black, an easy-chapter book about a princess who sneaks out to battle monsters in her spare time, because this is SO MADE for my daughter, and that's why I bought it for her for Christmas:
SAM_0535
2. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. It's the Young People's National Book Award winner, which me being on top of things actually read before then! Mostly because Woodson's editor kept tweeting the most beautiful lines from it, so when it showed up with our Junior Library Guild subscription I said, "I've got to give this a try." It's a verse memoir, and it's LYRICAL. It IS dreaming!
3. A Corner of White, AND
4. The Cracks in the Kingdom, by Jaclyn Moriarty. Apparently pronouncing your first name like that gave you a better than average chance of getting your book read by me this year. But Jaclyn Moriarty gets special attention for being just so dang unique. She's done some crazy worldbuilding for this series (which in a dear-to-my-heart way is called The Colors of Madeleine, AWWWW) about a couple of kids who start to communicate through a crack between their two parallel worlds, and I have to say there have been several twists that I absolutely did not see coming, only to look back and find the evidence had been there all along, and I quite appreciate that. I think the next author would have appreciated that, also:
5. Dogsbody, Diana Wynne Jones. Only last because it's not new like the others. I did buy The Islands of Chaldea for the library, but I haven't gotten around to reading it, yet. It may be HER last, but I still have lots of DWJ to track down still, so that isn't what's keeping me away. More like my usual reading problems.

Top 5 Movies I Saw

1. The LEGO Movie: Officially my son's favorite movie, when the rest of us finally caught up (he'd gone to see it at the theater with his grandparents) we were utterly charmed, too. It really holds up to rewatching and quote-reciting. I don't know why the catchphrase this household has most adopted is "Honey, where are my paaaaaaants?" though.
2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier: We don't get out to the movies much, J and I-- when we do it's usually for a special occasion, like our anniversary (see below). But after seeing a certain episode of Agents of SHIELD (see further below) last March, we decided we needed to go see this AS SOON AS POSSIBLE just to find out what had happened. It was worth it-- I think this is my favorite of the Marvel movies now, and I do like Marvel movies (I think it was watching this that I realized I get a thrill of excitement when the comic-book opener comes on screen, like the opening notes of the Star Wars theme). I particularly like the themes of friendship throughout this movie, I love the friend-chemistry between all the characters-- particularly the platonic friendship between the Cap and Black Widow-- SEE? Platonic CAN BE DONE!
3. Frozen: I know this movie is technically from LAST year but we only just got it for Christmas. We figured we'd watch it as a family sometime this week, and I had a lot of other stuff to do Christmas morning, but my daughter insisted on putting it on, and I found myself sucked onto the couch beside her. I thought the characters were particularly great, and the themes hit on a lot of near-to-my-heart issues, so I was teary-eyed a lot.
4. The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies: We went this weekend for our anniversary, natch, and I feel like I ought to do a longer review than most of the ones in these lists. :P Far from the best of the movies, but hardly a disaster, either. Having seen all three now, I DO think it would have worked better as two movies, just with really really long Extended Editions (with basically, you know, ALL the same footage of the current Extended Editions, just two proper movies for theater viewing). This movie felt a little bit arc-less in a way that I don't think it would have if it had merely been the long climax of a movie that started when they'd first arrived at Laketown. This movie is also made up of the chapters in the book that I always manage to completely forget about, which might be saying something. Still, like any Middle-Earth movie, it's gorgeous-- though this movie seemed to involve a LOT of high and precarious walkways that were making me QUITE nervous thank you-- and, like any Hobbit movie in particular, it features my very favorite actor/Imaginary Husband in the title role, and do I even need to mention anymore that he was brilliant? He was brilliant. As usual. The scene when he was saying goodbye to the dwarves was my very favorite. And I was really glad he spent a lot less of this movie unconscious than he does these chapters in the book. Not that the movie couldn't have still done with more of him.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy: we did slip out to see this one this summer while the kids were at their grandparents' for the week. I didn't think it was as great as a lot of people seemed to think, hailing it the New Star Wars or whatever, but it was a lot of fun, and I appreciate a storyline that weaves a great classic rock mix tape into the plot.

Top 5 Things I Watched On TV, Or At Least Things That Were Aired On TV That I Watched On The Computer

1. Fargo, The Series! GAH I LOVE THIS SHOW. WHY AREN'T MORE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THIS SHOW? Every time I think about it, I miss it. I suppose I could watch it again, considering I bought it on iTunes. I had the DVD set on my wishlist but I guess everyone knew I bought it on iTunes and doesn't believe in the power of Bonus Features.
2. Agents of SHIELD, which is formally called MARVEL'S Agents of SHIELD, but half the time we just call it SHIELD anyway so nyah. Jason and I started watching this when it first came on, and even though it wasn't brilliant at first we kept watching because we both enjoyed it enough and it made for a nice little weekly Date Night, to cuddle on the couch watching "our show" each week. Then suddenly, this past spring, it got GOOD. WHOA PLOT TWISTS and WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT WEEK?!?! and sublimely unhinged birth-fathers and heartwrenching brain-damaged Scottish nerds level-good. This fall I've finished each Tuesday evening with the loveliest sense of satisfaction, and a bit of pity for everyone who gave up on the show before it got to be SO MUCH DANG FUN.
3. "Crumby Pictures" on Sesame Street. It's "Monsterpiece Theater" for a new generation, and it's brilliant, and I really wish I worked in children's television yet again.
4. I almost forgot that Community season 5 happened this year, but it did, way back early on. I also always forget how much I love that show until I get reminded. And there were some brilliantly funny bits this season and some perfectly touching bits too. You're a monster if you didn't cry during a certain goodbye scene with a certain absolutely perfect celebrity cameo. Oh, that got me.
5. Okay, okay, Sherlock season 3, even though the fandom drives me crazy. I can't REALLY skip mentioning it out of spite, when "The Sign of Three" was probably my favorite episode of the show ever. And still, Martin. Because he's brilliant. As usual. Which reminds me:
BONUS #5.5. When Martin Freeman hosted Saturday Night Live. Was he awesome? Of course he was awesome. The "Office: Middle Earth" sketch was brilliant, and did seeing him play his two most lovably adorable roles somehow wrapped up in one character make me sappy? Yes maybe. But he was brilliant even in that dumb talk show sketch where he BARELY HAD ANY LINES EVEN, his expressions just made the whole thing. To be honest, though, he wasn't even in one of my favorite sketches of the night, the commercial for going-back-to-your-home-church-for-Christmas, which was so dead-on St. James that I had to love it. Perversely, another of my favorite things about that show was that they DID NOT MAKE A SINGLE REFERENCE TO SHERLOCK OR BUMBLEPANTS CUCUMBERSAUCE. I'm just a little sensitive. Hey, while we're at it:

Top Five Pics of Martin Freeman That The Internet Kindly Gave Me
1. Okay, this isn't the greatest picture of Martin specifically, but it's such an insanely mindblowing circumstance that it has to be #1:

WHO PUT THOSE TWO MEN ON THE SAME COUCH? HOW IS THAT METAPHYSICALLY POSSIBLE? HOW DID THE AWESOME NOT EXPLODE THE WORLD?
2. From that same talk show, here's Martin doing a Paul McCartney impression.

But he can't fool me. I've long suspected he's been doing an extended Paul McCartney impression for most of his life. I'M ONTO YOU, FELLOW MACCA GEEK.
3. Try not to swoon:

4. I love Martin being Martin, but there were lots of lovely in-character pics this year as well. I'm torn between the "Bilbo does Not Approve" shot:

5. ...and the "Lester is a Conniving Weasel" shot:

PLUS! One moving .gif to make your life happy:


Okay, what's left.
Top 5... Music? Um, maybe not a Top 5?

1. I SAW PAUL MCCARTNEY... I may have already mentioned that.
2. Honestly, I have no clue.
3. OH, this year DOES mark the discovery of the [Sarah's] Husband's Stupid Record Collection blog, which has continued to be fun. Also, Sarah-of-said-blog followed me back on Tumblr and sometimes she even Favorites stuff I reblog there, which makes me feel marginally famous.
4. I wish I was still a music geek who actually was on top of musical discoveries.
5. Well, I do find myself exposed to Hit Pop Songs nonetheless, and actually there were several Hit Pop Songs this year that I ACTUALLY LIKE. I'm quite fond of "All About the Bass" and "Shake it Off." There were many more Hit Pop Songs that I DIDN'T care for (and why the heck do Maroon 5 suck so much now? They were so GOOD ten years ago!), but this isn't really news. I think I spend more time listening to PBS Kids songs than I do the radio, anyway.

Top 5 Songs From PBS Kids Shows I Sing Along To Incessantly

1. The Dinosaur Train Theme Song
2. The "Splashing In the Bathtub" song on Peg+Cat
3. The Peg+Cat Theme Song
4. The "Problem Solved" song from Peg+Cat. I really like Peg+Cat songs
5. Anything from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which is sort of cheating because they were mostly all originally from Mister Rogers, anyway.

Anyway.

Let's wrap things up with a little bloggy retrospective.
Finally, Top 5 Blog Posts I Didn't Already Link To In This Post, Which Mostly Leaves The Philosophical Ones
1. In which I finally understand what it means to examine ones privilege
2. A tribute to an influential teacher
3. In which I examine the darkest depths of my soul
4. Humanity's only hope is to stop trying to change the subject
5. EVERYTHING IS REAL!
And bonus: I wrote a poem once.

So... have a lovely new year! We have no plans because we're boring. How about you? What were your Top Whatevers of the year?

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