Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Fresh Cliches

Tired of the same old cliches day in, day out?

Now you can do something about it.

Over at Defective Yeti, Matthew is asking you to jump on the bandwagon and put your two cents into the Cliche Rotation Project. Though he might prefer you dive into the moshpit and throw your AmEx Platinum card in.

Check it out. After all, maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks. [Insert witty new cliche here.]

via Motherreader

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: January 29 - February 4

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

January 29: I had so much trouble with this puzzle it made me want to fold on several occasions.

January 30: The picture at top is key.

January 31: Tough one to hint without giving it away. Don't worry about the meaning of the words, but every word counts.

February 1: I just kept thinking of that 1971 James Caan and Billy Dee Williams movie.

February 2: Oh brother, a couple of these were tough to work out but the directions were pretty clear.

February 3: It helps to open up a clearer version of the table. The highest number you'll find is 26, which is important but not for the reason that might first spring to mind. I found myself swearing *&! as I struggled through this, but in the end, this puzzle hit the spot.

February 4: And this one reminds me of the gatekeeper in the Wizard of Oz.

Lives in Letters: Audience with the Pope

Here's another postcard sent to my great-great Aunt Jean, but this one about 40 years later than the one I showed last week. Aunt Jean was still a live-in nanny, and was spending the summer with her "family" up in Bar Harbor, Maine. Her friends and coworkers, meanwhile, were travelling to slightly more exotic places.

Guardia Suizzera
Citta del Vaticano
August, 1954

Addressed to
Miss Jean F-
Porcupine House
Bar Harbor, Maine, U.S.A

Dear Jeannie,
This is the Swiss
guard at St. Peters.
We had a private
audience with
the Pope this
morning which
was very exciting.
I'm having a
terrific time and
am going to
Capri tomorrow.
Give my best to Evaline
+ the cook.


I've seen the Swiss Guard at St. Peter's a few times, and they're always dressed like this. Here are some things you might not know about the Swiss Guard, courtesy of wikipedia.
  • They are mercenaries.
  • In 1927, the Swiss outlawed the use of Swiss soldiers in any foreign armies, however the Papal Swiss Guard was left as the exception.
  • Members of the Swiss Guard must be Catholic, single, age 19 to 30 upon joining, and at least 5 ft 9. They serve from 2 to 25 years.
  • 2006 was the 500th anniversary of the Swiss Guard.
  • The uniform of the Swiss Guard was designed in 1914. The colors represent a blending of the family colors of Pope Julius II and Pope Leo X.
  • They are not to be messed with. They may look cute and even a bit silly, but they are well trained soldiers who will take you down if need be.
  • When sworn in, the Swiss Guard take the following oath (translated from German):
I swear to faithfully, honestly and honorably serve the reigning Pope [name of Pope] and his legitimate successors, and to dedicate myself to them with all my strength, ready to sacrifice, should it become necessary, even my own life for them. I likewise assume this promise toward the members of the Sacred College of Cardinals during the period of the Sede Vacante of the Apostolic See. Furthermore, I pledge to the Commandant and to my other superiors respect, fidelity, and obedience. I swear to abide by all the requirements attendant to the dignity of my rank.
I don't know much about getting a private audience with the Pope, aka the Bishop of Rome, aka the Vicar of Christ, aka the Supreme Pontiff, but never never never never aka Peter. Popes are not allowed to choose the name Peter. I do know that.

Did you know that the youngest man to become Pope was only 18 years old? That the shortest reign as Pope was less than 2 weeks?

Did you know the Vatican has a website? Oh yeah, Pope Benedict XVI waving at you from a site that looks like it's straight out of a Dan Brown book. Now I ask you, if you saw a link on that site called "Vatican Secret Archives," wouldn't you just HAVE to click on it? But while it was loading, would you suddenly think, "Hey, how secret can these archives be? Hey... waitaminute!"

I wonder how Capri was. I wonder if Jean ever gave Loy's "best" to Evaline and the cook.

I think Aunt Jean traveled back to Scotland (where she was born) at one point, but I don't know that she did much travelling beside that. I wonder.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Holes ... in Your Pants!

Brooke over at the Brookeshelf pointed me to John Green's In Your Pants book-title game. Take any book title (we're using children's books tonight) and add "In Your Pants" to the end. It's like the fortune cookie game, with a twist.

Brooke's got a few great suggestions here, and I've added a few to the comments on that post. My favorites that I've thought up so far are below, but feel free to add more suggestions!

Holes in Your Pants (Louis Sachar)

A Wind in the Door in Your Pants (Madeleine L'Engle)

Emily Climbs in Your Pants (L. M. Montgomery)

Quote of the Day, 1/28/07: Barrie

A few quotes tonight from J. M. Barrie, my long-distant cousin.

The best of our fiction is by novelists who allow that it is as good as they can give, and the worst by novelists who maintain that they could do much better if only the public would let them.

Love is not blind; it is an extra eye, which shows us what is most worthy of regard.

Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.

We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it.

All children, except one, grow up. They soon know that they will grow up, and the way Wendy knew was this. One day when she was two years old she was playing in a garden, and she plucked another flower and ran with it to her mother. I suppose she must have looked rather delightful, for Mrs. Darling put her hand to her heart and cried, "Oh, why can't you remain like this for ever!" This was all that passed between them on the subject, but henceforth Wendy knew that she must grow up. You always know after you are two. Two is the beginning of the end.

Creative Writing: No Words

Just something small today that has been stuck in my head this week.

No words. No words.

Farewell the magic.

I am undone at last.

This grieving, long anticipated,
Has come on fast.
And I am weighted
Down with things tragic
And absurd.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Why, oh Why, Do You Do It?

Blog, that is.

Here's a short and interesting survey about blogging. Well, it was interesting for me because my answers were both cerebral and pithy. What can I say? I fascinate myself.

Anyhow... if you take the survey, you'll be entered into a drawing to win an iPod Shuffle.

I bet your answers will interest you too.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Yeats

Susan's got the round-up today over at Chicken Spaghetti.

For Poetry Friday, I offer this from Yeats. It is both simple and lovely. Easy to understand and yet not simplistic. And now that I've listened to the audio clips below, I can imagine how Yeats might read this poem himself.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
William Butler Yeats

HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Want to hear Yeats' thoughts on how hard it is to get his ideas into poetry? Here's a short audio on that topic. Pretty funny and just a little self-righteous.

Here is a brief lecture Yeats gave on the BBC in 1936, in which he talks about Edith Sitwell and T. S. Eliot, war and modernism. It's interesting to hear how Yeats spoke. Good stuff.

Quote of the Day, 1/26/07: Yeats

To go along with the poem I posted for Poetry Friday, here are some more words from William Butler Yeats.

I think it better that at times like these [war]
A poet's mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right.

We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, but out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.

Even when the poet seems most himself…he is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast; he has been reborn as an idea, something intended, complete.

We…are no petty people. We are one of the great stocks of Europe. We are the people of Burke; we are the people of Swift, the people of Emmet, the people of Parnell. We have created most of the modern literature of this country. We have created the best of its political intelligence.

Think like a wise man but express yourself like the common people.

It's not a writer's business to hold opinions.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Behind the Scenes with Bloggers

Over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Jules and Eisha have started a great series of interviews with various bloggers around the kid-lit blogging world. The cool important bloggers. The ones you'd stalk if only you knew where they lived.

Here's what you can find so far (with plenty more to follow!):

Jules and Eisha from Seven Impossible Things

Liz from A Chair , a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Fuse from A Fuse # 8 Production

Cybils Musings

Tonight I finished the 5th of the nominated books for the Cybils YA fiction category. I'm elated and sad and antsy -- itching for discussion with my fellow judges and wishing I could gush to you about the quality of the books I've read. (I'm being purposely quiet about the specifics of any one book.)

I will say this -- I studied children's literature for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and I've maintained a passion for the field ever since. When I started this blog, it was the most natural thing in the world for me to gravitate into the world of bloggers who are also passionate about kid's books (from picture books to poetry to YA...). I've learned a lot from this blogging community in the past 6 months.

But this experience, these last few weeks of reading, has added a dimension to my thinking about children's books. It's reinvigorated my appreciation for what children's books (and YA books) can be at their very best. I'm looking forward to the chance to tell people about these books, and to continue my own immersion in today's world of children's literature.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Words on Wednesday: A Reminder About Tanga

If you're in the mood for a good word challenge, or if you're a puzzle-lover in general, may I offer this reminder about Tanga?

The January 24 puzzle was very good for wordies. It took me way too long to have my AHA moment, but it turned out to be worth it.

You do have to sign up to see the puzzles now. But there's no cost to that, so it seems worth it.

As another reminder, I post a clue every night about the daily Tanga puzzle, so you don't have to go it alone. Plus there are a couple of decent chat resources for when you get really stuck and just want someone to give you the stinkin' answer already.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Newbery and Other Fine Awards

The ALA Awards (including the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and other cool awards) were announced and the winners can be found here.

I'm pleased that I've read some of the honorees. Still some catching up to do it seems, but not as bad as I feared.

Don't Let the BedBlogs Bite

Okay, my buddy Fran sent me this link, and at first glance I thought, huh?

Then I scrolled down and thought, oooh.

At least this way, if I fell asleep in the middle of posting, I wouldn't land face-first on my keyboard. Right?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lives in Letters: That Great Ship

My aunt sent me a bunch of postcards which arrived this weekend. Here's my favorite of them:

Jesmond Dene Waterfall
Newcastle, England
April 23, 1912

Addressed to
Miss J. F-
c/o Mrs. Chas. G-
Hartford, Conn. U.S.A.

Message written on front:

Did you get my letter All safe. What a disaster befell that
great ship! Only topic of conversation.

Message on back:

Dear Jean, What do you
think of this one. I shall
send you coloured ones
also. This is a lovely
spot in summer time.
The weather here has
been lovely for three
days. Hope you are having
better weather also.


This was addressed to my great-great Aunt Jean, who emigrated from Scotland in about 1906. She went to work as a live-in nanny, and continued at that job (with various employers) for a long, long time. This postcard was sent in the care of Mrs. G because Aunt Jean was in her employ at the time.
While a live-in nanny, my aunt was savvy enough to pick up investment tips from at least one boss. Go Aunt Jean!
Aunt Jean got a lot of postcards from all over the world. Some were from family (nephews), but most were from friends or coworkers.
This one had a few points of interest for me. First, I love that it was signed "Chick." I don't know why it continues to surprise me that people used great nicknames back in 1912, but I can't seem to get over it.
I also love the black-and-white photo on the front. I'm not sure how well you'll be able to make it out on the screen, but it is a beautiful scene of a waterfall and pool, and I hope that little part of the world looks the same today.
But the real reason I love this postcard is for the little message on the front. "All safe. What a disaster befell that great ship." In April of 1912, that can only mean the Titanic. Here is an American travelling in England, just days after the Titanic has gone down, with about 1,500 dead. The greatest peace-time tragedy to that point. How amazing to see such a big event in history through 9 words scribbled on the front of a postcard. "All safe. What a disaster befell that great ship."

Tanga Puzzles: January 22 - January 28

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

January 22: Dammit, I'm mad. Should have seen this one faster. After all, a Toyota's a Toyota.

January 23: Wow, I got it because someone told me the answer. All I can say is, if you reflect all the letters, you might be able to come 10 letters that make no sense. Then if you remove "ALL SMOKE" from that, you'll have 5 letters that can be anagrammed to the answer.

January 24: Another tough one, but once it clicks it's really quite good. Go for the obvious answers and fill in the grid as indicated. But remember, sometimes one thing can have two purposes. I'm glad I solved this one. Sometimes I feel like Tanga eats away at me.

January 25: Nicely done. Those are blenders in the background. Keep in mind what happens if the lid isn't on tight. (Oh, and if the puzzle still isn't showing the image, use this link.)

January 26: Don't count on much help from me. This is all I got: One, look at the words one at a time. Two, don't worry if there's a gap.

January 27: I'm Numb from Musing over this one. Oh, and Alphabetical order matters at some point here.

January 28: I was confused when my first letters didn't make a word.

Quote of the Day, 1/22/07: Hammett

As soon as I sat down to get my quotes today, the name Dashiell Hammett popped into my head. No idea why, but I'm going with it.

Who shot him? I asked.
The grey man scratched the back of his neck and said: Somebody with a gun.

The truth is you don't like the theater except the times when you're in a room by yourself putting the play on paper.

After a fraction of a year in high school- Baltimore Polytechnic Institute—I became the unsatisfactory and unsatisfied employee of various railroads, stock brokers, machine manufacturers, canners, and the like. Usually I was fired.
An enigmatic want-ad took me into the employ of Pinkerton's National Detective Agency, and I stuck at that until early 1922, when I chucked it to see what I could do with fiction writing.

Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by his thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down -- from high flat temples -- in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.

Dorothy patted the dog's head and left us.
We found a table. Nora said: "She's pretty."
"If you like them like that."
She grinned at me. "You got types?"
"Only you, darling -- lanky brunettes with wicked jaws."
"And how about the red-head you wandered off with at the Quinns' last night?"
"That's silly," I said. "She just wanted to show me some French etchings."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/21/07: Chaplin

From Wikipedia: Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, Jr. KBE (16 April 1889 – 25 December 1977), better known as Charlie Chaplin, was an English comedy actor, becoming one of the most famous performers in the early to mid Hollywood cinema era, and also a notable director. He is considered to be one of the finest mimes and clowns caught on film and his influence on performers in these fields is great.

From Charlie Chaplin:
A day without laughter is a day wasted.

A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.

Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself.

I do not have much patience with a thing of beauty that must be explained to be understood. If it does need additional interpretation by someone other than the creator, then I question whether it has fulfilled its purpose.

Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.

That is why, no matter how desperate the predicament is, I am always very much in earnest about clutching my cane, straightening my derby hat and fixing my tie, even though I have just landed on my head.

Creative Writing: A Poetry Snippet

In my notebook of random writing, I find several scenic descriptions, a few completed poems, and then a big collection of sentences, half-poems and various scribblings. For this Sunday's installment of creative writing, I offer one piece of a poem. I don't know where the rest of the poem is, because I haven't found the words to write it yet. But this little piece has been sitting around for a few years, just waiting for a home.
They grew too fast
And flashed
In fiery hue,
Then fell too soon
To see
Their season through.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

No Giant Turkey Legs, but Boy, What a Ride!

Wow... I just came from a carnival and I'm excited, overwhelmed, and itching to go back!

It is not too late for you to soak up all that carnival joy and nourishment. I like the funnel cake and corndogs personally, though I saw one guy walk by with a big turkey leg and I'm considering going back to get one myself.... Oh wait, it's a blog carnival. Okay, no corn dogs, but you can get plenty of nourishment anyhow, in the form of oodles and oodles of fun and informative bloggers talking about the world of children's books.

That's right folks, it's the 10th Carnival of Children's Literature, and it's IN TOWN NOW! Step right up! Step right up!

Seriously, the carnival Kelly's put together over at Big A little a is pretty awesome. Go!

Tanga Puzzlethon Hints

Here are a few hints for the Tanga puzzlethon.

All 24 are hinted below. Highlight to the right of the puzzle time if you have trouble seeing the hint.

Good luck!

7PM - This grid contains...

8PM - Find the word in the middle by finding the words across.

9PM - Don't forget the "s" in the first part.

10PM - The note at the bottom should sound vaguely familiar. A few of these clues are oddly worded though, so try these variations: "It's up to the rodent" and "Become educated."

11PM - A couple of notes: The scale is important. I'd also suggest you use "tile" instead of "piece." It makes the pairing easier to figure out.

12AM - It's easy to overlook the 31st letter, and that turns out to be the most critical.

1AM - Notice how the top instructions are written. The clues are understated, but not too hard to find.

2AM - Now I've got it stuck in my head. By the way, it's important that you know who the woman is. She was back in my pre-Christmas quotes, along with Danny Kaye.

3AM - Once you get the word, the last element is to translate for the final answer.

4AM - Be sure to use the decryption shape. And yes, numbers matter.

5AM - Reading this one out loud is very helpful.

6AM - The instruction at the top is a question and an order.

7AM - Well, I'll be! This one shouldn't be too tough for you, but I had trouble getting started.

8AM - Use a thesaurus. Keep it short. This one is a pun similar to the infamous "butter" puzzle.

9AM - The answer really is right before your eyes.

10AM - Prince Michael's instructions are clear.

11AM - That picture in the third line is a net.

12PM - You need to get the link to the image from the puzzle discussion on Tanga. Once you have that, you can solve this by getting just the first 4. If you figure out the last 3, let me know -- I never did get them.

1PM - This one is well within reach.

2PM - Two things to notice. One, there's a reason to use #, and two, if you can think of one word for "fundamentals" that starts with BA, but you think it should be one letter longer, don't give up.

3PM - If you have trouble taking this one in, you might need to change your filter.

4PM - Very popular tanga theme here.

5PM - There is a reason magenta and Apricot are special.

6PM - You're looking for an 8-letter answer. Also, keep in mind that Ernestine often gets the last word.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/19/07: Poe

Happy Birthday Edgar Allen Poe!

Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.
I have no faith in human perfectability. I think that human exertion will have no appreciable effect upon humanity. Man is now only more active - not more happy - nor more wise, than he was 6000 years ago.
Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
Depend upon it, after all, Thomas, Literature is the most noble of professions. In fact, it is about the only one fit for a man. For my own part, there is no seducing me from the path.
There are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction.

A Poe-tic Tribute

I heard my first Edgar Allen Poe story when I was just 12. My seventh-grade Social Studies teacher read "The Tell-Tale Heart" with a sinister glee that sent chills up my spine. We also learned all the state capitals and the definition of communism that year, but the Poe was way more fun.

Today is Poe's birthday. Did you know there is a man who leaves cognac and roses on Poe's grave every year on this date? It's been happening for 58 years -- starting with the 100th anniversay of Poe's birth.

People gather to try to catch a glimpse of the "Poe Toaster." I just think that's so cool.

Thanks to Kathleen for the link!

A Little Poetry for You: Wilbur

Note: Poetry Friday Round-up is over at Big A little a

I can't find any record that I posted this for Poetry Friday before now. But I know this is a recent find, so I wonder if I found it from someone else's Poetry Friday post.

Anyhow, I like this one for several reasons -- it's a solid poem with good use of language and imagery; it's got a good story to tell that would appeal to younger poets; and it's got audio so you can listen to the poet read it and hear his commentary about it beforehand. I do truly think hearing the audio makes the poem so much more of a poem, so as always, I encourage you to click and listen.

The Writer
Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where the light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

Go here for the audio commentary and reading from the poet, and for the text of the rest of the poem.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/18/07: Buchwald

American journalist and humorist Art Buchwald has died at the age of 81. Today's quotes are from him, just to give you a sense of his style.
Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got.

We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don't think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you're hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time.

I worship the quicksand he walks in.

So far things are going my way. I am known in the hospice as The Man Who Wouldn't Die. I don't know if this is true or not, but I think some people, not many, are starting to wonder why I'm still around.

Dying is easy. Parking is impossible.

Nancy in the Sky with Diamonds

Many thanks to Featherbee for showing me how to add a little psychedelic-mind-trippiness to my blog.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/17/07: King

On Martin Luther King day -- January 17 -- 1994, I was in Los Angeles for their last big earthquake. It struck at around 4AM and was one of the most terrifying events I've experienced.

Since then, I have always considered January 17 to be Martin Luther King's birthday. Tonight I learned from Wikipedia that King's birthday is January 15, which coincidentally was the same as MLK Day this year. So, I missed it. Hopefully you'll overlook the small error, and still appreciate today's quotes, from Martin Luther King, Jr.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important.

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.

Words on Wednesday: Puzzle-makers

Has anyone had experience with I found this site while looking around for word puzzles. It's a subscription site where teachers or others working with kids can create all sorts of cool puzzles.

There are logic, sudoku, math and word puzzles. Among the word puzzles are word searches --which they do let you put together without subscribing (here's mine!) -- crosswords, bingos, and others.

It seems like a pretty good resource -- any teachers out there or others who've used something like this?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

On Family Names, and Uncles Named Peeper

What's in a name?

Liz and Grace remind us of how fluid names can be. One day you're living your life as Bridget, the next day you're Beatrice.

In my family, we have similar stories. On my father's side, these are what you'd expect in any family. My grandmother changed her name ever so slightly over the years, from Jeanie to Jeane to Jeanne, ever-conscious of the dramatic effect such spellings might have. Her mother was always Margaret as far as I had heard, but when she entered the U.S. she came in as Maggie. My great-aunt Jerrie was really Jemima. These were the nice easy examples....

On my mother's side of the family, things get stranger. My Uncle Roy didn't find out till he was 60 that his name was Charles. Uncle Peeper probably knew his real name was Harry, but nobody else called him that, not even his wife. This is the family where Donald grew up as "Duck", Doris was "Honey" and Jean Baptiste was "Butsis." Dolores was Tootsie, for rather unflattering reasons. George was George because he was born near Washington's birthday, and Noella was born near Christmas.

My mother, who was born on the 4th of July, barely escaped being named Liberty or Independence, for which I'm eternally grateful: I was named after her.

What are your family names?

Quote of the Day, 1/16/07: Deborah Kerr

Yesterday Cary Grant, today his counterpart in one of the best all-time sappy movies (An Affair to Remember) -- Deborah Kerr. I like these quotes from Kerr. She seems spunky, which is how I always think of her.

I suppose the part nearest me is Laura Reynolds in Tea and Sympathy. Of course playwrite Bob Anderson didn't know that, but he wrote Laura Reynolds and Laura Reynolds happened to be me. It was the coming together of a part and an actress - the same attitude to life, a certain shyness in life, a deep compassion for people who are being persecuted for anything.

Personally, I think if a women hasn't met the right man by the time she's 24, she may be lucky.

I adore not being me. I'm not very good at being me. That's why I adore acting so much.

Years from now, when you talk about this, and you will, be kind.

I respect anyone who has to fight and howl for his decency.

Life on the Edge... of the Forest

Looking for one spot where much of the really great thinking about children's lit is compiled?

Silly you, why are you looking here? Go to The Edge of the Forest! The January issue is waiting for you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/15/07: Cary Grant

Okay, back on the quote bus now. Today's quotes are from the man himself. Mr. Cary Grant.

I suddenly found my articulate self in a dazzling land of smiling, jostling people wearing and not wearing all sorts of costumes and doing all sorts of clever things. And that's when I knew! What other life could there be but that of an actor?

Do your job and demand your compensation -- but in that order.

Everyone wants to be Cary Grant. Even I want to be Cary Grant.

I pretended to be somebody I wanted to be until finally I became that person. Or he became me.

Lives in Letters: Postcard from Central Maine

Just a quick postcard this week, but one I found intriguing.

Norridgewock, Maine
August 19, 1935

Addressed to
Miss Lucy C-
St. Albans Maine

Wed. Morning-
Dear Miss C-
Montie is staying
with his brother Merle.
Was over last evening and
looked fine and said he
was feeling much better.
He stays with Merle so
as to have it quiet.
Said to tell you if noth-
ing happens and bad
spell doesn’t return, he
will get Merle to bring
him back a week from
Sunday, 30th of August.
Regards, Alice H.
I'm not sure why I'm fascinated by postcards like this, but I suppose it's because of the stories I can invent around the brief messages.
For instance, I wonder who Miss Lucy C is. Who is she to Montie, that she'd be getting updates about where he is? And why wouldn't Montie send his own updates?
Who's Alice? Neither Lucy nor she seem like they could be related to Montie and Merle. Why would these two women exchange messages about the men?
I wonder what the bad spell could have been. Polio perhaps. Although plenty of other diseases were available to choose from at the time: influenza, malaria, tuberculosis....
Where is Norridgewock, Maine? About smack-dab in the middle of Maine, maybe a little southeast of the middle. Near Colby college (which by the way, opened its doors back when Maine was part of Massachusetts). It was the filming spot for the 2005 HBO movie Empire Falls. Here's a little history, circa 1886 of Norridgewock. Although this history was written 50 years before the postcard, from all signs on the web, the town did not change much in the interim.
St. Albans, where Miss Lucy C was receiving this postcard, was 30 miles away from Norridgewock. Again, from what I can find out, St. Albans was a similarly small and remote town.
For the life of me, I can't figure out who Alice and Lucy were to Montie. No matter how many times I read this, no story I come up with makes sense.

Tanga Puzzles: January 15 - January 21

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

January 15: I'D recommend you read the top of the puzzle carefully. OR this clue.

January 16: It helps to be a perfectionist.

January 17: I knew I was missing something on this one, but for the longest time I had trouble seeing what it was.

January 18: Why are the clues on the right multi-colored?

January 19: Go here for hints for the puzzlethon puzzles.

January 20: Don't worry about the picture in the background, but try to describe what is added in the foreground. Describe it specifically.

January 21: The silvery thing in the middle is actually a picture of a diamond. Now that you know it's a diamond, that's the easiest pair to start with. If you look through the rest of the pictures, you should find one that goes quite nicely with diamond. Don't mess with "key." Unless you really know the subject matter, key is probably the toughest one to make the connection for.

24... and WOW

So, Stephen King wasn't kidding about how disturbing 24 was tonight.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

About Jack Bauer...

Let me just add that Jack Bauer is easily the most resilient human being who ever lived.

And as my mom pointed out, he's remarkably tan for having spent 2 years being tortured in a foreign prison. He's even tan where he used to have a beard.

And wouldn't you know he managed to secure a cell phone and exchange cell numbers with his new cohort during their brief ride to Figueroa and 6th? When they parted at the train station, I thought, "but how will you find each other again?" Silly silly silly me. Did I learn NOTHING from the first 5 seasons?

Quote of the Day, 1/14/07: Stephen King on 24

The new season of 24 starts tonight, in just under an hour.

First, a line from Chloe, which I think was from last season.

OK, when the alert level goes down, and the terrorists have been caught, we can have some chamomile tea and I'll tell you all my secrets.
Stephen King, whose opinion on suspense and thrillers I may trust above all others, had this to say about his sneak peak of this season:

Day 6 ... is like a book you can't put down...even though there are times when you may want to.

There's ... a queasily gleeful subtext to 24 that suggests, ''If things are this bad, why, I guess we can torture anybody we want! In fact, we have an obligation to torture in order to protect the country! Hooray!'' Yet Jack Bauer's face — increasingly lined, increasingly haggard — suggests that extreme measures eventually catch up with the human soul.

24 also remains fresh, I think, because it is regularly watered by the blood of supporting characters — the sort who used to be considered eternal.
(Note, King goes on to reference Jack's wife and Edgar Stiles, and eventually to threaten the producers with the kind of vengeance only Stephen King can promise if they go after Chloe.)

This time the threat — and no, I'm not going to tell you what it is — seems too plausible. When I got to the shocker that ends episode 4, I could understand Jack Bauer's expression of disbelief; it's a perfectly human reaction to what has just happened. And yet at the same time I'm sitting in my office chair and thinking, This could really happen. And at some point, it probably will.... Really, no one does the old ''We're surrounded by enemies!'' bit better than Fox. Bill O'Reilly's going to love this baby.

Creative Writing: Fog and Stillness

The nice thing about forcing myself to put some of my own writing here each week is that it gives me a chance to edit things I'd written before. The paragraph below, for instance, said virtually the same thing yesterday, but was made up of almost entirely different words. Now I wish I had kept the "before" version to show the difference.
The fog is a familiar visitor on the Maine coast. It can move like a quick intruder, venturing in at the front window, drifting across the house and out the back, leaving the air and surfaces cool and clammy from its damp fingerprints. Other times, the fog sits, heavy and still, infusing the entire landscape with moisture and a weighty silence. In a heavy fog the world grows so quiet around you, so motionless and almost breathless, you might come to believe you're the only living creature left on Earth.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Thomas

For Poetry Friday I wanted to find a great audio recording of a poet reading his or her own work. I came across this pretty quickly and thought, if Rodney Dangerfield could perform this one so well in the movie Back to School, just imagine how much better the poet might do.

In fact, Dylan Thomas' reading of "Do not go gentle into that good night" makes the poem even more beautiful to listen to than it is on paper or screen alone. I'll put the first verses here for you to read, but I strongly recommend taking a few minutes to click the link and listen. The last verse, and the way Thomas' voice changes to suit the meaning there, is especially effective.

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Go here for the rest of the poem, and the audio!

(While you're there, you might want to also check out Gwendolyn Brooks' quick discussion and reading of "We Real Cool.")

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Caught Ya Lurking!

Over at LadyStrathconn and A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy, we're reminded about the joys and dangers of blog lurking.

If you're dropping by and thinking of wandering away without leaving a comment, please reconsider! Click on the comments link at the bottom of this post (please!) and leave a word or two. No eloquence required, I promise!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Do You Smell Something?

Okay, I swear to God, the smell in New York may be coming from New Jersey, but it's not me.

I was feeling kind of bad tonight because I had a serious drop in visitors today here on the Journeywoman blog. I know I've skipped a couple of days of Quote-of-the-Day posts, and I've been a little quieter than usual, but really, are people that fickle that they'll up and leave in just 3 days???? (And do you really come here for Quote of the Day?)

So after a brief sulk, I checked closer, and it turns out that according to the stat counter NOBODY visited after 11 this morning. Not even me. And I know that's a big fat lie, because I did visit myself several times today, in the course of checking comments and editing stuff.

So now I know you still love me, and I didn't say anything bad to make you abandon me, and I can sleep happy.


Tedious Reading

I just started listening to the third of my five Cybils-nominated YA books. Listening, rather than reading, because I got this one on CD just yesterday.

I usually make no distinction between the experience of reading and listening, when it comes to the quality of a book. In this case however, I'll have to go get a hard copy, just to be sure it isn't the audio-reader that's making this "read" so difficult.

Update: It got much better in the second half.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Trust Snape, Indeed

Check out Leila's new t-shirt design over at bookshelves of doom!

Contest - Rename a Book, Win a Prize

Lisa Yee's got a fabulous contest going.

Entering is simple, just think of a children's book, then change the first letter of one word in the title, and explain what that book would be.
A Wrinkle in Lime
Meg's a fashion design protegee who just made the biggest fashion faux pas of the decade.

See? It's that easy!

Go! Enter the contest. Or at least read the entries, because many of them are much more fabulous than mine.

Via Gottabook.

Who is that Masked Man?

This is cool.

I know, I know, Greg over at Gottabook already posted it. But really, my mom sent me this on Sunday, and I should have posted it then but I was too lazy.

It's a bit of performance art, and it's strange, beautiful, mysterious, funny, weird, and as I said earlier, cool.

Go see: Jerome Murat

(Just the intro is in French, then it's just music and performance.)

Forgotten Treasure: Old Mother West Wind

Do you ever have one of those moments when something from your childhood that you had long since forgotten flashes into your head? Maybe a person you forgot you ever knew, an event you'd let slip from your mind, or a book that suddenly came back to you?

A few months ago, I remembered how much I used to love the Katie John series.

The other day, I flashed back to Thornton Burgess.

Did anyone else read Thornton Burgess? I was captivated by his stories as a child. It didn't hurt that he wrote about "Laughing Brook" and the park where his house was, named Laughing Brook Park, was just a short drive from where I grew up. But I truly loved the stories about Johnny Chuck and Little Joe Otter and Grandfather Frog.

Anyway, on Sunday I searched online and reread all the stories from Old Mother West Wind. You can too! Or, you could buy a boxed set of Burgess for a child who likes furry creatures.

What are your forgotten treasures? If you can remember, of course....

Monday, January 08, 2007

Blog Lazy

I'm being blog-lazy these past couple of days. Bear with me and I'll get back on track ... any moment now... yawn....

Tanga Puzzles: January 8 - January 14

The guest-puzzles have begun, and they're tough!

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

January 8: The first step is pretty easy to see. A good knowledge of set theory will help with the second part.

January 9: It's important to remember the most famous line of this movie. And I don't mean "Ouuuuuuch...."

January 10: Read "Badgers" as a verb, not a plural noun. I solved this puzzle with only the third and fifth clues answered. Oh, and there's a pun in the answer.

January 11: Pretty straightforward to figure out what to do, but some of these are tough. 10/12/5 is easier if you say it out loud. For 15/2/3 try accenting the first HO and adding an echo.

January 12: Once I read the words out loud, I was able to make a connection for each word.

January 13: Ouch. Take it slow. If you follow the directions, you shouldn't get lost. Note that when you get to part 2, you might start seeing a word that looks like gibberish. Don't give up on it.

January 14: Ignore the top left picture and this one will be easy for you. Though, if you figure out what that top left picture is, please leave me a comment. (Ooh, I think I know now.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Creative Writing: Your Angel

This one is tough to write any commentary for, because of the topic. I'll say this. I was told a story about someone I knew only distantly. The story stunned me so much that I wrote the poem as a way of processing my response.
Your Angel

Was he laughing yet?
Did he have your eyes?
Did you never feel the sweet surprise
of soft skin, fine hair,
and faintly whispered lullabies?

Close the lid and close the door.
We can look on him no more.

Could we have stopped it
if we’d known what was in store?

How could you?
Why would you?
Have we so misunderstood you?
Missed the signs.
Read just the lines and not between.
And let your menace march unseen
toward innocence and frailty,
allowing for this tragedy.

You broke. He paid.
A magic number now unmade.
You broke. He bought.
Nothing is as it ought to be.

Maybe a good lobotomy
or lethal injection
would send this scourge
in the right direction.

But it’s too late to give us
the kind of protection we lack.

Your angel has left the building.
And he won’t be back.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Meme - Which Would You Rather

Erin's made me answer these! Which would I rather have...?

Hamburger or hotdog? Hamburger, unless I'm at a baseball game. Then absolutely a hotdog!

A kiss underneath the stars on a clear night, or in the rain? Tough one. I love the rain and I love the stars. If it was a hot summer night, I'd choose rain. A cool autumn/winter night I'd choose stars.

A snowy morning or a warm afternoon? SNOW, SNOW, SNOW

Hot chocolate or coffee? Hot chocolate is the only hot drink I enjoy. I've never grown into being a coffee or tea drinker.

A text message or a phone call? Depends who it's from. If it's work, email is easier because I can keep a record of the conversation. If it's a friend, a call is generally more fun, but a part of me still regrets not being able to "capture" the call.

A limo or a VW Bug? Neither. A Jaguar or a Mini Cooper please.

A long island iced tea or a martini? If I had a couple of tasty margaritas first, then I wouldn't care which of these two followed.

A book or a movie? Wow, this depends on my mood of the moment. If I want to be self-indulgent, I would probably go for the movie. If I want to accomplish something I'd go for the book. Not that books aren't an indulgence too.

Tea or soda? Seltzer. Especially plain seltzer. In a large vat please.

An axe murderer for a friend, or a clown? Let me get back to you on that. Clowns really freak me out.

A peaceful lake or a restless ocean? OCEAN, OCEAN, OCEAN

A singular best friend or many acquaintances? Neither. A few very good friends is ideal for me. I no longer feel like I have to have a "best" friend. I love them all.

A job as a burger-flipper for McDonalds, or as a stunt woman? Both would be serious health-hazards for someone as accident prone as I am.

A dog or a cat? DOG, DOG, DOG

Erin, I'll throw a few back at you, which I'll answer later. Which would you rather have:

A world without words or a world without color?

An empty amusement park or an empty shopping mall?

The mannerisms of an insufferable opera diva or the mind of a mad scientist?

No memory of history or no memory of yesterday?

Cybils Reading Update

I spent this afternoon at Barnes and Noble, reading the 2nd of 5 nominated books in the Cybils Young Adult category.

I've now read Hattie Big Sky and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Each of these was excellent in completely different ways. I can already see what an interesting discussion the judging committee will have in weighing all the virtues of these finalists.

Still to go:

The Rules of Survival
The Book Thief
A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

Quote of the Day, 1/06/07: Headaches

Oof! My head cold has led to a nasty little headache. So I'll throw a few quick quotes out on the subject, and then curl up to sleep. Based on the last quote here, I guess that Emerson would not approve of this post.

Eleanor Roosevelt
I could never say in the morning, "I have a headache and cannot do thus and so." Headache or no headache, thus and so had to be done.

Samuel Butler
If the headache would only precede the intoxication, alcoholism would be a virtue.

Lewis Carroll
I'm very brave generally, he went on in a low voice: only today I happen to have a headache.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is one topic peremptorily forbidden to all well-bred, to all rational mortals, namely, their distempers. If you have not slept, or if you have slept, or if you have headache, or sciatica, or leprosy, or thunder-stroke, I beseech you, by all angels, to hold your peace, and not pollute the morning.

Teachers Cooler than The Fonz

Remember the last year of Happy Days, when Fonzie was a teacher? It wasn't a great season, but I really kind of liked the idea of The Fonz teaching.

Anyway, for a list of 100 teachers even cooler than Mr. Fonzerelli, head on over to A Year of Reading, and their fabulous list of 100 Cool Teachers in Children's Literature. They just hit 100, but they'll happily take more suggestions if you've got 'em.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/05/07: Plath on Poetry

Thanks to Kelly Fineman for posting this quote several weeks ago. I've been waiting for another Poetry Friday to share it again.

Here is how Silvia Plath described the small moments of poetry, and the contrast to the expansive time of novels.
How I envy the novelist!

I imagine him - better say her, for it is the women I look to for a parallel - I imagine her, the novelist, pruning a rosebush with a large pair of shears, adjusting her spectacles, shuffling about among the teacups, humming, arranging ashtrays or babies, absorbing a slant of light, a fresh edge to the weather and piercing, with a kind of modest, beautiful X-ray vision, the psychic interiors of her neighbors - her neighbors on trains, in the dentist's waiting room, in the corner teashop. To her, this fortunate one, what is there that isn't relevant! Old shoes can be used, doorknobs, airletters, flannel nightgowns, cathedrals, nail varnish, jet planes, rose arbors and budgerigars; little mannerisms - the sucking at a tooth, the tugging at a hemline - any weird or warty or fine or despicable thing. Not to mention emotions, motivations - those rumbling, thunderous shapes. Her business is Time, the way it shoots forward, shunts back, blooms, decays and double exposes itself. Her business is people in Time. And she, it seems to me, has all the time in the world. She can take a century if she likes, a generation, a whole summer.

I can take about a minute.

I'm not talking about epic poems. We all know how long they can take. I'm talking about the smallish, unofficial garden-variety poem. How shall I describe it? - a door opens, a door shuts. In between you have a glimpse: a garden, a person, a rainstorm, a dragonfly, a heart, a city. I think of those round Victorian paperweights which I remember, yet can never find - a far cry from the plastic mass-productions which stud the toy counters in Woolworths. This sort of paperweight is a clear globe, self-complete, very pure, with a forest or village or family group within it. You turn it upside down, then back. It snows. Everything is changed in a minute. It will never be the same in there - not the fir trees, nor the gables, nor the faces.

So a poem takes place.

A Little Poetry for You: Jarrell

Poetry Friday is upon us again. Elaine's got the round-up over at Blue Rose Girls. Here's a poem I was introduced to in a summer poetry class during high school. I absolutely love how it starts ... it takes a moment to realize the speaker is not just talking about emotions.
Next Day
by Randall Jarrell

Moving from Cheer to Joy, from Joy to All,
I take a box
And add it to my wild rice, my Cornish game hens.
The slacked or shorted, basketed, identical
Food-gathering flocks
Are selves I overlook. Wisdom, said William James,

Is learning what to overlook. And I am wise
If that is wisdom.
Yet somehow, as I buy All from these shelves
And the boy takes it to my station wagon,
What I've become
Troubles me even if I shut my eyes.

When I was young and miserable and pretty
And poor, I'd wish
What all girls wish: to have a husband,
A house and children. Now that I'm old, my wish
Is womanish:
That the boy putting groceries in my car

See me. It bewilders me he doesn't see me.

Read the rest of this poem by clicking here (especially if you want to know what the title means).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/04/07: Ford

Gerald Ford, our 38th president, died this past week. I thought it appropriate to offer a few quotes from Ford today.

A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

It can go on and on, or someone must write "The End" to it. I have concluded that only I can do that. And if I can, I must.

I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your President by your ballots, so I ask you to confirm me with your prayers.

In all my public and private acts as your president, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end.

It's the quality of the ordinary, the straight, the square, that accounts for the great stability and success of our nation. It's a quality to be proud of. But it's a quality that many people seem to have neglected.

My Puzzle on Tanga

Hey, I just found out the Tanga folks are using my puzzle this Sunday night.

Now, I think my puzzle is pretty easy compared to the guest puzzles we've been seeing this week. So any serious puzzle solvers will probably mock mine as child's play.

But for the rest of you (amateurs like me), I hope you find it fun.

Visit Tanga's Daily Fun on Sunday at 10PM EST to check it out.

Another Myth Debunked

Geez, why not just say there's no Santa Claus and kill my entire belief system?

The truth about the 5-second rule

If You Liked This Book Then...

Little Willow puts together the best lists!

Her most recent are three lists recommending alternatives to commonly looked-for titles:

If Then for Teens

If Then for Middle School

If Then for Elementary School

In each list, says Little Willow, "the 'then' option [is] a similar title which I like better than the 'if' option."

Nancy, otherwise known as...

I was first offered this Aristocratic title:
Milady the Most Honourable Nancy the Deipnosophist of Giggleswick on the Naze

But opted instead for this one:
Lady Madame Nancy the Incontrovertible of Melbury Bumpton
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

(thanks to Lady Strathconn for pointing me in the right direction)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Quote of the Day, 1/03/07: More Brains

I enjoyed my brains quotes yesterday, so will add a few more today.
Robert McNamara
Brains are like hearts - they go where they are appreciated.

Charles Kettering
Inventing is a combination of brains and materials. The more brains you use, the less material you need.

Thomas Edison
It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work.