Category Archives: Uncategorized

Young-ish Dog Learning New Tricks

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Even w/ a Bachelor’s and Master’s under my belt; even with a full-time job in an industry I love and in a department I enjoy; even with all the major boxes checked off for a young person living and surviving in New York City, I feel the need to explore new things. 

Learning something new has always been an exciting experience for me. I was a nerd that loved school, that loved getting an education and reading about something completely foreign/unknown to me. I still enjoy it today (hence my obsessions w/ the How Stuff Works podcasts, Mythbusters, and the Planet Earth series). Which is why I actually listened when my friend and mentor recommended Jon Duckett‘s HTML and CSS. He knew my interest in learning more about coding and web design. He knew I was more of a by-the-book learner than a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants one. And I have one word to describe this book. 

Genius.

No, it doesn’t uncover any great mysteries, there are no Indiana Jones and the Last Crusadeworthy discoveries. However, the information is flawlessly and pleasantly presented in a colorful, but not obnoxious, manner. Its simple. Its quick. And at the end of each section, I’m not frantically googling to try and translate any “high-tech lingo” that the author has assumed I already know. It truly is the best way to begin your education in HTML and CSS. I absolutely suggest this book to anyone interested in this subject. Or even anyone trying to broaden their experience for a job. It’s a skill/practice that is much sought after and admired.

Just buy it! Amazon B&N Walmart

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I Really Do Post…Just Not Always Here (Amended)

Realized just now that I’ve been contributing some stuff to my work’s blog and obviously not here. It’s actually pretty cool. Once a week, out department puts up a post called “Links We Like”, and we all put in anything new we’ve come across that week, or any links/apps/products we’re excited about. So here are the few I’ve picked these past two months (you’ll notice a theme…its sports), plus a link to the post that includes my co-workers’ links. Have fun!

 

TODAY: June 10, 2011 (Bill Simmons’s, a.k.a. The SportsGuy, new website, Grantland goes live)

It’s always exciting when a someone whose work you’ve been following for years begins a new project, especially when that new project includes new talents that speak to your interests! Such is the case with the new site Grantland. Bill Simmons (columnist for ESPN, New York Times No. 1 bestselling author, and podcaster-extrodinar) has just launched his new site this week, dedicated to the same unique blend of sports and pop culture that Simmons has been excelling at for years! With a rotation that includes authors like Chuck Klosterman and Malcom Gladwell, columnists like Dan Fierman (GQ) and Chris Jones (Esquire), and some interestingly “fresh” voices, this site may prove to be a must-follow/must-read!

June 3, 2011 (The New York Public Library’s new App, Biblion)

The New York Public Library has gone the extra mile with their new app (to be an ongoing series) released on Tuesday, May 31. The first “issue” of their iPad app, NYPL Biblion, focuses on the 1939-40 World’s Fair; the fair held right before and during the start of WWII in Queens. The material they’ve resurrected from their stacks includes images, articles, audio files, and just an astounding wealth of information. For New York history buffs, its a treasure trove; for world and war history fans, its an entirely new perspective; and for anyone else, its a fascinating experience that really showcases the benefits of the iPad. Oh yeah, it’s also free!

May 27, 2011 (On the amazingly funny book, All My Friends are Dead)

It’s always an exciting moment to stumble across a book that makes you cry, makes you think, or makes you fall over with laughter. I lucked out this week and found a humor book that made me do all three! All My Friends Are Dead promotes itself as “both the saddest funny book and the funniest sad book you’ll ever read,” and I’m inclined to believe it! If you didn’t pick it up last summer, be sure to check out a couple pages from authors Jory John and Avery Monsen here.

May 20, 2011 (…I didn’t like anything this week…)

May 13, 2011 (obviously I’m as bad at posting at work as I am here)

May 6, 2011 (MLB’s new app, MLB at Bat. It’s like crack for baseball fans)

A new addition to an already awesome development this spring: the improved experience on the MLB network’s Gameday. While the revamped site is great and the MLB.tv option is amazing for any truly crazed baseball fan, I’ll focus on the app that goes along with the new feature, MLB At Bat. Some of the awesome features include live clips of games; radio coverage from both teams (a major plus for a Red Sox fan living in NYC); the Gameday feature found on the MLB site (improved considerably); and the scoreboard, which is often overlooked, but done so cleanly in this app. Overall, it’s a fantastic experience and I’m thoroughly impressed with the developers. I wouldn’t mind seeing this done for a few of my other interests: footballIron Chef, the Quidditch World Cup . . .

April 29, 2011 (Hey, this is a non-judging blog…well, not really)

April 22, 2011 (This is actually my co-worker’s link, but it’s too cool NOT to share)

Today Shelf Awareness shared an incredible, hand-lettered map of literary America (below) made byThe Literary Gift Company. I can’t stop admiring it and looking for my favorite writers. (I want to buy it and hang it next to Little Miss Muffet and her friends.)—Laura

Literary Map

April 8, 2011 (My first contribution!!! And yes, its on the Guitar Hero exhibit at the Met 🙂

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York” exhibit? There’s an app for that! Easy to upload and full of cool extras to check out after you leave the museum, it includes audio descriptions from the exhibition curator, Jayson Kerr Dobney; video and song clips of instruments on display being played; and interviews with musicians. And unlike the normal “one-room video” layout, where visitors crowd around a tiny screen, or sit awkwardly on wooden benches watching the same loop of film, this structure allows for a more interactive and personal experience. Honestly, if they keep making easy-to-follow apps like this, I’ll be visiting a few more museums this year.

And just because I think Google is Amazing this week:enjoy.

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Spring Is In The Air (Regardless Of What The New York Weather May Say)!

Weather Spring showers bring May flowers or knot, its definitely springtime (for Hitler and Germany) for this bookworm.

[I guess it would have been nice to warn you that I’m feeling a bit quirky today, so there some word-play and random outbreaks of song up there. Très désolé. I’ll refrain from anymore.]

Some clear indications that we’re in full-swing of the season of rebirth (I’m of course alluding to the second coming of the New York tourists, now that the Christmas/New Year’s batch have gone home):

  • Hockey playoffs are underway (Go Ducks!)
  • Baseball is underway again (please, no Red Sox ribbing yet…its only April people)
  • Sneezing and coughing fits have begun (indicating that my hiatus from allergy ailments is coming to an end)
  • And the biggest sign of all: I’ve just bought 6 new Non-Fiction titles

Yes, it’s time for round two of the “New Year/New You” resolutions. Like most people in the new year, I began January with a sense of self-improvement and self-betterment. I, too, made numerous pledges to shed some weight/get more sleep/do more at work/*insert whatever other ridiculous declaration bound to die a one-month death here*. And like everyone else, they mostly died around week 2 of February, to await their awakening in January 2012.

Enter the season of new flowers, new life, and self-motivating rejuvenation: SPRING

Like every year, this season I am back on the ball and trying to “improve” myself. My method: read some books filled with facts. Maybe its the former-student in me, missing those late nights of cramming useless math equations, scientific theories, and historical revolutions into my head for a final/SAT exam/thesis. Doesn’t matter. Facts are facts, and apparently I’m hungering for them now.

So here’s the line-up:

  • The Greatest Game Every Player by Mark Frost: “The story of Francis Ouimet, the first amateur to win the U.S. Open golf tournament, is just too good to be true: it’s Rocky without the sequels, it’s Jack without his beanstalk, it’s Tiger without Nike. But it’s true, and as told by veteran thriller writer Frost, it’s the most compelling sports book since Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling Seabiscuit.—Booklist
    Yes, I loved the movie. No, I know nothing about golf except that I find it a little boring and my father plays it way too much. But really, its a “little guy takes on The Man” kind of story. How does this NOT interest you?
  • How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization by Franklin Foer
    This was actually recommended by a co-worker, and seeing as I’m a casual soccer fan it made sense to check it out. That, and it’s a pretty compelling title 😉
  • Onward by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon
    Okay, so I’m a Starbucks fanatic. So sue me, and the other millions upon millions of people who get their daily dose of caffeine from this monstrous corporation. It may pay out, it may turn out to be another New York Times “bestselling” product placement. Only one way to find out, right?
  • Now, I obviously have a few more: one about some queens (the royal kind), one about some puppets, one about some divas (the basketball playing kind), and one about the APA Stylebook (sorta). But I think we’ll have to see how these go before I start sharing more.

    Happy reading, and avoid the pollen!

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Covers of Interest

Finally back on the ball, I’ve come across some interesting covers the past few moths that I thought I’d throw out here. The first is this amazing new cover for one of Penguin’s backlist titles, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Newest Penguin cover for classic backlist

Newest Penguin cover for classic backlist

I have to say, it was never one of my favorite books, but this is a brilliant re-emergence of a classic literary work! It’s very modern, pop culture-esque look and feel. I’m a HUGE advocate for breathing new life into these brilliant works of old, and this is a wonderful way to grab the attention of a new generation. Modern adaptations are fun and all, but you can always make an old house look great with just a fresh coat of paint!

Television and Books collide

Television and Books collide

Now, this one is a bit selfish. I’m a giant fan the new show, CASTLE (Mondays, 10pm EST), both for its premise, its incorporation of the book world, and most importantly, and, of course, the ever amazing Nathan Fillion. So when I walked into Borders and found this book on one of the table displays, I knew I’d be leaving the store, book in hand.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s yet another cop show (don’t turn away yet, it gets better!), but there’s this comical author, Richard Castle, that the lead detective has been saddled with as a semi-permanent ride-along. He’s constantly getting in the way, obviously, but his great delivery, not to mention best-selling fame, make each case an hour of entertainment and joy. Kate Beckett, the dynamic detective stuck babysitting Castle, is just the thing he’s been looking for to write his new mystery series starring Nikki Heat, the lead character inspired by the red-hot cop! And to make the show even more enticing, guest appearances have already been made by the Mystery Mad Men themselves, James Patterson, Stephen Cannell, and Michael Connelly!

So to discover Hyperion actually published Richard Castle’s latest book!? You better believe I bought it!

Apparently Seth Grahame-Smith didn't go far enough

Apparently Seth Grahame-Smith didn't go far enough

Okay, so I know we’re all sick of Vampires, and we’re even MORE fed-up with Pride & Prejudice adaptations. But honestly, can you look at this and NOT want to find out more? As if adding the swarming undead to the original manuscript wasn’t enough, now we’re turning one of literature’s favorite leading man into one himself? This may just have to get a little further investigation by yours truly…

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Speaking of Harry Potter…

Please forgive me, but I am officially going off on a tangent.

This was just too great an opportunity to pass up-The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has opened it’s (no joke) Harry Potter Exhibition.

Pretend your JK Rowling. You’ve just published one of the world’s most infamous (and controversially critiqued) series, that has dragged audiences of ALL ages to sleep for hours in whatever weather imaginable to view the billion-dollar film adaptations. This doesn’t even include the technically illegal reproductions of your work circling the world of fandom, the millions you’re making in clothing and accessories, or the clamoring any future works will bring about.

Now, someone in Chicago has gone ahead and decided to to dedicate a portion of their museum to your story….

Holy Monumental Marketing Batman!!!

This is the kind of promotional work for backlist books publisher’s can only DREAM about! It’s now gone from where can we apply HP references in the market (clothing, movies, music, food), to where haven’t we…I’m thinking vehicles, maybe an airline or two. Does Buckingham Palace have any renovation plans coming up? Cause I can suggest a GREAT theme that’s bound to be a huge success!

Move aside James Patterson, looks like the marketing world has met it’s greatest Book Behemoth.

Check out the Museum’s home and PW‘s review!

And in the words of the fictional character I want to grow-up to be: “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed – or worse, expelled.”

(That’s right, its a Hermione Granger moment.)

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Queer Theory, Amazon, and Twitter…Oh My!

Thanks to my good friend’s tweet, I discovered what this post would discuss, though briefly so as not to continue beating this poor dying horse.

Enter “#amazonfail”-If you’ve been under a rock, or more predictably out of the twitter loop, this story has probably gone over your head. Honestly, I hadn’t heard it myself until reading one friend’s message on the ever faithful and current reporter, Twitter (scary but true).

So the gist of it is that there was a noticeable trend of Amazon sales rankings disappearing from certain sales materials (books featuring gay and lesbian themes/characters). The amazing thing is how quickly this all came about: it was noticed this weekend, and an Amazon rep has already addressed the topic with Publishers Weekly. As PW reports, “an Amazon spokesperson said that a glitch had occurred in its sales ranking feature that was in the process of being fixed.”

Now what I found interesting was another report on this story, found on jezebel.com. While they approach the same topic (with a few more expletives thoughts about the matter), they also provide some interesting comparisons on what WAS showing rankings, and what wasn’t.

Ex. “Queer theory books, books on coming out, and feminism books lose their rankings, but A Parent’s Guide To Preventing Homosexuality gets to keep its rank?”

The list of what did and did not make the cut was a rather surprising and controversial collection. And to think I wouldn’t have bothered to read PW about this until tomorrow if not for my skills in social networking procrastination. As my good friend pointed out on her message, “the debacle started, grew and finished across 1 SUNDAY… Twitter gets results!” (Thanks for the update PanDAng!)

*Also, check out an interesting theory presented by another social network correspondent. It’ll keep you conspiracy theory people happy, and the rest of us informed.

So be it mass genocide, natural disasters, celebrity tid-bits, or righteous equality actions against e-tailer discrimination, turn to your Twitter kiddies! It’ll let you know whats hot or not.

Having said all that, and in light of it being Easter, I leave you with this Bob Hope quote: “The good news is that Jesus is coming back. The bad news is that he’s really pissed off.

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U.S. PATRIOT ACT: Kind of Like That Annoying Safety Patrol in Grade School

Not to offend everyone who was ever a Safety Patrol “officer” in grade school (sadly, I was one as well), but after reviewing this article on PW, and the federal act itself, I have to say I wouldn’t mind ripping the proverbial badge of the government’s chest and pouring a milk carton over it’s head.

If you aren’t aware, in section 215 of the Patriot Act, provides the right to “access to records and other items under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act”, including from libraries, bookstores, and other businesses where customer records are kept. If that’s not bad enough, they also enforce a “gag provision”, basically stating that if the FBI has demanded information or records, the establishment is not permitted to speak of it (even if the request is dropped in some cases).

While the book world is uniting for the common good (Captain Planet style) to get this reformed, it’s important to look at this from both sides. On the one hand, since 9/11 and the Iraq War, we’ve been pretty discombobulated about our government’s policies on hunting down and taking care of terrorists and “suspicious characters”. Most of this stems from our fear of being caught off-guard again. I know I don’t want to be part of the reason we let down our guard only to have another fatal attack take place.

BUT I’m also pretty sick about turning over all of my privacy, not to mention First Amendment rights for this thing. Isn’t that why we have the internet? Isn’t my voluntary distribution and divulging of personal records through blogs, tweets, Facebook updates and more enough for you people?

I’m not claiming we’ve become a case of Fahrenheit 451, but as a fairly liberal thinking bookworm, I definitely get the heeby-geebies when someone starts questioning the books I’m reading.

On that happy note: “‘Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print,”* until you notice the ‘Reward’ posted after it.

*Lord Byron

(If you want to find out more, here’s where I was looking: Reader Privacy, ALA, ACLU)

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