Tag Archives: life

Comment Editing: Can I get an Amen?

Construction is in full swing on booklineandsinker.com, and things are coming along despite the fact that most of the directions and/or instructions I read appear to be written in Chinese or Sanskrit.  Maybe it’s just me.  I keep a brave smile pasted on my face, my techie friend on speed dial, a bottle of wine nearby, and pretend that everything is going swimmingly.  Fake it ’til you make it is my mantra, and the stakes are high!

My husband and I have a wager riding on the development of my new blog; he’s under the impression that I will outsource the design and technical development before it goes live.  He said that my spotty track record speaks volumes, but in my own defense, I only hired the pastry chef to bake my Christmas cookies ONCE!  Dear old hubby went on to remind me of the year I ordered our Christmas tree from the Williams-Sonoma catalog, which happened to be the same year that I invited my entire extended family to Easter dinner and fed them a catered meal that I attempted to pass off as my own.  The jig was up (and we enjoyed a hearty laugh) after a meddling great-aunt found evidence in my trashcan that brought the deception to light.  But I digress. 

Thus far, the most exciting thing about moving to a self-hosted blog is a little feature that benefits anyone who leaves a comment on my blog.  I hope you will be half as excited as I was to discover this little gem.  (Or maybe you don’t live under a rock with me and already know about it.) 

How many times have you dashed off a witty comment on someone’s blog only to discover, after clicking submit of course, that you made a glaring TYPO?  You frantically hit the back button on your browser in a vain attempt to undo the boo-boo, but it’s always too late.  So, what do you do next?  If you’re anything like me, you leave a second comment begging the blogger to correct your mistake.  Am I alone here?  I didn’t think so!

So, the good news?  On my NEW! website, you will be able to edit your comments for up to 30 minutes after leaving them!  Simply use the same computer (IP address) and you can come back and fix any mistake(s).  I know, I know!  I can almost smell the rose petals that are being tossed at my feet at this very minute.  Now I can only hope that it will work. 

Does anyone have the number for a website developer handy?

The Agony and The Ecstasy: Summer Reading

18 years ago this week found a desperate, 17-year-old me scrambling to secure a VHS copy of The Elephant Man from my local library because school was starting and I had yet to read the required (and dreaded) Summer Reading assignment*!  Now friends, believe me when I tell you that cribbing on a test was waaay harder before the advent of the internet; Sparknotes and Pink Monkey were the stuff of the procrastinating student’s (read: my) dreams.  Instead, I was shelling out $4.95 at Walden Books for a book version of Cliff Notes.  (The irony that I read a Cliff Notes book to avoid reading the actual novel is not lost on me.)

Almost two decades later I’ve crossed over to the dark side, creating and correcting Summer Reading tests instead of sweating through them, attempting to fool my teacher into believing I read the books with vague references to conflicts, plot structure, and theme in my essays. 

The (only) great thing about my checkered academic history is that I know ALL the tricks because I’ve pulled them.  I assign my students two books for Summer Reading–one classic and one contemporary.  I know that most of them use Sparknotes and the like for the classic…but not for the contemporary one! 

As I was grading Summer Reading quizzes (given the first day of school!) last year, I came across these gems.  The candor!  The wit!  I love my job.  Let’s have a look at a few of my favorites from 2008.  What will 2009 bring?  One can only imagine!

sparknote

"I didn't read this book because I thought that Sparknotes had every book. So, I was planning on reading it last night but Sparknotes didn't have it. 😦 "

C’mon!  Does it get any better than that?   Well, maybe…

 note2

And this, in a nutshell, is why I love my job and adore Summer Reading–if only for the fodder they both provide my blog. 

So, were you a concientious student who always did his/her Summer Reading or were you a hellion like me–waiting until the last possible second to do your school work?!?  Does Summer Reading serve a purpose?  Did your school district spare you (or your kids) from the pain that is Summer Reading?  Inquiring minds want to know.

*The Collector by John Fowles was the other book I was required to read.  When I finally got around to reading the novel (a few months into the school year) it became one of my favorite books! 

Ribbon Cutting: How I Donated a New Wing at My Library

Yesterday, my local library hosted a ribbon cutting to dedicate the new NATALIE Wing of the building*.  Now before you go congratulating me for my largesse, understand that I didn’t intend to independently fund the new addition…my OVERDUE fines paved the way for this architectural marvel.

Friends, it’s true: I volunteer at my library once a week and STILL manage to have overdue fines that rival the GDP of some small countries.  I’m physically unable to bring back books on time despite innovative methods–a few on the library’s part–to keep me on track.  I tried the automatic online renewal, by-phone renewal, and stacking the books on the table near my front door once I finish reading them–all to no avail.  It would be cheaper to just BUY the books (in hardcover!) rather than borrow them.

What makes this whole situation more absurd is that I’m a frugal shopper and won’t pay retail price for anything.  I’m a meticulous record keeper and love organizing things, so what is it about library books that I can’t wrap my head around?!  Do I have some deep-seated library resentment?  Is it a passive-aggressive borrowing issue?  I need some therapy.  Paging Dr. Freud…

Please tell me that I’m not the only bookworm on the planet who pays extortionate overdue fees on library materials.  With my luck, you guys probably don’t have a single blemish on your library card (and don’t have cavities or parking tickets either, right?!?!). 

*a teeny bit of hyperbole may have been employed during the writing of this post

Mama don’t take my kodachrome away…

I’m turning 35 (thirty-five!!) in a few days and my husband and family chipped in to buy me a new digital camera.  The camera arrived today and since we’re leaving on our annual road trip in a few days, my husband was merciful enough to give me the camera tonight so I could read the book and test it out before we leave.

With this camera, I graduate from a point and shoot to a digital SLR.  I have a film SLR and have been not-so-secretly pining for a digital for a while.  I was having some fun tonight, firing off shots of a few of my favorite things.

new cam markers

new cam super

new cam perfume

I can’t wait to use this camera outdoors–the road trip will provide ample opportunity I’m sure!  Some highlights include:

  • A visit to a drive-in movie–we’re going to see the new Johnny Depp film under the stars!
  • Riding a train through the woods, along a river.
  • Body sliding down a natural water slide in a Vermont river.
  • Nosing around the town where my paternal grandfather spent his childhood.
  • Visits to independent bookstores, antique shops, and farmers’ markets.
  • A trip to the new Woodstock Museum–this August marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock–my dad was there way back when!

Compared to our previous trips, this one is a bit tame.  We’ve been to a rodeo in Wyoming, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Wall Drug, The Mitchell Corn Palace, The Madonna Inn, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Memphis, Graceland, Dollywood, Nashville, Houston, Austin, Montana, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Cadillac Ranch, and more–all by car! 

What’s on YOUR summer calendar?  Are you going away?  Taking a ‘stay’cation right in your own backyard?  I’m sure that no matter what our plans, we all share one thing–we’ll have plenty of books to read!

Celebrity Bios: Hot or Not?

Hello, my name is Natalie and I read celebrity biographies.  (Hello, Natalie!)

A genre that often reads like fiction is the celebrity bio/autobiography.  Some readers eschew this genre because they aren’t interested in celebrities.  Others avoid it because the writing can be appallingly bad.  Still others know that buying these books hurts real writers because the publishers pay obscene sums of money for the celebrity tell-alls, leaving virtually no budget for the rest of the authors.  All of those reasons are valid yet I still find myself reading these books.  

I’ve read more than a few celebrity bios over the last year or so–14 readily come to mind.  A few were really good and rest were abysmal.  I’m not a celebrity watcher–we don’t even have television at my house–yet the list below is damning evidence proving my mini-addiction to the genre.  I’ve blazed through books about:

  • Sidney Poirtier
  • Michael J. Fox
  • Rosie O’Donnell
  • Martha Stewart
  • Tori Spelling 
  • Michael Hutchence (of the Aussie band INXS)
  • John Steinbeck
  • William Shatner
  • Eric Clapton
  • Patty Boyd
  • Paula Deen
  • Harper Lee
  • Madonna
  • Maureen McCormick (Marsha Brady)

Has your opinion of me plummeted?  My only defense (aside from the insanity plea!) is that this genre is my guilty pleasure!  I don’t read tabloid or celebrity magazines but can’t quite keep my paws off of these.  

When I go to the library to borrow these books, it’s like I’m renting a dirty movie or something.  I put them in the middle of a huge pile of literary masterpieces, hoping to hide the shame that is the tell-all bio!  I’m not sure why I even read these books when most are a monumental waste of my time and aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.  Curiosity, maybe? 

So, is it only me or do you read this genre too?  Did you also remove the dust jacket while reading sTORI Telling by Tori Spelling, or was that just me? 

Are You Experienced: Have you been published?

Surely I can’t be the only book worm and blogger who harbors secret fantasies about having something published one day.  When I say published, I don’t mean on WordPress or Blogger–I’m talking publication in a magazine or journal, book or newspaper.

Yes, I’ve always wanted to see my name in print, but what steps have I taken to achieve my lofty goal?  Um, until this week, not too many.  Over the last year I’ve written several articles and essays, but have been hesitant to mail them off because rejection brings out my inner crybaby

I changed all of that on Monday by mailing off a short non-fiction piece for a small magazine.  Said magazine receives upwards of 1,000 submissions each month, but I decided to stop editing and procrastinating and just mail my article before postal rates went up again.

Hanging around book blogging land and seeing all the well-written posts and reviews got me to wondering if there are any other writers out there who have been published or are looking to be published.  I suppose that by nature of blogging we are all writers, but have you ever submitting any pieces for publication?  If not, why not?  If so, how was your writing received?

Review: Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

plaid1Title: Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase

Author: Jen Lancaster

Genre: Nonfiction Memoir/Essay; 384 pages

Publication Date:  May 5, 2009

Publisher: National American Library (NAL)

Rating: 4 Bookmarks

If you’re anything like me, you have a Santa Claus-sized ledger in which you record book titles that other bloggers recommend.  If this is the case, please add Jen Lancaster’s Pretty in Plaid to the top of the ‘Nice’ list. 

Lancaster has been likened to “David Sedaris with pearls and a supercute handbag”, and her latest memoir weaves a hilarious retrospective highlighting fashion highs and lows over the last four decades.  Entire essays are devoted to size-5 Jordache jeans, odious Brownie uniforms, and the edgier Girl Scout uniforms.  (I donned both and can attest to the faux pas that was the Brownie Beanie.)

Lancaster takes the mundane and spins it into a giant, literary confection of equal parts humor, hubris, and habiliment.  This book should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning printed on it–Reading this book should be done only in private and may induce:

  • laughing until your mascara runs down your face in twin, black rivers
  • laughing until you snort (Swine flu be damned!)
  • laughing yourself into a wheezy, cartoonish fit
  • laughing yourself into hyperventilation (as your husband frantically dials 9-1-1 for help)

Maybe you’re in need of a good laugh or you’ve been meaning to pick up some nonfiction for a reading challenge–either way, here’s the perfect vehicle!

Lest you think I’m being paid to write such a glowing review, I will say that the book starts off with a few missives I wasn’t barking mad about. Additionally, the footnotes may get a bit tedious for some readers–having to glance down two or three times on one page–but beyond those minor quibbles, this book has already become one of my favorites.

You can catch Jen on her nation-wide book tour, kicking off tomorrow.  She’ll be in New York on Thursday and I hope to be there (with pearls on).  Thanks to Kate and Melissa for the galley!