Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Boulevard or Blvd.?

I spent much of the afternoon returning e-mails to various publishers and vendors requesting catalogs and account applications. In the process, I have been compiling the information needed to complete all the paperwork necessary to open accounts with those companies I choose to order from. Of course, the first question is; Business Name. And, therein, lies a tale.

Way back in December and January - I know it's only been three or four months but it feels like years ago - I decided to start this blog to keep my family, friends, and the SPI community informed about the process involved in opening my dream bookstore. Before I could really start the blog, I had to have a name, and that is a story of its own. But, I finally made a decision; Paragraphs on Padre Boulevard. It can be shortened to Paragraphs, which I thought had a kind of community appeal - "Hey, I'll meet you at Paragraphs" - and the, on Padre Boulevard, tells everyone where the shop is located. So, that choice was made and the blog was launched.

Not long after, I received a very nice call from Jerry Wilson, suggesting that I reserve a domain for my perfect name and future website. He told me that in this new internet world there are folks that just look for names that someone may want, then these same people register the name and when the poor dope (that's me) gets ready to launch their web site, the domain name has been taken but can be purchased, for a price.

Now this sounded like reasonable advice, and I put registering as a domain on my list of things to do. Well, we all know what happens to our To Do lists. By the time I got around to this task, a couple of weeks had gone by in classic Padre Style, and, you guessed it, was not available. Now, there is no logical reason why this domain name would be used by anyone but me, unless the registrant planned to make me pay for the use of my own carefully chosen name.

My Italian temperament kicked in and I decided there was no way I would give these scavengers the satisfaction of inquiring about this domain name. I finally decided that it was easy enough to change Boulevard to the abbreviated form and everything would be great.

It was one of my first lessons in doing business in this virtual world. So there you have it - Our name will officially be Paragraphs on Padre Blvd. Now I'm ready to get the legal niceties out of the way - that is on the agenda for next week.

Old News: But SPI Can Still Use Your Vote

Your Vote is Needed
to Make
South Padre Island
Barefoot Friendly

This is old news to most of you, but the voting deadline is in July so I thought a little reminder couldn't hurt. To remind myself to vote each day, I have put a link to the site on my toolbar. South Padre Island will appreciate all the support we can get, so please vote for our beach daily!!

We're excited to announce our participation in this year's Surfrider Foundation Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project. The Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project was launched in 2007 to help raise awareness and support for the Surfrider Foundation and its efforts to protect and preserve our world's oceans, waves and beaches through a series of beach restoration events.

This summer, the Barefoot Wine Beach Rescue Project will be traveling coast to coast, from Montauk, NY, to Austin, TX, San Francisco, CA, and one city to be voted on by the public. We're excited to let you know that South Padre Island was chosen as a voting city!

We're inviting members, friends, family, coworkers and other people the age of 21+ to vote daily for South Padre Island at . The winning location will receive funds to help with campaign work and other programs and host a beach cleanup and celebration event on Saturday, August 23, 2008.

As special thanks to volunteers, singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman, after joining volunteers on the beach, will perform live at the special celebration. Guests will also enjoy beach-inspired bites and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly.

Voting ends July 15, so be sure to cast your vote at

Rob Nixon
Volunteer Coordinator
Surfrider Foundation South Texas Chapter

Monday, April 28, 2008

Has anyone missed me?

The last few weeks have not left much opportunity for keeping up with my writing, or, for that matter, anything else.

First, I had to make the US government and the beloved IRS happy by the 15th. I have never been very good about getting returns filed on time - at least not my own - but this year I filed my extension and actually completed my return by the 21st. I do believe this may be a record for me.

In celebration of being so efficient, the pod (my mother, my aunt, Griffy, Sophie and Sadie) made our annual trek to Grand Lake, Colorado, looking for moose. I do love South Padre Island, but it will be hard to leave my mountains behind. Anyway, I put Griffy on a plane back to Rochester, NY, this afternoon and I will be busy finalizing all the details for opening the store and making the move to Texas.

I performed my first civic duty as a Texas resident, last week. I completed and mailed my absentee ballot for the town election. I hope my candidates are successful.

Sophie and Sadie are missing their big Papa, so I think I'll go give them a little attention. Then tomorrow I can put my nose back to the grindstone.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Quote for the Day

In response to the daily news:

"Remember that happiness is as contagious as gloom. It should be the first duty of those who are happy to let others know of their gladness."

Maurice Masterlinck, Belgian dramatist, essayist, and poet

Born: 1862 AD
Died: 1949 AD, at 87 years of age.

Masterlinck wrote plays "The Princess Maleine" 1889, "The Intruder" 1890, "Pelleas and Melisande" 1892, "Joyzelle" 1903, "Mary Magdalene" 1910, libretto "Pelleas et Melisande" 1902

Nobel Prize in Literature 1911

Other well-known quotations from Masterlinck:

  • "An act of goodness is of itself an act of happiness. No reward coming after the event can compare with the sweet reward that went with it."
  • "All our knowledge merely helps us to die a more painful death than the animals that know nothing."
  • "At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past."

Friday, April 11, 2008

SPI's 35th Birthday Celebration On Deck

The Island's 35th Birthday Celebration kicked off yesterday and promises to be a great event that will evolve into an annual Pirate Days

From the Island Breeze:

South Padre Island’s anniversary party got underway Thursday evening at City Hall with a huge fanfare and many salutes from dignitaries and old-timers who remembered when the town was incorporated in 1973.

Senator Eddie Lucio read a proclamation from the Texas Senate commending South Padre Island for its “many contributions to our state.”

After the ceremony Lucio was enthusiastic about how far the town had come and what he believed the future holds for it. “It’s a wonderful celebration,” he said. “It culminates 35 years with leadership that has been able to get the job done.”

The party continues throughout the weekend and the following schedule of events was provided by Melissa Zamora, Communications Director for the South Padre Island CVB

Friday, April 11

6-10 p.m.: SPI 35 Birthday Party with a Pirate Flair; Louie’s Backyard

Cost: $5 admission; children under 4 years of age, free
-Live music by the Bongo Dogs, Saturn Street Strummers
-Complimentary food buffet
-Costume contest for adults/children
-“Surprise” entertainment

Saturday, April 12

9 a.m.-Noon: FREE ADMISSION; Sandcastle-building and kite-flying lessons in front of Wanna Wanna Beach Bar & Grill and Boomerang Billy’s Beach Bar
Noon-6 p.m. Pirate Bazaaarrr Family Fun Festival, Louie’s Backyard
-Carnival games
-Live music by J. Michael Laferty, Leo and Jerry Duo
-Food and retail booths
-Island history storytelling (Beachcomber’s Museum)
-Bring canned food as a birthday gift! Boy Scouts of America Food Drive

Pillage-and-Plunder Dining /Shopping Spree at Participating Businesses (more than 80 providing discounts/specials. List distributed at all events)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mayor's Pick for the Month

Peter and the Starcatchers
Author: Dave Barry
and Ridley Pearson
Publisher: Disney Books
Mass Paper: 480 pages
Price: $7.99

Book Review:
Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

by Jerry Wright

This is theoretically a prequel to the original Peter Pan story, and I enjoyed it thoroughly, but I get the feeling that Barry and Pearson have never read the original, because so much of it is Disney, and so little is Barrie. Does this make it a bad book? No, not at all. It was extreme fun, well written, and with two very enjoyable protagonists: Peter (of course) and a "kick-butt and take names" 14-year-old young lady named Molly Aster, who is an apprentice "Starcatcher".

So, anyway, this book tells the story of how Neverland came to be, how the mermaids were created, where Tinkerbell came from (and I guess where all the little flittery fairies must come from), how Peter learned to fly, how Hook came to be, and oh yes... That magic dust. Which reminded me of Cheech and Chong's "Santa Claus and His Old Lady".

If all you know is Disney, you'll probably love this story. If you are a J.M. Barrie purist, I imagine you'll dislike it intensely. And if you just would like a light-hearted adventure book with some interesting characters, well, I'd say read Peter and the Starcatchers. This book has been popular enough that there will be at least one sequel, and perhaps other "Starcatcher" books. For an enlightening look at the authors, Powell's Books in Portland, OR interviewed the authors on their book tour.

Copyright © 2006 Jerry Wright and Bewildering Stories

Read the first chapter
Read reviews...

Download the reader's guide for Peter and Starcatchers from the Hyperion site!

Check out the Disney website for Peter and the Starcatchers.

Buy the book from an independent bookstore

Mae West as Diamond Lil

Diamond Lil, a play written and starred in by Mae West opened on this day in 1928

From Today in Literature:

"Diamond Lil is all mine and I she. She’s I, and in my modest way I consider her a classic. Like Hamlet, sort of, but funnier.

Mae West, Diamond Lil’s star and writer, sort of

How much West wrote of Diamond Lil was a long-running dispute with collaborator Mark Linden, but there is no doubt that her performance as Lil, and her recent notoriety, made the play the great success it was. West had just been jailed for the provocations of her play, Sex. Her new play dressed the same topic in more respectable clothes, and became an instant hit. In his 1928 review, New York Herald Tribune critic poked fun at the idea West had reformed herself, and the idea that anybody wanted her to:

The result of Miss West’s reformation is that the Theater Royale is crowded at each performance of Diamond Lil with persons anxious to encourage a conscious-stricken transgressor in her desire to be meritorious. It is one of the “hits” of the waning season and vies in money-making values with the most prosperous output of dramatists who have never been to jail."

Best-known quotes from Mae West:

Hello there, warm, dark, and handsome.

Why don't you come up some time and see me?

When I'm good I'm very good but when I'm bad I'm better.

Ancient Bloggers

This internet age and blogging has changed the way we get information - but bloxicographers and blogymologists?

William Safire considers the question of Who was the first blogger?

Hundreds of weblog pioneers will compete for that title, and it will be interesting to see who they will consense upon. (As a language columnist, I feel free to coin a neologism now and then; “consense” is a verb that can replace “form a consensus”. Not the opposite of “nonsense”.)

In the search for the Grand Originator, bloxicographers should not limit themselves to finding the first to use the Internet. “Blogging”, as it will be understood, is broader than “creating a weblog to express a personal opinion and/or to establish an information community.” Although the word “blogosphere” was coined in 1999 by Brad L. Graham “as a joke” and re-minted in all seriousness in 2002 by William Quick with his Daily Pundit, we ought to dig more deeply to place blogging in the great scheme of human communication. That means we should reach back in history to find the person who first popularized the idea of influencing the world by using some medium to get across his ideas to large groups.

I particularly like Safire's discussion of the history of columnists.

...Simeon Stylites the Elder. According to the OED, a stylite was “an ascetic who lived on the top of a pillar”. (Greek “stylos” means “pillar”.) The sainted Simeon the Elder took up residence atop a column in Syria in AD 423. He remained atop that column and others for 37 years, each loftier and narrower than the preceding; his final column was 66 feet high.

Simeon the Elder stood day and night, leaning on a rail, dependent for food on what his disciples (and presumably the Younger) brought him by ladder. He preached sermons to those gathered around his column, who then went out and spread his pastoral teachings. Other columnists took up his technique and were also called stylites. He was the subject of a poem by Tennyson, concluding with “I, Simeon, The watcher on the column till the end.”

Bookstore Bandits

I just hope South Padre Island has a big enough market for books that shoplifting is considered worth the effort. If there is I may need a new pair of running shoes or can one run in Crocs?

From The Stranger, in Seattle:

In my eight years working at an independent bookstore, I lost count of how many shoplifters I chased through the streets of Seattle while shouting "Drop the book!" I chased them down crowded pedestrian plazas in the afternoon, I chased them through alleys at night, I even chased one into a train tunnel.

"There's an underground economy of boosted books. These values are commonly understood and roundly agreed upon through word of mouth, and the values always seem to be true. Once, a scruffy, large man approached me, holding a folded-up piece of paper. 'Do you have any Buck?' He paused and looked at the piece of paper. 'Any books by Buckorsick?' I suspected that he meant Bukowski, but I played dumb, and asked to see the piece of paper he was holding. It was written in crisp handwriting that clearly didn't belong to him, and it read:

1. Charles Bukowski

2. Jim Thompson

3. Philip K. Dick

4. William S. Burroughs

5. Any Graphic Novel"

Monday, April 7, 2008

Anonymous Comments Illegal?

This would be bad news for the SPI Forum!!

Radley Balko reports

Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.

If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

Representative Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying.

Thumbs up to The Daily Dish

A. J. Liebling's World War II Writings

"The war brought out the best in [Liebling]. Here he . . . relied on straightforward observation, delivered in a style less mannered than Hemingway's, less sentimental than Ernie Pyle's, less excitable than Michael Herr's. It's the kind of writing that looks easy, except that very few war correspondents have ever done it so well."—Charles McGrath, The New York Times

I have been a member of the Library of America for about a year and always look forward to receiving my monthly volume. These are beautiful editions that fit nicely in one's hand, are printed on quality acid-free paper and even have a ribbon marker.

After spending the winter in SPI, I came home to several new titles. With the Iraq war dragging on and so much coverage - both good and bad - over the last five years, I wasn't sure this anthology of works including a collection of World War II articles, written by Liebling was where I wanted to begin.

Then I came upon a post in The Moderate Voice by Robert Stein and have decided to move this book up on my reading list.

Liebling's coverage of World War II for the New Yorker has now been gathered into a volume of 1089 pages by the Library of America. Like everything else he wrote, by reporting what he saw and heard, Liebling conveyed more about his subject than all the TV cameras and embedded journalists have told us about Iraq.

As a press critic, he was a premature blogger himself, looking behind the news and picking apart the work of those who delivered it, making connections between the motives and methods of the messengers and the frequent unreliability of the message.

The Library of America's collection titled A. J. Liebling's World War II Writings, brings together three books, 26 articles written for The New Yorker, and excerpts from The Republic of Silence.

For more information go to the Library of America.

In an Absolut World

Swedish vodka maker Absolut has a new advertising campaign for Mexico that has provided bloggers plenty to drink to.

According to the La Plaza at the LA Times:

The billboard and press campaign, created by advertising agency Teran\TBWA and now running in Mexico, is a colorful map depicting what the Americas might look like in an "Absolut" -- i.e., perfect -- world.

The campaign taps into the national pride of Mexicans, according to Favio Ucedo, creative director of leading Latino advertising agency Grupo Gallegos in the U.S., which was not involved in the Absolut campaign.

Ucedo, who is from Argentina, said: “Mexicans talk about how the Americans stole their land, so this is their way of reclaiming it. It’s very relevant and the Mexicans will love the idea.”

But he said that were the campaign to run in the United States, it might fall flat.

“Many people aren’t going to understand it here. Americans in the East and the North or in the center of the county -- I don’t know if they know much about the history.

“Probably Americans in Texas and California understand perfectly and I don’t know how they’d take it."

And from Blogger news:

And in this alternate Absolut reality, the Mexican-American war of 1848 never happened, and Alta California – that is to say, CA, TX, NM, UT, CO and AZ – still “belongs” to Mexico on a map that was the centerpiece of a billboard and print campaign that ran in Mexico until los gringos El Norte got wind of it. Though Mexico lost that war – and to the victor go the spoils – Mexicans think the U.S. “stole” their land and the ad campaign stokes their resentment. Whether the campaign would increase sales of vodka in a country where people drink cerveza and tequila is debatable, but calls for boycotts on this side of the border forced the company to apologize, reports The Associated Press:

“In no way was it meant to offend or disparage, nor does it advocate an altering of borders, nor does it lend support to any anti-American sentiment, nor does it reflect immigration issues,” Absolut said in a statement left on its consumer inquiry phone line. …

Absolut said the ad was designed for a Mexican audience and intended to recall “a time which the population of Mexico might feel was more ideal.”

“As a global company, we recognize that people in different parts of the world may lend different perspectives or interpret our ads in a different way than was intended in that market, and for that we apologize.”

The Moderate Voice sums up the situation here:

Word on the street is the mass exodus to Grey Goose is in the works. Personally, I think people are too lazy for all that boycotting stuff unless its something very important. I wonder if Mexico can make up for all those lost U.S. sales? Doubt it. Oh yeah, and there was the obligatory apology after the fact, which some are calling a non-apology. Its really just an ad..

I haven't listened to my friends at FOX news lately, but I bet they loved this one. I think this ad agency forgot that an ad campaign used in Mexico might be seen by US citizens - or maybe they just weren't thinking. It really doesn't make any difference to me, Absolut and Grey Goose are both too aristocratic and expensive for my palate and pocketbook.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Poetry Anyone?

I came across this in The Coastal Current blog postings and thought it sounded like a great event. I think I will make a note of it on the SPI Forum and maybe that will generate some additional interest. The web site says they have extended the deadline for poetry entries until April 21, so all you SPI poets can still participate!

Inaugural Rio Grande Valley International Poetry Festival & 2nd Annual Poetry Pachanga!!

The web site indicated that readings and workshops were to be held across the region and the PI Lighthouse and Museum was mentioned. Anyway, just thought I would pass the message along. Next year, maybe Paragraphs can provide one of the venues for this festival.

The dates are: April 24, 25, 26, and 27, 2008

Shelf Awareness Story

Last month I had a phone interview with Shannon McKenna from Shelf Awareness, an on-line newsletter that serves the book industry. I enjoyed our conversation, yet when I hung up I wasn't sure that I had made much sense. Anyway, when I went to my Google in-box on Thursday morning there was more mail than usual, and several were from publisher reps and other vendors. Since, I had not contacted any of these folks, yet - all were on my list of things to do and people to write - it seemed some calamitous event had occurred.

Sure enough, as I scrolled through the daily edition of Shelf Awareness, the following story caught my eye. Thanks Shannon, you did make some sense out of my babbling!

Future Store 2: Paragraphs on Padre Blvd.

Joni Montover won't open the doors of her South Padre Island, Tex., bookstore until the fall, but she's already garnering a following of readers--and potential customers--with the Paragraphs on Padre Blvd. blog. "It's a way to introduce myself to the community," said Montover. In addition to offering reading suggestions, commenting on local happenings and sharing publishing industry news, she's chronicling the creation of the store.

Not only will the newly-built edifice house the island's only bookstore, it will also be Montover's home. The u-shaped building will contain 1,700 square feet of retail space and a 1,400-sq.--ft. residence. The two parts will be connected by a storage room as well as a courtyard, which will be used for hosting store events. Combining business and home, explained Montover, made the venture more financially viable.

A long-time visitor to South Padre Island, Montover began several years ago to consider the idea of settling there permanently and opening a bookstore. The former CPA, who currently divides her time between Colorado and upstate New York, took early retirement from her job but envisions working for another decade--but only at a vocation she truly enjoys and one that will enable her to play a part in the island's community.

South Padre Island is home to 2,500 year-round residents. "Most of the people here are retired professionals with a fairly high educational level, and everybody I've talked to craves the idea of having a bookstore," she said. In addition, the island attracts one million visitors annually--retirees from the Midwest and elsewhere who winter there, followed by spring break crowds and beach-goers in the summer, the busiest season. "It fluctuates," said Montover. "Fall is the quietest season, but I hope there are enough full-timers to tide the business over."

The nearest bookstore is about 30 miles away on the University of Texas campus at Brownsville; Montover considers the local library and online retailers like Amazon her biggest competitors. Paragraphs on Padre Blvd. won't carry mass market titles or other books that can be purchased at a nearby Wal Mart, and instead the focus will be on literary fiction, current events, history, biography, classics and tomes by Texas authors.

Due to a growing environmental awareness movement on the island, which is home to a sea turtle rescue facility and a renowned bird-watching center, there will be a section devoted to nature and local interest travel. The store will also carry some used books, along with a small selection of collectible and antiquarian titles. Montover is planning to create a pre-opening survey to find out what residents are interested in reading, as well as to get an idea of their book-buying habits.

Montover intends to take up permanent residence on the island during the summer, and Paragraphs on Padre Blvd. is slated to open in September. Then South Padre Island residents will no longer have to go on treks in search of reading material. "Some people make a weekend of it and go to Austin and Houston and come back with a trunk full of books," said Montover. Instead they can browse the shelves of their neighborhood bookstore.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

Joni Montover can be reached at or 303-358-4464.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April is Poetry Month

This would be a great time to remember all those lovely lines of verse that are rattling around in our brains somewhere.

Since I don't feel much like writing today, I will put the question out to any of you wonderful souls who read this blog:

What poem or verses that you learned or memorized do you still remember? Did you have any favorites?

For myself the first books I remember receiving as gifts were ones of poetry. Christopher Robin and Pooh were part of my life before Disney discovered their market appeal, and at times I am a little saddened at having my imagination usurped by all those "imagineers".

I also have two wonderful and beautifully illustrated editions of poems by Eugene Fields. The Gingham Dog and The Calico Cat and Wynken Blynken and Nod were published by Follett and Company as part of their Read-Along series. The soft, round, and delicately colored illustrations by Helen Page are ones I don't think I will ever forget.

So tell me your poetry favorites.

Back Again

I am amazed at how fast time goes by. We left the sunny sandbar on Easter Sunday and arrived in Denver a week later. Unfortunately, I have finally succumbed to the horrible cold everyone in my family has battled at one time or another this winter. So with all that being said, excuses come so easily, I am back at my desk, in Colorful Colorado, and will try to get back on track.

It is going to be hard for me to miss watching the daily activity as construction progresses at 5505 Padre Boulevard, but I have matters which must be attended to, both in Denver and Alton, NY. I do hope to get back to SPI and observe the walls going up with insulated concrete forms. (more on this later)

That's about it for now. More juice, another couple of aspirin, a short nap, then I will unpack a few more boxes. I am so glad that by next year the annual trek will be a lot easier for family and totally unnecessary for me!

Hope everyone has a merry April Fool's Day.