Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good News for ALASA Academy

A recognition of the importance of education is something I share with my husband's family. His sisters have all been involved in the education field at one time or another and Griff's mother always loved the summer program which was held at the farm for many years, known as the ALASA Center.

Four years ago Alasa Farms became the host to a new program,(see previous post) which, under the capable direction on Sharon Maher, set out to prove that learning can be fun and rewarding. ALASA Academy, Alternative Learning Academy for Student Achievement, Inc., identifies its vision as follows:
We seek to provide a small, flexible, cooperative learning environment that educates the whole person and promotes physical and mental well being. We believe there are many ways to learn and that all learning starts with play. We believe that individuality, creativity and self-expression must be recognized and supported and that every individual has an equal right to be heard. We believe in supporting and encouraging personal excellence. We believe that trust and communications are more important than rules. We believe that to be successful as an adult, one must balance individual freedom with responsibility to the natural environment and to the community.
What started with a 2-week summer program has grown to include some weekend activities but Sharon has always had a much larger dream. She is currently working on the establishment of some after-school activities with the ultimate goal being the establishment of a full-day school, that would offer a unique learning environment for kids struggling in the traditional classroom. As described on the website:
The ALASA Academy Full Day School will follow the Sodus School District calendar and will begin with children from ages 8-9 through completion of high school credits and/or sufficient skill development to move on into society. Curriculum will focus on personal skill development, academic growth through hands-on integrated activities, satellite courses and customized skill development and evaluation. All work will be correlated to the New York State Education Standards. Students will work at their own pace with benchmarks to identify growth, and evaluation to confirm skill mastery—including passing appropriate New York State Regents exams and standardized tests. Community service will be a strong component of the curriculum, enabling students to work with adults in various Wayne County businesses/organizations, developing the skills of giving, teamwork, self-worth and pride. The number of students enrolled is expected to be small (based on the rural nature of Wayne County), but is expected to grow over time.
Sharon is completely committed to this project but she faced a major obstacle to moving forward in the implementation of a year-long program since many of the classes were held on the farmhouse porch, outside, or in one of the barns. For a couple of years she has been singularly focused on obtaining the necessary financing to purchase a small piece of property from the farm where a building could be constructed to house the school. So when I received her email earlier this month, I was thrilled for her, the kids of Wayne County, all the tireless volunteers, as well as Griff and Nancy--my mother-in-law.

Saturday’s raw winds and steady downpour weren’t about to dampen anyone’s spirits as dozens of people streamed on to the large, welcoming porch of the Mangan family’s home at Alasa Farms. Only a couple of days before, word had been received that Senator Nozzolio wanted to meet with organizers of ALASA Academy and members of the community who have participated in the Academy’s programs over the past four years.

Their summer workshops for children were expanded to three, one-week sessions this year and offer a completely new and fresh approach to a summer day-camp experience. Awareness of and concern for the environment, interpersonal skills, team building, importance of community service, and personal pride are only a sampling of the values that ALASA Academy reinforces while providing a real-world opportunity to make math, science, journaling, and other areas of academia a part of each child’s life that they can relate to day to day.

A primary goal has been to purchase 10 acres of property at Alasa Farms, where the Academy could erect its own building and enable them to conduct programs for children all year. Senator Nozzolio beamed as he lauded the efforts of ALASA Academy and their dedication to the children of Wayne County. “You are helping kids to engage in the right activities, to get a good start in life, to do the right thing,” Nozzolio said, and shared his thoughts on the importance of providing the children of Wayne County with such a unique learning opportunity. One of the facets of the Academy’s program that is of particular significance to Senator Nozzolio is that of their partnership with Cracker Box Palace Farm Animal Haven, which also resides at Alasa Farms. An integral part of the Academy’s curriculum is daily hands-on experience with the animals at the haven, many of which have been rescued from cruelty, abuse, and neglect.

A hush came over the crowd as Senator Nozzolio addressed Sharon Maher and the other Alasa Academy volunteers and thanked them for their dedication and commitment to the children of Wayne County, and a look of total disbelief came over everyone’s faces as he presented Sharon with a grant for $30,000 – the amount necessary to purchase the land and begin building their school.

I wish everyone at ALASA Academy the best. Now, Sharon, I only hope the path to fulfilling my dream is as successful as yours has been. Congratulations, this is a huge step toward achieving your goal.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Baker" and "Taylor"

One of the major decisions anyone opening a bookstore needs to make is which book distributor to use. I am sure there are some very logical criteria that many potential bookseller's use to make this selection, but I most definitely did not use any of them. No, I made my decision on a very emotional basis, may I say, actually, on more of a whim.

The first reason I considered using Baker and Taylor was the interest shown by Dianne Chrismer, from the Mountain and Plains States territory, in Paragraphs. Last February, when a story appeared in Shelf Awareness, I received an email from Dianne offering to explain what services B&T could offer and she seemed genuinely interested in my plans and was willing to help me with any of my questions or concerns. The fact that her office is located about 5 blocks from my Denver address certainly didn't hurt. But, this is still not what caused me to make the final decision.

Most of the evaluation of any vendor, begins with a review of their website. After I received Dianne's email, I went to the B&T website and learned that the company had adopted as mascots a couple of library cats. Now, what says bookseller more than the image of a couple of independent felines curled up in some sunny spot or secluded corner. From the B&T website, here is what sold me on using them as my primary book supplier:

Our Mascots
"Baker & Taylor"
There is a long tradition of cats living in libraries, probably going back to the ancient Egyptian library in Alexandria. In the 19th Century, the British government paid libraries to keep cats, because they kept rodents from eating the glue and binding off of books. Nowadays, cats still like libraries as nice warm places with plenty of nooks and crannies. And, libraries like to have cats around while librarians do their work.
Although both are gone now, 'Baker' and 'Taylor' were the pride of the Douglas County Public Library in Minden, Nevada. Baker joined the library staff in 1983, much to the delight of patrons and the despair of would-be rodents. Taylor's position was created two month later through a grant from Baker & Taylor, Inc. Together they carried on the long tradition of working library cats.
Baker and Taylor spent much of their time at the checkout counter where they restored disorder to overly quiet afternoons. The library saw a constant parade of people who dropped by from great distances just to see the cats.
Baker and Taylor claim a pedigree of the Scottish Fold persuasion, which is known for distinctive turned-down ears, gentleness, and abundant personality. Characteristics include a thick, short coat, broad cheeks, powerful build, massive round head, and well-rounded whisker pads.
In 1988, Baker and Taylor became the official mascots of Baker & Taylor, Inc. The pair have been immortalized on posters, tote bags, calendars, note cards, and other materials that we continue to distribute at trade shows and press events.

Until their passing in the mid 1990's, Baker and Taylor provided great joy and entertainment for staff and patrons alike, and continue to represent the strength and excitement of Baker & Taylor, Inc.
Now how could anyone use any other book distributor? It doesn't hurt to have such helpful people, like Dianne and David to work with, but to tell you the truth, it was the cats that sold me.

photos from and Wikipedia

Monday, October 20, 2008


Tonight as I watched the Denver Broncos get mauled by the Patriots, I decided to look for a new address book or notebook where I can keep track of my log-in and password information for the numerous social media, publisher, news, and book blog sites I now frequent, as well as maintain basic address information. I realize that we have computers and PDA's which are supposed to fill this need, but I recently lost all my data when my laptop hard drive and Treo died at the same time, and on that day I vowed to return to a paper system as a backup.

So after the 4th interception by the Patriots, I went to the Levenger site, which is always a fun place to window shop for the person who loves all types of accessories for reading and writing. I used to lovingly pour over these catalogs and make lengthy wish lists, although I must admit I rarely actually purchased anything.

Anyway, I found this interesting table of reader marks to help when making notes while reading.

Which brings up the everlasting question:

Do you like to make notes in your books as you read or are you someone who would never think of destroying the pristine page with some personal notations or reflections?

First Advertisement For Paragraphs

This is the first print ad which will appear for Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard. It will be used in the 2009 South Padre Island Visitors Guide.

Many thanks to John Carvalho, at Mixed Media Marketing Inc. in Fernandino Beach, FL for his help. John has done a lot of work for independent bookstores and I was referred to him when I first started to think about the possibility of opening a bookstore. He has been very patient with me over the year and a half that we have spent developing a logo and graphic theme to represent Paragraphs.

Never fear, my South Padre Island friends, once I open and am firmly transplanted onto our sandbar, I plan to do my best to "Shop Local".

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What Makes America Special

The New Republic blog, The Plank, quoted a part of Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama during his appearance on Meet the Press this morning. I found the general's words to be poignant and instructive for us in these days of partisan politics.

And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim." Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?


I feel strongly about this particular point because of a picture I saw in a magazine. It was a photo essay about troops who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. And one picture at the tail end of this photo essay was of a mother in Arlington Cemetery, and she had her head on the headstone of her son's grave. And as the picture focused in, you could see the writing on the headstone. And it gave his awards--Purple Heart, Bronze Star--showed that he died in Iraq, gave his date of birth, date of death. He was 20 years old. And then, at the very top of the headstone, it didn't have a Christian cross, it didn't have the Star of David, it had crescent and a star of the Islamic faith. And his name was Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, and he was an American. He was born in New Jersey. He was 14 years old at the time of 9/11, and he waited until he can go serve his country, and he gave his life.

The photo is from "The New Yorker".

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sandcastle Days 2008

One of the South Padre Island events I have heard so much about and was really looking forward to attending this year is Sandcastle Days. Unfortunately, I will need to wait until 2009, since I am still firmly planted in Denver, but there are photos available on the todopadre blog's list of the top 100 things to do and see in the South Padre Island and Brownsville area.

This weekend Isla Blanca Park on South Padre Island will host the 21st Annual SPI Sand Castle Days. From the events website:

Amateur and professional sand sculptors from all over the world descend on South Padre Island every year to create beautiful works of art using natural elements of the beach. The not-for-profit event showcases the artwork and an appreciation for the coastal environment, and donates to organizations helping to preserve it.

Masters of Sand will compete 3 days on the shores of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico for 'Peoples Choice' paying $2750 in cash prizes. This South Padre Island family festival has become one of the biggest and best international sand sculpture competitions in the United States!

Sand Sculpting is a performance art!
Have you seen Sandblasters on the Travel Channel? This extreme sculpting competition has made TV Stars out of many of our competitors!
Now's your chance to meet many of the sculptors who compete is this extreme sand sculpting competition!

Hundreds of amateur sand sculptors will make their mark in the sand as well! Kids will compete under the big top tent this year in a brand new format for competition! Families, adults and businesses will compete for cash awards and advanced amateurs will vie for Texas State Champ.

There will be FREE sand castle lessons,vendors, and a cool Sand Castle Kite Fly! The air will be filled with color down the beach this year as B&S Kites displays their biggest and best kites. Come learn to fly!

More photos of all the fun are available at the Sand Castle Days flickr stream of sandyfeet and for additional information about the event visit the South Padre Island Texas Sand Castle Days website.

photos from todopadre

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

October is the Month for Pogo

Deck us all with Boston Charlie
Walla Walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower, alleygaroo!

I am sure we all can remember our first pet. In my case, I grew up with a wonderful pound dog--mostly cocker spaniel, a touch of chow (the black tongue) and a little more of who knows what. I actually don't remember whether the dog or I came first, although I do know that the family's little black companion was ahead of me in the pecking order. This friendly little dog was named Pogo, and I have many wonderful memories of times spent with her. So I was surprised when I read in the Britannica Blog that the original Pogo is 60 years old.

Walt Kelly, the originator of Pogo, was born in Philadelphia, and when a young man worked as a crime reporter on the Bridgeport Post, in Bridgeport, CT. He filled notebooks with doodles and cartoon scribbles until he finally decided to head to California and take his art seriously as an animator with the new Walt Disney studios.
He continued to hone his skills at Disney throughout the 1930s and early 1940s while contributing to Fantasia, Snow White and my personal favorite Dumbo.

When Kelly returned to the US after WWII he chose to return to journalism, but using his talented pen as an illustrator instead of a reporter.

From Britannica Online:
Pogo became a kind of liberal reply to Al Capp’s reactionary strip L’il Abner, lampooning vice president Richard Nixon, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, and even Senator Joseph McCarthy (as the malign wildcat Simple J. Malarkey) himself. Kelly voiced his views through the mouths of aw-shucks cartoon characters who lived in a kind of alternate-universe version of the Confederacy: Pogo the na├»ve possum; the befuddled but sweet Albert Alligator; the grumpy tortoise Churchy Femme and the even grumpier porcupine called, of course, Porky Pine; the evangelist Deacon Mushrat, the pompous Howland Owl, the faithful Beauregard Hound Dog, the self-satisfied P. T. Bridgeport Bear, the ghastly vulture Sarcophagus Macabre, the coquettish skunk Mamzelle Hepzibah; the list went on to number dozens of characters, major and minor, over the next twenty-five years.

Politicians may not have liked Pogo much, but readers did. Kelly’s strip was quickly syndicated and published across the country, and soon nonsensical catchphrases from Pogo were on everyone’s lips: “Food is no substitute for the real thing.” “Each year is getting shorter.” “We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities.” And, most famous of all, Pogo the possum’s mangling of Commodore Perry’s famous dispatch in commemoration of Earth Day 1971, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” So popular was Kelly’s strip that the first of his many book collections, called simply Pogo, leaped to the head of the 1951 bestseller list, alongside such books as Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny, James Jones’s From Here to Eternity, and Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki.

Syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, Pogo helped define American political culture for the next two decades. But by the early 1970s, in the era of Watergate and Vietnam, politics seemed less a laughing than a fighting matter in this country, and Kelly’s gently good-natured strip waned in popularity as more pointed comics like Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury came to the fore. Still, Pogoisms still figure in popular discourse 35 years after Kelly’s death, and Pogo lives otherwise, safely preserved on library shelves across the land, ready to do service again in a time of weird politics. And every October, right about this time, Waycross, Georgia, next door to the Okefenokee Swamp, holds a weekend-long Pogofest in Kelly’s honor.

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Charlotte's Web is 50+ Today

On this day in 1952, one of our most-loved children's books was released. When E.B. White published Charlotte's Web, he had been living on his "Salt Farm" in North Brooklin, Maine for 15 years. His love of the country life is evidenced by these entries from his letters:

Practically the most satisfying thing on earth (specially after fifteen years of trying to put English sentences together against time) is to be able to square off a board of dry white pine, saw to the line (allowing for the thickness of the pencil point) and have the thing fit perfectly.

I am surrounded by hundreds of bottles of new crabapple
jelly, and pears in jars, and ripening cranberries, and turkeys on the hoof, and ducks in the cove, and deer in the alders, and my own mackerel shining in air-tight glory. I wouldn't know what to do with a dollar even if I could remember which pants it was in.
His affection for this life reminds me only too clearly of my years living on the old Shaker place now known as Alasa Farms, located on Sodus Bay, New York, when he says:
the thousand and one exciting little necessities which spring from a 12-room steam-heated house standing all alone in the big world.
The reality of farm life comes alive in the pages of Charlotte's Web as we share the trials and joys with Charlotte and Wilbur. White was never interested in painting a rosy or false picture of the animal world.
My feeling about animals is just the opposite of Disney's. He made them dance to his tune and came up with some great creations, like Donald Duck. I preferred to dance to their tune and came up with Charlotte and Wilbur.
He told a neighbor who wanted to know what he thought about the movie version of Charlotte's Web:
The story is interrupted every few minutes so that somebody can sing a jolly song. I don't care much for jolly songs. The Blue Hill Fair, which I tried to report faithfully in the book, has become a Disney world, with 76 trombones.
White recorded the audiobooks version of his story himself because:
I think a book is better read the way my father used to read books to me -- without drama. He just read the words, beginning with the seductive phrase "Chapter One...."
E.B. White: 1899-1985, he lived on his farm for nearly 50 years.

From Today in Literature

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The White Tiger Wins Booker

The winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize, which is awarded annually for a novel written by an author from Britain, Ireland, or one of the Commonwealth nations, was announced Tuesday night during the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The debut novel, The White Tiger, by Aravind Aviga was selected to win the prestigious award, including a check for about $86,000 in US currency, because as one judge stated the novel:
shocked and entertained in equal measure.

The White Tiger is a vivid exploration of India’s class struggle told through the story of a village boy who becomes the chauffeur to a rich man. Mr. Adiga said his book was:
an attempt to catch the voice of the men you meet as you travel through India — the voice of the colossal underclass.
According the the New York Times:
When he accepted the award, Mr. Adiga dedicated it to “the people of New Delhi where I lived and where I wrote this book.” When asked what he would do with the money, Mr. Adiga joked, “The first thing I am going to do is to find a bank that I can actually put it in.”

Mr. Adiga, 33, who lives in Mumbai, was born in India and brought up partly in Australia. He studied at Columbia and Oxford and is a former correspondent for Time magazine in India. He is the second youngest writer to win the award; Ben Okri was 32 when he won for The Famished Road in 1991.
The book is being published in the US by Free Press and the paperback was released yesterday.

Trade Paperback
October 14, 2008

304 pages
ISBN-10: 1-4165-6260-5
ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-6260-3

National Book Awards Finalists Announced

Earlier today, Scott Turow announced the finalists for this year's National Book Awards. The winners will be announced on November 19 at a ceremony in New York City.

The list of finalists follows:

Aleksandar Hemon, The Lazarus Project (Riverhead)
Rachel Kushner, Telex from Cuba (Scribner)
Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country (Modern Library)
Marilynne Robinson, Home (FSG)
Salvatore Scibona, The End (Graywolf)

Drew Gilpin Faust, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War (Knopf)
Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Norton)
Jane Mayer, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (Doubleday)
Jim Sheeler, Final Salute: A Story of Unfinished Lives (Penguin)
Joan Wickersham, The Suicide Index: Putting My Father's Death in Order (Harcourt)

Frank Bidart, Watching the Spring Festival (FSG)
Mark Doty, Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems (HarperCollins)
Reginald Gibbons, Creatures of a Day (Louisiana State Univ.)
Richard Howard, Without Saying (Turtle Point Press)
Patricia Smith, Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press)

Young People's Literature:
Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains (Simon & Schuster)
Kathi Appelt, The Underneath (Atheneum)
Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic)
E. Lockhart, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Hyperion)
Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now (Knopf)

A video of the announcement can be viewed here:

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Political Discourse

The campaign rhetoric has been increasing in its intensity as we enter the final weeks up to the election. There are enough examples of excess from followers of both candidates to keep one from pointing fingers. But, for me, until last night and this morning the examples of intolerance toward others political views was something I was watching from afar.

But now, this naked hatred has entered my neighborhood and I must admit to being somewhat shaken. In our middle-class community of mostly professional couples or single men and women, I believed there was an attitude of acceptance of our neighbors life style and political leanings. Since this is a townhome development, we don't have room for yard signs, but the ubiquitous campaign signs, both Republican and Democratic, have been making an appearance in windows throughout the complex.

One of my dog-walking neighbors is a quiet, polite, professional man who lives in a condo unit which has a brick patio wall facing the street. Yesterday, I noticed he had placed an Obama/Biden sign on this wall. I actually chuckled to myself, because I would have guessed him to have been a McCain supporter, if I had considered the matter at all.

Last night, on my before bed stroll with the bookends, I noticed something in the tree in front of this neighbors home. Checking it out, I found a hand-lettered sign taped to the tree claiming


Now I realize this is not as bad as some of the other types of hate speech which one sees and hears on a daily basis, but this still had a tone of intimidation just from the way it was presented, seemingly as a direct rebuke to my neighbors posting of a campaign sign. However, I just shook my head and didn't think much about it.

This morning, the Obama/Biden sign was gone, and the offensive notice on the tree still remained. It had achieved its desired effect. My neighbor had felt sufficiently threatened to remove his campaign sign from his wall. In my disgust over the obvious implications of this tiny example of the ugliness that is a part of this campaign, I ripped the offending message from the tree and threw it away.

I love to see people involved in the political process and welcome a public debate over the issues. But, I would hope we can show respect for those that disagree with us. This display of intolerance just unnerved me a little, and this is my blog, so I thought I would share - even if off-topic.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tennessee Williams Has A South Texas Connection

On a Saturday afternoon in late September the San Antonio Classic Theatre performed the play "Rancho Pancho" for 150 people in Provincetown, CT, as part of the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival. According to the San Antonio Express News:
By the play's emotional conclusion, the audience was so quiet that the seagulls outside could be heard.
"Rancho Pancho" by San Antonio playwright Gregg Barrios, was one of a half-dozen full productions staged at the festival but it was the only piece not written by Williams himself or adapted from Williams' work.

The Express News continues:

“Rancho Pancho” digs into the little-known relationship between Williams and Pancho Rodriguez, a South Texas man. The men spent part of their time together in Provincetown, and some of the play is set here.

Barrios was surprised and delighted to spot a photo of the two men hanging on the wall at the Atlantic House Bar: “I hadn't seen that photo before,” said Barrios, who spent a great deal of time researching the relationship. “No one else had asked who this man was with Tennessee Williams.”

Williams based the character Stanley Kowalski and his relationship with Blanche and Stella in the play "A Streetcar Named Desire" on the volatile and emotional personality of his friend Rodriquez.

Barrios writes about the story behind his play in The Texas Observer:
But luck was with Williams as he crossed la frontera at Piedras Negras/Eagle Pass: He met Pancho Rodriguez, a young Mexican American. The tale of that meeting would later be embellished—with Williams’ car breaking down and a border guard’s son helping to rescue a manuscript that border guards had confiscated.

The rising 34-year-old playwright was immediately smitten with the 24-year-old Pancho—the border guard’s son—and invited him to New Orleans as his live-in muse. The rest, as they say, is history. But the chronicle of their relationship was forgotten and, to a large extent, whitewashed from Williams’ life story.

The future playwright met Rodriquez in New Orleans some time during the 1970s while teaching summer classes at Loyola University. He says Pancho and his brother Johnny were hungry for news from the Eagle Pass and Crystal City area where they still had family, and never bragged about their close association with Williams. Years later, Barrios began the research about the friendship between the two men which resulted in the play "Rancho Pancho".

I was moved by the poignancy of some letters discovered by Barrios in papers included in the estate of Johnny Rodriquez and by the reminiscences of the Rodriquez sisters as related by Gregg Barrios in the Texas Observer article.

During one of their last visits, Williams informed Pancho that he had selected Anthony Quinn and Katy Jurado to star in The Red Devil Battery Sign, set on the Texas border in Eagle Pass. Apparently, the news had moved Pancho to tears.

Decades earlier, he had argued that the lead character of Stanley in Streetcar should have been Mexican American and not Polish, since there were more Latinos than Poles in New Orleans. Moreover, he pointed to the wrought-iron balconies and grand courtyards as a legacy of 40 years of Spanish rule. (Scholars say Williams named the character after a friend in St. Louis.) Pancho further argued that the part should go to a Latino because Marlon Brando was unknown. The particular Latino he had in mind: Mexican American actor Anthony Quinn (who, indeed, was cast as Stanley Kowalski on Broadway when Brando left to do the film version).

In one of his letters from Hollywood, Pancho had urged Johnny not to abandon New Orleans.

“Don’t come to California,” he warned. “[H]ere in Los Angeles, we are considered peons like we were in Texas. In New Orleans, we live in an international city, and we are treated with respect and good jobs. Both Tenn and I can’t wait to get back to work, to be back home.”

For more information about the play by the former Los Angeles Times journalist, read La Bloga: RANCHO PANCHO: A new play by Gregg Barrios

Actors pictured in photo: Benny Briseno as Pancho and Rick Frederick as Tennessee. (photo from La Bloga)

The Sad Old Party

He was just too cute to pass up. But it is not over yet, so cheer up Mr. GOP.

Hat tip: And You, Brutus?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Books On The Nightstand

In an earlier post I told you how much of my time has been spent reading about books instead of actually reading books. In my search for information about bookselling, books, and authors I have been reading blogs, any link to a blog that has some relevance to books usually gets a click of my mouse, and a quick perusal of the site. Needless to say, I spend a lot of time wandering around the web and sampling a little of what each of these writers has to say about the books they love, their experiences in bookselling or writing, reading challenges and serious literary criticism . There are hundreds of blogs which have something to do with the written word, which when you think about it, may cast some doubt on all the research concluding that people no longer read.

I recently stumbled onto a site I love, it is informative, entertaining, and since a major part of the content is delivered by podcast, it can be enjoyed on the go.

Books on the Nightstand
is the collaborative effort of Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness. The emphasis of the blog is the weekly podcast which features a lively and informative discussion where Ann and Michael share their thoughts about some book related subject and tell their listeners what they have been reading and want to recommend.

Each 20 minute podcast has a basic three-part structure. To begin with the hosts discuss a topic of general interest to readers, or anyone involved with books. Ann and Michael then continue to explore the chosen topic by introducing a selection of titles that are somehow relevant to the subject.

Finally, in the third segment each host selects a favorite book, generally a new release, which they "can't wait for you to read". It is like walking into a bookstore and asking someone, what would you recommend, and getting an enthusiastic and knowledgeable response. But even if you don't plan to actually read the highlighted title, you will have enough information to impress your friends with how much you know about the latest book releases.

In the notes accompanying each podcast there is a list of the titles which are mentioned in the recording complete with all the information needed to order the book from a local bookstore or to easily locate the selection in your public library. If you want to know more about any of the books, each listed title is linked to LibraryThing where you can find additional information.

Ann and Michael make it clear that Books on the Nightstand, is a personal endeavor and not produced or sponsored by their employer. But their work experience with Random House shows in the expertise they bring to the project.

I think the logo is great, too!!

The newest episode has a discussion of novels that inspire movies. Listen here

Monday, October 6, 2008

Candidates on the Environment

There have been so many claims and counter-claims in the election coverage that it is difficult to sort out the facts from the fiction.

The Encyclopedia Britannica has posted a page on their website which reviews the voting records and positions taken by the candidates on issues relating to the environment and animal welfare.
This week Advocacy for Animals takes a look at the views of the U.S. presidential and vice-presidential candidates on issues related to the environment and animal welfare. Following is a summary of the voting records, official acts, and public statements of Senator John McCain (R), Senator Barack Obama (D), Governor Sarah Palin (R), and Senator Joe Biden (D) on drilling, mining, and energy
conservation and development; animal welfare, including the protection of endangered or threatened species; global warming; and environmental conservation
Topics covered include: Drilling, mining and energy, Animal welfare and protection, Global warming, and Environmental conservation.

Read this detailed and thoroughly researched discussion of the candidates positions:

Special Election Issue: The Candidates on the Environment and Animal Welfare - Advocacy For Animals
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Paragraphs is Progressing

I received these photos from Darla at the EDC of South Padre Island, TX. It is getting easier to visualize the final product.

Fate of An Island Bookstore

Building on a barrier island has its risks and I just hope I have not been minimizing the probability of experiencing the devastating destruction which can follow the severe weather conditions along the Gulf Coast.

In the latest edition of Publishers Weekly, Edward Nawotka provides an update on the effects of Hurricane Ike on the bookselling community in the Galveston and Houston area.

I was particularly moved by the story of Midsummer Books, Galveston Island's only bookstore focused on new books, which Tim Thompson had opened in 2004. His 2,000-sq.-ft. store was completely destroyed. After spending the past year actively involved in opening a bookstore, I cannot imagine the sense of loss one would experience in seeing all those hopes and dreams disappear in one night, because of a random act of nature.
When Hurricane Ike hit Galveston Island, Tex., a little after midnight September 13, Tim Thompson lost his livelihood. Midsummer Books, the 2,000-sq.-ft. bookstore Thompson had owned since 2004, was completely destroyed. “We had eight feet of water in the store,” Thompson said from his temporary home in Austin. “We left the day before and didn't have time to save anything other than the computer
with the stock database.”

“For now, Midsummer Books is history”.
Read the full story here:
Ike Dealt Heavy Blow To Texas Booksellers - 10/6/2008 - Publishers Weekly

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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Is This Good News For Me?

This story from Time magazine showed up on Twitter:

Can Reading Help Kids Lose Weight? - TIME

Now, will someone write a book about an overweight bookseller? That would be helpful!

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Peace and Beauty in South Texas

A South Texas and Island blogger, Island Princess is beginning a new series of posts on her blog Todo Padre, highlighting the 100 Top Things to Do in the South Padre Island Area

She intends to introduce first time South Padre Island visitors as well as returning guests to the many sites and activities which are often overlooked in the race for the beach.

The first installment in the series invites the reader to the Sabal Palm Sanctuary which is located just outside Brownsville, TX.

The Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary is one of the most hidden gems in Brownsville, Texas, a city approx. 25 miles from South Padre Island. Here, long winding paths lead down into the cool depths of age-old forests of yesteryear that take you back in time before any of this area was populated by man. This is such a pristine area that no visit to South Texas is complete without coming here. Birding and nature lovers can spend all day catching rare peeks at species they will find nowhere else in the United States but in this tropical paradise.
View more photos and read the rest of her story.

More information available here

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Addition for Griff's Collection

My husband, Griff, has a fairly extensive library of Titanic material which includes books, paintings, and other ephemera but he is always on the lookout for something new.

A new title by Brad Matson tells the story of shadow divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, as they investigate one of the most puzzling questions about what happened that freezing April night. Why did the Titanic sink so quickly?

From the publisher:
Titanic's Last Secrets is a rollercoaster ride through the shipbuilding history, the transatlantic luxury liner business, and shipwreck forensics. Chatterton and Kohler weave their way through a labyrinth of clues to discover that Titanic was not the strong, heroic ship the world thought she was and that the men who built her covered up her flaws when disaster struck. If Titanic had remained afloat for just two hours longer than she did, more than two thousand people would have lived instead of died, and the myth of the great ship would be one of rescue instead of tragedy.

I know what Griff is getting for Christmas!

Buy this book!

Test Your Knowledge of Banned Books

The Guardian has a challenging quiz testing their readers knowledge of some of the most frequently challenged and banned books.

To take this quiz and find out if you have been exercising your freedom to read: go here

via: Shelf Awareness