Friday, November 30, 2007

The Commute

I'm judging you. I know I shouldn't, but I do, you fellow bus riders. I pass judgment on you by what you do (or don't do) on the bus. Living on an island and with work on the mainland, commuting is a necessity and is lengthy. There's no way around it. I wouldn't trade it for the world (I love where I live) but what I would trade are some of the bus riders around me for some more like-minded individuals.

That said, ranked, the people on the bus, from those I love, to those I don't.
(Of note: This list doesn't include the crazies/drunks/hooligans/oddballs who are in a category all their own).

1) Book Readers
Well done, literate champions! You're reading a book. It's a perfect place for it, the bus. You can let yourself be drawn into whatever story you're reading. Congratulations!

A caveat - there are sub-categories for book readers.

a) The best book readers are the readers of books that I've already read. You and I are brothers, I think. You, sister, understand me like this other bus rider doesn't. I commend you. We have a special bond, you and I, because we have both read The Corrections.
b) The next best book readers are readers of books that are thoughtful and/or challenging and/or are classics. We're talking about Jane Austen and Henry David Thoreau, Toni Morrison and Aldous Huxley, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Edith Wharton, Pearl S. Buck and Ralph Ellison. Bonus points if you're reading poetry (of all things!). You're intelligent. You're keen! But are you simply reading those books because you have to (school) or because you want people to THINK you're intelligent and keen? For shame!
c) The next best book readers are readers of books that are catered towards a more general audience. We're talking the Oprah books here. Those that you find on the recommendation wall at Elliott Bay Book Company. Short story collections. Those books that your friends or family lent you saying, "This is pretty good." Indeed, you are pretty good people. Applause are in order for you. Well done.
d) The next best book readers are readers of books that are dumb, i.e. romance novels and/or science fiction and/or fantasy novels. That's not to say, of course, that romance and/or science fiction and/or fantasy novels are dumb, I'm just saying I think they're dumb and you, reader of such materials, have been forewarned of my judgment upon you.
e) The next best book readers are readers of stuff that's dumber than dumb.

2) Magazine (and Newspaper) Readers
Kudos, reader. You're reading a magazine. You like to keep abreast of the latest happenings in our world and you should be commended. Magazines are ideal for bus rides in that many rides are short and many articles in magazines are perfect in regards to time spent reading said article weighted against total time on bus. It's a good match, and you're smart enough to know it!

A caveat - there are sub-categories for magazine readers.
Another caveat - Some magazine readers (those that fall into the A and B categories) are cooler that those that are lower-rung book readers (say those that fall into the D and E categories).

a) The best magazine readers are readers of magazines that I like. Is that a bit self-absorbed? Whatever. I'm the one judging here, not you! So pick up that New Yorker, that Atlantic Monthly, that Harper's. Read a story in Utne and revel in the pictures and text within National Geographic. You're cool in my book and you're getting smarter and more illuminated by the minute due to your magazine reading diligence!
b) The next best magazine readers are readers of magazines that look cool that I haven't read much of (though I probably should because they look cool). Orion Magazine, comes to mind. The Believer. The American Prospect. Frieze.
c) The next best magazine readers are readers of general interest magazines good for regular people. We're talking Oprah's magazine here. Entertainment Weekly. Rolling Stone. Time. Most fashion magazines fall under this category (the artsy ones anyway). Newspapers also fall into this category.
d) The next best magazine readers are readers of dumb magazines. We're talking celebrity magazines. You're going to spend your time on the bus reading about what hairstyles the "Dancing with the Stars" contestants wore to dinner in Malibu? That's shameful and you should feel the shame. Feel it.

3) Laptop Users

You're in the middle of this list, you laptoppers, because it's cool you're doing something productive but are you still working (didn't you just leave work to go back to home and family) or are you working on a novel (kudos!)? Are you surfing the internet to learn how long the Great Wall of China is (approximately 6,400 km) or are you just playing solitaire or seeing if you've garnered a couple more friends on MySpace? I'm not looking down on you, laptoppers, I'm just not sure what your motives are when you log-on.

4) Nappers

They're long as they don't smell or start drifting over.

5) Chatters

They're fine, long a) they're acquaintances talking to each other and b) not talking to me. I'm reading.

5) Blackberry/Cell phone/electronics users

You're annoying but at least you're doing something minimally useful, whether it's writing a text message to your wife letting her know you love her or it's calling your podiatrist to set an appointment.

6) Zoners

You're going to sit on the bus and DO NOTHING? That's how you're going to spend your time? We only have one life here, people. That's not something to be taken lightly by, say, staring out the window as your life ticks by. We're all on the bus together, amigos. We're stuck. We might as well make the most of it. Am I right? And you're going to spend it by sitting? Sure, some of you are thinking about the day ahead. Some of you might be enjoying the scenery (though the streets beneath the West Seattle Bridge are as picturesque as a meat locker). Fine. But every day you just sit there and do nothing, my busmates. DO SOMETHING! ANYTHING! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

For instance, maybe you should read. All the cool people are doing it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Increasingly Dangerous Cheeses

If you know me, by now you know I like a good cheese. That said enjoy this bit (found on McSweeney's).

Digitize Every Book Ever Published

That's the goal of the Million Book Project. The project is based at Carnegie Mellon University. How far along are they on their quest? They've digitized 1% of all books ever published. That's a lot of books already. 1.5 million books to be exact.

You can read a story about the project here and learn more about the project from their official website. You can, for free, access any book they've digitized.

No word yet on if they've yet scanned that weird Japanese potty training book.

John Updike and the Book Review Bugaboo

There's been a rash of discussion of late in regards to book reviewing. Why is it important? What should a review do? What is its purpose? Why are there so many reviewers out there who don't know how to write one properly? How DO you write a proper book review? What can be done with the book sections being dwindled or cut from major newspapers across the country? Harper's Magazine weighs in. In the December issue there's a story written by Wyatt Mason. Entitled "Among the Reviewers" it tries to answer some of the questions posed above with a focus on John Updike, who probably has reviewed more books than anyone alive.

From the article:

In the forty-nine years since Updike’s first collection of poetry, The Carpentered Hen, appeared in 1958, amid the fifty-nine books that have followed—six subsequent poetry collections, five children’s books, one memoir, a play, fifteen collections of stories, and twenty-two novels—there also have been eight collections of essays...Updike has...been generating essays that cover a hodgepodge of topics: art, golf, health, fashion, media, America, and others still. The essays alone run to nearly five thousand pages. Of these volumes, the six largest have been devoted mostly to a single subject—books—three hundred signed reviews of which have appeared in The New Yorker. (Updike also wrote dozens of unsigned reviews for that magazine’s “Briefly Noted” section)...All told, Updike has published more than a million words on books.

The story is worth reading if you're at all interested in the state of book reviewing today and, further, the work of the amazingly prolific and amazingly talented Mr. Updike.

As a brief side note, don't forget to read my story soon on Michael Bloomfield, a preeminent collector of all things Updike, coming soon in Fine Books and Collections Magazine.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, William Blake!

The Guardian remembers him and Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac has a brief bio.

For me, as a brief side note, a great thrill in my life was my first (and only) trip to London. We had flown all day. We were tired of traveling, sick of the airports and the waiting and the sitting and the fact that across the Atlantic we were near the bathroom and the fact that I'm tall and quite often the beverage cart would ram into my knee. We slumped our bags in our hotel room. "I'm going to take a nap," my wife said. "I'm going to find The Tate," I said. And off I went to try and find it (the old Tate, not the marvelous new one). I entered the museum and asked a security guard, "Where are the Blake's?" The museum was going to close in fifteen minutes and I didn't want to have to search the rooms for them. He pointed. I scuttled as fast as I could. I entered a room. Nirvana. Blake paintings everywhere. I studied each and every one as much as I could with the time I had. "We're closing," a security guard said. "But, they're Blake's," I said. "They'll be Blake's tomorrow when we open, too."

The Best Bookshelves of 2007

Seriously. They're cool.

And what should you put on those seriously cool bookshelves? The National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors picks their favorite books (fiction, non-fiction, poetry) in 2007 and the New York Times has chosen their Ten Best this year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bad Sex Award Nominations

From the Guardian Unlimited:

"Now in its 15th year, the prize, which only targets literary fiction, aims "to draw attention to the crude, tasteless, often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel, and to discourage it." The winner, who will be announced on today at the In & Out Club in London, is awarded a semi-abstract statue representing sex in the 1950s and a bottle of champagne, if he or she turns up."

The Guardian Unlimited has excerpts from those shortlisted to win. Perhaps you should read them aloud with your special someone before turning in early tonight. Wink wink. Nudge nudge.

Update: The recently deceased Norman Mailer has won the coveted award.

Russia's Growing Contempt for Literature

There's a systematic crisis in Russia, according to a news story in The Sunday Herald. The crisis is no one is reading anymore in that country, or at least not as much as they used to. From the story, "The Kremlin is now complaining that post-communist Russia has dramatically turned its back on books in favour of trashy reality-TV shows and glossy magazines."

Some factoids:

- In the 1970s, 80% of parents read aloud to their children. Today the figure is just 7%.

- In 1991, the year the Soviet Union imploded, 48% of young Russians systematically consumed literature. By 2005 that figure had shrunk to just 28%.

- In 1991, 79% of Russians read at least one book a year. In 2005 that figure had fallen to 63%.

Of course this isn't a particular problem to Russians. None of us are reading like we used to. It's because of the internet, cable TV, movies, radio, and all the other ways we get information and entertainment.

What can be done to stop the crisis? If you're the Kremlin, you've declared the next 12 months to be "The Year of Reading" in an attempt to raise awareness to the problem and get Russians to start poking their heads in bookstores again.

What can you do? Why not read some classic Russian literature?

In the New Yorker recently, there was an in-depth article, written by James Wood, about a new translation of Tolstoy's War and Peace. For me though, I'd rather dig into Dostoevksy's The Idiot.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The British Museum Print Database Opens

For the past 15 years, the British Museum has been ramping up for an unveiling they've had recently. That is, one of the most significant cultural collections of 2-dimensional art (prints, drawings, and paintings) in the world. BibliOdyssey highlights some of his finds and The Guardian taps into the virtual treasure trove. A treasure it is, with 50,000 drawings, a third of a million bookplates, and so on. A free text search of "Spain" captured 1028 images. "Picasso," 239 images. "Still life," 684 images. "Wood block," 2186 images. "Ferrets," 10.

The image above is an engraving by Franz Isaac Brun (1555 - 1610) entilted "Polyhymnia" from a series entitled "The Muses." If you care to find whatever it is you fancy, start looking here.

Good Writers Highlight the Best Books of the Year

Continuing on from a post pre-Thanksgiving, The Guardian has a spot where great authors (Michael Chabon, Oliver Sacks, Peter Carey, etc) let us know what books they liked best in 2007. Perhaps it's time, after reading some of the authors' choices, to invest in a speed reading course. There's no way I'll be able to get through them all.

Also, the New York Times showcases 100 Notable Books of the Year.

Oh, the U.K.'s Times Online also picks their favorites.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quote of the Week

Part of the ability to keep writing over the years comes down to living with the expectation of disappointment. It's the exact opposite of capitalism. In capitalism you want your business to succeed, and to the degree it does your energy increases, and you go out and buy an even bigger business. In writing it's almost the exact opposite. You just want to keep the store going. You're not going to do as well this year as last year probably, but nonetheless let's keep the store going. What ruins most writers of talent is that they don't get enough experience, so their novels tend to develop a certain paranoid perfection.
- Norman Mailer (1923 - 2007)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Read This Long Holiday Weekend

Need something to read on the plane that's taking you to Detroit and Grandma Josephine's house for Thanksgiving? Need a book to tide you over while you await the train that's late that's taking you to Uncle Earl's condo in Portland? Want something to keep you stimulated on that Greyhound bus to Lincoln, Nebraska? With the end of the year comes the "Best Books of 2007" lists. So, take their advice, and read one this weekend. You'll be glad you read an extra chapter of one of these great books rather than eating cousin Alice's warm potato salad.

Publisher's Weekly Best Books of the Year can be found here.

Book Sense picks their top choices here. picks their Top 100 books here.

And if you've got kids, Kirkus showcases the best children's books of the year here.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy reading!

Movies Based on Poetry

While Beowulf slays the competition at the local cinemaplex these days, the Boston Globe takes a look at other movies that were based on poems. Disney's Mulan was based on a 6th-century Chinese epic poem "Hua Mu Lan." Mike Kelly's poem "Casey at the Bat" has inspired a half a dozen films. "The Odyssey" has inspired several movies as well, recently (pictured above) the wonderful Coen brother movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou. I wonder if they've made a movie about one of the poems that haunts me most.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Laptop Club

Kids designing laptops, care of The Morning News.

Short Story, by Tom Gauld

To Read or Not to Read? Americans - Not Reading

The National Endowment for the Arts has a new report with essentially one conclusion - we're not reading like we used to.

Some statistics:

- In 2002, only 52 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24, the college years, read a book voluntarily, down from 59 percent in 1992.

- The number of adults with bachelor's degrees and "proficient in reading prose" dropped from 40 percent in 1992 to 31 percent in 2003.

The report is further discussed here, as part of the NEA News Room.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Steve Martin Round-Up

There's a lot of Steve Martin discussion going on these days because of the release of his new autobiography, Born Standing Up.

There's a feature on Martin in the New York Times here.

There's also a small feature (with neat old pics of Martin) in Men's Vogue here.

There's a New York Times review of his new book here.

And, you can read an excerpt of his new book on the New York Times site here.

The New Yorker offers an audio excerpt of Martin reading his new book here.

Entertainment Weekly offers a photo essay of Martin's most memorable movie roles here.

And USA Today interviews him here.

Best Book Covers of 2007

The Book Design Review highlights their favorite book covers of 2007. Surprisingly, Elf in the Ornament wasn't mentioned. Whatever.

Best Magazine Covers of 2007

The American Society of Magazine Editors has chosen the best covers of 2007 in several different categories (Best Celebrity Cover, Best Fashion Cover, etc). Surprisingly, Pit and Quarry Magazine didn't make the cut. Whatever.

An Elegy for the Great American Novel

The Independent has an elegy for the great American novel. Is there such a thing? Norman Mailer thought there was one and he tried tirelessly to write it until his recent death. John Updike's Rabbit books come to mind. Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow comes to mind. The works of Philip Roth and Saul Bellow, William Faulkner and Kurt Vonnegut are high on the list of "great American novels" as are some of the books by J.D. Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye, of course) and Gore Vidal. Did anyone, can anyone, write the quintessential novel? And when the old literary lions start to pass on (i.e. Mailer), whom amongst the younger folks might be able to write it (Eggers, Chabon, et al)?

There's also been some scholarly interest of late in regards to that elusive thing, the Great American Novel.

Strangely, my novel wasn't mentioned in the story although I received a huge royalties check this past weekend (I can almost afford an egg log latte at Cafe Luna with it).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quote of the Week

If I didn't have writing, I'd be running down the street hurling grenades in people's faces.
- Paul Fussell

Friday, November 16, 2007

Wanted - Poet to Plow Fields

Wave Books, Seattle's own super groovy independent poetry press, famous now for its Poetry Bus, has something super groovy going on again. "Our 12-acre (uncertified) organic fruit & vegetable farm, [near Orfordville, Wisconsin], is open to poets willing to work for four good hours a day in exchange for room, board, and a new environment in which to write." Sounds neat, doesn't it?

In honor of Wave Books being super groovy and environmentally friendly, a farming poem:

The Happy Farmer
by Mr. Charles H. Crandall, The Farmer-Poet of Stamford, Connecticut

O'er mountain peaks the morning breaks,
The robin at my window wakes,
And calls me now to guide the plow
Down where the waving willows bow.
My sturdy team goes swiftly round
And swiftly turns the fragrant ground,
While breezes blow and grasses grow,
And birds of passage northward go.
Fly on, swift birds, across the land!
And blow, ye winds, from strand to strand!
For well I know, where'er ye go,
Ye see no happier man below,
For my heart is light and my love is true
And the day is full of work to do!
The plow is still and blushes fill
The heavens o'er the western hill,
As homeward now, with tossing mane,
My steeds go stepping down the lane.
How glad they reach the water-trough!
And grateful now, with harness off,
They follow to the pasture ground,
And break away with playful bound.
Now softly fall the meadow bars,
And silently steal out the stars,
And as I watch the splendid night
I hear a footstep falling light,
And some one saying, sweet and true,
“Come, love, there's no more work to do!"

The History of Photoshopping, from 1860 to the Present

Dartmouth College's Computer Science Department has an interesting story about digital tampering in the media, politics and law. A photo of Abraham Lincoln is discussed, as are photos of Adolph Hitler, Oprah, Mao Tse-tung and Katie Couric. The iconic image of the Kent State shootings was altered, as was a cover of National Geographic Magazine (though they insist that they no longer digitally manipulate images after the fall-out of said cover). Short, concise, interesting, with lots of visuals, it's a good piece for perusal and edification.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Comics Curmudgeon

Time and time and time again the Comics Curmudgeon makes me laugh out loud...and guffaw, too. Chortle, also.

National Book Award Round-Up

The winners were announced last night and a special congratulations to Sherman Alexie, fellow WSU graduate and fellow Seattle resident, on his much-deserved win for his new book. The Seattle Times has the local slant of his win in this morning's paper.

For more information about all the winners, go here.

And, did you want to win the National Book Award next year? Just follow these five easy steps.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Sexiest Men Alive

People Magazine has unveiled their picks for the sexiest men alive. Strangely absent from the list? Me. Bravo to you, Matt Damon, for being voted THE sexiest man alive. I'll win next year.

Children's Book Week (November 12-18)

Are you in the midst of celebrating Children's Book Week by reading some of the books you loved growing up? Or, if you have kids, are you going to the library this week to stock up on all sorts of groovy titles?

From the Children's Book Council's press release:

"Reading is not a solitary, stationary activity. People learn, grow, and benefit from reading in their day-to-day lives because so much of today’s information is only available through the written word—in books, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and even on television. Unfortunately, the statistics are staggering:

'The ability to read and understand complicated information is important to success in college and, increasingly, in the workplace. An analysis of the NAEP long-term trend reading assessments reveals that…by age 17, only about 1 in 17 seventeen year olds can read and gain information from specialized text, for example the science section in the local newspaper.' (National Institute for Literacy)

"Children cannot “Rise Up” to this challenge without many, many hours of reading practice, and it’s impossible for anyone to read that much without first developing a love of reading. During Children’s Book Week, parents, educators, and other caregivers can “Rise Up” to this challenge."


With my four-year-old, we read all sorts of books. Some of our favorite authors...

Ian Falconer, author of Olivia.

Lauren Child, author of I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato.

Tim Egan, author of Serious Farm.

And, our all time favorite author...

Mo Willems, author of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Profiles in Courage - Women Journalists

In Truthdig, they've showcased some of the winners (including Mexican activist and writer Lydia Cacho whose photograph is above) of the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism Awards. These are the women that "uphold the highest standards of the profession—and, as they reveal in their speeches, risk paying the highest price for their perseverance and dedication." The speeches mentioned are available to read on the website. They were given by some of the winners. Of note, one honoree, Serkalem Fasil of Ethiopia, was unable to attend the awards event because of threats against her. Congratulations to all. You're an inspiration to us all.

Reading Out Loud is Good For You

On All Media Scotland there's a story that touts reading aloud. It's good for the "heart, mind, and soul." Some tidbits in the story:

1) Education experts have found that reading out loud is an indispensable tool in teaching literacy and self confidence.

2) It builds a sense of community – learning poems by Robert Burns, Liz Lochhead or Stewart Conn builds a sense of camaraderie. It’s little wonder why marriage ceremonies and funerals involve many recitations as a congregation to build a sense of support through a joyous or difficult time.

One of my favorite classes in college was one in which we recited literature to each other each and every class. Reading the poetry of Charles Manson to a group of my peers? Good times. Reading Of Mice and Men to local middle schoolers in their classrooms? Good times. Reciting the works of one of my favorite poets? Good times.

So, find a venue, friends, to read aloud. It's good for you.

Marvel's Digital Archive

If you don't feel like slogging through the massive tomes written by Norman Mailer, as a tribute to his recent passing, don't. Instead, why not read some comic books that have been released digitally at Marvel? 250 comics in Marvel's archives are available for you to read for free. To help you choose what to read amongst all those comics, USA Today asked a couple of Marvel's writers to pick their favorites. As for me? It's time to start reading some Captain America.

And, as a side note, a young boy dressed like a superhero became a superhero when he saved a baby recently from a fire.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Remembering Norman Mailer

Literary lion Norman Mailer died this past weekend. Christopher Hitchens remembers him on Slate.

Happy Birthday Atlantic Monthly

"One Saturday afternoon in 1857, at a luncheon held at Boston's Parker House Hotel, an elite assemblage of America's brightest literary lights hatched the idea for a new publication—a magazine that would serve as a forum for the best being thought and written in the United States. The group, which included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, named their fledgling venture "The Atlantic Monthly." After obtaining the necessary financial backing and nominating the poet James Russell Lowell to serve as editor, their plans proceeded apace, and the inaugural issue of The Atlantic debuted in November 1857."

The Atlantic, one of my favorite magazines on the racks, is celebrating a birthday with a special issue, as well as a groovy little space on their website, Atlantic Lore, that's a compendium of "Scandals, intriguing facts, greatest hits, and more."

Some tidbits:

- In 1869 The Atlantic published an article by Harriet Beecher Stowe, accusing the poet Lord Byron of carrying on an affair with his half sister.

- Mark Twain's Life on the Mississippi began as an 1875 Atlantic serial.

- One year into the Civil War, the writer Julia Ward Howe visited a Union Army camp and was inspired to write a poem set to the rhythm of "John Brown's Body." The Atlantic paid her $4.00 for her submission, which was titled The Battle Hymn of the Republic. It was given the lead place in the February 1862 Atlantic and soon became a virtual war anthem for the Union army.

So, happy 150th Atlantic. My goal? To get in Atlantic's pages by their 155th birthday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quote of the Week

I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one's inner life. And that too is a deed.
- Etty Hillesum

Friday, November 09, 2007

My Personal Stories Told in Glossies

The Clever Clover 4-H Club was a force to be reckoned with. At the Thurston County Fair if there was a blue ribbon to be had it was the Clever Clovers who had it. We, the Clever Clovers, were primarily the Shipley family of West Olympia and we took no prisoners. We could cook, sew, be crafty, public speak better than anyone. They shouldn't have even bothered with award ceremonies at the Thurston County Fair. A Shipley was going to win. I'm starting to fashion a story about the Clever Clover dynasty for Forever Green, a publication put out by Washington's 4-H organization. It should be a fun one to write.

If you take a look at the November/December issue of Twins Magazine you'll see a story I wrote about me growing up with my triplet brothers. I love them but they're kind of weird.

In the December issue of Canoe and Kayak Magazine I have a humorous story about how my brother nearly killed me on a homemade kayak.

I'm seeing if I can't get more of my personal history in magazine pages. We'll see. I've contacted Halftime Magazine, a publication dedicated to marching bands since that was such an integral part of life growing up. I've also contacted Ferrets Magazine because I owned Justice, a blind albino ferret whom I loved dearly. I've also been in touch with Ultimate Grappling Magazine because I like to beat up people. Just kidding on that last one. :)

I'll let you know how all this plays out. Until then, have fun out there.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fred W. McDarrah Dies at 81

McDarrah was a long time photographer for the Village Voice and is most well known for documenting the Beat generation (his obituary, care of the New York Times). Above is arguably his most famous photo. It's of Jack Kerouac enthralling an audience with a reading of his seminal novel On the Road.

The Wyoming Libraries Campaign

They're trying to reel people into Wyoming libraries and they're doing it with mud flap art. Of course, there's more to their marketing strategy then just that. In fact, The Wyoming State Library won the John Cotton Dana Award in 2007 for their impressive campaign.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

21 Good Books That Need to Be Great Films

The AV Club has compiled some books that need to be made into movies. It's a swell wide-ranging collection from Stephen King to Susanna Clarke, David Gates to John Kennedy Toole. And you better bet that I'll sit in a darkened theater to see an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's quite possibly one of the best novels I've ever read.

Jon's Humorous Poetry on Portland Fiction


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chip Kidd - The Best Cover Designer in the Biz

The UK's Telegraph profiles Chip Kidd, who is above and beyond most all other book cover designers. If you're not familiar with the name, fear not, you've seen his covers. One cover, in particular. He did the iconic Jurassic Park jacket. He's done all sorts of other authors' jackets as well, including Oliver Sacks, James Ellroy, Cormac McCarthy, and Haruki Murakami (Kidd's cover is above). He's a wonder, Kidd is.

His website is here and the book you should definitely look through, if you're at all interested in graphic design and/or books in general, is this one.

Monday, November 05, 2007

WGA On Strike

The Writers Guild of America is on strike (story care of Variety). CNN is also on the picket lines. Slate, always a groovy source for all things newsy, has a story entitled TV Writers Script Their Upcoming Strike.

Get ready, folks, for plenty of reruns until this thing gets worked out. And, please, let's work it out. Give writers their due!

Now, sing with me the old Julius Margolin chestnut, "A Union Man"

When I die throw my ashes to the winds
When I die throw my ashes to the winds
When I die throw my ashes to the winds
I've lived my life the best way I can

I've always been a hardworking man
I've always been a hardworking man
I've always been a hardworking man
I've lived my life the best way I can

I've always been a damn good union man
I've always been a damn good union man
I've always been a damn good union man
I've lived my life the best way I can

I've been a seaman, electrician, and in construction too
On assembly lines and factories and did some farming too
Fought company scabs, union-busting laws, walked many a picket line
For musicians, electricians, and workers in the mines

So when I die throw my ashes to the winds
When I die throw my ashes to the winds
When I die throw my ashes to the winds
I've lived my life the best way I can
Proud to live my life the best way I can!

Pictures Taken at Just the Right Time

Sawse delivers 25 fun photos.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Quote of the Week

Don't join the book burners. Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book...
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 - 1969)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Jail Finds

There's a fellow who works in a jail library as a volunteer. He finds all sorts of things tucked within the pages of prison library books. He's posted his finds online.

And, talking about finds, don't forget there's Found Magazine which collects all the bits and pieces people find from the street, the dumpster, the library book, tucked behind the cushion at a diner, where ever, that entertains them in some way. Type in my name, Shipley, in the search field and you can find some of my contributions.

And, while we're on the subject of Found Magazine, don't forget that one of my finds is included in the book Found II: More of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items from Around the World.

And, since we're on the subject of things found, and lost, there's also Lost Magazine that's worth reading.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"American Gangster" and Mark Jacobson

I'm looking forward to seeing the new Denzel Washington/Russell Crowe movie American Gangster. It's not simply because I think Washington is one of the best actors of his generation (who is featured, along with Crowe, in a recent cover story on Entertainment Weekly), no, it's because of the reportage of one Mark Jacobson.

Jacobson? Who is that? One of the best journalists of his generation, that's who. Honestly, I've just discovered his writings myself, with his marvelous collection of essays and reportage Teenage Hipster in the Modern World: From the Birth of Punk to the Land of Bush: Thirty Years of Apocalyptic Journalism. He's a regular contributor to New York Magazine and, in fact, that's where the American Gangster movie has its roots. It is Jacobson's piece on Frank Lucas, once the city's "biggest, baddest heroin kingpins," that the movie has built itself around.

To read more of Jacobson's work online, he's got an archive on the NY Magazine site.