Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Walking the Dog (on Mars)

Singer Jackie Shane died last week. I didn't know her until I read her obit in the Guardian, "Jackie Shane: remembering the groundbreaking trans soul singer".

Her understated rendition of "Walking the Dog" (1965) really caught me:

Speaking of obits, it touched me that the Economist wrote an obit for the plucky little Mars rover Opportunity:

Monday, February 25, 2019

Footage of 1974 Star Trek Con

Footage of one of the first Star Trek cons (1974?), VIEW HERE:

Ah, it's on youtube too, where people complain in the comments that there is no sound!
"No sound, therefore, by default, a useless post." 

"Is there supposed to be sound an dI'm doing something wrong, or is it just all silent? "
(When people talk nostalgically about the past, I always think, "Were you there? IT WAS SILENT!" 
Well, no, it wasn't, but home movies were.)

More info: Star Trek Conventions in the Seventies:

Thanks, Michael, for the link!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

My Neighborhood

I had almost completely forgotten this daily photography blog I started in 2011, with a couple other people:
The original idea was to get seven photographers, each one shooting one photo a week of the neighborhood.

I never rounded up seven though, and after almost three years the blog petered out.
But there are some good photos in it!

Here's my entry from almost exactly six years ago:

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Libraries! A Visual History

Wow--Orange Crate Art just commented on how library cards can't be taken for granted (e.g., Trump has tried to cut what little federal funding libraries have), and this morning I came across this wonderful graphic tale on my public library's FB page:

"A History of the American Public Library"

Visual storyteller Ariel Aberg-Riger shares the story of how America’s public libraries came to be, and their uneven history of serving all who need them. 

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Twenty-six Books a Year

 I was telling Big Boss about the Read 200 Books a Year challenge.

"More than one every two days?" he said. "Can you even absorb that much? I mean, you could read the Bible in a year, but you couldn't really take it all in..."

"Right," I said. "I suppose you'd get a broad acquaintance, but I think if you're reading carefully, and you have other stuff going on in your life, I'd aim for more like twenty-six books a year. One every two weeks."

So then I thought, what twenty-six books would I recommend, or would I want to read, or listen to?

(Generally I follow no reading plan--it's almost entirely haphazard.)

When I thought of books that have meant a lot to me and shaped my thinking, I hesitate to recommend them to anyone because I haven't read them in sooooo many years. 

I would have to have a Recommend list,

and a Reread list.

For inclusion on a year's reading list, I would recommend 
1. Maus (I & II), Art Spiegelman's 2 vol. graphic novel about the Holocaust, which I've read again in recent years.

But Night, by Elie Wiesel, who as a boy survived the concentration camps where his family died?
It was hugely formative for me––in eighth grade.

Haven't read it since.

I would put that on my Reread List, along with Sophocles' Antigone. Ever since Orange Crate Art chose that as a book (play) all incoming college freshman could read, I've wanted to reread it.

Other books I read ages & liked ago and would like to reread:  
Candide, by Voltaire
Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
Nine Tailors, by Dorothy Sayers (though I still remember how the death was done, darn it!) 
The Bhagavad Gita

So many to reread, come to think of it––must think more about which ones.

Also recommended:

2. Charlotte's Web, by E. B. White (I quoted it at my friend Barrett's funeral in 2011) 

3. Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, by Jeanette Winterson––a slightly wobbly first-novel that still makes me laugh out loud and is a great coming of age/leaving your family/religion novel

4. The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell, for a history of the funny, horrific, and paradoxically admirable wackos who settled the Puritan colonies.  Human, all too human. Just like us.

5. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, another graphic novel (memoir) and coming-of-age book, about growing up in revolutionary Iran (Satrapi was born in 1969)–– 
especially topical now with the rise of tribalism 

6. Gospel of John. One of the great opening lines in literature:
"In the beginning was the Word..." [top image:
"First page of John's Gospel from the Coronation Gospels, c. 10th century"]
Whether you consider this history or fiction or God's actual words, for real, it's worth checking out.

I'd put some essays on the list too. Maybe three or four would equal one book? It depends...

7.  "Consider the Lobster", by David Foster Wallace
 I could not get into Infinite Jest (sorry! I tried!), 
but this essay is one of my favorite pieces of writing:
Let's think about how we have festivals for boiling living creatures alive!

You can read it online: PDF "Consider the Lobster" here.

And some poetry! But I have to leave now––will get back to this.

Anyone want to chime in with books or other writings they'd recommend? 
. . . or books they'd like to reread?

The Custodian of Books

What a hoot!
Here I am with Big Boss on the cover of the latest ed of the local Catholic rag, The Catholic Spirit, in an article about SVDP. 

It's high time the society got more press. Big Boss, newly made associate director, is ushering in an era of more openness, including, praisegod, asking for HELP!

I'm not in the article, only the photo. I LOVE that they accepted my self-designated job title, "custodian of books."  I told them that was my title, when they asked. They seemed dubious, but they wrote it down and printed it in the caption.

What were they going to do?
Well, they could just have said, "staff member." 

The title Custodian actually comes from Marz––she first used it to describe my relationship to bears and dolls and toys.

The photographer seems to have used a fish-eye lens, which gives a weird wrap-around effect (I'm not quite that round!).
This photo cracks me up: 
it captures the sort of exchanges I have with Big Boss. I go bouncing into his office like Tigger, and he looks at me like, "What's she going on about now?"

Even his body language--hands held protectively across his stomach--like Gene Wilder in The Producers?
"Don't jump on me!"

What's happening in the Catholic Spirit photo is the two journalists happened to come through my books section with Boss, and being Tiggerish, I leapt into talking with them, and they said I should pose for a photo.

"Talk to each other," the photographer said.

I happened to be holding Henri Nouwen's Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming––HN's exploration of the Biblical story, based on his reactions to the Rembrandt painting.

Fun Fact: The scene at the end of the movie Solaris (Tarkovski, 1971) recreates this.

So, I was telling Big Boss about this book, gesturing, you can see, and saying he really might like to read it, since he likes opening up stories from scripture.

After the reporters left, I went into Boss's office and saw the book.

"You don't have to take that," I said. "I know you don't have time to read, I was just going on for the photograph..."

"No," he said. "It sounds interesting. I'll take it."

My real job title = BOOK PUSHER!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Sadness and Joy

This is the collage Facebook presented me with this morning, from pictures I've posted on the thrift store's page in the last 3 days. 

It struck me each pair's expressions mirrored those of the toy figures the shopper is holding: they're  "Sadness" and "Joy"---characters from the Disney movie Inside Out. [trailer on youtube]

I. 200 Books

I'd used the vintage ad for a Presidents' Day sale on clothes.
The couple with the books told me they're doing the "200 Books a Year" challenge, which I'd never heard of.

Looked it up, and it's a response to Warren Buffet:
"Somebody once asked Warren Buffett about his secret to success. Buffett pointed to a stack of books and said,
'Read 500 pages like this every day.
UPDATE: This may be a misquote: Farnham St. quotes him as saying, "Read 500 pages a WEEK"--a much more reasonable number!
That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will...'"
--from "The Simple Truth Behind Reading 200 Books a Year"

I DISLIKE BUFFET's triumphalist tone, and his IGNORANCE:

NOT everyone can read 500 pages a day---that's RIDICULOUS!

I recently posted about women in prison, for instance--some are in jails that HAVE NO BOOKS!
His attitude makes me mad.

UPDATE: OK-- this may be a misquote--he said "500 pages a WEEK" elsewhere, which is doable for many more people.
It's also reported that he recommended 500 pages a day when he was talking to a business school, where probably students are (or should be) reading huge amounts daily.

II. We Don't Need No Thought Control

However, I do agree that education matters--however you get it.
It doesn't have to be reading, per se--could be audio, moving pictures, TALKING & LISTENING, etc.––
any and every thing that helps us get out, beyond our self-referential brains, to expand beyond the borders of our own world/views.

At work I see the narrowing, stunting effect of not having a broader education, of not having layers and layers of knowledge built up, one way or another.

At work, Mr Furniture has been rumbling about "gentrification" of the store. Mr Furniture is an amazing, self-taught artist. He calls himself a "reality artist" because his powerful art is all about the harsh reality of being a black man in America, which he is.

One of his themes, he said, is 
Black-on-Black Violence Is Part of the Master Plan.

Here is Mr Furniture at work, showing me one of the fabric-collage pantsuits he creates. This one is about the deadly East Coast/West Coast, Tupac/Biggie rapper wars that resulted in the murder of Tupac Shakur:

This guy is talented and passionate, and several years ago he brought order to the chaos that was the furniture section, and maintains it. 

But his life has been limited by poverty and racism in HUGE ways, including, for instance, that he is not computer literate, and he doesn't read much. He told me the prison he was in when he was young took away the book he was reading about the Black Panthers. I wonder if he's read a book since...

One of my themes would be,
The Systematized DENIAL of Education to Certain Groups IS Thought Control

One of the effects is that Mr Furniture is, not unreasonably!, wary of white people. 

And white people have been coming into his furniture section and making changes, without his involvement.

III. Gentrification

I never intended to get involved in that section, but my Books borders his Furniture.
And it happens that two of "my" new volunteers are music people, and the LPs are in the furniture section. They crossed the border to rearrange records, which were a total mess. And one thing led to another:
"Wouldn't it make sense if we moved X here?"

YES! It would. And again one thing led to another... "
And moved Y there?"

Mr. Furniture told me, "San Francisco," (his nickname for me), "you and the others are gentrifying this place."

Now gentrification is a dirty word to Mr Furniture--and to me. 

In the past couple years, the city has allowed all sorts of new apartment buildings to go up, and they are badly needed. 
But a studio apt. in these new buildings costs $1,200 rent a month!!!

So poor people in the neighborhood of the store––which is Mr Furniture's neighborhood––are being pushed out to the outer suburbs.


(I can only afford to work part-time/freelance, now at minimum wage ($10.25/hour), because my friends who own the house with my little upstairs apartment charge me about half the going rent rate: 
I pay a LOW $500/month, which includes everything except my phone--even wifi & laundry.
I love that that affords me a good life, with time to read 500 pages a day. Well, probably more like 50. I am LUCKY!)

Anyway, my goal is not to gentrify the store, in the sense of cleaning up and then raising prices. 
My goal is to make it nice, and keep prices low: 
why should poor shoppers have to put up with a disorganized and dirty store?

Still, I took Mr Furniture's criticism to heart--and the truth is, if you make stuff nice, richer people come along, and prices do rise.
But mainly, I heard it as a signaling that we were running roughshod over him.

IV. Let's Have a Meeting, She Said Perkily!

Yesterday I called a meeting of all concerned parties. 
It's bothered me that we've made changes without consulting Mr Furniture, and that the changes have been piecemeal.
We should have a plan, I declared, and everyone should be included.

We met yesterday. The movers and shakers were all white or white-passing people with college degrees. We all read books.
That doesn't mean we're oppressors.
It means we have a sense of AGENCY and personal power that is not automatically granted to everyone.

To us, it feels natural to go into a messy situation and think,
"Hey, let's make this better!"

Mr Furniture, classically, said he didn't want to come to the meeting.
Fine, I said.
Then he showed up late and poked holes in every idea someone proposed.

Finally I said, "Let's GO to the furniture section and try out some of these ideas."

That was the ticket!
Mr Furniture got into moving stuff around, and at the end, he said to Michael, the guy who had proposed the biggest changes, "This was a good idea. It looks great!"

Big Boss had some concerns--he was supportive, but I could tell it made him nervous. But we all agreed it would be easy to put things back the way they were, if it didn't pan out.

The new layout does look great, and I think it will pan out.
It should look great: 

Michael is a retired landscape architect. He had approached the meeting with a drawn plan, and the philosophical reasoning behind it.

He told me, "This was a great learning experience for me. I forget that not everyone thinks visually, on paper. We had to get out on the floor and show how it worked, or didn't. And if this doesn't work, we can put it back."

And I thought, THIS is education. 
A group of people with very different world views, very different senses of power, got together and made some changes, hopefully for the better of all.

I truly don't know how it felt for the black guys--was it a reluctant acceptance of something good they felt was foisted on them?
I really hope not. 

Overall, I felt super proud of all of us, and cautiously joyful.
Also, surprised: 
HOW IN THE WORLD did I get here????

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

that good feeling when you offered but didn't have to help

Someone has moved into the empty house next door. 
Thing is, that house caught fire last summer. While it's structurally sound––a crew went in and cleaned it out––the house has no electricity, heating, or plumbing.

So, someone is living there, in extreme cold. They've been keeping out of sight, but tracks in the snow lead to the back porch, which faces my apartment across a small yard.

Last night the sound of my neighbor hammering something in the yard woke me up. I got up and checked the time and temp:

3 a.m.
-1ºF / -18 C. 

I went back to bed. 
This person quite likely has mental problems, I thought. They could be dangerous or, at any rate, desperately needy.

They also could freeze to death.

I got back up, put on clothes, and went down my back steps. 
I called across the fence,
"Hello, over there! Do you want to come sleep inside?"

A cheery male voice answered me, "Thanks, we're OK! But... do you have any water to drink?"

I went back upstairs and filled two Mason jars with tepid water, wrapped them in towels, and put them in a cloth bag.

"Are you sure you're OK?" I said as I handed them over. 
The young man I saw was dressed for winter camping--a fur trimmed parka, good boots.

"Yeah, we've got heating. We're burning those little cans you use to keep food warm. But thanks for your offer!"

Sterno. God help us.

You know how I felt?
Honestly, I felt relief that he didn't take me up on my offer. And I felt good––morally off the hook, for having offered.

I'm not proud of that, but I think it's OK, and I wanted to say it because I rarely hear it said.
More often I hear, "Why Didn't They Help [fill in the blank innocent victims of history]?" as if helping strangers is an obvious thing to do.

But it's not.

Helping friends and family may be hard, but helping strangers, up close and personal, is a different thing--almost ... mmm, unnatural? I mean, sort of beyond our social evolution?

Possibly I missed it, but I don't know of much written about that. 

I never saw Schindler's List because I hate Stephen Spielberg's sentimentality. I watched a couple minutes when it was on TV a while ago, and it looked like his usual romanticized version of history. The good guys literally glow. Their suffering (the good guys') is noble.
You watch it, and you feel like you're noble.
 Blah, blah, blah.
[Ditto To Kill a Mockingbird.]

I suppose it's good such movies exist, to encourage us to try to help the stranger, but they're hardly realistic.
Helping people you don't know is annoying, and helpers are often annoyed. (I work with some of them.)

I've written before, in contrast, about the wonderful little slip of a novel, Comedy in a Minor Key, by Hans Keilson, who had been a member of the Dutch resistance in WWII. 
It's about a nice Christian couple who hide a nice Jewish man in WWII Holland. They all tiptoe around being uncomfortably polite in tight quarters for a couple years.
Nobody glows.

Then the man dies of pneumonia and the couple enters a sort of slapstick comedy:
What to do with the body? 

Put it in a closet?

Oh! Googling Comedy, I see there's a 9 minute film out this year. Wow, I should try to watch it. It's being developed into a full-length film, I read.

I went on a date once with a handsome guy who told me over dinner he didn't like Mother Teresa.

Why not, I asked him. 
"She's not likable, she's a crank," he said.

I gather that was true.
"You try picking up dying people covered in lice," I said, "and see how likable you are."

So, there was just the one date then?

There was just the one date.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

"their personalities took flight and they became themselves"

I. Watch for Falling Bricks

I went on a field trip with SVDP board member Pam yesterday to our store across the Mississippi, in St. Paul
Pam and I are on the new Store Committee, with a goal of giving our two Twin Cities' thrift stores a facelift, as Big Boss called it.
I had never been to the other store.

What a dump.

The brick building itself is cool, from 1911, with original pressed tin ceilings (below). 
Spruced up, this place could be a gem, and in fact the surrounding area's houses & businesses are being gentrified, for better and/or worse.

But we're not sprucing up. 
Oh, no. The thrift store moved in in 1960 and hasn't refurbished since, inside or out.
A few weeks ago a chunk of brick fell off the front of the building and hit a passer by--luckily for her, it hit her shoulder and only bruised her, and luckily for the store, she was a longtime customer who didn't sue.

Now the Society has to spend a fortune on long-deferred repairs, which will prevent customer deaths but not otherwise improve the store's appeal. 

I keep saying this: 
I love & hate the laissez-faire/Quietist management of the thrift store(s).
On the one hand, it means they are a dump. (My store is slightly better, because the building is newer.) But the cool, old stuff has not been stripped, so their character remains.

It also means there's freedom to make all sorts of changes. You've gotta supply your own oomph, though, and making change in these circumstances can feel like moving wet snow.

Now Big Boss is stepping up, I am cautiously hopeful.
In a small way, the snowball has started to roll.
Compared to the other store's baffling books section, for instance, my books section is stellar. 
 (I wish I'd taken photos of that store's book category names, which are ... unique, and also not necessarily related to the actual books in the category.)

When I started as Book Custodian, I'd asked Big Boss if I should OK changes with him. 
He'd said, "No, just do it."

II. The New Girls

Dumpiness aside, the St Paul store was fun to rummage in. 
Look who I found impounded there!

Almost a year at my store, and I've seen not one Orphan Red come in.
You may recall I'd bought three new Reds off ebay last fall? Each was damaged in her own way: matted hair, dirty clothes, a dog bite on a leg....

I'd ended up feeling overwhelmed by personalities, however, and Marz took the three to her house, where they are learning acrobatics and mime.

I don't know that I'm up for more Reds living with me permanently, but I couldn't just leave the girls there. They said they were having fun with the other toys, but they wanted clothes. Also, they sparked instant joy in me.

I paid their release price (99 cents each), put them in my backpack's outer pocket, so they could see, and took them home.

SweePo, Red Hair Girl, and Penny Cooper welcomed them eagerly.
Penny Cooper gave them an elixir, first thing!

The new Orphan Reds say their names are Orange Colored Sky and Lulu LaFlame.
I'm like, "Girls! Those are stripper names!"
Who knows. 
Sometimes the Reds change their names later. And sometimes they don't. 
(Penny Cooper would never change her name! But SweePo went through several names before she told a total stranger at the Minnehaha Falls that her name was Sweet Potato.)

The News were tuckered out, so they were given the bed the original three outgrew and a soft, warm blanket. 
They stayed up late though, talking through the slats.

III. Rescue Reds

One of my favorite things in the world is the all-volunteer Wire Fox Terrier Rescue Midwest  group. They take in this breed and other terriers who come their way––some of the dogs shockingly damaged by cruel or careless humans.
(I know the group because bink & Maura have adopted three terriers from them.)

At first I was dubious. 
Why spend all this energy and money to rescue badly damaged dogs? Healthy dogs, sure, but why not just make the hard call and put the mangled ones down as gently as possible? 

In the years I've followed them, however, I've totally changed my mind.
It's not about the dogs.
Well, it is about the dogs, but more, the group's work caring for wounded creatures is a demonstration of people trying to clean up after the damage other people wreak on the vulnerable. 

It's often heartbreaking and enraging.

Even if one might disagree with using resources for dogs instead of, say, children, still, the group's work is like a neon sign declaring, PEOPLE CARE about little beings who are too small to protect themselves, 
. . . to protect themselves FROM US

I take heart from that.

In a way, the Reds are a little bit like that. 
I post their adventures on Facebook and here and there have gotten comments (or private messages) along those lines--that they give people a bit of heart in a difficult time. (And every time is difficult for someone.)
The Reds do that for me, that's for sure! (Of course, they are me, to a large extent. But also not.)

I posted the New Girls on FB last night.
A FB friend who takes an interest in the Reds asked if they are still "made"--apologizing for his assumption that they originally come from a factory.
(People are sometimes unsure where the illusion starts & stops with toys.)

I wrote back that yes, they were made in a factory in China in the 1990s.  "They started out as Madeline dolls," I wrote, "from the children's books. But somewhere along the line, their personalities took flight and they became themselves."

Anyway, my thought is, I will make clothes for Orange and Lulu, and then maybe see (on FB, etc.) if anyone wants to give them, as dog rescue says, a "forever home".
Meanwhile I am happy to be the foster home, forever.

(If you're interested, you can email me at frescadp at gmail.)

Thursday, February 14, 2019



This is one of the photos I took of a coworker with props from our thrift store for Valentine's Day today.

I always let the subjects choose the photo they want to appear on our FB, and I just had to accept that instead of this one, she chose a cute one of her holding a pink stuffed monkey.

Arty Rats Diorama

Correspondent Kirsten has sent me several sets of photos of the changing dioramas in windows at street level, created by a woman named Hattie.
The toy rats are always looking in from the outside.

Here is this month's diorama--a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

 Recognize the little people looking at the paintings?

More to come.
Thank you, Kirsten!

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Sort of Books I Cull (+ Women's Prison Book Project)

Not to worry, I'm not getting rid of great books. 
Here, below, is a cart of long-unsold books I weeded from the bookshelves when I started--full of the sorts of books I don't even bother putting out––
unless they're vintage or somehow cool (for collage material, etc.):
1. Outdated computer/Internet books (anything older than three years)

2. Outdated business books (New Ways of Managing Conflict, 1976)

3. Color Me Beautiful (1980 ed.): 
actually, now I have a 33-cents shelf, I'd put it there

4. Best of Modern Humor, Mordecai Richter, 1983: 
Ditto the 33-cent shelf, but copies online sell for $0.01

5. Old travel books (boring ones, e.g., Readers Digest guides to national parks), and price guides to collecting antiques

When our warehouse has a few hundred boxes of these, they are sold them for pennies a pound to... I don't know. Need to check on this.

II. "It's the little things that get us through the hard days...."

Good books that don't sell (there aren't many), we donate to a local church for their rummage sale
or to  the excellent Women's Prison Book Project.

Women in prisons around the country write to them to request specific books, or books on specific topics–– recovery from addiction, for instance, and crochet books (you can crochet but not knit in prison).
The WPBP serves women in prisons nationally but lucky for me the  project is housed in a bookstore only a couple miles from the thrift store. 

You can mail them books there too:

Women’s Prison Book Project
c/o Boneshaker Books
2002 23rd Ave S
Minneapolis MN  55404

Sometimes I set aside books on most-requested topics for them, knowing the thrift store clientele can get a wide range of books from libraries and incarcerated women can't.
Here's a list of some frequently requested but rarely donated books.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Uses of Ice-Cream

The little freezer of my new fridge doesn't keep ice-cream frozen, so I put the pint I bought this afternoon on the back porch in the fresh snow. 
The Orphan Reds spied the ice cream and mounted an expedition.

Red Hair Girl put on an extra velvet jacket, and the others dressed up in stuffed animals (empty ones waiting for re-stuffing) (no toys were harmed).

They cleared space so they could open the ice-cream.

They took the lid off...

 But not for the reason I thought...

SweePo skipped the lid and rolled down the hill.

Coming in fast! Can't stop!

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Book Pusher

I set up a book display for Black History Month at the thrift store yesterday.

I emailed my auntie about my display this morning, saying I really am in the right job, wanting and getting to take time to make displays:
"I'm a book pusher!"

"You should have a T-shirt that says that," she wrote back.

Of course they exist. But this one I like is unavailable, from a conference in Italy, and the others I saw are too custey. 

I'd hesitated a little before going ahead with the display because some people point out that black history should be incorporated into EVERY month, so it's ridiculous/insulting/placating to set aside a month for it. 

I agree it should be incorporated, but it's not. I decided it's a self-indulgent, purist fantasy to see Black History Month as a capitulation, as I've heard suggested.

You know, this is a leftist perspective I'm talking about.  A fringe one, but I did take it into consideration.

On another fringe, some say we don't need to set aside a month to focus on black history because history is dead and gone, and we should get over it. 
If only it were that easy, that might be nice? Give everyone a fresh slate?
I didn't even take this into consideration.
Barring the singularity, when A.I. achieves self-consciousness (and memories can be wiped), I'm with Faulkner,
"The past is never dead. It's not even past."* 

I was influenced, too, by the new volunteer at work telling me that her high school didn't teach about the U.S. internment of Japanese-American citizens during WWII. 
She only graduated from high school ten years ago.
They did teach about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and some of her classmates picked on her for it, she whose father came from Japan.

So, yeah. Let's be fair and balanced and mind the gap. And mend the gap––with books!

These are some I gathered together. Of course we only have what's been donated––and what remains unsold for long enough to get into a display (copies of Malcolm X sell fast)––

but it's a decent spread.
I did not know poet Rita Dove (blue book ^ Selected Poems). She was the US Poet Laureate 1993-1995, and last year the NYT Magazine named her their poetry editor. (That magazine's 2018 interview with her here.)

I was extra glad I'd put up this display when later I read a white person saying it's hard to understand black people because they've never known them. 


Here's an idea to push for mutual understanding:
Read books!


Recent genetic studies back up Faulkner saying the past isn't dead. An article in The Atlantic, October 2018:
"Inherited Trauma Shapes Your Health;
A new study on Civil War prisoners adds to the evidence suggesting that our parents’—and even grandparents’—experiences might affect our DNA."

Friday, February 8, 2019

"My Neighborhood Looks Like..."

It was fun to walk a few blocks through yesterday's big snow storm.

Cakes, above: The local panaderia is preparing for Valentine's Day.

At my destination, I drank cheap Chardonnay and read Visit Sunny Chernobyl, a travel book about worldwide human-made disaster sites, before Julia joined me for vegan banana bread.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Books at the Store

A round-up of some recent photos of books I put out at the thrift store. Even though I spend 20 hours a week with the books, I like to gaze upon them away from work too.
Last month, Big Boss agreed to flat-pricing books at .49, .99, and $1.99.  
Now I only put price stickers on books if there's any question about their category, like the fashion history books above.
Technically they could be .49-cents Kids' Books because they're from the children's books publisher I used to work for, but they're brand new, and cool, and of high-interest for adults, so I stuck Adult Prices on them ($1.99 for hardbacks).

Flat pricing saves time, so I get more books out, faster. It also means some of the paperbacks especially are way, way underpriced. January earnings from book sales went UP, as I'd hoped & sensed they would---even though we closed a couple days for the sub-zero weather.

Gardening books don't sell much, no matter the weather though...

(I still haven't got enough 5 x 7" frames to put out all 23 of the category signs Art Sparker made for us.)

And, my favorite thing = this cow, below.
Oh, and there's still the 33-cent Bargain Books section too, for good but beat-up books, or books that don't sell after a couple/few months but that I determine deserve one last chance.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Song About the Federalist Papers

There's a song about the Federalist Papers?

Of course there is--how could I not have known?!
I wrote a whole chapter on Hamilton: An American Musical for my book for teens, Fandom: Fic Writers, Vidders, Gamers, Artists, and Cosplayers ––[oh, you can see the whole Introduction, which is about Hamilton, on Google preview––the publisher's market is school libraries, so it's too expensive for the casual reader]

––but the only song I actually listened to from the musical was "My Shot"--mostly because I used it as an example of a mash-up--
here, wonderfully! with High School Musical:

I tried to read Ron Chernow's biography, Hamilton--the one which inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda, but it was so frilly, I stopped after a few of its 832 pages. 

(I like the Penguin Lives series––thirty-three biographies of a couple hundred pages each.)  

Anyway, I'm not much of a music person, and while I would go see it on stage (if someone paid for my ticket), I didn't bother to listen to Hamilton––it didn't matter for my purpose, which was to write about what the FANS of the musical made in response: fanfiction, videos, games, pictures, and costumes...

So the other day when I ran into a fourteen-year-old neighbor on my way to the library, and I told her I was going to get The Federalist Papers, I was surprised that she lit up. 

A fan of US History?

No, a fan of Hamilton!

Of course.

looked it up, and there it was--a song about Hamilton writing 51 of the 85 papers (though not No. 10, the one I read--that was James Madison's). It's pretty compelling.

A Parental Advisory?
Warning: Promotes Political Philosophy?

Some lyrics:

BURR: Who’s your client?

HAMILTON: The new U.S. Constitution?

B: No way.

H: Hear me out.
A series of essays, anonymously published,
Defending the document to the public.

B: No one will read it.

H: I disagree.


"How do you write like tomorrow won’t arrive?
How do you write like you need it to survive?
How do you write ev’ry second you’re alive?
Ev’ry second you’re alive? Ev’ry second you’re alive?"

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A bit of proportionality, please!

I came home last night to see Penny Cooper reading aloud from this paper (Federalist No. 59). The Reds were disappointed that despite the promising title, "The Future Size of the House," it does not take into account the relative size of humans and dolls at all
A bit of proportionality, please!*


I really did come home to this scene. 
Marz** had been at my place when I left, and I suspect it was she who helped Penny Cooper set up this book.
It's a paperback copy, but The Federalist is 599 pages long. Though they are
disproportionately strong, that's a bit much for small dolls.
*From one of my favorite movies, Strictly Ballroom (1992, Baz Luhrman)--links to National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

** If you don't know, and you're wondering, Who is this Marz you are always mentioning? here's a post from 2013: "How I Met the Marz".

Marz & I been blogging back and forth (about Star Trek) for a year+, when she joined me and bink walking the Camino de Santiago in 2011.
At the end, bink filmed us
(32 sec.) doing a little dance in front of the cathedral, copying Stephen Colbert's choreography:

Marz moved here afterward. She's been living on her own for a few years, all grown up––she's even almost thirty (can this be?!? well, in two years). I still think of her as sort of my borrowed/foster kid. 
Changeling on loan? 
Temporary "not a puppy!"?
Something like that.

P.S. I am no longer anywhere near as light footed––especially not with a backpack on!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Dogs & Bordeom

Snoopy's not bored, but not, as Walker Percy claimed, because dogs fall asleep instead of getting bored. (Wut?)

Originally published Feb. 1972
Thanks, Michael, for the link!

Sunday, February 3, 2019

"Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."

I laughed out loud reading Federalist Paper No. 10.

It's available online, but I wanted to read it on paper––I have an easier time paying close attention to things on paper, and I figured this would take attention (it did)––so I went to the library this afternoon and got a copy of The Federalist
I stopped at a coffee shop on my way home to read the famous No. 10––it's only 8 pages long.

Reading it reminded me of truffle oil, which I've only eaten once, at an expensive French restaurant with my father. 
I don't care much about cuisine, I'm pretty happy eating at White Castle. My father chose a multi-course menu for the whole table, and the first course was a little something on a big white plate, drizzled with truffle oil.
I thought, Oh, truffle oil, who cares? 

And then I ate it, and it was so good, so flavorful, and so subtle, it's the sort of thing that makes you stop. Just stop. I don't care if I ever eat truffle oil again, but it's one of the best things I've ever tasted.

Like truffle hunting, this paper takes a bit of effort, but it's worth it. It's tight and elegant, a real pleasure, and if haven't read it before but you studied US History in grade school, you might think, like I did, "Oh, that's where that came from!" 

"That" being a key element in the design of the government of the United States, my (and maybe your) country. 

But also, this is a little essay about human nature, trying to see clearly and to think honestly about how we are, and not to fool ourselves that we, or anyone else, are better than we are. Or worse!

Thinking we're better than we are sets us up for temptations we can't handle.
Thinking we're worse than we are deprives us of freedoms we can handle (or that are worth risking, anyway).

Seeing that is both ennobling and humbling.

Here's the part that made me laugh. 
James Madison, the author of this particular paper (Alexander Hamilton and John Jay wrote others--all signed "Publius"), is talking about how self-interest will sway lawmakers. It's just human nature. If a lawmaker has the opportunity to vote in his own interest, even if it sticks it to the little guy, well... maybe that's not a smart set up. 
I have noticed this myself.

Further (this is where I laughed), he writes:

"It is in vain to say that enlightened statesmen will be able to adjust these clashing interests, and render them subservient to the public good.
Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm."
The paper's modern that way.

Shortly after I read it a friend happened to come in the coffee shop, and I read those two lines aloud to her. She laughed in recognition too.

Reading Federalist No. 10, I felt a debt of gratitude to Publius for going after the philosophy of politics like pigs after truffles. 
What we do with the results, well, that's up to us.