Thursday, October 01, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. One police department decided to try a different tack with local drug users.
2. With a warning that this links to social media if you are somewhere such things are blocked, but one guy attempted an interesting approach to the problem of having a car that required proof of sobriety to start that involved a raccoon. (Okay fine, it's not true.  But it's funny to imagine. I'm glad no raccoons have been harmed.)
3. And a teenager built a stroller that worked for wheelchair users.  He hopes to apply for a patent.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Banned Books Week

I talk about this every year, so some of you will be familiar with my stance.  It's fine to not read a book.  It's fine to feel a book is not or not yet appropriate for your child.  Where I get sniffy is when you decide no one who relies on that library should be able to read that book.  I've read problematic books.  I've even read problematic books this year.  I certainly share my concerns with people.  But here's the thing, other people might find something in that book.  And that's fine too.  Goodness knows, I adore some stuff that is problematic.  Stuff that I even can fully see the problems.  And yet, I still love. 
I heard an author at the Baltimore Book Festival talking about how they wished people had to read every book they wanted removed first, so they couldn't just tag everything that had a witch or they had heard might contain sex.  And yes.  Now, looking at this year's list, I can see at least some of the featured books were read far enough to find the offensive word or act.  I confess the expressed concern about Hop on Pop encouraging violence seemed unusual to me.  And scrolling through that list, some of those books might contain legitimately harmful depictions or stereotypes, and that's something that libraries and schools can certainly consider.  I did find the idea that students can now google references and discover the true depths of Brave New World fascinating since it implies that they previously thought the English teacher was just letting that all go over the students heads.  (My English teacher certainly would have asked us about those.)
Read.  Read widely.  If you find something inappropriate or problematic, talk to people about it, including your librarian.  But please consider, that it might be providing something to others.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

7 Things: The Hamiltunes Edition

I pre-ordered the "Hamilton" soundtrack.  I had maybe checked the release date a few times.  I had joked about taking the day off so I could just listen intently and sing along, and think in lyrics for a day.  And then, I swear, totally accidentally, took the day off so I could take my cat to the vet for her annual checkup.  And then...(and then!) NPR released it in early listening form last Monday. So...extra chair dancing steps from my fitness tracker. So here we are. 
1. I had remembered how much of the show is about love.  Love of country, love of ladies, love of men, love of truth, love of power, love for children, love for parents, love of doing what's best not just for you but for others (well, sometimes).
2. I had somehow forgotten how much of it is about writing.  Obviously.  Duh.  But between "Non-Stop" and "The Reynolds Papers" and the references to the Federalist papers to the more overt points made about writing in "Hurricane".
3. And there is a ton of talk about legacy, and who gets to tell the story, in fact there is a song titled "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story".
4. There are a few things I noted are not in the soundtrack.  Now this is the radio play version, so there's some language that is truncated, but also some things that occur in quick dialogue between songs, or that are not crucial to the song that are not there.  (One Miranda was explicitly asked about on twitter and he said they were saving some things to punch you with the live performance. The text has since been posted for the curious.)
5. On the second pass through I started to notice things that reminded me more explicitly of "Bring It On".  I may do a larger piece about this, but some of it is things that show up everywhere, who do you love, what do you stand for, and so on.  The siren bit though, I remembered that from "Bring it On", it has a very different effect here. 
6. These performances, they are stunning.  Stunning live, stunning on tape.  And the orchestrations.  It's just.  Wow.  I got to "Satisfied" and was just, um, blown away, and then I hit "Wait For It".
7. Also, again, this is a story about a man. And his friends and foes.  But there are ladies all over the place.  And Eliza gets the last song.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Baltimore Book Fest

I spent Saturday at the Baltimore Book Fest and well, I should have taken notes because I got hit with a sinus infection Sunday and I feel it has emptied out my brains a bit.  It was a busy weekend in Baltimore, I rode up on the train with some friends who were hitting the Baltimore Comic-Con.  I arrived before the book fest kicked off which gave me a chance to chat with some of the folks at the Maryland Romance Writers (MRW) tent.  They kicked things off with a panel on New Adult books that talked a lot of the differences between adult, new adult, and young adult voices and stories. Quite a few of the authors talked about how new adult men are likely to be a little less experienced, a little more vulnerable, because, just like the young females, they come to a relationship with a little less baggage. 
The next panel was on tropes and they talked about how using tropes can be a useful skeleton to help you build a character and/or plot, and that it can also help you find readers who like such things.  (Like me.  With amnesia.)
Then I hopped over to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America tent to stalk, ahem, I mean listen to the YA writers and bloggers there.  They talked about the freedom that writing YA offered, that it really let you put a dash of this, a pinch of that, and just go.  Adult readers tend to be more worried about how you broke the rules on something.  They also mentioned the tight pacing on YA really gets you to the plot fast, there is no five pages discussing the layout of the space hatch.  A librarian in the crowd asked about diverse YA fantasy selections and the panel gave some great resources for lists (including We Need Diverse Books and Disability in Kidlit) and a quick discussion that sadly sometimes the covers (whitewashed or fontified) make it hard to spot them as you flip through School Library Journal or Publisher's Weekly. 
Then I hopped back to MRW for their YA discussion.  They also talked about YA, particularly with a smoochie bent.  I confess I snuck out a little early because Bryan Voltaggio was cooking meatloaf over at the aquarium tent.  And then I went down to the Literary Salon tent to listen to Greg Proops talk about his book.  He talked a lot about the things that most people don't know these days, whether because mainstream news is so slanted, because we don't curate the things we read on the internet, or because our history classes leave out so much. 
I went back to MRW for the suspense panel.  They discussed making use of the ticking clocking suspense, that you aren't so much going to have a suspense where the bomb will go off in six months or so, and how sometimes that creates challenges for making a believable romance because these people are really not in a position to go on a date night. 
Then at the Pratt Free Library Children's Stage the members of two Youth Poetry teams performed and I have to tell you, if you have a chance to see these kids, they are amazing.  They were touching, funny, heartbreaking, and weird, sometimes all in one piece.  (If I had been better prepared for the awesome, I would have tried to get video.  Find them on the You Tubes.)
And then I grabbed dinner and sat in on part of MRW's final panel, wherein the steamier authors proved some of their dedication for inspiration by spotted a leather jacketed dude, prompting an audience member to go grab him and bring him back for a quick chat. (Names redacted to protect teh guilty, although I think they have outed themselves on other parts of the net.)
Then it was time to head home.  I really am lucky to live so close to such fun. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. Two different yet similar posts about Viola Davis' historic Emmy win.  Stacia Davis talks about remembering to celebrate and Camryn Garrett spoke about the anger of it taking 67 years.  
2. Those of you who follow me on the Twitters might have seen my obsession with the early listen of the "Hamilton" soundtrack, so, here's a quick interview with Phillipa Soo who plays Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.
3. The Bloggess, as she is often know, has a new book coming out shortly and as part of that asked for people to share things that had broken them and things that made them happy, and then compiled them in a video.