Friday, November 30, 2018

Strand Book Binge and Event Review

So just copying a FB post-event blither here to Poor Neglected Blog - little bit off from my usual blog topics but hey, it's my blog and I'll write about a cool bookstore event if I want to! I enjoyed it so much, I went home and decided I had to write stuff down before the buzz wore off, and for some reason started in on Facebook; I think I finally posted a bit before 1 am. If I'd actually planned to write that long it probably would've been here in the first place - think it's worth sharing here, at any rate.

 The Strand Bookstore is my current favorite local independent bookstore these days, ever since the slightly closer Shakespeare & Co at NYU closed. Between working at Scholastic and living in a building that's got enough dead-tree-edition readers that the bookshelves in the laundry room is always worth a look, I get an awful lot of books for free, but every now and then when there's a specific book I want, I'm off to the Strand. I've been there a little more regularly than usual recently and just thought to follow them on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. A co-worker recently "liked" a "Let's Talk YA" event they were having, and for once the FB algorithm worked just right in showing that to me.

I was able to make it, I absolutely loved it, I'm so glad I went, and my only regret is that I didn't find out about it sooner so I could have let more of my YA fan friends know about it. 

 David Levithan's name as the moderator was what first caught my attention, as he's one of our editorial directors at Scholastic and also a great writer himself.  Turns out that this panel was something that David had originally suggested to The Strand without even really knowing which authors he could get, but this ended up being a really excellent group of folks to have sitting down and talking author stuff with each other and the audience.

Three of the authors were familiar (I'd loved Kheryn Callender's younger grade book Hurricane Child, I'd read and also thoroughly enjoyed Katrina Van Dam's Come November -- I don't think I can remember ever being quite as pissed off at a fictional parent as that book made me! -- , and an ARC of Eliot Schrefer's Orphaned, the fourth in his great ape series, is sitting on my desk at work waiting its turn as commute reading) but the other three were new to me.

It was held in the Rare Books Room, which was fun in itself, although a little dangerous. I'd never been in there before and I swear that if they'd had cocktails there to lower the inhibitions, I would've been going home with an absolutely charming (but rather expensive) little book by Ruth Kraus and Maurice Sendak, Open House for Butterflies. Fortunately cocktails and rare books are not a good combination so I was able to put the book down.

The panel was a three-stage affair - first David introduced all of the authors, the 3 already mentioned plus Jay Coles (Tyler Johnson Was Here), Sara Farizan (Here to Stay), and Alex Kahler (Runebreaker). Each author read one page (and one page only, even if it broke a sentence) from their book; Sara sang that "Let's start at the very beginning" bit from The Sound of Music and then started at Page 1, 2 of the authors had each other pick a number at random, and the others just read something that they liked.

2nd part was David asking some questions touching on things like the way each author handled their protagonists' relationships with their parents (that was really intriguing as most of the authors were pretty young and some had drawn in a very direct way on their relationships with their own parents, so it ended up being a kind of personal question that they answered with great honesty and love), and specific approaches they used for writing for a young audience. One interesting point that came up there was that as the YA genre has grown, it's reaching for a wider audience, it started out aimed at teens but the stuff that's coming out now may feature youthful characters but is good enough storytelling to appeal to grownups, too. I can certainly vouch for that, one of my favorite perks of working for Scholastic is access to a ton of free books. I don't necessarily find everything we print for YA interesting, but I've read and really enjoyed an awful lot of the stories that are available on the giveaway shelf. So much more than when I was a kid!

3rd part was the audience's turn to ask questions, and some good questions were asked. I even got over my phobia about standing up and speaking in front of people to ask the final question of the evening - somebody else had asked about authors that influenced the writers who were there tonight, and I followed that up with a question about people in their lives who'd given them the earliest confidence in their own writing abilities and sense that this was maybe something they could do "for real". Seemed like a nice question with which to wrap up the evening, and as someone who's got a creative bent, there's this blog and then I love taking pictures and drawing and painting and stuff like that (enough for the "doodles" label to exist); but never even considered taking it beyond a hobby, I'm always a bit awed by people who actually take similar leanings and grow up to do something real with 'em, and thought it would be fun to hear about who'd steered them that way early on. The stories that question elicited were so much fun, with some very humorous twists to some of them - I guess asking a bunch of storytellers to tell stories about people who helped them become storytellers was not a bad idea at all!

Came away from tonight with 6 new books I really want to read now (the 7th, as I mentioned, I'd already read). They had them all for sale there and I settled on David's Someday (got him to sign it!) and Kheryn Callender's This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story - at one point David had asked a question about dedication, and Kheryn mentioned hers, which finishes "And finally, I'm lucky for all the queer people of color who exist in the world, who inspire me and make me feel a little less alone. We're beautiful, we're magical, and we deserve epic love stories". This made me think of some friends of mine who fit that perfectly, and between that and how much I enjoyed Hurricane Child, I found myself wanting to start with that one. It was a tough call deciding what to get, though. The rest I'll definitely be hunting down around the office or library, because they all sound great!

Got those 2 and then as I was leaving I remembered I've been meaning to read Sebago friend Roger D. Hodge's family history, Texas Blood, pretty much since it came out. You get to the Rare Book Room through a separate entrance, so I left there and walked into the main shop to ask after Roger's book, and there's Michelle Obama smiling irresistably from a display table right in the front of the store.

Subway reading is covered for a while!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Escape from Black Friday 2018 - Follow That Floof!

we're coming, floof!

:D / >
kayak smiley not really appropriate but haven't used in so long!

Another Black Friday succesfully escaped. In Michigan this time! We got an absolutely beautiful Friday morning after a cold and gray but great Thanksgiving with the Michigan clan and also some old friends of the family. My sister Karen had come up from Texas and had found this park built around a complex of ponds earlier in her visit. The ponds began with one that was a local effort and expanded to 5 as part of the Depression-era Civil Works Administration. The ponds, which were terraced and interconnected to each other and the creeks that supplied them, were used to raise fish through the 1960's. My uncle Bill referred to the area as "The Rearing Ponds"; my dad, who's been visiting the area since he was a kid (he and my aunt Kathy used to spend their summers with grandparents who lived nearby, that's where the Michigan connection comes in) actually didn't know about it, so this was a fun discovery.

There weren't a lot of people here on Friday, but it must be busy in the summertime. Fish are not officially being grown here anymore but their descendants are still living here and there are brightly-painted little fishing piers all over.

This wasn't the most ambitious Escape from Black Friday ever, there was an aunt and uncle from Detroit who were arriving at noon and we didn't get a particularly early start, but the trails around the ponds made for a very scenic short ramble for me, Dad, sister Karen, Aunt Lovi, family friend Mike B. (very good photographer who kindly loaned me an SD card when I discovered that the one I'd grabbed as I dashed out the door heading for work with my bag on Wednesday morning was a really old one with my digital picture frame slide-show, so had very little room on it) and of course Belle the dog, who was very happy to be included. My dad had originally suggested a 2-part walk, starting here and then continuing on the fairly new Jonesville rail trail, but there was a lot more here than he'd imagined from my sister's description and we decided to leave the rail trail for another walk.

A couple of notes, then it's all pictures, click on one to get to a slideshow view:

1. The rustic bridge that appears to be made out of wood is actually made out of concrete. I don't know for sure but I was wondering if it was by the same folks who built the charming bridges and benches in McCourtie Park in Somerset Center, which I got to visit last summer. I never shared my photos from there, maybe I'll go back and take a look at them one of these weeks when I'm being too boring to post. In the meantime, McCourtie Park is neat enough to have an entry in the Atlas Obscura!

2. In the picture where Mike is taking a picture of something on the ground - that something is a butterfly (or maybe a colorful moth). Not something you expect to see in Michigan in November, but we saw it fly by and land beside the road and Mike got some good pictures of it. Have to ask him if I can share one! 

Aunt Lovey, family friend Mike, my dad Bob, my sister Karen, and of course once again featuring my folks' dog Belle as da Floof. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Frogma Eye Test: Find the Floof

Starring Belle Aldinger (my parents' pup) as The Floof. Click to enlarge.

Seriously, I almost deleted this when I was doing the first cut of my vacation photos because I couldn't figure out why I took this!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving -

Ticked Off Turkey! from Bonnie on Vimeo.

With the usual big 'ol THHHHHBBBTTTH from Ticked Off Turkey!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Cancer Giving

Think it's time to give another ponytail!

This will be the third one. I'm just sorry I didn't start doing this sooner, such an easy way to give. 

I also had a wonderful time joining friends in Coney Island back in October for my second Making Strides for Breast Cancer! 

We had a briskly beautiful day for it - we'd had a pretty warm October but a cold front came through. I actually swam with a lot of the Coney Island Polar Bears last year - this year, although I did wear an underlayer that would've let me go in if I'd wanted to, and yes, some of the Polar Bears I was walking with did go in, it was a little too brisk for me to join them. If it hadn't been quite so windy I might have, but I wasn't going to have a way to get into dry underthings before putting my clothes back on, and with the wind blowing, damp clothes were going to get chilly pretty fast.

But it was still a beautiful day on the boardwalk and a fun, fun way to raise some funds for breast cancer research. I'm still so grateful for the strides that had already been made by the time I found my lump - what I went through was so utterly non-traumatic compared to what someone would've gone through even just a couple of decades ago.

It's just wonderful the way the Coney Island community turns out for this. We marched with my swimmer friend Eddie Mark's Community Board 13 group, such a nice group of people. The walk was entirely on the boardwalk this year and the whole route was lined with cheer squads, drummers, and other enthusiastic folks cheering us along. Another wonderful day at the beach - more photos on Flickr, of course!

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Election Night at Slainte

I was tired from getting up early to go vote before work, but I figured that if I went home I was likely to just end up turning on the computer and getting obsessive over election results. Going to Slainte to play some tunes with friends and perhaps indulge in a refreshing adult beverage or two seemed like a better way to while away the evening.

It wasn't entirely an escape, Slainte isn't specifically a sports bar but they do have big TV's that are usually tuned to various games up on the wall, and last night election results were really the only game around (ok, there was hockey for a minute but pretty soon that want back to results), so I ended up kind of obsessing anyways, but obsessing in good company, while playing some tunes and drinking Dark 'n Stormies, was waaaay better than obsessing at home by myself. Can't think of a much nicer way to spend the evening.

I need to get a new camera battery, the old one's not holding a charge well and runs down especially fast during video recording, but here's a minute of last night's music.

In the end, I was pretty happy with the results -- yes, I was disappointed about some of the races, but personally, the main thing I wanted out of this election was to see some brakes put on this runaway train of an administration, and I think we got that. Not quite a blue tsunami but enough of a wave to count - and the diversity is splendid, I love seeing winners that actually look like the world I live in!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Fall Comes to Ditmas Park

I was starting to wonder ifwe were going to get foliage this year, October was warm and rainy and it's also been a windy Fall, so it's been kind of a race for the leaves to turn before they got blown off the trees. In the end, some of the trees (like this one on Foster Avenue) are looking a little bare, but enough leaves hung on for us to be seeing some nice autumn colors now. After a string of busy weekends, I gave myself this one to just catch up with myself and things at home, didn't get as much done as I would've liked to, but Sunday was a beautiful day to walk over the Courtelyou Road greenmarket, and I took my camera. 

Friday, November 02, 2018

Subway Series, Pittsburgh Edition

Usually my Subway Series posts are about art or music in the NYC subway. Today's is a little different. Lifted from my own FB post.

So, I'm moving into less-wild time at work right now, at least for a bit,  but on Thursday night I left work quite a bit later than I'd expected to - as frequently happens, I decided to do "just that one last thing" that ended up taking way longer than I thought.

B train service ends early this week so I grabbed a D, which means transferring to my local Q train at the Atlantic Avenue, which is a big station with a lot of lines running through it. D to Q transfer involves a long walk through passageways that run from one end of the station to the other.

 Atlantic Avenue is now officially known as Atlantic Avenue Barclays Center, after the gigantic arena there that opened in 2012. I've been pretty lucky about not needing to transfer there just as a big game let out, but that luck didn't hold tonight. A hockey game had just let out and the station was absolutely jammed with jersey-clad fans.

 Ordinarily this would've been aggravating - not the worst commute ever but good for a little internal grumbling about the powers that be who thought that the middle of downtown Brooklyn* was the perfect place to build a sports arena.

But that night, half of the jerseys were Pittsburgh, and although usually my only interest in sports teams is tied to how much joy my sports-fan friends take in a win for their team, I find I have a soft spot for the Penguins right now.

Thanks to Lois Alter Mark of Midlife at the Oasis for sharing on her FB page.

Click for more info.

*A Brooklyn FB friend questioned my description of the arena neighborhood as downtown Brooklyn. My response: "Hey, I'm from Aiea, what do I know?". Seriously, though, that was a bit of hyperbole, but it's not far from downtown Brooklyn, "downtown Brooklyn" gives non-Brooklynites something they can recognize, and it moves the story along better than "the convergence of a bunch of neighborhoods (Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Prospect Height)". Debating neighborhood boundaries is something of a NYC past-time, I found that quote in a Reddit discussion that's a a pretty good example. As for me, I know I live in Flatbush but I've never been 100% sure whether I live in Ditmas Park or Midwood. Anyways, Brooklyn friends, I hope you'll forgive my willful inaccuracy!

Thursday, November 01, 2018

November 1st - Lifejacket Time in NY State

Time for a quick Frogma PSA today:

Welcome November!  Here in New York State, that means the lifejacket law is in effect. If you are going out in any recreational craft of 21 feet or less, you need to be wearing a properly fitting lifejacket. This continues to be true up until the 1st of May.

I still think this is one of the most sensible boating safety rules ever. Press release from 2009 (first year the regulation went into effect) here.