Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Harry Potter and the Junior Accountancy Job

Dude, what happened to you?

Cute sports jacket, Harry. And what nicely combed hair you have! Did you send out those khakis for ironing, or did your loving aunt do it for you?

I'm assuming that this is the scene where Harry's off to get interrogated, and I can understand why he'd want to look respectable. I just didn't realize that he'd end up quite so... Baptist Youth Group. You can view this and other stills from the upcoming Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix movie here.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

Holiday movies are approaching.

The HD trailer is now up for the big holiday blockbuster-to-be Eragon. I am still not really sure how I feel about this film adaptation, but so far the trailers have been working for me.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006


Apparently, a massive statue of comic strip veteran Dennis the Menace was stolen from a park in Monterey, California, some time last Wednesday. The statue is three feet tall and weighs 125 pounds, and was commissioned by the late Hank Ketcham, the cartoon character's creator. The city is offering a $5000 reward for its safe return.

You know... I'm not a big Dennis fan, but I gotta say: that is a pretty cool statue, and it would certainly brighten up any Halloween party. Hopefully it will be returned once the holiday is over. [Source]

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Two of my favorite things collided this week: romance novels & reality television! You see, I have a very sad, pathetic obsession with America's Next Top Model, and the photo challenge this week was to shoot a faux romance novel cover. The best part (or worst, if you were one of the unfortunate models) was that they got to model with Fabio! Yuck! I have never understood his appeal--in fact, I find him kinda repulsive. If you get a chance, check out the episode online, or at least go look at the the photos. Also, the title of that last one? Classy.


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Friday, October 27, 2006

Wordcandy loves Sylvia Plath's poetry

It's been a long time since we've done one of these, but today is Sylvia Plath's birthday (and, let's face it, a lot of her stuff is very Halloween-appropriate), so I think it's time:


Riding home from credulous blue domes,
the dreamer reins his waking appetite
in panic at the crop of catacombs
sprung up like plague of toadstools overnight:
refectories where he reveled have become
the holstery of worms, rapacious blades
who weave within the skeleton's white womb
a caviare decay of rich brocades.

Turning the tables of this grave gourmet,
the fiendish butler saunters in and serves
for feast the sweetest meat of hell's chef d' uvres:
his own pale bride upon a flaming tray:
parsleyed with elegies, she lies in state
waiting for his grace to consecrate.

©Sylvia Plath

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Mega-popular author Barbara Delinsky has recently updated her non-fiction book Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors, and Anna Suknov at FSB Associates has very kindly offered us the following sneak peek. (Ms. Delinsky is herself a breast cancer survivor, although she lost her mother to the disease, and her proceeds from this book will be donated to breast cancer research.) We all know someone who has suffered from cancer, and Ms. Delinsky's book, which features a mixture of anecdotes and practical advice, would make a thoughtful, encouraging gift for anyone has been affected by this disease--maybe along with a bag of breast-cancer-fighting pink M&Ms? (Hey, chocolate always helps.)

The following is an excerpt from the book Uplift
by Barbara Delinsky
Published by Washington Square Press; May 2003;$14.00US/$19.99CAN; 0-7434-3137-5
Copyright © 2001, 2006 Barbara Delinsky Charitable Foundation for Breast Cancer Research

9. The Workplace

Making It User-Friendly

There's nothing like being your own boss. In that sense, I had the best possible scenario when it came to working through breast cancer treatment. Yes, I work on deadline, but the deadline that I set for myself is usually a month or more before the one that my publisher sets for me. This means I have leeway should something crop up. It sure took the pressure off when I was diagnosed.

Another bennie of being your own boss is being able to work at home. I wore sweatsuits. I wore big men's shirts. I sat with a heating pad between the chair and my back (no one told me my back would hurt when my chest wall was pushed out to make room for new breasts -- but that does get better, ladies), and no one looked at me askance. I didn't have to apologize or explain when I took off for a couple of hours to have radiation or to take a nap.

Not everyone has this luxury. Occupation-wise, members of the UPLIFT sisterhood run the gamut from bus driver to musician to banker. We have dentists and dental assistants, lawyers and legal assistants, microbiologists, psychotherapists, and midwives. We have a lieutenant governor. We have a broadcast journalist. We have architects, sales clerks, and telephone operators. We have a symphony musician.

If I were to single out the occupation with the heaviest concentration of submitters, it would be teachers -- but then, we do expect that teachers like to write. There are also a striking number of nurses in the group. Of course, they were in a prime position to learn about this project and care about passing on their advice. Lord knows, they've seen the downside of women who are in the dark.

And there were moms and wives galore -- far more than are listed in the credits -- and I'm sorry for that. When people were asked about their occupation, they often listed their outside-the-home job, when the content of their submissions clearly suggests that they juggle inside-the-home jobs as well.

Inside or outside, an amazing number of women said that they worked right through treatment. I can identify with these women. For me, work was an escape. It enabled me to minimize the impact of having breast cancer, and was a reminder that life went on.

Not every woman works right through, and remarks from these women are included here, too. They'll tell you about the flexibility of their bosses and about how taking time off worked for them.

Worked for them. That's the key, here. What works for one woman may not work for another. What works in one job may not work in another. The thing is, you need to take a step back, think about yourself and your situation, then speak up about what may work for you. In every situation, you have choices, and the choices are all good. What pleases one woman may not please another.

Which is why they have menus in restaurants, as my dad used to say.

A Workplace Manual

"Here are the strategies that helped me maintain that crucial balance between cancer and work: (1) I scheduled doctors' appointments early in the day or at the beginning of their 'seeing patients' time block. This way I was in and out of the office nice and fast. Doctors' schedules seem to back up as the day wears on. (2) Since radiation treatments are scheduled daily at the same time for six weeks, I begged and groveled to get a time slot near the end of the business day. (3) I planned my surgeries (especially elective reconstruction procedures) for Fridays, vacation, or slow times for business. Weekends are great times to recuperate and get back on your feet without losing precious work time or sick days. (4) I got an understudy and trained her. When I knew that I would not be feeling my best, (i.e., the first three days after a chemo infusion), I scheduled the understudy to work side by side with me. That way I had a safety net."

Alysa Cummings; diagnosed in 1998 at age 45;
educational trainer; New Jersey

"My young third graders cherished me and took care of me. They wouldn't let me lift or carry anything because they knew I wasn't supposed to be using my arm at that time."

Sue Watson; diagnosed in 1996 at age 53;
teacher; Texas

"While I was having treatments, I worked every day, but I finally realized that it was okay to take naps. Once I figured this out, it helped me get through a hard week a little better. My body let me know what it needed."

Michele Marks; diagnosed in 1996 at age 33;
CAD operator; Ohio

"My boss got me a laptop so that I could work from home on the days I didn't feel well."

Asha Mevlana; diagnosed in 1999 at age 24;
musician; New York

"My boss at the time was my brother. He suggested I go for radiation treatment in the morning, work a few hours, then go home and rest in the afternoons. That is what I did, because even though I looked great, I was unbelievably tired. When illness comes, we need to listen to our bodies and give them the time to rest and recover. I hadn't anticipated it, but those afternoon hours became a truly peaceful, nurturing time to read and rest and enjoy quiet time."

Deb Haney; diagnosed in 1996 at age 48;
administrative assistant, artist; Massachusetts

"I work at a regional high school with over twelve hundred students. During chemo, I was concerned about being exposed to so many people and possibly getting sick. The school district was great. They purchased a telephone headset for me to use, so that I wouldn't be exposed to unnecessary germs."

Linda Jones Burns; diagnosed in 2000 at age 40;
high school registrar; New Hampshire

"In the workplace, it was helpful that people stayed away from me when they had colds. The owner of the company told me to work only when I was up to it, and my bosses were patient with my distraction and my distracting others. There were lots of questions and curiosity, and I answered them all. I wanted to educate everybody along with myself. Work was my salvation. My fellow employees were supportive and continue to be so in my efforts to raise funds for cancer research. On the flip side, I've become the company support person on breast health. I even had my surgeon come and give a talk."

Deborah J.P. Schur; diagnosed in 1994 at age 43;
sales rep; Massachusetts

"It was very important to me to show people that I was alive and well. I rested between patients at the office, scheduled lightly, and didn't work around the house. I saved my energy for the office. My husband accompanied me to many functions and meetings at our children's school. We would never stay long, but I wanted to show my face."

A survivor; diagnosed in 1998 at age 45;
dentist; Indiana

"I juggled cancer and work by just giving up some things, like housework. I discovered that the house could go for weeks without being vacuumed or dusted -- and not only did the sky not fall, it didn't even crack!"

Rosamary Amiet; diagnosed in 2000 at age 48;
program manager; Ohio

"If you are a large-breasted woman who has a lumpectomy with radiation, and you're working during treatment, you face a dilemma. You don't want to go without a bra in the workplace, because you feel like a cow! You can't wear a bra with bones or underwires, because they cause pressure on the radiation area. You need wide straps so that nothing digs into your shoulders, and you need a fabric that doesn't irritate your skin. During radiation, sexy goes out the door, and comfort is the watchword! The full-figure Bali bra style 3821 fit the bill for me. Go to a shop that has a professional fitter, and try on everything. I'd suggest buying one of the most comfortable and trying it out for a week before buying another one. The bra can be washed out every night. That way you haven't wasted a fortune on bras, only to find that they don't go the distance."

Sharon Irons Strempski; diagnosed in 1997 at age 52;
registered nurse; Connecticut

'The company I work for was very supportive, giving me time off when needed and consoling me when I felt down. I was on disability for a few months and then returned to work while still getting chemo treatments."

Sandy Mark; diagnosed in 1998 at age 55;
administrative assistant; Connecticut

Copyright © 2001, 2006 Barbara Delinsky Charitable Foundation for Breast Cancer Research


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

They're coming...

The holidays are careening towards us at warp speed, so it might be time to start thinking about presents, people. Now is the perfect time to stock up on inexpensive gifts for those terrifying people that turn up with plates of homemade baked goods and a beautifully wrapped ornament sometime in early December, long before you've bought anything for your mom, much less had a chance to worry about your co-worker from two cubicles down.

If you're stuck in one of those "Secret Santa" gift exchanges, these bookmarks ($5 for a set of 20, available here) would be a great gift for a bookish recipient, or they'd make a cute, cheap present for the members of your bookclub--give everybody a couple bookmarks and a cookie and you're set!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

About as weird as you'd expect.

While poking around at Seattle's Easy Street Records a few days ago (I was waiting for Bobbby Bare Jr*. to show up), I ran across a pile of Shel Silverstein CDs. Apparently, these recordings were done in the eighties and re-released in 2000. The re-releases feature Silverstein reciting 47 poems from Where the Sidewalk Ends and 39 from The Light in the Attic. The critical responses that I saw described Silverstein as "[possessing] a warm, pleasingly raspy voice not unlike that of Sterling Holloway (the original voice of Disney's animated Winnie-the-Pooh)", and sounding "a little like Emo Phillips reading verse". I'm having some trouble picturing this, so I'm eager to hear the recordings for myself.

*Coincidentally, Bobby Bare Jr. knew Silverstein well, and Silverstein helped him out with several songs.


Monday, October 23, 2006

Match Me if You Can

I finally got around to reading Match Me if You Can, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (it took a while, but midterms have put a major crimp on my reading time). This book reminded me of why I love Ms. Phillips's books--I enjoy the main storylines, but what really makes the books for me are the secondary characters. They're like the icing on the cake... really amazing icing, the kind that's so good that you don't care if it adds 1200 calories.

I have mentioned my extreme love for Nobody's Baby But Mine more than once. My favorite character in the book is the grandmother. She is an absolute riot, and (along with the Lucky Charms incident) is a big part of why I re-read the book every few months. The same goes for Match Me if You Can--there's a little cellphone-stealing three-year-old girl who gets all the best lines. Every time she was in a scene I knew I would end up laughing out loud.

If I'm lucky, Ms. Phillips might write a book for each of these characters. I would love to see how our cellphone-stealer grows up.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Guilty Pleasures

Check 'em out! The long-awaited Anita Blake comic book was released this week. While I could not bring myself to actually go out and spend my hard-earned money on one, I was able to find some sample pages on the web to share. Check out Jean-Claude! Oh, my God--I could not stop giggling....

*All images are property of their respective artists and publishers. They are also funny as hell.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Save the date?

The world's first Jane Austen-inspired tarot deck is scheduled to be released on March 7th, 2007. Behold:

...yeah, I can't really see Miss Austen as a big tarot fan, either.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

e-book news

Slate.com has an interesting article up about the Sony Reader, a $350 portable e-book device that that has many a pair of book-geek-y hands in a cold sweat. (Not mine, though. You'll have to rip the parchment out of my cold dead fingers. Sorry, Sony.) If you're interested in the evolution of e-books, it makes for an interesting read.


Monday, October 16, 2006

More Diana Wynne Jones!

I was pleased to discover that Penguin Books has just reprinted Diana Wynne Jones's wickedly funny The Tough Guide To Fantasyland. Jones's book is presented as a mock guidebook, complete with maps, safety tips, and observations on everything from notable geographical features to the local economy. (How does a country that's constantly being attacked by pirates, razed by dragons, and trampled over by rampaging hordes provide for itself, anyway?) This attractive reprint of Jones's cult classic would make a wonderful holiday gift for any fantasy fans on your list.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Have the coolest kitchen on your street.

Tile it pulp-fiction style!

Tiles available through ClassicHardware.com

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Two things.

When I saw the cover art for Eloisa James's upcoming book, two thoughts crossed my mind (after I stopped snickering):

1. Isn't this story supposed to feature a non-size-4 heroine? Because that back is looking pretty skinny, considering that the heroine is dubbed "the Scottish Sausage".

2. Is he actually ripping her bodice?! Dude--Ms. James's art direction people must HATE her. (Click here for further proof.) Is she ever going to get a cover that isn't so lurid?

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Friday, October 13, 2006

What price weirdness?

I love Lewis Carroll's stuff, and I didn't blink an eye when, in 1999, Martin Gardner's lovely Annotated Alice was priced at $29.95. It's a beautiful and staggeringly well-researched book, and I thought it was worth every penny.

I'm not as certain about the Annotated Hunting of the Snark, though. It's not that the poem isn't fantastically strange (its subheading is "An Agony in Eight Fits"--what's not to like about that?), it's just that... well, it's a poem. A long poem, sure, but it's not a full-length novel, and yet the book costs $27.95. That seems a little steep, even for a book of such extreme awesomeness.

Still, Christmas is coming...

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just in time for Halloween...

...comes Dame Darcy's (author of the indie comic Meat Cake) illustrated version of Jane Eyre. If you happen to be a pretentious tool dressed up in a Goth-Lolita outfit, this is totally the book for you!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Host Club

Nathan and I have begun watching the fan-subbed anime version of Bisco Hatori's Ouran High School Host Club. (If you're interested, you can download all 26 magnificently silly episodes at Animesuki.com.) The character design is a little toned-down, but I'm impressed by how nicely the show has captured the manga's elaborate style. If you're an anime geek with some free space on your computer, this is a fine use of your precious downloading time.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Thanks to the wonderfully informative Austenblog, I am now aware of TWO October Austen theater adaptations. The first is a musical (!!!) version of Emma, which is currently playing in New York. Apparently, this adaptation is by some guy named Paul Gordon, who was also responsible for a musical version of Jane Eyre. Now, while I have no problem imagining the Jane Eyre show--in fact, Bronte's novel seems like an ideal fit for an overwrought, vibrato-filled, hair-wrenching extravaganza--my brain is having trouble picturing Mr. Knightley soulfully belting out a ballad called "Emma".

It just... fails to compute.

Anyway, the second play is an (thankfully non-musical) adaptation of Northanger Abbey, and it looks really cute. It's due to open in late October in New York.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Support your local mystery writer: buy a brick.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum's online store is selling bricks from Poe's last standing house, which was demolished in Manhattan last year. Each brick costs about $70, and is individually numbered, features a brass plaque stating its history, and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the Executive Director of the Poe Foundation. Sale of the bricks benefits the Mystery Writers of America and the Poe Foundation, Inc. Sure, there are probably other things you could do with your hard-earned seventy bucks... but c'mon: coolest decoration for a Halloween party ever.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Nutjobs on parade

The Washington Post is reporting that a mother of four in Gwinnett County, Georgia, is seeking to have the Harry Potter books banned from the county's school libraries, claiming that the books promote and glorify witchcraft. Happily, the school board appears to be shooting down this suggestion.

Not that Harry Potter fans should be breathing a sigh of relief just yet--Gwinnett County has a history of asinine library-related decisions. Last June, the county's library board eliminated $3,000 from their budget that had been set aside to buy Spanish-language books, claiming that some residents were concerned that the money was going to entertain illegal immigrants. The board later reversed the decision, but let's face it: that's not the kind of behavior that inspires much confidence in their judgment.

NOTE: Clearly, retail giant Target is also part of this vast witchcraft-promoting conspiracy! Not only do they sell the Harry Potter books, but check out their so-called "Glitter Witch" costume (above). Doesn't it look like something that Satan's handmaiden would wear?

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ready for a little grave-spinning, Miss Austen?

Apparently, there are upcoming film versions of Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park in the works.

Thought #1: YAY!

Thought #2: This version of Mansfield better be a hell of a lot better than the last one.

Also? Allegedly, there's going to be a wee little nude scene in Northanger Abbey--very tasteful. Which... yikes.


Monday, October 02, 2006


While visiting my local bookstore this weekend, I was excited to see a beautifully bound, Alice In Wonderland-inspired book on the new fiction shelves: Frank Beddor's The Looking-Glass Wars. Unfortunately, my excitement was slightly dampened when I discovered that I'd already read it.

Like, a year ago.

In paperback, no less.

Eventually, I realized that I must have picked up my copy of Beddor's novel in England, where the book has been out for about a year and a half. Google then lead me to the accompanying comic book series, Hatter M, which looks very... manly. (From what I recall, the Hatter in Beddor's world is an assassin. I can't remember what the pointy thing that he's holding is, though. Maybe millinery shears?)

While I'm usually pretty irritated by staggered release dates, I trust that the wide gap between the British release date and the American one means that the wait for the second novel will be very, very brief.


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