The Climb to Katahdin

The Climb to Katahdin promotional flyer

The Climb to Katahdin promotional flyer

I went to a premiere of the documentary, The Climb to Katahdin, directed and edited by local Colton Calloway. He and his girlfriend Lindsay embarked on a six-month long journey to hike the Appalachian Trail and ultimately climb Mount Katahdin in Maine. This was Colton’s first foray in documentary film making and I have to say that I was very impressed. The film was great and it was completely sold out at the Manship Theater here in Baton Rouge. I had heard about this film through a friend and so I was really excited to see it. The BR community really rallied in support of these amazing people and their incredible journey up the mountains of the East Coast.

It was incredible to see the beautiful landscape captured on film as well as the many towns, hostels and shelters that these called home for so many months. I have only been hiking on moderate hills and small mountains so this gave me a close-up view of what it was like to hike the Appalachian Trail. I was touched by their bonding with fellow hikers and by the people who assisted them along the way, appropriately dubbed Trail Angels.

I thought the journey was incredible but don’t want to give too much away. I highly recommend seeing this film and sincerely hope that Colton is able to gain viewers through the independent film circuit.

There will be an encore showing of this incredible documentary on Friday, August 23rd at The Baton Rouge Gallery.

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Neil Gaiman’s new novel is enthralling

Ocean_at_the_End_of_the_Lane_US_CoverI am always excited when Neil Gaiman publishes a new book. I fell in love with his writing a few years ago. I did not discover the genius of Neil Gaiman until a friend turned me on to him. Now, let’s face it, I am a fangirl. In about a day and a half, I read his latest book The Ocean at the End of the Lane and I absolutely loved it. In this short novel, we meet a middle-aged man who returns to his small, English village in order to attend a funeral and finds himself remembering a fantastic story from when he was seven years old. He recalls his eccentric neighbor, Lettie Hempstock, and odd mother and even more odd grandmother. He remembers being under the influence of a rather magical (and not in a good way) housekeeper. I felt pleased to be sucked into this rather dark tale.

There are elements of this book that feel very autobiographical and Gaiman even alluded to such in press interviews upon the book’s release. He explores the disconnect between childhood and adulthood with superb characters and expert story-telling. I highly recommend listening to this as an audiobook as it is also performed by Neil Gaiman. He is excellent at bringing his stories to life when he reads them. I love that this book is getting such popular feedback, by fans and critics. However, I just read that the movie rights have been sold for a feature film. there are some books that i don’t really want to see made into a movie. I have a picture in my head and all too often I am disappointed by what appears on-screen. Although, Tom hanks is producing the project so I remain mildly optimistic.

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Love is All Around

mtmThat great theme song. Those wonderfully written characters. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a mainstay of my childhood. Even though I was born in the 80s, I was able to enjoy this show because my mother was a Mary Richard devotee as a teen in the 70s. We enjoyed it in reruns on Nick at Nite and I credit this show with molding my aspirations a young woman.

In the book, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, Jennifer Armstrong writes about this classic TV sitcom with great insight about the actors, writers, and producers that brought it to life. She covers it’s early struggles to get on the air and the lives of the people involved in its creation and success. In particular, she discusses behind the scene details about the pilot. They made one change in which Phyllis’s daughter Bess says that she likes Rhoda and that changed how the rest of the episode played to the studio audience. She also speaks to one of my favorite lines from Lou Grant “You know what? You’ve got spunk! I hate spunk!” This is a scene that Asner initially struggled with but eventually found the right timing and we have one of the funniest scenes in the series.

Armstrong makes some poignant connections to the status of women in comedy today. The Mary Tyler Moore Show influenced modern TV in Tina Fey’s 30 Rock, Lena Dunham’s Girls and many of the other female-dominated comedies today. In pop culture, MTM made a huge impact with feminism and the women’s lib movement. Not only was the show about a young, single woman making it on her own but it also was one of the most well-written shows to date. I have to admit when I feel scared about life, I hum the “Love is All Around” theme and suddenly get a boost of confidence that allows me to forge ahead into the unknown.

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Upcoming new books

I recently downloaded a sampler of books that have received a lot of buzz for the spring and summer of this year. And I have to say that of the 28 in the sampler, I am looking forward to reading a few in their entirety.

9781444761405-1-11Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Fowler – I am completely fascinated by the Fitzgeralds. Based on the excerpt  Fowler gives us an interesting look at an iconic woman from our literary history. Can’t wait to sink into this book.

 

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The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – She chronicles six teenagers who meet in the 70s at an arts camp and follows them over time. I love books that follow characters’ development over time. This should be a fun read.

 

 

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – In this novel, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly. The premise of this book really intrigues me.

I’m not usually a fan of excerpts but the ones I read really teased me enough to try out these books. I’ve never read anything by any of these authors.

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Building a Better Block

Today, I went down to an event in Baton Rouge called Better Block BR. Organizers transformed Government St between Beverly and Bedford Streets with a street fair, crosswalks and a short bike lane. In an empty lot on Government St, there were food stalls, information tables and booths from area businesses. Better Block Br was an event led by the Mayor’s office of the City of Baton Rouge – Parish of East Baton Rouge, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority, and the Mid City Redevelopment Alliance. I got some information on this and other Baton Rouge initiatives like Healthy BR and discovered some local businesses like Honeymoon Bungalow and Yoga Bliss. I also got some delicious tacos from La Careta. I had heard about this event on Facebook a few weeks ago so I was looking forward to seeing how it went.

The idea behind this demonstration is that if you slow down the traffic in a given area, businesses can thrive. The idea is that you can take a four-lane road and transform it by adding a bike lane and a center turn lane. This forces traffic to slow down and makes a better environment for pedestrians and cyclists. I had recently read about this idea in Jeff Speck’s book Walkable City. He cites several examples of cities who had done this and had seen positive economic impact.

I think this would be a great improvement to this section of Government Street. I think it would help back it a better neighborhood and attract more business. I live in Mid City and work downtown and it would be great if there was a safe bike route in the area. I am glad that the Mayor’s office is trying to garner support for this type of urban renewal.

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Go Down to Sound City

sound-city-poster01As a huge music geek, I was ecstatic when Dave Grohl unveiled his documentary Sound City last month. I am a long-time Foo Fighters fan so I heard about through one of their e-mail blasts. After viewing the trailer about this now-defunct recording studio, I immediately bought the film from iTunes so I could watch it. I was blown away on just how many bands recorded at Sound City over the years. Some of my favorites: Fleetwood Mac, Rick Springfield and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers just to name a few.

A few weeks later, I discovered that the film was going to be shown at The Manship Theater, part of Baton Rouge’s Shaw Center for the Arts. Even though I had already watched this film at home on my computer, I jumped at the chance to watch on a big movie screen. I went with a few friends who were seeing it for the first time. I absolutely loved watching this movie with other music fans of all ages. We laughed and applauded at the same moments. Specifically, when one of the guests interviewed spoke of the state of music today, everyone clapped because we were all in agreement.

Many of the albums made today are done using ProTools. I can understand why the industry has leaned towards this model from a business side: it’s affordable. There is just less money flowing at record companies now. But I also see the rise of technology in music as a good thing. A kid can create music and put it out there so easily now and I think that’s great. I just wish perfection wasn’t the ideal in music today. In the film, Dave Grohl talks about keeping the human element in music. I completely agree. I don’t love my favorite bands because there are the best singers or guitar players. I listen, buy albums and go to concerts because they have something to say and as a listener, I want to experience their humanity.

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2012: Year in Review

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It’s that time of year where everyone tries to tie up the year in top 10 lists. So here is my attempt. Here is a list of my favorite things from the year.

 

 

Book- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green -This book made me laugh and cry and I highly recommend it to people of all ages. (This one was really hard b/c I have read so many books that I have loved.)

Movie – The Avengers – Superheroes and Joss Whedon. What could be better?

Squee Moment – I met Neil Gaiman and got his autograph at the Charleston stop of the Unchained Tour

Personal Achievement – Getting hired as a librarian in Teen Services at the East Baton Rouge Parish Library. I absolutely love it!

Technology – Nexus 7 tablet. (This looks really cool and I do not yet have one!)

Podcast- Castlecast – a podcast run by two avid fans of the ABC series Castle

Band – FUN. I really love this band and hope to see them on tour soon. Their album Some Nights is really good.

TV Show- Go On – this new NBC comedy starring Matthew Perry is very funny and it’s one of the few shows I was excited about and it actually exceeded expectations.

Wow this year really has flown by. I hope the coming year is full of new surprises!

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Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore: Book Review

ojAAc4WklOT36Hx1LJdZFTl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVaiQDB_Rd1H6kmuBWtceBJDo book lovers and technology enthusiasts have anything in common? Some may think they don’t but this book may just bring them together. A young, unemployed techie finds himself working in a rather unusual bookstore. This store carries rare encoded books that its patrons borrow in order to crack a centuries-old code. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan takes us on a journey from the walls of a small bookstore to Google’s Mountain View campus.

One of things I liked most about this book is the mystery aspect. You keep turning the pages to find out the secrets behind the mysterious proprietor of this unique bookstore. I think how this book came about is also pretty interesting. It started out as a short story that grew into a novel. You can read the shirt story Robin Sloan’s website. Also, I love that this book glows in the dark. In an age where digital books are all the rage, I like that the physical version of this book has something extra.

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New job, new city

Well I  have officially relocated to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to be the new Teen Services Librarian at a branch in downtown Baton Rouge. The last month has certainly been an adventure. I had to quickly move over 800 miles. I could not have done it without the help of my family. At first, it was a bit overwhelming moving to a new city. I have been here about three weeks and am starting to feel at home.

Not only are my surroundings new, but my new job is also completely new for me. For past several years, I have been working in reference/adult services. Now, I am moving to teen services. I will be planning programs and doing outreach to middle and high school students in the area. This job involves sharing my love of books with patrons. I think it will be a good segue for me professionally.  At my branch, the teen area is on the same floor as the children’s area. Therefore, I will be working closely with the Children’s staff as well.

In addition to the new job, I have been trying to explore my new city. There are a lot of great restaurants here and I love trying them out. One thing I have noticed is that the sweet tea at most of the places is not sweet enough for my South Carolina taste buds. I like the variety of the different places though. I am also hoping to check out some concerts coming up in the next few months.

River Center Branch – my new home

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The Art of the Raconteur

This past Friday night, I had the opportunity to attend a storytelling event called The Unchained Tour. The Moth, a storytelling network, traveled around the Carolinas to celebrate the art of the raconteur or storytellers. It was a mixture of stories and music from different performers.  I went to this show because one of their guest was best-selling author Neil Gaiman. I was able to meet him for a minute and get my Unchained Tour CD signed and he is a lovely man!

The evening was a celebration of stories, books and the independent bookstore. Many thanks to Charleston’s Blue Bicycle Books for hosting this event. Acclaimed author, George Dawes Green, founder of the storytelling network The Moth, came on stage and gave a sermon-like talk about the religion of books and stories.  I feel like I underpaid for the experience (tickets were on $20). I loved that the raconteurs took the audience on a journey with their stories. This troupe tries to “keep it local” so i was glad to be able to support that endeavor. I do sincerely hope they do another tour next year. Check out this promotional video from this group http://vimeo.com/46668920

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