Once Upon a Time at Border's · 15 April 2011
The shelves were empty and the pickings were slim. My local Border's is one of the many on the chopping block and so a few weekends ago I went to pick over its carcass. I think it's appropriate that my selections for Carl's fifth annual Once Upon a Time Challenge come from the fruits of that trip. Carl encourages us to embrace wonder and the turning of the seasons, the rebirth from winter to spring, by letting our love for fantastical works run amok on our blogs.
Although I've only committed to The Journey, reading and reviewing a single book from the genre of fantasy, fairytale, folklore, or mythology, I've got four fine selections to choose from: The Secret History of Moscow, Scar Night, The Magicians and Mrs. Quent, and The Horns of Ruin.
I'm a bit blue about losing my Border's (especially since my Barnes and Nobel closed earlier this year), but with hardcovers prices hovering near $30 and trade paperbacks in the $20 range, I've only purchased full price books as gifts for years now. On the other hand, I buy full price digital (substantially cheaper than $20) quite a bit. Hopefully this is taken as a sign by print publishers that they need to figure out a model that can be profitable at lower prices.
Once upon a time bookstores were ubiquitous. And once upon a time I believe they will rise again; because I love walking through racks of books, appreciating the cover art arrayed before me, and flipping to random pages to get the rhythm of the writing and I truly think there's a way to get customers to pay for that experience.
Fare thee well Borders. I'll miss you.
June Gloom · 22 June 2007
The longest day has ended and from now on the year is slowly dying, each day a bit shorter than the last until we come to the other end of the pendulum and embrace the longest night.
I usually see the summer solstice as the mark of the beginning of summer, but this year it seems to mark the end of things. Perhaps I’m just a bit blue because the Once Upon a Time Challenge has ended, or maybe it’s because summer school has started. I’m even willing to accept that mercury in retrograde is dragging at me. In any case, I felt the coming of the season differently than I normally do and it’s slowing me down, making me feel like I should be preparing to burrow in my warm little den rather than out enjoying the bounty of the season.
I decided the cure for my summer blues was twofold: firstly, a good night’s sleep (which I’ve been sorely lacking and will be adjourning to immediately upon posting) and secondly, another reading challenge.
The premise: Read 12 award winning books in 12 months. At only one book per month, it's an easy-paced challenge that will provide a bit of focus for my reading and hopefully introduce me to some more great books. I spent last night browsing the award lists and I’ve got my first three choices selected.
- The 1984 Nebula winner - Neuromancer by William Gibson (I may have to turn in my geek card after admitting I haven’t read this one yet).
- The 2001 Pulitzer winner The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (My sister will be glad to have this returned to her; it’s been almost a year since I borrowed it).
- And finally, the 1995 Pulitzer winner The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields.
Why these books? For the simple reason that I already own them (or have them in my hot little hands) and a book challenge provides some motivation to read them.
I’ve got a list of 29 other potential books for the remaining 9 slots. Some of these are books that I’ve been meaning to read (the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson) and some are just books with interesting titles that caught my eye (Gould's Book of Fish by Richard Flanagan). I’ll be scoping out used bookstores, paperbackswap and bookmooch to see which I can add to my collection before posting my final selections.
Despite my lethargy, I’ve got a ton of fun things planned for the blog next week. Can you imagine what blue jell-o, orange noodles, tapioca pearls, and squash have in common? Stay tuned and the answer shall be revealed! I know, you’re on the edge of your seat ;)
Once Upon a Time Challenge and Internet Fluff · 10 May 2007
I’m entering a bit late, but I’ve decided to participate in Stainless Steel Droppings' Once Upon a Time Challenge. The 2007 challenge focuses on the different genres of storytelling: mythology, folklore, fairytale, and fantasy.
Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings has graciously offered the participants a choice of four “quests” to complete as part of the event.
Quest One: Read at least 5 books from any of the 4 genres.
Quest Two: Read at least one book from each of the four genres of story-Mythology, Folklore, Fairytale, and Fantasy.
Quest Three: Read at least one book from each of the four genres of story, and finish up the challenge with a June reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Quest Four: Read at least one book from the four genres.
I’m ambitiously signing up for quest two (having already cheated a bit by gorging myself on fantasy last week and pre-written two reviews).
Sebastian and Belladonna will be my selections from the fantasy genre. I doubt time will permit, but if it does, I may also review the handful of other fantasy books I’ve read in May which include A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin; Cast In Courtlight by Michelle Sagara; The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold; and The Novice by Trudy Canavan. (Yes, I did glut myself on fantasy while I was sick).
The Hawk's Gray Feather by Patricia Keenealy will be my selection from the mythology genre. Unburnable by Maria Elena-John will be my selection from the folklore genre. I ordered both these books today and hope they’ll get here shortly! If I have time, I’ll also be reading Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman since it’s been in my “must read” pile for about a month now (I’m sure my sister will appreciate having her copy back too ;) )
My fantasy selection is as yet unpicked. I’ll be hitting up the used book stores this weekend in attempt to find one of the following: Briar Rose by Jane Yolen; The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson; or The Girl Who Trod On A Loaf by Kathryn Davis. If I can’t find any of those, I’ve got Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke sitting on the shelf waiting to be read. I found The Endicot Studio’s Fairytale List quite helpful in making my selections for this section, since it’s not a genre I habitually read from.
All participants in the challenge are linking to their reviews on the Reading Challenge Reviews Site so, if you’re interesting in following along, go on over there to check out what everyone else is reading and talking about.
I know the food posts have been a bit light lately. I was sick, which didn’t inspire much cooking. Finals are next week, which doesn’t leave much time for trying anything new and interesting. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that you guys really don’t want to read an essay about the spaghetti with store bought sauce I made on Tuesday. I’ve got some interesting dishes planned out for the next few days, but they don’t really tie into anything that I’ve read recently. I may wax prosaically about Spring and the bounty of fresh food here in San Diego right now.
Until then, the food aficionados can check out altoids.com. It won a Webby award last week for the best food and beverage site, which makes me wonder what food fans are really looking for in their websites.
The site is laid out as a tribute to something of a cross between an old fashioned circus and variety show. It has a sideshow attraction type feel to the various interactive features. It’s fun, but not very informative. I spent about 10 minutes on the site. I got to “shoot” the lineup of Altoids products in a moving shooting gallery, but when I’d successfully downed a product, all I got was a two sentence advertising blurb on the product. For example, I now know that cinnamon mints are the “fiery addition to the Altoids family certain to heat up the mint category and tempt curiously strong fans everywhere.” The site also includes a collection of old ads, which is cool and nostalgic, but again provides very little information.
The nutritional facts are hidden far behind the glitz of the main site in, of all places, the “Contact Us” tab. I got the feeling that the designers of Altoids.com didn’t want to distract the user with all those “pesky details.”
I suppose that as an advertising tool, the Altoids site succeeds. It’s sexy and hip. There’s a marionette show, a mentalist (who’s not very good at guessing what you're thinking), and bearded (lady?) that you can paint with any number of beard brushes. But, I can’t help feeling that Web 2.0 is at times moving website design away from sites that offer information to sites that primarily entertain.
As a final aside, since this site does try to cater to the spread of information, does anyone know an English verb for “to add hair?” Depilate is “to remove hair” but the “pilate” on its own translates roughly to “pluck” and isn’t a word in its own right. I couldn’t come up with anything better than “grow” or “cultivate” for the bearded lady process and finally settled on “paint” since it’s an art web-application.