22 June 2009

Akronites love old houses

There is something fascinating about the old houses in Akron, Ohio. Especially where I live in Highland Square, a neighborhood just west of downtown Akron full of turn of the 19th century homes originally built for the leaders of the rubber industry. There are brick streets, devil's strips planted full of flowers, and three-story homes with postage stamp size yards. These houses--almost all historic, some in need desperate need of repair--are mix of character and collapse, of architectural beauty and money-pit blues.
I live in a house built in 1918. It has the most amazing fumed-oak paneling and pillars in the living room, but has pine floors that are splintering even as we speak. The office--what used to be the dining room--has a gorgeous coffered ceiling, and built-in beveled glass door cabinets. The kitchen, however, has a ceiling that is coming down by degrees, and someone back in the '50s painted all the once lovely oak cabinets a dingy white. Each year we make another decision regarding what is affordable to fix up against what really needs desperately to be repaired. New furnace or a real bathroom floor? Windows that don't leak cold air or tearing out the
god-awful brown 1960s shag carpeting in the bedrooms? Repoint the brickwork of a crumbly chimney or redo the roof and insulate? The trade off is in time, and money, and whether or not we have enough energy to do it ourselves. No. Never mind that last one; there is never enough energy. Being the caretaker of a piece of Akron architectural history is not for the timid.
So I can identify with David Giffels experiences and the situation he describes in his book All The Way Home, his personal story of turning a wreck of a house into a beautiful home. Today I got an email telling me that David's book is now coming out in paperback.
Hey everyone --

The new paperback edition of All the Way Home comes out tomorrow. . . if you know anyone who might be interested, please spread the word. The paperback has lots of photos -- something people have been asking for since the hardback came out -- and the publisher is very excited about it.

To coincide with the release, I have succumbed to the Digital Industrial Complex thusly: www.davidgiffels.com

If you wish to post this link, I'll be ever grateful. There are links on the home page to order from Amazon and other booksellers.



If you have ever lived in Akron, if you really love old houses, if you want to read a warm, funny, personal narrative written by a really nice guy, then you need to get David's book.

You can also pick up copies of David's book at Angel Falls Coffee on Market Street in Highland Square, Akron. Autographed even!

18 June 2009

Does Language Shape Our Thinking?

Reblogged from the LA Times Blog "Jacket Copy"
Jacket Copy - latimes.com

An essay on how language influences thought from the pop-science anthology "What's Next: Dispatches on the Future of Science" has been posted on The Edge. Author Lera Boroditsky, an assistant professor of psychology, neuroscience and symbolic systems at Stanford, writes:

Most questions of whether and how language shapes thought start with the simple observation that languages differ from one another. And a lot! Let's take a (very) hypothetical example. Suppose you want to say, "Bush read Chomsky's latest book." Let's focus on just the verb, "read." To say this sentence in English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we have to pronounce it like "red" and not like "reed." In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can't) alter the verb to mark tense. In Russian you would have to alter the verb to indicate tense and gender. So if it was Laura Bush who did the reading, you'd use a different form of the verb than if it was George. In Russian you'd also have to include in the verb information about completion. If George read only part of the book, you'd use a different form of the verb than if he'd diligently plowed through the whole thing. In Turkish you'd have to include in the verb how you acquired this information: if you had witnessed this unlikely event with your own two eyes, you'd use one verb form, but if you had simply read or heard about it, or inferred it from something Bush said, you'd use a different verb form.

She brings up experiments and other examples involving use of language and direction, time, color and gender, all of which seem to demonstrate that yes, language shapes how we think.

But my favorite is this example above. Only a linguist -- or perhaps a social scientist -- would put Chomsky in a hypothetical.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo credit: poplinre via Flickr

17 June 2009

"Another Year" from the "Who Killed Amanda Palmer" Video Series

So. Amanda Palmer. Singer. Girl Extrordinaire. Hell of a voice. Wicked sense of humor. Yeah, Amanda, I can see you with Neil.

Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman are Dating! (And Other Tidbits From Housing Works)

You go, Neil. And Amanda. (Now I have to go find out who she is, seeing as she has stolen the heart of one of my favorite authors.) And hoorah for them for making money for the Housing Works folks, too.
BTW, Amanda? I totally agree on the naked thing. Naked is fun.
Be happy, kids.

08 June 2009

10 Ways to Keep Books You Love in Print

There are books you love, books that change your life, books that make you realize that you aren’t alone. But sometimes, those books go out of print and are no longer available. You gnash your teeth and curse the vagaries of publishing. You feel helpless and frustrated, but you know that there’s nothing you can do about it.

Not so! You can do something! Publishing is a capitalist enterprise, driven by sales and profit (as well as a love of books). But even if you’re too broke to buy a paperback book, you can influence book sales and affect a publisher’s profits.

What can you do?

#1 Review the book you love online in a newsgroup, on a webzine, on an e-commerce site, or on a personal web site. This is an easy way to tell a lot of people about a fabulous book. People pay attention to reviews. Hey—authors read reviews. With a good review, you can make an author’s day.

—Pat Murphy, author of There and Back Again.

#2 When asked what you want for your birthday, or Hanukkah, or Christmas, or any other gift-giving occasion, answer with your favorite author’s current book.

—Michaela Roessner, author of The Stars Compel.

#3 Give books as presents. If someone has a favorite author, buy that author’s latest title. If the gift recipient doesn’t have a favorite author, buy a book by an author you like. If your friend likes the book, you’ve done the author a big favor by creating a new fan.

#4 Ask for books by your favorite author at your local library. If the library doesn’t have a book, request it. Checking a book out of the library helps establish that there’s a demand for that author’s work. Demand leads library systems to buy books.

#5 Tell writers how much their work has affected you. Go to readings—even if you can’t afford to buy the book. Urge your local library bookstore or your school to invite the writer to do a talk, a reading, or a class visit. Sometimes writers just need to know that someone is listening.

—Leslie What, author of “The Cost of Doing Business.”

#6 Talk about books and authors at work, among friends, and in other not-necessarily literary environments. If you belong to a writing group, recommend your favorite authors to the group. If you add a book to your reading group, tell your favorite bookstore what you’ve done and buy your books there. The bookstore may put them out front on display.

—Susanna J. Sturgis, editor of The Women Who Walk Through Fire: Women’s Fantasy and Science Fiction.

#7 Point to good books in the bookstore and tell people, even total strangers, “That one is great.” If you see someone looking at a copy of a book you like, encourage them to buy it.

—Ellen Klages, author of “Time Gypsy.”

#8 Carry around a copy of a book you love. Read it on buses, in waiting rooms, and in other public places. Be prepared to wax eloquent about it—spontaneously or only when asked; that’s up to you.

” —Susanna J. Sturgis.

#9 Just because a book is out-of-print doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t get it. Lightning Print Inc. is currently asking for suggestions for books to reprint. You can vote now at their web site: . Then from their “Resources” menu select “Nominate titles for POD and eBook”, then tell them what books you’d like to see reprinted!

#10 Nominate your favorite authors for awards. Any year that you are a member of the World Science Fiction Convention, you can nominate and vote for the Hugo Award. Nominate gender-bending works for the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award and works with gay or lesbian content for the Lambda Literary Award. If you subscribe to Locus Magazine, you can nominate works for the Locus Poll and Survey. And yes, it’s worth taking the time—awards make a difference to an author’s sales and that helps keep books in print.

Above all else, keep reading!

Read more books!

Eat more cookies!

this blog post was re-blogged (read: stolen! but also shared like all good ideas and writing should be!) from the James Tiptree Awards Website at http://www.tiptree.org/

07 June 2009

The Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spicethe Orphan's Tales: In the Cities of Coin and Spice by Catherynne M. Valente

My review rating: 5 of 5 stars I picked up this book because of the title which caught my eye. What a great line for a poem, I thought. Then as I read I realized I had to have this book. The language is part Arabian Nights and part pure poetry. In fact most of the chapters are in themselves little prose poems, or perhaps flash fiction pieces. Valente (a poet herself) layers image on image with a richness of sensory detail and a wicked sense or surreal humor all of which contributes to a romp through a multi-layered tale within a tale within a tale of fallen stars, bird people, cities made of paper and detritus, the wedding of a sultan's daughter in the dead of winter, women made of grass and tree bark and cows and serpents all from a girl with stories inked on her eyelids (I said surreal, didn't I?). Part Mirrormask, part Arabian Nights, part Charles Dickens, part Jeanette Winterson, and part James Tate, Valente's prose is as beautiful and intriguing as it gets. View all my reviews.