In passing...

by tosca on Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hola - quick post. I rely on Bloglines to keep me up-to-date with a lot of movie, book and news related umm news. D'OH. That's what it does. Only this last fortnight Council has since blocked Bloglines - so unless I make a concerted effort to check some 50-plus sites every day I don't have a clue what's going on from one day to the next. Alas, woe is me! Did find a solution, though. And even then, only by accident.

Am still working my way through Learning 2.1, albeit in a lackadaisical fashion (shit, is that the word that I want, and is it even used properly, ack I dunno). Anyway, half-arsedly (yes, that is the word that I want and yes I am using it properly) working my way through it and skipped to the end and saw Thing 69 - Feed My Inbox. People who don't want to have to go to a totally separate site (I leave my Bloglines open and up all day), you can re-route website updates AND rss/atom feeds directly to your Inbox. No shit!

Simply: 1) go to the website, 2) enter the website or rss/atom feed you want alerts for, 3) enter the email address to receive updates at and 4) click submit. Then you receive an email to let you know that further updates for that site/feed will be received at that particular email address and 5) click the link to confirm subscription and voila! All done.

However, the thought of re-doing some 50-plus feeds to re-route through my inbox is daunting. Flicked off an email asking IT to unblock the site because staff use it to keep up-to-date with both national/international news and was asked why we don't use 'normal sites' (wtf is a NORMAL news site, can I ask? and WHO determines what this is? heh rant over) like www.bbc.co.uk and www.cnn.com. No disrespect to either, but whose normal is this? Because it ain't mine. So, decided to be thoroughly anal and list EVERY SINGLE rss feed I subscribe to and explain how I use it and what for and why it's easier to keep Bloglines up all day and check it periodically than visit 50-plus different sites every hour-ish. Come on! Gimme a break =) If I were a total cow (mooooo) I would re-route every feed/website through my work inbox LOL

Anyway, check out Feed My Inbox 'cause this shit is bananas (B-A-N-A-N-A-S!).

Ha, a group of us from work went to an advanced screening of 'Twilight' and YES we were there with a shitload of teenaged girls and YES they did scream/clap the first time Robert Pattinson came onscreen as Edward Cullen - but I forgave them. Aww it was good - cheesy, corny, smushy (and yeah, I know that's not an actual word). The encounters between Bella and Edward reminded me of my interaction with high schools boys - everything resembles one big, long, eternally awkward first date! The scene where Edward admits he's been sneaking in to her room for a couple of months to watch her sleep? I remember turning to Ellie and saying, 'Aww that's creepy. But hot - but so creepy!' LOL When the lights came up I turned to the group I was with and said, 'Ok, I so want a vampire of my very own!' Took me back to my high school days *sigh* Gosh that was a long time ago. The baseball scene was great but hmm - the bit where James realises Bella is human? You know, it was kinda like a timotei shampoo ad where the wind blows and her hair flies all over the place. The wind wafts her human scent over to James and then all the vampires are suddenly hissing and spitting at each other. That part kinda reminded me of The Jets from West Side Story. I almost expected them to start singing, 'When you're a Jet you're a Jet from your first cigarette to your very last breath.' No one did. Go figure. I'm not sure Meyer expected it to be a black comedy, but a lot of girls spent the first 20 mins of the movie laughing and giggling. It was..........like a farce. Did she mean it to be? Or was that just how it struck the moviegoers? I thought there was huge comedic value in it, but that's me. Oh yeah, one thing: why did Edward drive a VOLVO??? Come on! I equate vampires with cool. A volvo is not cool. Safe - but not cool!

Some of you may know that Manukau Libraries has, since June/July, started publishing NextReads newsletters which, by the way, is a great readers' advisory tool. I've started to play around a bit with the newsletters I edit (Romance and Biography and Memoir) . A colleague inspired me, our job is readers' advisory and yet, really, we don't train our staff in how to deliver what should be an expert readers advisory service. Our collection is our hugest asset - but we don't actively teach our staff how to effectively assist customers in choosing books. Yet somehow, our staff do this every day. They take the initiative and they do it off their own bat. And we expect them to, but we don't really acknowledge that. I remember just starting out in Manukau Libraries about 6 yrs ago there was this idea (and I guess there still is) that to be caught reading a book, either at the desk or elsewhere in the library, is bad. It shows to our ratepayers that we're wasting our time - but I disagree. It should show that we're always about learning & developing, that we take our job seriously enough to read whenever and wherever we can, be it at the front desk or amongst the shelves (while shelf-tidying or shelving). I discussed with a colleague the idea of having a living display where staff in a branch would take their tea break in the front window, in an armchair and read. Whitcoulls on Queen Street did it a few years back and it proved very effective. Lone Wolf is responsible for devising and implementing Manukau Libraries Best Sellers course and it's opened my eyes to so many things. Not the least of which is when did libraries move away from expecting their staff to be experts in the collections? When did we start becoming experts in purchase orders? And sending faxes? And name and address registers? When do we get back to books? Be they e-books or paper? When do we stop expecting that our staff train themselves in book-knowledge and we do that part?

I remember a customer asked me to recommend a great modern adventure read. I recommended Steve Berry (gosh, I enjoy his books so much) and I held out the book to the customer, who said to me, 'Young lady, would you stake your life on this book?' There was a moment, a brief moment of madness where I almost took the back back. Instead I pushed it across the desk and said, 'Absolutely!' He came back a few days later looking for more Steve Berry but it did make something click in my head - are we ready to stake our lives on our recommendations? CAN we stake our lives on our recommendations? And if the answer is no, then what the heck are we doing there?! Lone Wolf told me (see, I do listen to him, he might be surprised at that!), 'You have to make every conversation count. If you're not promoting books - what are you doing there?' Don't tell him I said so, but he's right ;-)

I just had to post this - and yes, I do know that next on my agenda was meant to be an item off of infodoodads Top 13 list but bear with me! Speaking of readers' advisory - a few weeks back I finally read a book that has been sitting amongst my huge stack for about 3 weeks.

I spent part of my weekend, about 3 or 4 weeks ago (on and off) sitting on the front lawn (I naffed the parental unit's fishing chair) in the blazing hot sun reading a large number of books. But the one which I absolutely enjoyed was 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Now, about a month or so ago I read about the book and it sounded interesting - but the problem is I have about 30 books on the go at any one time, so finally, after about 3 weeks (and with 1 week to go until it's due back) I've finally gotten around to it...and loved Loved LOVED every minute of it.

The story? 'January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she'd never met, a native of Guernsey, the British island once occupied by the Nazis. He'd come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb. Perhaps she could tell him where he might find more books by this author. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans. Juliet begins a remarkable correspndence with the Society's charming, deeply human members, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Through their letters she learns about their island, their tatste in books, and the powerful, transformative impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds there will change her forever' -- Jacket of book.

Fairly innocent seeming in all, but the story - oh, the story. Let me count the ways :-) The whole book is written as a series of letters between the most eccentric and charming cast of characters: Juliet (the main character), Sidney (her editor and best friend's older brother), Sophie (best friend), Dawsey (who bought a book of selected writings by Charles Lamb that was previously owned by Juliet and had her name/address written on the inside cover) and the other members of the Society. In the couple of short hours it has taken me to race through the book I have giggled (when a character says that 'Women like poetry. A soft word in their ears and they melt - a grease spot on the grass.'), snorted (Juliet writes to her editor, 'I have an idea for a new book. It's a novel about a beautiful yet sensible author whose spirit is crushed by her domineering editor. Do you like it?'), laughed (about Wuthering Heights, 'I like stories of passionate encounters. I myself have never had one, but now I can picture one...'), sighed (when Clovis Fossey was courting the Widow Hubert, 'Lookie there, Nancy. The gentleness of Heaven broods o'ver the sea - Listen, the mighty Being is awake.' She let me kiss her. She is now my wife.', gasped ('The Society members have colluded amongst themselves to raise the bastard child of Elizabeth McKenna and her German Paramour, Doctor/Captain Christian Hellman. Yes, a German soldier! I don't wonder at your shock.') and yes, gosh darn it, I even cried (when Adelaide Addison wrote to Juliet stating that the Literary Society took Elizabeth McKenna's illegitimate daughter and 'raised that child as its own - toting her around from house to house in turn. The principal work of the baby's maintenance was undertaken by Amelia Maugery, with other society members taking her out - like a library book - for several weeks at a time.').

The group got their rather strange (and long-winded although very charming) name when they secretly got together to eat a roast pig (you really do have to read the story to understand the reference). They broke curfew (Guernsey was occuped by the Germans at the time) and were caught by soldiers and made up a story about being a bookclub. The Commandant said he would come to visit with them which led to the group buying up a crapload of books from the local bookstore and making the others read something to be prepared for the impending visit. From that point on the bookclub became real, and grew, and their signature dish was a potato peel pie, the making of which doesn't sound half as disguting as the thought of eating potato peels. Squick. But Will Thisbee's potato peel pie - cnsisting of mashed potatoes for filling, strained beets for sweetness and potato peelings for crust - was a favourite of the group. And became a part of their name.

I could go on and on about it forever (yeah I know, so much for a 'quick' post, so sue me) but I'll only say, I'm naming this my TOP general fiction read of 2008 - AND I'll stake my life on it. So nah nah nah nah! And if you disagree, well really, who's asking you?!?

Peace. We out =)

6 comments

Gosh durn I love ur posts :) Just saw Twilight last week, and totally enjoyed it too....took along my husband who has not read the books and I was sooooo sure he was hating it, but he loved it...came home and checked out Stephenie Meyers website...mwahahahahaha :)
I've been on the waiting list for Potato peel pie society foreverer...good to know my wait is not in vain :)

by Kelly Moo on January 4, 2009 at 9:02 PM. #

Twilight - gosh, it reminded me so much of high school. Every encounter between the two main characters was reminiscent of one LONG awkward first date! And the audience had me in stitches and upset at one and the same time. I just wanted them to shush but I couldn't help snickering when they did. Unfortunately, it did detract somewhat from the severity of some of the scenes LOL

by catatonia on January 7, 2009 at 4:06 PM. #

I so agree with ,Guernsey as read of the 2008!
And - I'm with you on the lack of readers advisory in my life. I'm stunned & thrilled when asked to recommend a book. And, often, stumped because it's usually an adult fiction book! Probably chicklit-y or something else outside my box.
Sometimes I cheat, and can get an adult to take out a teen book! Success!!!
NextReads totally stretches your imagination - upcoming theme for teens list? Say 'What'?: books with 'what' in the title. EEK!!!

by Annie on January 8, 2009 at 8:39 AM. #

If there's one part of the front desk I miss more than anything while being seconded to Digital Services, it would be talking books with customers! My version of it now is editing the Romance, Bio & Memoir and the Pop Culture NextReads newsletters but it's not quite the same. The newsletter doesn't talk back though LOL You are kidding! The theme is Say 'What'? that's a hoot!!

by catatonia on January 8, 2009 at 9:21 AM. #

Forgot to say Annie, our upcoming theme for Bio is 'Memoir Under Fire' about umm fake memoirs (sounds so harsh) and is inspired by Rosenblat's new memoir; our upcoming Pop Culture theme is Elvis : the man, the myth and the legend and our Romance theme this month is err Men In Uniforms. Tell me something, do your customers respond to your newsletters?!

by catatonia on January 8, 2009 at 9:23 AM. #

Gracious! If you were being slightly twisted you could add any of the 'true' biographies 'edited' by Beatrice Sparks, like Go ask Alice.
Elvis? Hmmm... I remember reading a fantasy short story called 'The Elvis and the shoemaker', possibly in Alien pregnant by Elvis - which no one has any more! And Elvis is a bit player in Pratchett & Gaiman's Good Omens.
As to men in uniform - stepping out of the whole Harlequin series might be difficult! I'd be wonky & throw in a couple of Georgette Heyer's - what about An infamous army or The Spanish bride?
Or this site!!! http://www.likesbooks.com/spies.html.
Kia kaha!

by Annie on January 8, 2009 at 9:59 AM. #

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