Monthly Archives: November 2010
An obvious and huge downside to attending grad school for English (beyond that whole employment thing) is that there’s just not enough time to read the things I’d like to.
If I were drafting my ideal Christmas list, and if I had unlimited reading time, I’d go ahead and ask for all the Nancy Mitford novels that I’ve not yet read. The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate (and the BBC miniseries version of the two books) have left me desiring much more of her witty voice. Nancy is high on my list of female authors who unfairly (and anachronistically) have been deemed “chick lit” — a list that includes my all-time favorite Elaine Dundy and usual suspect Jane Austen, among others.
At the very least, I plan to work on tracking down a copy of Christmas Pudding, which has not yet been reprinted, for my winter holiday reading.
The boys at Cinedork, who I adore, asked me to write about music for them—something I’ve missed doing since moving to Philly. My first review for the site just went up:
Rusty Willoughby has been around the block — playing in Pure Joy, Flop and Llama over the years — but it’s a specifically Seattle block, and so the rest of us are forgiven for not knowing who he is.
But don’t let that stop you from checking out his most recent project, Cobirds Unite. The album is a series of duets with Rachel Flotard, a charming trip through the sounds of Americana.
Continue reading at Cinedork.
As much effort as I put into holiday-appropriate reading for Halloween, I somehow always let Thanksgiving pass me by. Who the hell wants to read about turkeys and the forced appropriation of land anyway?
This year, though, there’s been a lot of attention on Thanksgiving-related reading. The Smart Set covers Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “John Inglefield’s Thanksgiving.” Maud Newton points out how Mark Twain spent one Thanksgiving (being a lovable looney, just like any other day); the LOA posts Twain’s short story, “Hunting the Deceitful Turkey”; and the New Yorker shares the menu for one of Twain’s Thanksgiving dinners, which took place at the Park Avenue Hotel.
And then there’s the random assortment I found on that bastion on random knowledge, About.com. Rebecca Harding Davis’s “Jane Murray’s Thanksgiving”; “Mirages” by Walt Whiman; “The Thanksgiving in Boston Harbor” by the wonderfully named Hezekiah Butterworth; and another Twain entry, the rather politically charged “What I Am Thankful For.”
But what will I really be reading? The answer is obvious, since I didn’t get nearly enough creepiness in my Halloween reading: Joyce Carol Oates’s “Thanksgiving,” from Haunted: Tales of the Grotesque. Oh, and this fascinating Thanksgiving Day letter sent from Yokohama, Japan:
It happened! It was awesome! You can’t tell from the photo, but we had a ton of people show up!
Everything went off without a hitch. Thanks to the writing center, we had scores of delicious snack foods. John was a terrific speaker; he even threw in some stuff on Melville (how scholarly!). Several students and professors asked insightful questions during the Q&A, and many people stuck around afterward to chat and have books signed. Sadly, I had to run off to Shakespeare class to give a presentation on 2 Henry IV, but not before I got my copy of Wednesday Comics #1 signed.
Oh, and super thanks to DC for letting us use A God Somewhere for our poster. If you haven’t read it yet, I definitely recommend checking it out.
The most exciting part of the lead-up to our Graphic Novel Event was, for me, helping to create a library exhibit that showcased both our concept and the graphic novels we have in the stacks.
Our graphic designer, the inimitable Joanne Quinn, initiated the process by buying three giant superhero cutouts. From there, I developed the idea to have each of our superheroes — Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man — quote a famous scholar or author. I picked out quotations for all three, and finished the whole thing off by writing up exhibit text that explained the concept and connections.
Sorry for the terrible cell phone photos, but I don’t have higher quality images yet. Hopefully soon!
The exhibit was featured on the library blog. All my lovely friends here stopped by to see it, and one even gave me what may be the biggest compliment of my life:
Last night at the Troc, two of my favorite Philly websites, Geekadelphia and Cinedork, hosted an epicly epic screening of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Hands down, this was my favorite film of 2010, and I was thrilled to get to see it on the big screen again.
And while I didn’t break out my Envy Adams costume, a large handful of people did don their best Ramona/Scott/Kim Pine/Gideon/etc. duds and won a wide array of awesome Scott Pilgrim stuff for their efforts. My personal favorite was the Stephen Stills who even brought his guitar. He’s the talent, after all.
Today, Twitter was all abuzz with how much fun we all had. Even director Edgar Wright had a kind word for us geeks and our efforts:
I might miss all my best geeks in Atlanta, but take it from me: Philly can throw the geek party right.
Photo by Dan Tabor. See more here.
I pitched the idea to my editor for a series of graphic novel reviews done by library staffers and others involved in the event. Once I got approval, I contacted about 15 potential reviewers, most of whom were willing to help out. The process was fairly painless — I set a deadline and almost everyone met it! In the end, we posted 7 reviews in three separate posts to the library news blog.
Since I was organizing the whole thing, I got first pick of what to review. I chose, of course, the Scott Pilgrim series. Here was what I had to say:
Imagine if your life were like a video game. Sounds fun, right? But now imagine that the video game was really hard — like Battletoads hard — and it kept you from doing the things you wanted.
Such is the fate of Scott Pilgrim, the hero of the eponymous, six-volume graphic novel series created by Bryan Lee O’Malley. All Scott wants to do is date Ramona Flowers, the literal girl of his dreams (her favorite shortcut is the subspace highway travelling through his head). But in order to date her, he has to defeat her seven evil exes, in increasingly awesome and ridiculous video game-style boss fights that continually interrupt his life and his band.
The Scott Pilgrim series features a feast of in-jokes for gamers, comic book lovers, and Generation Y. But its greatness lies in what else is on every page: a poignant look at life and love in your early 20s. While Ramona and Scott’s exes may try to interrupt their story, the metatextual elements and metaphors never do. What results is the perfect balance between the frivolous, the hilarious, and the touching.
Event banner by Joanne Quinn.
Join us for a reading by Alan Drew, M.F.A., novelist and Villanova University faculty member. Professor Drew will read excerpts from his first novel, Gardens of Water, and from The Hidden Life, his in-progress second novel. The reading will be held at 12:30 pm on Monday, Nov. 15, 2010, in Falvey Memorial Library’s first floor lounge.
Gardens of Water (Random House, 2008) was chosen as Pasadena’s One City/One Story, University of Iowa’s Center for Human Rights One Community/One Book, and ‘one of the best books of 2008’ by School Library Journal. The novel tells the story of love and sacrifice between two families, one Kurdish and one American. Kirkus Reviews called it “a novel about lovers crossed not by the stars but by the clash of cultures.”
Professor Drew, who teaches creative writing in the English department, says he got the idea for the novel shortly after the devastating 1999 Marmara earthquake, which killed over 17,000 people, according to official reports. At the time, he and his wife felt the earthquake where they were living, about 600 miles away in Istanbul, Turkey.
Continue reading on the Falvey Library news blog.
This year’s Scholarship@Villanova endowed chair lecture features Ronald A. Chadderton, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, the Edward A. Daylor Chair in Environmental Engineering. Dr. Chadderton will speak at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010, in the Falvey Memorial Library first floor lounge.
Dr. Chadderton, a professor and chair in the department of civil and environmental engineering, will investigate and reconstruct historic floods in the Johnstown, Pa. area, caused by dam failure. He points to the historic nature of the floods, especially the “Great Flood” of May 31, 1889, as a major point of interest.
“As a faculty member at Penn State,” he explains, “I was involved with a study of one of the Johnstown floods. It was a mathematical modeling project. Also, as a ‘history buff,’ I had read various articles about the 1889 flood.” The disaster resulted in the single largest number of civilian deaths at the time and the first major disaster relief effort handled by the American Red Cross.
Continue reading at the Falvey Library news blog.