Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday Stuff: "Just for fun" edition

I've been encountering some fun stuff in my Reader and my Inbox this week, so as a change of pace, I thought I'd share some of it this weekend. The regular links roundup will return next week.

Via e-mail from my aunt, a retired New York City teacher:

Kids  Are  Quick

TEACHER:   Maria, go to the map and find  North America .
MARIA:     Here it  is.
TEACHER:  Correct.  Now class, who discovered America?
CLASS:      Maria.

TEACHER:  John, why are you doing your math multiplication on  the floor?
JOHN:      You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER:  Glenn, how do you spell  'crocodile?'
GLENN:    K-R-O-K-O-D-I-A-L.
TEACHER:  No, that's wrong.
GLENN:    Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it. 

TEACHER:  Donald, what is the chemical formula for  water?
TEACHER:  What are you talking about?
DONALD:   Yesterday you said it's H to O. 

TEACHER:  Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.
WINNIE:    Me!

TEACHER:  Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN:      Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are. 

TEACHER:   Millie, give me a sentence starting with ' I. '
MILLIE:     I  is..
TEACHER:   No, Millie... Always say, 'I  am.'
MILLIE:      All right...  'I am  the ninth letter of the alphabet.'  

TEACHER:   George Washington not only chopped down  his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it.  Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS:      Because George still had the axe in his hand. 

TEACHER:   Now,  Simon, tell me frankly, do you say prayers  before eating?
SIMON:     No sir, I don't have to, my  Mom is a good cook. 

TEACHER:   Clyde , your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy  his?
CLYDE :     No, sir. It's the same dog. 

TEACHER:  Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer  interested?
HAROLD:   A teacher.

One of Jennifer Weiner's favorite jokes:
With all the new technology regarding fertility recently, a 65-year-old friend of mine was able to give birth. When she was discharged from the hospital and went home, I went to visit:

"May I see the new baby?' I asked.

"Not yet,' she said 'I'll make coffee and we can visit for a while first."

Thirty minutes had passed, and I asked, 'May I see the new baby now?'

'No, not yet,' she said.

After another few minutes had elapsed, I asked again, 'May I see the baby now?'

"No, not yet,' replied my friend.

Growing very impatient, I asked, 'Well, when can I see the baby?'

"WHEN HE CRIES!' she told me.

"WHEN HE CRIES?' I demanded. 'Why do I have to wait until he CRIES?'


Now, what was I doing?, via Not Always Right
Bookstore | Gainesville, FL, USA
Customer: “Hello?”
Me: “Hello ma’am, this is **** Bookstore. I’m calling to let you know the book you ordered has come in.”
Customer: “What? You’re who?”
Me: “This is **** Bookstore. You ordered a book from us and it’s here.”
Customer: “I ordered a book?”
Me: “Yes.”
Customer: “I don’t remember ordering anything.”
Me: “The order sticker says you ordered it last week. The title is Improving Your Memory.”

Thanks to everyone who contributed to Gypsy's total of 12 votes in A Novel Menagerie's "Beautiful Baby Contest" - she didn't come in last, and she did receive an honorable mention:


Gypsy - Voted “Lady Of Grace & Elegance” Award

This photo was taken while she was drying off in the sun after falling into a creek - so much for grace and elegance! However, she is a Southern Belle and a (sort of) classy dame, and she appreciates the honor!

Friday, May 29, 2009

TBIF: Thank blog it's Friday! This week in books and memes

BOOKKEEPING: The Reading Status Report

Currently Reading: The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks (via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program)

Teaser: "I buy a double espresso from a woman who has a little cart set up right by the entrance every Saturday and head for Heather the Bread Lady's table, piled with crusty brown loaves that she and her family bake in their wood-burning brick oven. With a loaf of still-warm country French in my pack, I move on to the tables of fresh goat cheese, bins of vegetables with crumbs of dirt still clinging to their roots, pastured chicken and eggs, organic beef, the cookie guy." (page 300)

Next in Line: Escape by Carolyn Jessop, following a theme after finishing The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
After That: Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner, to "read along" with My Friend Amy one week in June (date TBA), also for 2009 RYOB Challenge; The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist, an ARC received via LTER (June 2009 publication); Fool by Christopher Moore, for the RYOB Challenge, because my husband has already read it and keeps asking me if I have yet

Book reviews posted this week: Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl
Total reviews posted year-to-date: 18
Books read for the 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge: 6 (pledged 20 for the year)

New additions to the "TBR" tag
An Absolute Scandal, by Penny Vincenzi
The Likeness, by Tana French
The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears in Paris At the World's Most Famous Cooking School, by Kathleen Flinn
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, by Joshilyn Jackson (won in a giveaway from Nicole at Linus's Blanket)

Total books currently tagged as "read" in LibraryThing: 372

Booking Through Thursday: "Un-read"

btt button

In the perfect follow-up to last week’s question, as suggested by C in DC:
Is there a book that you wish you could “unread”? One that you disliked so thoroughly you wish you could just forget that you ever read it?
You mean I actually could get those hours of my life back? Awesome! Do I get three wishes? I could probably come up with more, but I'll stop with three. Two of them are books I read because "everyone" was reading them - I've learned (the hard way, evidently) that my taste in reading tends to be rather different from "everyone's." I read both of these books back in the 1990's, and yet the bad impression they left still lingers:

The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller: This has become my stock answer when asked about books I regret reading. I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard it improves on the book. Good to know - and it's probably over faster, too. The story itself didn't really appeal to me and I didn't particularly care for the characters, but if the writing had been better, I might have gotten past those issues. Alas, it was not to be. I know many people love this book, but it's definitely not for me.

The Celestine Prophecy, by James Redfield: Beware of lightweight philosophy wrapped in fiction! Parables work if they're short - the New Testament contains numerous examples - but they can be shaky frameworks for novels. This book was written primarily to convey some New-Age-y concepts (most of which I don't recall, so I guess they didn't really sink in), which made the themes bigger the story - and again, the writing itselfdidn't help matters. This was a huge bestseller in the mid-'90's - does anyone else remember reading it, and are your memories better than mine?

The third was a major disappointment from a favorite author:

Second Glance, by Jodi Picoult: Picoult backlash has gained strength in the last few years, but I was reading her books way before My Sister's Keeper put her in the major leagues, and I tend to cut her some slack. Even so, this novel - a mix of ghost story and murder mystery with exploration of the eugenics movement in the early 20th century - just didn't work for me, and remains among my least favorite works of hers. If I weren't already an established fan of hers, I'm not sure I would have read it at all.

Is there a book you'd like to pretend never happened to you?

Friday Fill-ins #126

1. It's cold and thick and chocolatey - wow, this is a great milkshake!

2. I like to eat things made with them, but on their own, I don't really like tomatoes.

3. My favorite health and beauty product is no longer available at Target, so I'm going to have to find something else.

4. My commute to work is definitely NOT a nice long ride ("long," yes - "nice," not so much).

5. Well, first of all I need to get this desk organized so I can find the stuff for that project I'm working on today!

6. People from work; those were the cast of characters in a recent dream and it was just like being awake.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to checking in for the BEATwittyparty, tomorrow my plans include two Little League games (my nephews') and finally watching the last few hours of Lost on the DVR and Sunday, I want to read, write, and see a movie with Tall Paul (we're thinking it will be Angels and Demons this weekend)!

Considering that half of my Fill-ins answers are somehow work-related, I think I really NEED a weekend! What sort of plans do you have for yours?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Questions, questions, questions...now available with answers!

When my sister tagged me on Facebook for "50 Questions You May Never Have Been Asked," I thought it was something other than what it turned out to be, which is simply answering 50 random questions - some of which I actually have been asked before, just for the record. Once I answer them, I'll tell you what I my first reaction was...

I answered these questions on Tuesday evening between 6:30 and 8:30 PM.

1. What color is your toothbrush?
blue and white

2. Name one person who made you smile today:

3. What were you doing at 8am this morning?
Arriving at the office

4. What were you doing 45 minutes ago?
Feeding the dog, then getting our dinner started

5. What is your favorite candy bar?
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

6. Have you ever been to a strip club?

7. What is the last thing you said aloud?
"I'll put another stamp on it and mail it out in the morning."

8. What is your favorite ice cream?

9. What was the last thing you had to drink?
Water, with some lemon Propel mixed in

10. Do you like your wallet?
Never really thought about it before, but...sure, it's fine

11 What was the last thing you ate?
Baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, and a biscuit (both the mac & cheese and the biscuit were reduced-fat versions!)

12. Have you bought any new clothing items this week?
Yes, a pair of shorts and some capris. I purged four bags' worth of clothes this past weekend, but needed to replace a couple of things with my current size.

13. The last sporting event you watched?
I don't even know...we almost never watch sports around here, unless Chris is visiting and has the TV on

14. What is your favorite flavor of popcorn?
Caramel, but I'm honestly not a big fan of popcorn. My husband makes up for me.

15. Who is the last person you sent a text message to?
Chris - he's the only person who ever texts me

16. Ever go camping?
No, and I'm totally OK with that.

17. Do you take vitamins daily?

18. Do you go to church every Sunday?
I used to, but not for awhile

19. Do you have a tan?
Not intentionally. I use body lotion that "enhances" skin tone, on top of the sunscreen I try to remember to use every day.

20. Do you prefer Chinese food over pizza?
Not usually

21. Do you drink your soda with a straw?
No - because I don't drink soda. I'll use a straw with lemonade or iced tea, though, if I'm given one

22. What did your last text message say?
I don't remember. Probably something about a flight Chris was taking somewhere...

23. What are you doing tomorrow?
Getting up, going to work, coming home...a.k.a. "the usual"

25. Look to your left, what do you see?
The kitchen counter, the front hallway, and the TV.

26. What color is your watch?
Silver and white

27. What do you think of when you hear Australia?
Adventure, Hugh Jackman, and (unfortunately, still) Crocodile Dundee

29. Do you go in at a fast food place or just hit the drive thru?
I usually go inside - some of the fast-food places I prefer don't even have drive-thrus.

30. What is your favorite number?

31. Who's the last person you talked to on the phone?

33. How many states have you lived in?

34. Biggest annoyance right now?
Nothing really big, but plenty of little ones - most of which add up to not enough time and too much to do.

35. Last song listened to?
"Read My Mind," by The Killers, on the car radio as I pulled into the garage

36.Can you say the alphabet backwards?

37. Do you have a maid service clean your house?
No, but I do have a husband who vacuums and dusts...I do most of the rest.

38. Favorite pair of shoes you wear all the time?
I own too many pairs to pick a favorite.

39. Are you jealous of anyone?
People who make a living blogging (kidding! sort of!)

40. Is anyone jealous of you?
Not to my knowledge...

41. Do you love anyone?
Oh, yes

42. Do any of your friends have children?
Most of them do.

43. What do you usually do during the day?
Walk the dog, drive to work, spend 8 hours at the office mostly working (with periodic blog-reading breaks - hey, breaks are good for productivity!), drive home, walk the dog, eat dinner, hang out at home...it's honestly a little less boring than it sounds!

44. Do you hate anyone that you know right now?

45. Do you use the word 'hello' daily?

46. What color is your car?
Dark blue, but I don't know the name - cobalt, maybe?

47. Do you like cats?
Meh. I'm a dog person.

48. Are you thinking about someone right now?
Not really, since I'm thinking about my answers to these questions!

49. Have you ever been to Six Flags?
I've been to Great Adventure, but I'm not sure it was a Six Flags park at the time.

50. How did you get your worst scar?
Delivering an 8 lb., 12 oz. baby by C-section on July 9, 1984

When I first got the notification that I'd been tagged for this but hadn't looked at it yet, I thought I was supposed to come up with 50 questions I never have been asked. I'm glad I was wrong, because it turns out that would be very difficult! I did come up with 10, though:

  1. Could you please get that down off the top shelf for me?
  2. What's your favorite beer?
  3. What's the best time to visit Antarctica?
  4. Have you ever seen the rain?
  5. What's your favorite body of water?
  6. Where do you want to retire?
  7. Sailing or skateboarding?
  8. Do these pants make my butt look big?
  9. Do you know the way to San Jose?
  10. Are there any stupid questions?
Feel free to tag yourself to answer any or all of the 50 questions - or come up with one question that you (or I) may have never been asked!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Springtime at the Movies, part two: Where to Watch?

Let's all go to the lobby...follow the dancing popcorn!

Since I already had a movie-review post this week, I thought it might be a good time to join in on the weekly Movie Meme hosted at The Bumbles Blog. It goes up there on Mondays, but as y'all know, I almost never do these things on their appointed day, so here it is on Wednesday. This week's question:

How do you watch movies? Do you wait in line for the big premier at the theater? Do you savor trips to the local video store perusing the titles up and down the aisle? Or maybe you only watch them from home as they arrive in your mailbox, inbox, or on T.V. And maybe who you watch them with dictates how you watch them?

I'm definitely a moviegoer, but I'm a selective one. I don't feel a need to see everything that comes out, and it's OK if I wait until it's been out a week or two before I get to the theater. Sometimes I'll go to the movies nearly every weekend for a couple of months, and then there will be a period where nothing interests me for weeks. I don't mind going to the movies alone, but fortunately for me, my husband likes to go just as much as I do - and we're usually interested in the same movies, which is also fortunate.

We're a little bit snobby about movie theaters, though - we avoid the older ones that don't have stadium seating. We usually go to afternoon showings, since they're a little less expensive and crowded - but in the theater, you can't tell what time of day it is anyway. We have a decent multiplex in town, and we go there to see movies with the kids and "ordinary" movies. Sometimes we want more of an experience, though - we may have been eagerly anticipating the movie, and it's one that rates special big-screen viewing with few distractions. Our favorite moviegoer's paradise is the ArcLight, a "black box" theater with state-of-the-art sound and projection where you can get reserved (and very comfortable) seating when you buy tickets in advance, online. Waiting in line is no fun, so it's nice to be able to plan ahead a little and avoid it. It costs a little more, but the amenities - and lack of pre-feature commercials - are worth it. A new Muvico theater has opened a little closer to us, and we're looking forward to trying it out to see how it compares to the ArcLight as a movie destination.

We like watching movies at home on DVD too, but we're usually DVD buyers rather than renters. Most of the movies we buy are ones we saw in theaters, though; if we already know we liked them, we know they're worth owning. But since DVDs on sale don't cost much more than a trade paperback, sometimes we'll take a chance on one we haven't seen before. We sometimes have movie afternoons or evenings at home with the kids, but given my tendency to doze off on the couch, we have to start a "movie night" fairly early. We're not really in the habit of renting; I used to do it a lot, but these days I find the video store just one more place I'd rather not go. Occasionally my husband will comment that some movie or another "might be worth renting," though, so we're seriously thinking about giving Netflix a shot.

We rarely watch movies on "regular" TV for one reason - commercials - and we don't subscribe to any premium channels. Our digital cable does have a few movie channels that limit commercials in the package we get, though, and my husband checks their listings pretty regularly. If he spots something good coming up, he'll set it up to record on the DVR, and we'll watch it...eventually. I don't have much interest in watching movies online, since the quality on our TV is so much better, but I'd be open to downloading them to a TV-connected box to watch them there. But truthfully, a theater is my favorite place to see movies - at home, I'm too easily distracted (and the couch is too comfortable).

How do you usually watch movies - and is that way your favorite way to see them?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Springtime at the Movies, part one: Triple Feature!

It's movie-going season! It doesn't seem like it was all that long ago that "summer movie season" started around Memorial Day weekend - the unofficial start of everything else summer - but now it kicks up near the beginning of May, which is barely halfway through spring! In any case, after a couple of months in a dry spell, it seems like we've been in one theater or another almost every weekend since late April. I haven't done full reviews of any of the movies I've seen, though, and I'm not planning to at this point - this is just to get caught up before I forget everything!

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

[ X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE Poster ] [Click on image to enlarge]
I honestly was not terribly psyched up to see this movie, which was officially the First Big Release of Summer 2009 - the trailers had some exciting scenes, but I wasn't getting any sense of a story from them. While there's good reason to complain about movie trailers that tell too much, I do like them to tell me something - I'm rarely pre-sold on a movie just because of its franchise, title, or stars. I'd like to know a little of what the movie's about before I plan to see it. But I liked the X-Men movies, and Logan/Wolverine is one of the most intriguing characters in that group...and he's played by Hugh Jackman! Who was I kidding about wanting to know a story? I went into this one without very high expectations, hoping to be pleasantly surprised; and while this wasn't The Dark Knight or even Iron Man, I can't say it was a letdown.

The story actually wasn't bad, though. Logan looks pretty good for a guy his age, which I'm estimating as at least 175 - who knew? The movie was entertaining, stayed pretty consistent with X-Men conventions (to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge, anyway), and did make Logan's backstory quite interesting. It was a bit confusing at times, though, and could have used a little lighter hand and more humor in spots. I thought it worked effectively as a prequel and in setting up the first X-Men movie, but that also leads me to wonder whether any other X-Men will be getting "origin" stories - is there an audience for any character's story other than Wolverine's?

Star Trek

I grew up on Star Trek, have watched every one of the spinoff series for at least part of its run, and have seen all
[ STAR TREK Poster ] [Click on image to enlarge]
the movies - clearly I'm in the target audience for the movie that went back to the franchise's roots. I was very psyched up to see this - and Tall Paul has downloaded every trailer for it that's come out since last summer, so he was looking forward to it even more than I was. Expectations were high, and as we started hearing and reading more and more good reviews, the excitement level ramped up. It's nice when anticipation is fulfilled.

It's safe to say that I was not at all disappointed with J. J. Abrams' re-interpretation of a classic. I was pulled in from the opening scene, and I thought the pacing was just right - no slow patches, but no real moments of sensory overload either. The casting was excellent as well; it was fun to see characters we know so well re-interpreted by different actors, and yet still feel like the characters we know. I particularly liked Chris Pine as Kirk and Karl Urban as McCoy - and next time, I want to see more of Simon Pegg as Scotty! I enjoyed a story that showed events that had only been referred to in prior stories, and readily accepted the premise that made this story possible. I also appreciated the little asides and references thrown in for long-time Trek and Abrams fans (there are some nods to Alias and Lost). Even with all that said, though, I really think anyone who enjoys a good story with strong characters, lots of action, and liberal dashes of humor can find something to like in Star Trek, even if they have no previous familiarity with it at all (but does such a person even exist?)

We waited until the second weekend to see this so we could go with our Trekkiest friends, but Tall Paul has already seen it a second time with Spencer, and I'm pretty sure I'll go back to see it in the theater at least once myself. The DVD will undoubtedly be in our home library by the end of this year (unless it's not out yet by then - but won't they want it on the market for the holidays?).

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

[ NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN Poster ] [Click on image to enlarge]
The first Night at the Museum movie was an enjoyable comedy/fantasy for both kids and parents, and the sequel is in a similar vein. The whole movie takes place in one night, as (former) museum night watchman Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) tries to rescue some of the Museum of Natural History's discarded exhibits from the archives underneath the Smithsonian. The golden tablet that brings the exhibits to life at night has come with them - although it wasn't supposed to - and it happens to work at the Smithsonian too, where someone else wants to claim it. Since the Smithsonian is a much larger museum, the ensuing chaos is on a much larger scale.

The comedy seemed to be on a larger scale as well; I thought the first movie was funny, but I don't remember laughing quite as much at that one as I did this time. Battle of the Smithsonian is light and silly-funny, but the humor is almost non-stop and the story is enjoyable. Ben Stiller is pretty good at playing obnoxious characters, but he isn't one here, and I like him much better. The funniest addition to the cast of characters is Hank Azaria as the Egyptian pharaoh who wants the golden tablet, and Amy Adams is adorable as Amelia Earhart. Christopher Guest's look as Ivan the Terrible seemed to have been borrowed from his role as Count Rugen in The Princess Bride, which is fine with me (he didn't have the sixth finger, though), but there wasn't enough Owen Wilson for my taste. If you're a fan of NBC's Thursday-night comedies, keep your eyes peeled for cameos.

We've been talking about a family trip to Washington D.C. next year, and now I really hope we'll be able to do it; our appetites have definitely been whetted for seeing the Smithsonian.

Bonus Pre-season Feature: I Love You, Man
This was actually a late-winter/spring-doldrums release, but since we saw it in late April, I'm counting it. I'd be surprised if it's still in theaters now - two months in movie time is kind of like dog years - but if you're a comedy fan and a movie renter, you might want to put it on your list.

A surprisingly sweet adult comedy about a guy who's definitely not a "guy's guy," I Love You, Man chronicles [ I LOVE YOU, MAN Poster ] [Click on image to enlarge]
Peter's attempts to make some male friends after he gets engaged - and realizes he has no one to include 
in his wedding party. "Set-ups" by his mother his brother don't quite work out, but when he meets Sydney at an open house - Peter sells real estate, and Sydney's really looking for single women rather than a house, but anyway - they hit it off.

I enjoyed a male-bonding story that didn't revolve around sports and/or chasing women, and where the humor
came from the characters. My husband (who's a bit like Peter, and he'll tell you so himself) and I related to the social-misfit aspects of the characters, and we got a lot of good laughs. I liked the casting of Paul Rudd as Peter and Jason Segel (my favorite from Freaks and Geeks) as Sydney, and appreciated the fact that one of the things the characters connected over was Rush, a favorite band of every geeky guy I've ever met.

Have you been to the movies lately? What have you enjoyed - and what do you think people should avoid?

(all poster images found on MoviePoster.com)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday Book Talk: "Dating Jesus," by Susan Campbell

I received this book for review through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers Program.

Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl by Susan Campbell
Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl
Susan Campbell
Beacon Press, 2009 (hardcover) (ISBN 0807010669 / 9780807010662)
Memoir, 215 pages

First sentence: "The devil is in an air bubble floating beneath my baptismal robe."

Random clip (page 149): "Though Roman Catholic, Flannery O'Connor was Christ-haunted. No matter how far she traveled or what she wrote, Christ was floating right by her, about a foot behind, whispering in her ear."

Book description: By the age of twelve, Susan Campbell had been flirting with Jesus for some time, and in her mind, Jesus had been flirting back. Why wouldn't he? She went to his house three times a week, sat in his living room, listened to his stories, loudly and lustily sang songs to him. So, one Sunday morning, she walked to the front of her fundamentalist Christian church to profess her love for Jesus and to be baptized.
Susan Campbell takes us into the world of fundamentalism — a world where the details really, really matter. And she shows us what happened when she finally came to admit that in her faith, women would never be allowed a seat at the throne.

Comments: Despite the fact I haven't been a regular churchgoer for several years - or maybe because of it - I still find religion a fascinating subject. I'm interested in both academic-style discussion of religious topics and personal accounts of experience with organized religion, especially struggles with it. I'm pretty sure that ten years of living in the Bible Belt contribute to a particular curiosity about fundamentalist beliefs and practices, and my own issues as a woman living within Catholicism draw me toward other women's stories of their own religious issues. Susan Campbell's Dating Jesus brings two of those lines of interest together.

Campbell is a journalist with the Hartford Courant, and her book, subtitled A Memoir of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl, is a little different than I expected - lighter on the memoir, and heavier on history and analysis connecting fundamentalist teachings about women's roles and the feminist movement in the 19th and 20th centuries. Campbell's approach is thematic rather than strictly chronological, and she usually places the events she shares from her personal history into a larger context. Regardless of the emphasis, however, it was a pretty quick read, and accessible and thought-provoking throughout. (Well, thought-provoking for me, anyway, but I've already said this is an area I think about quite a bit.)

Campbell's family became members of a fundamentalist church in Missouri when her mother married her stepfather, and young Susan initially embraced it wholeheartedly, Bible reading, outreach ministry, and all. However, as she grew into her teens and young adulthood in the 1970's under the influence of second-wave feminism, she began to question the restrictive roles that her church demanded of women - but she came from a background that didn't encourage questioning. Certainty, rooted in the belief in the literal truth of the Bible, is one of the hallmarks of fundamentalist thought. On that note, I found the distinctions Campbell makes between fundamentalism and evangelical Christianity enlightening; not coming from either tradition, I've tended to lump them together.

Campbell spent several years as an adult studying at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, and calls herself a "seeker" these days. She is without a "church home" now, and seems to have mixed feelings about that. She has re-framed some of her understanding about Christianity and women though direct reference to verses about Jesus' interactions with women in the Gospels themselves, which seem to be much more woman-friendly than a lot of "official" Christian teaching, and seems to see some hope in a renewed emphasis on "social ministry" by some congregations.

I think I had expected the balance between personal and political in this book to be different, but I still found it a worthwhile read. I'm also a regular reader of Campbell's Dating Jesus blog, which she updates frequently with links and commentary about both topics touched on in the book and less related posts. (And she does update frequently, sometimes with very short posts - someone needs a Twitter presence, methinks!)

Rating: 3.75/5

Buy the book:

Other bloggers' reviews:
Shelf Love
Tower of Books

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link in comments or e-mail me at 3.rsblog AT Gmail DOT com, and I'll edit this post to include it!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Review 5-23: This week around the blogiverse

Bulletin Board
*** Laura from L.A. Story was the winner of my Mojo Mom giveaway - congratulations! The publisher has sent your copy on its way to you.***

*** Book bloggers NOT going to BEA (Book Expo America) in New York next week, this is for you (and that includes me!): You're invited to BEATwittyparty on Friday, May 29, from 8-10 PM Eastern time, on Twitter! Rebecca at The Book Lady's Blog is working on the plans, so get signed up!
(W)ho doesn’t want a weekend in NYC to hang out with fellow book lovers, meet authors, make connections, and even attend signings by other bloggers? So I suggested that we should have a pity party, nay, a Twitty party, and the concept of #BEAtwittyparty was born.

I’m just in the initial planning stages, but I’m thinking we should pick a time to designate a few hours for everyone to sign on to Twitter and hang out and pretend we’re drinking fabulous (and expensive) cocktails in New York instead of sitting on the couch in our pajamas. Participating bloggers can run giveaways, book discussions, author interviews, whatever makes you happy. It will be an opportunity to connect with each other and our readers and to drown our sorrows.

Newbies in my Google Reader
Amy Anderson: FunnyYellowMom (in the "LA Moms Bloggers" blogroll)
Amy Reads Good Books (a different Amy, in the Books blogroll)
Vroman's Bookstore Blog (support your local - or regional, whatever's applicable - independent bookseller!)

Dispatches from across the blogiverse
The economy makes a bad situation worse, but there are ways to help - and places that help those who want to help.

The Internet, where families can hang out - but maybe not with each other

The power of Magical Thinking

When you meet up in person with someone you met online and it feels like you know each other well already - it's because you probably do.

It's always a good idea to read the instructions

Sometimes I forget that SoCal doesn't have the bad-traffic market cornered - but riding this bus might be even worse

The endless TBR stack is all too familiar, but what about all that TBV TV in your DVR?

Speaking of TV...

      Another season of Our National Obsession, American Idol, ended this week - and I have to be honest: I just wasn't too heavily invested this year. (I would have been happy to watch Season 7 in re-runs all spring so David Cook could win again. Anyone else up for that?) I was also the only one in my house who liked front-runner Adam Lambert at all, which took some of the fun out of it. But Adam didn't get my votes in the finale; I sent them the other way, and I was very pleasantly surprised by Kris Allen's win. He'd been winning me over for the last few weeks with his approach to his song selections, and I do tend to like contestants who play instruments (again, Season 7!). I hope both of these guys go on to great careers. Meanwhile, here are five reasons why Kris' victory maybe shouldn't have been such a surprise, and a connection between AI and the Newbery Medal (thanks to Natasha (@mawbooks) for Tweeting that link!)

A conversation to make a Van Halen fan cry

This weekend is the "unofficial" start of summer in the USA - are you ready? Take the Vacation Aptitude Test!

One bad apple, via Not Always Right:
(An elderly man approaches me to purchase a Mac laptop for his granddaughter.)
Customer: “Hey, I have some questions about that laptop.”
Me: “Sure, what can I help you with?”
Customer: “That laptop is an Apple, right?”
Me: “Yes.”
Customer: “I’m buying it for my granddaughter, but she’s allergic to apples. Can I get the same one, but in another fruit?”
Me: “…what? You do know that the laptops aren’t made of apples?”
Customer: “Then why display only an apple? It should be a selection.”
Me: “…I’ll get someone to help you.”

Bookmarks: Reading-related reading
A few rules for writers; thinking about how a writer evolves

Adventures in bookselling, volume 15 (Rebecca's got some good material for Not Always Right, right here!)

Do you trade books online - or want to start? S. Krishna begins a series on book trading that will discuss various sites that make it possible, starting with PaperbackSwap.

*** Voting ends tomorrow, so this is the last time I will ask you to vote for my dog Gypsy in A Novel Menagerie's "Beautiful Baby Contest!" Here's some encouragement, if you need it:

How can you resist?

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, May 22, 2009

TBIF - Thank blog it's Friday! This week in memes and books (5-22-09)

NEW: Reading Status Report

I've seen many other book bloggers post weekly and/or monthly recaps of their reading, blogging, and other book-related activity, and have kicked around doing the same. Time to quit dribbling and shoot for the goal! This will be a weekly/biweekly feature, depending on what else is happening.

Currently reading: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff, for an upcoming TLC Book Tour

Teaser: "The thing about Heber is that I could never quite tell what he wanted - my mom out of jail or me out of his office. 'Come on,' I said. 'Not everyone goes around lying.'" (page 137)

Next in line: The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks, received via LibraryThing Early Reviewers
After that: I don't know yet, but it will probably NOT be a review book!

Reviews posted this week: The Senator's Wife, by Sue Miller
Next review: Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl, by Susan Campbell

Newest additions to my LibraryThing "to be read" section:

Number of books currently tagged "to be read" in LT: 195

Tuesday Thingers, hosted at Wendi's Book Corner: "Go Mobile with Library Thing!"

Wendi says:

Today I discovered that you can browse Library Thing on a mobile device (phone, PDA, smart phone, etc). All you have to do is add /m/ at the end of the LT address: www.librarything.com/m/ !!

What can you see when you get there? You can find out all about it here, but for starters: You can search your catalog's title, author, tag and ISBN fields, browse your catalog (as sorted by title, author, or date entered), and see your recommendations.

Questions: Were you aware that LT had a mobile version of the site? Do you ever visit sites via a mobile device? Can you think of anything this would help you with?

My Answer: As soon as I read about this, I tried using my phone's browser to access LT Mobile - success! I have the page bookmarked on my phone now.

I have a web-enabled Sony Ericsson cell phone, but I don't use it for web access all that often because of the small screen. (My husband's beloved iPhone is better for that sort of thing. He'd be glad to tell you a hundred other things it's ALSO better for...) When I'm otherwise offline, I do use my phone to access my e-mail, read blogs through Google Reader's mobile interface, and sometimes to Twitter.

LT Mobile can only be used for lookup and search; you can't add books to your collection or edit them via cell phone. Still, having mobile access to my LT collection could be very helpful in bookstores when I can't remember whether or not I already have a particular book, so I think this is a mobile app I'll use pretty often. I don't list books in LT unless I actually possess them, but if I used a "wish list" tag to catalog books I want to read but don't own yet, LT Mobile could be even more helpful in bookstores - as a shopping list!

Booking Through Thursday: "A Second First Time?"

btt button

What book would you love to be able to read again for the first time?
(Interestingly, Deb thought that she had thought this one up herself, but when she started scrolling through the Suggestions, found that Rebecca had suggested almost exactly this question a couple months ago. So, they both get credit!)

This is a GOOD question. My initial response to it was "none." I've mentioned before (just last week, actually) that I rarely re-read books anymore, and haven't done it for awhile. That's a choice I've made mostly due to time, but part of it is that I do think you can't go home again - and I know that sometimes my reaction to a book is amplified because I'm reading it in the right place, at the right time. Even if I could read the book itself again for the first time, I might not be reading it under the same circumstances, so I wouldn't experience it the same way.

But wait a minute...I was missing the point! The question's really about going back to a time as if you'd never read the book before (sort of like becoming a virgin again, I guess). There would be no prior experience to compare it with.

Then I gave the question some more thought, and considered keeping my answer as "none," since I knew I couldn't pick just one. Then I decided I was over-thinking the whole thing, and chose to approach the question based on when I'd first read the book (which is still over-thinking it, but anyway...). I ended up with the following sampling for what could be a much longer list:

First read in childhood: A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
First read during college (but not for college): East of Eden, John Steinbeck
First read post-college, by age 30: The Robber Bride, Margaret Atwood
First read by age 35: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott
First read in the current decade: Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides

Your turn - name a book that you'd like to be able to re-experience for the first time.

Friday Fill-ins #125

1. Moving isn't so bad; it's the packing and unpacking that suck.

2. When I leave work on Friday, I feel like I've been set free.

3. My best quality is my memory...wait, I forgot, what was the question?

4. Sometimes it all falls apart in the details.

5. In nearly 10 years, I've gotten almost ten years older :-).

6. A clone to split my to-do list with is what I need right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to nothing in particular, tomorrow my plans include errands in the morning and hopefully some fun later and Sunday, I want to not be a social disaster at the party we're going to (at my boss' house - oh boy)!

And on Monday, I'll be glad for an extra day of "weekend!" How about you?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Hometown Story (Weekly Geeks 2009-18): Walking in Memphis - with books

This week's Geekery comes from Softdrink (Jill) of Fizzy Thoughts:

Take us on a literary tour of your hometown!

Share your fun literary facts about the town or area where you live. You can talk about famous (or not so famous) authors who live there, novels that have been set in your area, or any other literary facts that you know about where you live. Feel free to embellish with pictures of places and/or authors, maps of the area, and fun facts about the authors.

As usual, feel free to personalize this. Don’t like your hometown? Pick another! Do you live in a literary wasteland? Feel free to expand and discuss a region. Feel like returning to a place you lived 20 years ago? Go for it
I was born in New York City, whose literary history runs very deep and can be done justice far better by other people. I currently live in Los Angeles, which is more quickly associated with TV shows and movies than it is with books, but has starred in quite a lot of written fiction as well (not all of which is noir detective novels either, just for the record), which can also be done justice better by others. But when I think "home," I still tend to think of the Southern city where my son grew up. Memphis is "The Home of the Blues and the Birthplace of Rock 'n' Roll" (making it Tennessee's other "Music City"), but not all of its stories have been told in song. I'd like to mention a few of those that weren't.

Memphis may be best known among readers these days for its part in John Grisham's early fiction. Grisham is originally from the northwest Mississippi area that bumps up against the Memphis city The Rainmaker by John Grishamlimits, and he began his legal career there before he became a writer. His breakthrough second novel, The Firm, tells the story of a young attorney who discovers that the downtown-Memphis firm he joined right out of Harvard Law School is actually involved in some very illegal doings. (Prior to The Firm, the "Memphis Mafia" referred to some of Elvis Presley's closest associates.) I read this one around the time I moved to Memphis myself, and was excited to identify places from the book in real life - and vice versa - as well as to quibble over inaccurate geographic details. Grisham's sixth novel, The Rainmaker, is also set in Memphis and concerns a young lawyer, but Rudy Baylor's degree comes from Memphis State (now the University of Memphis) rather than Harvard, and he knows some of the city's seedier areas far better than Mitch McDeere ever will (especially considering that Mitch and his wife Abby disappeared into the Caribbean after they busted Bendini, Lambert, and Locke, and probably haven't been back to Memphis since).
A Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
In a completely different vein, Peter Taylor's Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel A Summons to Memphis is a story of family drama, in which a son is called back to his hometown by his sisters in an effort to intervene with their father's planned second marriage. This is a character-driven story, but the local details establish a sense of place.

One of my favorite Memphis novels concerns a community that one wouldn't readily associate with the city. The Ladies Auxiliary (Ballantine Reader's Circle) by Tova MirvisDriving through East Memphis, between Poplar and Walnut Grove, Mendenhall and Yates, on a Saturday morning, one might see nicely-dressed families out walking. Memphis' long hot summers and year-round humidity tend to make walking an unpopular activity (no matter what the song says), but these families are belong to Memphis' Orthodox Jewish population, and it's Shabbat. Tova Mirvis' memorable first novel, The Ladies Auxiliary, takes the reader into this community as it - in a story told by the community itself, narrating as "we" - is shaken up by an unconventional new arrival from New York City. Mirvis' second novel, The Outside World, also concerns this community (which happens to be where Mirvis grew up herself), but from the new-arrivals' viewpoint. I enjoyed that one as well, and am hoping that Mirvis will publish a third novel one of these days.

There is one disadvantage to visiting Memphis through books, though - you miss out on the food, especially the world-famous barbecue! It may be just as well, though, since it's hard to read neatly while eating ribs.

Has your hometown, or favorite city, played a starring role in any of your favorite books?

*** I brought quite a few things from Memphis with me when I moved to SoCal, but my favorite is my dog Gypsy. Please visit A Novel Menagerie and vote for her in the "Beautiful Baby Contest!" We would both appreciate it.***

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Because someone asked: Blogging about Blogging

Ms. Mazzola at State of Denmark has taken on a "senior project" of her own to keep her students company; she's doing some research on blogs and blogging. She's posted some questions for bloggers, and if you'd like to be part of her unscientific, self-selected survey group, you're welcome to answer them on your own blog and leave a link in the comments on the "project" post.

This is my contribution to the effort. It's not the first time I've mentioned some of these things here, but this time it's for posterity and in the interest of science.

1.  How long have you been blogging?
I've been doing this for roughly two and a half years. My first post on The 3 R's was published on March 16, 2007. I did have another blog for a couple of months in the late summer and fall of 2006, but I discontinued and deleted it because I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do with it. When I came up with a reason for the blog to exist, I started up again under a new name and URL.

2.  Why did you start blogging?
I wanted to have a record of the books I read and some of the details about them. I didn't really think in terms of "book reviews" at first, but as I discovered other people who blogged about their own reading, my approach expanded. However, even at the beginning, I didn't think I'd blog about just books, since I don't read just books. My earlier blogging experiment had shown me that what I read on other blogs sometimes inspired responses to topics that couldn't be contained in a comment. I also thought that I might sometimes want to talk about personal experiences, opinions, and other interests besides reading, so I wanted to keep my options open - hence the blog title: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness.

3.  What have you found to be the benefits of blogging?
In no particular order, let me name a few:
  • I have a record of significant experiences in my life since I began blogging, in both words and pictures.
  • I have a place to express my thoughts and ideas - one that has no rules except for those I make for myself.
  • I have a place to develop and practice my written-communication skills.
  • Blogging on my own has led to opportunities to write and blog in other places, and that's given me exposure (as its own reward - no one's been interested in paying me yet).
  • I've discovered so many interesting people who I never would have crossed paths with otherwise, and have come to consider quite a number of them friends.
  • I get to host my own little get-together every day, in the comments section of my posts.
  • I have a record of the books I read and some of the details about them (which was the point in the first place, after all)!

4.  How many times a week do you post an entry?
I usually post once a day, six days a week (Monday - Saturday). I may take two days off some weeks, but at this point, it's rare for me to miss more than three days of posting unless there are special circumstances, like being on vacation, sick, or buried in other work. I try to draft my posts in advance and schedule them, and that helps keep things consistent. Although I did sometimes post more than once a day in the early months of the blog, I try to avoid it now.

5.  How many different blogs do you read on a regular basis?
I currently subscribe to about 500 blogs through Google Reader(!), which I sort into folders based on their content categories. Using the "list view" for Reader, I do skim the post title and snippet for every feed item. In most cases, if that grabs me, I'll open the item to read it in full, but there are some blogs that I'll read no matter what. I always prefer to read the post in Reader rather than click through a partial feed, although I understand why people use them. Considering that some blogs update multiple times a day and some are much less active (and some may be dead or dormant but still listed in my subscriptions), I'd estimate that I read at least half of my subscriptions regularly. I'm not sure I want to come up with a more exact count.

6.  Do you comment on other people’s blogs?
Yes - often on some, occasionally on others, but overall probably less than I'd like to. Sometimes I'll link to a post in my weekend round-up, "Saturday Review: This week around the blogiverse," rather than leave a comment - it's faster for me, and I hope the "link love" gets more people to check out what I consider an outstanding post.

7.  Do you keep track of how many visitors you have?  Is so, are you satisfied with your numbers?
Lately, I'm slightly less obsessed with my stats. I keep a close eye on my subscriber numbers, because I hope that they're my core audience, and while they've grown a lot this year, I always hope to bring more into the fold. I keep regular tabs on my daily visitors as well, although on most days, some of them are probably also subscribers. I love getting comments, and I wouldn't mind seeing more people stop by to share their thoughts. My numbers aren't bad right now, but I'm always a bit anxious that they'll start moving in the wrong direction!

8.  Do you ever regret a post that you wrote?
I've felt bad about some posts, usually when I've put a lot of effort into crafting them and have been especially happy with how they've turned out, but they've generated very little response or commentary. That makes me feel like I've missed the mark. Other than that, I really can't think of any posts I wish I hadn't written - but maybe I've just been lucky that none have really started firestorms (so far).

9.  Do you think your audience has a true sense of who you are based on your blog?
I think they may not have a complete sense of who I am, because I don't write about every detail of my life, but I do believe that the impression I give my readers is mostly accurate - although I think I may come across as more outgoing and sure of myself in writing than I do in person. However, I've been lucky enough to meet a number of bloggers in person during the last year, and since some of them have said that I was just the way they expected me to be based on my blog, I guess they are getting a true picture. And yet they've liked me anyway - go figure!

10.  Do you blog under your real name?
Yes. I decided to do that early on because if blogging ever led to other writing opportunities, I thought it should be possible to connect them. I use just my first name here, but I use my full name in other places.

11.  Are there topics that you would never blog about?
I don't have an official list "off-limits" list, but yes, there are some things I'm unlikely to talk about here (never say never...). Because I do blog under my real name and I do hope it opens up other writing opportunities, I'd like to avoid being connected to anything with high embarrassment potential, if I can manage it. I wouldn't blog about anything too personal to a family member or close friend, because that's their story, not mine, and I really don't want to offend or hurt anyone deliberately. I blog about current events and controversial issues only when I have a strong personal reaction to them. I rarely blog about my work except in very broad terms. I probably wouldn't blog about something that truly doesn't matter to anyone except me - that's for a diary, not a blog. I think that covers it, in general terms; if I answered this question in more detail, I would be blogging about those topics.

12.  What is the theme/topic of your blog?
Again, it's all in title, Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness - because "it's not just a title, it's a mission statement."

13.  Do you have more than one blog?  If so, why?
I contribute to a group blog where I post at least twice a month, sometimes on topics that don't really fit so well over here. Other than that, I really have no desire to maintain more than one blog of my own. I like the range of content I have here, and it's quite enough to keep up with all by itself, thanks!

Over at Trish's Reading Nook, she posed some blog-related questions in a "Sunday Salon" post:

Do your family, friends, acquaintances know that you blog? How do you bring it up in conversation? How do they react to your blogging habits? Are they mostly receptive or do they look at you a little sideways? What are your experiences with mixing your blogging world with your personal world? Or do you keep the two absolutely separate?
Some family and friends know that I blog, and some don't. I have a link to the blog as part of my e-mail signature, so if we communicate that way, it's easy enough for them to find out about it. I'll mention it casually in conversation sometimes, but unless the person I'm talking with picks up on it and seems interested, I usually won't pursue the topic. I really don't go out of my way to keep it from anyone, but since I don't have many off-line friends who are bloggers themselves, I don't go out of my way to tell people about it either, because some people really don't get it - yes, I've gotten more than a few of those "sideways" looks. And even those who do get it sometimes express confusion or concern about the amount of time I spend on this pretty serious hobby of mine.

It's honestly worked out better to mix people from my online world into my offline one than vice versa. I haven't had much luck encouraging family or friends to take up blogging (although some have become active Facebook users). On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier in this post, I've had opportunities to meet bloggers in "real-life" settings, and it's been fun every time - I really enjoy having the chance to do that, and I feel like it helps build up relationships that already have a good footing. These folks definitely do "get it."

I have more blogging-about-blogging thoughts that have been brewing, but I have a feeling that I've blogged about blogging enough for one post, so I'll save those for another time. Care to do some of your own blogging about blogging in the comments here?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Flashback: 1979 (Weekend Assignment #267)

In honor of her 30th wedding anniversary - which is TODAY! Happy Anniversary, Karen and John! - Karen has invited us to take a trip back in time:

Weekend Assignment #267: On Tuesday, John and I will have been married to 30 years. If you're old enough to remember the late 1970s, please tell us what you were up to way back then. If not, pretend I asked about the late 1980s. If you're too young to do that, I'll be very surprised, but go ahead and tell me about your life in the late 1990s!

Extra Credit: What, in your opinion, was the best thing about the 1970s, if anything?

30 years ago this week, I lived in St. Petersburg, Florida with my parents and younger sister, and I was nearing the end of my freshman year of high school. The fact that I still remember my class schedule from back then may have something to do with my inability now to remember what I walked into the room intending to do - I have an extreme case of Brain Clutter. So let me share some of that clutter with you:

1st period: Spanish I (I took four years of Spanish, and won the Foreign Language achievement award at graduation. I can still recognize some vocabulary and conjugations, and have a somewhat better working knowledge of the language than mi esposo, SeƱor Vasquez.)
2nd period: Algebra I
3rd period: P.E.
4th period: Religion (it was a Catholic high school)
5th period: English (I placed out of freshman English and was taking the sophomore-level class. The second-semester unit was Media and Communications, which dovetailed nicely with my WKRP-inspired career ambitions at the time.)
6th period: World History (My four years of foreign language could have replaced this class, but since I wasn't sure that I would want to take four years of Spanish at the time, I figured I'd just get it out of the way. The seniors in the class were the ones who bailed - or were forced by bad third-year grades - out of fourth-year foreign language classes and had to get this credit with the ninth-graders.)

My extra-curricular was Chorus (until I got kicked out after a disagreement with the director, who was also my Spanish teacher, so...awkward! Next year I switched to the other Spanish teacher and was asked to return to Chorus, though, so...bygones!). My school didn't offer visual-arts classes, but I had a sketchbook with me at all times, along with whatever book I was currently reading (that's a very old habit of mine).
I was the only one of my girlfriends at the time who didn't wear braces. When they professed their jealousy, I reminded them that they'd be done with braces in a year or two, but I'd be wearing glasses forever. (They've been contact lenses since I was 18, but since I'm not a good candidate for LASIK, it's technically still true.) As always, I was the shortest girl in the class, but I had a crush on one of the tallest boys. (I still do, but it's a different one now - and he was a high-school junior in California at the time.) Despite the fact we saw each other in two classes and talked on the phone often after school, my best friend Donna and I also became pen pals; long letters gave us the chance to talk about things that were harder to discuss in person, for various reasons. (My higher comfort level with expressing myself in writing, as opposed to speaking, goes way back.)

Wikipedia can tell you all kinds of things that were happening in the world during 1979. Being fifteen years old, I wasn't paying all that much attention to most of them. I was reading a lot of young-adult (and some not-so-young - I think I read The Thorn Birds for the first time that year) fiction, and keeping up with my favorite TV shows. (However, TV was last week's Assignment, so I'm not going to get back into it today.) I also listened to the radio a lot. Those were the days when I was glued to "American Top 40 with CaseyKasem " on Sunday mornings, and faithfully recorded lists of each week's top songs in spiral notebooks - someday, they might have historical significance! Disco was still huge in '79, but I turned my back on it and tried to purge it from my record collection; I even gave my copy of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack to Donna, who wasn't sick of disco yet. My tastes were shifting toward mainstream rock, as well as emerging punk and New Wave, encouraged by the area progressive-rock station,WQSR -FM in Sarasota, during its last few months in existence - thank you for introducing me to Elvis Costello, among so many others who remain favorites today.

Since I was a kid during most of the '70's, it's hard for me to answer the extra-credit part of the question, other than to say that it wasn't really a bad time to be a kid. I've never missed much about the decade, though - and since it seems that it's influenced a lot of the fashions of the last few years, I feel like I'm still not missing it. Looking at some of the clothes and hairstyles my 14-year-old and her classmates wear, sometimes it's like I'm right back in 1979 myself.

What was going on in your life 30 years ago? 

***This has nothing to do with 30 years ago - there's a favor I'd like to ask you right now: please go to A Novel Menagerie and vote for my dog Gypsy in the "Beautiful Baby Contest!" Both of us would really appreciate it!***