Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tidbits: Let's read to our hipster babies, squee over upcoming books, furrow our brows, and jump in our Deloreans to visit a museum

It's been a while!  I'd say I'm sorry, but it stopped raining and the sun came out, and suddenly my computer screen held less allure than say, the great outdoors.  And/or my super crazy month o'fun finally slowed down to a speed allowing this (weddings, graduation parties, friends in town, visiting places, the wilds of finding new roomies on craigslist, road races, end of school, etc. You get the idea; everyone is busy in May!).  But as the great outdoors gave me both a sunburn and more mosquito bites than I can count this glorious and action packed Memorial Day weekend, I'm back to being an indoor kid for a few hours.  Thusly, I give you some tidbits I've been hoarding and will solemnly swear that I am up to only good and will post at least three new Le Creuset Challenge recipes this week.  Enjoy the following tidbits I've been hoarding away with your morning coffee!
  • Hey Indiana Jones: Let's jump in our Delorean and go on a hot date to the OG (original) museum in Babylonia! But if I catch you makin' eyes at Princess Ennigaldi, we're done and I'm moving onto Han Solo, capice?
  •  I found a tumblr I'm not sure how to feel about.  The name says it all: Hot Guys Reading Books.  Obvi, initially I was all "Heck yes! Bring it!" But then when I actually clicked and realized some subjects are not, say, willing or even knowing subjects, it made me feel a little squicky.  Because it's totally uncomfortable to realize someone is trying to secretly take your photo, and it's something a lot of ordinary women (not celebrities, they sign on for it in my opinion) deal with all the time.  Creepy guys on trains, I'm looking at you.  Does this then make it okay and level the playing field, even if the creepy factor is removed by the general good of guys reading books and enjoying it publicly?  Am I reverse feministing this?  I just don't know how to feel!
  • Two books I am very excited for:
    • I can't for the life of me remember the gem of a friend who told me about this.  Break out your hipster babies who won't go to sleep!  I've found the perfect book for them, a classic Case of the Terribles:
Go the F**k to Sleep
I know right?
I want to give this to someone sleep deprived but still able to appreciate it.
And/or have someone read it to me as a badtime book. 
That typo is so perfect it's staying. 
    • I've always enjoyed the comic and shopping stylings of Mindy Kaling.  Fun fact: she went to the high school where I work.  After reading her first spot-on essay about why it's okay to not be a high school cool-kid in her upcoming sweet yet sassy book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, made available via publisher preview, I have a new goal/project for the 2011-2012 school year: Get Mindy Kaling To Visit My High School Library.  Say yes, Mindy!  Make your high school library (and librarians) cool by association!  (No worries about cupcakes; food is still not allowed in the library, DUH.)
  • Finally, please read the following casting call specifications for the Hunger Games movie that came up in my twitter feed.  BS alert?  I certainly rolled my eyes.  "'The Beautiful People' Adults?" "Extreme characters of all shapes and sizes?"  What does this even mean?  Just say what you want, casting people. 

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    No and Me, by Delphine de Vigan: Sacre bleu my mind with a translation done right!

    No and MeNo and Me
    by Delphine de Vigan  (Translated by George Miller)
    New York: Bloomsbury, 2010

     ISBN: 978-1-59990-479-5

     Precocious and bright Parisian thirteen-year old Lou is both intelligent enough to have skipped several grades and to realize that she is less mature than her older classmates.   Scientifically minded but shy, Lou panics when forced to publicly announce her plans for a class presentation and announces she will be interviewing a homeless woman, though she knows no homeless people.   Lou takes to the task like one of her scientific product tests, and soon has found her subject: No, a homeless young woman she meets at the train station.   No, and the interviews with her, open Lou's eyes to the heartbreaking world of the homeless that is hidden in plain sight as she comes to realize, visible only to those who choose to see it.   Having suffered a family loss, Lou's mother has been recovering from a deep depression for years, leaving just her often busy father to care for her, thus opening the door for naive Lou to throw herself into what becomes a near scientific obsession with trying to save No, going so far as to convince her parents to let No move in and get back on her feet.  As one may suspect, things don't go exactly as planned, but while there are some hard lessons learned and Lou's childish naivete is shattered, this gorgeously translated, thoughtful, and carefully constructed novel does not fall into cliches and is a testament in many ways to the qualities of hope, perseverance, and unflinching love.  It is strongly recommended for all collections, teens mature enough to understand the complexity of the issues (grades 8-12) and would be an easy sell to many adults as well.  

    Remember when I went on and on about how I thought the translation of The Invisible was...okay?  Well, THIS, my friends, is a translation done right.  The language is gorgeous and moving, almost melodic.  As a former language major, I can assure and reassure you that translating words is easy - translating the feelings and emotions behind them and maintaining the original beauty is a tremendously difficult thing to do.   Behold:
     Sometimes I leave her there, in front of an empty beer glass.  I get up, sit down again, hang around, try to find something to comfort her.  I can't find the words.  I don't manage to go.  She looks down and says nothing.
    And our silence is filled with all the world's impotence.  Our silence is like the return to the origin of things, their true state. (51)
    I mean, DAY-YUM, shiver me timbers.  That's some weighty prose for a book marketed to kids.  That's not even the best of it; I'm just too lazy to search for more.  Mad snaps for George Miller, who has made me want to learn French just to read this in the original too!  But regardless, this book is wonderful because it takes what could turn into a totally cliched everyone's-feeling-sadface story (homelessness, depression, awkward teenage years, feelings of abandonment all around) and doesn't do exactly what you would expect with it in all cases.  Yes, it is not a "we saved a homeless girl, high fives all around" happy ending.  Unless you are possibly a teenager reading this, you realize there is more going on with why No is homeless than just that she has no home and nobody to care for her.  It's easy enough to spot how Lou is both scientifically obsessed with finding a cure for homelessness, starting with Lou, and how No is also filling an emotional void in Lou's life, left when her infant sister passed away and her mother disappeared into a very serious and long lasting depression.  Part of growing up, though, is realizing that not everyone wants to or can be rescued; as de Vigan says "things are always more complicated than they seem," (72).  Despite the potential to tie this story up with a shiny ribbon (and Lordy, Lordy, do I like things tied up), I found the "there is no one solution to this problem" ending quite satisfying, even refreshing because it recognizes that there is no one simple solution to a huge societal problem, but that it is one that we cannot ignore.  Perhaps my favorite passage in the whole book sums this one up, one which both foreshadows what Lou already may know in her heart and yet doesn't realize due to her youth:
    Dogs can get taken in, but the homeless can't.  I thought to myself that if everyone took in a homeless person, if everyone decided to look after just one person,  to help him and be with him, perhaps there'd be fewer of them in the streets.  My father told me that wouldn't work.  Things are always more complicated than they seem.  Things are what they are, and there are lots of things you can't do anything about.  You probably have to accept that if you want to become an adult.  We can send supersonic planes and rockets into space, and identify a criminal from a hair or a tiny flake of skin, and grow a tomato we can keep in the fridge for three weeks without getting a wrinkle, and store millions of pieces of information on a tiny chip.  Yet we're capable of letting people die in the street. (71-72)
    Double DAY-YUM.  Doesn't the optimism and teenage idealism just shank you right in the heart?  Don't you want the solution to be so simple?  And when you put it in those terms, it really is bananas that there is no solution, until, as Lou points out (and learns), you realize as an adult (or really with-it teen) that there are more factors in play than just the obvious problem.  This book takes what is at best a complex, philosophical, societal, moral, ethical, insert a few more descriptive words in here, problem and presents a story that is moving, yet not preachy, and more importantly, frames it in a way that is accessible without dumbing it down or pretending that there is an easy solution.  Well played, Delphine de Vigan! I will certainly be adding this to my collection and encourage all libraries, especially those serving privileged kids, to do so as well.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Tidbits: Carl Sommer and why publishers, librarians, and educators can save the world (together)

    • Okay, anyone care to explain to me why at last glance, in the past month there have been 69 visits (sweet irony) to my post on Carl Sommer's Sex: If You're Scared of the Truth, Don't Read This Book, 61 of them in the past week?  Did a shipment of these just land in libraries across America?  Does the Rapture have anything to do with this?  Anyone care to share why you are googling this title? 
    • This opinion piece (Publishers as Partners in Literacy) on the NYTimes website is such a great argument and explanation on why book donations are not a solution for the book shortages in low income schools, how low cost publishing for low income schools is great, and how it can be mutually beneficial to libraries, the communities they serve, and, yes, THE KIDS. 
      Libraries, as noted, can make a huge difference. In fact, public spending on libraries has been shown to correlate with improved learning outcomes (something that the Congress should remember as it cuts budgets). But many of the families that First Book targets lack a strong tradition of reading or library use. Parents who struggle with their own literacy issues often feel ashamed by their lack of education, and some feel out of place in libraries and schools. A middle class adult who has grown up with books might say that these parents should just get over it and help their kids read — but that’s not how behavior change happens. Where there is resistance, an appreciation for books needs to be cultivated. Which is why efforts to deliver new books to poor children through educational channels are vital. Any program that gets books into the hands of children in a way that sparks their interest in reading serves as a bridge to other books and to libraries.
      Win, win, win, you guys!  The piece makes you feel warm and fuzzy.  There may have been more mist in my eyes than outside when I read the part about incarcerated dads recording first chapters of books for their teenagers...This is a great way to use up one of your quota of five (or whatever it really is) articles per month on the NYTimes website.

      Check back soon for a new review of a YA translation done real, real well, and two more recipes!

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    It'ssssssssss Katniss!

    It'sssssssssss KATNISS!
    More deets at EW.com
    I think she looks pretty good!  Nay, AWESOME.  I just want a longer braid.  Like halfway down her back.   But I'm craaaaazy. Yayyyyy Katniss!
    What do you think?  
    Is it just me or does she look like she's wearing Quidditch robes?

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Tidbits: Movies, international libraries, and more movies!

    Movie News:
    • Did you know that Ender's Game is being adapted for film?  I didn't.  But I liked the book enough to sneak it onto my school's summer reading list!  Where are they going to find a Machiavellian middle schooler, who is precocious and also not wholy creepy while being a little intense and occasionally creepy? I will admit to being slightly weirded out that it was optioned by Summit Entertainment, the crew behind the Twilight franchise (aka the people who think it's a good idea to split Breaking Dawn into two movies, if the fact that they were behind Twilight wasn't enough) and the guy who directed the sausage parade that was Wolverine is directing.  Then again, he also directed an Oscar.  Jury's out!
    • You already heard that Jellicoe Road is going to be made into more than just a movie in my head. Melina Marchetta is, to my joy, heavily involved in the adaptation process.  Usually I can be a bit of a purist, but the suggest changes actually intrigue me and don't sound as though they'd alter the concept. Color me excited!
    • The Perks of Being a Wallflower is also going to be a movie.  A movie starring Percy Jackson as Charlie, Hermione Granger as Sam, and Elena Gilbert as Candace.  YA book to movie mashup mashup!
    • Hehe. Cato in the Hunger Games adaptation has also been in another kids adaptation. I recognized him solely because his face is on the cover of the DVD for Seeker: The Dark is Rising, which I checked in and out of the Children's Room I used to work in FREQUENTLY.  Which led me to realize that a certain major player in the Games was also in a much circulated movie adapted from another children's literature classic.  Here's the cover!  Babyface!
    • Um...Just when I got used to John C. Reilly as Haymitch, he will now be played by Woody Harrelson.  Which I'm kind of excited by, because he's been alternately kind and nuts in film roles.  Except for the whole Haymitch having hair thing.  Please no wig?
    Library stuff:

      Sunday, May 15, 2011

      Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd - In which I learn that reviewing collections of short stories is a challenge and give up without trying.

      Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd HerdGeektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd,
      edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castelluci
      Little Brown and Co.: Boston, 2009
      ISBN: 978-0-316-00809-9
      This month my book club read Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, a collection of short stories by a variety of YA authors.  And as I am well overdue for a review, I figured it would be a good one, especially post-club meeting group-think.  But you know what?  It is not easy to review a book of short stories.  Why?  All the stories are so different!  Sure, there is a greater goal.  But it’s kind of like going into the fruit aisle in a grocery store to evaluate it and being all “Yes, I see that you have something in common. You are all fruit.” But you’re still looking at apples and oranges.  And some people like oranges better than they like apples.  So I’m doing away with formal review format for this guy and just telling you some thoughts.  I will be brief, and then more in-depth after the jump, where there may be SPOILERS.  I hate spoilers!  You have been fairly warned!  Regardless, this is a fun book, and frankly it’s a switch up in format to be able to read 15-20 pages and have everything end so you can take a break and move on to a totally different topic.   I recommend it!
      Thoughts about the whole book, in bullet format because I like bullets (not the real ones): 
      ·      There is a wide variety of geekdom represented here.  It is a veritable spectrum, from high, convention attending geekery, to high school theatre geekery, to scholastic geekery.  I personally enjoyed the spectrum, and as one book club participant pointed out, it was important.  It acknowledges the humanity behind geekery!  While sure, there are varying levels of commitment, we are ALL geeks in our own way, whether we attend conventions in our Storm Trooper uniforms, spend a lot of time fondling comic books, or spend hours struggling to perfect the ultimate brownie recipe.  That person looking at you in the mirror?  Huge geek. 
      ·      This book is HEAVY in the romance department.  It was something that I didn’t realize when reading it, but once someone brought it up, it was hard to avoid it.  Most stories involve romance or crushes.  Which, perhaps, is a device to tell of an important moment in the lives of the characters, as opposed to them being geeky at whatever they are geeky at.  Because an object in motion is so much more interesting than one at rest.  Physics.  Laws of.   Boom, I just scienced you.  But there are ways other than romance that an object can be in motion, YA authors.  But I still liked it, so not a major complaint.
      ·      Apparently only the paperback version has a glossary, and only a short one at that.  I would have appreciated a glossary at times, and or a heads up as to what some of the stories were about.  I didn’t know Scott Westerfeld’s Dungeons and Dragons story was about D&D.  I thought it was online gaming!  In short, while I got some things, I’m admittedly not down enough with high geekery to understand all of it.  Help the non-initiated out!  You’re only as strong as your weakest reader.  I did, however, really enjoy stories where I learned about aspects of high geekery I never knew about, like Cassandra Clare’s “I Never”. 
      ·      In a couple of places I wasn’t sure about the gender of characters.  It turns out I wasn’t the only one, as we talked about it at book club!  It was always cleared up, but I still think a few (“Definitional Chaos” & “The Stars at the Finish Line” could have gone Sapphic with no problem, considering that's what I thought was going on until a male pronoun was used.  Food for progressive thought, YA authors!)
      ·      I really enjoyed the comics that separated the chapters.  They were almost all witty and well drawn!
      ·      It’s a little weird when the authors you expect to have some of the best stories let you down!  And let me down some did, while others went on to shine and steal the show.  Onto the possible spoiler section! 

      Friday, May 13, 2011

      Thwarted by Blogger! Yet another Hunger Games related post (whatever, you love it too)

      I wanted to post this link to a post so great it made my day yesterday, like a second after I read it. BUT NO.  Blogger thwarted me until just now!  With no further delays, this is a most apt and yet hilarious exploration of Peeta, courtesy of the ladies at Forever YA.  Team Peeta, obvi you will dig this; I did.  Team Gale, perhaps it will explain why you are SO SO WRONG. 

      The end. 

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      A bonus recipe and foray into tailgating with the Asphalt Kitchen: Thai Peanut Marinade vs. Thai Peanut Shrimp and Pinapple Skewers

      I had my first experience with some hardcore tailgating on Saturday at the New England Revolution game, courtesy of the lovely Lady Bean, master vegetarian chef and soccer star behind the Asphalt Kitchen!  Why was it hardcore?  We saw sideways lightning on the way in.  It was cold. Chris was not wearing pants! There was thunder and much rain.  Benny Feilhaber has bright blue eyes! Wait, what?  That's the beerita talking!  I digress. Luckily, the storm cleared up in time for us to enjoy a delicious dinner of Thai Crunch Salad (to die for, try it immediately) and my (just okay) Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers.  Behold Bean's photo:
      This is how food photography is done.
      My shrimp and pineapple skewers were okay - I didn't cut the pineapple down to be the same size/level as the shrimp, so the cooking was uneven and some parts, while cooked, never attained the crispy grilledness you want from, you know, a grill.  The grill, by the way, was awesome.  Well played, Asphalt Kitchen.  HOWEVER.  It was post tailgate when I was contemplating what to do with the extra marinade that I'd left in the fridge that a genius idea hit me.  It went something like this.
      "Self, you know what is really good? Peanut butter and jelly.  But self, you have all these three pounds of strawberries you bought with hungry eyes after you entered a grocery store to buy water after a 6 mile run turned into an 8 mile run because you can't follow directions.  And you have all this peanut sauce.  What if you dip the strawberries into the chilled sauce?"  
      Genius was born in my mouth.  This works well as a marinade, but I think it also does double duty as a dipping sauce.  It especially works well with fruit because of the innate sweetness of the peanuts and coconut, and the added smoky yum of the cayenne and other spices and the acidity of the lime juice manages to balance it out while putting it over the top.  Give it a go; next time I'm trying fruit skewers only marinated in this stuff and then grilled.  If you try it before me let me know what you think!

      Thai Peanut Marinade
      (Adapted from Anton Health and Nutrition)

      1/2 c lite coconut milk
      2 heaping Tbsp of natural peanut butter (I used Skippy All Natural)
      1 Tbsp sesame oil
      2 cloves garlic
      1 tsp ground ginger
      Juice of 1 small lime or 1-2 Tbsp lime juice
      2 Tbsp honey
      1/2 tsp cumin
      1/2 - 1 tsp cayene
      1. Put in a blender and blend.  
      2. Voila.  
      3. Either marinade something in it and then skewer and grill it, or chill it and use it as a dipping sauce.
      Proof from the photographic lens of the Asphalt Kitchen: pretty sure this is an action shot of me turning off the grill and not realizing it.  Grill Master I am not, especially after a beerita.

      Saturday, May 7, 2011

      Indiana Pacers promote children's literacy and make my Saturday

      In all seriousness, I think the fact that the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library is working with the Pacers by having the players record children's books to promote children's literacy (the Call a Pacer Program) is a genius idea.  I remember calling my own public library as a kid to hear the weekly prerecorded story.  I think my head would have exploded if say, Larry Bird had read me Are You My Mother?.  Well played, Pacers, Pacers PR people, and well played Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library!

      End seriousness.

      Deadspin kind of ruined this beautiful moment for me with their video mashup.  Which led me to spend far too long listening to the players recorded versions of the story. I think it goes without saying that not everyone is as talented at story hour delivery as most children's librarians.  Then again, I played basketball for 6 years and didn't make a basket until the last one, so who am I to judge a basketball players storytime reading prowess?  HOWEVER.  I've very scientifically concluded the following:

      Tyler Hansbrough reading Rebecca and Ed Emberly's Chicken Little for the breathy, somewhat gargled  win with his unintentionally hilarious and breathless delivery of the line "'OH MY GOODNESS, OH MY GRACIOUS,' gasped Chicken Little, who was now quite out of breath"(just shy of 3/4 of the way in).  And I flippin' LOVE Let Me Drive the Bus, so that's sayin' somethin...

      This got me thinking, readers.

      Of any sports player ever, who would you want to read you a bedtime story, and what would the book be? 

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      Recipe 43: Baked Shrimp with Zucchini and Much Cheese

      You know what is hard?  Naming recipes.  And yet, making a quickie recipe is not terribly hard.  Seems kind of bass ackwards, no?  Judging from this being my second shrimp recipe in a row, the interwebs brain-trust can probably figure out that I bought a 3 bag o'frozen shrimp to keep my 3 pound bag o'frozen blueberries company in the freezer.  I've been thinking about making something not soup (gasp) in Le Creuset for a while.  Since I didn't want to feed a small army, I chose to use my smaller Le Creuset, Triple B.  (Which retrospectively is kind of a stupid name.  If you have a better one, because Little White sounds kind of awful and that's all I got, lay it on me.)  This was a great success, but then again I'm pretty sure throwing tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, and cheese in a pot and baking it will taste delicious, no exceptions.  I get the distinct feeling you can add or subtract anything you want to this; I actually intended to add a can of cannelini beans but cleverly forgot until I'd put it in the oven.  As is, this recipe has a lot of extra liquid, but it thickens a bit as it cools.  I'd recommend serving it over polenta, pasta or even rice (whatever your starchy poison is) or doing like I did and tearing up some bread and stirring it into my bowl to soak up the delicious.

      Baked Shrimp with Zucchini and Much Cheese
      (via my brain, courtesy of my stomach)
      Serves approximately 4

      Tuesday, May 3, 2011

      Recipe 44: Spicy Torilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado

      Do you know what you're making for Cinco de Mayo?  No?  Well let me help you out.  Do you like spicy?  Do you like excuses to eat shrimp, avocado, or tortilla chips?  Do you like one pot meals?  Do you above all like quick recipes that are actually really, really good??  Well, mon petit, you will meet your match in this recipe.  Unbelievably quick and easy to the point where I was dubious it was done, I swear I will be making this 30 minute meal again!  If you use frozen shrimp like I do, make sure to leave it enough time to defrost.  The only bummer?  Hominy can be a bit hard to locate in most grocery stores (hint: check the Latin food aisle, especially the Goya section), so plan ahead!  I spotted this in my March Cooking Light and finally had an opportunity to make it last week. 

      Spicy Tortilla Soup with Shrimp and Avocado
      (via Cooking Light, March 2011 )

      Muy caliente:

      Enjoy this terrible photo of a beautiful but steamy soup!


      1 tablespoon olive oil
      1 cup chopped onion
      1/3 cup chopped celery
      1/3 cup chopped carrot
      1 tablespoon minced chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
      1 teaspoon ground cumin
      1 teaspoon chili powder
      2 teaspoons minced garlic
      4 cups fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
      1 15oz. can white hominy, rinsed & drained
      1 15oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
      12 ounces peeled, deveined, (and if you're like me, detailed) medium shrimp (I bought frozen and defrosted mine)
      1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
      1/8 teaspoon salt
      Tortilla chips (crushed for garnish)
      1 to 2 diced avocados (depending on how much you looooove them) 
      Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves (for people who like gross things) 

      1. Add oil to a Dutch oven and heat over medium-high.
      2.  Add onion through garlic and cook for six minutes, until vegetables are tender but still crisp.  Stir occasionally.
      3. Add the broth, hominy, and tomatoes (with juice), and bring the mixture to a boil for six minutes, stirring occasionally.
      4.  Add the shrimp and cook for approximately two minutes or until bright pink and done.
      5.  Remove the pot from the heat and stir in juice and salt (if needed).  Serve and let your guests garnish their bowls with the chips, avocado, and devil's herb.  I recommend serving this with extra chips and if you're feeling crrrraaaaaaazy, beerita!  Cinco de delicious, y'all. 

      Que rico eres, mi amor.

      Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...