December 01, 2006

Lisa: Book Festival

Now that everything is covered in snow and ice, I'm really starting to miss the fall. It's my favorite season, but it always seems to rush by so fast! In honor of the Season That Was, I thought I'd post a few pictures from a day of perfect fall weather.

A month ago, Sarah and I went to the annual Great Salt Lake Book Festival at the downtown library.

Since I'd never done it before, the first thing we did was to walk down the skywalk. It's a great place to take pictures of the city.

This is on the roof of the library:

At the tippy top of the skywalk, we found this at the beginning (or end) of the stairs. I think more things should have words on them.

Can you make out the Beehive Bail Bonds sign? I don't know why I love that sign.

At the bottom of the skywalk, there's a plaza that offers a nice view of the City and County Building, which you can see behind Sarah.

My favorite part of the Book Festival by far was the hands-on stuff sponsored by the Book Arts program at the University of Utah. We made paper out of jeans:

...and put together these really neat little notebooks. I think I need to buy a bone folder, an awl, and an X-acto knife so I can make more of these at home.

For lunch we headed up the street to Cafe Rio, where we tried to determine if this gentleman in front of us in line was in Halloween costume or not. Thoughts?

Then it was back to the Book Arts area to make another book, this time featuring a secret message compartment and a very saucy witch.

Lest you think I completely avoided the educational parts of the festival, I also got to see Shannon Hale demonstrate how to use a slingshot.

Blake, Marci, Charles, Mindy, and Charlie joined us for dinner, and I managed to hold Charlie for almost five whole minutes before he heard his dad's voice and started to cry. All in all, a success!

In other bookmaking news, we made these at a recent library program. The covers are cut out of pastel-colored manila folders, and the pages are just regular printer paper folded in half and tied in with a narrow ribbon. Easy peasy!

December 05, 2006

Sarah: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends

S: Last night I dreamed that I was dating Angel.
M: Hee hee. That is sort of awesome, Although that would almost definitely ruin your relationship with Lisa.

December 11, 2006

Lisa: Where are the elves when you need them?

This is what Blake wants for Christmas. I think the insanity is actually a selling point.

P.S. If any of Santa's little helpers (that's you) see a Wii for sale anywhere, let Santa (me) know, OK?

December 12, 2006

Lisa: Tired

I went to Maryland to help with a friend's wedding last week, and I put 500 miles on my rental car. Here's how (not in chronological order):

1. Washington, D.C.

  • Christmas shopping

  • 2. Silver Spring
  • Got completely lost coming home from Washington, D.C.

  • 3. College Park
  • Bought vases and rocks for reception table centerpieces

  • 4. Laurel
  • Bought emergency kit supplies

  • ring bearer pillow

  • corsage pins

  • CD sleeves for wedding favors

  • frame for grandmother's gift (she sang the Lord's Prayer during the ceremony)

  • 5. Bowie
  • Returned the ring bearer pillow

  • Christmas shopping

  • 6. Millersville
  • Wedding chapel

  • Reception center

  • Picked up reception center key

  • 7. Odenton
  • Bought lunch for everyone

  • 8. Gambrills
  • Just passing through!

  • 9. BWI Airport

    10. Glen Burnie
  • Mother of the bride's home

  • Made bridal bouquet, boutonnieres, corsages, and floral cake topper

  • Assembled various gift packages

  • Assembled emergency kits for bridesmaids

  • 11. Woodberry
  • We got completely lost trying to get out of Baltimore--but on the plus side, we passed the streetcar museum and a bunch of homeless people digging through a mountain of trash!

  • 12. Baltimore
  • Sightseeing

  • 13. Westfield Hills
  • Rehearsal dinner

  • Bought groom's wedding band (yes, Sarah and I picked it out and everything)

  • Bought flower girl's shoes

  • Got manicures

  • Picked up parents' gifts

  • Bought ring bearer's gift

  • Christmas Shopping

  • 14. Annapolis
  • Hotel (where I left some of my clothes--they said they'd ship them to me)

  • Bought bride's shoes

  • Returned bride's shoes, which didn't fit

  • Bought bride's hairpiece

  • Bought fish for reception table centerpieces

  • Procured delicious mini-pitas and deliciously evil hummus
  • Congratulations, Auntris!'s good to be home.

    December 13, 2006

    Sarah: Things I learned yesterday

  • The hours between 12 and 4 am are very useful for completing Christmas gifts.

  • Cutting stencils from freezer paper is a long and tedious process.

  • Buffy and Angel could never have a normal relationship, Faith is evil, Riley is sort of cute, Cordelia's dad committed tax fraud and she had to work retail to buy her prom dress. Oh, and Xander is a good friend. I want a Xander.

  • Realtors keep notaries on staff. Very nice notaries.

  • Being unable to locate one's birth certificate, social security card, or passport may lead one to question one's existence in the first place.

  • Information regarding ********.

  • Although I love Christian's colorful Miami suits and coordinating sunglasses, I draw the line at a white suit with giant, almost Willy Wonka-like white rimmed sunglasses.

  • I need to declutter my apartment. Why is there a four-year-old USU student directory taking up space in my limited storage?
  • December 20, 2006

    Lisa: in the name of all that is holy

    Blake put up Christmas lights on the outside of our house for the first time this year, and they look awesome--he screwed in little hooks and everything! I'll post a picture soon to immortalize his efforts in pixels. Meanwhile, our humble little light display got me thinking about the gloriously wasteful festival of worldly excess that is American Christmas, perfectly epitomized here. I think every American dad aspires to a holiday light show like this one. As he should.

    (Video AND INSTRUCTIONS via Lifehacker.)

    December 21, 2006

    Lisa: Huh. So, I guess smart books?

    The Shelf Life newsletter with my Ken Jennings interview has finally been published!

    Here's the interview as I submitted it:


    Local Jeopardy champion and Brainiac author Ken Jennings took time out from his book tour to answer a few questions.

    Do you have a memorable library experience you could share?

    My mom is actually an elementary school librarian in Utah County. But my most memorable library experience probably happened in fourth grade. We had gym class before recess some days and after it on other days, and I got the schedules confused and accidentally skipped gym to sit in the library reading Encyclopedia Brown books, thinking it was recess. It took me about 45 minutes to realize that I was missing, not recess, but the fourth-grade mini-track meet out on the soccer field. My assigned partner for the three-legged race was ticked.

    So, the only time I ever cut class in my life (well, until college), I wound up in the library. Nerd!

    How many books do you read a week?

    A week? Wow, that's ambitious. You guys do know that some people, like, have jobs and TVs and stuff, right?

    Actually, I've been traveling a lot lately for the Brainiac book tour, which is a great chance to catch up on reading. I'll read five or six books in a week if there are enough cross-country flights in that week. If I'm home, I'm lucky to get through a book a week.

    What book is on your nightstand right now?

    Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. And in the same stack, also unfinished: that new Brian Wilson biography and a collection of old Little Lulu comics.

    What is your favorite genre to read?

    Novels, especially ones with that faintly literary sepia-photo cover you see on Vintage Books trade paperbacks. That way I look really highbrow when I'm reading on a plane.

    Is there a book that has changed your life? How?

    Monetarily, it's Mike Dupee's How to Get on Jeopardy!...and Win! by a mile. But more personally, I think back to the books that changed my sense of humor, like Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh or (especially) Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I read that when I was fourteen and it blew my mind. I wrote and talked like Vonnegut for the next three years.

    Who are your favorite authors?

    Writing today, nobody's better than Ian McEwan or Haruki Murakami. Going a little further back, George Eliot. Dostoyevsky. Fitzgerald. Poe. Too many to name. It's like choosing between your children, if your children were only witty, insightful geniuses all the time.

    Do you remember a favorite book from your childhood?

    I remember every favorite book from my childhood. To this day I could draw you a diagram of Professor William Waterman Sherman's unique hot-air balloon gondola in The Twenty-One Balloons or tell you every secret entrance to the junkyard headquarters of the boy detectives in "The Three Investigators." But I was also the kind of information-sponge kid who would pore over The World Almanac when the new one came out every November, which is, admittedly, a little weird.

    What product would you love to endorse if the opportunity should arise?

    Not to toot my own horn too much or anything, but I'm pretty much a genius on the Etch-a-Sketch. Portraits, landscapes, abstracts...I can do it all. I think I should be the celebrity spokesperson for Etch-a-Sketch.

    Will you be writing any more books?

    Absolutely. I had such a great time traveling the country meeting trivia nuts and putting together their story in Brainiac...I definitely plan to keep writing. Probably a book of trivia, now that I've written the book about trivia. After that--well, part of the curse of being a trivia buff is that you find yourself interested in virtually everything, so that means there's no shortage of subjects I'd like to write about.

    What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

    I don't feel like I have any how-to-break-into-writing advice, except that a 75-game streak on a major syndicated quiz show is a pretty good way to get a book deal. But when it comes to process, I guess the lesson I learned from Brainiac is that almost any subject, no matter how abstruse, is fractal in nature: it becomes endlessly interesting if you just look close enough. If a book about American trivia culture, for crying out loud, can be successfully received, then anything can. So have the courage of your convictions, authors. The things that obsess you will also interest others--if you can just figure out the right way to present them.


    I assume that when the printed version is posted online, it will be found here.

    December 22, 2006

    Lisa: Boogie Woogie Santa Claus

    As promised, I'm posting pictures of our Christmas lights...

    Also as promised, Mallory took us to see the light show in Murray that is animated and set to music. When we got there, a long line of cars was inching along, each waiting for their turn to see the show. I passed the time by taking pictures, of course.

    Blake was the first to be blinded by my flash--which was probably poor planning on my part, since he was the one driving the car.

    Even though I was obviously taking the lion's share of the flash's assault, Jeffrey was so blinded he couldn't even open his eyes. Amateur!

    In that last one, imagine Jeff's face looks like this (the only picture from the bunch in which he toughened up and pried his sensitive little peepers open):

    I'm not sure how Mallory escaped the photographic onslaught--possibly because she was in the passenger seat right in front of me and was shielded by the headrest.

    The house right before the one with the animated show sported some serious lights, too.

    Finally, we got to "Christmas Utah," and it was worth the wait. Let's just say there was quite a bit of undignified clapping and squealing coming from our car. It was really hard to get decent pictures when the lights kept flashing on and off, but you get the idea--and if you want to see it in motion, try the link above.

    Thanks, Mallory! I think this will be a new Christmas tradition.

    December 23, 2006

    Lisa: No, I haven't written my Christmas cards yet. Why do you ask?

    We met Sarah at the delicious Sampan at South Towne after work for a gift exchange with the girls. I'm doing my part to beautify the internet by posting some of the pictures.

    Here's the lovely Sarah...

    And the awesome wind-up sumo wrestler set she got from Mallory...

    And here's Mallory, looking fetching as usual...

    And of course, the ravishing Marci.

    Merry Christmas, ladies! I love you.

    December 26, 2006

    Lisa: good advice

    As if I needed another reason to love Ken Jennings:

    If both time and money are in short supply this winter, use your body. Romance a lonely librarian. As the movies have taught us, when librarians take off their dowdy glasses and let their hair down, some are real lookers.

    (Thanks, Dave!)

    December 27, 2006

    Lisa: The Illustrated Librarian

    Thanks to Santa, I am wearing a temporary tattoo that says "Read or Die." How awesome is that?

    December 29, 2006

    Lisa: I am just hoping that they don't have sink pudding.

    In the drive-through line at McDonalds this afternoon, I made a startling discovery.

    McDonalds? Lives. In. Squalor.