I want to give away a painting, and I think Valentine's Day is the perfect time.
Paper Size: 9x12
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I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It Adam Selzer
Zombies of Des Moines!
Alley is known as the Ice Queen of the viscous circle-- the cynical sarcastic kids who write the school paper and will actually leave their Des Moines suburb once they're done with high school.
It all changes when she goes to review a band for the paper. The band itself is awful, but they guy they get to sing a few songs? Alley's immediately smitten and her Ice Queen heart melts all over her laptop.
What she doesn't realize is that Doug is one of the zombies that Megamart created a few years ago to cut labor costs. Once the world discovered the zombies, the vampires also "came out of the coffin" and it's now a post-human world. Only Alley's guidance counselor (vampire) doesn't like the living dating the dead and demands Alley convert on her birthday or dump Doug. Doug can't leave Des Moines-- can Alley leave him? Or should she stay? And what's with all these new zombies roaming around demanding brains?
A few minor points made me really like this--
1. It takes place in Des Moines. While all Alley wants is to leave it, the Des Moines she lives in is not a stupid caractature of "small midwestern hicksville." Des Moines has surburbs, and is very much... Des Moines. Selzer grew up there and it shows.
2. Alley (and her best friend Sadie) are Jewish, but it's not a major part of the book (except that matzoh balls are things zombies can eat. Also, Des Moines has more zombies than Jews, which is just funny.)
Selzer captures well the heady feeling of first love and the willingness the change everything for a relationship before you start to actually think things through. While Alley was this really strong character who was willing to change EVERYTHING for a guy, the way Selzer wrote it made it totally believable and not weak and insipid. I think it's because she thought through her decisions and her parents and friends kept trying to drum some sense into her.
Either way, a light fun book about dating the undead.
Book Provided by... my local library
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I had a great time at the Iowa Library Association conference. I gave two talks and actually scheduled my time such that I could actually attend a few presentations as well as give some. My notes for two talks — Tiny Tech and On-the-Fly Tech Support — are online here. I saw a presentation by the new ALA OIF director about privacy in the age of social software as well as a gadgets talk where I learned more about ebooks.
I also had some time to go to the local public library. I’m often surprised that the local libraries don’t do much to acknowledge that there is a huge library conference in town. Most of the time when I go to the local public library when I’m visiting a new city, there isn’t even a “welcome librarians!” sign out. Karen Schneider [who gave a great keynote in the morning and a talk about open source later in the day] and I actually had a sort of weird experience there. We went in to the library, snapping photos as we do, and were met as we walked in by a library worker who basically asked “Are you taking pictures?” When we said that we were, she said that we weren’t allowed to take photos in the library and if we wanted to get permission to take photos we’d have to go talk to the marketing people up on the third floor.
We were just on a fly-by so we (mostly) put our cameras away. However, I was curious about the policy. I had an email exchange with the marketing director that I am reprinting here with permission. I’m not sure what to think about the whole situation. You’ll note I took a photograph or two anyhow, and I appreciated the very nice email, but it was in stark contrast to both a weird-seeming policy and a weird-seeming policy enforcement mechanism.
Hi — I’m visiting Des Moines from central Vermont and stopped by the library because I’d heard some neat things about your new building. I took a few photos and walked inside. There I was met by a librarian (or someone at the desk) who said “Were you taking photos? You can’t take pictures in here. You have to talk to the lady in marketing if you want to take pictures in here.”
I was a little surprised, both that you have such a policy [which I didn't see any signs about] and that the person who was your front desk staffer was so rude about it. I checked the website and found this notice: “Your attendance at Des Moines Public Library programs
may be digitally recorded through photographs or video recordings.” I assume this is staff photography?
I was curious if you could let me know a few things
1. If this is, in fact, the policy and if so, I’m curious why do you have such a policy?
2. Where is this policy spelled out either in your library or on the web site? I went to the policy page but after downloading a few policies I couldn’t find this one.
3. Do you mind if I publish your comments in part or in whole on my website? Okay to say no, but I’d like to open up a conversation about this.
I did enjoy my trip to the library but this was a strange event unlike any I’ve experienced in a major metro public library. Just curious what your side of the whole story is. Thanks for your time.
Reply of Jan Kaiser Marketing Manager (spacing was in the original. She also attached the meeting room policy which I didn’t find online but is similar to the information contained on their website here)
Jessamyn–Thanks so much for writing to us about your experience here at the Des Moines Public Library and please accept my apology for the bad impression you may have taken away.
We will certainly look into how the staff member approached you and we do apologize for any rudeness.
Our photo policy is part of our meeting room policy which I will attach. This meeting room policy was rewritten just prior to our opening of the building in April of 2006. At that time, the architect was very sensitive to photos being taken and the possibility of them being used for commercial purposes, so we added the following:
“Permission to photograph the library reading rooms and other public areas of the building may be granted by the library director or her designee. Photographs and videos may not include library signage or the library logo, and photographing may not disrupt library customers’ use of the library. Library employees on duty may not be photographed for political campaigns. Fees for commercial photographs of the library may be established by the library director, subject to the approval of the Board of the Trustees.”
I agree that this policy should be on our web site and thank you for alerting us to the problem. Whether or not this policy is still appropriate is something that the management team can certainly re-examine.
As to publishing the comments, that would be fine as I would be interested in responses.
I hope the rest of your time in Des Moines is enjoyable. Thanks.
P BE GREEN Please don’t print this e-mail unless necessary!Display Comments Add a Comment
I'm heading to Iowa City, Iowa on Sunday for a week.
I'll be doing a residency as a component of a Community Reading Month that is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
I'll be speaking to students from 19 Iowa City schools.
Past author residencies for this program have included Ashley Bryan, Pat Cummings, Jerry Spinelli, Brian Jacques, Gail Gibbons, Chris Crutcher, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Lynn Reiser, E. B. Lewis, and Peter Catalanotto.
Last year's author was Deborah Wiles, so I have some big shoes to follow!
No, wait a minute, that's not the right expression. You FILL big shoes, not follow them, right?
And I am certainly not implying that Deborah Wiles has big feet.
She's a Southerner. I'm sure she has lovely little feet.
It's a hard act that you follow, not big shoes.
I have a hard act to follow.
But I'll give it my best shot.
The end of October, I'll be visiting schools in the Iowa City Community School District as part of their Community Reading Month.
One of the sponsors (Hills Bank) designed a logo based on Greetings from Nowhere to be used on T-shirts and other promotional materials.
Pretty cool, huh?
As may be obvious, I’m a little behind on my feeds. The good news is that there’s a lot of good stuff there. The bad news is that you may have seen some of it. Here are a few quickie notes that I think merit some attention. My apologies if you’ve all seen them before. My personal goal is to be all caught up on feeds by the time I leave for ALA — Thursday morning — and don’t get behind again. I think it’s doable.
The heartbreaking story of the Cedar Rapids public library. Information on the flooding and an address to send donations. Photos and up to date flooding information at the Cedar Rapids Library home page.Add a Comment
David Domke is Professor of Communication and Head of Journalism at the University of Washington. Kevin Coe is a doctoral candidate in Speech Communication at the University of Illinois. They are authors of the The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America. To learn more about the book check out their handy website here. In the article below Domke and Coe reflect on the Iowa Caucuses.
The victories by Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses on Thursday make one thing clear: in America’s heartland, the God strategy works. Recent history suggests it won’t stop there. (more…)Add a Comment
Lost in the hubbub about the new words and disappearing hyphens in the latest edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is a more subtle type of editorial revision. The Shorter, as a dictionary built on historical principles, provides information about the age of words and their main senses. The date range of earliest known use is noted in each entry by E (early), M (mid), or L (late) plus a century number: thus “M18″ means a word was first recorded in the mid-18th century. This style of dating is admittedly approximate, but giving the exact year of a word’s first recorded use would lend a false sense of precision. We very rarely can determine the first “baptismal” usage of a word with any confidence. But even with dates given by rough century divisions, the editors of the Shorter have been able to revise the dating of nearly 4,500 words and senses based on discoveries of earlier recorded uses, known as “antedatings” in the dictionary world. Much of this new antedating information is derived from the ongoing work done for the third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Since I dabble in what my colleague Erin McKean recently called “the competitive sport of antedating,” I thought I’d share a discovery of mine that made it into the new edition of the Shorter.
Ok, so instead of always talking about banned books here, I just update my list-mania lists over at Amazon and they're all nicely linked up in the side bar.
But yesterday, I read that Of Mice and Men is being challenged in Newton, IA.
This makes me incredibly sad, because I have a very warm spot in my heart reserved for Newton. Newton may be a small town in central Iowa, but, when I was in college, it was the big town. Iowa City was far enough a way that it was a preplanned excursion, but we'd go to Newton at the drop of a hat. We'd all pile in the car and drive along Highway 6 with the windows down and the radio up and check out their Super Walmart (Because nothing is more fun than buying oodles of fabric at 1 am) or the Perkins, or everyone's favorite Mexican joint with margaritas bigger than your head-- La Cabana.
There was a time senior year when we went to La Cabana pretty much every weekend. Even my Tex-Mex snobby friends (they're from Texas, so they know what they're talking about) like that place!
Plus, it's the home of Maytag blue cheese. Yummy.
But I think I liked those drives the best-- 6 is curvy and hilly and at dusk in summer, full of fireflies. And on those nights, singing along with the radio on our way to Newton (sometimes it wasn't Newton so much as the escape from campus) with the warm summer air and the smell of summer-- hay and green things, tinged with falling humidity... I fell in love with those nights. I fell in love on one of those nights.
And now they're challenging Steinbeck.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape has been removed from a Carroll, IL High School class, according to a story in the local news. School Board Superintendent Rob Cordes pulled the book from the literature-to-film class following parents' concerns over an oral sex scene in the book. He had not read the book. Critics of the pulling of Gilbert Grape are upset that one person was able to have the power to ban the book without a hearing in the court of public opinion. A committee will be reviewing the book. However, for now the book remains out of the classroom.
At the school board meeting, one parent held up copies of both the book and a Penthouse magazine to make a comparison. Mr. and Mrs. Huckas who object to the use of the book wrote in a letter to the school district, "We would not want to fill our minds with such garbage. It promotes immorality, adultery, fornication and self-indulgence." They had not read the book. The parents also want the district to consider removing more books from both the library and the curriculum.
Students from local high schools along with alumni have formed "Un-ban Gilbert Grape! Censorship Is Wrong," an organized group on the Web network Facebook. Several of the high school's students have created T-shirts that have free-speech quotations such as, "Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word" and "Think for yourself and let others do the same" and "books won't stay banned and ideas won't go to jail."
What's Eating Gilbert Grape, a novel by Peter Hedges, is about a young man's experiences with his troubled family in a small Iowa town. One of its main characters is mentally challenged. One student is quoted as saying that the characters in the book are "going through a lot of the same things our classmates are going through. They're stuck in a small environment, everyone knows them." He added that the book is the only one he can recall reading in the class written by an Iowa author. Carroll High School teacher-librarian Kelly Fischbach says the book deserves to be judged in its entirety, not for a few sentences. She calls it a 'great book' that connects with rural Iowa teens.
Apparently parents were already notified of its content before it was used in class and had to sign a permission slip for their child to read it. Students or parents who object to their child reading the book are able to be assigned alternative assignments.
In a previous post, the controversy surrounding the removal of What's Eating Gilbert Grape was aired. Last night, a committee of students, parents and staff at Carroll High School had a small majority of 5-3 pass a proposal to keep the book in the library and classrooms. However, that may not be the final say when Carroll's school board meets later in January to put the issue to rest.
It is facing a challenge due to one sexually explicit passage that a parent objects to.
From the Des Moines Register:
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The Carroll school board voted to overturn Superintendent Rob Cordes' decision to ban the book from the high school's literature-to-film class. He ousted the book in November after parents complained that its sexual content was not suitable for teenagers.
A special committee — comprised of eight district employees, community members and students — then reviewed the book and recommended that the school board overturn the ban.
The board voted 4-1 Monday to keep the book in the school's library and curriculum. However, students will now need a signed permission slip from their parents to read the 1991 novel.
The DesMoines Register reports that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is back in the classroom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Teachers are not obliged to teach the book but they are not banned from teaching it either. The school district's purchase of 750 books has been approved.
Freedom to Read Poster 1984
Freedom to Read Week in Canada begins three weeks from now on February 25th. Watch for upcoming details of the Pelham Public Library's Banned Book Challenge and start to choose the banned and challenged books you will read from February to June. Find a banned book list at many links on the right side or download the Pelham Public Library's list. You can also search Library Thing or the Pelham Public Library's collection of challenged books and information on where and why they were banned by clicking on the LibraryThing button.