January 27, 2009

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

"A good heavy book holds you down. It's an anchor that keeps you from getting up and having another gin and tonic."
- Roy Blount, Jr.

I read a book recently that was huge, but very fun and diverting. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick was the winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal, which is the award for the year's best American picture book for children. Normally the award is given to a stereotypical book, with big pages and pictures, but this book looks more like a Harry Potter novel.
It's 533 pages, but the fun thing about it is that the story is told with both words and pictures so that when the main character is running through the train station there are pages to illustrate his run. It's great fun.

January 22, 2009

Lincoln's 200th

Did you know that on February 12th, 2009 it will be the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth? If you answered no it's because you don't live in Illinois.
I'm working on a display about Lincoln for the archives so he's on the brain today. Here are some of his quotes.

"Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

"If I fail, it will be for lack of ability, and not of purpose."

When someone called him "common looking" he replied:
"The Lord prefers common-looking people. That is the reason he makes so many of them."
oooh. Snap!

January 21, 2009

Poirot Book Challenge

Last year I did my first book challenge. I joined the A~Z Reading Challenge and tried to read 52 books , 26 A~Z authors and 26 A~Z titles. It was fun, but I got tired of not being able to read the books that I was in the mood for because they didn't fit. So I didn't finish it. Yeah, that's right...I'm a quitter. I'll most likely get around to reading the rest of the books on the list at some point and when I do I'll update the list, but I'm moving on.
I am going to start a new challenge. I want to read all the Hercule Poirot books by Agatha Christie. My list has 42 stories, which is not quite 52, but still a lot, so I'm not going to give myself a time limit. When I'm done, I'm done.
I love Agatha Christie's mysteries. I've read quite a few and the only ones I guessed correctly were the ones I'd seen the movie version of first. (I guess that doesn't really count). So here we go.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles
The Murder of the Links
Poirot Investigates (short stories)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
The Big Four
The Mystery of the Blue Train
Peril at End House
Thirteen for Dinner
Murder on the Orient Express
Three Act Tragedy
Death in the Air
The A.B.C. Murders
Murder in Mesopotamia
Cards on the Table
Poirot Loses a Client
Death on the Nile
Dead Man's Mirror
Appointment with Death
Murder for Christmas
Regatta Mystery
Sad Cypress
Patriotic Murders
Evil Under the Sun
Murder in Retrospect
Murder After Hours
The Labors of Hercules
There is a Tide
Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories
Mousetrap and Other Stories
Under Dog and Other Stories
Mrs. McGinty's Dead
Funerals are Fatal
Hickory, Dickory, Death
Dead Man's Folly
Cat Among the Pigeons
Adventure of the Christmas Pudding
Double Sin and Other Stories
The Clocks
Third Girl
Hallowe'en Party
Elephants Can Remember

January 20, 2009


On my way home from LaCrosse, WI, I stopped for gas at the coolest gas station EV-ER! My reciept reads "Dynostop". I'm kind of glad that I didn't have to go into the store for anything 'cause it would have made me kinda nervous to walk between his legs. One false move and you're a pancake.

January 18, 2009

Christmas Break

I am incredibly fortunate to work at a university that closes for a good week and a half over Christmas and New Year's. I was able to make it to Michigan despite the snow storms, and then I headed to Florida for New Year's week to help my grandma get her house opened up and all set up for the rest of the winter. (I know...such a sacrifice) It was an awesome, relaxing and rejuvenating time.
I've finally gotten my pictures in order so I thought I would post some.
My family was able to hang out with Katie Middle at Texas Roadhouse. Awesome!Christmas Eve at the Knapp home.
Sunset over the Gulf.
The coolest Florida Christmas decorations ever!Three foxy ladies on New Year's Eve.

January 17, 2009

Celebrity Playlist - January 2009

Two years ago my brother's Christmas gift to me was two celebrity playlists. He decided to mimic the playlists on iTunes in which celebrities pick their favorite songs and explain in a little blurb why they like them. I loved the CDs and the idea so I decided to make my own. Last year I made a few and sent them out to friends I knew would humor me. This year I decided it might be fun to add the list to my blog to so that people can see where my current musical interests lie (lye, lay?) without the pressure of having to listen to a random home-made CD that comes in the mail.

So here are some of the songs that are inspiring me right now. Thanks for enabling me. =)

1) Brighter Than Sunshine – Aqualung (Strange & Beautiful)

I’m pretty sure that this song was used in a commercial at some point. It’s slow and simple, but moving. I can totally see it being used during a slow motion scene. It’s a great song for relaxing in the car on the way home from work.

2) Again and Again – Keane (Perfect Symmetry)

I got the new Keane CD, Perfect Symmetry, for Christmas this year. It’s awesome. I’ve been listening to it over and over and I love it more each time I hear it. This is one of my favorites.

3) When She Loved Me – Sarah McLachlan (Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff: Vol. 2)

Another CD I got received at Christmas was Sarah McLachlan’s Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff: Vol. 2. I’m pretty sure this song falls under ‘Other Stuff’. It’s from Toy Story 2 and tells the story of the cowgirl toy who is remembering when she was once the favorite toy of a little girl. It’s so bittersweet and makes me want to go home and hug all my stuffed animals. I love the idea that no matter how far away we get from a moment or a person they will forever live in our hearts. Sarah’s voice adds to the emotion.

4) Flightless Bird, American Mouth – Iron & Wine (Twilight soundtrack)

This is the song that plays when Bella and Edward are dancing in the gazebo at the end of the Twilight movie. Iron & Wine is one of those artists that I know is going to have quality music, and this song was definitely an awesome pick for that movie. I don’t even mind that you can’t tell what they’re saying, I still try to sing along anyway.

5) Spiralling – Keane (Perfect Symmetry)

This happens to be my favorite song at the moment. Every time I hear it I want to get up and move. It’s so bouncy and fun, but still creative and moving. I have a very short list of artists whose CDs I will always buy when they come out. Keane is most definitely on that list and at the rate they’re improving and growing, I’m sure they’ll stay on the list for a long time.

6) Come on Get Higher – Matt Nathanson (Some Mad Hope)

This is another relaxing song to listen to in the car. I love the idea of “drowning in love” although at this point I think I’m a bit too old and uptight to actually have it happen like that. It’s a sweet notion that I can understand wanting to experience and celebrate.

7) Chocolate – Snow Patrol (Final Straw)

I have some very distinct memories attached to Snow Patrol’s Eyes Open album. It was played in the car while Jesse drove four lovely ladies around Madison, WI for New Year’s 2006. So I have a fondness for this band. They’re with Keane, Muse and Radiohead on the list of artists whose albums I will always buy. The harmonies get me every time.

8) I Caught Myself – Paramore (Twilight soundtrack)

Paramore is pretty good at rockin’ out when they settle down a bit and don’t try too hard. This is a great example of how they can be creative and successful when they realize less is more. As the kids like to say “It’s sick”.

9) Phascination Phase – Carter Burwell (Twilight: The Score)

I’m a believer that a good soundtrack can make a movie a ton better than it would be with sub-par music and songs. Carter Burwell did an awesome job capturing the haunted and conflicted feelings that emanated from the Twilight books, and it made the movie much more moving and memorable. (That sentence was brought to you by the letter ‘M’).

10) Pills [Live] – Sarah McLachlan and The Perishers (Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff: Vol. 2)

Normally I don’t like “live” songs or music. I definitely prefer the manufactured sounds from a studio over the unaltered sounds of a concert. But some artists are good outside of the studio so I make an exception. This is one of those examples. I don’t know who The Perishers are, but I love this duet.

11) Eyes on Fire – Blue Foundation (Twilight soundtrack)

This is one of those songs that is really good, but kind of scary at the same time. I’m not sure exactly what the message is. There’s a chance that the song-writer was a bit angry and demented when they wrote it and when you add the slightly odd voice of the singer and lack of accompaniment in the first half of the song, you get a really, really intense sound that makes you stop and pay attention. It had me at “flay you alive”.

12) Run – Snow Patrol (Final Straw)

Snow Patrol consistently hits ‘em out of the park in the category of really intense, gripping, yet rockin’ slow songs. I can totally see this song used in a montage moment or a reunification moment of a hip romantic comedy. Maybe it already has been. Let me know if you see it somewhere.

13) Full Moon – The Black Ghosts (Twilight soundtrack)

Another good song from the Twilight soundtrack. This song is a bit more folksy, twangy than I normally enjoy, but it fits really well in the opening scenes of the movie which elevates the song a bit in my opinion.

14) Strange & Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell On You) – Aqualung (Strange & Beautiful)

The piano and the drums in this song are great. They’re very simple, but still powerful as a background to the story of a guy who’s trying everything he can think of to get someone to love him.

15) Noticed – Mute Math (Mute Math)

I just recently found out that this is a Christian Rock band. Whoa. Very cool. I totally dug their rendition of the Transformers Theme song for the movie in 2007. They love Jesus and the Transformers – awesome!

This song is so sweet. It’s an incredibly romantic concept that someone would fall in love and realize how much more deeply and truly that person made them feel. At least that’s what I hear in the song, but I could be totally off. And if I am off, I don’t want to know because I like my version.

16) Bella’s Lullaby – Carter Burwell (Twilight: The Score)

If you’ve read the books, you know the significance of the lullaby that Edward composes for Bella. It’s a really great piece of music that’s flowing and intense. When I hear it it always makes me pause and smile. There’s actually a cool story behind the piece that’s explained in the CD liner, but I guess you’ll just have to buy the CD to read it. =)

17) Forever – Chris Brown (Forever - Single)

Every now and then I find a pop song that I really dig. This is one of my current favorites. It makes me want to get up and dance. And I love the fact that it’s not overtly sexual. It talks about everything in terms of the dance floor and I choose to believe he really means he’s waited his whole life to actually dance with the girl of his dreams.

18) Lucky – Jason Mraz featuring Colbie Calliat (We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things)

This song was used for the photo montage of wedding photos from Anna Kate White’s wedding last summer. The photographers put together what was, hands-down, the best slide show I’ve ever seen of wedding photographs. It was super professional and aided by the fact that Anna Kate’s wedding was gorgeous. I’m not a fan of the sappy slide shows featured at wedding receptions, but I definitely appreciate the montages done post-wedding with the pictures taken on the day. This is best song I’ve heard used in one of those.

19) Let It Rock – Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne (In The City)

I have no idea what the story is behind this song or who Kevin Rudolf is, but I LOVE this song. It really makes me want to move. I totally crank it in my car and I’m sure people think I’m “that crazy lady” as I head-bang along.

20) The Call – Regina Spektor (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian soundtrack)

One of my favorite songs of 2008. Now that I have Prince Caspian on DVD I can (and do) watch it any time I want. This song still gets me all ferklempt (sp?) at the end of the movie. It’s so sweet, but moving and perfectly placed. I really hope the studio can get their s—t together and make the next movie. I really want to see their adventures continue in Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

January 16, 2009

When exactly did I move to Canada?

Seriously . . . Negative 17 degrees.
What happened to all that Global Warming mumbo-jumbo, 'cause this sure doesn't feel like the polar ice caps are melting.
I've forgone all fashion sense and am wearing my clunky winter boots all day long. At least I can kind of feel my toes that way. And I've spent all my evenings this week buried under a blanket on the couch only to move directly to being buried under blankets in my bed.
I wonder if there are any jobs available in the south . . . anywhere in the south. Maybe South America?

January 5, 2009

Happy New Year!

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."

-Alfred Tennyson