Thursday, October 28, 2010

Do I Do Any Conservation These Days?


Check out what Paper Conservator Corine and I are doing in the project FOCUS at the Center's website.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Visit to the Big Spicy

This summer was so absolutely miserable that, now that fall is here, all I can think about are squashes (of various sorts) and apples. Lucky for me that college-roomie Big Spicy had issued an invite for an apple-picking weekend in Albany!

Sadly, my camera batteries were dead dead dead. Missing are photos of the apple orchards, the pies (yes, plural!) that we made, the lovely turning leaves... and the possibility of unflattering snapsnots of me and the Spicy One, doing stupid stuff.

Just a few snaps that B. Spicy's dad took of us in the apple orchard. This is the oddest one, so up it goes!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gratuitous Cat Pictures

Isn't Cordelia cute these days? She's a little fatter now, and her fur is all sleek and shiny.

We're good roommates. She likes orderly routines too.

I'm pretty sure this is the best picture that anyone has even taken of a cat.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A. S. Byatt at the Free Library!

I could go on and on about my love for the Free Library, which is encouraged by the fact that I live like 300 yards away from my nearest branch.

Until it reverted back to the fall/winter/spring schedule, Tuesday was Library Day (open until 8:00 pm). Now the late days are Monday and Wednesday, which clash with my new endeavor, Operation Fitness (a topic unto itself). So Library Day will have to become Saturday.

Anyway, to move away from my fondness for schedules, this past Tuesday was the first time I visited the Main Branch of the Free Library. I didn't visit for the books, so I have no idea what the reading rooms and stacks look like.

I was there because A. S. Byatt was in town! And I had a ticket!

One of the Free Librarians, one with a background in 19th century literature, conducted the interview/chat. It was pretty much fantastic. And I was (and still am) delighted with myself because they talked about books and made book-people jokes and I got them too! It was also good for observing the other audience members: if a writer was mentioned and somebody was pleased, that the writer was a favorite, they started clapping. The Brontes got some polite cheers. A person three rows ahead of me started clapping wildly when Emily Dickinson was mentioned. It was like I wandered into the world of Thursday Next. Which would have been totally awesome.

To dramatically switch topics, my first though upon seeing A. S. Byatt walk out onto the stage was that she looked just like Miss Emmer (high school librarian). At least, from the rear-middle of the auditorium, they were twins.

Apparently the Free Library turns these into Free Podcasts, so whenever this goes up I'll attempt to make a link of sorts.

Monday, October 4, 2010

More Banned Books!

One reason I've been looking forward to Banned Books Week isn't just because I think we should all Stick It to the Man, but because of a little Banned Books Celebration I was planning on attending at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

The foundation of the collection at the Rosenbach is the library assembled by the Rosenbach brothers. The brothers were noted rare book and manuscript dealers, and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were involved in forming important public rare books libraries, like the Folger and the Huntington Libraries. There were certain things the Rosenbach's couldn't bear to part with, and those materials are what eventually became the Rosenbach's collection.

These include the only surviving copy of Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac, the manuscript of James Joyce's Ulysses, and the papers of several poets.

They also have a well-known collection of Dracula materials, including Bram Stoker's working notes for Dracula. If you've read The Historian, the little library the narrator leaves at the end is the Rosenbach. Pretty cool.

They also have most of, I think Maurice Sendak's drawings.

Anyway, the Banned Books Celebration was Authors of Mischief! Notable Philadelphia cultural figures read passages from many of the banned and censored books in the Rosenbach collection. All the audience members received a program outlining the readers and readings, and a brief explanation of why each book was banned or challenged.

It was great! Stand-out readings include selections from the following:
  • Don Quixote read by a Princeton Spanish and Comparative Literature professor,
  • Twelfth Night performed by the Rosenbach interns, a librarian, and education director
  • Leaves of Grass read by the Rosenbach Poet-in-Residence,
  • In the Night Kitchen, complete with projected illustrations, read by the director for the Heritage Philadelphia Program.
The best by far, though they were all very good, was a portion of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. (Fun fact: apparently the book was banned in 1931 in Hunan Province, China, because "animals should not use human language")

The scene when Alice meets the caterpillar was performed by two local actresses/performance artists. It was wonderful: the woman playing the caterpillar had a half-drunk iced coffee as her hookah, into which she kept slowly blowing bubbles. She also, instead of reading the lines, "one side makes you larger and one side makes you small," sang them in the style of Jefferson Airplane.

Too bad the Timmy wasn't there: two of his favorite things. Jefferson Airplane and Sticking It to the Man.