Wednesday, September 30, 2009

blathering nonsense (about) lyrics

This is it, folks. The one you've all been waiting for. The LAST one. We're up to BNL's last released album, so we've reached the end of the road for the bnl project, which signifies the end of a thirteen-week period in which no one but me reads my blog on Wednesdays. That's cool, because this has been just so much fun to do for myself. Not that I'm a dork or anything. Whatever.

Anywhooo... for our last installment, we'll look at BNL's first-ever children's album, Snacktime!, which is requested on the kitchen cd player by actual other people than me in our household! We ordered it, I believe, through BNL's former merchandise carrier, and got a package deal for the CD plus a hardcover book that includes all the lyrics and page after page of wacky Kevin Hearn drawings. I enjoy having the book because it gives me another excuse to sing BNL songs to my kids, and these are a little more appropriate to lull them off to sleep with than say, a song about robbing a bank.

As with all the other 12 albums, it's not that easy to choose the top songs on this one. Unfortunately, some of my faves don't seem to have any videos to link to, so you'll just have to go out and get the album to listen to I Don't Like (a fabulous back-and-forth-banter kind of song with Steve and Ed and a whole lotta laughs), Louis Loon (Red's surefire favorite- beautiful music and lyrics that was listened to all the time during our bird study), Humungous Tree, and Bad Day (a perfect song from a kid's perspective about a really cruddy day). All of those would be in contention for the top spots in this post if they had links, but alas... So instead, let's call out the very first Tyler-sung song to appear in one of these posts-- Allergies is really quite funny, and certainly relatable to many sneezy kids. Another one we love is Pollywog in a Bog, and I get kids all clamoring to see my teeny laptop screen when I pull up the video. And then there's The Ninjas. Oh yes, people, this one is a loved one by me for reasons that I shouldn't necessarily share publicly. You'll just have to watch that video to find out what they're singing all about... and if you know me (and my unfortunate gatrointestinal makeup), you'll understand why this one makes me laugh each and every single time.

Let's skip right ahead and go to the top pick, shall we?

Album: Snacktime
Year of Release: 2008
Song: Raisins
Words & Music by Ed Robertson

Raisins come from Grapes
People come from Apes
I come from Canada
I came in first place
In a nonexistent race
To rebuild the Parthenon

The Parthenon's in Greece
Or was it in Grease 2
I can't keep my movies straight
When I make mistakes
I use a lot of salt
Cause salt makes m'steaks taste great

I don't want to be a bother
But I think the phone's for you

I've got orange pants
I wear them when I dance
But I don't get out that much
You are just too loud
I passed you in a crowd
Thank you and keep in touch

I don't speak Chinese
Not even words like "Please"
"Thank you", or "how are you"
But I can parle Francais
I parled a bit today
It seemed like the thing to do

I don't want to be a bother
But I think you're in my seat

You've got to admit that those are some clever lyrics, right? I love that they have basically created a song here that has no real subject, but is really just a bunch of strung together wordplays. Add a catchy tune, and you've got some good clean fun. Just like the entire album, truly. The kids love it, and I may have popped it in the cd player once or twice just for me, too.

My little attempt at recording what I love best about my favorite former-fivesome from Canada is in these 13 posts- the bnl project. I don't know about you, but I for one had a blast.

Off to sing poorly to my family's displeasure,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I tried my best to be professional

So, Lovely Hubby thinks this might make for a silly post, but I'm of the mindset that some of you who take time out of your day to read my blatherings have been patient enough through all my talk about getting to interview Mo Willems and are now thinking... well, what did he say, already?? Mind you, I prepared just four questions, because I honestly had no idea how long they'd give me to chat with him, so I didn't want to appear too eager (or insane). While I wanted to come up with completely original, never-before-asked questions, I'm pretty sure he's been asked just about everything about his books, so this is what I ended up with.

After he walked into the Media Tent, the wonderful National Book Festival event staff were looking out for me (Jason and Monica were seriously incredible and kind to me!!), and I was brought over to Mo and officially introduced. Now, I have to say that as a SAHM who hangs out with her kids and pals every day, I don't hear my first and last name being thrown around a whole lot, like other people who spend their days in professional settings must be used to. So, when Mo responded to my introduction by loudly and enthusiastically repeating my name, I did indeed laugh out loud... blame it on my crazy nerves at that point. After explaining my role with 5 Minutes for Books, as well as my former life as a preschool teacher and my current life as a mom, I gushed for a bit about how much enjoyment his books have brought in all those roles. Then we sat down in the chairs, I pushed record on the little audio-recorder-doohickey-thingy, and here's our conversation (slightly edited, to fix a couple Sarah Palin-like ramblings of mine):

Me, 5M4B/extreme fan: "I've always appreciated being the teacher reading the book, or being the mom, and knowing that for as much as the children were entertained by it, I was too. When you're writing, are you thinking, 'Oh, moms are going to get this part?'"

Mo, author/illustrator extraordinaire: "Well, funny is funny. I think about my audience and my audience is both what you would consider the audience and the orchestra. So, if the orchestra is enjoying what they're playing, it's going to sound better. If you get to play Beethoven's Fifth, you're going to get into it, and if you get to play, well I'm not going to name a terrible concert... but nonetheless. So, yes, there's an awareness. Unfortunately, I can't communicate directly with my audience, because I write for illiterates." (A ridiculous giggle of mine edited out here.)

Me: "They need someone to convey it for you."

Mo: "Yes, so, the more that they enjoy it, the more the book will seem enjoyable."

Me: "We know that you obviously have the experiences with your own daughter, but the "going boneless" (from Knuffle Bunny, of course)- as soon as I read that, I thought, oh yes, I know this."

Mo: "That's my wife's line, so I can take no credit for it. I thought it was a common expression because my wife used it all the time, and we put it in the book, but it turns out that it wasn't, so I got very lucky with it."

Me: "Are there particular books, whether it's your books or other books, that you're really enjoying reading as a parent with your own daughter right now?"

Mo: "Sure, sure. My daughter is a very hard-core reader, and my wife as well, particularly for sort of YA and chapter books. Even though my daughter is somewhat precocious in her reading, we do try to read out loud together, and for me, it's comic books, so it's Bone, Tintin, Castle Waiting, Calvin and Hobbes, that's what I read with my daughter. And then you know the Little House on the Prairie to Rick Riordan stuff that either Trixie reads on her own or in tandem with her mom, so we go back and forth."

Me: "I have a 9 year old and he's been reading on his own forever, but we still try to read together, too."

Mo: "Yeah, I think it's great. I think it's important. I should probably do it with my wife!"

Me: "Ha! I don't think my husband wants to hear me read! So, my goal in this is was to ask you questions that you didn't get asked again and again, but this is probably one that you do. Do you have some list at home where you just write "Hey, a mole rat!" that would make a good character? A list where you're coming up with some potentially future characters?"

Mo: "I'm always coming up with stuff, but whether it's good enough to turn into a book, that comes over time. Sometimes characters come very quickly, I think Naked Mole Rat came very quickly because it's a funny expression, so you just take that and then figure out who they are. Leonardo took 15 years to write. So yeah, I'm always thinking of something. I put out a sketchbook every year for clients and friends and those usually entail stories that are either too adult, too weird, too noncommercial, or not fleshed out enough that wouldn't make a proper book. Having ideas is not the problem! Having the time to make them good is. You know, writing is easy, rewriting is hard."

Me: "Well, I think that every character that you've created has a unique personality."

Mo: "Oh that's very kind, I appreciate that."

Me: "After spending ten years with four-year-olds, the Pigeon was perfect. I'd open it and see children I knew!"

Mo: "That was originally a sketchbook, and that was written for adults originally. Kids actually happen to be members of the same species as we are, so I don't really think of that much of a separation. I just can't talk about cultural modifiers, but otherwise, I think we're all equally venal. I don't think that changes."

Me: "It's something that we can all relate to."

Mo: "Yeah, we can relate to our venal, yelling sides."

Me: "My kids love each of the books' 'freaking out' pages."

Mo: "Yes, that's right. The Mo Willems' Freak Out Page. Obviously I'm not very fun to be with at home."

Me: "My kids could very much relate to that. When Pigeon first came out, my son and I would ride the university shuttle to the school where I worked and he attended, and we would read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus on the bus, and college students were entertained."

Mo: "That's great. Very cool. Awesome."

Me: "Do you have a favorite of your characters? Is that like picking a favorite kid? Does it change every day?"

Mo: "It's like having a favorite child in that, you know, some of them grow up to be disappointments, but you can't say that in public. You have to say that you love them all equally. So yes, absolutely, they are like my children. Um... the end."

Me: "Gotcha. Well, I know with having three kids, I have favorites at different hours."

Mo: "I'm not a good judge of taste. It's not my job to figure out what's good, it's just my job to do it, and that really is my audience's job to figure out. I usually despise my books for the first six months that they're out."

Me: "REALLY?!" (The note of incredulousness is painfully obvious in my response.)

Mo: "Yeah, yeah, I dread it."

Me: "So how are you feeling about Big Frog?"

Mo: "I hate it. Hate it. Absolutely hate everything about it."

Me: "It's a book that my 1-year-old loves and wants to read, and I say, 'Mommy needs to sit with you, because you're not going to tear up my book, buddy!'"

Mo: "Well, with Naked Mole Rat, it's been how long is it? Nine months? I'm starting to like a little."

Me: "That's one that we love!"

Mo: "That's great, I'm glad."

Me: "Thank you so much for this!"

Mo: "Great to meet you."

At the end there, Mo was kind enough to sign my copy of Big Frog Can't Fit In, complete with a little froggy face and his signature MO! At that point, JAM came over and told him that he was wearing his Pigeon shirt that Mo had signed on the back of the shoulder in January at the book signing we went to (when he told him that it said Jon Scieszka!). Mo asked JAM- "Now, you're not the one who was crying, right?" which made JAM giggle in his starstruck-just-like-his-mom way. After our group pic, which is really good enough to post again, we said our goodbyes, and I went off for the rest of what turned out to be a fantastic day.

Huge thanks to Mo Willems for taking the time out of his busy day to chat with me, and to his publicist and the NBF event staff for helping make it happen.

Apparently able to conduct an interview without falling out of my chair with excitement,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

wearing a press pass is the coolest thing ever

Last week, I seriously began my obsessive thinking about the upcoming National Book Festival, and now, two days after the event, I'm still going strong. But, that's because the memories from the day are simply wonderful, amazing, fantastic, spectacular, fill-in-the-blank-with-an-extremely-positive-adjective-of-your-choice. Oh yes, folks, it was a lovely day.

A while back, I asked Jennifer, my editor at 5 Minutes for Books, if she thought we qualified as 'press,' since the NBF website had a link to request a press pass. Although I had no real idea what that would entail, it certainly sounded like a cool thing. She wasn't sure, but encouraged me to fill out the online form, saying that the worst that could happen would be to be told no. I'm not big on taking risks, and even though this one seems silly, I was still pretty nervous to submit the form. I did it anyway, and in the special requests section, I put it all on the line and requested an interview with Mo Willems. I was pretty sure it would come to nothing...

And then, I began to hear from representatives from the NBF, and I was offered several interviews with other children's authors. A few were authors whose work I was completely unfamiliar with, and in other genres than I would be most interested in reading/reviewing. So, I declined a few (which came to bite me later...), but I accepted an interview with nonfiction children's author, Craig Hatkoff. I still held out for my few minutes to chat with Mo, though. After several weeks, and many emails later, it was finally agreed upon. The day of the Festival would entail interviews in the Media Tent with two incredibly successful, and thus hugely intimidating to me, children's authors. I went off on Saturday morning with a clipboard holding my typed and highlighted schedule chart, my official interview questions, my contact sheet, and a map of the Festival. Lovely hubby was so kind as to lend me an audio recorder to capture my first ever interviews with famous people, so I could forever return to what I imagined would be several minutes of me stuttering and making a general fool of myself.

Lo and behold, I don't think I handled myself too badly, but I have yet to listen to the interviews in their entirety. What I thought would be just a few short minutes, turned out to be about 45 minutes chatting with Craig Hatkoff, and a good ten minute chat with Mo Willems. (Who, if you are new to these parts, just happens to be my most favorite children's book author ever, and has been the subject of a blog post or two before...) Once I get the audio files back from lovely hubby, I'll post again about our lovely talks, because both Craig and Mo were incredibly friendly and personable, and I actually did learn some new things from those conversations.

Me speaking with Craig Hatkoff in a WAY more official setting than I expected in the Media Tent.

Me and my starstruck grin listening to Mo Willems just outside the Media Tent.

The face of a super-fan's joy. Mine that is, I don't know what JAM's is all about! Mo, on the other hand, may be counting down the seconds until he could escape!

In addition to my first foray into famous-people- interviewer territory, the entire day had the feeling of being blessed-- forget the rain, forget the crowds, it was as if I were walking on a cloud. Amazing and out-of-this-world. (Apparently that's the effect of having a press pass around my neck. I may take to wearing it on a regular basis.) I swear to you, I felt among my people-- my fellow 130,000+ book-lovers who have shared in the experience of the outside world falling away and time standing still as the covers of a book are opened. There were so many amazing authors who were speaking, and since I never successfully figured out that whole cloning thing, we had to make choices about who to watch speak that day, and who we'd simply have to catch when the videos are posted online. Here's a little breakdown of our day:

  • Craig Hatkoff's talk in the Children's Tent-- much of his speech was similar to our conversation that morning, but it was fantastic to sit with JAM and listen to his amazement and awe in response to Craig's telling of Winter's story, the subject of his new book, Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again. This book is incredible!! It follows four previous titles by Craig, who wrote them with his daughters Juliana and Isabella, about true stories of amazing animal survival. You simply must check them all out!
Craig Hatkoff holding up one of Winter the dolphin's prosthetic tails-- truly amazing!

  • Julia Alvarez was wonderful to listen to, especially after reading How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents with my online book club last year. She spoke so passionately about writing and reading, I had chills.
  • Although I'm not directly familiar with the Judy Moody books, JAM has read at least one, and we both immensely enjoyed listening to Megan McDonald talk about how her own real-life experiences growing up with four older sisters inspired much of the mischievous ways of Judy in her books. She was fun to watch and we laughed a lot!
  • We stayed in the children's tent to listen to Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, and I am beyond thrilled that we did. I am unfamiliar with The Spiderwick Chronicles, but JAM read them last year, I believe. Watching them on stage together was a pure joy-- like attending a stand-up comedy show with my son. This is the interview opportunity that I passed up. UGH. My mindset was that since I hadn't read their books, I probably wouldn't have had anything to ask them, but man oh man, I wish I had rethought that one, because they would have been an absolute blast to chat with. So, so funny.
  • The talk that I expected to enjoy from the comfort of a seat in the side front row soon became the talk that I would watch for a bit from right next to the stage, and eventually, the talk that I would be a part of!! WHAT?! Okay, here's how it went down. I was sitting with my friend L in our side, front row seats, waiting for JAM to get back from the port-a-potties in time for Mo Willems' scheduled appearance at the Children's Tent. All of a sudden, his wonderful publicist who I had been emailing with for weeks to coordinate the interview, walks up and says something quickly to me, something like, "Oh, friend! Do you want to come up and be a part of this?" Um... YES PLEASE! So, I dash off behind her to the side of the stage where Mo is standing with two young girls. He looks at me and says something like, "Oh, great! You'll have fun with this." He introduces me to one of the girls saying, "This is (and let's her fill in her name). She's the daughter of a blogger," and then tells the other girl, "Trixie, you'll be the dog." Oh. Hello there Trixie Willems, owner of the beloved Knuffle Bunny, and dear daughter of my favorite author! I then turn to the first little girl, Erin, because I realize that I know who her blogging mother is-- MotherReader! So, a few minutes later, I found myself on stage acting out Today I Will Fly! with Mo Willems (as Gerald the Elephant), Erin (as Piggie... the, uh, piggie), Trixie Willems (as the inspiring dog), Cheryl Willems (his wife who held the book for the audience to see). I had the extreme pleasure of playing the part of the helpful pelican, who utters three lines which necessitated my first ever wearing of a mic-pack. Holy cow. When the video of that is made available online, you know for damn sure that I'll be plugging that baby over here. And get this- it will be in the Library of Congress' archives for all of time. Holy friggin cow. After the talk, I thanked Mo again, and walked off with my 'script' (which is not one of his books that we already owned- sweet!). I am still in a daze.
JAM's photographic evidence of my time on stage with Mo, or at least his disembodied head. His wife, whose fashion sense I admire, is my 1/2 sized twin to my left.

  • Then we headed over to the Teens & Children's Tent and saw Patrick Carman, whose books were previously unfamiliar to both me and JAM, but are now on this week's library list. This guy was hilarious, and I'm so glad that we got to see him talk, because I think JAM will adore his books.
  • Next up was Jeff Kinney, UMD alum and all-around funny guy, whose Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are among JAM's read-again-and-again favorites. After missing him at the university's Maryland Day this past spring, I was thrilled when I saw him on this year's NBF list-- JAM giggled through his talk and is looking forward to his new book coming out next month.
  • Our final talk for the LONG day was David Shannon and Jon Scieszka, who worked together on a new book Robot Zot! that was pretty funny when they read it together. They were another hilarious duo on stage together, and JAM was thrilled to listen to them after enjoying their picture books (together and separately) for years. He recently read Knucklehead, Scieszka's autobiography-of-sorts which was full of stories that made the mom in me groan in terror, but the humor-loving-gal in me crack up. L, JAM and I were all sufficiently entertained by their on-stage antics, and it was an upbeat and happy way to end a fantastic day.
After eight hours on the National Mall, much of it in a steady, cool rain, we were exhausted, but happy to have been there. Especially me. I felt like everything went my way, which simply never happens, so naturally I was a bit skeptical, but I tried my best to push that aside. Lovely hubby was an absolute sport, taking one for the team even with his injured and aching knee, since he handled the young-uns all morning to allow for me to hang out with the big wigs in the Media Tent. It seems as if they had some amazing adventures of their own! The official NBF 2009 video hasn't been posted online yet, but I saw the B-side roll on the press room section of the site, and Red and JAM make an appearance on that video! Hopefully those beautiful faces will also appear on the final video, which of course, I will plug here, too!

Whew!! If there is one person who actually made it to the end of this marathon-of-memories post, I salute you. (I figure this is one of those posts just for me to look back on in my golden years.) Now, I expect you all, near and far, to mark your calendars for next year-- the last Saturday in September means one thing, and one thing only-- National Book Festival! Wanna hang out with us next year??

Still starstruck and stupified,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

what were you thinking?

So lovely hubby leans over to kiss me this evening and says, "You know what? I miss reading about what you're thinking on your blog lately." Hmmmm... apparently he's not a fan of BNL and books, which have been my blog fodder as of late, but it got me thinking about... um... what I've been thinking. Let's see. Perhaps it's not the wisest idea to go down this road after two glasses of wine, but let's throw caution to the wind, shall we?

  • I've been thinking about how I complained a bit when hubby signed us up to receive the paper every day, since the Washington Post was offering us free weekdays if we just continued to pay for the Sunday paper that we were already getting. Ugh- more paper just to throw away, I thought. But guess what? I've actually been reading the paper, at least a little bit, every day. When Red doesn't have a major bedtime issue and is able to watch a show (or two) in the morning, I eat breakfast with the paper, and I've decided that's just lovely. Today's pick of the day- Eugene Robinson's op-ed about John Edwards. Well said, Mr. Robinson, well said.
  • I've been thinking that the kids watch too much tv. There I've said it. I need to turn off the tv after one show (not two) and play with the kids. Simple as that.
  • I've been thinking that this photo as my desktop makes me grin.

  • I've been thinking that I need to refocus on my call to experience more gratitude, and I was thrilled to see this on another blog- The Gratitude Challenge. I'm going to check into that for sure!
  • I've been thinking that I miss my parents. I wish our lives were different in some ways (bigger house, less $$ worries, a bit more SERENITY NOW! going on), but the biggest is that I wish they lived closer and could see the three whack-jobs-we-call-kids on a regular basis.
  • I've been thinking that a certain someone we love is going to turn 17 in a couple days, and I wish we could have her as a bigger part of our lives, as well.
  • I've been thinking that it will be a great joy to see a certain hottie doc on tv every week again. Yum.
  • I've been thinking that $8.50 is an awesome price for a bottle of my favorite-wine-that-we-can-afford.
  • I've been thinking that I need to learn to be a better writer, especially as I start on a new adventure as a contributor to the DC Metro Moms site-- a collaborative blog with AMAZING writers who all have incredibly polished and humorous voices that convey themselves much more professionally than I am accustomed to writing over here on my silly little blog. I gotta up my game and push out some quality stuff. I feel so very fortunate to be welcomed into the group!
  • I've been thinking that even though I try to read a little of the paper each day, along with reading Time each week and mainlining NPR on a daily basis, I still don't understand world politics. I tend to see things WAY too black and white, and I'm honestly just too tired with my own regular life to try to figure it out.
  • I've been thinking that when the bnl project comes to an end next week, I have an already established feature that can jump into the Wednesday spotlight. Good god, even on my blog, I have to have order and predictability.
  • I've been thinking that I'm pretty lucky to have an amazing TP-monikered-hubby who is actually interested in what I've been thinking. Life is good.

Taking off my thinking cap now (and pouring myself another glass of wine!),

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

blathering nonsense (about) lyrics

In my second-to-last BNL post (at least until they release another album, that is!), we're up to their most recent regular studio album, Barenaked Ladies Are Men, effectively adding one consonant to their previous title and coming up with a whole new release! I don't know if this was their intent, but I tend to look at this album as the B-sides to the last one, and there are some great ones on here. (But of the two, I still prefer Barenaked Ladies Are Me, myself.)

This is another album which has a song that I highlighted in a previous BNL post, before I got all chronological about it. What a Letdown is a fantastic, rockin' song that simply had the perfect title to describe how I was feeling when I found out Steve had left the building, as they say. Another winner of the I-LOVE-that-title contest is Why Say Anything Nice, which follows that line with "When you can say nothing at all." Genius. Then there's Angry People, which has the happiest little doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo's popping up in the background, in that contradictory style that their lyrics and music so often exhibits, creating a song that you find yourself bee-bopping around to when you realize that the words are not at all cheery. Finally, there's the song that when I first heard it, I was really confused... it sounded like Steve, but it just sounded so... different. I LOVED it, but it took a bit for me to mesh it with the truckloads of other Steve-lead-vocals songs that are in my heart. I Can I Will I Do has secured its place there, and it provides some of my favorite lyrics ever in:

If good intentions pave the road that gets me through
Then I've got a six-lane highway
And I intend to someday
Do all the things I say I can and I will and I do

And now for the grand unveiling of the top song...

Album: Barenaked Ladies Are Men
Year of Release: 2007
Song: Fun & Games
Words & Music by Ed Robertson & Steven Page

We sent in the army
They sounded alarms we
Saw it coming from a mile away.
We kept it off radar
Because we had to say our
Intentions were to save the day.

Why did you fail to see?

It was a gag
It was all for a laugh
And they were shocked and they were awed
and they were blown in half

Fun and games
We're just pulling legs
We knew this barrel of fun
Would be a powderkeg

We kept it all long-range
and made a regime change
You'd have thought it would have been a gas
But when it got ugly
We sat around smugly
Because you bought our little joke en masse
Don't look at me that way

It was a gag
It was all for a laugh
We knew your sons and daughters
Would be blown in half

Fun and games
We're just pulling legs
We knew this barrel of fun
Would be a powderkeg

Put a smile on
We're the ones that you selected
Leave that dial son
Because we just got re-elected
In a while our
Bill of rights will be rejected

and all the blame will be deflected
the forests will be unprotected
the nation's poor will be neglected
creation myth is resurrected
a new salute is genuflected
a gallup poll will be respected
gallows pole will be erected
all this will go undetected

While you all slumbered
We sat and crunched numbers
Of all the causalities we could afford
There's no need to draft them
You could hear us laugh then
The poor and black all need the room and board
Did I say that out loud?

It was a gag
It was all for a laugh
And now our very nation has been blown in half

Fun and games
We're just pulling legs
We knew this barrel of fun
Would be a powderkeg

Oh yeah....

Way back in May of 2007, I blogged about my frustrations with the Bush Administration's actions in starting the war in Iraq, along with their repeated insistence of its necessity and usefulness. A bunch of bull. I said it back then, and it bears repeating:

May 26, 2007: "I don't think the reality of the current administration's planning of this war over the last few years truly matches the overt horrible intentions that the song portrays, but that's the beauty of satire. Take enough reality and spice it up with a good measure of exaggeration (I don't think it needed all that much in this case), and you've got yourself a worthy depiction. It's much better to listen to (as BNL once again coordinates the words with interesting varying sounds-- like the marching feet subtly heard in the background), but read it through and you start to get the point."

This is one amazingly powerful statement rolled into a song. It is worth listening to every so often just to remind myself what a gigantic mess that whole thing was (and still is, unfortunately), and reinforces my already rock-solid opinion of the misplaced values of the previous administration. A sad chapter in our country's history, indeed.

Well, these BNL posts aren't meant to be all political, but this one was worth noting the significance of that song for me. Next week brings us to the guys' only children's release, and the last album that they will have created as a party of five.

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

nightstand notes/wanna view some reviews?

Yuppers, another two-fer this month, as 5 Minutes for Books asks you to give us a peek at the pile of books that are next in line for your reading consumption. From last month's nightstand, I am actually quite pleased to report that I finished four out of the five, with only one just not catching me in the first few chapters. That one's been tabled for now (shelved, I guess), and I've moved on to greener pastures. Right now, this is what I'm looking at:

* Not That Kind of Girl by Carlene Bauer-- I'm just a bit over halfway through, and while I'm enjoying this uniquely written memoir, I'm thinking that it's going to be challenging to review... there's a lot going on here, and it's less strictly chronological, but more philosophical in nature. Above all, I do feel confident in saying that I would love to sit and chat with Bauer-- she's incredibly introspective, and I so love that!

* Overcoming ADHD: Helping Your Child Become Calm, Engaged and Focused-- Without a Pill by Stanley Greenspan-- I've just started this one, and I have to admit to a very large dose of skepticism about the title alone, having some direct experience with ADHD in multiple forms... we'll see how this one goes...

* Spooner by Pete Dexter-- Alright, I admit that I've read the first chapter of this new novel, but I was somewhat distracted and when I got to that point, I realized that it's written with a very distinctive voice that may require me paying more attention. I'll pick it up again, when I have a few quiet moments to refocus.

* Mother Daze: Tales from the Imperfect Playground by Christine Carr will be up soon, and I'm looking forward to hopefully being able to laugh along with this one.

* Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank is a new YA novel that I'm going to try out. Don't know much about it yet, but I'm thinking that I shoud read more YA just for the heck of it.

And while we're talking books, if you're interested, here are some links to my last month's worth of reviews:

* A wonderful audiobook of folk tales and stories: Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder.

* A BEAUTIFUL storybook and CD of Pete Yarrow singing classic Americana songs: Let's Sing Together!

* Just about the most anticipated YA novel of the year: Catching Fire.

* An adorable and rhythmic picture book about the blues, and um, bugs: The Daddy Longlegs Blues.

* A boisterous and colorful picture book about the perils of the hiccups: The Hiccupotamus.

* An incredibly practical (and sometimes much-needed) parenting guide: Liking the Child You Love.

* A DC-based author's memoir about following women's magazines' advice for a year: Up for Renewal-- The giveaway is still open until later tonight, so go enter!!

* A new middle-grade novel just in time for this year's holidays: Secrets of a Christmas Box.

There you have it-- what I've read and reviewed, along with what's coming down the pike. Boy, I love this whole world of books and blogging! What are you planning to read this month? Link on up with us!

With much book love,

Monday, September 21, 2009

if it's September in DC...

... it's National Book Festival time!! Oh dear, I'm a blob of enthusiasm over this event each and every year, and this year is going to be phenomenal. With an author appearance list that insists upon being read with accompanying shouts of "ooooh!" and "yaaaay!" NBF 2009 promises excitement and fun.

But this excitement and fun cannot happen without a little work this year for me, and I'm calling upon you lovers-of-books and thinkers-of-creative-thoughts for some assistance. I took the plunge and applied for a press pass for this year's festival, knowing that I'd be writing about it for 5 Minutes for Books, and most especially because of the WAY impressive list of authors. Okay, okay, if you know me, then you know my primary motivation was because of one name on that author list. It just so happens that my favorite children's author ever, the one who I feared Red had scared off the book-signing-circuit back in January, the one and only Mo Willems is on that very author list! Oh yes, I filled out that form and hoped that it might all somehow come together...

Guess what? It's totally come together! This Saturday, I will have the pleasure and the honor of conducting two author interviews in the Media Tent of the National Book Festival, and I'm literally shaking with excitement and terror. Terror, you ask? Well, uh, yeah! What in the world can I ask these two amazing authors that doesn't fall under the category of "Been Asked That At Least 746 Times, and Now You're Boring Me!" questions? That's where you all come in. I figure if I get five questions in during my very brief interview window, I'll be lucky, but I want those five questions to be noteworthy. Exceptional. Memorable. And at least a little bit humorous, perhaps. (But not in a screaming toddler kind of way for memorable or funny.) Here's some info:

First up, my pal Mo. (It says so on my Leonardo cover.) Known for his amazing collection of books featuring Pigeon, Trixie and Knuffle Bunny, Gerald and Piggie, Leonardo, Edwina, and Naked Mole Rat, Mo is adding a new buddy to the mix, with Big Frog Can't Fit In! - a unique, 'pop-out' book that is cute and absolutely adored by my children. This man has created the books that I most loved to read to my preschool classes when I was still teaching, and whose books now grace my shelves at home, where they are enthusiastically pulled down by the kids (and me) for readings on laps and in beds. What can I ask the creator of my very favorite children's books? Please help me to not stand in front of this man for five minutes in silence with a crazed-fan-face plastered on!

Speaking of being potentially frozen in place by a celebrity-- check out the other amazing author I get to chat with, Craig Hatkoff. Aside from his life as a philanthropist, real estate investor, and co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, he's also a successful nonfiction children's author, as well! With several beautiful books already under his belt, he also has a new one coming out called Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again. Having looked at the new one, along with the Owen and Mzee, Miza, and Knut books, I'm really impressed with his storytelling and the collaborative work he's done with his own young daughters on these books. So, this guy starts film festivals with Robert de Niro... help me not make a fool of myself in front of him!

Alright, I do have some ideas of my own as a starting point, but I really want to make my book reviews of their new titles for 5M4B truly dazzle with the added experience of having been able to talk with the authors. I'm counting on your wit and wisdom, folks. You have a few days to put your noggins to work. Let me see what you got!

Believing in the power of brainstorming,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

this week's guffaws

Don't call this a cop-out, but this guffaws round will simply give a shout-out to three sites that regularly provide online laughter fodder. I may have mentioned them before, but they are always good for a revisit, since the funnies just keep coming!

Let's start with a no-brainer: The FAIL Blog
A constant source for refrains of, "Oh no they didn't!" Apparently, yes they did. The FAIL blog is my favorite go-to site for photos of the ridiculous that abounds in our world. Take a look at a few recent ones:

Really?? No copy editor noticed this one??

Oh, if you don't know the language, you should not be in charge of making children's clothing with that language on there. Simple as that.

Wow. THAT'S strict. My kids complain about the no-food-on-the-couch rule.

A cousin of the Fail Blog is up next. There, I Fixed It is a newer site that showcases all the DIY messes that shouldn't ever have been done in the first place. Hubby likes this particular site... I'm pretty sure that he's hoping nothing he's done-it-himself ever ends up on there.

I wonder how LONG that took to put together... long enough to justify not reaching for a different remote when necessary??

No messing with this soccer mom.

No view for you!

Finally, there's a site that makes me laugh and cringe and cry and gasp every single time I look at it. That's right, people, I'm plugging Awkward Family Photos! If you haven't seen this one yet, you need to email all your friends and ask why they haven't sent you the forwards! There are millions that I'd love to highlight from this one, but here are some from just the most recent postings. Oh my, oh my. (Oh, and I'm stealing their quotes below the photos, because there's no way I can beat the humor factor there!)

Saturday Night Special: The Prize:
Clearly, a win-win.

We’re betting on the mullet.

Somebody in this photo isn’t so sure.

Holy crow, that last one slays me. I'm sitting on my couch laughing that recovering-from-a-cold-but-sounds-like-a-lifelong-smoker kind of laugh, and I simply cannot stop. Must. Look. Away.

Check out the sites for more daily laughs-- good for some quick pick-me-ups that are (mostly) safe to view at work.

Sending you on your merry way to the humor jewels of the Internets,

Friday, September 18, 2009

which way do I go?

As the final day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I thought I'd take their Setting Goals! Challenge:

Write in 50 words or less…what do you like best about your blog right now and where would you like your blog to be a year from now?

Well, I feel like I need to first say that I feel a bit like a 'book blogger' poseur... I never set out to have my silly little blog be a book blog, per se, but it seems that in the last year or so, books have begun to play an even greater part of my life than ever before. I've always been a reader-- the kid who stayed up WAY too late on school nights reading into the wee hours of the night and the adult who always made the most of her library card-- but since I began writing reviews for 5 Minutes for Books, reading has become integral to my each and every day. So, I guess that has naturally made its way into my blogging as well, although I'm still not sure that I would qualify as an 'official' book blogger, if there is such a thing. So, with that little prologue in mind, which I am NOT counting toward my 50 words (and shouldn't it be fewer instead of less??), let's set some goals.

I (shamefully) want to gain a larger readership, not for fame or fortune (HA!), but because I LOVE feedback (comment-whore), and I feel just a little closer to my childhood dream of being a writer knowing that people are actually reading. I want to share the good (gratitude, remember?)- kids, hubby, books and all.

Okay, considering that a few of those words are half-sized, does that mean that I made it in under the word limit? Perhaps a goal should be more brevity, but honestly, where's the fun in that?

Time to give props to the BBAW folks for a fun week of sharing the book and blogging love!

Until next year,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

blathering nonsense (about) lyrics

Oh my. We're up to what is quite possibly my most frequently played BNL release, at least for the time being. Maybe it's because we're getting to their most recent CDs, or maybe it's because it's just one helluva good disc. Seriously, upon my first look through to get an idea of the top five that I'd highlight here, I picked eight. Uh-oh. This is going to be a challenge.

So with Barenaked Ladies Are Me, the former fivesome present an amazing set of seemingly more guitar-heavy songs that retain their signature style in lyrics, again making for sing-along perfect selections. Among my favorite favorites (remember, this one is particularly difficult!) is Easy, which features Ed on lead vocals and an undeniably catchy beat, and yes, it's another one of those contentious-relationship-songs that I've discovered are so very common in their repertoire. Moving on... guess what? Let's focus on another Ed-lead-vocaled song, Take it Back. With freaking brilliant lyrics ("So save me from a villainous imagination, Deliver me from my friends"), this song astounds me each and every time I listen to it. Listen for the commentary on airport security. Brilliant. Next comes Wind Me Up-- the song that I find perfect for getting my heart rate up as I clean the kitchen after dinner. (Please do not try to imagine me boogying in my white-lady-with-no-rhythm-dancing-style as I wipe counters and wash dishes. Trust me.) That is one fun, rocking song. And finally, I can't imagine that there has ever before been a song written about a bank-robbing group getting foiled by a 'bank full of nuns.' Well, BNL had to remedy that with Bank Job, and if you want to hear original lyrics, this is the BNL song to check out. I have to admit, also, that it makes for a surprisingly endearing lullaby.

Now, what did you say there? Did I actually choose four songs that ALL feature Ed on lead vocals? Yes, it's true, and maybe that's why this album feels so unique to me. But fear not, my absolute top pick is definitely a Steve song, although now that Steve has moved on, the 'new' version (with Kevin singing lead, as he did write it and all...) is sadly not even listenable to me. When the album was released, BNL created a video using some of the most well-known youtube celebs lip-synching to the song, which is what I've put up here for your entertainment.

Album: Barenaked Ladies Are Me
Year of Release: 2006
Song: Sound of Your Voice
Words & Music by Kevin Hearn

The moon is full but there is an incompleteness
The days are beautiful but I feel a bitter sweetness
If I had a wish, or even a choice
I'd wake up to the sound of your voice
How I miss waking up to the sound of your voice

I let you down and fell right off of your good list
I hope each day you'll find peace and forgiveness
The alarm clock rings, What a lonely noise
And I long for the sound of your voice
Oh, how I miss waking up to the sound of your voice

Take it from me: there's not much to see
In this void

The saying goes there will be other dances (don't give up)
This little song is about second chances
Just say the word and I will rejoice
And wake up to the sound of your voice
Oh, how I miss waking up to the sound
To the sound (sound)
To the sound (to the sound)
To the sound
Waking up to the sound of your voice

Take it from me: there's not much to see
In this void

So, the lyrics are actually quite lovely, but what makes this song for me... broken record, I know... is Steve's voice. The strength and forcefulness of how he begins some of those lines blows me away. And how about that video? The two brothers at the beginning are by far my favorites, and you can watch their full video version of the song online, too. Funny stuff.

Wondering what Wednesdays will mean around here when I've exhausted all the BNL discs,