Tag Archives: Lisa

Presidential Puppy

Obama Portuguese Water Dog Bo by Daniel Semper.

image by Daniel Semper

Getting a new pet is always exciting, but imagine if you were a puppy, and you got a new home, and it just so happened to be the White House.  This past week, Sasha and Mailia Obama got the puppy they earned, Bo, a six month old Portuguese water dog with family ties to Pittsburgh.   Bo’s father, Watson, is a pet and breeding dog to a family from Ambridge.  

Historically, first families have resided with a variety of first pets. Canine companions appear to be the most prevalent, however, silkworms, alligators and opossums are among some of the more unusual creatures on the list of presidential pets.  Founded in 1999, the Presidential Pet Museum in Williamsburg, Virginia has answers to everything you want to know about first pets.  

Test your knowledge of White House pets by matching the pet with its presidential pal.

- Lisa

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All Dressed Up and No Place to Go

People walk with a purpose, for a purpose and sometimes with no purpose at all. The latter is my favorite. Whether you walk around the block or to the other side of the river, making the time to traverse and wander is a great way to clear your mind or sort your thoughts. Take a look at some of these titles that explore the art of walking.

book jacket

The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism by Geoff Nicholson

Nicholson chronicles this simple tradition by examining it through musicians, filmmakers, writers and everyday pedestrians.

book jacket

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

 A historical look at pedestrianism, Solnit exhibits the significance of walking for transportation of both the body and the mind.


book jacket The Walk: Notes on a Romantic Image by Jeffrey C. Robinson

 An introspective commentary on solitary walking, literature on walking, and walking after dark.


If you’re in need of a saunter, stroll, meander, wander or promenade, try these walking guides: Great Little Walks: A Guide to Walks on the Great Allegheny Passage & Connecting Trails in the Pittsburgh Area, Pittsburgh Art in Public Places: Downtown Walking Tour and Allegheny County Courthouse and Jail Walking Tour.

- Lisa

  • special thanks to Laura for the blogspiration!


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Short Writing for Short Attention Spans

Lately I’ve been scanning our Short Story shelves, trying to find a cure for my case of the reading blahs.  There are two ways I go about choosing titles, which fall into two categories.  Category one: books with eye catching covers.  Category two: books with good reputations from trustworthy sources. 

book jacketThe Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God and Other Stories by Etgar Keret

This title falls under “category two,” books recommended from reliable sources.  Regretably, I put this book off and had to return it without ever even reading a word.  The film Wristcutters was based on the novella Kneller’s Happy Campers, included in this volumeThis is one I’ll definitely try to revisit in the near future. 

book jacketA Working Stiff’s Manifesto: A Memoir of Thirty Jobs I Quit, Nine that Fired Me, and Three I Can’t Remember by Iain Levison

This is also one I like to refer to as a “category two” book. Despite the fact that this is not a short story, at just over 160 pages, it’s still an extremely quick read.  The majority of the memoir tells of Levison’s experience working in the Alaskan fishing industry.  A hilarious and truly honest tale that is perfect for anyone who has scoured the classified ads or sat in a classroom for five years. 

book jacketDemons in the Spring by Joe Meno

This may seem extremely shallow, but my immediate attraction to this book was based on looks alone.  I did it–I judged a book by its cover, and glad I did.  Illustrated by artists from the fine art, graphic and comic book realms, Meno creates a touching and almost cinematic work of fiction.

- Lisa


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Hey, Ladies

12 angry women. First all woman jury in California, Nov. 2, 1911.  Photograph from the George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)

12 angry women. First all woman jury in California, Nov. 2, 1911. Photograph from the George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)

 In 1978, women’s history was celebrated over the course of one week.  After getting hip to the events of ladies’ place in history, in 1987 the National Women’s History Project convinced Congress to legally change the celebration to an entire month.  Here at the library, we’re celebrating the accomplishments of women with a three part Women’s History Month Series.  All events take place in Quiet Reading Room

Part I – Raging Grannies                                                                                  
Wednesday, March 4
6:30 to 7:30pm
In the tradition of wise women elders, the Pittsburgh Raging Grannies raise public awareness through song and humor. In this program they share personal and group history along with their homespun peace- and justice-focused tunes.

Thursday, March 12
6:30 to 7:30pm
The ladies of the founding chapter of LUPEC will grace us with an interactive presentation on local women’s history.  May involve a game show and general unruliness.

Part III – Julia Warhola – Andy’s Mother
Thursday, March 26
6:30 to 7:30pm
Andy Warhol’s mother Julia was an artist herself. Come learn about her life, visual artwork and singing from Warhol Museum teaching artists.

- Lisa

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Happy Birthday, Eleventh Stack!

Today is the first birthdayof the Eleventh Stack blog!  To celebrate we’re offering a team smorgasbord of wit and wisdom on libraries, blogging, or, well, whatever:

One year ago today, Eleventh Stack sounded its barbaric yawp over the rooftops of Pittsburgh.  Our fans seem to enjoy both poetry and film, so here’s a little gift that combines both:

You can, of course, continue that trip down cinematic memory lane by borrowing the film from us. Thanks for reading along with the blog team, and don’t be shy about making those comments and suggestions…we want to make this the best darn library blog ever, but we need you to help us keep it real and relevant, Pittsburgh.


–Leigh Anne


To celebrate our blog’s birthday we’ve invited our favorite one-ring circus clowns to juggle bananas while singing Happy Birthday in two keys at the same time.
Lorenzo Pickle (Larry Pisoni) with the Pickle Family Circus

Lorenzo Pickle (Larry Pisoni) with the Pickle Family Circus

- Julie


Now might be a good time to listen to Marilyn Monroe breathily singing “Happy Birthday” to JFK

– Tim


I like to pick a birthday ritual and do it for as many of my friends and family as possible for one calendar year.  Happy Birthday to You by Dr. Seuss read aloud was the ritual a few years ago. I would show up at peoples’ places of work or on their phone, etc. I know it’s not this year’s ritual (haven’t figured one out yet, better get on it ) but it’s really appropriate for this occasion. So please check it out and read it to yourself. All of you. It is very trippy and if you don’t enjoy it something is wrong.

- Jude



Happy 38th, Sean

I’m proud to say that the Eleventh Stack blog shares a birthday with one of the greatest actors of our time, Sean Astin.  Not only did he portray the heroic Mikey in the most important movie of the last twenty-five years, The Goonies, he also played the role of the hobbit Sam in the film rendition of the deservedly hyped Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Oh, and let’s not forget his role as the inspirational Rudy.



 According to The Secret Language of Birthdays, those born on February 25 are strong individuals with a belief in universal goals and a higher purpose.  And sharing a birthday with George Harrison, Marcel Pagnol, and Jim Backus isn’t too shabby either.  Happy birthday, Eleventh Stack!


After a year’s worth of blogging, I believe I’ve now learned why, throughout the centuries, the writing, publishing, and reading of personal journals was so popular. By roundabout way of sharing my surmise, I’d like to point you to a poem by one of my favorite poets, Gerald Stern, Pittsburgh born and bred, that celebrates, at least in part, a very specific place: the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where you can get the above mentioned journals, Mr. Stern’s oeuvre, and Eleventh Stack, which, when you think about it, is something of a journal of this very American institution.


Stepping Out of Poetry


What would you give for one of the old yellow streetcars

rocking toward you again through the thick snow?


What would you give for the feeling of joy as you climbed

up the three iron steps and took your place by the cold window?


Oh, what would you give to pick up your stack of books

and walk down the icy path in front of the library?


What would you give for your dream

to be as clear and simple as it was then

in the dark afternoons, at the old scarred tables?


                       Gerald Stern




If today is Eleventh Stack’s birthday, then that makes her a Pisces.  I love Pisceansno wonder we get along so well!



Happy Birthday, Eleventh Stack! In the tradition of the unreality of social networking, I’m giving you a virtual (read: imaginary) handmade birthday gift! Although you may be able to use a lovely knitted item – you know, in case your, uh, wires get cold – I think a handmade journal might suit you best. Especially with a retro card.



Happy Birthday, Eleventh Stack.  I wanted to make you a birthday treat. I couldn’t decide if I should make you cupcakes or a birthday cake…so I made you both….enjoy!

First Birthday Cake by hfb.

- Lisa




Eleventh Stack, you may only be one, but you make us laugh, you give us book recommendations, you challenge our ideas about the world, you teach us, and you make us love libraries more than we ever thought possible.


Happy birthday, you cute little one-year old baby library blog!



–Eleventh Stack


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Ladies and Gentlemen…

…the Beatles!

Forty-five years ago today, the Beatles made their first live American television appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” providing captivating entertainment for an estimated 73 million viewers.  Rediscover (or perhaps discover) this moment in music history…

- Lisa


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First Day on the Job

Fellow blogger, MA wrote a great post yesterday on the inauguration of President Barack Obama.  This being such a historic occasion, there are a lot of commentary and thoughts about the event.  President Obama’s inaugural address was posted on the internet soon after it was delivered.  And, while trying to find late-breaking  images of yesterday’s events, I stumbled open an entire Inauguration 2009 Flickr group pool of pictures. 

Our country’s 200+ year Presidential Inaugural tradition has some interesting history.   For example, the swearing-in traditionally takes place before noon, and only two inaugurations were moved indoors due to cold weather (William Taft in 1909 and Ronald Reagan in  1985).  The library has a few books on the subject if you’re interested in reading more.  You can also check out the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to view videos of previous inaugurations.

- Lisa

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A Sort of Best of Stuff List…

It’s hard to believe, 2008 is just a blur now and it seems like it was only yesterday the Eleventh Stack team was working on creating our blog.  This being the last post of the year, we found it most appropriate to list our favorite library materials encountered in 2008. 

A Sort of Best of Stuff List (in no particular order):

Leigh AnneSnake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love, Anne Thomas Soffee- After a horrible breakup that sends her into a tailspin, Soffee tries to cheer herself up by taking a belly dancing class. Much to her surprise, she loves it, and her subsequent adventures on the amateur bellydance scene are both hysterically funny and inspirational in a snarky, hipster-grrrl kind of way. Recommended for alterna-queens and misfit wimmin who need a little reminder of just how fabulous they really are.

book-thiefAmyThe Book Thief, Markus Zusak – Death tells us the story of a young German girl growing up during WWII. Be sure to look under the dust jacket and enjoy the colors of the book, too. 


RenéeJessica Farm. Volume 1 (January 2000 – December 2007), Josh Simmons – Both Jung and Freud acknowledged the symbolism of houses in dreams and ascribed rooms and floors to coincide with different aspects of the psyche, and both of them would have a field day with Josh Simmons’ graphic novel Jessica Farm, which navigates a plot with dream logic that darts between dread and joy as Jessica wanders from room to room, meeting different “house friends” at every turn.  Simmons, who creates new self-imposed constraints for each of his projects, created a page every month for Jessica farm, meaning that he expects to finish volume 2 sometime around 2016.

indexKaarinJennifer Crusie was my friend on all my trips.  We have downloadable audio available at the library.  She’s just so good and she writes these characters that are really smart and relateable. 



 Tim…Best Live Album for Drummers Who Don’t Need Guitarists: Superroots 9,  Boredoms – With 3 drummers, turntables/DJs, and a 24 piece choir, this live recording from 2004 but released in 2008, fills any drummers’ deep desire to hear ethereal voices and sound effects with pummeling drums underneath.

finding-timeDonFinding Time Again, Marcel Proust                                   



game-of-thrones1Wes…The most life changing reading experience of 2008 for me was George R.R. Martin’s amazing high fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.  I started reading the first book in the series, A Game of Thrones, almost exactly a year ago.  It kept me up late a number of nights, and so did the next three books, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows.  If we’re lucky, the fifth book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, will be released sometime in 2009.  If we’re even luckier, HBO will officially announce that A Song of Ice and Fire is being made into a regular television series


JulieHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami – This compelling novel is really two parallel stories. Hard-Boiled Wonderland is set in near-future Tokyo. The End of the World is an allegorical walled city, whose nameless inhabitants live with dim memories of life outside the walls. Read this novel for a wild ride of mirroring realities.

loveIrene…In 2008 I was lucky enough to read some fantastic new authors (Miranda July, Deb Olin Unferth). But I think I’d have to say that my favorite thing I read would have to be the Love and Rockets series, by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez (aka Los Bros Hernandez). I discovered that the comics had been anthologized by story line, and revisited all of the Palomar stories (in Heartbreak Soup and Beyond Palomar), and the “Loca” stories (in Locas: The Maggie And Hopey Stories and Perla La Loca). Re-reading these reminded me why I had loved them so much in the first place.

middlefingerBonnie…My favorite book of 2008 was God’s Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre, Richard Grant. The first line sold me: “So this is what it feels like to be hunted.”  It was the ultimate travel and adventure book, with a charming author and interesting facts and stories on the people groups of the Sierra Madre Mountains.  The locale’s bizarre history is mixed in with Richard Grant’s perilous and foolhardy adventures.  I highly recommend this title to anyone wishing for an adventure.

drsexLisa…My favorite book of 2008 was The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories, Pagan Kennedy – so great that I checked it out twice this year.  Kennedy mostly writes about eccentric innovators and thinkers of the twentieth century.  There’s also a brief essay on Alex Comfort and a few insightful personal essays.  What do the subjects in Kennedy’s essays have in common?  They are all trying to reinvent the world into a better, funnier, smarter and more responsive place.  Can’t argue with that.


- Lisa (special thanks to everyone who contributed)



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Home too long for the Holidays

Eleventh Stackers have been posting a lot about the holidays lately, which made me think about the biggest holiday challenge of all…extended time with family. Don’t get me wrong, most people (including myself) consider themselves fortunate to have a loving family, even if at times it seems as though DNA is the only thing we have in common. If you find yourself caught  in the web of family dysfunction, get yourself out with these hilarious and at times all too accurate portrayals.

  Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris – Exactly what you would expect – hilarity and family dysfunction to the nth degree. What could be more comforting?

The Savages – The exact opposite of a “feel good” type movie.  Bleak, lonely and heartbreakingly real family issues.  Just when you want to cry, you will find yourself cracking up.

book jacket An Idiot Girl’s Christmas: True Tales from the Top of the Naughty List, Laurie Notaro – Another holiday filled with the expected Notaro family horrors.

book jacket The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales - Just when you thought your holidays couldn’t get any worse, read about somebody’s who already have.

- Lisa


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Holiday Host(ess)

Halloween is behind us, Thanksgiving is approaching and several fellow bloggers have already got started on posting helpful hints for the impending holiday season. If the stress of cooking, baking and gift giving isn’t enough, party hosting is another panic-inducing duty to add to the list. Yes, hosting a party is optional and you can always try to talk someone else into doing it. Although with excellent examples of party hosts like my personal favorite, Amy Sedaris, and the number of party planning books in the library’s collection, how could you not be tempted?! 

Details to consider when hosting a successful party:

  • Pick an appropriate place, date and time. If you’re feeling ambitious, and the holidays aren’t enough of a theme, go for something more specific.
  • Make a list of people to invite. Consider a mix of people from various social sectors of your life.  
  • We live in the digital age: email, evite, post it on your Facebook, whatever. Feeling more traditional? Make some invitations!
  • Plan a menu and make a shopping list. The holidays are the right time for something fancy!
  • Get out your boombox or warm up your computer to get some music cranking, an essential to any successful party.
  • Pick out a cute outfit. You’re the host, so you’ll want to look sharp.
  • No one wants to see your dirty house, so clean up a little.

Planning a party can be stressful.  My personal advice, relax and try to have as good a time as your guests.

- Lisa

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