Monthly Archives: October 2013

Looking to Look Your Best? We Can Help You with That!

clothesWell, not us, per se, but our books can.

Although you might not always be able to tell from looking at me, I am interested in fashion. Not in the haute couture, runways and fashion week kind of way, but more in the “I like to look my best and make sure that what I’m wearing flatters and doesn’t make me look worse” kind of way. I hear from a lot of people that they can’t wear this or that color or type of clothing. I believe that if you are able to locate something that fits you well, everyone can wear just about anything. (Except skinny jeans: I draw the line at skinny jeans for a lot of people!)

I also have more than a passing interest in makeup and skin care. As a woman-of-a-certain-age, I have to wear different makeup and use different skin care products than I did 20 years ago. I like to research what works best for my skin type and particular issues I am having. I also prefer to find bargains, rather than paying exorbitant prices for a tiny, little jar of something that might not even work.
I have found several books at the Library helpful for both my makeup and wardrobe investigations. Below are some of the items I have used and benefitted from. Even if you are skeptical about this sort of thing, try one. You just might find a tip that will improve your whole outlook.

You Are What You Wear: What Your Clothes Reveal about You by Jennifer J. Baumgartner – Each chapter of this book reads like a What Not to Wear episode. You are presented with a wardrobe dilemma (look is outdated, have a shopping addiction, if you dress too revealingly) and then the author walks you step by step through the thought and organization process to change. My only wish was that this book had pictures. Oh, and color.

Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful: Beauty Stories to Inspire Confidence, Start-to-Finish Makeup Techniques to Achieve Fabulous Looks by Bobbi Brown with Sara Bliss – This guidebook is part makeup techniques and part inspirations for living. You decide what kind of person you are (in temperament and lifestyle, as well as beauty routine) and you get a template for daytime and nighttime makeup application. Then you get to meet several women who embody that style, both famous and not. There’s a picture of each with and without makeup, plus a little bit of their “story”. Affirmation that truly beautiful women come in all shapes, sizes, colors and walks of life.

Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: The Fascinating History of Everything in Your Closet by Tim Gunn with Ada Calhoun – Like the sub-title states, this book is less about helping you find the right clothes to fit your frame and more about giving you the history of everything from miniskirts to capri pants to high heels. I find it all fascinating, plus I love all of the old fashion photos.

The Wardrobe Wakeup: Your Guide to Looking Fabulous at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson – Fashion advice for those of us at the other end of the age spectrum. How to look chic without dressing like your daughter or granddaughter. “Clothes are a necessity, fashion is an option, and style is your choice.” AMEN!

Jemma Kidd Make-Up Secrets by Jemma Kidd– Looking for step-by-step instructions and diagrams for the application of every type of makeup known to womankind? Then this is your book! A teenage girl I know is always asking me for makeup advice. (“How do you do a smoky eye?) I think I’ll be giving her this book instead of trying to explain it myself.

I Want to Be Her!: How Friends & Strangers Helped Shape My Style by Andrea Linett – The author provides a backdrop of her style for each phase of her life thus far – childhood, high school, the Hamptons, college, the magazine years – and then gives names, bios, and style choices of those she was acquainted with during that time who influenced her style and how. This could be as simple as “wear what you love.”

The Truth about Style by Stacy London – This is all about “Yes…and?” Yes, you may have certain issues with your body, but you need to accept them, not ignore them. And then you can begin to dress in a way that emphasizes what you want to, and minimize what you don’t. Each chapter is a woman who wrote her a letter asking for fashion advice. Stacy then breaks down each woman’s ʺproblemsʺ giving solutions for each and explaining why. You get to learn about Stacy too. For example, do you know why she went from a size 10 in season one to a size 4 in season two?

How to Look Expensive: A Beauty Editor’s Secrets to Getting Gorgeous without Breaking the Bank by Andrea Pomerantz Lustig – I love, Love, LOVE this book. A professional magazine beauty editor gives out the secrets for how to look your best, even when on a budget. For each high-end product that she recommends, she also gives a budget-friendly alternative. There are also instructions for achieving certain “looks” sprinkled throughout. I made a list of all the products I wanted to purchase and took the list shopping with me. I found, purchased, and have really liked several things that I would never have tried without this book.

Wear This Now: Your Style Solution for Every Season and Any Occasion by Michelle Madhok with Eileen Conlan – You’ll probably want to buy this book and keep it on your shelf as a reference. It breaks down every season, telling you what’s on sale to buy now (for other seasons), what pieces are must-haves for the season’s wardrobe and helpful advice on how to select and wear certain pieces of clothing – “How to Wear Thigh-High Boots, without Looking Like a Hooker” anyone? Plus the added bonus of what outfits you should wear for every possible occasion from a New Year’s Day Brunch to meeting the future in-laws to an orthodox wedding. Practical advice all around!

How to Look Hot in a Minivan: A Real Woman’s Guide to Losing Weight, Looking Great, and Dressing Chic in the Age of the Celebrity Mom by Janice Min – How to look and feel great after having a child (or children) is the premise for this one. Basics for revamping your wardrobe, hair, makeup and even your refrigerator to make sure that you can be at your best no matter how little time you may have for yourself (It was interesting to see that some of the makeup and skin products recommended matched those in the book above).

Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott – Based on the idea of quality over quantity, this book has lessons for life in many different areas and in general. There is a very nice section on wardrobe choices and skin care, but fair warning that some of the ideas espoused are a bit dated by current “American” standards.  And I’m not sure I, personally, could EVER really get behind the 10 item wardrobe idea…

Happy Shopping!
-Melissa M.

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A Bloody Post.

Toad

I love swearing.

There. It’s out there.

In nearly every other way I am very professional librarian: I got the old business casual down to a science,  I do my work in an efficient and organized manner, I read Library Journal, American Libraries and Booklist. Clearly I am the picture of excitement.

Yet I have the mouth of a drunken sailor. There is something so very, very satisfying about a perfectly placed cuss word. I’m also all about putting two bad words together and creating a whole new, fabulous swear word (this happens a lot when I drive.) I tried to curb my cursing by putting a quarter in a cup every time I dropped an f-bomb. By the end of the day I had enough to go to Piper’s Pub for a nice lunch. I gave up, decided to embrace my foul mouth and hope I don’t swear too much around kids.

Imagine my joy when I discovered this article at Salon.com. How, with my great love of profanity, have I never read about the history of bad language? I immediately ordered Melissa Mohr’s new book, Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, and I was on my way!

As every reader knows, that led down a rabbit hole of information and before you knew it, this happened:

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Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English, Geoffrey Hughes

Chosen as a Book of the Year by The Observer, reviewer Valentine Cunningham called Swearing a “deliciously filthy trawl among taboo words across the ages and the globe.” Interesting fact: The definition of efflorescence. (This book is a bit, uh, dry.)

The Anatomy of Swearing, Ashley Montagu

Written by a social biologist, The Anatomy of Swearing was written in 1967 so it’s a bit dated. I suspect Ashley Montagu never would have imagined her local librarian freely yelling the f-word in traffic. Interesting fact: People swear more when they are relaxed and happy.

The F-Word, edited by Jesse Sheidlower (former editor of the OED, so you know he’s good.)

This book speaks to me on so many levels! It’s an encyclopedia of various forms of the f-word. Alas, I am sad to report that several words I thought I made up have been in use for hundreds of years. Interesting fact: The earliest known publication of the f-word in the United States was actually in a legal case involving slander and a horse. My mother reads this blog, so you’ll have to look it up yourself.

Expletive Deleted: A Good Look at Bad Language, Ruth Wajnryb

Expletive Deleted is an idiosyncratic romp through swearing history. Wajnryb obviously loves language(s) and studies not only English cursing, but goes global! She also makes a decent argument that we swear because we can’t just slug people. Interesting fact: I am dysphemistic, in that I deliberately use an offensive word in place of a more neutral one.

For fun: Shakespearean cussing!

suzy, who is proud of herself for not swearing once in this whole post!

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Werewolves, and Vampires, and…..Lawn Weenies?

In honor of Halloween, I started doing research about different styles of books and different stories that would be scary or good reads for the holiday. I found the normal variety of stories that included werewolves and vampires, but I also found an interesting collection of short stories that provide an alternate to other Halloween tales. The following books are the ones I found interesting and relevant for the holiday, but be warned: I tell you what type of tale each book is in the description, so if you don’t want to know what the book is about then don’t continue reading.

13 to Life, by Shannon Delany, is an interesting take on a werewolf story. It does not take the typical point of view about werewolves and it contains an interesting storyline. This is the first book in the series, and I’m looking forward to reading more. The story is about a girl dealing with the loss of her mother and a changing personal world in a small town. The main character is easy to relate to and has qualities that I think a lot of young female readers exemplify. It’s a good book to pick up if you enjoy reading series and like werewolves.

13-to-life book cover

Bloodline, by Kate Cary, is a vampire tale. If you like the original Dracula by Bram Stoker, you would probably enjoy this book as well. The story is about the continuation of Dracula’s bloodline, and how a young woman and young man try and stop it. The story uses some lines and background from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and that makes the story interesting, because it continues the story instead of jumping hundreds of years into the future and starting a vampire story from scratch. Overall, it is an interesting story, however it is written in the form of diary entries and letters; if that type of writing is bothersome, then I wouldn’t read it.

Bloodline Book Cover

Gravediggers: Mountain of Bones by Christopher Krovatin is a zombie tale. This is the first book in a series. The story is about three students who go on a nature trip with their school and how the save the camp from zombies. That of course is the most basic and general line for the book. The book is written from each student’s perspective. It’s a tale of making friends and dealing with changes in life and learning more about who each character is to his or herself. I definitely got sucked into the story and how the kids were going to deal with the challenges they faced.

Gravedigger Book Cover

In the Land of the Lawn Weenies by David Luba is the book that can’t quite be defined by only one type of tale. The book is a collection of different short stories that are all a little creepy and scary. It’s a great book for a quick read, but beware not all the stories have complete endings. Most of the short stories let the reader decide exactly what happened in the end.

Lawn Weenies Book Cover

–Abbey

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Let’s Talk About It!

MJbanner

In conjunction with the Allegheny County Library Association‘s ongoing Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys initiative, in May our First Floor librarians applied for and received a grant from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant will allow us to present an exciting five-part reading and discussion  series titled Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, Literary Reflections, led by history professor Dr. Christiana Michelmore.

Dr. Michelmore received her B.A. from Smith College and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, both in history. For seven years she lived and worked in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Pakistan. Until her retirement in 2013, she was chair of the Department of History, Political Science and International Studies at Chatham University. In addition to her commentary on the literary significance of the selections, Dr. Michelmore will offer her historical insights as well.

We’ll meet on Tuesday evenings in the Director’s Conference Room, First Floor at Main, at 6:30 p.m. All of the selections are available in our library collection. The dates and titles for our discussions are:

October 29: The Arabian Nights

These tales from the alluring and clever Shahrazad are presented in a wonderful translation by Husain Haddawy of Iraq. Dr. Michelmore has requested that we read tales 8-10 (that’s the framing story). Additionally, “The Story of the Porter and the Three Ladies” and “The Story of the Three Apples” are suggested. Of course, read as many as you like. Enjoy!

November 19: The Conference of the Birds

Farid al-din Attar, translated by Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi, The Conference of the Birds offers an accessible introduction to mystical Islam and its poetry. Read as many poems as you choose.

December 10: Snow, by Orhan Pamuk

Set in Pamuk’s native Turkey, this novel follows Ka, a poet and journalist who travels from Germany to Kars to investigate the suicides of some local women engaged in political resistance.

January 7: Dreams of Trespass, by Fatima Mernissi

Mernissi’s memoir of her life in a Moroccan harem provides a vivid portrait of a country struggling with great changes in the mid-twentieth century.

January 28: Minaret, by Leila Aboulela

The novel follows Najwa, a Sudanese woman who has moved to England. She finds empowerment through her Islamic faith, and perhaps a surprising female perspective on Islamic history.

Registration is required for the series, as space is limited. You can register on our website: Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys. For more information, please contact me at newandfeatured at carnegielibrary dot org.

I hope to see you on October 29 for the first of what I know will be an educational, illuminating, and challenging series.

–Jane

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Did he or didn’t he?

I just finished reading The Bookman’s Tale (It’s pretty dang’d good. Get yourself on the waiting list). In it, a bookseller comes across a copy of Robert Greene‘s Pandosto, the text that inspired The Winter’s Tale by William Shakespeare. Only, this might be the actual-for-real book that Will used when writing the play. Sleuthing ensues!

This book hit a few nerd-notes for me: the history of books, Shakespeare and his writing process (Shakespeare In Love is one of my favorite movies. Haters to the left.), and challenging what we think we know about a historical figure. There’s a lot of discussion in the novel about Shakespeare’s detractors – who maintain that there’s no way the barely educated son of a tradesman could have written some of the most important works in the English language (Oxfordians, in particular, rally around Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. See also: Anonymous, a movie that literally made smoke come out of my ears) – and his defenders. It’s like the Jets and the Sharks, only with terribly smart people and way less bloodshed.

Interested in learning more about the man (or the myth)? Check out these books:

     

– Jess, who falls about 80% on the defender side of things

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Six-Word Memoirs Are For All

What’s Your Six-Word Memoir?

The Six-Word Memoir is an internet meme that is ancient (born 2008) by meme standards, yet it still maintains popularity due to the endless possibilities.  The memoirs get much love on Tumblr, including lots of photos of Honest Tea caps.   According to Smith Magazine, which started the online project and published a book or two, “a SixWord Memoir® is the story of your life—some part of it or all of it—told in exactly six words.”Hemingway’s “For sale: baby shoes.  Never worn.” is credited as being the very first.

On the First Floor at Main, following in the Teen tradition,  we asked patrons to share their Six-Word Memoirs.  As always, we were not disappointed.  My favorites include “the pub quiz ended in bloodshed” and “never gotta mustard, always gotta ketchup.”

Because I am a super-nerd (Hey, I’m a librarian!), I also think it’s fun to create Six-Word Memoirs for literary characters.  Here are some, and the only rhyme or reason for their choosing is that they are from my favorite classics.  Please feel free to create your own memoirs – for yourself or anyone else – in the comments of this post!

Anonymous, Beowulf: Grendel’s gonna die!  His mama too!

Cather’s My Ántonia, Ántonia: Hey Jim, you totally missed out.

Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Underground Man:  I’m inventing existentialism. I feel weird.

Flaubert’s  Madame Bovary, Emma Rouault: Country life is boring.  Hi, handsome!

García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, Narrator: I don’t care about your feelings.

Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, Jude:  It is hard to be me.

Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles, Tess: You think Angel’s a bit much?

Roché’s Jules Et Jim, Kate:  French, German, tall, short.   Can’t decide.

Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Romeo: She died.  I will.  Wait, what? AND Juliet: Just until he’s back. Wait, what?

Thoreau’s Walden, Henry: Shhh! Sometimes Mom brings me cookies.

Happy memoiring!

Holly

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Oh, The Places You’ll Go

Most of us have seen or heard comments about books and reading; their ability to transport us away from the here and now to the wherever and whenever.  It could be Berlin in the Cold War and you’ve become one of Smiley’s People, or perhaps you remember when Jules Verne took you aboard the Nautilus and you were sweating out how to fight off giant squid.  Maybe you even saw yourself as an aspiring literature student off to interview a successful, handsome businessman, but we’ll let that one go.

Every so often we forget some basic truths and need to be guided back to the better path, and I don’t mean morals. I’m talking about writing.  This happened to me just recently.  Browsing the New Books display on the second floor of Main Library, one of the spine names caught my eye – Philip Caputo.  If you haven’t heard of him, and you enjoy reading, then you really should do right by yourself and find some of his works.  He successfully writes both fiction and non-fiction, has shared a Pulitzer for Journalism, and is credited with writing what is perhaps the first (and best?) defining book about the Vietnam War.  The title that drew me in and was a delight to read is: The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean.

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I discovered Caputo when I bought hist first book, A Rumor of War, his Vietnam memoir, right after it was published in 1977. I was either still in high school or just on my way to college, and its currency (remember, the war had ended in 1975) brought some unpleasant truths home to me. Not so much the war, but the warriors, the Vietnam Vets who were my brothers’ ages became very real.  It was the first time I remember that history lost some of its abstraction.  Philip Caputo writes vividly and in the case of a combat narrative, not gratuitously; every episode and description in Rumor’s pages has a purpose and a function.   I became hooked for many years, in the same way others of us patiently wait for the next Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver or James Lee Burke (me.)

The Longest Road lives up to that literary city-on-the-hill of moving the reader.  In 2011, the then 70 year old author and his wife take us with them (and their two English Setters) on their 16,000 mile trip from Key West, Florida – the southern most point in the continental US –  to Deadhorse, Alaska – the northern most point. Their mode of travel; a 19 foot Airstream and a 2007 Toyota Tundra.  Yes, the goal was to see America, maybe in a 2010s derivation of Kerouac or a modified Zen and the Art of Airstream Repair.  They pretty much avoided the interstates and deliberately went through populated areas. For much of the trip they followed the route that Lewis & Clark forged, but no visits to Pittsburgh.  Caputo’s focus is simpler and more aligned with his background as a newspaperman. Given the extreme political divisiveness of the last 5-10 years, he wanted to find out what holds us together as Americans. Or maybe if we really still hold together.

The book’s Preface sucked me in and I was hooked after that; I couldn’t put it down. When I did, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again.

The idea hatched on Barter Island, A WIND-SCOURED ROCK in the Beaufort Sea that was almost not an island; the channel separating it from the Alaskan mainland looked so narrow a center fielder on one side could have thrown to a second baseman on the other.

. . . Kaktovic had the architectural charm of a New Jersey warehouse district: a dirt airstrip, a hangar, houses like container boxes with doors and windows.

More than just enjoying the book, and thinking about Americaness through the writer’s eyes, is the idea plant. That kernel in the back of my head that’s trying to think about how I’d approach my wife (not to mention the Library) with the idea of finding a camper or an Airstream (NO, they are not the same) and making our own American sojourn.

– Richard

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A Few More Books for BUCtober and Beyond

Even thought we’ve already had an Eleventh Stack blog about our winning baseball team in this Steel City, it’s so rare that the major sports news in October should be about anything but the Pittsburgh Steelers. I felt that another post highlighting one of our other black & gold teams–the Pittsburgh Pirates–wouldn’t be overkill, but a tribute to their great season.

This post-season of the Pirates is the team’s first since moving into their new home on the North Shore, just blocks from the Allegheny branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Their level of play this season has been enough to get even the fairest weather of fans behind this team that has a heart as big as the rubber duck docked along the Allegheny River. Personally, I’m thrilled with their success this year, since my family was convinced that both my move to Pittsburgh twenty-one years ago, as well as my inter-rival-city marriage (Cleveland v. Pittsburgh) which took place the same day as the last post-season home game in the Pirates’ modern history, had something to do with this alleged curse on the Pirates. No matter how long this post-season play lasts for the Buccos and their fans, the thrills and intricacies of baseball can last beyond October with some great reads for all ages. Many of these are favorites amongst the rabid baseball fans in my own household.

It’s impossible to recommend any baseball books for Pittsburgh fans without talking about two of our baseball greats: Roberto Clemente and Honus Wagner, who both provide a great deal of literary fodder. Fellow Eleventh Stack blogger, Scott, has listed several great reads, including 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente. The Pride of Puerto Rico: The Life of Roberto Clemente, by Paul Robert Walker, is another great avenue for younger readers to learn about this baseball player and humanitarian. Bruce Markusen’s Roberto Clemente: The Great One is often the go-to tome of the right fielder for adult readers. It will soon be obvious to readers of any Clemente biography why Pittsburgh has a bridge named after the Hall-of-Famer, and Major League Baseball annually awards players who model Clemente’s work on and off the field.

Honus Wagner is another famed Pirate and he is honored in children’s literature through Dan Gutman’s Honus and Me, the first in an historical fiction, time travel series tied to the thrill of collecting baseball cards. In real life, Honus Wagner baseball cards are as coveted as the fictional Willy Wonka Golden Ticket. Gutman uses this rarity as the jumping off point for his children’s book series which goes on to introduce the subjects of racism and women in non-traditional female roles in subsequent titles.

Speaking of female roles, and since I’m the lone female in my household, I would like to take this opportunity to recommend some other titles which either highlight their role in baseball history or are characters in some great baseball literature. For the younger set, and a book I relished reading to my young sons to highlight the importance of women in baseball, check out Sue Macy’s A Whole New Ball Game. If you or your children aren’t aware of the role women played by continuing the tradition of baseball during World War II, when male baseball players were hard to come by due to the war, this is a great introduction to that era of baseball history.

Shirley Wong is one of my favorite female characters in kids’ historical fiction. A Chinese immigrant to Brooklyn, New York, Shirley learns English and how to acclimate to her new world thanks to the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson, in Betty Bao Lord’s In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson. While my colleagues and I might tend to recommend the Lupicas and Christophers when it comes to sports fiction for kids, this is one of many non-traditional characters in baseball stories we can point young readers to.

The women in Bernard Malamud’s The Natural and W.P. Kinsella’s Shoeless Joe (you might know this one as the movie Field of Dreams) are no shrinking violets. The main female characters in these novels really get into the heads of the baseball-obsessed men in their lives, for good or for bad. And as it turns out, maybe the men aren’t the only ones obsessed with this sport and the drama it can bring to one’s life. If you only know these titles from their movie presence, I would highly recommend that you read the poetry these authors have created in bringing baseball to life on the printed page.

Many of these titles share space on the shelves in my home library, but there are many copies available for borrowing through the library’s Next Generation Catalog. In fact, I just used the catalog to put a title on my own holds list. I’ve recently been introduced to another female in baseball lore, Effa Manley, who apparently played a pivotal role throughout the history of Negro League Baseball, in which Pittsburgh played a huge role with its own Crawfords and Homestead Grays. The biography, The Most Famous Woman in Baseball: Effa Manley and the Negro Leagues, by Bob Luke, is the next baseball read that I can’t wait to get started on. However, it may have to wait until BUCtober is over, because for now, the Pittsburgh Pirates are holding most of my attention.

These are just a few of the multitude of baseball books available to any reader who wants to read more beyond the statistics and standings of the regular season play. The post-season will soon come to an end, and regardless of how the Buccos finish off, there can be plenty of baseball to keep any reader occupied until spring training picks up again next February.

–Maria J.

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Seeking Silence

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” – Buddha

My mind is a very busy mind. It sometimes races and whirs.

And the world is a very noisy place.

So I seek ways to quiet my thoughts and savor silence:

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  • Nightly meditation before I turn out the lights. Picturing the color white, I center on its sereneness; washing all other colors away empties my mind.

  • Reading happy stories; for me, lately, it’s historical romance.

  • Reading something soothing before bedtime–for me, a chapter of Jane Austen’s Complete Novels; it has a permanent place on my nightstand. Reading her elegant prose from a bygone era frees my mind.

  • Free Zen apps on my iPhone, specifically Practice Everywhere and Transform Your Life by Zen master, Cheri Huber. The former alerts me throughout the day to bring me back to the moment, with inspiring messages like “Be a human being, not a human doing” or “Kindness–the answer to every question” while the latter is a short daily lesson.

  • Taking several walks every day, in all seasons, taking time to notice nature and breath fresh air.

  • Reminders on my iPhone to both breathe and also to chew my food slowly and mindfully.

  • Early morning yoga, to ease gently into my day.

  • Handwritten correspondence; writing a letter longhand takes more time than firing off an email, allowing me more time to think of what I want to say and how to best say it.

How do you seek silence?

~Maria

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Appalachian Autumn

As the cool evenings settle in for a proper Southwestern Pennsylvania autumn, thoughts often turn to the horror end of the spectrum. As a full disclaimer, I’m not a horror guy. I like some stuff a WHOLE lot, though. For example, Night of the Living Dead stands as one of the best films of all time to me. Also, Carnival of Souls is a fantastically strange, oddly dreamlike horror movie from 1962. They are both available on one DVD for your convenience! Likewise, the original 1963 version of The Haunting is all but unmatched in atmosphere and tension. That film is mind-blowingly good.

Movies are cool and all, but where my interest really lies might be closer to explorations of the cryptozoological kind. One of my favorite cryptozoological/mythical creatures has to be the Mothman. Having roots in the Appalachian region (and I don’t need to remind you that Pittsburgh is the Paris of Appalachia) , the Mothman is a very interesting creature. Some say he is a harbinger of disaster, some that he is the result of ecological catastrophe. Still others look at him as another little-known mountain monster.  One of the best places to get more information is Donnie Sergent’s book Mothman: The Facts Behind the Legend. This book cobbles together facsimiles of the handwritten eyewitness reports, along with news clippings to illustrate a very thorough picture of what the Mothman is all about.

If the cryptozoological isn’t your cup of tea, I would point you in the direction of some excellent fiction by the Appalachian writer Manly Wade Wellman. His collection of short stories Valley So Low: Southern Mountain Stories is a fantastic collection of creepy, interesting, engaging, well written horror. His style struck me as being one that gives enough to create the scene, to illustrate what the reader needs, but I didn’t feel overly burdened with description or setting. Rather, Wellman uses his considerable skill to give the reader what they need and point them in the direction he wishes them to go. He knows when to back off and when to push the reader to a particular spot. Filled with stories of forbidden knowledge, strange creatures, and off-putting half-forgotten places in the mountains, Wellman puts together a fantastically odd, weird, (and at the risk of repeating myself…but I just can’t help it) CREEPY collection that is worth curling up with on a cool autumn night.

There you have it, dear Eleventh Stack reader! A few classic horror films of note and two thoroughly Appalachian sources for some Autumnal creepiness! Enjoy!

Eric – who is gearing up on blankets and tea for cool nights spent reading with the cats

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