The smell of the library

In It’s A Wonderful Life, Clarence the angel shows George Bailey how badly the lives of his friends and family would have turned out if indeed he had never been born: Mr. Gower the phramacist is an alcoholic ex-con, Violet Bick is getting arrested in some kind of night club altercation, Mrs. Bailey has been forced to open a boarding house, Uncle Billy is in an asylum, his brother Harry drowned as a child.

But Clarence saves the worst for last.

“What happened to Mary?!” George asks.

“You’re not going to like it George, ” Clarence answers.

“Where is she!?” George cries, shaking Clarence by the lapels.

“She’s about to close up the library!

At the annual Brattle screening, this never fails to send the bookish Cantabridgian audience into twitters. Oh, no, not the library!

Well, for all you bookish Cantabridgians and bookish Cantabridgian wannabes, and for all you librarians and librarian wannabes, there is now a perfume just for you.

(I know, that was a big lead-up for just a link!)

Bimonthly Dispatch: Early February 2007

2007 has started off a bit stressful on the work front, with a big project that my group has been working on for the better part of the past year launching. It wasn’t so bad that I had to curtail my Real Life activities too much, but it was bad enough that I didn’t have a lot of energy left over to document those activities here. So here are a couple of things that we have been up to that have not made it in here yet.

Terri mentioned that we got an antique desk/table to use as a media center. But what she did not mention was that during the same trip to the antiques mart in Waltham, I scored an old Remington portable typewriter for $10.

I ended up having to work for my birthday, on the aforementioned big launch. It was really OK by me, because it turned the whole part of early February into a big birthday fest. Terri made me a fabulous dinner the night before. Amy made me fabulous cupcakes the day of.

Last weekend, we went to a chocolate & letterpress event and capped it off with birthday drinks with various friends at the Thirsty Scholar.For Valentine’s Day eve, we made these fantastic goat cheese and radiccio agnolotti from Terri’s Vegetarian Times Mediterranean Cookbook, while listening to music on my laptop, and iTunes was on some kind of crazy shuffle that had it only playing selections from “Walking After Midnight: Patsy Cline’s greatest hits”, Tom Waits’ “Nighthawks at the Diner” and some other assorted stuff. We later realized that one of us had searched for “night” and it was shuffling between everything that matched.

For Valentine’s Day proper, I worked from home in anticipation of the bad storm we were supposed to get, and ended up taking some breaks to shovel our sidewalk(s). Unfortunately, we got so much snow to start off that when it turned to rain, even with clever shoveling, the rain had nowhere to go, and so it just pooled up and froze into a beautiful speed-skating track, that the city of Somerville will probably fine us for.

Yesterday, I think I finally felt the effects of standing in freezing water and shovelling snow, and ended up staying home sick from work. Even the day before, I was finding it difficult to get anything done because my whole head felt like I was in a giant fog. Staying home to get some sleep was a good move; I slept until 10am, ran some errands, and then went back to sleep until 1pm. And then in the early evening, we drove up to Portsmouth.

Greetings from Portsmouth

Snow shooterGreetings from Portsmouth, at our annual circa-Valentine’s-Day weekend away.

We are currently ensconced here at Popover’s, a new-ish restaurant/coffee/desert/bakery place near Market Square. I’ve never had much loyalty to Breaking New Grounds, because of their lackluster coffee, and their congestion, especially when it’s too cold for the outdoor seating.

Anyway, since I blew through the copy of Persepolis 2 that Kim & Glenn bought me for my birthday already, I didn’t have any reading material last night. So after dinner at the Brewery, we headed to RiverRun books, 5 minutes before they closed. I was unable to find anything on the spot, so we decided to come back tomorrow. The woman who kicked us out recommended coming back either early or later today, because Bill Richardson (New Mexico governor and presidential candidate) would be speaking. I also read in the New Hampshire Gazette (a free bi-weekly liberal-in-that-cranky-new-hampshire-way opinion rag) that Dennis Kucinich had been there a couple of weeks ago. I swear, the New Hampshire madness starts earlier every election cycle, just like Christmas.

It seems that the storm that dumped rain-that-quickly-turned-to-ice in Boston stayed snow up north, because yesterday there were enormous snow piles all around town, and very little ice.

Snow Removal, Market Square, Portsmouth NHEveryone in town has been cranky this morning, because crews were out running the enormous snow removal equipment well past 10am. Apparently, people are accustomed to the snow removal elves just coming in the middle of the night to clear the streets. I’ve found it fascinating. There were just trucks and trucks and trucks getting filled and then leaving town, each carrying many tons.

Brittanicus @ the A.R.T.

Well, we finally made it to an A.R.T. production this year that was not a disappointment, Britannicus. I was a little bit worried that it would be a ham-fistedly political update of the 17-th century play, when we came in to a spare set with a huge banner behind it that said “Empire creates its own reality” in enormous letters. This was not the case, though. The plot was highly centered around more personally-motivated court intrigues, and despite its size and omnipresence, the banner’s relevance to the action was actually highly subtle, and could be interpreted in several ways.

I don’t have a ton to say about it that would be relevant if you hadn’t seen it, and now that it’s closed, there’s no point in encouraging people to go. But it was refreshing to finally have an ART show have enough going for it that it managed to provide enough to chew on conversationally through dinner after the show. The last couple of shows haven’t really lasted us much past the lobby.

Rock and Roll Anima

What is up with my subconscious that I keep having these dreams about Lou Reed? This morning I woke up just after having a dream that Lou Reed, wearing this gigantic curly wig, was doing a commercial for McDonald’s. Specifically, he was advertising a special Happy Meal prize that was a Barbie head, sort of like that Barbie head that Mattel used to make that you were supposed to put make-up on. Well, this one was the Marie Osmond Hair Dye Barbie. Her hair started brown, and it came with little bottles of blonde, brown, and red dye. The commercial focused on Lou Reed’s face, the Barbie head in the background with its robot eyes making these “come hither” expressions. Lou was whispering earnestly “you can dye the hair. You can cut the hair. I love dying the hair. It’s so much fun. You’ll love it, too. You can dye and cut the hair.”

Last Wednesday or Thursday, I dreamt I was at a soundcheck for the Frank Zappa show at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which was being held on some kind of sort of moon colony or space station. After the sound check, I was talking to someone standing next to me, it seemed like Helmecki, and I was making fun of someone who acted like he thought he was Lou Reed. Just as I said that, Zappa walked by and said, “you know, Lou Reed is actually a really sweet man.” I was like, “Oh, yeah, I’ve heard that.” And then Zappa and I kept talking.

UK Mac Ads

This is so perfect! The guys from the BBC series “Peep Show” are the UK version of the “I’m a Mac / I’m a PC ads”!

Of course, like the US versions, there is the same problem (at least from the point of view of Apple) where “Mac” is supposed to seem “cool” but really is kind of annoying, and “PC”, the hilarious John Hodgeman (or, in the UK, David Mitchell– no, not that David Mitchell), is actually kind of great. Or, as the Guardian says,

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign – the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show – probably the best sitcom of the past five years – in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, “PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.” In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.