Didgeridoo Man

I’ve been reading this webcomic called Questionable Content. The characters are witty and always saying funny things and having weird stuff happen to them. And I love the comic, but it seemed semi-contrived. Then I took a look at my blog posts here and just, you know, my life and realized that it might not be as off base as I had initially thought.

Here’s my latest example: (It came right after a guy talking to me about the library putting some kind of grid into the books so he could not read them properly. The man went on about this in a low voice so I didn’t catch every word but at the end, in the hopes that he would leave, I told him I would pass along his concerns. Then he looked at me as if to say, “I know you’re lying.” It was a fun moment.)

Anyway, I’m doing my thing at the circulation desk on the second floor (near the adult room fyi) when I hear an odd noise coming from the public stairwell. The stairwell is a large open space with a wide spiral staircase featuring long steps with a low rise–they look very impressive but are not so fun to walk on. So, I’m reading during a lull at the desk when I hear what, upon reflection, sounded very much like a Didgeridoo.

The didgeridoo is an Australian instrument that looks like this (image courtesy of wikipedia):

didgeridoo!

If you don’t know what they sound like, I would suggest going to The Didgeridoo Store and listening to the fourth sound clip which talks about “tightening and loosening your lips.” That is the kind of sound I heard emanating from the stairwell. (The other clips are pretty cool too.)

In retrospect I should have made the connection before rehashing all of this with “Julie” but I just didn’t and that’s the way it is. So, after hearing the didgeridoo sounds, an exuberant man exited the stairwell.

“The acoustics in there are amazing!” he exclaimed happily. “I want to record in there one day.”

I smiled and nodded. The acoustics are pretty cool although I must admit I had never given them much thought. I set the guy up with a library card and he made his exit. I think he was mentally stable and, based on my very short encounter, he seemed really nice and kind of cool (yeah . . . I know).

So the guy leaves. I go back to my book. Then I hear the Didgeridoo sound again. I resist the urge to go and investigate and just enjoy the show as it were.

About a half hour later, I go to the children’s room where Julie immediately asks me, “Did you see Didgeridoo Man?”

At which point I mentally slapped my forehead and thought “Of course!”

Dreamhunter: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Dream Hunter by Elizabeth KnoxA bit of background before we begin: Dreamhunter (2006) by Elizabeth Knox first came to my attention when I was talking to “Amy” the YA librarian at my place of employ. As a fellow fantasy fanatic she also thought I would admire the writing. I, however, did not remember to write down the title. A bit later, upon hearing about writing troubles I had been having, Amy once again recommended Dreamhunter. This time I immediately put the book on hold. And looking back now I am ashamed that I waited so very long to read it.

Dreamhunter is Knox’s first novel for a young adult audience, although I feel obligated to point out that the genre label here applies more to the fact that her main characters are teens than anything to do with the novel’s subject or prose. She is also the author of several novels for adults.

Like so many great fantasy novels, Dreamhunter is set in a world not that different from our own. The one reminder that this novel is not like any other period book set in 1906 has to do with dreams.

For a very few people, perhaps one in every three hundred, dreams really are tangible in the Place: a mysterious other-world far larger than the few acres of woodland that in encompasses in the real world. The Place hold dreams. Of the few that can enter the Place, fewer still are able to sleep there and bring the dreams back to the general public where the dreams can be performed in private residences or in a dream palace like the Rainbow Opera–a sort of theater for dreams–for the public good. Dreamhunters, when they have enough skill and talent, can make their fortunes by catching the right dreams.

No one knows this better than the novel’s fifteen-year-old protagonist, Laura Hame, and her cousin, Rose Tiebold. Laura’s father, perhaps one of the best dreamhunters ever, discovered the Place and Rose’s mother is another very skilled dreamhunter.

But, as Laura and Rose are about to learn, all is not right in their world. When Laura’s father disappears under mysterious circumstances she and her cousin set out to find the secret behind not only his disappearance but also, perhaps, the very secret of the Place itself.

Aside from its thrilling plot, Dreamhunter is a wonderful novel because of Knox’s background work. As soon as I opened this book, I felt like I was immersed in Laura and Rose’s world. It didn’t matter that I had never heard of dreamhunters, or Tricksie Bend, or the Grand Patriarch because Knox incorporated all of these new ideas effortlessly into her plot. I was hooked, almost literally, for the entire 365 pages of this novel.

The writing here is rich without being overdone and beautiful without being conspicuous about it.

This story opens in the year 1906. The choice of time period, as well as Knox’s writing style bring to mind Garth Nix’s powerhouse fantasy novel Sabriel. I loved Sabriel (as I love all of Garth Nix’s books), but I might have loved Dreamhunter slightly more if for nothing save its ending–one of the best I have read of late.

Laura and Rose’s story continues in Dreamquake the conclusion of Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunter Duet.

Possible Pairings: The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Chime by Franny Billingsley, The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, Magisterium by Jeff Hirsch, Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper, Sabriel by Garth Nix, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, The Last of the High Kings by Kate Thompson, The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

“Call me Johnny Umbrella.”

People always laugh when I say I work with ridiculous people in the library and that there is never a dull moment (that is until they get to know me and realize that I am not kidding or exaggerating).

GC–yes, you all know who GC is but I don’t care I’m still using aliases–had a large umbrella by his desk. This isn’t actually a new development, but today it had a friend and we had already started a conversation. So I decided to press my luck before making an exit.

Miss Print: “Why do you have two umbrellas by your desk?”

GC: “Actually I have three umbrellas by my desk.”

Miss Print after confirming the truth of that statement: “Why do you have THREE umbrellas by your desk?”

GC: “I had one too many umbrellas stolen. I like to keep them around just in case.”

Miss Print: “So you have umbrellas spread all over the city huh?”

GC: “Yes. I’m like that guy who planted the apples. Johnny Appleseed. You can just call me Johnny Umbrella.”

Miss Print: “That’s beautiful. Really.”

Miss Print makes her exit.

Working hard?

“Ralph” worked an hour on the circulation desk today. (Day after a long weekend, so super busy!)

Coming in back, Ralph saw me reading before starting my own hour on the desk. Frazzled and trying to find a reserve, Ralph turned to me and said, “It’s been non-stop since I started. You clerks work really hard!”

Then he realized one of the pages was standing nearby and added, “Oh and you do too.”

Time Dancers: A review

Time Dancers by Steve CashTime Dancers (2006) is the second book in Steve Cash‘s sweeping fantasy trilogy called “The Meq” (also the title of the first book in the trilogy). When forced to explain the plot of The Meq in one sentence, my reply is this: the story is like the Highlander TV series/movies but the immortals here are twelve years old. To get more specific, the Meq stop aging when they turn twelve until they find their ameq (their soul mate). Once they are united, the two enter what is called “The Wait” until they decide to cross over, as it were, becoming mortal and able to have a child.

The telling of this story falls on the shoulders of Zianno Zezen, one of the youngest members of the Meq. In the first book, Zianno searches for others like him after the death of his parents. Along the way he learns the significance of the stone he carries–the stone of dreams–and that there are others like it. He finds friends, both Giza (human) and Meq alike, his ameq, and a mortal (or perhaps it would be more apt to say immortal?) foe in the form of a corrupt Meq assassin known as the Fleur-du-mal. In the midst of all that, Z and his friends try to prepare for a Meq event known as the remembering which will reveal their origins and their purpose, a scant hundred years away.

Okay, so if you didn’t read the first book that was all probably a bit confusing. The reason for that is simple: this trilogy isn’t comprised of what can be called stand-alone novels. The sad truth is that I read The Meq about six months before I had the chance to pick up Time Dancers. It took about fifty pages for me to find my stride and maybe a bit longer to really get into the book. I suspect those difficulties would have lessened if I had read the books closer together. Slow start aside, the first book had me invested enough in the characters and plot and (warning!) ended on enough of a cliffhanger-esque note that I was willing to plod along until things picked up even if it did leave me with the impression that, perhaps, the first book was better (I later revised my opinion but perhaps others won’t).

Anyway, the Meq’s preparations for the remembering (AKA “the Gogorati”) begin in earnest in Time Dancers. Both Sailor and the Fleur-du-Mal embark on a search for the elusive sixth stone that may be vital to the Remembering and, much worse, to the Fleur-du-Mal’s continuous quest for dominance over the other Meq. Along the way, Z and his allies (which happily include all of the wonderful characters from The Meq) cross oceans and hop continents in their quest. Though the stone proves elusive, Z forges new alliances and finds several new mysteries along the way–including a Meq whose age is without precedent and another dangerous enemy.

Time Dancers is a good book. But not one that readers can follow without reading its predecessor, thereby firmly grounding this novel as part of a trilogy. What I particularly like about this book is the way Cash incorporates history into the novel. Beginning in 1919 after the end of World War I and ending as World War II approaches its conclusion, this book looks at major events of the twentieth century from up close but also from an anonymous perspective. Anyone interested in history would do well to give this book a glance to see how Cash artfully incorporates contemporary history as a plot vehicle for his fantastical story.

After Graduation

Immediately after my commencement ceremony:

Uncle B: “So do you feel any different?”

Miss Print: “Well. I think I feel wiser.”

Aunt J: “Just an immediate reaction, huh?”

Miss Print: “Yeah. As soon as I got that diploma I felt like I had all this new wisdom.”

Uncle B: “Good answer.”

HORSIE!!!

My pegasus canvas is done! Finally! Cornflower has a home at last!

So now, before I regale readers with the gory details (and perhaps a picture) imagine with me this encounter as described by “Julie”: The children’s room is empty. “Julie” is manning the room on her own, chilling at the information desk during a quiet spell. Suddenly a child comes in with her parent. She looks up and finds my newly completed canvas on the wall. As she takes in the image, she looks at it and shouts at the top of her lungs: “HORSIE!!!” Julie is scared out of her wits. But that’s okay, because the reaction was so totally worth it.

Without further ado, here’s the finished product:

Tada!

For those of you who actually care (I doubt there are that many, but just in case), the clouds wound up being painted foam core because nothing else worked quite right. In the end I think it was the right choice. Then I decided to add what I’ve been calling feather lines to give the wings a little more punch. I also technically finished an hour before “Ralph” despite his insane head start (not that his is actually finished yet given its lack of third dimensionality). All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the final result and love seeing Cornflower hanging proudly at work whenever I venture to the children’s room.

CLW will be back next week

I was busy graduating today and therefore did not have time to write up a new Chick Lit Wednesday review (the whole having my BA in English conferred was slightly higher priority). Check back next week when, hopefully, my backlog of reviews will be under control!

No, seriously, it was never a church.

Patron entered the library and admired our stained glass windows and high ceilings and gothic decorations. (She no doubt noticed the gargoyles and clock tower on her way inside.)

The woman walked over to me and asked, in a conspiratory murmur, “Did this building used to be a church.”

Miss Print: “No. It actually used to be a courthouse.” (It was since it opened in the 1880s until it closed in the 1960s and became a library.)

Patron: Really?”

Miss Print: “Really.”

Patron: “It was a church before that right?”

Miss Print: “No.”

Patron: Really?”

Miss Print: “Really.”

Patron: “They would have had all this stained glass in a courthouse?”

Miss Print: “Yes.”

Patron walks away, still vaguely dissatisfied with my responses.

“Do blondes have more fun?”

First of all, the answer is no. But that isn’t actually the point of this post, so moving on:

My poetry writing professor was reading the class a poem by Frank O’Hara called “Meditations in an Emergency” the first line of which is “Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde?”

As is his way, our professor interrupted himself to ask the class what that line meant. The class consensus was that it basically meant something along the lines of ditzy like a blonde. (Dictionary definition is wildy extravagant and/or completely given up to dissipation and licentiousness–poor blondes.) The professor then tried to read again but he couldn’t help himself.

Looking at the class, the professor put down his book and asked, “Is that true in your experience? Do blondes have more fun?”

As is his way, “Hades” piped in from the peanut gallery saying, “I have more fun with blondes.”

(No one in the class had the presence of mind to suggest that Hades just hadn’t met the right brunettes yet.)