Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bangor Daily News expanding?

I read this post on Media Mutt, a blog on Down East Magazine's site written by Al Diamon, with some skepticism. A new weekly paper? Really? I've been ranting for over a year now about how daily papers are doing down the tubes and weekly publications will be taking over...but I never expected the BDN to be looking into such things.

For one thing, they keep losing their reporters! Business reporter Anne Ravana went to MPBN and feature writers Kristin Andresen and Amy Doloff both jumped ship for UMaine and their print publications. For another thing their The Weekly publication is crap. When I get it in the mail each week I actually get angry. Then I promptly put it in my recycling. I wish they would stop delivering it to me, but I'm not sure who to call about it.

I understand looking for new ad revenues. Everyone is doing it these days. But if your primary publications aren't all that wonderful, adding a new one to the mix might not be the best idea. How about more local coverage and less stories from the Associated Press? A few weeks ago I looked at the front page and the only story from a BDN staff writer was by Abby Curtis and it was in the lower left hand corner.

So good luck, BDN. No offense but I'm not holding my breath.

Friday, January 30, 2009

BUST's portrait of Amber Tamblyn

This is a really pretty magazine cover. Amber Tamblyn looks like she's got a secret. Upon a closer look at her mouth I notice that the make up person drew Tamblyn's lipstick WAY outside of her actual lip line. I realize this is supposed to make her lips look fuller -- but I think it's weird.

I didn't expect BUST, the magazine "for women with something to get off their chests" to use such a standard women's magazine style for this article. The traditional "what is the subject wearing" always makes me mad and I thought BUST would be above it, but I was wrong....
Tamblyn returns, tossing her bag on the floor, shedding her long, hooded sweater, and unwrapping a color scarf from around her neck. She's wearing black leggings, black boots, and a big gray T-shirt that says "Write Bloody" over a bird-on-a-typewriter graphic. I notice her black-painted fingernails as she whips her long brown hair back into a messy ponytail...
Oh author Lisa Butterworth, why oh why is it necessary to include such details. I know, I know, you're painting a picture, but it's become such a cliche.

And it's also a cliche for a young starlet, like Tamblyn, to be involved with a man 20 years her senior (David Cross) and luck for us, readers, Butterworth doesn't gush over it. She does, however, do some namedropping...letting us be aware that Tamblyn isn't only best friends with her Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants costar, Alexis Bledel, she's also friends with the likes of Tilda Swinton, Amy Poehler, and Parker Posey! This proves she is mature beyond her years.

What really got my goat in reading this article was this ridiculous photo taken by Michael Lavine. What a dumb pose to put Tamblyn in. Who in their right mind would wear too-big-for-them high heels while standing on a piano bench? And tapping the keys with their toes? Fetish-much? And what the hell is she looking at? Ug. it annoys me. The dress is really cute, too, but the pose ruins it for me. Thanks a lot, Lavine.

My first Tamblyn experience was when she was on General Hospital. The summer before I went away to college I saw her wearing these cute little pedal pushers on the show. They were gray, straight legged and a little form fitting. They ended right below her knees. No one was wearing capris at the time and I was going to bust the trend out on New England. I found a stretchy pair of severely bell bottomed jeans at TJ Maxx and had my grandmother cut them off below my knees and turn them into pants. She then turned the bell bottoms into a too-cute skirt that fit my teenage body perfectly.

I wore the pants to a party and everyone kept looking at me and saying "ARG!" like a pirate. Apparently Maine wasn't ready for the trend. I felt silly and didn't wear them again. The skirt, however, got a different reaction all together....

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Writer Spotlight: ME!

Nicole at Breaking Even, Inc. asked me some questions about being a journalist. Not to toot my own horn but here it is.

Shamless self promotion. Forgive me!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Weird News Wednesday

Boy pleads innocent to impersonating officer

Police: 14-year-old went on patrol for 5 hours before ruse discovered

CHICAGO - A 14-year-old boy accused of impersonating a police officer and going on patrol has pleaded not guilty.

The teenager appeared in a juvenile courtroom on Monday with his hands cuffed behind his back. A judge ordered that he be held at the juvenile center because he could pose a danger to himself.

On Saturday the teen, wearing an officer's uniform, walked into a police station and was assigned to go on patrol. He partnered with another officer for about five hours before the ruse was discovered.

The boy did not have a gun, never issued any tickets and didn't drive the squad car, Deputy Superintendent Daniel Dugan said.

Assistant Superintendent James Jackson said the ruse was discovered only after the boy's patrol with an actual officer ended Saturday. Officers noticed his uniform lacked a star that is part of the regulation uniform.

Police said they were investigating how the deception went undetected for so long in what they described as a serious security breach.

Police didn't identify the boy because of his age. He has been charged as a juvenile.

Dugan said the boy looks older than 14 and was motivated by a desire to be an officer, not malice or "ill intent."

The boy once took part in a Chicago program for youth interested in policing, so he would have been familiar with some procedures, perhaps helping him blend in, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said.

The Rev. Roosevelt Watkins said the boy had lived with him for much of the past year and is fascinated by police work.

More Headlines

La. woman allegedly shoots boyfriend over sleep

Police find over 100 feral animals at mobile home

Woman runs stop sign, crashes during driving test

Nicole's Too Cute Tuesday

My friend Nicole blogs daily on her site, Breaking Even, Inc. and every Tuesday she does a different craft project. I'm not sure where she comes up with them but they're usually pretty cool.

This one, however, is one of my favorites. Nicole shows us how to make earrings and magnets out of clear aquarium rocks and fancy paper. It's so easy I can't wait to make some magnets for myself!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A new year, a new calendar

Just like Brooke Hodge, a New York Times Magazine blogger, I too look forward to getting a new calendar each year.

I like to start the New Year with a new calendar. But this year — as I resolved, yet again, to get organized — I decided to adopt a multi-calendar approach. I embarked on a quest to find well-designed calendars for home, office and home office. At work I need something that I can glance at quickly to determine schedules and deadlines.

This Christmas my mother bought me the Abacus Calendar by Dana Heacock that I had been asking for, over and over again, since August. Heacock makes a new one each year and they are just beautiful. I also got a Heacock print to hang on my wall, so I consider myself double lucky to have such a chic mom. The colors are so bright and the subjects so Maine that I want to collect them all!

Each month is a different print that I put into a simple box frame. There's no room to write but that's ok, as I use my iCal on my mac at work to keep appointments and interviews scheduled.

My friend Heather sent me this adorable desk calendar with stationery for my birthday in October and it has come in quite handy. Again, no place to write but when I need to know a quick date all I have to do is glance to my right.

Red Leather Diary

Last night I finished reading Their Eyes Were Watching God and I think I am going to request the movie from Netflix. I'm usually disappointed in the movie version of a good book but I'll give it a try.

I was anxious to finish because I picked up a new book from the library yesterday, Red Leather Diary by Lily Koppel. I read the first few chapters and put the book down in sheer jealousy.

I am jealous of Koppel. I'm jealous she graduated from Barnard, that she lived on the Upper West Side, that she writes for the New York Times, that she's in her early 20s, that she got the opportunity to rifle through dozens of steamer trunks from the early 1900s on her very sidewalk, and, most of all, that she got ahold of this amazing diary and wrote a book about it.

I'm not going to lie -- I threw myself a little pity party for awhile thinking, "That should be ME! I want to find something so special! I want a plethora of steamer trunks to rifle through!"

I'll get over it. I'm already intrigued by the story and Koppel's writing style. The book, which already seems to have a life of it's own, is being turned into a movie. Check it all out here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Growing up Guiltless

I just read this post on Write Stuff. Melanie Jacobson talks about growing up in Louisiana and being bussed 45 minutes out of her way to attend a predominantly black elementary school, even though she lived in a predominantly white suburb.

It's a different take on the Obama innaguration that I particularly liked reading about. Growing up in Maine there was nothing like this. In my small high school the only kids who weren't white were either adopted by white parents or national exchange students. Oh wait, we did have one Penobscot Indian...but that's not that big of a deal in our area.

Being bussed so that your public school can be more integrated seemed so civil rights era to me...but it happened during my childhood! I'm glad that Jacobson's parents saw it as a culturally positive instead of being annoying or unfair. Kudos!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Miss America 2009

I got together with a few girlfriends to watch the Miss America Pageant Saturday night. I admit it. It was, well, weird.

I read this article from Entertainment Weekly and had to agree with most of it. I remember when I was younger the Miss America Pageant was not to be missed. And now it does seem out of date and over the top cheesy. I know, I know, most pageants are cheesy, but this one took the caserole.

The whole talent component to the competition should just be eliminated. No one wants to see bad dancing and listen to awful singing. And do we really care if Miss America has a talent? Isn't it her job to be pretty and push a platform of her choosing? Who cares if she can tap dance while doing it? And clearly the talent portion did little to sway the judges. Miss Indiana, who won, was a terrible singer (note: she did have laryngitis) while Miss Hawaii was simply amazing with her hula routine yet was eliminated in the next round.

The whole reality TV part of it was also awkward...and confusing. And the Elimination Lounge? Oh I'm sure the other girls really want to stay on stage in their jeans and t-shirts while the other girls get to parade around in their evening gowns. They spend enough money on these gowns - let everyone get to show them off!

Anyway. None of our favorites made the cut, go figure, so we didn't have much to root for. It was nice to hear that the girls were articulate in their answers to the question round. Even if they can't dance they can answer a question...which is more important anyway.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Books Worth a Second Read

I love my book collection. The books I have kept, and moved with, over the years are my absolute favorites and I have read them more than once. Some people think it foolish to read a book more than once, and to those people I point and criticize. Reading a book is an experience. I have not wasted any time reading books over and over again because I always enjoy the time I spend with them.

I am currently waiting for a few books to be returned to the public library so I picked up a book I hadn't read since high school: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

I remembered that I liked the story but that I didn't particularly care for the way it was written. While the narration was easy enough to read, all of the banter between the characters is written phonetically in southern black talk in the early to mid 1900s.

I'm = Ah'm
Woman = 'oman
Expect = 'spek

And so on. Sometimes I have to read a sentence more than once to figure out what it means. But I guess if I was to try to have a conversation with one of these characters in real life I'd have to ask them to repeat what they said at least twice. Or three times.

Anyway, I'm re-reading this book after 14 years and it brings back more memories than just the story line. It reminds me of the first time I read the book in high school, how I felt, and what I learned while reading it (there are marks in the margins from class). It's a good feeling.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top Dog

I read this article in Down East magazine at Borders yesterday. I had heard about this little dog through word of mouth, but what grabbed me was the cover.

I, too, have a long haired chihuahua. His name is Miles. He's the same size as this dog (aptly named Napoleon) and has the same fluffy fur. Miles, however, has different markings. He's caramel brown with a white chest and belly. I think Miles would give Napoleon a run for his money in the good looks department. Then again, I may be biased.

I got Miles from a wonderful breeder in Western Massachusetts five years ago. When I would take Miles for walks around New York City when I was in grad school there, people would constantly ask me what kind of dog he was. Some people asked me straight out if he had his "manhood" because they wanted to breed their chihuahuas with him. (He doesn't if you're wondering). But most people would just comment that he looks like a little fox. And he does.

Cynthia Anderson, who wrote the article for Down East, does a great job capturing the attitude of Napolean. It must be a chi thing because Miles poses for pictures, too. But unlike the show dog, Miles would cower in the ring and lash out at the other dogs. What could have been a life of dog shows for Miles is, instead, a life of a mere pet. Which, I think, suits him just fine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Change starts with us...

I don't know about you but I'm tired of reading about the inaguration of President Obama today. I hope this doesn't make me un-patriotic. Don't get me wrong -- I think it's great, amazing, wonderful and I am optimistic that he will do America right. But I'm tired of reading about American's who are putting all of their hopes and dreams for the future of our country in one big Obama basket.

It takes more than one man to fix an entire country.

I have been working on the green issue for the magazine I write and edit for, Bangor Metro. There are some amazing stories in there about people who didn't like how something was done so they did it their way and had tremendous results. I'm not going to give anything away, but Maine is filled with innovators who aren't waiting around for someone else to come up with ways to solve the environmental crisis.

If people really want change they need to start with themselves. I hate it when people complain about gas emissions creating pollution yet they drive their Suburbans and Tahoes a half a mile to school, the store, or to work. Or people who complain about how much trash we produce yet they don't recycle. Just last week I saw a woman throw a McDonald's bag out of her car window onto the street. I couldn't believe it.

So hooray for Obama. Hooray for change. But lets not wait around for the president to make drastic changes for us. Start changing yourself and your community and I bet you'll have a stronger feeling of self-worth and patriotism when you get results.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama's Speech

Since I am at work today and didn't have time to go home and watch the inaguration on TV, I read Obama's speech on The New York Times website. I found this passage to be one of my favorites:
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
I asked my parents when the last time they remembered an inaguration as big and hyped as this one. Their answer: JFK. Another young man who promised change and brought patriotism back to the American citizens. I can't wait to see what Obama brings to the table.

Read the speech for yourself here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What Jenno Saw...

This post is written by my sister, Jenno. She had the fortunate (or unfortunate -- your call) opportunity to watch The Today Show this morning...

We were snowed in this morning so I had the chance to drink my coffee in front of The Today Show while my diligent husband plowed the driveway. I haven't seen The Today Show in quite a while, but my memory of it is of a fairly 'newsworthy' show with some fluffy 'feel good' pieces thrown in there... apparently my memory did not serve me today.

This morning Meredeth Vieira did a piece on Obama vs. 50cent: Who will be this generations icon? I was confused... was Obama a rapper and I'd been living under a rock? Was 50cent running for government and this was his 'coming out'? What was the point of this comparison? The more I listened the more I realized how ridiculous this piece was. We are comparing these two high powered men simply because they are both African American. Oh, and because 50cent is misunderstood- can't leave that point out. It lead me to wonder all sorts of things- How did the show decide on Mr. Cent? Does Obama know he's being compared to a gansta? Will these to unite to collaborate on 50's next album? Really the piece lead me to one solid conclusion... I'm not missing anything in the morning news.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Good God Gross!

My friend Annie sent me this story today from the United Kingdom's The Sun. It's the grossest thing I've read in a while and therefore, ripe to share!
Huang Yijun, a 92-year-old woman from Huangjiaotan, China, went into a hospital looking for a cure for her stomach aches. Doctors found that the cause of her pain wasn’t her stomach, but her womb.

In 1948, Huang discovered that her unborn child had died. Unable to afford the medical fees, Huang decided not to remove the fetus: "It was a huge sum at the time - more than the whole family earned in several years so I did nothing and ignored it." 60 years later, doctors are amazed at how little the body has decayed, and how well Huang has fared.
The thought of keeping a decaying fetus in my womb for 60 years makes me dry heave. I honestly can't believe this woman is still alive.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cold Weather Stories

It's bitter out. There is no other word to describe it. But if you think it's bad where you live, think about those who live in Alaska.

My sister and I like to read Scribbit: A Blog About Motherhood in Alaska by Michelle Mitchell. Her recent blog, "A Regret," particularly touched my heart. How many of us have been in the same situation? I have.

Take a moment to read it. It may remind you how lucky you are.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Poetry Break

Today a book called to me from my shelf. It was a book I bought and haven't read yet. Amazing! It's a book of essays by one of my favorite poets, Mark Strand. As soon as I started reading the first essay I realized why Strand appealed to me so much -- he uses the absolute correct amount of words. Not too many (like Joyce Carol Oats) or too few (like e.e. cummings). Perfect.

Here is an example. One of my favorite poems of all time:

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

See? There are no words that don't belong there. This is very hard to do...especially in creative writing. I try hard in my own writing to pare it down to only what is necessary to tell the story. I'm not nearly as good at is as Strand is, but I can strive to be better. I could wax poetic (no pun intended) on Strand for a good hour but I'll spare you. If you head to the library or bookstore and check out one of his books (I suggest Reasons for Moving or a book of his selected poems) you'll see for yourself what I mean.

To learn more about this amazing Canadian poet go here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What Mimi Saw

Stop motion video is amazing! Smashing Magazine has a good description of the super cool video art style:
It works by shooting a single frame of an object, then moving the object slightly, and then shooting another frame. When the film runs continuously in a film projector, or other video playback system, the illusion of fluid motion is created and the objects appear to move by themselves. This is similar to the animation of cartoons, but using real objects instead of drawings.
The mag also has 50 stop motion videos for you to watch. Here is one of my favorites...

For all 50 go here.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Strep throat = lots of reading time

I have had a nasty sore throat and glands so swollen it hurt to turn my head these past few days. Stuck inside with some boy movies (300, Iron Man, and Shaun of the Dead courtesy of my friend B), a bottle of Ginger Ale, and my dog Miles, I had lots of time on my hands.

After spending all day Tuesday sleeping so that I wouldn't have to feel the scorching pain of swallowing, I took turns watching movies and finishing my book, What Happened to Anna K. Even if you haven't read Anna Karenina I dare you to not enjoy this book. You don't even have to know the original Tolstoy story to appreciate Irina Reyn's version. I swear.

I grew to admire Anna K., and then my pity for her grew more and more throughout the book as her self-worth was measured by the man she was with. She gets more desperate as the book goes on and eventually kills herself. You'll have to read the book to find out how.

Done with the Russian book I decided to peel my autographed copy of Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter off my shelf and re-read it. I love Tan's books but I must say that since they practically all deal with the relationship between a Chinese mother and her Chinese-American daughter it's easy to get the story lines mixed up. And because this book is autographed it has extra special meaning. I attended a reading by Tan in Boston when this book came out and it's something I'll never forget. Even though I am not Chinese, have never been to China, never been to San Francisco, and have a very normal and healthy relationship with my mother, I fall in love with Amy Tan's stories so easily.

Tan's first book, The Joy Luck Club is a great first read for anyone new to Amy Tan. It's also a movie but the book is way better.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Use your friends!

The holidays are over and my bank account is feeling empty. Sigh. And I still need a watch even after asking Santa for one. (Actually, I got a watch for my birthday but the leather strap was too big so my mother re-gifted it to my sister for Christmas).

My friend Nicole is writing a five part series on her blog, Breaking Even, Inc., on how your friends can save you money.
I've decided to do a five part mini-series about how friends can help friends for free. On the surface, it's a common sense series of posts but a concept I think a lot of us need to be reminded of, especially single folks who have families far away like myself. My point: we need to rely on each other now more than ever!
My friend Annie and I are planning a fun clothing swap between local gals this spring. The concept? Bring a bunch of your gently worn clothes and shoes to Annie's house and swap them for other stuff. I already have a pile going of clothes that don't fit me anymore or that I'm just sick of looking at. Sure I could bring them to Goodwill but why not give my friends first dibs?

Check out Nicole's blog for some great ideas on personal finance.