Friday, August 28, 2009

RIP: Reading Rainbow

When I was little my mom ran a daycare out of her house in the summertime. With no neighbors, having kids come to our house for the day was great fun for my sister and I. Jennie wasn't in school yet and I was too young to care about hanging out with my school friends.

Every morning when the kids would show up we'd all sit in front of our television and watch PBS. As soon as Reading Rainbow was over my mother would turn the TV off and shoo us kids outside to play for the rest of the day. I didn't grow up with cable TV, a VCR, or video games.

I have always loved books and I especially loved the show Reading Rainbow. I wanted to be one of the kids who gave a short on-air book report at the end of the show. I'd see the books that other kids were reading and want to check them out of the library to read myself. What a great show!

Today marks the end of Reading Rainbow's 26-year run on PBS. Why is it ending? Because kids don't read anymore? Nope. No one wants to put up the several hundred thousand dollars it would take to renew Reading Rainbow's broadcasting rights. This is so sad to me. It's like public broadcasting is giving up on getting kids excited about reading.
Linda Simensky, vice president for children's programming at PBS, says that when Reading Rainbow was developed in the early 1980s, it was an era when the question was: "How do we get kids to read books?"

Since then, she explains, research has shown that teaching the mechanics of reading should be the network's priority. - NPR
I argue that if a child doesn't like to read they won't matter what. How will PBS teach reading mechanics? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Today is a sad day for this child of the '80s.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Maine Edge -- on the edge

Do you see anything odd about this recent cover for The Maine Edge? Perhaps the girl looks a little young to be straddling whipped cream? And is that a thong bikini bottom she's wearing?

I have to admit that I was a little stunned at this cover when I saw it last week. I mean -- it's skimpy! The Edge used it as their Facebook photo last week and censored out the bottom half of that pre-pubescent girl. I thought it was odd to censor it online and not censor it in print -- but clearly the peeps at The Edge had no idea they would get so many comments and complaints about it. They got so many, in fact, that editor Mike Fern wrote an editor's letter about it...something he hasn't done since the first issue of The Maine Edge came out in 2006.
As a media outlet that is part of the community and its social fabric, we have a responsibility to inform our readers in a manner that represents both our personality and taste, and a duty to do so in a fashion that is not only acceptable to us but also to the community we serve.

For some, last week's cover art did not satisfy that level of responsibility and generated a reaction that was unintended, yet warranted when take from the perspective of our readership. - Mike Fern
Fern goes on to address the age of the model and strange shadow across the young woman's nether-regions.
While the cover art was an illustrative attempt to convey a simple "hot summer/cool drinks" type of message, unfortunately its interpretation was much different and not up to our usual standard of clearly defining art. - Mike Fern
Anytime you put a teenager in a bikini and whipped cream and a cherry my dirty mind starts "interpreting."

Good call by Mike Fern for the letter. It was a very good idea and well written.

Good PR job

Whoever is doing the PR for the new Maine magazine is doing one hell of a job! I've been seeing news about their September launch EVERWHERE! Twitter, MaineBiz, the local nightly news, and now on I feel like I'm being inundated by their launch news and that's exactly what they want.

With all the hype I hope they don't fall prey to the overexposure. And I hope that they can deliver. There's nothing worse than getting excited to check something out and being disappointed. I do really love their homepage. Clean, simple, easy to digest. And speaking of digest...their blueberry pie cover looks yummy!

Mimi in the News

It's not common for a journalist to be written about by another journalist...but that's exactly what happened to me! I was interviewed by Katy England from The Maine Edge about my blogging for a main feature article. Hooray!

I was flattered that Katy thought of me. I mean, who reads this blog anyway besides my sister and a few of my friends? I've been working hard at promoting the MaineBuzz blog for work so hopefully this bit o' press will help.

Check out the article here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Book: Little Bee

I have never read anything by Chris Cleave (nor have I heard of him) but my friend Lisa gave me this new book to read and since I just happened to finish Travels With Charley and have yet to pick up The Good Earth, Little Bee has snuck its way into my reading list. Lucky book!

I know nothing about it except what I have read on -- that being that it was an Amazon Best of the Month for February, 2009.
All you should know going in to Little Bee is that what happens on the beach is brutal, and that it braids the fates of a 16-year-old Nigerian orphan (who calls herself Little Bee) and a well-off British couple--journalists trying to repair their strained marriage with a free holiday--who should have stayed behind their resort's walls. - review
Lisa is a sucker for books about journalists and since I am a journalist our reading tastes overlap here and there. I can't wait to sink my teeth into this one!

I have a crush on John Steinbeck

I know he's dead, but I have an intellectual crush on this guy. I just finished reading Travels With Charley and I adored it. I was amazed at how his views of America and American's haven't changed much since he wrote the book in 1960. His chapter on Texas was spot on, for example, on how the wealthy and ranches go hand in hand. He said that no state or national politician from Texas could really get elected if he didn't own a ranch. Interesting.

This passage on the south (he passed through during the war for Civil Rights) struck me as particularly thoughtful:
The South is in the pain of labor with the nature of its future child still unknown. And I have thought that such is the bitterness of the labor that the child has been forgotten.
Sigh. The way this man rights is poetic. It's so well crafted that it sounds easy - though writers will tell you it's actually quite difficult.

Another sentence struck me too, this one written about the giant redwood trees in Oregon -- a place I have yet to visit:
From my earliest childhood I've felt that something was going on in the groves, something of which I was not a part.
Though he's talking about Oregon it reminds me of Maine.

What Steinbeck writes about the anxiousness of Americans about the Russians can be translated today for our anxiousness about the Middle East. If I could create my own Rocinante (the truck/home he traveled in) and take a year off from work and paying my bills, I would drive Steinbeck's trail with my version of Charley -- a long-haired chihuahua named Miles. This is my dream...

This book, along with On the Road make me want to get out there and see the country even though I despise driving long distances. It makes me want to explore, to see, to experience...I guess that's why I am a journalist and long to write. To all writers have this inherent need for learning and adventure? Probably not...but I'm sure it helps.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Quoting another news source: what's fair?

I have been told to never, under any circumstances, use another news source's stories for quotes for my own story. I understand that MaineBiz does this frequently in their short online news stories. If they are ok with quoting other Maine newspapers then that's their business. Personally I think it's unethical but who am I? No one important that's who.

Anyway. I follow MaineBiz on twitter and click on the stories they post there once in a while. The most recent story that caught my attention was this one about FairPoint. I can't get enough news about this terrible's like a car wreck -- just can't turn my head away.

But enough about FairPoint...what I want to talk about is what's fair when quoting another news source.

Of course naming the news source in your story is critical. If you don't you could be taken to court for plagiarism. But what about linking the quote to the web page of the news source you are taking it from? Wouldn't that be fair? Or at least linking the name of the other news source to their homepage. I mean, if you are going to steal -- I mean use -- their quotes I think a little kickback would be nice. It's so easy to do these days what with technology and stuff.

So hey, MaineBiz, how about showing some link-y love to your favorite news sources?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Starbucks price change

I read this article in the Seattle Times about Starbucks raising its prices -- the third time since 2004. Simple drink prices will actually drip 5 to 10 cents while the prices for more complicate drinks, like a grande non-fat no whip caramel macchiato, will go up around 30 cents. The last time Starbucks raised prices it was due to a drop in traffic at their U.S. stores.

Some comments on the story:
my kids tell me it's about getting the Starbucks cup so you can walk around with it all day and all the other kids think your cool. - Spudpicker in Idaho

I stopped drinking mochas and switched to drip coffee months ago, mainly to lose weight, but saving money was also a nice side benefit. I've noticed Starbucks advertising its inexpensive, basic coffee more lately. - Plural of Ninja in Seattle

Have they gone mad? I mean, to say sales have declined because folks can't afford to go, and then raise the prices so that the ones who still go - can't anymore. I hope it backfires on them like I think it will. They raise the price of my Macchiato 1 penny more and I'm through with them. Plenty of small espresso stands I could support. - Keats69 in Seattle

To me, Starbucks is a luxury. When I worked on Newbury Street in Boston we used to do a Starbucks run for our clients and it wasn't cheap! If the price of the beverages has you down, try looking for a local alternative. That way even if you are spending the same amount of money on a drink it's going to a small business owner.

I am not a coffee drinker -- and those Starbucks specialty drinks have WAY too much fat in them for me to consume on a daily basis (heck, monthly basis) for me to feel ok about it. I keep a box of Swiss Miss hot chocolate by my desk when I want something warm and comforting. As for caffeine? A diet coke does the trick.

As for locally - I've seen half of the Starbucks (even the brand new one) close down this year. People in Maine take pride in buying local and don't care so much about spending more money on a brand -- especially when it comes to something that doesn't last a cup of coffee. I'd be interested to see how Starbucks is doing in a metropolitan area like NYC.

Are you a Starbucks fan?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Depressing Books

This "depressing book" list was compiled by Michelle at Scribbit -- a blog I like to read. I've just copied the list below...for plot synopses check out the Scribbit link above. Michelle has a great sense of humor and I love her writing style.

1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (next on my to-read list)

2. Escape from Sobibor by Richard Rashke (read it and own it)

3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (one of my favorites)

4. The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson

5. Misery by Anton Checkov

6. Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

7. Tess of the D'Urbervilles (keep wanting to read but haven't yet)

8. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (read and liked)

9. L'Etranger by Albert Camus

10. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

Got any titles you'd like to ad?

What Mimi Saw: Julie and Julia

I took my mother to see Julie & Julia last night. It was the best $12 I've spent in a while. First -- it was $12 for both of us! If I was still living in NYC and wanted to take mum to this movie it would have cost us $12 A PIECE! Second -- I love Amy Adams and Meryl Streep.

Meryl became Julia Child. Her mannerisms, her speech, her everything. It was uncanny to say the least. I knew next to nothing about Julia Child but learned so much in this movie. It made me want to live in Paris and learn how to cook. I neither speak French nor love to cook so this movie really had an impact on me!

Click here to watch the trailer. I couldn't find one on YouTube without an annoying commercial at the beginning. If you are looking for a good way to beat the heat for a couple of hours GO see this movie. You wont be sorry!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Target vs. Walmart

I was reading this article in Business Week and couldn't help but feel the need to pontificate on it.

I love Target. I really do. I go there to pick up cleaning supplies, face soap, neat lamps, bathroom rugs, and curtains. It's easy and their design is fun. However, there is a new Walmart in town that has a grocery store attached. I can't BELIEVE how cheap stuff is there. From hot cocoa to boxes of cereal to fruits and vegetables -- their prices are cheaper than the local grocery stores. Kraft Mac & Cheese for $0.57? You can't beat it.

I've noticed that this new Walmart is looking a lot like the Target that I know and love. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus have teamed up with designers to create a clothing line. Walmart is getting chicer and with their low prices are now rivaling Target.

Being on a budget, I shop at Walmart to save money. I'm not proud of it, because I like to support my local businesses, but in this economy it makes sense and cents for me. It'll be interesting to see where I now go to purchase my goods now that there is a bright and shiny new Walmart (with groceries AND a pharmacy where I get my meds) in town.

What would you do?

I'm in the middle of a sticky situation. Here's the story...

A freelance writer is writing a story on the practice of Reiki. The PR peeps at a local hospital set him up with a patient to interview knowing that the patient (we'll call her Ann) doesn't want her last name used in the story. The hospital people also work with our photographer in setting up a photo shoot with Ann while she is having Reiki.

Half of us think it's awkward for us to publish a photo with Ann without using her last name in the story. The other half of us think it's no big deal. What would you do in this situation? Please leave a comment!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Boys of Summer

It's HOT and HUMID this week in Maine. My heart goes out to all the little leaguers who are clothed in unbreathable polyester playing in the Senior League World Series here in Bangor. It's an odd place to hold a world playoffs - there are teams from across America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. I went to the field with my photog friend Shane Sunday morning to do some research for a little story I'm writing.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Bangor West Little League team winning the state title. To mark the occasion, a hearty breakfast and dedication ceremony took place at the Shawn T. Mansfield stadium in Bangor. For those of you who aren't familiar with this lovely baseball diamond, it was built in 1990 with funds from Stephen King -- the best-selling horror writer who lives in the area and whose son, Owen, played on the 1989 team.

In doing my research I found a nice article in the Boston Herald about the team and how they ended up in a Stephen King short story. It's a small-town American story about a rag-tag team of boys who did something uplifting for their community. Sort of like those cheesy sports movies like "The Mighty Ducks" but this one is true. Check it out for yourself!

Photo by the Bangor Daily News

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Mimi Saw: Colbert Report

I love the Colbert Report on Comedy Central. I love it more when it hits home. Below is a clip from "Better Know a District" featuring Maine District #1 and Chellie Pingree. The knitting thing is so funny I made a fool of myself cackling at work...alone. I'm having trouble embedding the video onto the blog...some html is broken...but click on the link below and watch it. You won't be sorry...

Chellie Pingree on The Colbert Report...

Monday, August 10, 2009

What Mimi Heard: Wind Turbines

Ok, so I didn't really hear wind turbines in person...but I did listen to my friend Anne Ravana's radio story on MPBN about a family in Mars Hill who is being affected greatly by the wind turbines built in their backyard.

You can read the story here, or listen to the link. I suggest listening to it because the main interviewee, Wendy Todd, gets quite emotional. You can't help but feel for her.

I think wind power is a great idea. So did Wendy Todd before she lived near them. I never thought about the flickering of light from the turbine or the noise that accompanies it. I believe her when she says it gets under her skin and drives her crazy. And the fact that it has lowered her property values so much that she doesn't think she could sell her house is stressful. Take a listen and see what you think...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Maine Switch takes a break

For those of you Portlanders who read this blog (all 2 of you...) you should know that The Maine Switch is going on hiatus. Some of you might know that I worked for MaineToday/Portland Press Herald for all of 12 weeks last summer, being laid off twice in the process. The Maine Switch is their alternative weekly. Well, it was a weekly until my first lay-off, then it was a bi-weekly. Now, a year later, it's taking a siesta.

Here's what editor Karen Beaudoin has to say on the subject:
Let me stress that — hiatus. Your favorite bi-weekly publication has been put on hold with the goal of studying it, changing it and eventually re-introducing it as a product that’s more in line with the needs of Greater Portland and more competitive with the alternative weeklies currently in this market.

We’re aiming to produce an even more engaging, vibrant, useful and entertaining publication. You may look forward to it even more than you have each new issue of Switch.

For the time being, look for selected Switch columnists and some of the regular Switch content to appear in Go, the entertainment guide in the Thursday edition of the Portland Press Herald.
I wonder if they have a planned date of return. Karen and Avery Yale-Kamilla will move to the features department of the PPH -- which is great.

Here's what I liked about Switch:
1. The covers were always great.
2. The columnists really knew what they were talking about.
3. The paper was shiny.
4. They catered to young people like me!

Here's what I didn't like about Switch:
1. The printing wasn't always great -- sometimes the photos looked really bad.
2. There was an overwhelming amount of "healthy" and "vegan" eating in it. I like fat foods and meat.

We'll just have to wait and see what happens. I hope for the best but in this economy and with the sale of the paper, I'm not gonna hold my breath...

Appetizers...for cats

I found this ad for Fancy Feast Appetizers for Cats online.

Do people honestly think their cats care what they are eating? My dog eats the same thing every day and never complains. It's a one course meal. This is ridiculous.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reading makes me cry sometimes

Have you ever read something that is so well written that you feel like your have sunk your teeth into the smoothest, creamiest, thick lemon pie that you want to die because nothing will ever be that good again?

This is what I am going through reading Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck. I don't know if I was having an emotional day or what but I literally shed a tear due to the sheer beauty of Steinbeck's sentences. There was nothing out of place or missing and every word was doing it's duty.

I picked up this book for a few reasons:

1. I had a coupon.
2. The Grapes of Wrath is one of my all time favorite books.
3. Steinbeck spends a good amount of time in Maine.

I'm already a 1/3 of the way through and I wish it would never end....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


In case you haven't noticed, I haven't been reading much lately. I'm TOO busy! Summer is always like this in Maine...especially now that the weather is sort of cooperating for once.

I've had a really stressful few weeks at work that have really gotten me down. I've had problems with coworkers and trouble trying to make everyone happy. Some have insinuated that I don't work very hard. The nerve! In a small company everyone pitches in. Bad attitudes and nasty remarks don't help. It's a stressful job with tight industry I'm used to working in. I don't get stressed out to the point that I have to make my coworkers feel bad to make myself feel better.

With that said I'm trying to deal with several people with very different sensitivities. I'm editing one monthly magazine while trying to get our yearly wedding magazine off the ground at the same time. I'm also trying to increase our web presence by blogging, twittering, and facebooking while taking photos and coming up with story and blog ideas. Oh, yeah, and I also have a life. And a dog to care for. And a lawn that needs constant mowing.

Now is the calm before the next storm. I'm enjoying it and trying hard to get ahead for next month...and the month after. Being organized has always been a knack of mine. So instead of reading I've been jogging, making a quilt for my niece, camping, celebrating the achievements of my friends, and trying to get a good nights sleep.