Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Glare Issues?

A new Amazon Kindle commercial takes another shot at Apple's iPad and its glare issue, but SlashGear expressed reservations about the ongoing campaign: "You can't blame them though for really emphasizing glare as it may be the only thing it can still compete on. With all the new tablets coming on the market that can consume media and perform a whole slew of other tasks along with higher resolution displays for more comfortable viewing and reading, it's less and less likely that consumers would choose to buy a separate device just for reading. It will be interesting to see what happens, should an anti-glare display ever be implemented on an iPad or other tablet device."

TechCrunch observed that a noteworthy aspect of the commercial "is that all of the actors appear to be in their twenties and thirties, which shows that Amazon is clearly trying to target a younger demographic in the spot. And the tagline 'The Book Lives On,' appears to be a new one."

via Atlantic Monthly

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Discovery of Witches...

I've heard this is the adult version of Twilight, and I can't help but slightly agree. It's PURE escapist fiction...vampires, witches, old books and libraries, lots of talk about wine and horses-- so don't expect to walk away from it with anything other than a sigh escaping your lips. A sigh for the Vampire we love; a sigh for his great collection of old books; a sigh that we aren't able to sit in the Bodlian library all day with seemingly nothing to do except read and brood over sexy vampire types. All I find myself doing is sighing...and that's weird.
The premise is great. Diana, a professor of Alchemy and Science, goes to Oxford to study ancient manuscripts in the library. She stumbles across an ancient book with great meaning to the creatures of the world and after that time, must fight to stay alive and keep the books' secrets from getting into the wrong hands. Enter Matthew Chamberlain who bravely rescues her, seduces her, and ultimately becomes her partner in crime. The one problem? He's a vampire and Diana is a witch, which makes them ill-accustomed to one another, according to "Creature Law."
The "Twilight" references abound: Chamberlain is totally possessive of Diana, he watches her in her sleep (sound familiar), the romance is forbidden by a "convenant of vampires", and the list goes on. I'm not saying I don't like it--it's fun, reminiscent of the "The Historian" by Kostova. It has a bit of history in it too, which will appeal to some. I just think this has been done before.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Can we all say "Ubiquitous?"

"When you consider that 99 percent of all species that have ever existed are now extinct, you realize that the ones who made it--and are thriving--are indeed remarkable." --Joyce Sidman

This is a great book for the youngster in your life that desires to be an evolutionary biologist; or better yet, if you want to grow up to be one--(regardless of your age...I still want to be the Glenda, the Good Witch). The book includes a timeline, glossary, a brief poem nestled on each page about the species being discussed, and a fantastic author's note. The question of "Why do certain species survive?" is an enormous one, and I think the author and illustrator do a really competent job in both explaining each species (a bit of history), and what makes that particular species prone to survival. A poem on each page and colorful illustrations add to the appeal of this book. The more creative types will appreciate the fun and flouncy poetry, while those interested in the science of evolution will enjoy the tidbits of trivia that can be found in the descriptions of each species: which include bacteria, mollusks, squirrels, sharks, and even humans! This is a fun book that conveys a lot of information in a very accessible way. I learned a lot. For instance,
Did you know that.....
1. More than 400 mollusks are discovered each year!
2. Lichen cannot tolerate pollution; they decline in cities with poor air quality.
3. Sharks have amazing immune systems!
4. The Dung Beetle was revered by ancient Egyptians.
5. Geckos can literally break their tail in two to escape from predators.

Just the name of this book made me want to pick it up. Seriously, any author who can use the word "ubiquitous" correctly can't be all bad. Recommended.

Not Your Mother's.....(Review)

Beth Hensperger is known for her "Not Your Mother's...." cookbooks, which promises to give "new takes" on old favorites. While I find some of her recipes unique,(Sugar di Carne, Saffron Risotto), the lack of vegetarian recipes and glossy photos I find less than appealling. Enough so that I probably wouldn't check out one of her cookbooks again; although I like how this book on slow cookers appeals to single or two person meals--which are often overlooked in other cookbooks. If you have a small slow cooker, and need some traditional recipes,(meat loaf, tacos), this would be ideal. But because I have a tendency to get a little "artsy" with my cooking--(last week was BBQ'd Tofu), this cookbook just wasn't for me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Local Poet Nick Demske

While paging through the Chicago Tribune last week, an author event caught my eye. It was a poetry reading that was taking place over the weekend in Chicago, and one of the poet's presenting their book was none other than Nick Demske, a librarian in Racine, and a guy I also know from my "Law and Ethics in the Library" Class at UWM. Nick has been involved with poetry for years and has received a host of praise and prizes for his work. He was also instrumentally involved with the Bonk! series hosted by the Racine Library for several years and is also an incredibly talented and committed librarian.
His new book, Nick Demske, can be found online at Amazon, through Fence Books, or via his blog here:
Nick is a local fixture whose poetry has a hip, modern beat. The conscience of the poetry epitomizes our current generation's questions regarding race, sex, and self and will speak to your gut. Make sure to check him out. Trust me, he did a poetry slam for our Law & Ethics class as his final project: It was, of course, amazing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Stephen Shore: Uncommon Places

Stephen Shore grew up in downtown New York. One day, he and a friend decided to drive to Amarillo, Texas and get out of the big city for a spell. Uncommon Places is a result of that trip. Although I'm not a huge fan of landscape photography, I enjoyed viewing what Shore thought was "uncommon" (the name of his book), as I grew up in rural and smalltown America and found many of the photos "commonplace." That is no disrespect to the artist, however. I find him incredibly compelling as an artist and a person.
What I find intriguing is that Shore reconnects one with those images from their past and also invites the viewer to see their smalltown landscape from a new, invigorating lens. The photos of small towns, diners, beaches, and movie theatres brought me to a place where I wondered "What is Common?" "What is Uncommon?" To Stephen, that would be my reality. He would find me and my reality, uncommon. Wow. Never considered that before. I, no doubt, would find his the same.
Shore is famous for winning critical acclaim when he was twenty-three, photographing Andy Warhol's Factory, the temple of underground art in the sixties.
Uncommon Places is a selection of forty-nine photographs taken between 1973 and 1981.