Friday, May 29, 2009

Natalie always says I'm a winner...

I never win ANYTHING. Ever. So I'm pumped that I actually won a free copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society from Random House! I follow a bunch of book blogs, including Random's, and all you had to do to win was comment on their entry. So I said...
Please enter me into your contest! I’ve been DYING to read this book, and it hasn’t stayed on our library’s shelves for MONTHS!
...(Which is totally true), and I beat out 39 other commenters. Go me!

A blurb about the book follows. I've been told it's one of those happy, feel-good types that you can recommend to anyone and everyone, and not a soul can put it down. (Comparable to Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, one of my all-time faves.) A review will follow once I get through it!

(From Amazon) The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers.

The Hops are Freed!

I'm a little late to report on this, but on May 19th, Governor Riley signed the Gourmet Beer Bill into law! So now Alabamians can purchase fancy beers! Yay! I have a feeling that the Brewfest will be even more of a celebration this year... can't wait!

Oh and I've been in touch with the folks at Free the Hops, and they assured me that their work is not over. I quote:
We are going to continue to fight for the beer culture in our state. There are still some laws (container size, brewpub laws, homebrew laws) that need changing. We still have plenty to fight for.
Sweet. Bring it on.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let's say it together: awwwwwwwww.

I heart this man. From the White House's Flickr photostream:

The caption reads that "The youngster [who is the son of a WH employee] wanted to see if the President's haircut felt like his own."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A few quick updates...

First of all, Rebecca totally called me out, and apparently Cinco de Mayo is NOT Mexico's Independence Day. My bad. (Surely I'm not the only person who thought this, right?)

Second, I read some very upsetting news recently about Hershey. Although one would think that chocolate sales would rise as folks are trying to cheer themselves up in our ever-increasingly bleak economic crisis (for instance, the sales of Romance novels have peaked and bars are reporting high sales in alcohol), Hershey is apparently in a financial mess and have not only raised the prices of their candy, but also are REPLACING COCOA BUTTER WITH VEGETABLE OIL. Which is a big no-no, because as all of us chocolate lovers know, cocoa butter is the real stuff. And to top it off, even the FDA says NO WAY, HERSHEY and will not allow products to be called "milk chocolate" without the ingredient. For shame... As my coworker Jake said, "Now they'll have to call it 'vegetable chocolate.'" (hardy har har) But seriously - how depressing.

So to counter this, Mars (Hershey's apparent arch-rival) is giving away free chocolate every Friday as part of a campaign for "real chocolate." Smart thinking, Mars. Here's the website where you can sign up.


Next... Alabama's Gourmet Beer bill is thisclose to being signed into law by Governor Riley. He has until Monday, May 25th to make his decision. For any of you who aren't familiar, this is the bill that will lift the ban of beers with more than 6% alcohol by volume from being sold in Alabama. Meaning, we won't have to participate in alcohol trafficking across state lines any longer to get the fancy pants beers we love and adore. Here's some more info from Free the Hops about the bill and what they call "Alabama's Missing Beers." Below I've pasted some info from their site for ways to contact the governor, including a form that sends an email straight to him.

It only takes a minute to call, fax, or email the Governor’s office in support of HB373, the Gourmet Beer Bill:

Switchboard: (334) 242-7100
Fax: (334) 353-0004
Email form: http://www.governor.alabama.gov/contact/contact_form.aspx

Let’s Free The Hops, people!

Although I'm concerned, if we do indeed free the hops, does that mean that my friends and I won't get to participate in the Magic City Brewfest from year to year? I quite enjoy doing my part to help free the hops.

(From last year's brewfest)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Best Day EVER - Part II

Now that I've expounded on what happened in the earlier part of THE BEST DAY EVER, which involved my love of reading, ghosts, and Mexican food... let's talk about music.

Most people who know me well, know that I am VERY passionate about music. I would rather lose a limb than lose my hearing and lose the tunes. It's true. And most people know that if I could listen to any artist for the rest of my life, it would be Ryan Adams. But here's the thing... before there was Ryan Adams, there was Fleetwood Mac. Oh yes.

Although my dad and his sister were big FM fans in the 70s, I attribute my introduction to Stevie & Co. to Anna Blumenfeld (Rebecca's older sister). I will never forget hearing "Silver Springs" on a tape player in the Blumenfelds' playroom when Rebecca and I were quite young (elementary school, maybe), and it's been my favorite song since. (I later passed on the love to Natalie as well.) "The Dance" was the very first CD I ever listened to in my car once I turned 16 and had the radio all to myself. And the sad part is, I never got to see them live. And after all of their shenanigans and drama, I never dreamed they would even think about getting back together.

THEN they announced a 2009 reunion tour, in which they'll be playing all of their greatest hits. They came to Atlanta, and I missed it and was heartbroken. THEN... on May 5, I got an email from Tickemaster announcing that FM was playing a Nashville show. On a Friday night. I immediately called my sister, and we got tickets. And I'm going. And I'm going to get to see FLEETWOOD MAC IN PERSON. Maybe Stevie's witchy ways will rub off on me somehow.


And that, my friends, was THE BEST DAY EVER.

The Best Day EVER

So let's look back a week to May 5, Cinco de Mayo, which has probably been my best day of 2009 so far. The day started with an excellent run, followed by margaritas and Mexican food at LaPaz with some of my favorite coworkers (we were not only celebrating the American tradition of consuming tequila and tacos to support Mexican Independence Day, but wishing a farewell to another coworker heading to NYC). Good start already, right?

THEN it gets good. I already knew there was a very exciting signing event going on at the Booksmith, but Tuesday nights are my required night on the desk, and you cannot imagine how bummed I was to miss it. However, knowing folks who have an "in" (ie the other booksellers still left at the Booksmith) does have it's advantages, as my dear friend Michal texted me to let me know that the author was there early and signing and she would sneak me back to meet her. So, on May 5, 2009, I met KATHRYN TUCKER WINDHAM and had my original copy of 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey signed and personalized. AND she gave me a corn muffin! AND I got to ask her about ghosts and found out that her biggest regret in life so far (the woman is 90) is that she hasn't actually ever personally encountered a spirit. When I asked her, "Don't you have any trouble getting to sleep at night after spending the better part of your life sifting through ghost stories?", she replied, "Well, in all of the hundreds of ghost stories I've read, there have been only a handful that are truly evil, sinister ghosts... and that's definitely not something you can say for the people I've encountered in real life!" Touche, KTW, touche.

Anyway, so here's the inscription:

It reads For Lauren, who still likes true ghost stories. Hauntingly yours, Kathryn T. Windham and Jeffrey. May 5, 2009 (A late signing).

I also got a signed copy of her new autobiography, which I can't wait to delve into!

Ok so flash back about, oh, 17 years or so, and let's look at little Lauren. Little Lauren's mother took her and her sister to the Houston-Love Memorial Library in Dothan, Alabama, on a weekly basis... but much to my mother's confusion and disturbia, all I wanted to read were ghost stories. I went through all of the Goosebumps series and basically ANY collection of ghost stories I could get my hands on, and it all started with 13 Alabama Ghosts, which I had come across at some point. And this led to my eventual love of ALL books and reading. Natalie joined me in the scare-fest, and now, at the ages of 24 and 26, we continue to love ghost stories (and we also continue to crawl into each others' beds if needed because we can't sleep). So yes, I got to meet the woman who started it all for me. My love of reading, my penchant for all things ghostly and creepy... Can you imagine? Of course I couldn't keep my cool and staggered on a bit, but it was amazing. I was grinning from ear to ear.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm BACK!

Hello people. So so sorry for my hiatus. I have no (good) excuse for my absence, and to make up for it, here are 10 important happenings of the past four months...

  1. On December 15, I officially became a graduate of the University of Alabama. That's right, I received my Master of Library and Information Studies, only to step into the job market during the worst financial crisis of my lifetime. I'm currently looking for full-time jobs everywhere from Dothan to Nashville to Atlanta and back. But on the bright side, obtaining a Masters degree was always on my lifetime goal list, and now I have one more thing checked off. And in the meantime, I LOVE my job and only dislike the fact that it's part-time.

  2. After spending a week in Texas (which is a long story in itself), I fully realized quite a few things. First, that I miss my friends and family terribly (especially my BFF roommates) when I am gone for too long. Second, that I DEFINITELY don't want to move anywhere that isn't a day's drive from home or Birmingham. In other words, though I haven't been cured of my wanderlust, I have indeed been cured of any wantings to go too far away.

    (I also learned some valuable lessons about relationships with boys and such, but this blog is mostly for laughs and randomness, and I won't overdivulge.)

  3. I had the privilege and honor to serve as a bridesmaid in my friend Robyn's wedding. Robyn was my college roommate, as well as a friend from high school. The wedding took place in Auburn on A-Day, so needless to say, it was busy and VERY War Eagle. It made me happy. Here are a few pics:

    Former Batcave Roommates


    Lauren and Lizzie - Roommates for 8 Years Now

    Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ahlquist


  4. Rebecca sent me this article, which scared the bejeezus out of me, and I decided to set some major health goals. I am vowing to you, dear Internets (and to my BFFs, who will keep me in check), that by my 28th birthday, I will be in good shape, at a healthy weight, and off of any medication for high blood sugar. This gives me roughly 18 months. I WILL do it. This time. I hope. Probably. If you see me eating cake, slap me.

  5. In keeping with this, I started the Couch to 5K program for the second time. The first time was a failure thanks to an upper respiratory infection that got me in Week 3. This time I'm using podcasts made by Robert Ullrey, and I'm finding them to be extremely effective. I loathe running, but I'm absolutely forcing myself to continue and follow through with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it'll get easier, and I'll actually enjoy it one day.

  6. I chopped my hair off. Yes, again. My Grandma is going to have a heart attack. Here's a pic. Not sure you can really tell because of the dark background, but my earrings are longer than my hair (and you should see it curly!). That's Laura Mac with me, out at Oasis one night.


  7. On a single day, I met one of my heroes (literary and otherwise) and also found out that I will be able to see a concert I never thought possible. If you know me at all, you know this is HUGE and deserves its own blog post (coming soon).

  8. I finally got around to watching my FRIENDS series box set. This has become a late-night addiction that is cutting into my sleep and simultaneously driving Rebecca insane.

  9. I've started waitressing, which believe it or not, is actually something I've always wanted to try out. I'm still relatively new, but I think I'm pretty good at it. My feet and back are often tired, but it's rewarding work, and I'm enjoying it. And also my pants are a bit snug from overindulging on Italian food. But it's YUM. Come see me at Mafiaoza's in Crestline!

  10. I actually went three months without reading a single book. Can you believe it? I've been a very very bad librarian! But I'm BACK, and there will be book reviews to come.

And that, my friends, is 2009 so far in a nutshell. Thanks for sticking with me.