LibraryCon!

My bro and I attended the Academic Library Association of Ohio annual conference today.

There was cake!

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It was a nice close out to my year-long career as a para-professional part time customer services librarian. I was asked to co-present a poster with a co-worker on the FIFA World Cup programming we did over the summer.

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Our urban community college library showed the FIFA games on the large media screen during the World Cup.

Many of our students in the library are Somali and Ethiopian. They asked me several times in early June where we would be showing the games. Of course we would be showing the games, no question in their minds. Soccer is such a huge part of their lives that it just doesn’t compute that Americans don’t really care about the sport too much.

I brought that question to my co-worker, who also happens to be the only soccer fan in America, and she put together a lot of reference and instructional programming on Soccer as a portal question for library services, coordinated the Media Studio for the game broadcasts, and made a video.

http://library.cscc.edu/soccer

I got the happy task of asking our students to write out the word for soccer in their home language. Many words are a variation on British “football”, of course, but the whole experience from the circulation desk was one of community building and giving ownership of the library to the students: making it their space.

http://youtu.be/ZQ_rnwPRzd8 (video)

It took everyone on staff to make the programming happen, from the librarian who narrates the video above, to the evening media studio worker who would every day post the new stats and game times.

The conference was a great day, spending a little more time with my colleagues before moving on to the new job on Monday morning.

Vampires? In New England?

Copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

I always figured the only vampires in the US were in New Orleans, neatly interred — at least in daylight — between the pages of Ann Rice’s books.Gravestone

But not so.

There was a real live, er, undead one in Rhode Island, with a really eerie grave where no grass grows and the tomb stone “must be anchored down by a steel post.” Or so goes the story. Coins, shells, rocks, even printed prayers, have been left there as gifts for 19 year-old Mercy Lena Brown.

Mercy died in the deep winter of 1892 and her body was stored in an above-ground tomb until the ground thawed enough to bury her. When suspicions of Rock Cropvampires arose, Mercy’s body and those of her also recently deceased mother and sister were exhumed. The decayed condition of the other two bodies was enough to acquit them. But Mercy’s, having lain only two months in the freezing, above-ground tomb, was in perfect condition. It was reported, in fact, that she still had fresh blood in her veins. Proof positive that she was “feeding off the living.” So they cut out her heart and burned it on a stone.

In another instance, the body of a 50 year old man, buried around 1830 in Connecticut, was “completely rearranged” some time after death. The skeleton was beheaded, the ribs fractured, and the head laid on the chest with the thigh bones crossed beneath it as on a pirate flag.

And they weren’t the only ones. Rhode Island Folklorist Michael Bell has exhumed some 80 “questionable” burials, some from as early as the late 1700’s or as far west as Minnesota, but primarily in backwoods New England in the1800’s. He suspects there are many more.

Stone crypt at Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Exeter, RI, where Mercy's remains may have been kept in the winter of 1892.

Stone crypt, Chestnut Hill Cemetery, Exeter, RI, where Mercy’s remains may have been kept the winter of 1892.

But what raised such powerful suspicions among the good people of New England?

Turns out, the one linking factor among all the known disturbed burials is that they occurred around the time of virulent outbreaks of consumption (tuberculosis.)

People falling ill without explanation? Wasting away till death claimed them?

What would you think?.

P.S. It’s been suggested that one Bram Stoker, traveling in the United States with a theater company the same year as Mercy Lena Brown’s exhumation, may have taken note: Lena + Mercy = Lucy??? And a doctor attending at her exhumation as with Miss Brown’s?

P.P.S. H.P Lovecraft specifically mentions Mercy’s exhumation in “The Shunned House,” and includes a living character named Mercy.

Sources:
Extensive analysis and commentary here:
The Great New England Vampire Panic, Smithsonian, October 2012

mystery of Rhode Island’s vampire revealed

Book or Treat Halloween Collection time!

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Thanks to Wendy and Andrea whom (who?…) have both donated to the collection, the Book or Treat Halloween Collection is approaching massive.

We started this last year. We live in a very Trick-or-Treat neighborhood, very socioeconomically diverse (read: “inner city”). By 8 pm we’d given away over 200 books, and we had to shut down the house.

In other words, the kids love the books! Yes! You may have more than one!

Tho this is focused on kids, Wendy suggested that I incorporate a selection for the parents, too. Maybe next year!

Kat’s TBFinished pile

I finally compiled my TBR list. I’m hoping to get through these in the next year. I always find more to read on my kindle library too, but these are the ones I’ve been thinking about and I figure if I put them in a nice list I will remember to look at it and prioritize! I do own all of these books, so, realistically I should read them before buying yet another kindle book on sale. Just kidding. ;-) Also, I already started most of these. sigh. so this is more of a TBFinished pile!

My abbreviations are [HB] hardback, [PB] paperback, [K] Kindle

In no particular order:
~House of Bathory by Linda Lafferty [K]
~Ignition Point by Kate Corcino [K]—->this is my friend! read this! she’s good!
~Koko Takes a Holiday by Kieran Sea [PB]
~Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch [K] (kind of a re-read…turns out the audio book I listened to 4+ times was abridged! The horror!! But hey! Now I get to read this awesome book about the Gentlemen Bastards again for the first time.)
~Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch [K] (more Gentlemen Bastard adventures)
~Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss [K] (this is a re-read for when the new side story book comes out!)
~Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey [big fat PB]
~Icarus Rising by David N Pauly [PB]
~Wool by Hugh Howey (re-read 1-5, then read the rest, I think there are 8?)
~Great Gatbsy by F Scott Fitzgerald [K]
~PT Barnum by Kunhardt [HB]
~Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi [HB]
~The Doctor and the Dinosaurs by Mike Resnick

whew! wish me luck!

Tales from my Ursula K. Le Guin Bookshelf: The Earthsea Cycle Part II

Copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

smilings2When Ursula Le Guin revisited Earthsea some years after her completion of Tehanu, as she explains in her Foreword to Tales from Earthsea:

A mere glimpse at the place told me that things had been happening while I wasn’t looking. It was high time to go back find out what was going on now … [and also about] … things that had happened back then, before Ged and Tenar were born. A good deal about Earthsea, about wizards, about Roke Island, about dragons, had begun to puzzle me ….

Tales of EarthseaAnd so, as she put it, she went back, “to spend some time in the Archives of the Archipelago.” The five luminous stories that resulted shed a few bright rays on the people and the forces that unmade and remade and reoriented the world of Earthsea  during the 300 years before Ged. They are told in that quiet Le Guin voice that contains the raging of the storm. The calm that is the storm

“The Finder,” recounts the time after “Elfarran and Morred perished and the Isle of Soléa sank beneath the sea,” after further depredations from warlords and self-serving mages and wild dragons out of the west, after Erreth-Akbe’s Ring of Runes was broken. In that dark time the safest and most reliable magic rested with the “Women of the Hand,” long forgotten in Ged’s time, and with a Finder named Otter, a man who, with the women of the heavily-warded enclave on Roke, began to build the future.

“The Bones of the Earth” gives insight into the selfless strength and generosity of the true mage, and of the sorcerers who would teach the sorcerer who would teach Ged.

“Darkrose and Diamond” tells of the love between two gifted people and the trials they face in times when such gifts were both coveted and suspect.

“On the High Marsh,” from the “brief but eventful six years” when Ged was Archmage of Earthsea, tells the story of a child whose great powers were so harshly misunderstood and repressed that even on Roke he could not be mended, and of the one who went alone and on foot to find him in yet another place of ignorance to which he had run.

The final story, “Dragonfly,” occurring a few years after the end of Tehanu, introduces a powerful new character and provides a bridge, “a dragon bridge” as Le Guin says, between that book and the next one, the masterful novel The Other Wind.

Tales concludes with a 23-page “Description of Earthsea,” filled with details and explanations for much of the world of Le Guin’s creation. Close readers of her stories will revel in this. And for writers aspiring to Le Guin-quality fantasy, there are riches to be found in the Foreword: about “the way one does research into nonexistent history,” and the importance of stories that “have weight and make sense.” You’ll want to read it. Over and over again.

The Other Wind reaches back, nearly to the dawn of history, to identify and address the greatest wrong ever done by the mages The Other Windof Earthsea. This ancient miscalculation, a colossal failure of magic, comes to light through the heartbreak of a sorcerer named Alder, whose young wife calls to him from across the low wall between the living world and the realm the dead. What can be done to mend this vast error and make right the harm it has caused? And who has the power for the task? Tenar, Tehanu, the young king Arren, the former Archmage Ged, and Irian, a dragon who can take the shape of a woman, gather in the Immanent Grove on Roke, to try.

It was in reading the Tales From Earthsea this past week that I felt the whole of this long, patient story wash over me, the slow gathering together of whose parts Le Guin has pursued over these thirty-one years. It is a simple story, seen whole: a world of sometimes rough, sometimes marvelous beauty, populated by a people of rich imagination and great but often flawed intention, who insist on the superiority of their own limited vision over the deep-rooted wisdom and power of the natural world around them.

So, is there more of Earthsea’s story yet to come?

Le Guin tells us in the new Afterword provided in the 2012 edition of The Other Wind that, so far as she knows, “the story that [she] had to tell ends here.”  And yet, she says, she knows what Tehanu will do, and where Ged will go now.

For this series of posts there is definitely more: the science fiction of Ursula K. Le Guin. The Dispossessed, which many consider her masterwork, and my favorite, The Left Hand of Darkness, and Always Coming Home. And more? We shall see.

Strange Horizons Book Club

Hey! Strange Horizons is hosting a book club. Sweet!

They’ve pulled some new-to-me and so therefore fascinating selections. They’re pre-loaded through December so we know which books to hunt for, and the discussion will take place at the end of every month.

first up, Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2014/20141006/bookclub-e.shtml

Tales From My Ursula Le Guin Bookshelf: The Earthsea Cycle

Copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

Trilogy2“The Island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.”

So begins A Wizard of Earthsea, volume one of The Earthsea Trilogy, and so began my readerly friendship with Ursula K. Le Guin. The trilogy was perhaps my first deep insight into that amalgam of dreams and imperfections that is the human condition. It is a permanent fixture of my heart.

There have been periods since that first experience when I did not read Le Guin’s books, and periods when I did, so my experience of her is spotty. But I can tell you that I have, in one way or another, been informed, deeply moved, and emotionally strengthened by every work of hers that I have read.

As many of you undoubtedly know, Wizard is the insightful coming-of-age story of Ged, known as Sparrowhawk, a gifted boy whose pride would lead him into such troubles as would last through the Trilogy and shadow his magic for life. The book is filled with whimsy and hope and learning and deepest despair, and again hope, in the heart of a much wiser young man.

The Tombs of Atuan, volume two of the Trilogy, is that rarity, the coming-of-age story of a girl. Taken from her home and family as a small child, Tenar was dedicated for a life as high priestess to the “ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth.” And so she served, until a young wizard named Ged came as a thief in search of the greatest treasure of the Tombs she guarded.

In The Farthest Shore, volume three of the Trilogy, an older Ged has risen to become the Archmage of Roke, the most powerful wizard of an Earthsea from which the magic seemed to be fading away. Together with the young Crown Prince Arren, and Kalessin, Eldest of the dragons, Ged travels across the world to “confront his own past, and test the ancient prophecies.” With them also sail Earthsea’s every hope.

Tehanu2It seems clear at the conclusion of The Farthest Shore, completed in 1972, that Le Guin thought she was done with Ged. But Ged, it seems, or perhaps Earthsea itself, was far from done with her. Some 18 years later both Ged and Tenar are back, with Tehanu, a foster child of strange and violent origins, who would add her own indelible brush strokes to the evolving portrait of Earthsea and its inhabitants. If the original Trilogy was–and was not–a tale for children, Tehanu is a story for those same children grown, not old, but older. Ready for another course in wisdom.

Once again, a decade after Tehanu, Earthsea had more work for its historian and gazetteer. Unfortunately I cannot comment on Tales From Earthsea. Not just yet. For though I have read The Other Wind, the most recent (note that I did not say the final) book in the Cycle, I have not yet read the Tales. So I will save the fifth and sixth books in the Cycle for next week, after I have read it.

Following that, I will proceed with brief looks, in varying depths, at the other books of Ursula Le Guin on my shelf.

In the meantime, if you haven’t read Tehanu, or the Trilogy itself, I recommend that you do. The elegantly slim volumes of the Trilogy read rather quickly. But Tehanu is a full length novel, requiring and deserving your extended attention. You won’t regret it.

Unseaming by Mike Allen

We got this beauty up and running, too! Enjoy the creepy!
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UNSEAMING
FOURTEEN TALES OF HORROR

THE DEBUT SHORT FICTION COLLECTION FROM MIKE ALLEN

FEATURING AN INTRODUCTION BY LAIRD BARRON

Available at: Kindle

iTunes

Kobo

Book Trailer

 

Mike Allen has put together a first class collection of horror and dark fantasy. Unseaming burns bright as hell among its peers.

—Laird Barron, author of The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All

I forgot what book I ordered..

I have a book waiting for me at Columbus Metro Library but I can’t remember what it is. Good golly, look at this monster! Fattest book in the shelf. What a cool surprise!

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oh huzzah! Devices and Desires by KJ Parker one of the Recommended Reads from Context.

“The quickest way to a man’s heart,” said the instructor, “is proverbially through his stomach. But if you want to get into his brain, I recommend the eye-socket.”

heh!

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Ursula K. Le Guin, A Foretaste

Copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan

beachThe post on the writings of Ursula Le Guin which I intended to have for you today is still in the works and will appear here next week. Meanwhile, a distillation of the writer, her mind, and her craft.

Love3plots stories3

unread story

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Creative adult

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Sleep

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Credit for quotations as presented here, unless otherwise identified, go to http://quotepixel.com or http://www.quotessays.com.

Le Guin photo credits:

Below the headline: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/ArwenCurryDocumentary.html

At middle left: http://www.ursulakleguin.com/ArwenCurryDocumentary.html