The coolest thing I’ve seen an author do

By Cristin - Last updated: Friday, April 18, 2014

The children’s section at the bookstore where I work is next to the events space; I am nearly always assigned to be near the children’s section, which means I am within at least earshot if not eye…shot? of nearly all of our author events. I’m not going to pretend to be blasé about this– it is effing awesome, so much so that the fact that I am the one who moves bookshelves and sets up chairs every night for these things has not begun to bother me even after doing so over 230 times (I did actual math based on my length of service to arrive at that number that I won’t bore you with. Just know I didn’t inflate it at all) because that means I’ve also seen 230 author events in the last 18 months and I probably don’t need to tell you how much that doesn’t suck. I mean, just look at this.

On Wednesday there was an event with Leslie Jamison, who is the author of The Empathy Exams. The first essay is excerpted here; I hope you will read it, as it’s now one of my favorite pieces of nonfiction, up there even with Death of a Pig. The Empathy Exams, if it hasn’t already, is about to become That Book You See Every Girl Wearing A Dress You Like On The Subway Reading, and with good reason. It is amazing, and Leslie’s event was one of the best author talks I’ve ever seen, which is saying something considering the aforementioned 230 of them I’ve banked.

LJam

Leslie Jamison also blew my mind with an idea that she admitted stealing from someone else whose name I can’t remember I’m forever crediting it to her regardless. She had a copy of her book with her, and for every copy she signed for a reader, she had that person sign her copy, as well. She not has a whole book of both her words and words from people who came to various events specifically to hear her speak and meet her. I can’t think of a better physical object to have.

Filed in Books & Bookselling, Reading is Sexy

Reasons to be excited

By Cristin - Last updated: Monday, March 3, 2014

I don’t know if this happens in other creative industries, but book people are forever asking each other for reasons to be excited. Anything exciting coming up? Are you working on anything exciting? What are you excited about? I get that last one all the time from Publishing People, and whether they genuinely want my opinion on what they should be reading or are using me as a heat-seeking device to see where other publishers are focusing their attention and whether or not it rubbed off on me, I always find the question flattering. And terrifying. It’s like how walking into a karaoke bar invariably wipes your brain clean of any ideas about songs to sing. During one of the many conversations about karaoke I had with my brother while he was living in Japan, I brought up how hard it is to think of what song to choose and Bud said that one of his friends keeps a list in his wallet, and if he’s ever in a bar or grocery store and a good karaoke song plays he writes it down and then carries the list around with him in case a sing-off breaks out. It took me a year of being stumped by the Excited About question at author events and BEA for me to realize I need a similar system. And so that’s what you’re looking at right now: my cheat sheet for What I’m Excited About for 2014 (March-May).

 

aa ava

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton (March ’14)
Summary: A layered story of three generations leading up to the birth of a girl born with bird wings, and all of the wonder and angst that comes with them.

Why I’m Excited, short version: Magical realism isn’t for everyone, but this book is.

Why I’m Excited, long version: I usually loathe magical realism (people can’t be chairs, Aimee Bender!!) but I truly, truly loved Ava Lavender. This story of three generations of women recalls the sweeping family saga of Middlesex, but without that pesky incest and extraneous sex organs.

Kidding aside, I find myself finally understanding what I thought were bookseller clichés because of this book: I intentionally slowed down at the end of the story to make it last longer, I’m wondering how much time I should give myself before I reread it, and I’m picturing the readers for this book and testing out in my head what I’m going to say to them. I am actively jealous of these customers because they have the experience of reading Ava Lavender for the first time to look forward to. I can’t get over this book- but why would anyone want to, anyway?

 

 

aa riverman

The Riverman by Aaron Starmer (March ’14)
Summary: Alice In Wonderland is all fun and good until she shows up as the girl next door. 12-year-old Alistair is tasked by his neighbor, Fiona, of writing the story of the magical world Aquavania,  the children who live there, and the man who is stealing their souls one by one.

Why, short version: With one foot in a realistic setting and one in a magical land, this is a great entry into fantasy for kids (and grown ups) who think they don’t like the genre.

Why, long version: Aaron Starmer does an amazing job of setting stakes for his characters, both in the real world and in Aquavania. The last book that was this much of a gut-check for me was Tom McNeal’s Far, Far Away; you know that feeling, where you want to pin a fictional character to the ground to keep them from heading down a path that you’re certain, for some untenable reason, will be bad for them. It’s a challenge for me to get through a fantasy novel (I’m trying, guys!); I not only burned through this one, but wanted to start reading again immediately as soon as I was finished.

 

 

 

aa panic

Panic by Lauren Oliver (March ’14)
Summary: A game that’s a series of escalating dares played by teenagers the summer after graduation gets out of control in a hurry.

Why, short version: I love scavenger hunts/ large-scale games organized in secret by teenagers. I’m actively mad I didn’t put one together myself in high school, though that regret is fading fast in light of what happens in this book.

Why, long version: Lauren Oliver is such a goddamned baller. My introduction to Panic came at our YA Trivia Night AKA Cristin’s Greatest Life Accomplishment To Date, where Lauren was kind enough to serve as one of our visiting YA dignitaries and even kinder to read from Panic, which wasn’t even in galleys yet. She was maybe 3 sentences in before I wanted to steal her laptop to be able to read the whole thing. An awesome conceit plus a great writer. I loved every word.

 

 

 

 

aa love lettersLove Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira (April ’14)

Summary:  Laurel responds to her teacher’s assignment to write a letter to a dead person by starting one-sided conversations with Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart- everyone except her older sister, May, who has recently committed suicide.

Why, short version: This is The Big One, people. Really!

Why, long version: This isn’t just Good For A Debut Author (though it is– exceptional for one, in fact– if she isn’t a Morris Award finalist I’m going to have to take up my own one-sided correspondence with the American Library Association), it’s Great For Any Author. All of the hesitations you are having right now (do kids today know who Kurt Cobain was? Ugh, do I HAVE to read another suicide book?) would be valid for any other book- I went through all of them when I was handed this galley- but this isn’t Any Other Book, it is beautiful and amazing and basically everything that you want in a young adult novel. Am I overselling it? TRICK QUESTION this book is impossible to oversell.

 

 

 

aa noggin

Noggin by John Corey Whaley (April ’14)
Summary: The head of a teenage boy who died from cancer is cryogenically frozen and attached, five years later, to the previously-frozen body of a different dead teenager. So, you know, just your run-of-the-mill coming of age story.

Why, short version: It is incredibly fun to open conversations at your workplace with the statement “you would not believe how good this book about a cryogenically frozen/ unfrozen head is.”

Why, long version: This should be the weirdest book in the world, right? It should be Grasshopper Jungle meets Every Myth You’ve Ever Heard About Walt Disney meets Airhead meets Fururama, right? A frozen head book has no business being this good, and yet IT IS WONDERFUL. After his first book I was already emotionally contracted to read everything John Corey Whaley ever put on paper and after reading Noggin I know I’ll never regret any time I spend with this author’s work.

 

 

 

 

aa high dry

High & Dry by Sarah Skilton (April ’14)
Summary:  High schooler Charlie Dixon tries to clear his name after being framed for contributing to a classmate’s near-fatal overdose at a party.

Why, short version:  Noir for teenagers in an age where we all could use a little more Veronica Mars in our lives.

Why, long version: Everything about this book is clever and fast-paced and smart and somehow never feels self-aware or put-upon; it is so hard to get wit in YA without having to deal with accompanying pretension, and this book just hits it out of the park. There are great touches throughout the whole thing, including some subtle race commentary when two girls in choir with the same name are referred to as Sound of Music Maria and West Side Story Maria respectively based on ethnicity. High & Dry is also contains my running favorite Hilarious Treatment of High School Cliques. The whole thing is just genius.

 

 

 

 

aa everything

Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour (May ’14)

Summary: 18 year old Emi has a healthy obsession with movies and an unhealthy fixation on her exgirlfriend, Morgan. While scouting for movie props, Emi finds a letter written by a recently-deceased film icon and goes above and beyond in her attempts to get it into the hands of the rightful recipient.

Why, short version: Everything Nina LaCour writes is exceptional. She could decide to start ghost writing those Nigerian prince scam emails and I’d get mad when they didn’t win National Book Awards.

Why, long version: Emi’s job in film production design–a field I had previously never given a thought to, but now worship because of this book– is fascinating and realistic in a way that eludes all those books about girls with impossibly cool jobs (remember YA’s zoo internship  phase? It was just after the Covers With Empty Shoes phase but before the Characters Who Make You Question What It Means To Be Human phase). Reading about set design now has me looking for meaning in each random object inhabiting any space I happen to occupy; this book is literally changing how I look at things. In addition to being a fantastic story, this happens to be a fantastic story with a teenage lesbian protagonist. We’re starting to get more and more YA fiction that (happily) affords gay characters the same thing we’ve been giving straight fictional teenagers for years: the chance to exist in a story that involves but doesn’t revolve around their sexual orientation the chance to be a character who is gay instead of A Gay Character. Emi is one of the best-written YA characters I’ve ever encountered, and the fact that she’s gay is just one of the many, many exceptional facets of this book.

Filed in Books & Bookselling, Reading is Sexy

Sent to the parents

By Cristin - Last updated: Friday, February 14, 2014

I win at Valentine’s Day.

card

card

 Red Stamp, you guys.

 

Filed in The Gene Pool

Alternatives

By Cristin - Last updated: Monday, February 10, 2014

Things I’d Rather Read Than Another Article About What Dystopian Young Adult Novels MEAN About Society:

Filed in deep thoughts, Reading is Sexy, Things I'm Not Okay With

Brown Paper Packages Tied Up With Strings: a journey through videos I have favorited on YouTube

By Cristin - Last updated: Thursday, February 6, 2014

A More Muppet Union

I generally get pretty pissed off when people edit the Muppets into things that I think would anger or even just annoy the ghost of Jim Henson. When the MuppetsStudio YouTube channel started dropping shiz like Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody I got nervous, not because the video itself was bad, since nothing with Animal doing MAMA like that could ever be bad, but it felt kind of like when you first see your 12 year old cousin wearing eye shadow and you feel all oooooh here it comes do we need to have the talk about that Oprah where the girls were Performing Oral Sex on the school bus in 6th grade? THAT SAID and TO THE SURPRISE OF NO ONE: I am fine with Muppets lip synching to my little brother. We are Muppet People in my family. Bud and I regularly fought over who got to use the Rowlf the Dog cup– in fact, if we were both in our childhood kitchen right now and he reached for it I would fight him for it even if I was not even remotely thirsty–and my dad and I have sung along together to Hope That Something Better Comes Along so many times that, were that song not about the inescapable futility of romantic relationships, I would bet he would want to dance to it at the wedding that that he should probably not even want me to have, if those lyrics have permeated any part of his frontal lobe. Having one person alive in this world who shares no DNA with me that  listened to A More Perfect Union and thought “Know what this needs? Muppets.” seems statistically and theoretically impossible, and yet here we are.

Hey!

Easy money here; I am a known sucker for anything in the {(Jurassic Park * SuperCut) x Hilarious Twist} universe.Whenever I show anyone this video he or she, without fail, responds with some version of Okay Yes This Is Funny But Have You Seen {x} where x = another video with dinosaurs in it, but that is not what the Hey! video is about. I want this video to be loved on its own, for what it is, which is a montage of the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park screaming “Hey!” instead of roaring. That said, this did lead to another beloved entry to my YouTube Favorites roster: Jurassic Park Theme Song- Melodica Cover. Just got a melodicia. Here’s my rendition of the Jurassic Park theme song. What do you think?

2008 Tina Fey Emmy Acceptance Speech

I saw this live (which is to say, I was on my couch when my television played this allegedly live telecast, not that I was in a gilded auditorium in a ball gown when Tina Fey got an award) and immediately fell in love with how she thanks her parents, which is “for somehow raising {her} to have confidence that is disproportionate to {her} looks and abilities. Well done. That is what all parents should do.” I love this because she’s right (the ongoing crisis of confidence among every generation of teenage girls is a serious problem and having Taylor Swift is a step in the right direction but we still have a lot- A LOT- of damage to repair from Stephenie Fucking Meyer’s Twilight series wherein the “heroine” literally ceases to exist during Book 2 when separated from her paramour etc etc plus all of that weird vampire rape fantasy crap going down in Book 4 but let’s not get me started on that because I will never, ever stop), and also because it suggests that Tina Fey’s parents and my parents have quite a lot in common, which suggests that Tina Fey and I  either, best case scenario, are the same person or, worst case scenario, need to become best friends and never leave one another’s side. Last year Mindy Kaling gave this interview wherein she pointed out that every person who asks her where she gets her confidence from is basically telling her that she “has all the trappings of a very marginalized person… Why on earth would {she} feel like {she’s} worth anything?” I half-considered printing out that quote and keeping it in my wallet but I didn’t want it to crowd my organ donor card and the elementary school pictures of my brothers that I, very creepily, carry around with me. A couple of people at my workplace routinely exhibit a combination of awe and confusion at my level of professional self confidence, a practice that is not helped by the fact that my mom frequently comes to the bookstore and drops Mad Cristin Love all over it (NB Mom this is not a passive-aggressive request or demand that you stop doing it- if anything, you should do it MORE. You’re retired. You should just come to my job and watch me eat lunch every day, it’ll be great). The first time my mom showed up and met everyone at the store, two people later told me that it “explained a lot” about how confident I am, which (a) I totally agree with- this is all my parents doing, and I am so fortunate for that and (b) drove me a little nuts because in the deepest recesses of my brain that weren’t reached by my parents’ unending love and support, comments like this make me worry that people keep bringing it up because they think this attitude is totally unearned and out of place on me. Then I decide that was horseshit and now I don’t worry about it anymore. In my 20s (HAH I’m old enough to say that like it was a long time ago OH SWEET CHRIST how fun for me) I trained myself out of using the words “sorry” and “just” in emails and meetings after I noticed that the majority of the women I worked with prefaced everything with “Sorry, just real quick-” before going into something that was completely a part of their job that they had every right to be talking about in that moment and that they never should have attached those meek qualifiers to, and then noticed that  men almost never do that. Once you start looking for this you can’t not see it everywhere, and it drives me up the goddamn wall. Stop apologizing for being good at your job, and take all of the goddamn time necessary to get what you need to keep being good at your job. If having more self confidence than my looks or talent deserve mean never typing the phrase “just checking in on this!” into an email and never hearing myself start ANYthing other than an apology for accidentally kicking someone’s puppy with the word “sorry,” then I am effing fine with that.

Taylor Swift- Nicki Minaj Super Bass

I follow Taylor Swift on Twitter because duh and she is the one who first told me that Super Bass would change my life though not in those exact words. I downloaded Super Bass without even listening to the iTunes preview clip (“woah, Cristin, REALLY? Slow down before you hurt yourself!”) because Taylor Swift told me to, and I can say unequivocally that that was the best $1.29 I spent in 2011. I started a text message campaign to get Older Brother Bud to download it (only two other songs in the Venn diagram of Our Siblinghood :: The Existence of iTunes have gotten that treatment, and they were Cee-Lo’s Fuck You and Cruise by Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly. I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am that Nelly is getting work. He probably just got his W-2 form for his contribution to that song and good on him for it. You do you, Nelly). It’s not terribly hard to get Bud on board for anything Top 40; this is the man who, while driving in the car with his wife in 2003, became upset about something that none of us can now remember and turned to his beloved to say “it would really cheer me up if you could find Miss Independent on the radio right now.” Any conversation about missed opportunities in any sphere of life prompts Bud to bring up how Miss Independent was originally written for Christina Aguilera, who cut it from her album and thus freed it up for use by one Kelly Clarkson. He can’t believe that this happened the way I can’t believe that Apple Newtons went out of production for a decade and a half (they’re back, thank God). For the two week span immediately following my first mention of this song to Bud, every text message he sent to me was just lyrics from it, as though he was playing it on a loop for 300 hours. I first learned about this Taylor Swift/ Nicki Minaj crossover event from Deadspin, which is weird since they are not huge fans of hollering at my girl. Even Deadspin had to admit this is awesome, which was super-validating for Taylor Swift apologists like myself (I bought her perfume without having smelled it first because I knew I would wear it every day. Which I do.) around the globe, I am sure. Couple of items of note: You need to watch carefully to see it, but Nicki Minaj enters the scene by emerging from a trap door in the stage. Actually, that is the main/ only item of note; anything else I say here will distract from the fact that Nicki Minaji emerges from a trap door in the stage. If you HAVE to focus on something other than that, consider taking notice of the look of pure joy on Taylor Swift’s face throughout this entire exchange.

New York Mets Opening Day Flyover 2008

2008 was the last Opening Day the Mets played at Shea stadium before they moved 500(ish) years east (?) to a new stadium named after a credit card. I have some mixed feelings about this; most importantly, it makes me feel better about using the name Shea for the imaginary/ future daughter that I have, because it is somehow better/ okay to be named after a building that no longer exists than it is to be named after a building that is still standing- please do not ask me to explain this logic, just know that it is AIRTIGHT. We grew up going to Shea, though, so to have it destroyed ranks somewhere between having to see your first car towed to a junkyard and watching your elementary school go up in flames on the yardstick of personal tragedies. My dad and I were at Opening Day in 2007 and 2008, then skipped 2009 because it was at Citi and we felt weird about it, not that we ever actually discussed our feelings on the matter because we’re Irish Catholic. We have since been to every Opening Day; this year will be our 5th in a row. For reasons I will get into shortly, we were provided with 2008 Opening Day tickets, but all of the other tickets were procured by me, on the first day that single game tickets went on sale, within 20 minutes of the start gate. Single game tickets go on sale between mid-January and mid-February, and they name the date a few weeks ahead of that, and then you just sit in front of your laptop starting 5 minutes before the on sale time and the rest more or less takes care of itself. This week it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard about the single game on sale date yet (what do I pay you for, Twitter feed?!), and immediately started panicking upon googling into this article that says they went on sale in November 2013. Thanks, The Mets. Way to assume that I just check your website every day in November, like I definitely don’t have anything else to do. I started trying to calculate how much StubHub was going to ruin my financial life now that I wouldn’t be able to buy tickets directly from the Mets because they had to be sold out by now. You would think, wouldn’t you? I certainly thought that a professional sports team should be able to sell out its Opening Day in two months. I am thrilled and horrified to say that this is not the case: thrilled because my Dad and I now have tickets, and horrified because I love a sports team whose fans don’t even want to go to what is essentially the only game where we are guaranteed to still be in playoff contention. I do know that this will eventually pay off in dividends at some point before I die– eventually, even if just due to the law of averages, they’ll have to get good. Someone at work recently remarked on how cool the new Pope is, to which I responded that finally having a great Pope felt to me the way I imagine it’ll feel when the Mets finally win the Series. Like, “I KNEW I was hanging in long after any sane person would have jumped ship for a reason!” It’s going to feel great.

Our 2008 tickets were acquired in something of a scramble just before Opening Day after it was confirmed that Bud would be doing the Navy flyover at the beginning of the game– the last Opening Day they’d have at Shea. It turns out that you don’t know until the moment you hear the jet engine whether or not flyovers are going to happen; since the stadium is so close to two major airports, it could have been called off for a million different non-emergency reasons. We found out later that it is the actual job of one member of the squadron to stand behind home plate and sing along with the National Anthem into his headset so that the pilot can time the flyover perfectly, and that while the gentleman performing that duty for my brother that day was on the field during batting practice Ryan Howard came up to him and asked if he had been in Iraq, and then stared at him in wonder for a long beat before he thanked him for his service. While that guy was singing the National Anthem, my dad and I were holding our respective breaths right up until the end of the song, at which point my dad started muttering “Come on, Brendan. Come on, Brendan,” under his breath. I started chanting along with him and we got louder and louder and louder until we were both yelling and the people around us started, I’m sure, to worry about their personal safety. We screamed through the whole flyover and afterwards, when the whole stadium was applauding, my dad grabbed the shoulder of the Complete Stranger He Had Never Spoken To Before that was sitting in front of us and yelled in his ear “THAT’S MY SON- THAT’S MY SON FLYING THE FIRST PLANE.” It was such a good day. It was one of my best days.

The Mountain Goats- You Were Cool

When I was in middle school you went skiing and then kept your lift ticket on your puffy coat, oftentimes collecting MULTIPLE lift passes on one coat, just in case people couldn’t tell just by looking at you that you were a rich white kid. In high school everyone stopped doing that and started going to as many live shows for as many bands as possible and then wearing nothing but concert t-shirts to school, which explains, kind of, why in nearly every picture of me from 9th-11th grade I am wearing a Blues Traveler t-shirt. All of these shirts featured Blues Traveler’s logo, which is a cat smoking a joint that I LEGIT thought was a cat smoking a cigarette for a very, very long time. The fact that none of my parents and not one school administrator pointed this out to me was, I now believe, a tacit nod to the fact that High School Cristin in a shirt promoting marijuana use was actually a huge blow to the local pothead community, so not awesome was I as a teenager. This was the age where I came to my It’s Not Fun Unless You Know All The Words conclusion that I have since applied to every situation in my life that has an external soundtrack. People’s Aunts are forever coming up to me at weddings asking how I know the words to everything because I lip synch to everything, and I am forever responding that they should be staring at the bride and not me and PS Between Me And The Champagne is a terrible place to stand, so if you could move to your left that’d be great. Blues Traveler was the first band I loved hard enough to be able to enjoy a live show where they had the gall to play something I didn’t know the words to, Titus Andronicus was the second band, The Mountain Goats were the third, and no one has been the fourth. I was at a show with Maggie, Jesse, and Marisa the first time I heard You Were Cool and I lost my fool head over it. Jesse found a live recording of the show and made us mp3s THANK GOD, because I would have had to live forever without it as it’s unreleased, and given that this song is Every Great Young Adult Novel In The World Set To Music, I was not prepared to do that.

For my 30th birthday I had my A-list over to my apartment to cook dinner for them and by that I mean I ordered dinner from ‘Smac, the greatest place on God’s green earth. 20 minutes in PJ handed me my present, which was a CD with this song title on it. “Do you get it?” he asked. “Yeah, I love this song!” I said, because I do. “No, it’s me. This is me on this CD, singing that song,” he explained, and I made that terribly attractive face I make when I’m trying not to cry.

Bday3

 

 

 

 

 

 

FedEx Kinkos: The Office Meeting Commercial

I have a somewhat nontraditional workplace these days but for the decade leading up to that I made powerpoints and wore Ann Taylor Loft pants and used words like “media-genic” and “saleable” and had stress dreams about being locked in a Target overnight and I mostly loved it except for the small but important parts of it that I entirely hated. The thing I loved most about my last job was the four people in my department who had my same job title and who routinely made me feel like I was a part of a 5-headed monster of awesomeness. They made me work for it; when I first started, I would watch the line at the doorway where the Office Carpet changed into Hallway Carpet because, for the first few months I worked there, none of them would cross over it when they had to talk to me– they would stand in the hall, say what they had to say, and then go back to their desk. I once rode at a barn where, when they were introducing a new mare to the mare turnout field, they would take the horseshoes off the back hooves of certain mares ahead of time because they knew the new girl was going to get kicked a lot, so this was not behavior I was unfamiliar with. The first time one of them actually sat down in one of my office chairs I knew I was money, and from that point on, when we weren’t all sick with stress from our jobs/ bosses, anytime the five of us were together it felt like an unchaperoned high school field trip. It’s four years later now and only one of us still works there (great retention stats), so now our only moments of group hysteria are via reply-all text message binges. This should make me sad, that it’s next to impossible to get us all in the same room, but it doesn’t, because I know we have that whole In The Trenches Together bond that you see among war veterans and children’s book National Account Managers. One day I did the thing where you pick up a manila folder and clip a pen and an Excel printout to it and walk quickly to your friend’s office so that it looks you have Important Business that needs to Be Discussed Immediately and not that you are looking for someone to watch YouTube videos with, and when I got to Annie’s office I found out that she had been watching this commercial on repeat, trying to assign each of us to our proper Kinkos commercial counterpoint. I got “Jerome, you’ll talk a big game and do nothing.” “Let’s do it.” which I consider a compliment to this day.

Jodie Sweetin Dancing on Full House

This one is self-explanatory, right? Glad to hear it.

Jim Henson Memorial Service

Of the very few rules Older Brother Bud has imposed on my existence over the years, chief among them is Stop Talking About Jim Henson’s Funeral. Bud is like our mom in that certain words or phrases upset them both so immediately and completely that you can ruin their day easily by casually mentioning how Joe Biden’s family was killed in a car crash going to get a Christmas tree (Mom) or how all the Muppets sang Just One Person at the close of Henson’s memorial (Bud). I thought I was without one of these triggers right up until I read the poem Having a Coke With You for the first time, and now I have to go around in constant fear that some monster is going to quote Frank O’Hara and set me off. The book Street Gang opens with a scene at one of Henson’s memorials (at least, I think it does- it’s possible that I’ve read so many books about Muppets that they’re all starting to blur together. If you’re not quite at that point yet I can’t recommend Street Gang enough. Ditto The New Jim Henson Bio, which also opens with his death (spoiler alert), and Jim Henson: The Works) and as soon as I read that I fell down a dark Internet hole of videos and other various accounts of the memorials. If you’re going to get into this, you should get all the way in and watch Muppet Christmas Carol with the director’s commentary wherein Brian Henson explains that Rowlf has no speaking lines in the movie because it was the first one they did after Jim’s death, and no one felt comfortable stepping in as his voice since he was one of the Original Muppets and had only ever been voiced by Jim. Also great on that commentary: there’s a Punch & Judy show going on during one of the opening songs, and it’s pointed out that they try to do “Puppets Doing Puppets” as frequently as possible, because, duh, it’s hilarious. Once you learn this you will never stop seeing Muppets being Puppeteers- they are in nearly every Muppet movie.

Bunheads Farewell Dance


I can’t even.

Filed in and then PJ grew up to be a rock star, Seriously, how did the dinosaurs die?, The Gene Pool

The Rocky Balboa of our household, with green hair

By Cristin - Last updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014

I met my hometown friend Marie the summer before 9th grade in some kind of Thirteen-Year-Olds Loiter On Sidewalks And Eat Pixie Stix situation. I remember her throwing out Pixie Stix wrappers that I had left on the ground (my parents were getting a divorce, so I was allowed to litter) and she remembers rivulets of green running from my hairline down my face  (my parents were getting a divorce, so I was allowed to dye my hair green and then sweat it all over myself). I’m surprised that my family doesn’t bring up my Manic Panic phase more frequently; I suppose when it’s considered against the backdrop of my full catalog of adolescent decisions, there are things far worse that are far easier to mock me for, so the green hair hardly ever works its way into conversation at our house. A month ago if you were to ask me if my younger brother, who was 9 at the time, had any memory of me with green hair, I would have said “probably not” and then I would have said “I don’t think he really cared if he did notice.” I would not have guessed that, as Patrick recently told Marc Maron, he saw the whole thing as “my sister’s way of saying, like, I choose not to play this absurd game that you forced me into by raising me” {to our father}.

I cannot recommend listening to that podcast enough, mostly/ entirely because I come off as Downright Awesome every step along the way. (“All I knew was that my sister got this CD {Dookie by Green Day. Questions? Comments?} and, you know, one day she was like a normal girl, and the next day she had green hair.”) Webmaster Kyle, when he is not busy calmly answering questions I could easily address on my own by googling, edits Mr. Maron’s television show, so our whole friend group got into this podcast a few years ago. Kyle was the one who told me Patrick was going to be on it (Patrick either has no accurate concept of how awesome all the stuff he does is, or no innate need to brag about it, like some of his siblings {me. like me.} {also, Bud- like Bud}), for which I am eternally grateful, as otherwise the first word I would have gotten on it would have been from a book publicist who, while emailing me about an author event, commented that she had listened to my brother talk about  my green hair that morning on her commute. Luckily she is one of my favorites so this didn’t weird me out terribly, but had I not known that interview was going up I probably would have locked myself in the toy storage closet at work and refused to come out for days, as is the right of any human whose 13-year-old hairstyle is being discussed in a relatively large venue.

None of this is the important part of this.

The important part is that, three years ago, Will Arnett tweeted this at Marc Maron:

Arnett Tweet

 

Will Arnett’s Twitter has since been closed, so I owe a puppy to the person on the internet who made this screen shot that I have had in my phone’s photo library for lo these past few years. It’s taken me this long to finally conclude that he cannot be talking about anything other than Patrick’s band. Bud and I have had two long-standing Excited Older Sibling games that we’ve played with PJ’s fame. The first one was Does This Return On Our Titus Andronicus Google/ Twitter Search Refer to PJ or to Something Else (whenever it’s summerstage season we always get confused, as there’s always at least 3 companies somewhere in the US putting on the play of the same name. Also, at one point there was a European racehorse named Titus Andronicus who had a strongly mediocre track career before he was retired), and the second one was Does {Name of Seriously Famous Person} Know Who PJ Is? (This grew, as you have probably already deduced, out of a single-human beta version of this game, Does Bruce Springsteen Know Who PJ Is?) PJ gives exactly no fucks about which internet references are about him and what famous people know he exists, so Bud and I have to carry the somewhat-constant burden of thinking about both of these things on his behalf. After years- YEARS- of wondering if Will Arnett really knew who PJ was or if he was going to produce a concept album made by a racehorse, I’m fairly confident saying that he knows PJ’s music.

We all know where this is going.

Arnett5

What kind of a sister would I be if I didn’t take advantage of this information??

 

Arnett6

Arnett7

Arnett4

 

Arnett3

Arnett2

 

Arnett1

Filed in and then PJ grew up to be a rock star, The Gene Pool, Video Killed the Radio Star

The second best bookseller joke I will ever make

By Cristin - Last updated: Saturday, January 25, 2014

Before:

Zodiac before

 

After:

Zodiac after

Filed in Reading is Sexy

The best bookseller joke I will ever make

By Cristin - Last updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014

The strangest benefit/ consequence of the job that I have now is that I am occasionally asked to express an opinion in an official capacity. Someone asks me to say something and then they take the thing that I said and put it next to things that other book people have said and mail it out to book people who are still forming their opinions on this thing that we are all talking about. I believe this is called marketing. In my experience, there are only two reactions you have in my situation during this process: one is to be reticent, the other is to become drunk with power. Which one do you think I generally go with?

Last week a publisher asked me to say Some Things about a picture book for a mailing that they send to a bunch of people who have my job. I love this picture book so what I wound up saying (Have You Seen My Dragon? is the rare picture book that perfectly showcases the power of color alongside the strength of its absence. A counting book, an adventure, an invitation to imagine, and a love letter to cities everywhere) was not only not a lie but very easy to come up with. I mean, look at this thing:

 

Dragono interior

Dragon cover

The second part of the request was that I come up with a list of customers that booksellers should hand sell this book to. When I sent my submission in to the publisher on Monday it was with an impassioned plea that said I didn’t care what they edited out as long as point three stayed on the list, since I will likely never be lobbed such a softball as this when I’m being asked to pander to booksellers.

To whom would you hand sell this book? 
1. Parents and grandparents of preschoolers who are confident about counting to 10 and ready to stretch to 20. 
2. The rough-and-tumble, on-the-go toddler crowd
3. Daenerys Targaryen
4. Children who will grow up to love From the Mixed Up Files and Cricket in Times Square. 
5. City dwellers and city enthusiasts alike 
6. Knee-high architects/ city planners children of architects and city planners

Now I rest.

Filed in Reading is Sexy

The College of William & Mary, Class of 2003

By Cristin - Last updated: Sunday, October 27, 2013

Senior year on the left, 10 year reunion on the right.

 

Final 8

Final 7

 

Final 6

 

Final 5

 

 

Final 4

 

Final 3

 

Final 2

 

Final 1

Filed in who needs enemies

Staff Pick: Stephen King’s Joyland

By Cristin - Last updated: Friday, June 14, 2013
Joyland
Stephen King
9781781162644
Hard Case Crime, $12.95
I have been worried about Stephen King ever since he got hit by that minivan back in ’99 and lost the part of the brain one uses to end stories in a cohesive manner that takes into account, you know, everything the reader has already learned. For the last decade he has (I assume) been relying on some kind of custom 8 ball to end his books; he gets 85% of the way through a novel, then gives it a shake and waits until it tells him Aliens/ Time Travel/ Nuclear Holocaust/ Murderous Ghost and then writes the last 50 pages on that and calls it a day. He’s been bouncing back over the last few years– 11/22/63 made about as much sense as a novel that combines Back to the Future with Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego can– and with his newest, Joyland, he hit the ending out of the park. That would be an awesome pun had I managed thus far to mention that the novel is set at a theme park, which it is. Even better– it’s a haunted theme park. Also there’s a Jack Russell terrier, and a young boy who is both terminally ill and strangely prophetic. Something for everyone!
Filed in Reading is Sexy