Friday, September 30, 2011

Banned Book Week

Almost forgot about this. Buy a banned book, folks. Collect them, and be proud. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Don't Give Me An Excuse to Stay Home

I was over on Mira Bartok's blog the other day and saw this interview with Andy Laties, who wrote the book Rebel Bookseller

In the interview, he makes the argument for the indie bookseller and why consumers should shop their local bookstores instead of Amazon or one of the big chains. (Or, actually, the only big chain left.) It's interesting reading, and he makes some great points. I haven't read the book yet (though I plan to), but as far as his interview ... I don't agree with the activist approach.

As a reader, I try to support authors by buying new books. And I shop in indie bookstores because I do care about where my money goes after I spend it. But the truth is, I have only a little discretionary income. I don't want to be guilt-tripped into spending my money in certain places. Indie bookstores who talk like they're nonprofits ("Support us!") only grate on my nerves. They're not nonprofits. They're businesses.

Here's an example of a bad experience. One summer I strayed across a one-weekend only book sale stationed outside of an indie bookstore. I made the mistake of attempting to buy a couple of books, only to be berated by one of the staff because they weren't open yet. Not corrected, not "I'm sorry, we're not open yet." Instead, she snapped. I went back and bought those books later that afternoon (they were hard-to-find gems I knew I wouldn't stray across anytime again soon), but after that I never went back to that store. Just one bad experience ruined that store for me.

Perhaps it's capricious of me, but the reality is the onus isn't on me as a consumer to "support" a business. I do what I can, but I'm not going to shop in a store that gives me the same or even worse service than Amazon or a big chain. I think the smartest approach indies can take is to focus on what they can do that Amazon can't: giving welcoming, personalized service in their stores. Appealing to the consumer's sense of fairness and right/wrong will get indies about as far as it has the green movement. Far too often I see indies take their customers for granted. These days, it's just too easy for people stay home and order online. Indies shouldn't make it easier by being jerks to their customers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Like all Americans, I was deeply affected by 9/11. But I don't think I realized just how deeply until 2003, when I was teaching at the Dallas School of Music. Some of us had our students play a little concert for the local firefighters.

Before the concert started, we all stood facing the American flag, our hands on our hearts. One of my colleagues played "Taps." It was one of the most haunting and life-changing experiences I've had. I'll sound crazy when I say this, but I could swear I felt all the fallen souls in the room there with us, silently acknowledging our tribute.

Today I make another tribute of reflection and silence. You will always be remembered. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Savory Oatmeal

In theory, I like oatmeal. I like it sweet, and for a while I was eating oatmeal sweetened with spices and a banana.

Only I don't crave sweet foods in the morning. I want savory foods, like eggs, cheese, potatoes. That sort of thing. Of course, these foods aren't healthy to eat every single morning, so I usually settle for cereal or maybe some rice.

But today I tried savory oatmeal and I'm pleased to report the results were good. I put a little cheese in the oatmeal and topped it with one sunny side up egg and a little salt. I cribbed the recipe from here (even though I didn't really follow it), but I don't have the "high quality" ingredients the recipe calls for. Just regular grocery store ingredients. Still, I liked the results. Problem solved, I think. Now to try new recipes.