Monday – basketball edition

They didn’t pick Syracuse for the NCAA tournament?

They didn’t pick SYRACUSE for the NCAA tournament??

This is an outrage. Excuse me while I lie on my fainting couch a moment.

::curses stupid selection committee::

Other than that, the brackets are intriguing. If things work out well, we’re looking at a Sarah Dessen (North Carolina) vs. Laurie Halse Anderson (Georgetown) showdown for the East regional championship in a few weeks. If this occurs, I think wagering will be required. What do you say, Sarah?

(Syracuse was robbed, man. Robbed. I wonder if Coach Boeheim will make changes to his noon-conference schedule next year.)

I haven’t decided who my Cinderella team is yet. Any suggestions?

Make them wear pants!

I was not going to comment on this. Really. I was shoveling away, happy as a lark, thinking about my own books and minding my own business. But people keep blogging about IT. And emailing me about IT.

You do know what I’m talking about, don’t you?


Quick background. One the first page of the most recent Newbery winner, The Higher Power of Lucky, a rather unfortunate dog is bit by a rattlesnake in a rather unfortunate place. That’s right. Fido (actually, the dog is named Roy) gets nailed in the ballsack. But the reader does not see the incident. Instead, the book’s main character, Lucky, overhears a conversation about it.

You can read an excerpt on amazon.

Lucky then ponders this strange word, scrotum, thinking it “sounded medical and secret.” (I must agree with her about that. It took me decades to figure out precisely what that word meant.)

And then the book continues.

First, a disclaimer: I have not read the book. Therefore my comments have nothing to do with the quality of it, or any of Patron’s other choices. But I do have a couple of opinions about the controversy this has stirred up. This has been argued about in the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, various listservs and probably every writer’s group in America. The book has been banned countless places. AS IF has devoted a lot of space to it. As usual, David Lubar has a wonderful comment. Teacher Monica Edinger has some good thoughts, too.

Susan Patron, herself a librarian, has written a response to her critics. So I might as well add my two cents. I can solve the problem instantly.

I call on the President to require all male dogs to wear pants or face immediate castration. Because that’s how we solve problems, right? Cover it up, chop it off, or make it go away.


OK, option #2. Thank Susan Patron for giving us the chance to talk about this. Because clearly, people have vastly different opinions about it. I think it is very, very silly to get worked up about the proper medical name of a dog’s anatomy. I also think, based on the excerpt I read, Patron used the word in context perfectly. When I was a kid, I didn’t know what it was called. I was mystified by a lot of things as a kid. That’s why I read books, to learn.

It bums me out to see the name-calling that this controversy is degenerating into. In one corner we have the radical liberals foaming with their sexuality agendas, in the other corner we have Puritanical Victorian ostriches who want to deprive children of information. Everyone is allowed an opinion, but when you start calling people names, we all lose.

The larger issue that needs to be aired out is that of “banning.” Some librarians are making the choice not to put Lucky in their collection. (Some of the quotes I read indicated it was because of the scrotum reference (should that be scrotal?), others because they didn’t think it was a great book.) Librarians face this choice every single day: lots of books to buy, very little money to buy them with.

So they makes choices. Is that banning? What do you think?

I still think we should make dogs wear pants.

Last gasp of lake effect… Nor’easter approaching

My hat is off to whomever decided that Central New York’s boy’s swimming sectionals should be held in mid-February. Brilliant. Sitting at finals yesterday my feet finally thawed and bones warmed up. Number One Son took fifth in the section in 100-yard breaststroke and 3rd in the consolation heat of the 200-yard IM. Now he gets to chill (ha) a few weeks before track season starts.

(One quick rant… did you know that some people think that their flesh is transparent? I sometimes feel invisible, but I’ve never thought that others could actually see through me. A few truly obnoxious parents at yesterday’s swim meet (I will not name their kids’ team because other parents from there were sweet) kept standing at the railing while the rest of us stayed on the bleachers and tried to see through them to watch the swimmers in the pool. There were signs everywhere telling people not to stand at the rail. Maybe they couldn’t read. The situation started at Clueless, moved quickly to Selfish, and hopped to Rude. When BH finally asked them to sit down so that we could actually see the pool, a woman told him he should just stand up. Meet my husband, the man with the bum knee. I wanted to throw her in the water. Her husband finally got her to sit down and the meet concluded in a state of more or less peace. But, geesh…… end of rant.)

We’re expecting another six inches of snow today and that should be the end of the Lake Effect Snow that has been dumping on us for more than a week.

Late tomorrow and Wednesday we are expecting a Nor’easter storm to blow in. This could mean several more feet of snow piling up, quickly. Ye gods above. BH is working the phones right now to get someone to clear off our roof. The guy we had lined up to do it is still dealing with problems at his own house. We also need to have the driveway plowed out – a couple of feet of snow have fallen since the payloader came in last week. And we are cringing at the thought of spring…. because all of this has to melt. We’re going to need to dig trenches to ensure that the melting snow drains away from the house and not into our basement.

I am going to let him deal with that while I try to finish all the paperwork stuff I abandoned last week. Yippee. I also want to get outside and play in white stuff. That will be my reward.

Just a few photos today

My common sense hero, Thomas Paine

Busy scribbling today, so I am cutting and pasting the following from The Writer’s Almanac (great source of literary tidbits and a daily poetry fix):

“It was on this day in 1776 that a 77-page pamphlet called “Common Sense” was published anonymously, making the case that the American colonies should declare independence from Great Britain. It had been written by a man named Thomas Paine. The pamphlet sold more than 500,000 copies, more copies than any other publication had ever sold at that time in America.

Adams would always be somewhat jealous of the attention “Common Sense” received, but even he had to admit that it was “Common Sense,” more than anything else, that had persuaded most ordinary Americans to support independence. Adams said, “Without the pen of the author of ‘Common Sense,’ the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain.””

Thomas Paine was not afraid to disturb the universe.


nose in books

I’ve been researching the new WIP like a fiend, but will lift my face out of the musty library books briefly for this update.

Happy Belated Father’s Day to all. We had a grand time – hung out with our dads, feted BH, called G (dad to daughter’s #1 & #3), and ate massive amounts of barbequed chicken and strawberry shortcake. I baked the shortcake, much to the puzzlement of my family which so rarely sees me in the kitchen. #1 Son and Jess, daughter #2, made BH feel very proud and paternal. If you want to make your dad laugh, send him here.

A couple of teachers have written to tell me that SPEAK made it into their school’s yearbook as one of the students’ favorite books. This feels very nice. Even better is the fact that Best Books is now a yearbook category. Maybe there hope after all.

Summer solstice is coming up this week. When I lived in Denmark, it was a night of great parties and amazing bonfires. Might have to recreate a little of that here in the Forest.

If any of you are bored out of your skulls, see if you can track down a copy of the diary and sketches (1762-1780)of Lt-general Archibald Robertson. I think the formal author names are Robertson and Henry Miller Lydenberg. There is a microfilm copy at SUNY Oswego, but I would like to find a hard copy to borrow so I can photocopy and blow up some of the sketches of New York in the time period of the WIP.

One more thing. I tried to watch TV yesterday. Miami Ink, to be precise. I enjoy tattoos and the stories behind them, but I wanted to find the directors/editors of the show and through them to the sharks. They stretch 5 minutes of story-telling into half an hour by repeating things over and over and over again. One guy, about to ship out with the Navy, wanted a koi fish to remind him of his son. OK, let’s leave the fact that they never explained the fish=son connection alone for a sec. They told us that he was getting the “koi fish for his son” seven freaking times before the artist even fired up the machine. ARGH!!!!!!!!!!! My brain was shrinking by the second.

Most television sucks.