Monday, September 29, 2008

Achewood, Onstad, and The Great Outdoor Fight

It's a nice retro cover, but you'll need to check the achewood site for a better feel of the comic!
Not everyone is familiar with Chris Onstad's online comic Achewood, but hopefully more people will come around to his quirky/absurd/original/and occasionally crass brilliance.
Achewood- there's a few cats, some teddy bears, a young otter, a couple of robots, and a drug abusing squirrel. They quarrel, the go on adventures, and they come to each others' aid when needed while writing newsletters, getting married, flying across the country, or creating daring new recipes. If it seems far fetched and absurd... it is a bit. But it's also tempered by the minimalist style and pop-culture references. Ultimately, it is the character development and relationships of the characters that drives the story arcs. While the strip has been running for years now, it only takes a handful of strips to understand and appreciate the characters - and, ultimately, begin to follow them closely! Onstad even writes blogs from the perspective of the majority of his characters' points of view. There are also t-shirts and cookbooks and signed strips.
And now, there's a book put out by Dark Horse Press. The Great Outdoor Fight which is the print edition of a story arc that followed Ray and Roast Beef to the Great Outdoor Fight- "Three Days, Three Acres, Three Thousand Men."
For more info on Onstad, Achewood, and The Great Outdoor Fight, check out the article and interview over at NPR.I hope to pose with cartoon characters for an NPR story some day...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Newspaper News Blues

I know I'm a little slow on the draw on this issue, but I do like to ponder when I can.

To summarize, The Duluth News Tribune, the primary paper in Duluth, has laid off many fine journalists, editors and staff in an effort to save costs. In the cuts: Ann Klefstad, who has dedicated herself to covering and helping to publicize the immense and diverse arts and entertainment in the greater Twin Ports region.

This great loss triggers a lot of emotions and thoughts. I took my day to ponder and still feel in a bit of a tailspin. Before I lose coherence, I want to urge any and all of you who, like me, feel that this is, at best an unfortunate shame and at worst a horrible sign of times to come, to contact the Duluth News Tribune and share your thoughts and opinions on the matter.

I've just re-written this paragraph 8 times. So instead of my over-simplifications, here are my questions about some of the difficulties:
How does the News Tribune retain its validity for the arts communities? For the greater community as a whole? How many alternative sources for coverage, criticism and publication do the arts have in this area (or any one area, to extrapolate the issue that is pervasive well beyond the Twin Ports)? Should there be a centralized source of information? How do blogs fit into this larger equation? Should we increase online communities or scale back in the face of developments such as these? What viewpoints are we privileging/supporting through a centralized Arts coverage compared to the dentralization/small community/fragmented communities of different blogs - both personal and communal?

There are many other considerations out there. I've never been much of a newspaper reader, but I've always liked the notion that I could pick one up at anytime and read news relevant to my experiences. Am I part of the problem? Can I be part of the solution?

My personal online stats: 4 email accounts, myspace, facebook, 2 livejournals, 2 blogspots, indiebound, mnartists 10 blogs actively (at least once a day) and about 20 more semi-actively (once a week). Itemized it seems like a lot, but I can think of many people who dwarf my numbers in any given category. More often than not, these medias enhance the personal interactions (I still find time for those!) day to day. They've also opened my eyes to many publications and authors out there who I value very dearly. All this online presence is being, in part, blamed for the current state of affairs for news print media.

Please, leave a comment, or come by the store for a quick chat. Let the DNT know your questions and concerns. I know that I don't have any answers or solutions right now, but I do know that this is an issue we need to address in our community.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Report on the Reading and Reception for Shelter Half

L to R: Laura McLean, Malcolm McLean, Bill Holm, Jim Perlman, Judith Niemi, Mara Hart, and Cynthia Loveland
It was a very fine evening to end our series of September Anniversary events and gather with friends, family and admirers of Carol Bly and her last work, the novel Shelter Half, published after her passing this past winter by Holy Cow! Press of Duluth.

In addition to Jim Perlman, editor Holy Cow! Press, readers included Malcolm McLean (brother), Laura McLean (niece), Judith Niemi (author, teacher, friend), Cynthia Loveland (friend and colleague), Mara Hart (author, teacher, editor), and Bill Holm (author, teacher, friend). The passages read were gorgeous pieces in and of themselves, and, as Bill Holm noted, a testiment to Bly's tremendous skill to give life to such unique characters and bring them together so brilliantly throughout the novel.Cynthia LovelandBill Holm Was Here!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bukstoor Can Has Fezbuk page!

Ok, so my lolc@t isn't very advanced. I tried to start a lolbook by taking amusing pictures of my shelves and all their funny antics, but all the captions were far too literary, correctly spelt and had the persistent desire to adhere to something akin to good grammar. But that hasn't stopped me in my search to bring great books to the attention of the interwebs using the latest in teknawledgee!

Unveiling our new presence on Facebook! If you facebook (and if you do, you know it's a verb!), swing by and become a fan of our store. Events, pictures, updates and more to come! If you don't facebook yet, we're all still very pleased to meet people in person and don't see that enthusiasm ever waning!

Here's a lolbook for you:Really, they should be sold together as a combo-pack Jamie Lee Curtis's book, Big Words for Little People and Neil Stephenson's Anathem came in the same box. Just the two of them. Stephenson is the bestselling author of Crytonomicon. The instructions are for one of the more complex cardboard displays I've ever assembled in the store for the new Riordan sensation 39 Clues.

If it's still not funny, you are proof as to why lolbook has hardly a chance...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A true loss

Our hearts and thoughts go out to Wallace's family and community. David Foster Wallace dead at 46

Friday, September 12, 2008

Night of Music, Poetry, and Stories!

Just found out about this great event in the northland for all and any of you who enjoy reindeer and things Scandinavian!
Friday, September 19: Duluth, MN The Reindeer Show is a program of poetry, music and stories celebrating the reindeer, with current and former Duluth Poet Laureates Jim Johnson and Barton Sutter, and special guests Stina Fagertun and Anita Barth-Jørgensen of Tromsø, Norway, located way up at the arctic circle. The performance will be Friday evening, September 19th, 2008 starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Quaker Meeting House located at 1802 East First Street in Duluth. Suggested donations for the performance are $10 for adults, $5 for students and $20 for the whole family. Special refreshments will be for sale during the break provided by Takk for Maten, the new Scandinavian restaurant in downtown Duluth. Ross Sutter, working to arrange the tour. Please contact me at: 612-331-1968 or at my email address: rosssutter at qwest dot net for more information.

Stop by, have some great food, and listen to some wonderful music and poetry! More events to follow that weekend.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A quick note on Sarah

Sarah: How a Small Town Girl Turned Alaska's Political Establishment on Its Ear still has yet to rise to the ranks of "most picked-up" books, but has quickly risen to the "most commented upon" books. The comments generally being, "Wow... that was fast!"

And it was. But not in the full sense people may be thinking when they note the speedy publishing. Epicenter Press put Kaylene Johnson's book out in April. It's hard to say that the press, that specializes in Alaskan subjects, anticipated then what a book about a little known Governor would mean. The Friday morning of McCain's announcement, Epicenter sold out of its remaing stock of hardcover books. The speed in publishing really comes in when Lightning Source Print on Demand through Ingram Publisher Services worked overtime on the holiday weekend to meet over 40,000 orders within days! More on the story at Shelf Awareness's Archive.

So, yes, it was very fast, but not in a "do they write biography books up like obituaries?" kind of way!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Literature based Geek Test!

There are plenty of geek tests out there on the inter-webs, but most give high scores for math and star trek, leaving those of us who are on the more literary side of the geek spectrum relegated to Second-Class Geek standing. But here's a test inspired by Junot Diaz's pulitzer winning novel (see earlier post)to judge your geekiness! Arrived at via ABA Blog via Galley Cat -> How Big of a Geek Are You?

I tallied a 54 of "could describe" with about half of those being geeky, in-depth descriptions rather than just placements. How many can you get?!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Another Adorable Animal Book

Well, perhaps adorablity is subjective. And it could also be noted that Gappers are not found in any reputable wildlife guides. But The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip written by George Saunders and illustrated by Lane Smith is extremely charming, and does involve some animals (even if a few are very made-up).

This is the story of goats, children, child labor, blessings, tradition, ingenuity, and gappers: burr-like creatures that so love goats, that whenever they get near a goat, "it gives off a continual high-pitched happy shriek of pleasure that makes it impossible for the goat to sleep." This is not usually good for goats or those who depend upon goats for their livelyhood. So the children of the three households of Frip spend their nights picking the Gappers off the goats and dumping them back into the sea.

But the Gappers get smarter and gang up on the house of Capable and her widowed father. See how Capable deals with the Gappers, her goats, her neighbors, her father and her incredible ammount of lost sleep!

The story is very endearing and the illustrations are stunning.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Animal Tales to Warm Your Heart

I admit it…I’m a sucker for anything to do with animals be they wild or domesticated. I recently read two books that stick in my mind as great reads about pets with whom we share our lives.

Run (quietly), don’t walk to your nearest animal shelter and adopt a homeless cat. Then sit down together and ready Vicki Myron’s book titled Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. This non-fiction story tells of Dewey Readmore Books who was abandoned in the Spencer, Iowa’s library book return depository on the coldest night of the winter. He was rescued by the librarians and went on to live in the library for nineteen years where he was an ambassador for the city and a friend to all. If you know the spirit of cats, you will not be surprised by Dewey’s skills and activities but you will be touched nonetheless. If you are not a cat fan, you may well become one by the end of the read. Oh that every place of business could house an abandoned pet!
To be published in late September by Grand Central Publishing.

The Art of Racing in the Rain is a novel by Garth Stein which is told (almost) completely from a dog’s point of view. Anyone who has a dog harbors no doubt that a canine understands 90% of what is being said. Stein assures us that this is indeed true. The story takes a predictable turn or two but it is a sweet story about loyalty and friendship. Stein shows us that although humans consider it their duty to take care of their dogs, dogs actually are taking care of us. Available now. Published by Harper Collins.