95 posts categorized "Rebecca the Bookseller"

July 10, 2008

Summer Movies

Summer Movies

By Kathy Sweeney f/k/a Rebecca the Bookseller

Today, we're going to perform a collective mitzvah. A mitzvah is when you help someone for no specific reason, other than niceness. Yes, I know - we're not all nice all the time, but we can fake it for one damn blog, okay?

Blog_walle1For many of us, summer time is movie time. The kids can stay up late, and there are lots of new movies to choose from. In the last month or so we've seen: Wall-E (fantastic and worth seeing on the big screen); Indiana Jones (it was good - just don't expect the magic of Raiders); Iron Man (I loved it, and I'm not a comic book fan) Sex and the City (the shower scene had my entire row arching their necks to the side for a better view, and that's all I'm saying about that); and Get Smart (the rest of the fam saw that one while I had eye trouble and they liked it). Next up are Hancock and The Hulk.

What have you seen? What can you recommend - or not?

If your allergies, or the price of gas, or the price of a night out at the movies keeps you close to home, we've got the answer for you too.

Movie Rentals. You don't even have to leave the house. Whether you use Netflix, or the new Apple rental service, or even your cable's On Demand feature, great movies are only a few clicks away.

So let's help each other out and suggest some good movies that many people may have missed in the theaters. My favorites are comedies, so I'll start with those, and we can add to the list as we go.

Anything from the Christopher Guest collection: Spinal Tap is the first and a classic. The more recent ones: Best in Show; For Your Consideration; Waiting for Guffman, are all good. Best in Show is my favorite, and I don't even have a dog.

Classic Michael Keaton: if you haven't seen Multiplicity, now is the time. Michael Keaton clones himself. Although #4 has the best lines, it's #3 who steals the show. Best exchange: #2: "Who ate all the baloney?" #4: "Burglars?"

Murder by Death - is a spoof on Hitchcock films and the classic detectives. The cast includes Peter Sellers, Maggie Smith and Peter Falk. Best line: "He's blind all right. Those were my funniest faces."

Blog_caddyshackDodgeball. This is goofball antics at its best. Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller lead their teams to the Dodgeball Finals, broadcast on ESPN 8 (the "Ocho"). Jason Bateman as the stoner sportscaster should have gotten at least an Oscar nomination. hah. Best line: "If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball."

Overboard - I'm going out on a limb with this one, because I'm not sure why I like it. Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, probably. You don't even need to rent this one - it's on all the time.

And, of course, the greatest comedic cast ever assembled: Caddyshack.

Blog_great_debatersNow for some more serious fare - we saw Glory the other night, and it's worth seeing again. If you missed The Departed, it's dark but magnificent. And a MUST SEE for all families (excuse the youngest kids) is The Great Debaters.

For big effects and some great unexpected dialog - Independence Day or the original Die Hard.Yippee-ky-yay!

For children of all ages: Enchanted. Loved it! Or Happy Feet. Great soundtracks on both films.

If you like musicals and you haven't seen Dreamgirls or Chicago, you should.

Now - if you know me in real life, you know that there are many types of movies I don't watch, so I'm counting on the rest of you to fill in the gaps - prison movies, war movies, horror movies, suspense movies that make me too nervous to sit still (I have to know what happens!). Let's all give each other some suggestions for the summer.


Friday updates:

1. Happy Birthday to our wonderful friend and bookseller extraordinaire - Mary Alice!

2. Congratulations to our own Sarah Strohmeyer, who got a nice mention in the NEW YORK TIMES! Check it out: Sweet Love in the New York Times

June 26, 2008

In Honor of George Carlin

In Honor of George Carlin

By Kathy Sweeney fka Rebecca the Bookseller

I got my first record player for Christmas, 1972.  It was bright yellow, to match my room, and it had flashy multi-colored lights on the bottom, so when I played it in the dark, my room looked very cool.  I also got the soundtrack to Fiddler on the Roof and a big plastic candy cane full of Hersheyettes. which are like M&Ms only by Hershey.  I'm sure I got other cool stuff too, but those three come as a package memory.  You know how those are, right?  You remember one, you remember them all.

For my 13th Birthday the following September, my Irish Grandma asked what I wanted.  I'd seen Laugh-In, loved the Hippy Dippy Weather Man, had memorized the schtick, and was ready for more material.  So I asked for a George Carlin album.  Grandma had never heard of George Carlin, which is the only way I got it.

Once I got the album, and having exercised the sound judment of playing it very quietly the first time through, I knew I'd struck gold.  The album was "Class Clown" and I still laugh at most of the bits today.  There is one track where he suggests possible names for birth control pills if they ever go over-the-counter.  Names like Preg-NOT, Embry-no and Womb Broom.  And of course, this is the album with The Seven Words. Outgrageous, hilarious and very clever all at the same time.  That was Carlin.

All was well for months, until one day my Mom was cleaning my room and decided to play one of my records.  Oops.  Legend has it that they heard her screaming across town, which alerted my Dad, who came home (with all those kids, I'm guessing he popped home during the day a lot, but what do I know) and listened to it too.  They were shocked.  Appalled.  I got a big lecture, the end of which was my mother observing: "It's a good thing you don't even understand what most of this even means."  Then I got an eye-roll from my Dad, who knew my vocablulary already included words that would cause my mother to stroke out. The record vanished.

You know the next part, right?  I came home from a date that winter to find our living room full of my parents' friends, half in the bag and howling while trying to listen to George Carlin between bursts of laughter.  They kept having to reset the needle to replay the stuff they were missing.  Busted.  I said nothing, of course, because I hadn't been exactly walking the straight and narrow that evening either.

The thing about George Carlin, and one reason I'm blogging about him here, is that the key to his humor was great writing.  With many comedians (Lewis Black, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Chris Rock) you need to see them perform to really get the jokes.  The visual is part of the act.  With Carlin - his voice helps, and he is capable of doing great physical comedy, but the real humor is in the words.  His books can make you laugh just as hard as his shows.  And few comedians transfer as well to audio-only as Carlin.

Some of his routines are classics: the Seven Words You Can't Say on Television (I think there are only two of those left that you can't say on network TV, and half an episode of most HBO series decimate all seven and beyond); the Hair Poem; and the rant on "Stuff".  But there are other gems out there too.  Class Clown is still my favorite - maybe it's because you never forget your first, or maybe it's because I grew up Catholic, and the bit on the Heavy Mysteries is a riot.

His career spanned 40 years - he was performing before I was born.  As he got older, he got a little more bitter, and although his writing was still brilliant, I still  like the older stuff.

So in honor of a great writer, please tell the rest of us about your favorite comedian and his or her material.

We've been talking all week about what a loss this is - and accepting the fact that we have no replacement coming up.  So if you know of any promising young comics let me know - I need a new album.

As you read this, we are probably driving home from the beach, so no worries and no offense if I don't comment much.  I look forward to reading about everyone's favorite comedy bits when I return.

June 20, 2008

Don't Blink

Don't Blink

By Kathy Sweeney aka Rebecca the Bookseller

Most creatures have basic instincts and reflexes.  We are designed to survive, and therefor avoid situations that cause us harm.  We recoil from extreme heat or cold.  We duck if we see an object, be it a fist or a buzzard, heading straight for us.  We protect our faces when we fall.

Some of us have stronger reflexes than others.  For example, I have a very strong blink reflex.  I'm not just talking about closing my eyes if the sun is too bright.  I'm talking about, the last time I scratched my cornea, it took one nurse, three big male residents and the Doc to keep me still enough for them to even LOOK at my eye.  I overheard one resident mutter, "Jeez, girl, we're not trying to brand you." 

So when, earlier this week, my right eye started to burn and run with tears, I tried self-medicating first.  I knew I hadn't scratched the cornea (again) because on the great pain scale, that ranks between the final stages of labor and a broken bone.  I tried wearing sunglasses all the time, even inside, and even a hat to protect my eyes from the wind.

To no avail.  So Wednesday, when I woke up to find my eye swollen shut, I stoked myself up pyschologically, which is to say I did some meditation, did a section of the Rosary, and took a whole Xanax, then went to the Urgicare Clinic.  (These things are great, by the way, especially if you are out of town, don't know the Docs, and the local emergency room is known for sending its patients out feet first.)

I walked in, took off the sunglasses and watched the receptionist write down "pink eye?"  Then I waited - not long - to see the Doc.  I told her the story, and that I didn't think it was pink eye because (a) no pink and (b) no gunk.  I don't like to talk about excretions of any kind, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

Then I warned her about my aversion to people getting near my eyes, but that I'd taken a Xanax and hoped it had kicked in.  She nodded, got out the eye light thing and stayed at least six inches away.  Smart woman.  Smart enough to send me to an opthomologist when she couldn't tell what the hell was wrong. 

So off we went to Cape May Court House (that's the county seat for Cape May County, near Stone Harbor) to see the Eye Doc.  Nice Guy.  Called me counselor and asked about my specialty.  "Opthamalogical Med Mal" came out before I could stop myself.  I blame the Xanax.  Then I told him I was kidding, but be careful any way.

Then I gave him my speech about the blink reflex.  After I finished, it went something like this:

Doc: "Uh huh.  No problem, counselor, I get that all the time."

Me: "Okay but I'm just telling you that if you are going to try to touch my eye, we need another body in here or someone could get hurt."

He looked at me and raised an eyebrow. "Xanax?  We'll be fine."  Clearly, the man had little experience with people who look like me - round and happy, yet to be recokened with.

"Okay, Doc"  I said, "That's informed consent, babe."  The 'babe' part was really probably the Xanax. Normally, people from Pittsburgh call everyone 'honey'.

So he told me to sit back and relax, and he braced his left arm against my right shoulder. Smart, if only he didn't need his right hand to hold the instrument.

I tried.  As God as my witness, I really tried.  But alas, as any fighter knows, when you leave the midsection open, fair is fair.  I got him with the heel of my left hand right in the sternum.  Hard enough to send him and that little wheely stool halfway across the room.

"Sorry", I said, "but I tried to tell you."  Whereupon he rubbed his chest, gave me a look that was part accusatory and part admiration, and then he got the two assistants to come in.  He even asked who was in the waiting room.  I'm guessing that if one of the Philadelphia Eagles or Flyers had been out there, I'd have met him up close and personal.

So.  Turns out I have something called Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome.  It's okay - it's not permanent.  It means that the very outside layer of my cornea (some kind of epidermal concept) is fragile and if it is injured, it takes longer to heal.  I have to put drops in every hour and put some kind of gel in at night.  Hey, I'll do whatever they tell me.  I can't read without my eyes, honey.

The Eye Doc, still absently massaging his chest, explained it to me like this:  The cells in the epi-cornea are not smart.  They don't know how to anchor - so they regenerate, but if there's not enough moisture and you blink, they slough off and have to start over.  He asked me if I understood.

"Yeah", I said.  The Xanax had fully kicked in, plus he'd put a drop in to numb my eye, so I was feeling no pain.  I may have been slurring, and when I got back, the kids said I tried to get some egg salad out of a bowl without removing the saran wrap.

So I'm going to forgive myself for saying.  "Gotcha Doc - not smart.  Like you when I told you not to touch my eye."  The whole staff cracked up.  I learned from the receptionist that this Doc insists on being treated with nearly royal respect.  I guess I'd better take him a present when I go in for the follow up this morning.

June 13, 2008



By Rebecca the Bookseller aka Kathy Sweeney

Bt_and_auntie_kathyLast weekend, we went to our Godson's graduation from Annapolis High School. Even though he's been taller than me for many years (which, as you know, is not saying much) and even though I know he's grown up, I still got misty seeing him in a dress shirt and tie, and then his graduation gown. (That's him on the right - in case you were confused, and thanks to Carmen for the photo.)

High school graduation is, I think, the true graduation. The word graduation has more meanings than just the conferring of a degree or the completion of a course of study. It also connotes a developmental milestone (one example is when developing countries 'graduate' to a better status due to economic development.)

These days, there are bogus 'graduation' ceremonies for everything from pre-K to 8th grade. Personally - I don't like it. It takes away from the real graduation. Plus, I don't like seeing little kids in caps and gowns any more than I like seeing little kids with make-up. Too many shades of Jon-Benet. [But that's a subject for another blog - have you people SEEN what junior high school girls look like these days? We had a bunch of 7th graders here the last day of my son's school, and I'm telling you, these girls are full grown. And they know it. Do not get me started - and I do have to say that my son's friends are nice kids - no strippers in training or anything. But geez.]

Blog_hat_tossMy high school graduation was the end of formal education for the majority of my classmates. The same was true for at least a third of the AHS class of 2008. According to our friends who live and work there, it was also the system's last (failing) shot at teaching some kids to read. That's right. We are still giving kids high school diplomas who cannot read. Which sucks, and - with all due respect to the teachers who try their best - the best illustration of how we are, in fact, leaving many children behind.

On the encouraging side, there were at least a dozen graduates who were the first in their entire family to finish high school. Now that is progress.

The ceremony was held in a big arena, and people brought big signs and air horns and everything to cheer when one of their own crossed the stage. One family, and I am not making this up - same last name (Brown) had at least six cousins in the same class. It was deafening and very cool.

The class was about as racially mixed as you can get - light on the Asian population, but otherwise a good balance. Tons of multi-racial kids, like our Godsons. Our boys' grandparents are: black, Chinese, and mid-west white bread. Gorgeous. Which reminds me of a great line from "Bulworth" - where Warren Beatty says, basically, the only way to solve racial issues is for everyone to just keep fucking everyone else until we're all pretty much the same color. Sound advice, and fun for everyone too. Not that I told my Godsons that - they can get in enough trouble without my help, thankyouverymuch.

One of the gifts we gave him was a special dictionary of extraordinary words. Because words matter, and extraordinary people should use extraordinary words. He's going to need them. He's going the the Naval Academy. This is a great honor, I know, but one that carries great risk these days. I'm not thinking about it right now, Scarlett.

So - the big thing about graduation, for those in the audience, is advice. What can we tell them that might actually stick? What do we wish someone had told us? (Or maybe, what should we have been open to hear?)

Blog_grateful_heart1Here is what I finally came up with:

Be Kind. Make a smile your default expression.

Be Safe. Use condoms, both real and metaphysical - don't take dangerous risks.

Be Loved. Accept yourself so that you are open to love from others.

Be Grateful. We spend a lot of time asking for things, from each other and from God. Don't forget to say thank-you.

Now it's your turn - what's your advice for all our graduates?

(I am leaving for the Jersey shore today - lucky us, I know, so don't be offended if I don't respond to your comments. I'm leaving the blog in the very capable hands of the other Tarts and our fabulous backblog. Which means you, in case you didn't know it.)

May 23, 2008

Mazeltov and other Fantastic Words

Mazeltov and other Fantastic Words

By Rebecca the Bookseller aka Kathy Sweeney

Mazeltov! Isn't that a great word? It means, in general, congratulations - but it also connotes blessings and happiness and celebration. It's a superb word. Today, let's talk about more wonderful words.

The word 'capisce' is a great word - it's easier than asking someone if they understand, and, depending on the delivery, it can be a threat or a joke or a lesson. Aloha is another versatile word - hello, goodbye, and everything in between.

Last week, I picked up a word on the blog that I'm going to use more often: ballistic. Other words I've learned here on the blog: manscape; faboo; meep; jezebel, sporrans, just sayin', goatf*ck, and Blondbond.

Other great words that really sound like what they mean include: miserable, rambunctious, lavish and regurgitate.

Blog_onomatopoeiaThese are not to be confused with words that are the sounds they describe - snap, crackle, pop and boom, to name a few. Those words are called onomatopoeia - which means words that imitate that sound they represent. One great example of onomatopoeia occurs in comic book fights: all the little balloons are filled with words like: pow!

If you're like me, you use curse words as a substitute for a better choice all the time. For example, it's much easier to call someone a shit-for-brains than it is to pick a more precise word. But if you bother to look (like I am doing right this second) you can find many words that are more descriptive. The bonus is, that if the person really is dumb as hell, (oops) they won't even know you are insulting them to their face.

Let me just say, when I insult someone for being a dumbass (oops again), it's not because they actually have a low IQ or some kind of neurological challenge. I'm talking about people who are ignorant in that they say stuff that makes no sense, is based on prejudice, or is just plain wrong because they didn't bother to figure out the correct thing to say or do. So don't go getting all huffy because you think I'm making fun of people who are simply less educated, or less blessed in the brains department.

Not that I don't make fun of people - I do. But not for things beyond their control. That's mean. If someone is ugly because they have a nose the size of a small car, or they have one eye that doesn't go the right way, that's not their fault. We don't make fun of those people. That would be wrong. Although, there is nothing to stop us if those people happen to also be total stone jagoffs. But let's just be clear that they are fair game for ridicule because of their ugly behavior, not their physical traits.

Anyway, back to insulting someone who deserves it to their face. That's my favorite way. If you know me, you know that if I'm thinking it, you are probably going to be hearing it. Just saying.

Well, that was a digression. Let's look at the Thesaurus - I still use the big book. I don't do definitions online. Why? Because some 'ron may have already jacked around with stuff. And kids - Wikipedia is not a primary source, okay? Just ask anyone who watches The Colbert Report.

Blog_stupidHere we are - let's look up dumbass. Nothing there. But the second definition of dumb has a few good suggestions: dense, vapid, idiotic, moronic, pea-brained and daft. All good ones. Unfortunately, even the densest people know most of those words - I mean, pea-brained kind of speaks for itself. Let's look at idiot. Ignoramus is a good one, but still obvious. Oh look - there's dumb-ass. Along with chowderhead (never understood that one - I happen to love New England clam chowder) meathead and blockhead. I like loon, but it's also a bird.

Here's one with potential: churlish. I like that. I've used that. Now let's find out what it really means. It means boorish, rude, harshly inconsiderate, grossly ill-mannered. Ahhh, hits the jag on the head, doesn't it? Plus, to me, somehow it sounds as if someone is going to vomit, which is a bonus, because everyone hates that, even the biggest dipshit on the planet.

Okay - your turn - before you head off for Memorial Day Weekend - and don't forget to check in on the blog - we'll have a special guest tomorrow - how about sharing some of your favorite words?

Oh - and speaking of Memorial Day, I'll leave you with some good words - and I mean them sincerely: brave, honorable, courageous, patriots.

May 16, 2008

Another C Word

Another C Word

By Rebecca the Bookseller aka Kathy Sweeney

Some people waive it off, as if it were nothing. Some people cringe just hearing it. Some people are vigilant - preparing defensive tactics. I'm talking, of course, about Cramps.

Blog_pms_comicCramps are a great medical mystery (please - do NOT get me started). Some people never have so much as cramp one - they breeze through life, their reproductive system sloughing itself once every lunar cycle, like clockwork, with nary a care. I hate those people. OK, maybe hate is too strong a word. But I do envy them. Envy, as in one of the Seven Deadlies.

Some people have mid-level cramps - they take the painkiller/anti-inflammatory of choice, grit their teeth for a day or so and carry on. Periodically they ask themselves - why in the hell can't someone figure this out?

Then there are the people like me. Cramps are part of an irregular, Cursed cycle that may or may not begin today, tomorrow or the next day. It may, in turn, end today, tomorrow or the next day. It's like living with a big Roulette Wheel in your body. There are days when I can't leave the house. There are hours when I can't leave my room. It sucks. Big Time. And other than the most helpful - "Let's knock you out, cut you open and take out all that stuff", there isn't much to be done. Hormone therapy? I don't think so. Fool me once, kind of thing.

Now, I understand there are advantages to taking it all out - but there are disadvantages too. Like most serious medical procedures, there are success stories and there are tragedies. My kids are too young to risk the tragedies - and yes, I know, I could get hit by a bus at any time, but that doesn't mean I'm going to choose to stand in the middle of the bus lane and take my chances, either.

Don't get me wrong - I know things could be much, much worse. I could have a fatal disease. I could be forced, in some kind of psychotic game show world, to spend every second of my life with stone idiots - or even worse - people with no discernible sense of humor. I could have a sick child, or a dying loved one. I get that. More on that in the guidelines below.

I am not even going to waste anyone's time talking about how in the name of all that is righteous it comes to pass that we are on our SIXTH generation of hard-on meds, but we still can't figure out how to stop cramps. I do need to mention, though, that the newer ED drugs have more side effects. As my daughter observed after sitting through a commercial: "Are you telling me that people are now willing to risk two of the five primary senses just for THAT?!" I told her that her grandparents' warnings of blindness and fiery damnation didn't stop any of her aunts or uncles. She just shook her head. She's young. Thank God.

Unfortunately, she's got my genes when it comes to her reproductive physiology. She knows from cramps already. And so the cycle begins again. Yeah, I know, I put it that way on purpose.

Basically, this is just a whiny blog.

Naturally, the whining about it makes me feel guilty, so I am going to try to turn this into a mitzvah - by sharing some advice to the people who share a house or a life with someone like me who suffers at the hands of mother nature.

1. If it's really bad, slide a glass of milk (have to have something in your stomach to take the pain meds) and some warm chocolate chip cookies (hell, any chocolate will do) in the door and stay the hell out of the way.

2. Ask if there is anything you can do. If you happen to be a man, and you think she has a rant coming ("YOU -- YOU go through NOTHING - if YOU had to go through this bullshit, the species would have died out CENTURIES ago") just take it and count yourself lucky there are no real weapons in the house. [Note: remove all weapons from the house.]

3. Join in if there is something to criticize (and be happy it's not you) - for example: If she says: "That stupid Mrs. Beasley up the street stopped earlier today to try to get me to sign a petition for one of her shithead projects. She's a menace." Do NOT say: "Gee, honey, what was the project?" DO say: "I KNOW! That ugly bitch needs to be slapped silly."

4. Do NOT try to one-up her. Unless you spend at least 25% of your life with an open compound fracture, you are not going to do anything but sound like a total wuss - and you'll just piss her off even more. You may have played an entire quarter of championship basketball/football/SuperMario Brothers challenge with a shattered tibia. But unless you do it once a month, every month, you have no idea what we're dealing with here.

5. Do NOT try to tell her 'It could be worse.' No shit Sherlock - funny I never thought of that, ya Dumbass. You want worse? Well, I can make that happen. Uh, sorry. See how bad an idea that is?

Blog_pms_zone6. Finally - do NOT try to initate any funny business while the pain is intense. However, and tread lightly here - there is nothing better to relieve mild PMS cramps than an orgasm. But - and get this one guys - you are going to have to do the work. So if you've never paid attention before to what she likes, now is NOT the time to try something new. See #2 about the weapons. And woe to he who even THINKS about asking her to do any of those things she doesn't do. It won't matter whether you have weapons in the house or not. See that lamp on the nightstand? In the coroner's report, it will simply be referred to as 'a blunt object'.

Hmmmm. OK, I think that's enough.

Anyone on either side of this issue want to share?

May 08, 2008

Happy Talk

Happy Talk

By Rebecca the Bookseller aka Kathy Sweeney

Blog_happytalkToday, I am declaring a moratorium on any subject that is not a happy one. If you have to ask why, then maybe you are one of the smart ones who doesn't pay attention to the news - something I am considering, by the way.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the great assignment of interviewing 23 authors. I thought it would be a cake walk. After all, I talk for a living. Plus, around here, it's normal to strike up a conversation with perfect strangers. Turns out, it's harder than it looks. I did a ton of preparation (that's what lawyers do - except we call it due diligence). Again - no problem, just time and focus. But when the time came - I was actually nervous, and believe me when I tell you, at this stage of the game, that just doesn't happen to me much. The happy part is that it went well. At least I thought so - and it was fun. It was fun to meet the authors and see them smile when they talked about their books and their characters. It was fun to see people in the audience smiling and laughing. Felt like I helped lighten things up, if only for a few minutes.

Because, people, we need to find more ways to lighten up. As a species, we are sleeping less, eating more, exercising less, and angsting more. Our levels of stress are through the roof. So today, all of us are going to help the world (okay, maybe just a couple of thousand people, but still) by sharing what makes us happy.

Plus, I am going to make a music compilation of songs that make me happy, and I'm going to carry it around.

So, here we go. Happy things first, then happy songs.

Watching Dancing With the Stars makes me happy. You see these celebs working to master something that is not in their comfort zone, and when they hit the floor, regardless of how their performance turns out, they are always full of joy. I've never watched any of these competition shows before, but my Mom got me started this season, and I'm hooked. (Plus, IYOCHFTS, hel-loh, between the costumes - or lack thereof - and the hot choreography - whew!).

Listening to my son and his friends when they forget I'm in the next room makes me happy. I never interrupt them, or bust them on the swearing (it's fabulous to hear them try out those new words). They're all taller than me now, but they still talk like boys, not men, even as their voices get deeper. I know that won't last much longer, so I savor it.

Reading good books makes me happy - I guess that one goes without saying on TLC, right?

HappinesspostersLaughing makes me happy. In our house, and with my friends, we laugh a lot. I'll even admit that it may be a way of avoiding the sad and tragic stuff. We do support eachother in those ways too - but most of the time, we try to laugh. Laughing, it turns out, is good for you. No kidding - you can look it up.

Okay - I'm leaving the field wide open for the rest of you - what makes you happy?

Now - Songs that make me happy. They can be any kind of song - country, rock, gospel, folk, whatever. They don't even have to be about happiness. But there are some songs that cheer me up and make me smile. I'm sure you have some too, and at the end, I'll put together a compilation of TLC Happy Songs. Here are a few of mine:

I Wish by Stevie Wonder

Hot, Hot, Hot by Buster Poindexter

In the Mood- my current favorite cover is Bette Midler

Alive and Amplified by The Mooney Suzuki

Angelina/Zooma Zooma by Louis Prima

What Was I Thinkin'? by Dierks Bentley

Favorite Song of All by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Blog_happyworkingsongHappy Working Song by Amy Adams from "Enchanted" (the lyrics are priceless)

I'm A Believer - currently, it's the Smash Mouth version from Shrek

Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants

I Can't Help Myself by The Four Tops

Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin or Pittsburgh's own George Benson

Okay, your turn - let's make some happy! Can I get a witness here?

UPDATE: I made a new play list with all of the songs suggested - tried to make it into an iMix, but not all of them showed up - (clueless as to why - perhaps the ones I'd already downloaded from CDs?). Any way, here is the iMix, if you'd like to check it out:
TLC Happy Mix on iTunes

April 25, 2008

Rebecca the Bookseller's True Identity

My True Identity

By Rebecca the Bookseller

I think it was when the third person on Friday night of RT came up to me and ID'd me as Rebecca that I knew it was time to come out. I guess I should be surprised the secret lasted this long, but that photo up there looks so little like me, that the real surprise was that anyone actually recognized me from the TLC masthead at all.

That is me up there, and it's not a wig. I was growing my hair for Locks of Love (a good cause, btw) and I let my friends Kimmie, Jenn and Rose at the Salon put makeup on and do my hair. That dark color is my natural color, but now there is so much grey that I gave up on keeping it dark. I used to wonder why, as women got older, so many went blonde. Now I know. It's one set of highlights - designed to mask the grey - at a time.

With_hank_phillippi_ryanThese are more recent (and real) photos of me from the Little Night of Romance, Mystery and Suspsense that Mystery Lovers Bookshop held last Thursday, to take advantage of all the great authors in town for RT. I got to interview the authors, which was a blast - tons of good photos (thanks Steve), but I only included a couple - one of Hank Phillipi Ryan, who won an RT award for best first mystery (Brava!), and one of Patty Smiley, who came all the way from LA. They are both terrific, as people and authors. (I'm the short round person on the right, in case you didn't put that together, and if that is the case, see your eye doctor immediately).

With_patricia_smileySo (you can fake the drum roll now) my real name is Mary Kathryn Reschini Sweeney - Kathy Sweeney for short, which I am. I comment here all the time. And I have to say, it's been getting confusing. I tried to comment on my own blogs to keep people from guessing it was me. As if there is a CIA Operative out there on the case. heh.

How did I get to be a blogger at TLC with real authors who are also very cool ladies? Well, it all started, as so many capers do, at Daytona Beach. I was attending my very first RT Conference on behalf of the Mystery Lovers Bookshop - which is totally real and totally fabulous, and I do sell books there.

I knew Nancy Martin because she came to my book group several years ago - the book group is real too - Women Lawyers - who meet the first Tuesday of every month for the last 14 years. I'd met Sarah - as Bubbles at the Bookshop - because I was a big fan of Barbie Unbound. I'd met Elaine and Harley the same way - at MLB and at their Festival of Mystery. Daytona was the first time we really got to sit down together, and it was a riot. Add Nancie the Gun Tart to the mix, and we were all sore from laughing by the time we went home. (Of course, having a beach decorated with half naked male models trying to play volleyball and posing for portfolio shots in the surf, complete with subtle props like swords and spears didn't hurt, but that's another story.)

They were looking for someone with a sense of humor to blog anonymously about books. I know books. I read books. I sell books. I'd been writing e-mails that looked a lot like blogs for years, and Nancy was on my mailing list. So they offered and I accepted (those are legal words, y'know) and I did my very first blog right after RT. It was one of the few that really had to do with bookselling. The rest just kind of took off. No one was more surprised than me when my Friday blogs became popular. I even had my own fans - how cool is that?

I blog on Fridays, unless Margie notifies everyone that she is going to blog, in which case, I just stay out of the way. Truthfully? She scares me.

Anyway, it's been a blast, and I'm honored to be in this company - and by that, I mean not only the authors up there - including Michele, who came on board after I did, but the entire community. I've become real friends with people I met on the blog, and as I meet more and more members of our backblog, I am continually delighted at how smart and witty - and nice - you all are.

Plus, I have to admit, many time IOCHFTS myself. See - that is classic TLC stuff. What started as a joke in the comments has now risen to Google level. That's right - go to Google and put in "IOCHFTS" and the only things that come up are TLC Blogs - that is freaking fantastic! The more we do it, the more likely it will pop up. heh. We have probably earned at least a mention on The Colbert Report, right?

Whomever is keeping track of our TLC bumper sticker list, IOCHFTS should be moved up to the #1 spot, I think.

Whew. My big secret is out. I mean, look - it's not like I'm Wonder Woman or I can set things on fire or go through walls - which would be very cool, by the way - but for a reader and someone who writes all the time, it's a pretty big damn deal.

So - ya got a secret to share? Are you one of the IOCHFTS people? Talk to us.

Oh - wait! I need a new moniker now - suggestions are welcome, particularly any with a royal title of some kind. Maybe I'll just use my real name. I'm starting to feel a little like part of a witness protection program. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

April 10, 2008

Bedtime Stories

Bedtime Stories

By Rebecca the Bookseller

Blog_i_heart_booksWell, this is a very interesting month - first and foremost - a fabulous month for book lovers!

We have two (count 'em TWO) big events this month that bring authors, readers, and all book lovers together.

First up, April 17th - geez - that's next week already! As many of you know, the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention is being held here in Pittsburgh this year (and may I, on behalf of my city, apologize in advance for the choice of hotels). If you have never been to an RT Convention, let's just say most of it must be seen to be believed. Half naked young men and very large numbers of women, all prepared to party. More on that next week, as it happens.

On the 17th, since there are so many authors coming to town, our Mystery Lovers Bookshop is having a "Little Night of Romance" - among the terrific authors attending will be our very own Sarah Strohmeyer, Nancy Martin and Harley Jane Kozak - yippee! Here are the details - and if you can't be here, you can order personalized copies of any of the books. I'll be helping with the author interviews, so if you have any questions you'd like to submit, I will report back on the answers next Friday!

Little Night Of Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Too

Also on Friday, the Tarts at RT will be doing an interview which should be available online - more on that next week.

If you won't be here for RT, but still want to meet a bunch of terrific authors, we have our Annual Festival of Mystery on April 28th. This event is scheduled between Malice Domestic in D.C. and the Edgars in New York - many authors have taken to calling it the Mystery Trifecta - and it's fantastic. This is our (lucky) 13th year. More details here:

Festival of Mystery

One ticket gets you into BOTH events - such a deal, no kidding. Contact me via e-mail or when you get to town and I may be able to swing a special arrangement for our loyal TLC community.

Now, for those of you wondering why the word Bedtime is in the title of the blog (yes, Margie, I got your notes - it was only in draft form when you saw it, but thanks for the suggestions - I'm sure I can use them for some other, um, project.) I had a sleepover test this week. Now, a sleepover test sounds like something fun, but it isn't. First off, no snacks. I guess you could watch a movie, but for some reason - and I know this is small in the grand scheme, but it still bugs me - the TV remotes in hospitals only go ONE WAY. Whuh? Plus, there are very scary things on Wednesday nights - too many psychos and other creepy people. And that's just on Fox News. Kidding.

Then you have to actually wear pajamas. I don't know about you, but I usually sleep in old t-shirts. And the nightware I do own is more for, well, decorative and recreational use. I don't sleep in them. Sometimes I can't even find all the parts afterwards. But that's a blog for another day.

Blog_bedtime_storiesNo matter - I had my books. How do people unwind and relax without books? How do people escape from the stressers (that's a big term with docs, in case you didn't know) of life without books? I guess I should have been aware of that, but boy, did it hit home in that clinical room with lousy lighting and all this medical equipment.

I had wires attached all over the place - my head (to make sure my brain is still in there, I think), my jaw (to see if I grind my teeth when I sleep); my ankles (to check for the jimmy legs); my neck (monitoring carotid blood pressure); my chest (for other heart and lung stuff - they tell me oxygen is really important - who knew?); and my face (I forget what those were about). Just when you think there is no more available space on your body, they snake a tube in your nose, plus another thing that has a tube for both your nose and mouth. THEN they tell you to go to sleep. Riiiiiggghhht.

I had my iPod, but there were so many wires I was afraid I'd end up strangling myself with the headphones, which is absurd, now that I think back, since there is someone watching the whole time on a camera. Did I mention it was NOT relaxing? I mean, sure, it was fun to make faces and hand gestures for a little while, and see which ones made the techs laugh the hardest, but that gets old fast. And then they expect you to relax and eventually fall asleep, since the whole purpose of the test is to see what happens when you sleep.

You know how they say a watched pot never boils? Well, an insomniac under surveillance never sleeps. Unless she has her books. Thank heaven for my books. It was like having a part of home with me. Like a comforter. I love that picture right there of the blanket that looks like a book. It's perfect imagery. So, of course once I started reading, just like at home, I eventually calmed down. I even slept. Such is the power of the books we love. I know the future is electronic, but there is nothing like the feel of a book in my hands.

So - first off, who's coming to Pittsburgh next week? We're planning a get-together - more details on that too.

Otherwise, tell us - what's your equivalent of a bedtime story?

April 04, 2008

Peeves and other Irritants

Peeves and Other Irritants

By Rebecca the Bookseller

Blog_grrOops - here it is, about 10 pm on Thursday night, and I just remembered I have to write a blog for tomorrow.

I'm not sure if TLC has ever done a blog on Pet Peeves (I searched the Posts and nothing came up, so I'm hoping this is a new subject) but I certainly have enough to fill a blog, and I'm betting the rest of you do too.

Some of my peeves are small - like the misuse of the word "literally". You hear this from TV pundits and from kids. Example: "I was literally, like, dead." No. You were not.

Then there are the people in service and retail jobs who refuse to make eye contact. Yeah, I see you, and I'm much too big for you to miss me. If you are busy, at least tell me so. Do not pretend I am not STANDING right HERE at your open register/desk/window.

Then there are the people who just refuse to admit they don't know the answer. It's okay to say you don't know. In fact, I'd rather you say: "I don't know if we carry Starbucks Frapps in a bottle." That's better than saying either: "Uh, yeah, they're somewhere over there" accompanied by a general wave, when in fact, they are no where in the store; or "No, we never had them things" when in fact, I just bought some here last week.

And while we're on that subject, I know all the marketing gurus tell the big supermarkets to put the milk in the furthest possible place so you have to wade through aisles of crap and tides of confused people to get to it. I don't care. Put it in the front. If you can fit every candy bar in the universe right there at the register, you can fit a small fridge for milk.

Before we leave the grocery - here's another one. Why do they discontinue the good stuff? I'm talking, of course, about the Oreo ice cream sandwiches (real oreos, real oreo size) and the Oreo brownies. Those things were the best - but they're gone. Instead, we've got reverse Oreos and flavored Oreos (okay, the peanutbutter ones are good). I didn't need more Oreo flavors. I just want my ice cream sandwiches back.

Then there is the laundry detergent - you can't find regular stuff to clean your clothes any more - we've got fifteen scents, and everything added from Downy to Baking Soda to - and I really don't get this one - Mr. Clean. And if you want plain old toothpaste? Give it up. Flavors, sparkles, whiteners, de-sensitizers - I don't even know what some of those chemicals would do to the kitchen floor, let alone my mouth.

Obviously, the grocery is a rich area for peeves, so I'll leave the rest to you guys.

Let's talk about parking. Not that kind, Margie - the kind where you need to find a space to leave your car so you can shop or run an errand, or whatever. I've actually seen people get out of their cars to argue over who has the right to a spot. This would really be none of my business (unless there is an old person, and then they get dibs, period.) But the people block up the entire lane while they hash it out. If you happen to be right behind them, you are totally screwed, because you can't get out. Then there are the buzzard parkers, who just stop right at the front of the lot and wait for someone to leave. They also block traffic. Arrrgh.

Okay, obviously, I could go on all night, but I'll limit it to one more. Cancelled TV shows. Look, I know most of the shows on TV are crap, but every once in a while, I get involved in one, and then - boom! It's gone. Right in the middle of a story line. Hey - if you want to cancel a show, fine - but at least air the remaining episodes! We know damn well you filmed them (this does not apply to the recent writers strike, and if that thing cost me "Private Practice", "The Unit" or "Moonlight", I am going to be pissed). If you don't want to take up precious air time - you know, for a recap or repeat of "Big Brother House #23: The Wrath of the Switched Mom", put them on a DVD and I'll pay for the damn things.

Okay, I need to take some deep, calming breaths so I can at least pretend to prepare to sleep, so I'm handing the baton off to you -- got peeves? I know you do, so let's hear 'em.