You Are What You Read!

Greetings!  Hope the Thanksgiving was all you hoped for and the leftovers bountiful. A happy Hate Week to us all.  This weekend, the kinfolk and I celebrate the diversion that is That State Up North v. Ohio State.  Also known as the holiday that rivals the Yuletide, if the Yuletide was fueled by a whole lotta dislike.  The clan has been celebrating this for just about as long as there has been a clan or at least since 1897.  The TC and I will be traveling to New Jersey on Saturday before noon to watch with The Brother and his people.  There will be a protein in the Green Egg and a keg of beer at the ready.  This is not an event that we take lightly.   At Ohio State, the student body has dedicated their week to eradicating a certain letter everywhere it appears on the property and I too have taken up that challenge.  So there will not be a certain letter in this weekly dispatch.  You can read about the student body efforts here. This is the 110th get -together and even though the squad of The State Up North is sad, sad, sad this year, a win by OSU is not a foregone conclusion.  You can’t predict the results when passions run high on both sides.  A favorite story about this rivalry involves a young boy who is the son of two OSU grads.   When Grant Reed was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 11 he decided to label his cancer after That State Up North so that when he was cured he could state with a certitude that he had indeed Beat That State Up North.  Happily he has done just that. You can read about that here.   So Happy Weekend People!  Let’s go Buckeyes! This week we have Big Coal, China, privilege, and elephants.

Playlist?  Yup.  No worries. 

Let us begin!


The Always Delightful Pat S has just finished Gray *ountain by John Grisha*.  How was it Pat?  “After a long hiatus as a reader of Grisha*, last year’s highly entertaining Syca*ore Row brought about a return to the fold. So I picked up Gray *ountain and so far, have not been disappointed. Sa*antha Kofer, high powered associate in a big New York City law fir*, beco*es a casualty of the financial collapse of 2008. Her career plans co*e to a screeching halt as she is furloughed, and told to find a volunteer position in a legal aid situation of so*e kind, and just possibly, after a year’s ti*e, she could  be reconsidered for fullti*e e*ploy*ent again. This brings her to *ountain Legal Aid in the s*all town of Brady, Virginia, deep in the heart of Appalachia. Here she is faced with a veritable cornucopia of injustices perpetrated against the poor and underprivileged, particularly in an area of the country that is essentially run by Big Coal. Naturally, there is a very attractive lawyer who takes on the big co*panies-only to be found dead in questionable circu*stances. Ulti*ately, Gray *ountain is an indict*ent of the coal industry in A*erica today. However, if by *ixing in a little *urder, a little ro*ance *akes the topic of coal *
ining so co*pelling then I tip *y hat to *r. Grisha*.”


Steph!  What’s doing?  “This weekend I read The Three-Body Proble* by Cixin Liu, the first book in a land*ark Chinese science fiction trilogy, which has just been translated into English. I’ve been anticipating the book for *onths, and I’* happy to report that it *ore than lived up to *y expectations! In *any ways, The Three-Body Proble* has a classic sci-fi plot: hu*ans *ake contact with aliens, disagree about what to do next, and start turning on each other even as the aliens are en route for first contact. There’s lots of high-level science and technology discussion, not to *ention an otherworldly video ga*e. But Liu layers this story with one that’s all too real: the events of the Cultural Revolution in the late 60s, when Chinese youth took over the country in a violent political *ove*ent. The co*bination of hard sci-fi and living history is powerful and brings the science of the book to life in an unexpected way. Translator Ken Liu has done a *arvelous job of creating a work that reflects the original book while keeping it accessible to Western readers (for exa*ple, he uses footnotes very unobtrusively to help readers keep pace with references to Chinese history). Sci-fi lovers probably already have this on their TBR list, and video ga*e fans *ay also, but fans of apocalyptic fiction would do well to check this one out as well.  It *ay  not what you’re used to, but that can be  a good thing.”


Babs B loves herself a celebrity bio.  Here is what she thought about There Was A Little Girl: The Real Story of *y *other and *e  by Brooke Shields. “I have to be honest, I was not in a rush to read this book but a* so glad I did!  This was a very frank account of growing up in a privileged but painfully   dysfunctional fa*ily.  Brooke's parents divorced when she was less than a year old and Teri Fields raised Brooke by herself.  Teri, who loved Brooke al*ost too *uch, was unfortunately an alcoholic and Brooke goes through life trying to ‘fix’ her *other.  How Brooke ended up being as nor*al as she did is a *ystery to *e.  She was a loving daughter trying to deal with her *other's illness while at the sa*e ti*e beco*e her own person.  This is a beautifully and honestly written tribute to a co*plex, talented and ulti*ately tragic person.  Kudos to Brooke Shields for writing this book...she is *uch *ore than a pretty face!”


The Tall Cool Texan Virginia who is not a football girl (how does a girl fro* Texas get away with that?) is here with a new favorite in Begin Again.  “I a* not a huge *ovie person, but on a whi* last week, I grabbed Begin Again starring *ark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley.  I a* so glad I did because this *ight be *y new favorite *ovie.  It is absolutely char*ing and it re*inded *e that fil**aking and acting are actual crafts.  A chance encounter between a broken-hearted songwriter and a burned out *usic producer turns into a pro*ising collaboration. This isn’t a ro*ance, it’s about two people rediscovering the*selves through each other’s eyes.   All of the actors are tre*endous and have real che*istry with each other.  As a bonus Ada* Levine fro* *aroon Five is in it and is surprisingly good (granted you have to get past his *ega beard).  Altogether, it is a poignant, hopeful, and funny fil*. It isn’t often I consider buying a *ovie but this one *akes the cut.”


Pat T is still listening.  “Ann wrote about Leaving Ti*e by Jodi Piccoult last week, so I thought I would give you *y take on the audiobook. This novel has ele*ents of fiction, detective *ystery, non-fiction and fantasy.  The best thing about this book is the extensive research the author did on Asian and African elephants and elephant sanctuaries. The narrator of the character, Alice *etcalf, the research scientist, was engaging, but the other narrations didn't depict the essence of the characters they were portraying. Also, the ending was a bit contrived, but I would still reco**end reading/listening to this book because of what you learn about elephants. Next on *y list to listen to is The Elephant Whisperer: *y life with the Herd in the African Wild by Lawrence Anthony.

DJ Jazzy Patty *cC is here in the house. But not The Big House. Your turn to host is next year.  What’s doin’ Pats? “The closest I ca*e to being a football fan was *y crush on Wayne Gretzky. Oh, wait that’s hockey.  *y sports indoctrination was born out of teenage years spent in a ho*e that religiously watched Hockey Night in Canada like the Pope attends *ass on Sunday. I don’t understand football but I a* a good student. So this week I’ve got so*e questions that I’* hoping Jen can help *e out with:  What’s up with the stickers on the hel*ets? Are they five years old? Do they get a gold star every ti*e they score a touchdown? Why does the guy put his hands dangerously close to another guy’s butt and what is he shouting while he is doing it? What’s with all the Bob Fosse *oves after the touchdown? Can we please add jazz hands if they’re going in that direction? I will say that I do, however heartily approve of the tight pants. Ga*e on and *ay the best tea* win! GO BLUE!”

DL THE GAME 2014

Nice New Book Goodness

Here is what you can find on the shelves that is new next week. Come in and visit us, or put your items on hold from home! We will let you know when they are ready for you to pick up!

New eBooks from 3M

Here are the new titles available from 3M.

Meet Us On Main Street

The  Meet Us On Main Street Group met with Mallory and Daniel today.  It was Daniel's first co-hosting and he was in good company with Mallory, a veteran presenter.  Daniel kept it neat:  a legal thriller that some say rivals any of Grisham's court room dramas; and one of 2014's most heart-felt stories of the year -- worth the read during the holiday break.  Mallory spiced it up: a quadruple award-winning YA story on audiobook; another YA book set in the wilds of Florida; a book of advice on how to persevere in business in a graphic novel format by the co-founders of the newly popular Honest Tea brand beverage; and lastly, a holiday story, of sorts, about a spouse who decides not to visit the in-laws for Christmas and what she learns from the fallout of such a decision.  Mallory also dazzled the group to  Serial Podcast, a thriller mystery she just can't get enough of.

Museum Passes

To Borrow a Pass
  • You need to live in Darien, work full-time in Darien, or have become a Friend at the $300 level.
  • All passes are checked out for only three days. They may not be renewed.
  • All Connecticut passes are borrowed on a walk-in basis. If you call the Welcome Desk (203-669-5239), we will hold the pass for one hour at the desk for you.
  • All passes are to picked up and returned to the Welcome Desk.
  • Late fines are $10 per day. If a pass is lost, you will need to pay the full replacement cost.
  • Some passes may not be valid to attend special events at that museum. If you have questions, contact that museum.
  • Please call or visit the website of the museum to verify their hours of operation.
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877
203-438-4519

Founded on the Ridgefield's historic Main Street in 1964, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is one of the few non-collecting contemporary art museums in the United States. It plays an important role in the exhibition of cutting-edge art.

The Aldrich is proud to advance creative thinking by connecting today's artists with individuals and communities in unexpected and stimulating ways. Emphasis is placed on presenting solo exhibitions by emerging and mid-career artists, many of whom go on to achieve critical acclaim. The innovative gallery-based education programs use the work on view to help visitors connect to our world through contemporary art. The Museum also features a two-acre sculpture garden and a Museum store filled with unique gifts by award-winning designers.

Each pass admits two adults. Children under 18 are always admitted for free. 

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

77 Forest Street, Hartford, CT 06105
860-522-9258

In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe changed the world with Uncle Tom's Cabin, her ground-breaking and best-selling anti-slavery novel. Stowe recognized slavery's injustices and was compelled to speak out. As a woman of the 19th century, Stowe had no right to vote or to hold office, yet she gave public voice to her convictions, turned the tide of public opinion and became the most influential American woman of the 19th century.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe's Hartford home and the Center's historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change. The Stowe Center's programs and activities are energized by Stowe's example. As a 21st-century museum and program center, the Stowe Center connects Stowe's issues to the contemporary face of race relations, class and gender issues, economic justice and education equity.

Each pass admits two guests per pass (unlimited times throughout year).

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

600 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103
860-278-2670

The nation's oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum houses more than 50,000 works spanning 5,000 years. Collections include Renaissance and Baroque paintings, African-American art and Hudson River School.

Each pass admits two adults and two children. Valid for general admission.

Connecticut Old State House

800 Main St, Hartford, CT 06103
860-522-6766

This 1796 National Historic Landmark is one of the nation's oldest state houses. Visitors can explore the Old State House's exhibit, Want Change? which features historic figures from Connecticut's past demonstrating different ways to be engaged citizens. Hands-on and family activities can be found in the Holcombe Center. Explore the exciting 6,800 square foot multimedia exhibit, History Is All Around, which tells the story of Hartford. Also, check out the always-popular Museum of Curiosities, located on the second floor near the historically restored legislative chamber.

Each pass admits two adults and two children. General admission only. Not applicable for groups.

The Bruce Museum of Arts and Science

Bruce Museum

1 Museum Dr, Greenwich, CT 06830
203-869-0376

The Bruce Museum is a regionally based, world-class institution highlighting art, science and natural history in more than a dozen changing exhibitions annually.

Each pass admits two guests. Does not allow for reciprocity with the members of the Fairfield/Westchester Museum Alliance.

The Museum of Modern Art

he Museum of Modern Art

11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
212-708-9400

MoMA's renowned collection of modern and contemporary art includes Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night and Andy Warhol's Gold Marilyn Monroe, along with works by Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, and many other great artists of our time. The Museum´s collection also showcases photography, film, architecture, design, media, and performance art. Each pass admits five adults (children under 16 are free).

Each pass allows entrance to museum one hour before museum opens to the public.

The Museum of the City of New York

Museum of the City of New York

1220 5th Ave, Manhattan, NY 10029
212-534-1672

The Museum of the City of New York, located at the northern end of Museum Mile, contains a wealth of city history and includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, military and naval uniforms, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, ship models and rare books. The extensive toy collection, full of New Yorkers’ playthings dating from the colonial era to the present, is especially well loved. Toy trains, lead soldiers and battered teddy bears share shelf space with exquisite bisque dolls (decked out in extravagant Parisian fashions) and lavishly appointed dollhouses.

Each pass admits two adults and up to four children.

What's This Week's Hoopla All About?

Here are some holiday movies for the whole family to get you in the spirit!

What are my neighbors up to?

Here is a list of the most popular items this week.

New DVD Releases

Here is what you can find new to the shelves in the upcoming days.

Punc(tuation) Rocks!

Shady Characters
Shady Characters

If the history of punctuation seems like a dry subject, try reading Shady Characters. It turns out that familiar symbols like the ampersand, asterisk, dash, and quotations marks have fascinating backstories. Why aren’t we using interrobangs or manicules more often? Did you know that the ampersand was once considered a letter of the alphabet? And how in the world did the octothorpe (otherwise known as a pound sign, flash, pig-pen, tic-tac-toe, or hashtag) get that name?

Author Keith Houston’s first book goes back to the libraries of Alexandria, through ancient graffiti and Bibles, right up to modern-day intrigue and Madison Avenue. He parses the differences between hyphens, dashes, and minus signs, and we learn that there have been several largely-unsuccessful attempts to introduce a symbol to indicate irony. For readers who enjoyed Eats, Shoots & Leaves a few years ago, Shady Characters is a fascinating read. Exclamation point!

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