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As readers of this blog know, I am a big fan of science fiction.  And as I’ve discussed in a previous post, I also enjoy reading flash fiction, which is usually defined as “fiction of extreme brevity.” In today’s post, I’ll be highlighting not one but two flash science fiction blogs, 30 Second Sci Fi and 365 Tomorrows.

The stories on 30 Second Sci Fi are all courtesy of a single author who began the project as a personal challenge. The rules are that the author must write one new story every day for a year, no longer than 250 words, that is complete in its own right (thus no multi-part stories). A look at the site’s archives shows that the project began back in November of last year.

Unlike 30 Second Sci Fi, 365 Tomorrows is a collaborative project involving multiple authors. The remarkable longevity of the site is probably attributable to this difference; like its fellow flash science fiction blog, it aims to present a new work of science fiction every single day, but it has been doing so since August of 2005. The stories are also a bit longer in terms of word count, with the maximum length set at 600. Another cool feature of 365 Tomorrows is that you can submit your own story for publication on the site.

If you are a fan of science fiction short stories you might also like one of these anthologies available through DCPL!New space opera
The New Space Opera

The Best of the Best: 20 Years of the Year’s Best Science Fiction

The Best of the Best. Volume 2, 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels

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May 20 2013

We Want to Hear From You!

by Jimmy L

Dear DCPLive readers. Whether you are a long-time reader or a one-time visitor, whether you are reading because you are a DCPL fan or a non-DeKalb resident who found us while web-surfing, we want to hear from you! DCPLive has been going strong for about 5 years, posting on average three times a week, but we only have a vague notion of who our readers are. So help us get to know you better and let us know what direction to take in the future by taking our survey. It only takes about 3 minutes, and all questions are optional.

dcplive_survey

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Apr 1 2013

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon

by Jencey G

24 Hour Read A ThonDewey’s Read-a-Thon is a 24 hour reading challenge that takes place on April 27. To participate you need a computer to access the Dewey’s Read-a-Thon website and Facebook page. Then you will need that stack of books you have been dying to read. Finally you will need to pick food and drink with tons of caffeine to keep you going during the evening hours.

What do you do during the challenge? You read. You also update your blog intermittently with comments about your reading experience during the challenge. This often qualifies you for prizes. There are also challenges from book bloggers that include everything from crosswords to title scrambles. There’s even an opportuniy for you to raise money for charities.

Dewey’s Read-a-Thon was started in 2007 by a woman who was left alone while her husband and son went to a 24 hour Comic Day. She to use those 24 hours to read and blog about it. She died in 2008, but the Read-a-Thon lives on, run by the women who helped her carry it out twice a year.

I look forward to this year’s challenge. I hope that you will join me!

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Mar 6 2013

Threads of History

by Dea Anne M

Fifty Years of FashionPeople who haven’t known me very long are sometimes surprised to learn of my deep and abiding interest in clothes and fashion design. Day to day, I wear what basically amounts to a type of uniform—cardigan sweaters and pullover tops in various colors paired with dark trousers. It’s a system that works well for me and it makes rushed mornings a little easier since everything mixes with everything else. In my leisure time however I’m a devoted fan of fashion magazines and personal style blogs. What really fascinates me though is fashion history. Louis XIV, a fashionable monarch if ever there was one, famously said “Fashion is a mirror.” a statement with which I would have to agree. Think of the safety pins and black leather of 70’s punk culture or the uniform style of Communist China as examples of the way dress can reflect cultural and ideological change. As designer Katherine Hamnett has said, “Clothes create a wordless means of communication that we all understand.”

A fun blog that I’ve recently discovered is Threaded, Smithsonian magazine’s source for sartorial history. Here you’ll find well-written analysis of such fashion phenomena as the rise of the flapper in the 1920’s, sequins, and James Bond’s dinner jackets. Another very worthwhile site is The Fashion Historian. Katy Werlin, the historian, is a very engaging writer with an impressive depth of academic knowledge about clothing design and history. Her post on the Little Black Dress is worth a look just by itself. Also, very worthwhile is Wearing History. Blog mistress Lauren is a witty observer of fashion’s changing face. She’s also an incredibly talented seamstress with a taste for vintage fashion. Check out her re-creation of a blue corset from an 1877 Manet painting or the jacket based on an 1899 pattern and prepare for awe and amazement. Finally, I must mention Of Another Fashion. Its subtitle is “An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color.” This wonderful digital history features photographs (often of the donors’ mothers or grandmothers) of women and the clothes they wore. It is a gorgeous and fascinating look into the role fashion has played in the lives of American women of color. Don’t miss the photograph of Lucille Baldwin Brown. She was the first African-American librarian in Tallahassee, Florida and, judging by the photograph, possessed impeccable style. More proof that librarians are awesome!

Do you too enjoy the historical aspects of fashion? If so, DCPL has resources to help you indulge and learn.

Fifty Years of Fashion: new look to now by Valerie Steele is a must for any devoted student of clothing design. Steele is the current director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is a widely respected historian of fashion. The book appeared in 2000, so the most recent designers are not featured, but you will still gain a lot of great knowledge. Also by Steele are Paris Fashion: a cultural history and Women of Fashion: twentieth-century designers

gunnMost of us know Tim Gunn from Project Runway but he also served on the faculty at Parsons The New School for Design for many years and was the chair for the school’s department of fashion design. His book Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible: the fascinating history of everything in your closet is a fun, very readable account of the antecedents of every sort of garment that we wear today. From jeans, to belts, to gloves, Gunn illuminates clothing history with his trademark wit and strong opinions (he really hates capri pants!).

styleA few more notables resources are Fashion by Christopher Breward and A Survey of Historic Costume by Phyllis Tortora and Keith Eubank.

Finally, I will mention a book that is a personal favorite of mine The Power of Style: the women who defined the art of living well by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins. Not a history of fashion per se, it is nonetheless an entertaining collection of profiles of 14 women who embodied the very meaning of style throughout the 20th century. Some of the subjects will be familiar to most of us: Jacqueline Kennedy, Coco Channel, the Duchess of Windsor but others will be less known such as Rita Lydig, Daisy Fellowes, and Mona Bismarck. In any case, all these women led fascinating lives and were living embodiments that the quality of “style” goes far beyond wearing the latest designer. Highly recommended!

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Oct 10 2012

Share Your Shelf

by Jesse M

What does your bookshelf say about you? According to Peter Knox, creator of the tumblr Share Your Shelf and author of a recent Guardian article on the subject,

Your bookshelf is an intimate physical representation of your accomplishments (titles as trophies earned), aspirations (that ever growing to-read pile), associations (that book your boss gave to each employee), personal development (those self-help titles that urged you to talk to strangers), guilty pleasures (50 shades of beach reads), escapes (sci-fi to some, travelogues to others), memories (meeting that author, visiting that indie shop on vacation), [and] interests (the bigger the Star Wars fan, the more Star Wars books)…And that’s just the ingredients – how you organise, arrange, and display these titles should impart even more insight as to a reader’s personality.

As Knox says, “sharing your shelf is sharing yourself”, and he created Share Your Shelf to provide a forum for people to do just that. Launched just last month, the blog has already received hundreds of submissions, proving that there is definitely an appetite for this literary variety of show and tell. Go here to submit your own (and feel free to leave a link in our comments so other DCPL readers can see what you have on your shelf!)

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Aug 8 2012

On the menu…

by Dea Anne M

I’ve always enjoyed reading what I suppose you could call culinary history. Books like The Food of a Younger Land, The Big Oyster: history on the half shell, and Something from the Oven: reinventing dinner in 1950s America are all favorites of mine. I think it’s fascinating to learn about the cooking, dining habits, and available ingredients of people in other times and places. Did you know that at one time the lower estuary of the Hudson River was home to over half of the world’s oyster supplies or that the first frozen dinner was a Thanksgiving type meal of turkey and dressing?

Of course, restaurant menus can provide an important window into the dining preferences of particular people and times. The New York Public Library boasts what sounds like  an impressive collection of menus with its strongest focus on those dating from between 1890 and 1910. Currently NYPL is inviting the public to participate in its What’s On the Menu? project. Participants transcribe menus dish by dish in order to create a wider base of data available to historians, researchers, novelists and anyone else who needs specific information from the menu collection. Right now, the collection’s only searchable information are details such as the name of particular restaurants, geographical location and the like. Imagine though that you are a novelist and you need to find out how much your character would have paid for a plate of oysters at a Cavanagh’s in 1918. Thanks to the Menu Project, you can have your character choose, with complete historical accuracy, either the Lynhavens for 35 cents or the Pan Roast for 45 cents. Maybe your character wants to treat his paramour to pheasant at Delmonico’s on March 11th in 1916. Sorry, it isn’t on the menu, but it will be on April 19th two years later.

The website for the Menu Project provides easy to follow instructions for transcription or review of the menus and their various dishes and you can do as much as you like. It looks interesting to me as well as fun and I’m thinking to give it a try. You can too by simply visiting the web site. No registration is required. In the meantime, I might pursue my menu interest by paging through these titles featuring recipes and stories from some of this country’s historic restaurants:

Manhattan’s 21 Club opened in 1922 as a speakeasy. Featured in many movies and books, 21 is maybe best known for the row of painted lawn jockeys that line the balcony above its entrance. You can read more about the restaurant in The 21 Cookbook: recipes and lore from New York’s fabled restaurant by Michael Lomonaco.

Delmonico in New Orleans opened in 1895 as an off-shoot of New York’s famed Delmonico’s. Purchased and refurbished by Emeril Lagasse, it reopened in 1997. Read all about it (and check out vintage back and white photographs) in Emeril’s Delmonico: a restaurant with a past  by Emeril Lagasse.

Closer to home, Mary Mac’s Tea Room holds a treasured spot in many Atlanta hearts. Opened in 1945, the restaurant serves classic favorites of southern cuisine. Find them all, along with stories of the restaurant’s history in Mary Mac’s Tea Room: 65 years of recipes from Atlanta’s favorite dining room by John Ferrell.

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May 2 2012

Do you have a secret?

by Dea Anne M

Rebecca Joines Schinsky of  The Book Lady’s Blog recently featured an amusing post (found via Atlanta Book Lover’s Blog) in which she reveals some of her own “dirty little reading secrets,” and asks readers to share theirs. Schinsky’s revelations and request certainly generated a lot of lively comment and the responses are a lot of fun to read. Quite a few of the respondents admit to never having liked Jane Eyre or the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. One of my favorite comments comes from someone who admits to often judging a book by its cover. As a former bookseller, I can certainly relate to that and I smile to remember a customer rejecting one of my suggestions with the words “I can’t let anyone see me reading that!” Her objection was either to the title or the cover and unfortunately I’ve forgotten the book altogether. Anyway, it was for me another great illustration that our choices in reading are often (maybe mostly) more emotional than rational. Here’s a short list of my own guilty reading secrets:

There was a period in college when I carried Finnegan’s Wake around with me at all times. I couldn’t make any sense of it but I sure wanted people to think of me as the sort of person who would choose to read (and understand!) such a work. “Oh no, it isn’t for a class. I just wanted to read it.” I’d rehearse saying… in answer to the question which never came.

I fell under the spell of J.D. Salinger for awhile (also in college) particularly his novel Franny and Zooey.  I find the title characters nearly unbearable now but at the time I thought their urbane and angst-ridden cleverness well worth imitating. I’m sure my circle of friends found my “witty”  posturing as baffling as it was irritating.

I read two pages of The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen then put it down never to pick it up again. Actually, I don’t really feel guilty about that…it just wasn’t a novel for me.

I really hated The Da Vinci Code. When I made the mistake of bringing up my thoughts at a party one night, I was roundly castigated as a “book snob” and schooled forthwith in all the ways my opinion was objectionable and wrong. I don’t care…I still hate that book.

A fun, related article is this one from The Awl in which writer Nadia Chaudhury asks various authors and publishing professionals about their embarrassing “first book crushes.” From Ayn Rand to Sweet Valley High, the usual suspects are here as well as some surprises. The work of Raymond Carver comes up for more than a few of the respondents and On the Road is a top choice for many of the men. My own cringe-inducing literary period would have to be that double-header year when I was obsessed not only with Robert Graves The White Goddess but also with the entire oeuvre of Anais Nin. Yikes!

What are your guilty little reading secrets? Do you have a first book crush that makes you cringe now?

P.S. Thanks to Robbin P. for steering me to this!

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Mar 7 2012

Concocting the Past

by Dea Anne M

Maybe it was inevitable, but our sometimes food-obsessed culture combined with a growing interest in genealogy might be leading to a new-found passion for recreating “lost” family recipes. That, anyway, is the contention of this recent WSJ article.

Mentioned in the article is Ruth Clark’s fun blog The Mid-Century Menu. Clark’s intent is to select what are admittedly bizarre recipes from circa 1950’s and 60’s cookbooks and test them out. The names alone of some of the recipes (Ham Banana Casserole and Jellied Stuffed Eggs are two) are enough to cause shivers while other dishes sound and look surprisingly tasty.  The images of Clark’s husband Tom tasting, and reacting, to these experiments are a special highlight.

Sometimes recipe recreation requires the equipment of years past. Also mentioned in the WSJ article,  Laura’s Last Ditch will help in the search for the tool of your dreams (or memories). From vintage ice-trays (what?) to donut cutters to manual cherry pitters Laura has what you’re looking for.

Do you have a beloved family recipe that you want to recreate? While contemplating the question, you might want to check out these offerings from DCPL. Any one of them might inspire you…or at least allow you to indulge in a little nostalgia.

Some best loved recipes come from community cookbooks. These are local collections of recipes, often bound with a plastic “tooth” spine, offered for sale by garden clubs, women’s clubs, and the like. I especially love these cookbooks when they feature stories about local families and individuals. Southern Foodways Alliance community cookbook by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge and America’s Best Loved Community Recipes from the Editors of Better Homes and Gardens magazine are two collections that provide great stories along with interesting recipes.

Many of us crave the tastes of our childhood and that childhood is often tied to a particular region or ethnic heritage. One of my favorite books that explores taste and memory is The Taste of Country Cooking. Written by the late great Edna Lewis, this book is a  beautifully written memoir that evokes Lewis’s childhood spent in Freetown, Virginia, a small piedmont farming community. Lewis, who has sometimes been called “the South’s answer to Julia Child,” provides a treasure chest of recipes, all tied to the seasons. I loved reading about the special menus her family prepared for such events as Wheat-Threshing Day and Emancipation Day. Highly recommended! Some other memoir/cookbooks that you might enjoy include Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood by Ken Hom, You’re Cookin’ It Country: my favorite recipes and memories by Loretta Lynn, and The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber.

Finally, if you want to take a real trip in the time machine, check out Square Meals: a cookbook by Jane and Michael Stern and Fashionable Food: seven decades of food fads by Sylvia Lovegren. Each chapter in the Sterns’ book features a theme like the World War II era (victory garden vegetable plate suppers and spam recipes among others) or the cooking of Suburbia (1950’s). The writing highlights the Sterns’ trademark witty and tongue-in-cheek style as well as their genuine love for Americana in all its kitschy glory. Lovegren’s book is more of a true culinary history spanning the decades from the 1920’s through the 1990’s and concerns itself with food fads more than it does with what actual people were regularly cooking at home and includes such new-to-me things as the Depression era toast supper and the marshmallow craze of the 20’s. Both of these books make fun reading, and you actually might come across a recipe that you want to try. By the way, pictured to the right is a molded gelatin salad which features what seems to be a mixture of peas, corn, and maybe carrots. That’s not my kind of thing, but who knows, maybe someone, in some kitchen somewhere, is recreating it right now as a beloved flavor from the past.

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Jan 30 2012

The Books They Gave Me

by Jesse M

For this week’s post I’m highlighting a blog called The Books They Gave Me. Begun in June of last year, The Books They Gave Me (hereafter referred to as TBTGM) is a blog “In which we reflect on books given [to] us by loved ones”. The format is minimalist; just an image of the book cover and a paragraph or two by the submitter reflecting upon the gift and the giver. Despite this many of the posts are deeply personal, moving tales of shared passion and human understanding, as exemplified in the gift of a perfect book.

TBTGM is driven by user submissions, so if you’d like to contribute, you can go here to view the submission guidelines. Alternately, feel free to share your story here in the comments.

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Eruption of the Cordon del Caulle. (© Ricardo Mohr)

Eruption of the Cordon del Caulle. (© Ricardo Mohr)

National Geographic is currently holding its annual photography contest, and so far over 12000 images have been submitted for consideration. The Atlantic’s news photography blog In Focus has posted an entry showcasing some of the amazing photos that have been submitted thus far. If you like those, you can browse all the other submissions here, or view weekly editors picks. You can also check out some of last year’s winners. And if you’d like to submit an entry yourself, you’ve still got time, the deadline is November 30th.

You may also check out issues of National Geographic at the Library. Currently, all branches carry the magazine except for Hairston Crossing and Salem Panola Libraries.

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