Saturday, December 20, 2014

We Drink With Characters: Special Guest Alex London on THE ADVIL CALENDAR 2014

One of the nice things about taking a more laissez-faire approach to the holidays this year is that we've spent our after-kid-bedtime hours at leisure, and not wrapping or baking or cleaning or shopping online. Although I'll admit to a bitty little studio6 fetish this year. Everybody's getting a t-shirt for Christmas even though we're not really doing presents.

Some of our leisure time has been spent watching TV. It's pretty weird how, in the past year or two or three, TV has become something that people are not ashamed about. But people are very particular. Everyone has their own preferred cocktail of drama and humor and hot people, and we quiz our friends to learn where any recommended show falls on that scatter plot. Arrow? Not funny enough, I'm told. Downton? Hardly anybody gets their shirt off. So let's do it...


Friday, December 19, 2014

Drinking by the book: Advil Calendar 2014 BLACK VODKA HELICOPTERS Edition with SPECIAL GUEST Blythe Woolston

This is my autograph book. Yes I know nobody has an autograph book anymore, but just call me Anne Shirley, and shut up. Or don't. Don't call me Anne Shirley. In fact, I'll kill anyone who calls me Anne Shirley. I've never even read Anne of Green Gables and I would never wear my hair like that.

But as atavistic as it is, it's mine, and I love it, and it is packed with stories. The first story being of course, "Why do you use a 1904 drinks manual as an autograph book?"

This little book was a gift from my friend Paula, who knows that How We Used to Drink is almost as interesting to me as When Am I Going to Get My Next Drink. She gave it to me as we were on our way to a book festival. I admired the book and thanked her for the thoughtful gift and slipped it in my blazer pocket, on its way to a place of honor on my shelf of bartending books.

Next evening, wearing the same jacket, I traveled to Washington D.C.'s Politics and Prose to see a bunch of picture book authors talk about their work. There was a signing line, but since this was a bookstore event, you were supposed to buy the books you wanted signed,'m kind of a brat and I'm cheap and besides I already owned copies of most of those books at home.

So I pulled "How to Mix Drinks" out of my pocket and asked the authors to sign that. It was fun! Children's book authors are cheeky:

"Drink more." Mac Barnett
"Drink often!" Laura Vaccaro Seeger
At the NCTE convention this year, Jory John (All My Friends Are Dead) added "Drink hard!"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Advil Calendar 2014 EXCITING GUEST WEEK Telekinetic Teenager Edition with David Lubar

Stalking out of Target today at 9:23 a.m., my bag full of oxycodone, sunscreen, MAD Magazine, and "concert attire," I realized what had so far been missing from my holiday.

Rage. Barely contained, dry-eyed, crackling, hair-on-end rage.

I mean, I had this year pretty much wired. I hadn't overcommitted to writing assignments, everyone had already been sick and gotten over it, and best of all, I had booked - and paid for - a trip to TROPICAL PARADISE for my family and my parents, hoping to escape the traditional drama and anxiety that is part and festively-wrapped fucking parcel of this season of gifts.

I don't mean to show off, but look:

This is the house we rented in Curacao. That couch is crying out for me, a cocktail, and a book.

No wonder my customary December slow burn was barely at a simmer. I was cool - I have been lazing through December devoid of the usual stress. Not anymore, baby. It's happened:


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

You're Invited to a Cocktail Party On the Pirate Ship Revenge: Advil Calendar Year IV EXCITING GUEST WEEK Day III: Caroline Carlson!

I love looking out the window this time of year. The pissing-down rain, the 100% cloud cover hovering just above the chimneys... it's 2:30 in the afternoon and already the streetlights are on. Some poor schlub just passed by on a bicycle. It's like Dickens out there.

#paradise #tattoo #shin. AKA OW.
No wonder the British were in such a sweat to run and go colonize Trinidad or collect beetles in Sri Lanka. I'm taking off for sunnier climes myself. Conned my whole family into swapping wrapping and baking for lounging and collecting shells this year.

The joy I feel at not having to rearrange the whole house to accommodate a dead tree cannot be expressed in mere words. You must imagine a physical explosion of elation that incorporates the entire A to Z of Dance punctuated by frozen moments of Broadway weeping. Clasped hands and all.

But until then, it's still streaming ashwater gray outside. We gotta get out of here. Let's make like Baronet Joseph Banks ("Father of Australia," breadfruit enthusiast) and get on a damn boat to anywhere else. Welcome to...


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Getting Lit in KidLit: ADVIL CALENDAR 2014 - Sydney Taylor Edition with Exciting Guest Laurel Snyder!

It's important to me, as a bloody bloody atheist, to honor holiday claptrap in all its varied flavors and denominations. Claptrap all around! I love claptrap! Livens up the place. If all of us were nonbelievers like me, life would be so dull! We'd have no SantaCon, no fabulous book-themed bat mitvahs. The market for candles would dwindle to those people who want their powder room to smell like cookies. Well. The market for candles would dwindle to those people who put a toilet in a closet and then call it a "powder room."

And my drive home from work would become a whole lot less jaw-dropping. Never change, Parkville.

In the past, Your Neighborhood Librarian has celebrated the Festival of Lights (which started yesterday) with as many Hanukkah-themed schnepsels as I could find. There aren't many.

Laurel Snyder, author of imaginative, heartfelt middle grade novels and more picture books than you were quite aware of, tried to help me with that Hanukkah post but eventually threw up her hands and suggested we just pass around a bottle of Scotch. So this year I asked her an easier question, "Which character of YOURS would you want to drink with?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Return to Litte Tavern on the Prairie: The Advil Calendar 2014 WEEK TWO - Week of EXCITING GUESTS! Day One: Adam Rex

Hi there. It's Monday! We're halfway through December and true to rum-soaked form, Your Neighborhood Librarian finally has her crap together enough to start posting the Advil Calendar with some regularity. You're going to want to tune in to this, because I have a whole week of Exciting Guests to help us get squishy for the holidays. Exciting Guests!

What kind of Exciting Guests could Your Neighborhood Librarian possibly drum up? Will we hear from celebrity chefs turned novelists? Rock stars turned novelists? NASA techs turned novelists?

NO. EVEN BETTER: find a barstool and buckle up, because ain't nobody drink like an author of books for children drinks. I have authors of YA sci-fi, picture books, time travel adventure (time travel is SO HOT right now take my word for it), pirate adventure, and whatever you'd call that dizzying unquantifiable marvelousness that Blythe Woolston writes. That's right. Its...


Sunday, December 07, 2014

Oh what did Della wear, boy? Advil Calendar Year IV -- The bitter and the sweet

I can't find my orange comb. Where is my orange comb? Such a ridiculous thing to find yourself asking. Ou et la plume de ma tante? Donde esta mi peine naranjo?

It's been missing off and on all year - I'll find it and be like, "God dammit, HERE's my orange comb!" In the toiletry bag I use for travel, in my summer pocketbook, laying mysteriously on my dresser. But this has stopped, and I feel like I might have left it somewhere...far away. Like Belgium. Or my niece's boyfriend's bathroom. Chris, did I leave my orange comb at your house?


I own three combs, but my orange comb is the best. I have long straight hair that will tangle like the Devil's pubies unless I comb it right out of the shower. So - you know how it is - something that you use every day, your specifications for it are ridiculous. It must have wide teeth that are slightly rounded on the end. It must be easy to grip. I used to have a fake-aluminum comb that my sister-in-law gave me that was perfect. It said "CONAIR" on it but it had nothing to do with Nicolas Cage. I think it came with a hair dryer. When it broke I had to totally go on a search for an appropriate replacement. Don't you kind of hate yourself in those moments? How spoiled am I that I look at 47 combs on the Ricky's website and purse my lips and say, "No."

Monday, June 02, 2014

Your Neighborhood Librarian Does New York


The number of posts I've started with "Oy." It's many. I usually go back and delete it, but not this time I don't think.

We've just returned home from New York City. I love New York. I love New York like a really great tree or a crazy friend I don't see that often, or, or - like a city I used to live in. I know it but I don't know it. I like going back to places I know to see what they've cooked up lately, or if they haven't changed. I am sad that the Spanish place behind the bus station got closed by the health department. I am sad about that for two reasons, come to think of it. I am happy that you can now get pork donburi less than ten blocks from the Javits Center.

I love that the harp is still lit at the Tap Room.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Your Neighborhood Librarian Makes a List

A long time ago, a woman who had just moved back to Spain from Argentina told me a funny story about getting things done. (Was it Venezuela? One or the other.) We were talking about regional differences in spoken Spanish and she said she once found herself describing her day to a neighbor: "First we'll get the car, then we'll get the laundry and the groceries, and then swing by the school and get the children."

Only - the casual verb form of "get" that she was using to mean "pick up" was actually a profanity in Argentina. So what the aghast neighbor heard was, "First we'll fuck the car, then we'll fuck the laundry and the groceries, and then swing by the school and fuck the children."

And oh, doesn't everybody feel like that sometimes?

Friday, March 07, 2014

I'll look to like - One thing that I like about book covers this weekend

A lot of people who work with books take book covers kind of personally. It goes like this:

One part "I love you I want you to look beautiful and cool"
One part "Don't make me look at your lame design"
5 parts "How do you expect me to sell this book when it looks like that?!"

Shake over ice, strain into a pitcher. Guzzle.

Leading to a profound sense of personal betrayal when one of your favorite authors ends up between the covers of something that looks like this:

Eeeuuurrgh. That poor man. He's Canadian, maybe that's why his publisher thinks that a murky 90's constructivist/disco album cover is the way to go. That thing looks like (the Human League) + (Stalin - mustache) x (abandoned on a roof).

The book cover trend I've had my eye on recently is graphic illustration - I mean graphic like simple shapes, not graphic like a knife through an eyeball. Like this:

Friday, January 10, 2014

6 Things That Piss Me Off About Book Covers This Evening

If you are not a person who arranges books for display more than about an hour every week, you may not have noticed these irritating recent trends. Aren't you fortunate that I am here to point them out and complain about them? Avast!

1). NO MAS. The handwritten title. NO! MAS!

THESE. With their klutzy lower-case cursive r's and their anemic a's and l's. And they all look alike. Don't you think it is weak design to just scrawl the title across the front of the book? It is weaker still to use that tilty skinny faux-handwritten title typeface - maybe you know the one? I call it Oliver Jeffers Handwriting Corrupted by Barry Sonnenfeld Credits Display Face.

This is the typeface I mean. Oh look, the title forms a star.
There wasn't ANY other way to have done that?