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Movie Time

For today, I wanted to do something a little bit different. Now that the semester is over, I have time to pursue some of my other interests, and if you've looked at my profile, you know that one of the things I've been trying to do for the last few years is watch through Empire Magazine's 500 Greatest Films. So here's my own take on the handful of films I've watched since the semester finished.

312. Suspiria 1977

            Terrible. Truly. The music that accompanied this film gave both me and my roommate a headache within the first five minutes. I think if it hadn't been for the terrible sound-editing, it may have been an okay movie. However, even the special effect sounds were obnoxious. I literally wanted to sit in absolute silence after this movie was over so my ears could recover.

142. Almost Famous 2000

            I had no idea how many well-known actors were in this! Also it starts with the Chipmunk's Christmas song and a discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird, so we're off to a good start. This movie was so good! It was a movie about music, but unlike some other movies about music, it didn't make you feel like a failure for liking "mainstream" music. It was about the ups and downs of being in a band and starting to get famous. I think it's probably still really applicable to bands today even though it is set in the 1970s.

157. True Romance 1993

            I'm tempted to like it right away because Quentin Tarantino wrote it, and I love Tarantino. But he didn't direct it, so we'll see. Oh gosh, remember when Christian Slater was like the hottest actor? So I'm a huge feminist, and when I first heard of the Bechdel test, I was like, this is too easy. Every movie must pass this. For those of you who don't know, the Bechdel test is used to guage representation of women in media. It consists of three parts. 1. There have to be at least two women in the movie. 2. They both have to have names. 3. They have to talk to each other about something other than men. True Romance fails the Bechdel test. In fact, the only female character gets "rescued" from being a call girl. Then gets beaten up later (when she's half-naked for really no reason). I did quite like the ending though, so overall, I'd give it a shot, if you want.

98. North by Northwest 1959

            Not as good as Rear Window. It has a pretty slow start, but the climax is exciting. Over all, I thought it was going to be more adventurous.

410. A Hard Day's Night 1964

            I was mildly ambivalent about The Beatles (themselves not their music), but after watching A Hard Day's Night, I'll consider myself a fan. I spent half the movie laughing my bum off. They're hilarious. And their music added a nice background to the film. I would say that the screaming fans got sort of annoying, but then I started to wonder if they hired actors or actually just told fans where they were filming.

So there we go! 5 films in 6 days. Not too shabby. What about you? How many of the 500 "greatest" films have you watched? What do you think should be on there that isn't?

All the Best - Hayley

 

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Free Time

This week was blissfully uneventful. Mostly, I stuck to my routine. I had class (for the last time this year), volunteered in the library at the Boston Arts Academy, and finished my internship. Things happened that were outside of my routine too. I interviewed for jobs and internships for the new year, which was both stressful and exciting. (I won't tell you which ones, because I don't want to jinx it.) I also went to a holiday party at my friend Meaghan's apartment and went to the movies and out for dinner with my roommate to celebrate the end of the school year.

On a more productive note, with all my newfound free time, I ran dozens of errands I've been procrastinating, so my eyebrows now don't resemble Frida Kahlo's and my wardrobe is newly expanded with clothes I finally got dry-cleaned. On top of that, I checked out a lot of books from Beatley Library (Simmons College Library) to read over the break. Currently, I'm in the middle of The Night Circus, a fantasy novel by Erin Morgenstern. I love a plot involving competition and rivalry! It's really exciting.

On Wednesday I leave to visit my family in Miami, Florida. I haven't been home for the holidays in six years, so I'm happy to have the opportunity to go. I'm going to be staying in my family's house for two whole weeks. That seems like a long time, so I'm a little nervous. I'll let you know how it goes. It's around 70 degrees there right now, and my dad keeps talking about how cold it is, which makes me laugh, because it's literally freezing right now in Boston.

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It's Pumpkin Time!

A long time ago, in a state not too far away, my elementary school arranged a special surprise for its fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes. It was October 2001, and to lift the spirits of the students still reeling from 9/11, the school board somehow managed to secure one pumpkin for each student (this was not a particularly large elementary school) and brought in someone to teach us how to 'carve' Jack O'Lanterns. Over the course of three days, each class was given an hour, a small pumpkin, and some paint while a master pumpkin carver showed everyone how to carve a spooktacular Jack O'Lantern. Pictures were taken, jokes were made, and a pumpkin contest was held to decide which student painted the best pumpkin. Although the annual Christmas Classroom Door contest was usually regarded as the best school-wide event, that year, nothing could compare to my elementary school's pumpkin fest.

And I missed the whole thing.
Indeed, that year, my normally decent immune system betrayed me and on the day that my fifth grade class was scheduled to have their session with the pumpkin carver, I was home sick in bed. I never did get to paint a pumpkin, or even see what carving a pumpkin looks like. I never got pumpkin guts thrown at me (apparently that happened as well) or got to feel and see what the inside of a pumpkin looks like once it has been hollowed out. 
But last night, more then twelve years after missing out on what was called by my fifth grade teacher "the best wasted hour in academic history", my inner ten-year-old was granted a second chance. A while back, two of my three other roommates mentioned that they were thinking about buying pumpkins and wanted to know if I wanted one as well. When I asked what they were going to do with them, they smiled and said "Carve them of course!" I said yes without fully realizing what that exactly would entail.
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For those out there who, like me, know next to nothing about pumpkin carving, there is a process you have to follow. First, you have to clean the pumpkin, remove all and any dirt. Next, you have to remove the top of the pumpkin, but that needs to be done carefully. After all, a pumpkin would look silly if it was missing its top. Next comes the "fun" part, scooping out all the pulp and seeds as well as hollowing out the side that you will be carving. It was messy, time consuming, and 100% worth the effort. Once your pumpkin has been emptied and hollowed, you have to outline your design. This is something that should be selected in advance because as it turns out, making up a design on the fly is somewhat tricky. Once your pumpkin is marked up in pen, then the carving can finally begin! For the next hour and a half I slowly carved a face into my pumpkin, taking my time to make sure I didn't make any costly mistakes. Though toothpicks were on hand to offer any emergency support if needed, my design was thankfully not something that I could easily mess up. 
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Finally, almost three hours after we started, we placed our pumpkins out on the back porch, placed tea-lights inside and stepped back to admire our hard work. For a first timer, I was actually rather impressed that I hadn't managed to somehow split the entire thing into two. My pumpkin actually looked respectable, especially when placed next to the other two. For those wondering, my pumpkin is the one in middle!
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"So was it worth the wait?"
Absolutely! 

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Literary Librarians

It's August and summer classes have finally ended, which means I have another two weeks of relative freedom before fall classes start in September.  I've been spending a lot of time catching up on television (I know people told me Orphan Black was good, but it is so good, you guys) and the lengthy list of books I've wanted to read.  People who choose to study the library sciences do tend to be big readers, and the size of my To Read pile definitely means I'm no exception. 

Because I'm graduating in less than six months (!!!), most of my focus is on job hunting and my future career, and I've been spending my time reading about fictional librarians and their work for inspiration.  The problem with fictional librarians is that a lot of the time they seem to be the stereotypical shhhing librarians who hate fun - even the librarian action figure has sensible shoes and "amazing shushing action."  Luckily, there are a load of awesome literary librarians to help balance the picture of the profession.  My top three are all from SF/fantasy:

  • Issac Vainio, from Jim C. Hines' Libriomancer and Codex Born.  I just love the idea of a librarian who can pull objects from the pages of books, even if his life is ridiculously complicated. 
  • Lucien from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics.  Lucien's library contains every book that ever has, or might, exist.  Enough said.
  • The Librarian from Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. Besides being turned into an orangutan, the Librarian (real name unknown) can also move through L-space.

 A note to the universe: I will happily accept any superpower that comes with my degree, although I would prefer invisibility or flight. 

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Fenway Flag Ceremony

fenway02.jpgI am not a sports person, as I've mentioned, but I always seem to become friendly with massive sports fans who try to cure my sports apathy with huge infusions of exciting sports... stuff.  Well, exciting for them.  Mostly incomprehensible to me.   I spend a lot of time struggling to look like I care, if you know what I mean.  One of my friends is a huge - and I mean huge - Red Sox fan.  As a way to try to inspire a similar love for the team in my cold, dead heart, she invited me to go to Fenway to help with the giant flag that unfurls from the top of the Green Monster before the game.  (Here's an image of the flag (not from that day), for other non-Fenway go-ers.  We're the people who are actually behind it, who you can only see from the knees down.)

Basically, we got to Fenway about two hours before the game started, before the gates were open to ticket holders, and got to walk around the nearly empty ballpark, which was pretty cool, even for a baseball-hating heretic like myself.  Then, as we waited for the the flag to get ready to unfurl, we got to walk on the field while the players were warming up, which is probably a much bigger deal to Red Sox/Fenway fans. 

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The flag only took a few minutes to unfurl, and we grabbed the edge and held it down so it didn't flap around.  Behind the flag the world was red and white and blue, and all you could see were the other people behind it with you.  It only hung down on the field for a few minutes, and then we and military people stationed in front of it (who the flag unfurling was really about) gathered the flag up and marched it off the field.  That was all we had to do - we got free admission to the game from that point on.  No seats, but Fenway has a bunch of standing room sections, and they offer a great view.  (I guess.  A view of baseball people doing baseball things.) 

I have to admit that I really enjoyed the flag ceremony part and being part of it all, but I'm still not a baseball fan.  With this conversion ploy was a failure, I'm a little worried about what the next attempt will be.

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Five Reasons Why it Needs to be Spring

Although spring technically started about ten days ago, it sure does not feel like it. In fact, while I was out running errands today, I realized that the rain turned into hail. Now I am an total fan of winter but even I know when enough is enough. Unless this seemingly endless winter is a curse accidentally placed on us by Queen Elsa from Frozen, starting tomorrow, it better start feeling like spring. Now, I know its been a while since it has even come close to feeling like spring so I've composed a list of five reasons why its time to open up the windows and enjoy the fresh spring air.

1. Warmer weather. Think how wonderful it will be when we no longer need to go outside bundled up in winter wear? Rather than having to wear extra socks on my feet, I cannot wait to bust out my t-shirts and flip flops.

2. The rebirth of nature. One thing that I absolutely love about spring is how everything seemingly comes alive again. Flowers bloom, trees sprout leaves, and butterflies are everywhere. Yea there are those pesky bees flying around but who cares? The world is full of color and life and that is more than enough reason to put up with bees.

3. School's out. Ok, this is technically not totally true, but at least those of us taking summer school get a bit of a break. And with our newly acquired freedom, we are finally given a chance to get outside and do fun things, like urban exploring or simply chilling out in the Common.

4. BBQ!!!!! Simply put, there is nothing more fun than being outside grilling with your pals on a warm spring night. Also, BBQ'd corn is a personal favorite of mine. Yum

And the most important reason why is needs to be spring is....


5. More time for reading. Yes, that's right, with spring comes ample time to catch up on all that leisure reading I've been setting aside. Being the bibliophile that I am, I take pleasure reading very seriously. And right now, all I want to do is find a nice shady spot under a tree in the park and read to my heart's content.

Winter, you are a wonderful season but seriously, its time to go.

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Let it Go!

frozen_elsa_by_meddek-d6w674h.pngSo, I'm going to come clean. I watched Frozen for the first time this weekend. I don't want to say it changed my life, but I'm definitely in some sort of magical place. I was thinking about the last time I was in this euphoric state and I remembered it exactly. It was when I finished the book The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. No, I'm not a sadist. I don't enjoy suffering and death. It was just such a wonderfully romantic story. It filled me with hope and I think pushed me to further understand the human condition.

I tell you all this because I think libraries are in a unique position insofar as they are the dispensaries of these emotionally transformative materials. Amazon is not the only peddler of these fine products. We too share these artistic treasures, and what's more, we put a human face behind it all. We have the opportunity to share our opinions about these books and films with patrons in a number of forums: blogs, reference interviews, readers advisory, programming events, displays, tweets, tumblr, facebook posts, shelfari, goodreads. In this information age, the librarian has a number of ways to reach patrons.

So, this is my wisdom for the week: Spread the word and find more ways to do just that. Watch a great film (COUGH - Frozen) or read a gripping book (COUGH - anything by John Green) and find an enticing way to share that item with a patron. We do an excessive amount of critical analysis and technical tasks in our line of work, and that's incredibly important. It's what separates us from the beasts (i.e. computers). However, I relish the sharing that our profession also demands from us. We need to share our passions with others. We need to be passionate. So go forth and be pumped about your latest love affair with a book. The people who use libraries will be thrilled that you are.

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Baking a little bit of springtime

Normally, I am a very big fan of winter. Snow, ice, the cold; I love it all. Or I used to. Although I am no stranger to New England winters, this year, the winter seems longer, colder, and snowier than ever before. And normally, I wouldn't be complaining. However, it seems my love for winter has waned over the course of these past few months. I guess the same would happen to anyone after experiencing temperatures in the single digits for almost two straight weeks and a seemingly never-ending bombardment of snow storms. Indeed, I am so done with winter that I am actually keeping track of how many more days are left until spring (fifteen days to go!).

Although it seems like it is forever and half away, soon (hopefully) all the snow will be gone, the flowers will bloom, and most importantly, it will be WARM. And to help get myself amped up for the upcoming warm weather, I decided to bake a springtime dessert this past weekend, just a little something to help remind myself that soon, the warm spring sun will be shining down on me. And I have to say, when I pulled my gooey lemon blondies out from the oven, I did indeed feel like a little bit of springtime had crept into my kitchen. And of course they tasted like absolute sunshine as well (minus the burning sensation that would happen if we all actually tried to take a chomp out of the sun). Everything about these simple, citrus treats just screams springtime.  And when I say simple, I mean SIMPLE. There is a total of six ingredients in this recipe, eight if you include the two ingredients needed to make the glaze. That glaze by the way, is amazing! The flavor is just the right amount of sweet and tart. However, the blondies without the glaze are still simply divine. Either way, one bite of these sunny little beauties and you will feel like springtime has finally come at last!

Gooey Lemon Blondies

Recipe from the-baker-chick.com

Ingredients

¾ cup flour

¾ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 stick butter, soft

1 egg and 1 yolk

juice and zest from ½ lemon

Glaze

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

additional lemon zest for sprinkling

Instructions

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and pale. Add the egg, yolk, juice and zest and mix until well combined.

Sprinkle the flour and salt over the wet ingredients and mix on low until well combined - (do not over mix)

Pour batter into a greased 8x8* baking pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes, or until the edges are just golden and the center of the pan is set. Cool bars before glazing.

For the glaze:

Stir the powdered sugar together with the lemon juice (1 tablespoon to start, adding more if needed) until a smooth consistency is reached.

Spread glaze over the bars and top with lemon zest. Makes about 16 bars

*I used a pan slightly larger than an 8x8 so I just made a second round of batter and poured it on top of the original because I was worried it wouldn't be thick enough. You don't need to do this if the batter looks thick enough to you*

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2014 Olympics Fun Facts

It may be a stereotype, but in my experience it has been true, that librarians (and archivists) love their trivia. In anticipation of the Olympics starting this weekend I decided to find some Olympics fun facts for all your trivia needs. The student lounge on campus is a place where lots of great trivia tidbits are exchanged and I hope to put some of these to use in the next couple of weeks. Looking forward to having lots of olympic action on in the background while I catch up on homework and try to keep warm in the bitter cold.

So, because its 2014, I think its only appropriate to provide you with 14 fun facts about the Olympics, past and present, to use to impress your friends and family.

1. The Olympic flame in Olympia, Greece is rekindled every two years using the sun's rays and a concave reflective mirror.

2. With a total of 303, Norway leads with the most medals from the winter games through 2010. The U.S. is second with 253.

3. Curling, figuring skating, speed skating (including short track speed skating), and ice hockey are the only indoor sports in the Winter Olympics.

4. Twelve new events are making their premier this year: men's and women's competitions in ski halfpipe, ski slopestyle, snowboard slopestyle, and snowboard parallel slalom, along with women's ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, team figure skating, and luge team relay.

5. First place winners in the 1900 Paris Olympics received paintings instead of gold medals because they were considered to be more valuable.

6. The 1936 games in Berlin marked the first time the Olympics were televised.

7. The "Olympic Truce" required that wars and disputes within the Hellenic world be suspended for the duration of the Games.

8. The first Torch Relay started in Athens and went through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria and Czechoslovakia before finishing in Berlin for the 1936 Games.

9. The 1944 Games were cancelled due to WWII. London hosted the first post-war games of 1948.

10. The first official Paralympic Games took place in 1960 in Rome and hosted 400 athletes from 23 countries.

11. Equestrianism is the only Olympic sport in which men and women compete against each other on equal terms.

12. During the Closing ceremony, three flags are raised; the Greek flag to honor the Games' birthplace, that of the current host country, and that of the country hosting the next Games.

13. The 2014 Winter Olympics will be the second games held in Russia, but only the first attended by the U.S. The 1980 games hosted by the Soviet Union in Moscow were boycotted by Team USA in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

14. The "Krasnaya Polyana" (Mountain Cluster) overlooking Sochi will play host to the Olympics outdoor events like skiing and snowboarding. These mountains are credited with being the place where Zeus shackled Prometheus as punishment for stealing fire from the gods to give to humankind. Many Greek mythologists also believe Sochi is where Odysseus encountered the cyclops.

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The Super Bowl from the Perspective of a Non-football Fan

I'm not going to beat around the bush, I am not really big on this whole football thing. Don't ask me why, because I can assure you that at age 22 ½, I'm still trying to figure it out. My three other roommates, on the other hand, are about as nuts about football as cats are to cat nip. Every Sunday evening, they can found in our common space with a game on (because there is always a game on, somewhere), surrounded by chips, dip, and beer. Like the fans in the stadiums, they hoot, they holler, they make snide remarks about the opposing team. Even from the perspective of someone who would much rather listen to silence than hear a baseball game broadcasted over the radio, my roommates somehow always managed to make whatever they are watching seem like they are watching the greatest show on earth. And so, after months and months of listening to their weekend hoopla, I found myself Sunday night, over at a mutual friend's apartment watching the Big Game. So what did I think?

Well, for one thing, whenever there is something that is being projected onto a massive projection screen, you are inevitably going to get invested into whatever you are watching. My foolish hope of maybe getting some GSLIS homework done while watching the game was discarded within the first five minutes, especially after the Seahawks scored that early touchdown. As for the rest of the game, I'm not going to lie, I really got into it. I blame this partially on all the hype that surrounded the Denver Broncos and Peytone Manning. All I had been hearing throughout the football season was how amazing the Broncos offense was and that the game was probably going to lean towards the Broncos favor. As for Manning, I've only ever heard his name in passing, and never really knew much about the football star until recently. Going into Sunday, I was being told left and right that this time, Manning was going to be walking away with the trophy that had eluded him in the past. None of my friends at the time mentioned anything about one team dominating the other; in their opinion it was going to be a close game no matter what. Is it strange that I'm happy that all of my friends' predictions were wrong? I've watched a few football games before and personally, I found the Seahawks' almost shut out to be the most exciting and interesting game that I've ever watched. The same could be said if things had been the other way around.

I'm not sure why, but I found it to be exhilarating, watching and waiting to see how many touchdowns and field goals the Seahawks could accumulate before the end of the final quarter. When the Broncos finally did score a touchdown, I had high hopes that it was a sign that the tables had been turned, that in the last half of the game, it would just be the Broncos scoring consistently. When that didn't happen, I could tell from the people around me that none of them had anticipated such a game. Even before the clock had counted down in the last quarter, most of my friends had re-focused their attention elsewhere, the game all but forgotten. Most later explained that they knew the Seahawks would win at least an hour ago and didn't really see the point in watching what they already knew was going to happen. As one of them pointed out, this was a great game for newbies to watch, though he warned me that most games never play out like this. I'm not sure if this year's Super Bowl has finally gotten me to drink the metaphorical Kool-aid or not, but I do know that maybe next season, I'll make more of an effort to actually sit down and watch a game from start to finish. Who knows, maybe by this time next year, I'll be that person wearing my favorite team jersey and shouting ridiculous things at the TV? That would certainly be something to see.

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Academic Peace at Last: Finding that Place to Study

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For those of you who might not know, I am a commuter student. While I did have the option of living on Simmons campus, I opted to rent an apartment right outside of Boston in the Brookline/Brighton area. I've included the slash since my apartment is located in a place that if I take two steps to the left I'll be in Brookline. Now don't get me wrong, I deeply love living in an apartment; it allows me to feel like I'm one step closer to entering the world of being a working professional without actually entering the professional working world. However, as much as I love living a few T-stops away from the hip and happening place that is Coolidge Corner, there are quite a few luxuries of living on a college campus that I truly miss. While I could create another list featuring the five things I miss the most about a college campus, I will save that for another time. Rather, I think I am going to talk about the one thing that I really miss, something that without, I doubt that I would be enrolled in Simmons today. And that, my friends, is the perfect study space.

Contrary to popular belief, the perfect study space does not have to be the quite floor of your academic library or the confines of your dorm/campus owned apartment. For some of my friends back in Worcester, their preferred studying space was this social and academic space located right beneath our school's library. For others, they enjoyed going down to a local café, getting a hot cup of cocoa and buckling down with books and papers for hours on end.  As for myself, I was the type of student who enjoyed finding a nook in the library that was equal parts quite and social. For the last two years of college, I could be found in my little nook for at least a minimum of six hours a day on a given weekend. Back then however, campus wasn't a thirty-minute commute. I just needed to walk five minutes and BAM! I was in study central.  While last semester I would make the occasional trip to Beatley to get some work done, I spent most of my studying time in my room; not my preferred space, but it would have to do.

However, this semester, the study gods seem to have heard my prayers because I have hit the jackpot in regards to study places. Located right within Coolidge Corner is the newly opened Knight Moves, a board game café that features the type of chill atmosphere that anyone looking for a good balance of the quite but social would love. Although just recently opened, Knight Moves is slowly making a name for itself in Coolidge Corner as a place where one can go for a relaxed atmosphere peppered with touches of steam-punk and either get into that study grove or spend time playing one of the 300 hundred plus games that owner Devon has on hand. 

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As someone who has been craving such a space for the last four months, to me, this is truly a godsend. This past Sunday I camped out at a small table with a delicious mocha with my homework for over four hours. Every now and then, Devon would come over and chat with me, telling me more about the business and his goal to provide Coolidge Corner with a place where people can either come to have a cup of coffee and a pastry and hang out casually, or, for $10, come and either play a new board game, or pick up an old favorite for as long as they like. Although the place was buzzing with board game enthusiasts, I found myself in academic zen mode, reading my Reference and Information Service textbook and watching online videos for my Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488). I not only felt relaxed, but welcomed as well; two things that I'm sure everyone wants when it comes to finding that ideal study space.

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If you live in the Brighton or Brookline area and want to experience a café that would fit perfectly in any college town, then you need to come down to Knight Moves this instant. And if you don't live nearby, this is still a fun place to visit during the weekends. Bring your friends, bring your homework, you can even bring your own alcohol; you won't be disappointed. 

Knight Moves is located at 1402 Beacon St. Brookline, MA.

http://knightmovesboston.wordpress.com/

 

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Best of the Best: My Favorites of the 100 Books I Read Last Year

I hope everyone has had a nice relaxing holiday season full of fun, food, and family. I for one enjoyed the break from classes but did not have much opportunity to slow down otherwise. As my last post suggested, 2013 was an incredibly busy year for me and 2014 promises much of the same. Of everything I accomplished in the last year, reading 100 books is one of the things I'm most proud of- even if it did take me a few days into the new year to complete.

I read some awesome books this year so I thought now would be a great time to offer my suggestions. I had originally intended to summarize my top five favorite books, but then I went through my list and I had not five, but twenty books I absolutely had to share! Clearly that's too many to summarize in a short blog post. That said, before I give my list of favorites I think it's worth noting the range of genres represented on this list. Trying to read 100 books in a year not only stretched me to read more but it also pushed me to try genres I never thought I'd be interested in.

The truth is truly stranger than fiction, something I learned again and again as I made my way through true tales of life in Savannah, Georgia (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), Prison (Orange is the New Black), and working as the food critic for the New York Times (Garlic and Sapphires). I read several graphic novels and came to better understand the style and its ability to convey complex ideas and emotions differently than novels. Mystery has never been a genre I know much about but working in a public library where mysteries are among the most popular books made me realize how much fun they are. So here you are, roughly in the order they were read, my list of the top twenty books I've read in the last year. Got any great suggestions to add? I'd love to hear them! I may not be able to keep up with my list, but in the last year, I feel like I've made a lot of progress.

  1. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  2. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  3. At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
  4. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  5. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  6. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
  7. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman
  8. The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten
  9. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  10. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling
  11. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
  12. Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
  13.  Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman
  14.  Snobs by Julian Fellowes
  15.  Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
  16.  Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg
  17.  Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
  18.  The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen
  19.  The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
  20.  Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

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Kicking it Old School

Well, it's official: my first semester in GSLIS is now over! All fanfare aside, I'll admit, it does feel somewhat strange to not have any classes to attend or homework to do. I mean, after about fourteen weeks of classes, readings, and other assignments, one does kind of get used to pulling all-nighters while fighting deadlines posted on Moodle. However, now that I have had a week to relax and simply longue around the city of Boston, I've decided that it is high time that I find something else to do other than re-watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After some careful thinking, I've decided to go back into my childhood and re-read a series that, like all the other people who were kids during the 1990s, made me constantly stare out my window awaiting the arrival of an owl to change my life forever. That's right, I am going to spend my free time this winter break re-reading the Harry Potter series.

As I write this post now, I'm currently halfway through the second book, The Chamber of Secrets, a book I haven't read since the early 2000s. So, after all of these years, how has the series held up thus far? Surprisingly, really, really well. The characters are more than just archetypes (yes, even Harry himself), they are written in a way that makes them feel like I'm revisiting some long lost friends. Another thing that really showcases the strength of the series is the shockingly large amount of foreshadowing that has so far been prevalent throughout the first two books. While I cannot prove that JK Rowling had a clear idea of where the story was going at the time she as writing it, there have been quite a few allusions to plot points and characters that will be important later in the series. Fortunately I'm not the only one who has noticed the bounty of foreshadowing in the series. Two friends of mine back in Long Island have decided to join me on my trip down memory lane, and have been sending me messages about things they've noticed that will be referenced again in the future. I think personally, my favorite part out of everything that I've noticed thus far, is the fact that JK dedicated a few moments in the first two books in which Harry feels like Professor Snape is trying to read his mind. Hmmm, I wonder if this will be an important plot point in a later book? I love stuff like this, and cannot wait to see if there will be more in the later books. Speaking of which, I really cannot wait to read the last three books. 

While I've read the first four books multiple times, books five, six, and seven, came out at a time when reading it as fast as possible was absolutely necessary for the sake of avoiding spoilers. Yea, I have not-so-fond memories of being at summer camp and annoying people were running around spoiling the endings of books five and six. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about trying to read a three hundred plus page book over the course a typical weekend this time around. Talk about a relief.

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Daily Musings: Twelve Years a Slave

As a big fan of historical dramas, be it a novel, a play or a film, when I first heard about the film 12 Years a Slave, I knew it would be a film worth seeing. Well, I just got out of the theater and I have to say, I made the right choice. Set during the mid 1800s, the film depicts the experiences of a kidnapped free black man, Solomon Northup, and his struggle to both survive and return to his family. Based off the book with the same name, the story perfectly captures the attitudes that were prevalent towards slavery during this point in American history.

I won't give away any details other than the fact that director, Steve McQueen, did an excellent job with casting for the film.  Actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Paul Dano, Michael Fassbender, and Benedict Cumberbatch are all outstanding in their respective roles. You feel differently for each of the characters that these actors represent, emotions ranging from pure sympathy to absolute disgust. I haven't had the chance to read the source material, so I cannot really compare the two entities together, although I can only imagine that the film did its best to remain faithful to the book. I will confess, that the fledgling archivist in me is a bit curious to know the other sources that they used when creating the film. Call this nerdy wishful thinking, but when they release the film on DVD or BluRay, I hope there is a making of documentary that discuses this process.  I think it would just be so cool to hear how they were able to recreate the lives of both Solomon and the people he interacted with over the course of his time as a slave.

As you can already imagine, I'm clearly going to tell you to see this movie. I will warn you now, there are a few graphic scenes of violence throughout the course of the film. For those of you who don't like scenes of torture, then this might not be the best film to see on the big screen. Yes they are relatively brief, but the emotions you feel as they occur will stay with you long after the scene has ended. Beyond that, this is still a fantastic film and definitely worth seeing if you are a fan of historical dramas.

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Baking Fun!

pumpkin.jpg

If you haven't noticed, we are already more than halfway through pumpkin month! It is kind of hard to believe that October is nearly over, meaning that I've already been a student at Simmons for two months. Time certainly flies when one is busy at work with their studies. But between learning about MARC, RDA, AACR2, and how to create a finding aid, one needs a little time to unwind. Well, considering that I love to bake and it is almost Halloween, I decided to take some time off between writing papers and MARC to try my hand at something new.

Whoopie pies are something that I have known about for a long time but have never had an opportunity to make. Well, this past week I decided to take a break and try something new. Well, the whoopies pies I ended up baking turned out to be not only phenomenal but super easy to make. So the next time you feel like taking a study break, give this recipe a try. The results are super worth it!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Recipe adapted from a recipe by The Baker Chick 

Ingredients for the cookies

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • For the Filling
    • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
    • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

In another bowl, whisk sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and combine thoroughly Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly mix both mixtures until just combined.

With a small ice cream scoop, form a tablespoon of dough and place on baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and an inserted tooth pick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool and repeat with remaining dough

For the Filling With an electric mixture, beat the butter and cream cheese in a bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla and beat until smooth. If you want to a firmer filling, add more powdered sugar.

To assemble, either pipe or use a knife to spread the filling on the flat side of one of the cookies before topping it with another cookie. Press down slightly so the filling spread. Repeat until all cookies are completed. Refrigerate for about a half an hour before serving.

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Winter is Coming

I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones on June 22 as an escape from the afternoon heat in Washington, DC. Fast-forward 24 hours, and I had watched five more. The only thing stopping me from completing the entire ten-episode season by dinnertime on June 23 was my flight back to Boston. I hurried home from the airport and immediately went to my library's webpage to request Seasons One and Two on DVD. When I saw that there were 100-something holds on 90-something copies of each season (my library is part of a network of libraries in the greater Boston area, hence the large numbers), I added myself to both hold lists and vowed to start reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, the book series upon which the Game of Thrones television show is based.

It didn't take long to become so immersed in the books that I forgot about the queue for the DVDs. The novels initially intimidated me, as there are currently five (with two more forthcoming) that are each over 800 pages long and weigh as much as three pounds. I considered getting them on my Kindle, but while reading the first book in print I was often flipping back to earlier chapters (there are several plotlines) or forward to the appendices containing detailed family trees (there are many characters), so I decided to stick with print. That way, my brain could better process everything that was happening and my arms would get a modest workout.

Last Tuesday I hit the Game of Thrones jackpot, as the fifth book and (finally) Season One DVD arrived at the library with my name on them. That very night I watched the first three episodes, and was cursing the fact that I had evening commitments for the remainder of the week and would be out of town all weekend. But after waiting over six weeks for the DVD, waiting six days between episodes seems manageable. Plus, I have the fifth book to provide my daily fix while commuting. In short, Game of Thrones has kind of taken over my summer.

I would not have characterized Game of Thrones as a mild addiction until I realized that I had read the first four books, totaling over 3,200 pages, in six weeks and felt like a lottery winner when I snagged the Season One DVD off the hold shelf. My biggest concern, however, is what to do while I await the next installments. The sixth book is rumored to be published sometime in 2014 and Season Three comes to DVD on February 18, and my goal is to be first on the library hold list for both. I have considered reading the first five books again to really etch them into memory, but I think my arms might need a bit of a break. Moreover, winter is coming, along with classes, homework, and job applications - all distractions from my addiction, but likely not enough to fully silence the sweet melody of A Song of Ice and Fire that has been playing on repeat in my head.

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I Know What You Did Last Summer

The summer is always a great time to capitalize on opportunities that escape during the cold, hard, rainy winter season.  For me, I ended up getting a summer internship in an aspect of GSLIS that I had never before considered - records management.  While I am super excited just to have an internship - and a paying one at that - I am even more excited to try out what is the "hors d'oeuvre" of the meal of one's career (sorry, this metaphor is kind of falling apart...).  I'm pretty excited to be trying out this new career path, and I have super high hopes (expectations) that this will end up being THE NEW CAREER FOR ME. 

I have very little expectation that this career won't work out.  But it is the last in a long line of internships that I have tried in my still juvenile career - I have worked in financial planning, in support and administration, in publishing.  I have worked at Harley Davidson Motor Company, law firms, and for various academic institutions.  And while they may not have been my total cup of tea, they definitely gave me the insight as to what I liked and didn't like - and I could tailor my next internship experience with that knowledge. 

I also love the length of internships - twelve weeks, to me, is about the perfect time to work.  It's not long enough where you start to run out of work and are scrambling for something to do (once, when I was bored at a job, I organized the entire supply closet for my floor), but it's long enough where you can tackle two or three huge projects, or a plethora of short ones, and finish it with bows on before the internship ends. 

And of course, there are always those lucky few who find internships whose work cannot be completed in twelve weeks, and who are asked to stay on for part-time work into the semester. 

I am super excited for the summer.  It has all of the things I love - sun, sundresses, long days, Toscanini's Ice Cream, and internships.  Guys: I am ready.  Let's get this show on the road. 

Internships | Relaxing | leave a comment


Summer Slowdown

In my last post (which seems like ages ago), I posited that it would take a week or two for me to adjust to the semester being over. In retrospect, I think my estimate was off by, well, about a week or two. I adapted to my newfound classlessness in no time by picking up a few extra hours at the library and altering my internship schedule so I have Fridays off. In short, the real adjustment has been acclimating to three-day weekends, which, as you might expect, has not been all that much of a challenge.

The summer of 2013 won't be quite as liberating as that of 2012 when I wasn't working or taking classes, but it is not in my best professional or monetary interest to completely check out of the library world for another summer. (And frankly, three-day weekends are pretty liberating.) Plus, an unforeseen perk of my summer schedule is that I have more time to put toward my local Friends of the Library group. I spent the last two Friday afternoons helping with Friends-sponsored events, neither of which I could have done a few weeks ago because of my class schedule. It feels much better to be volunteering instead of sitting in class or doing homework.

When fall classes start in September, I'll be ready. In the meantime, I'll be spending this summer gently padding my résumé (and my wallet) while still having ample time for summer fun. 

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Let the Adventure Begin: Summer 2013

This week has finally arrived! I leave for Rome on Thursday and I could not be more excited to get this adventure started! I look forward to sharing all my stories when I'm back from my European travels.

I've spent the last few weeks recovering from my first semester at GSLIS, preparing for my trip to Rome, and getting a kickstart on my summer reading list. Other than the short course I am taking in Rome (LIS 493 Intellectual Freedom and Censorship), I will have a school-work free summer and I plan to spend the extra time reading everything I can get my hands on.

I recently stumbled upon a great blog called "Beerbrarian" by a librarian in the DC area named Jacob Berg. "The Four-and-a-Half Types of People I met in Job Interviews in May" is a recent post that caught my eye about his experience interviewing candidates for a position at his library (check it out here http://beerbrarian.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-four-and-half-types-of-people-i-met.html). The post raises a lot of really interesting points about the interview process in general and job hunting as it relates to the library profession. Berg emphasizes the importance of customer service experience above relevant courses or knowledge of a specific computer system. I found this incredibly reassuring as a current library student with a resume heavy with customer service positions but very little experience in an actual library. Berg explained that he can teach an employee how to use a given computer system or specifics of a given library but he cannot teach how to interact with the public. 

Oftentimes, in our efforts to create the most impressive resume, we cut out jobs such as waitressing or working in retail. This blog reminded me how vital those experiences are and that potential employers want to see a background with customer service. I am hoping to add some volunteer work at my local library to my resume this summer while continuing my work for the National Park Service and as a waitress.

But for now, I am off to Rome, ciao!

People | Relaxing | leave a comment


We'll be back!

Hello readers, 

I gave our bloggers a few weeks off to recover from the spring semester before classes start up again.  They'll be back to regular posts the week of May 20th, which is when our first summer session begins. Check back to find out how GSLIS students spend their summer. As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment with questions or suggestions!

GSLIS | Relaxing | leave a comment


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