Introducing The Ultimate Playlist

I love music.  Like people, some songs stay with you for a season, and some forever.  Some songs get you through a period of your life, or describe a moment better than you ever could.  You hear a song years later and it takes you right back to that moment.  Some songs you forget.  Some songs you never could.

In a new series for the blog, I’m going to post a video of a song I love every day for the next year.  365 songs.  Some will be my ultimate favorites, some will be new songs I’ve heard and enjoy.  I’m looking for whimsy rather than a carefully curated list of favorites.  One song a day.  Call it the Ultimate Playlist.

I won’t link these posts through Facebook everyday, so as not to clog up people’s feeds.  If you want a daily e-mail notification when the song goes up (as well as other posts), please follow my blog!

I’ll continue to do the weekly Sunday posts.

To kick things off, let’s start with a good old tear jerker.

As Anna Quindlen wrote in her novel Black and Blue, “The good thing about country music is that you can cry when you listen to it, pretend it’s the music you’re crying about.”

Here is Gretchen Peters singing If Heaven.

The Rules of the Game

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Pittsburgh Half Marathon, 2009

In the book Run Forever, author Amby Burfoot relates a revealing anecdote about his longtime friend Dave McGillivray.  Both are lifelong runners, running dozens of Boston Marathons between them, among a slew of other running accomplishments.

For many years, Dave McGillivray ran his age in miles on his birthday. For many of us, myself included, this is an unimaginable feat—for example, to run forty miles on your fortieth birthday.  But for these guys, it’s doable.

For a time.

But age catches up with us all. On his sixtieth birthday, McGillivray ran sixty miles.  But it was getting tougher.

At this point, McGillivray had a few options for this sixty-first birthday. He could’ve gone out and ran as many miles as he was comfortable running and called it a day.  He could’ve told himself he’d never make sixty-one miles and forgotten the whole thing and spent the day on the couch eating birthday cake.  He could’ve gotten depressed about his age, and stewed about the things he could no longer do.

Or, he could’ve gone out and run sixty-one miles come hell or high water—injuring himself, exhausting himself, or just plain making himself miserable.

That’s normally how we frame things, isn’t it? Give up or die trying.

But McGillivray come up with a new option. On his sixty-first birthday, he covered sixty-one miles.  But instead of just running, he combined sixty-one miles of running, bicycling, and swimming.

His own personal birthday triathlon.

“This is my game,” Dave McGillivray said. “I get to make the rules.”

This is my game. I get to make the rules.

I love this attitude. It’s optimistic, positive, and realistic.

I read a lot of books about running and writing, and it’s amazing how similar they can be. Good running advice applies to writing, and good writing advice applies to running.  It’s about consistency.  Goal setting.  Listening to your body and your heart.  Balancing achievement with joy.  Pushing yourself but still remembering why you started both in the first place—because you love them.

Good writing advice and good running advice is also good life advice.

This is my game. I get to make the rules.

I can’t think of a better credo to write by, run by, or live by. So find your game, and make your rules.  Make them hard, but fair.

And then play your heart out until you hit the tape.

The Tech Sweet Spot

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Have you ever read Stephen King’s On Writing?

You should.

It’s all but required reading for aspiring novelists and King’s most ardent readers. But even if you aren’t a writer or a fan of King’s novels (and you should be—as popular as he is, he is the most underappreciated American writer of our time.  He’s the Mark Twain of our generation.)

On Writing is a memoir of King’s writing life. There’s some nuts-and-bolts writing advice, which the non-writer can skip.  The gems are found in the sections about how reading and writing has been the creative center of King’s entire life.  He has great stories about writing newsletters as a kid, writing in college, falling in love with his future wife’s typewriter, and writing while holding down a full time job and raising kids.

The story of him getting his first big advance for Carrie will bring tears to your eyes.

It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, and it’s wise. It’s a book about writing, and about life.  For King they are one in the same.

And I’m beginning this blog with a complete tangent. King would tell me to kill this whole section (“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks you egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings,” he writes, referring to all the bits of writing an author thinks are so clever but either don’t move his story forward or bore the hell out of his reader.)  If this was a novel, I’d kill it, Stevie, I promise I would.  But if you can’t indulge yourself in your own blog, where can you?

What I really want to tell you about On Writing is this:

Stephen King writes that his family didn’t get a television until 1958, when he was eleven years old. When the television came, he called it, “a vicarious adventure which came packaged in black-and-white, fourteen inches across and sponsored by brand names which still sounded like poetry to me. I loved it all.

But though he loved television, for him the die was cast: stories were told best in novels.

He writes:

“But TV came relatively late to the King household, and I’m glad. I am, when you stop to think of it, a member of a fairly select group:  the final handful of American novelists who learned to read and write before they learned to eat a daily helping of video bullshit.”

And here’s where I (finally) get to my point.

I too am a member of a fairly select group: the last generation to grow up without constant access to all the world’s knowledge, opinions, and toxic Twitter fights.

We got our first family computer when I was in junior high school. And by computer, I mean a typewriter with a printer and Oregon Trail, not a conduit for the World Wide Web.

I was in high school before the internet came along, in college before dial-up gave way to the Ethernet cable that provided a constant, unbroken connection to the world.

I was working at my first post-college job before I got my first flip phone. I was thirty-five before I owned a smartphone.

And like King, I’m grateful.

I was born in the tech sweet spot. Old enough that the internet did not invade my formative years, and young enough that I have easily mastered it.

I love the internet. I love shopping on Amazon Prime, I love podcasts, I love instant access to TV and movies on Netflix, and Saturday Night Live clips on YouTube.  I love having a GPS in my pocket, and the instantaneous communication of an e-mail.  I love the inspirational photographs on Instagram.  I love being able to text instead of talk.

But I’m not sorry that I didn’t have Facebook during my high school years, so I couldn’t see all the fun my friends were having without me. I’m glad I learned to find books in the library using the card catalogue.  I’m glad that I had to go to the store to buy things instead of clicking when I was too young to understand credit card interest.

I wouldn’t wish the internet and all its gifts away.

But I wouldn’t wish it on my childhood self either.

Truth In Advertising

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Rachel Bilson, Pleasure-Seeker

Have you seen any Magnum Ice Cream commercials lately?

In one, Rachel Bilson, the beautiful actress from The O.C. and Hart of Dixie, runs barefoot over the hoods of a dozen cars in pursuit of the Magnum Ice Cream truck, while men watch with their tongues all but wagging.  (Wagging for Magnum, or Rachel?  You decide).  It ends with Rachel taking a slow motion bite from an ice cream bar.

There’s one where a movie-star beautiful woman drives up to a castle and turns over her empty wooden Magnum bar stick as her ticket into what is surely the world’s most exclusive party. She sidles up to the bar in an Oscar-worthy dress and the bartender serves her a Magnum Ice Cream bar, from which she takes a lovely slow-motion bite as the curtain closes on the scene.

Then of course there’s the one where beautiful young women run through vaguely European streets after gold balloons filled with Magnum Ice Cream bars. I didn’t bother watching this one to the end, but I’ll bet all those women took sexy, slow motion bites.

Their tagline is Take Pleasure Seriously, a double entendre if ever I heard one.

But they finally came up with one that got me—a high tech factory pours ice cream into a container and seals it with a hard chocolate coating. When the sexy woman buys the pint, she has to squeeze it and crack the coating before she opens the container.

Okay, you—finally—have my attention, Magnum. I want to crack the coating and take my pleasure.

I have a strict rule—no ice cream in the house—which I decided to break. (No ice cream in the house is an excellent rule when you live alone and could theoretically eat a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting with no witnesses—or even someone to say the next morning, “Honey, what happened to the butter pecan?”)

But I decided Magnum could be a one-time exception. And I wouldn’t eat the whole pint—I’d just crack the container, eat about half of it, and throw the rest away.  How bad could a little taste of Magnum be?  In fact, if there is any truth in advertising (ha ha), it might make me irresistible and ready for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

So I drove out to the store and found the Magnum Tub Milk Chocolate Hazelnut and brought it home. Everything was going fine until I looked at the dreaded nutrition facts on the back.

First off, this “pint” is not a pint. It is 14.8 ounces.  And this not-really-a-pint has 1,020 calories in it.  As in, two Big Mac’s worth.

And a whopping 72 grams of fat. That’s more fat and calories than a plate of fettuccine alfredo (aka Heart Attack on a Plate) from the Olive Garden.

Methinks these skinny woman are not actually eating the Magnum bars in these commercials. (Or if they are, a finger goes down the throat the moment the cameras are off).

magnum

Not exactly.

Still, as a woman of 2018, I persisted. I squeezed the container to crack the shell.  Unlike the woman in the commercial, I didn’t get a resounding, sexy crack.

 

I got nothing. I squeezed and squeezed, but no loud crack.  Hmm.

I pulled off the lid and found directions. Directions, by the way, that would’ve been helpful on the outside of the container.

Set out and wait ten minutes before cracking.

While waiting I watched all the commercials again, and found an old one where people went around erotically biting strangers. Apparently their former tagline was, Pleasure Begins With a Bite.  They might as well cross-promote and sell them with another box of Magnums, if you take my meaning.  I haven’t seen such erotic biting since Interview with the Vampire.

When I was finished, I still had six minutes to wait. I squeezed.  It didn’t crack.  I beat on it with a spoon.  It didn’t crack.

When ten minutes finally passed, it cracked. But I have to say, ten minutes of fighting with my ice cream did not make me feel like Rachel Bison.

Or a Swimsuit Model.

I took a slow motion bite, just like the ladies on television.

The ice cream touched my lips.

It was good. It was great.  No, it was orgasmic, just like the ladies on television promised.

I had to get it out of the house.

There would be no rest until I had eaten every bite of that not-really-a-pint (and licked the sides) or removed it from my house. I tried throwing it in the garbage, but five minutes later I dug it back out.

So like a reverse Rachel Bilson, I got in my car and drove the Magnum Ice Cream away from my house. I drove about three miles away, took my pleasure seriously one last time, and chucked the three-quarters-full not-really-a-pint out the window and over the hill into a deep ravine.

Yes, it was littering.

But I plead temporary Magnum-induced insanity.

And just for the record, no men wagged their tongues at the ice cream as it flew out my window.

So they were definitely lusting after Rachel Bilson

And she has definitely never eaten a Magnum bar in her life.

Smells Like Something’s Burning

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love Big Brother.  Not the government.  Not the novel 1984.  (Though I’ve got nothing particularly against either one.)

I’m talking about the CBS reality television show, the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Although I don’t really believe in the concept of guilty pleasures.  I think if a person is living up to their responsibilities and not making themselves an undue burden on anyone else, they have the right to spend their leisure time any way they like, guilt-free.

Reading (or writing!) romance novels. A little Netflix and Magnum Ice Cream. Big Brother.

So even though I don’t feel the need to justify myself, I do want to point out that watching Big Brother may have saved my life.

Allow me to explain.

First, a brief primer on Big Brother:  a group of strangers are locked together in a house with no television, internet, music, reading material, or contact with the outside world for 99 days.  Each week someone is voted out.  The entertainment is pure schadenfreude, as paranoia, boredom, and producer-induced humiliation slowly leach sanity from the contestants.  Every moment is filmed by the hundreds of cameras inside the house.

They have to cook for themselves, clean the house, and wash their own clothes. (And horror of horrors, share a bathroom with fifteen other people, many of whom are men in their twenties).

On a recent episode, one of the “houseguests” unintentionally set fire to the oven while cooking a pan of bacon. As the flames grew higher, the houseguests gathered around and started yelling for the show’s production team to do something.

Actually, all but one was yelling for production to do something. Sam—the woman who incidentally is a little bit nutty but keeps the house clean—ran into the frame and competently put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.

It was a brief and inconsequential moment in regards to the game, a funny filler segment, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. If my oven caught fire, what would I do?  I’d like to say that I’d act like Sam, but the truth is I didn’t have a fire extinguisher.  So likely I would’ve stood and screamed like an idiot, panicked liked an idiot, thrown water on the flames (which would have undoubtedly made the grease fire worse), or grabbed Blinker and got the hell out of the place and watched my house burn down from the front street.

I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of these outcomes.

All that night and the next day, I couldn’t stop thinking about this. As it turns out, a search of my house revealed that I did indeed have a fire extinguisher in the hall closet by the kitchen, but as it had been installed by the previous owner, it was expired and unlikely to be effective against an actual fire (and would have been ineffective even if brand new since I was previously unaware of its existence).

The next day at work, I asked everyone around me if they had a fire extinguisher in their house. Most people sort of frowned and said they weren’t sure.  Only one guy confidently answered that he had one, knew where it was, and how to use it.

That night I bought four fire extinguishers from Sam’s Club. I installed three in my house—one in the garage, one in the kitchen closet to replace the expired one, and one in the upstairs office.

I decided to practice spraying with the fourth one.

“Don’t spray it in your yard,” my co-worker told me.

“Why not?”

“Trust me,” he said.

As he was the only one who knew where his own fire extinguisher was located, I trusted him.

And thank goodness I did.

If you are as ignorant as I was on this matter, let me assure you: a fire extinguisher makes a holy hell of a mess.  I tried spraying it into my borough-provided gigantic plastic trash can, and still made a mess of the trashcan, my driveway, and my neighbor’s driveway.  (In fact, I spent the rest of the afternoon scrubbing the white chemical stain off my neighbor’s driveway.  As for me, I’ll wait for the next rain.)

So now, if I set the oven—or anything else—on fire, I’m ready. Not that I’m issuing a challenge to the fire gods.  I’d much rather replace all three of these extinguishers in ten years, unused but expired.

If you don’t have a fire extinguisher, get one! Order one on Amazon right now.

It could save your life.

Don’t thank me. Thank Big Brother.

Turbulence-Free Flying

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Last week I was on a plane for the first time in two years. As we were strapping in and preparing for take-off, the flight attendants walked us through the familiar paces—demonstrating how to buckle your seat belt (in 2018, can’t we skip that one?), the location of the exit doors, and how to use the yellow mask in the case of a loss of cabin pressure.

It’s the same spiel every time…“please locate the nearest exit, keeping in mind that it might be behind you. Secure your own mask before helping others.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.”  I like the sameness of this opening.  It feels like an incantation warding off disaster.

After the flight attendant explains the mysteries of buckling the seat belt, she mentions that while you can take it off when indicated to “move about the cabin,” (i.e. go to the bathroom), you should always keep it on while seated in case “we experience unexpected turbulence.”

Except this time, the script was different.

It seems we were not at risk of experience turbulence on this flight, but rough air.

Rough air?

Turbulence, that’s one thing. I can handle a little turbulence.

But rough air?

That sounds ominous.

Don’t you think?

Google doesn’t. While there wasn’t any official word, the most consistent speculation on the Airline Pilot Central forums (yes, such a website exists) is that the word turbulence was frightening passengers and so Delta airlines is now using the term rough air.

I hope that’s true, and that the user who theorized that too many people were confusing turbulence with flatulence is dead wrong.

But in 2018, I’m not so sure.

So next time you travel on Delta, enjoy your flatulence-I mean turbulence-free flight.

But watch out for the rough air.

Tickets, Please

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Reputation Tour, Heinz Field, 8/7/18

 

Last Tuesday, I went to the Taylor Swift concert.

It wasn’t easy.

Back in December when they went on sale, I volunteered to buy the tickets for our group of Swifties. I thought it would be a simple matter of logging onto Ticketmaster, picking out seats, entering a credit card number, and printing out tickets.

Oh, how wrong I was.

One does not just purchase tickets for Queen Tay.

Back in November, I bought Taylor’s new cd, Reputation.  Inside, the cd informed me that I could use the specific code included to sign up for a Reputation Tour account to secure my place in line before the tickets went on sale.

Back when I first started buying concert tickets, getting a spot in line meant lining up at the physical Ticketmaster location the night before and literally camping out.

But this is 2018. So getting in line involves a smartphone.

Because I did not want a nose bleed from sitting in the back row of Heinz Field, I played along. Buying the cd earned me points.  So did following Taylor on Twitter and Instagram.  I even bought an official Reputation t-shirt off the website.  All of these points boosted my place in line.

When the tickets finally went on sale, I had my spot and ended up with prime pickings in the “cheap” seats section.

And that’s where things got interesting.

Ticketmaster informed me there would be no paper tickets. They wouldn’t mail them to me, I couldn’t pick them up anywhere, and I couldn’t print them out.

Taylor was going mobile and so was I.

Reader, my tickets were on my smartphone.

I’m a smartphone-skeptic. I have one, and I use it, but still with some reluctance.  I was one of the last people I knew to give up my dumb-phone with a slide-out keyboard, and I miss that thing every time I text.  I don’t do my banking on my phone, or use it to pay for things, and I can’t quite figure out how to use Target’s Cartwheel even though everyone promises me it is super simple.

But like it or not, my group of Swifties was counting on me to get them into Heinz Field with nothing but my phone.

A month before the concert, paranoia set in. What if so many people were trying to download their tickets at one time that I couldn’t get through?  What if I’d used up all the juice on my data plan?

Two weeks before the concert I made my preparations. I downloaded the tickets into the Ticketmaster App (which I had to download).  I also downloaded them into my phone’s “virtual wallet,” though I had been previously unaware my phone had a wallet.

One week before Ticketmaster began sending me menacing e-mails like the one below:

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Of course I didn’t want to be the fan that holds up the line! I began having nightmares that I was that fan.  In my dreams, I walked up to the ticket-taker and my phone’s battery had died.  Or the Ticketmaster app was gone.  Or some virtual pickpocket had stolen my virtual wallet.

Three days before I took screen shots of the tickets as an extra precaution and stopped sleeping.

Then, on Tuesday night, my moment arrived. Sleep-deprived, nerves frayed, and sweating profusely, I boldly walked up to the ticket-taker.  I had the tickets downloaded in three places.  I pulled up the first ticket, and she scanned it with her magic wand.  It worked.

Three more ticket swipes and we were in!

I nearly dropped to the floor in sheer relief. We weren’t going to be shut out of the Reputation tour because of my ineptitude.

And the show?

Completely worth the months of anxiety. Taylor delivered.

But next time, can you please just let me print out my tickets?

 

Beauty and the Beast

The hills are alive…oops, nevermind.  This is when I fell in love with Belle.

 

To my way of thinking, there are four classic Disney Princesses:

  • Snow White
  • Cinderella
  • Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
  • Belle (Beauty and the Beast)

You may not agree with this list—or, more likely, you’ll find it incomplete.  These are the first five princesses prominently featured in Disney films, and the ones I remember from my own childhood.

I’m sure Mulan, Tiana, Merida, Elsa, Anna, and Moana are fantastic ladies, but as a thirty-seven year old woman without any kids, I’ve had no cause to watch their stories.  And great as they may be, they’re the modern ladies.

Today we’re talking about classics.

They’re on my mind because this weekend I saw the Beauty and the Beast musical.

Belle has always been my favorite of the classic princesses.

I was ten when I first saw the Beauty and the Beast movie, and like every girl who spent her childhood reading, I felt a kinship with bookworm Belle.  And every one of us reading girls grew into women who couldn’t help eyeing the Beast’s library with genuine lust.

Beyond the books, Belle is the first Disney princess with a spine.  She is a good girl at heart, of course—minding her father and having a heart of gold—this is a Disney movie, after all.  But she doesn’t give a fig for the expectations of the townspeople and knows from her reading that “there must be more to this provincial life.”

My favorite scenes come minutes into the movie—Belle refuses the marriage proposal of Gaston, the metaphorical meathead bro quarterback of the football team, and then subsequently mocks the idea of being the “little wife” of that “boorish, brainless….”  The idea is so horrific poor Belle can’t even finish her thought as she tosses feed to the chickens.  She vows that she will never become his wife before having her Sound of Music moment where she yearns for “adventure in the great wide somewhere.”

Can you see Cinderella or Snow White turning Gaston down?  I can’t.  Those two were toiling away under the tyranny of evil stepmothers, so you’d better believe they’d have taken the first marriage offer that came their way.  Nice girls, sure, but beaten down and compliant.  They were waiting for a man to come and save them.  They both just got lucky the man that finally came happened to be a prince.

But Belle was defiant.  She knew what she wanted—and what she didn’t.  I love defiant heroines, and Belle was one of the first I’d met.  She was like the heroines I’d come to love in regency romance novels, the ones who are plain and aging in a cut-throat marriage market, who turn down perfectly acceptable but boring, boorish, and brainless suitors so they can hold out for true love, knowing they will be spinsters permanently on the shelf and dependent on their brother’s largesse if they lose their gamble for love.

And the way Belle talks to the Beast!  The girl has gumption.  She’s afraid of him but still isn’t going to put up with his temper tantrums.  Some people say Belle has Stockholm syndrome, but I don’t think so.  I think she recognizes the soul of the Beast—she can look past his flaws and his temper to see the man inside.

And I think she’s just plain got the hots for the ultimate bad boy.

The sexual tension is crackling…Belle wants to take a walk on the wild side!

 

Cinderella and Snow White are just too nice.  They’re as boring as their plain vanilla princes.  Cinderella probably spends every night slathering her face with anti-wrinkle cream and measuring her waist to be sure she hasn’t gained an inch while her prince falls asleep on the couch watching How I Met Your Mother reruns.  Snow White packs hand-made lunches with organic apples and all-natural peanut butter and sugar-free jelly sandwiches for the dwarfs, her husband, and her kids.  And when someone gets mad and demands grape jelly instead of strawberry, she runs out right then to the twenty-four hour Wal-Mart.  That one’s got doormat written all over her.

And Sleeping Beauty?  Let’s not kid ourselves—that woman can’t make it through the day without a Xanax-induced nap.

But I’ll bet Belle and her Beast put the kids to bed early and have sexy time.  She sexts him at work, telling him she bought new lingerie, and he cuts out early and rides his motorcycle back to the castle.  In the bedroom, she still calls him Beast and he still growls like an animal.

At least, that’s what I like to think.

But I’ve read hundreds of romance of novels since that first viewing of Beauty and the Beast, so maybe I’m projecting.

Just a little.

But seriously…how many times do you think they’ve done it in that library?

Inside Job

 

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The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main Branch

How about this for a movie idea…over twenty years, a Pittsburgh librarian steals $8 million dollars’ worth of rare books and maps from the very collection it is his job to protect. He works with the owner of a prestigious Pittsburgh rare bookshop who acts as his fence, and they rake in the profits.

If we told it from the point of view of the thieves, it could be a great caper, like Ocean’s 11.

But what if I told you the thief netted only $134,000 from these thefts, was caught and is now facing jail time?

Now it sounds like a bumbling idiot comedy starring Will Ferrell.

Would you watch it?

As you already know if you follow Pittsburgh news, this is no movie script but a true ripped-from-the-headlines tale of a disgraced librarian and his bookshop-owning partner in crime.

The librarian’s job was to watch over this collection and protect it from the public. Instead, he allegedly cannibalized it, cutting maps out of books with an X-Acto knife and rolling them up to take with him.  He stole rare books by Issac Newton, Adam Smith, and a journal written by George Washington that had Thomas Jefferson’s signature in it.

He passed them off to the owner of a local bookshop, who forged provenance documents and sold the stolen items to unsuspecting collectors, libraries, and bookshops.

I’ve spent many hours writing and reading in the library where the theft took place, and it is painful to see this shame brought down on such a wonderful institution. I’ve bought books at Caliban Book Store, the shop implicated.

I won’t pretend to know why these men did what they did, and I won’t presume to judge them. There’s enough judgment on the internet, and this blog focuses on what is good and funny in day to day life.

But the items in libraries—especially historical items—belong to all of us, not just a privileged few. What a great gift it is to be able to see Thomas Jefferson’s signature or read accounts written by the Founding Fathers.  Sure, many—okay, most—people have no interest in looking at such things, but that’s a bit beside the point.

I once saw Candice Millard speak. She’s a historian who wrote a fascinating biography of President James Garfield (before I read this book, I didn’t even remember there was a president Garfield, and I cannot recommend this book highly enough).  Anyway, Ms. Millard was talking about the hours she spent in libraries researching the book, and among the gathered materials she found an envelope with a lock of the former president’s hair from when he was a boy.  She was so inspired by that moment, and I was inspired by her passionate recollection.

What a shame if that envelope had been stolen and sold to a wealthy collector, who kept it locked away in a drawer somewhere.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is a wonderful institution that has enriched my life as well as the life of many others. I’m sure it will take steps to prevent such a thing from happening again, as well they should.

But I can’t help but think those steps will—out of necessity—make it harder for the average person to access the rare and collectible items.

I can’t blame them, but I can mourn the loss of the items, and the inevitable loss of access to such documents.

As the saying goes, thanks for spoiling it for the rest of us.

 

Postscript1: You can read more about the case here.

Postscript 2:  I wrote about the girls I met in this library here.

Like Peanut Butter and Chocolate

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The Bridgertons are coming to Netflix.  Between this and Outlander, my tv life is complete.

Have you heard the news?  They’re making Downton Abbey into a movie.

As much as I love the Crawleys, I’m not sure there’s any story left to tell.  Movies that continue beloved television shows (rather than recast or re-imagine) are irresistible to fans but usually quite indulgent and mediocre.  I’m trying to think of an exception (Veronica Mars, Sex and the City) but can’t come up with one.

I’m far from the first to point this out, but as today’s movies get worse and worse (as I’ve whined about here and here), serialized television only gets better.  As such, I find my most rabid ardor reserved toward the television instead of the silver screen.

This has been a gradual and mostly unnoticed departure.  Growing up, there was only one television show that ever mattered to me, and that was General Hospital.  Five days a week I was there, and the weekend after a spectacular cliffhanger was agony.  But otherwise, I had no use for the sitcoms and game shows that many of my friends watched.  For me, it was General Hospital and the movies.

Everything in the movies was bigger and better, not just the screen.  Bigger stories, bigger adventure and romance, bigger soundtracks and sweeping scores, bigger stars and cinematography.

But that’s no longer true.

As lackluster as I feel about the upcoming slate of movies, I couldn’t be more excited about television.  Outlander is taking the Frasers to America.  Need I say more?

Any movie would love to have the buzz garnered by new seasons of Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, The Handmaid’s Tale, Sharp Objects (starring Amy Adams!), and Big Little Lies (Nicole Kidman!).

And Shonda Rimes is bringing Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton’s—yes, that’s right, I said the BRIDGERTON’s—the most beloved family in all of historical romance novels—to Netflix.  If you’re a romance novel fan and this news doesn’t make your heart skip a beat, I’d check for a pulse.

So television is where the excitement, the stars, and the quality is.  The problem is not a lack of quality entertainment, but a surplus.  Where does a girl begin?

And yet, I lament my lack of interest in the movies.  Why?

For me, there is still no better way to spend a hot summer afternoon than in a cool theater with a bucket of popcorn, transported for two hours to a world bigger and brighter than my own.

The solution to this dilemma—television or movies—is so obvious I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before.

Television on the big screen.

Don’t give me a warmed over Downton Abbey retread movie, give me Downton Abbey episodes!

Imagine it.  Your favorite show on the big screen.

The Red Wedding in IMAX.  Jamie and Claire Fraser voyaging across time and the world for love in the dark of the theater.  Stuffing popcorn in your face while the Dowager Countess lands her barbs with the cool precision of a lifelong aristocrat.

I’d pay to watch my favorite episodes on the big screen.  I’d buy a season pass and show up every Monday night for the latest installment.  Think of the watch party you could have at your local theater.

Television drama.  Movie theater.  It’s as obvious—and as blissfully indulgent—as peanut butter and chocolate.