Thursday, July 21, 2011

Just what the Interwebs needs - more me!

So, a couple of weeks ago at the end of a blog post I confessed a childhood desire to be a writer and then whined a little bit about having no talent. Then this happened: I met the lovely editor of the Campbell Patch this morning and, long story short, I will be blogging for the Local Voices section of the website! So I've got that going for me. Anyway, if you aren't familiar with Campbell Patch you should check it out. It's a news and community site that focuses on all things Campbell. There is a Patch site for Los Gatos as well. This totally feeds my fascination with social media and how people can make connections, who may otherwise have never met, to create opportunities for each other. And I feel now that I should revise my statement about having talent. I do think it's less about "talent" and more about having something to say, finding your voice. And the way to do that is by writing. If you want to write, write; and you will eventually find your voice and have something to say.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Go go, Gryffindor!

So Mr. Richards and I went to the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 last week and it was fantastic! I wore my Gryffindor house scarf:

I was very impressed with the number of people dressed up in line at the theater. Most were dressed as Hogwarts students. Speaking of the line, we happened to line up right behind the library clerk from Forest Hill who was there with her daughters and their friends. At the same time, I was texting my daughter who was in line for a theater in Oregon, where she lives now. She wore the Quidditch sweater I had made for her. It made me happy that she wore it but sad that we weren't together.
Back to the movie. My expectations for this movie were pretty high, as were the world's. I was not disappointed! It was very satisfying. Harry finally steps into his hero role and defeats ulitmate evil. (I don't think this is a spoiler at all because even if you haven't read the books, you know this is coming.) I think it's important, when critiquing the movie, not to compare it to the book. One of the biggest complaints I hear about the movies is how much of the story is left out. But that's why books are always better and you just have to take the movies for what they are. They have limitations in storytelling. Putting words on a page costs nothing. Sets, costumes, actors, special effects, etc., cost millions of dollars. So accepting the fact that some things are left out due to time or budget constraints, I feel like they left all the important stuff in. I thought Harry's final conversation with Dumbledore was handled beautifully. Everyone in the theater cried when the fatalities were revealed. It was so quiet you could hear the sobbing (I'm sure it wasn't just me). Likewise, everyone cheered when Molly confronted Bellatrix and for Neville's big moment. The epilogue was also very nicely done. The aging effects were perfect and it was a lovely, quiet goodbye to these characters we've been following for 10+ years. Really, a very satisfying close to the franchise.

So, I know your next question is, Mrs. Richards, what have you been knitting? Well, it's round two of the Nerd Wars tournament and I've finished one project so far:I submitted these fingerless gloves with a fishtail lace pattern for the Mythology challenge. The are supposed to represent mermaids and they are linked to Harry Potter because mermaids live in the lake on the Hogwarts grounds. I'm also working on a large piece of illusion knitting for the Big Nerd Love challenge. We are supposed to knit something from one of the other nerderies in the tournament. It's hard to explain what the illusion knitting is so I'll show it to you when it's finished. It's pretty cool though.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer and reading lots of books. I've been reading and listening to lots of different things, but I'll tell you about it next time because this post is already too long! Leave me a comment and tell me what you've been reading.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Harry Potter Harry Potter Harry Potter

The final Harry Potter film opens next week, bringing to a close the story of the boy who lived that began 14 years ago. I'm going to miss ol' Harry Potter. Reading the books and seeing the movies played a significant role in my kids' lives, especially my eldest daughter who has been a big Potter nut since the 4th grade, about 12 years now. I'm a little sad to see it all end. But wait. There's this: I don't know exactly what this is yet, but it looks like it's never going to end after all! Yeay!

In the mean time, I can still participate in Nerd Wars* on on team Dumbledore's Army and relive the glory days! Here are some of the projects I've completed so far:
In this photo, we see a first year Gryffindor scarf, Mrs. Norris - Filch's cat, and a miniature first year Gryffindor scarf for Mrs. Norris. This is an elf hat for a baby. One of the challenges is called "Giving Geeks" and in June, we were to make baby hats and donate them to needy babies. I made two more hats in addition to this one and donated them to an organization which distributes them to homeless families. And this is a Golden Snitch.
There are three rounds in the tournament, each round is 1 month long. There are 6 challenges per round. In June, I could only complete 4 of the 6. I don't think I'll be able to complete all 6 this month either. It really is a challenge!

*Nerd Wars is a knitting/crocheting tournament with a nerdy theme.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wrapping Up the Weekend.

Well, tomorrow took longer to get here than I thought! In fact, it took almost a week! But here I am to finish the story. Let's see, I left off after seeing the amazing William Joyce. I had one more goal for the day but I was getting pretty tired from standing around in lines and hiking around the enormous convention center. Have I told you how enormous the convention center was? One attendee joked on twitter that not only did the exhibit floor have its own time zone but the exhibitor directory had its own gravitational pull! This is only a small exaggeration! The place is large. I couldn't help but think of all the money going into and circulating around this convention, which is a definite boon to the New Orleans economy. In fact, this is the second ALA conference to be held in New Orleans since Katrina. ALA was the first organization to hold a conference at the convention center in New Orleans after the devastating floods caused by Katrina, which contributed significantly to the city's recovery. Yes, librarians rock.

So, by this time I was getting tired and actually debating whether or not I should I just go back to my hotel or wait a bit longer and get one more book signed. Well, I thought about that book, and the author and illustrator who would be there to sign the book, and I thought of the Marshall Lane kids and knew I had to stay. The author and illustrator were Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter and their book is '17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore,' a favorite read aloud at Marshall Lane. It was a good thing I stayed because, as it turns out, there is a sequel to the book called '11 Experiments That Failed' and it's equally as hilarious! The book was hot off the presses. So hot, in fact, that the creators hadn't seen it yet in it's final form. The book is due to be released in September and the publisher had brought their first batch of books to the conference and I bought the first one so that makes the first person in the world to own this book! (I bought it for the library though, so the library is first!) How special is that? Here is a picture of the author and illustrator. I'm not in this picture because by this time I was too tired and wilted to bother.

So that ended my day. Mr. Richards and I went out for some delicious food and then I went to bed. The next day, I had just two objectives and, again, I showed up early so I could get a good spot in line. And again, Success! Can you guess who I'm with in this picture?If you guessed Judy Blume, you'd be wrong, oh so wrong. If you guessed Mo Willems, you'd be right! Yes! That's me (again with the squeee! face) and Mo Willems! He was signing his brand new book, 'Should I Share My Ice Cream?' a Gerald and Piggie book and it's just as delightful as you would expect. And look who else I got a picture with! Yes! It's Gerald and Piggie! Who were at least as popular as Mr. Willems himself, if not more.

Now, all this time on the exhibitor floor added up to me having a lot of books and stuff to take home with me, which I wasn't thinking about as I was collecting all this stuff. How was I going to get all this stuff home on the plane? Well, lucky for me, they had a post office set up right there on the exhibitor floor! So that was my second objective, I packed up all my swag and mailed it home! And as you can see in the picture below it all arrived safely! Mr. Richards and I spent the rest of the day together enjoying food, the sights, and some music. Then Monday morning we flew home without incident.

That same Monday night we drove to Berkeley to see Neil Gaiman interviewed by Mythbuster Adam Savage for the 10th anniversary of Mr. Gaiman's groundbreaking novel American Gods. Remember lat year, I went to an American Gods gathering at The House on the Rock. Thanks to more standing in line for ages, we got a front row seat! To celebrate the anniversary, a new edition of the book was released with some material added back into it, so now it's longer! As far as I'm concerned, you can never have too much Neil Gaiman!

So that was my Book Geek Weekend, spent chasing down authors like they were rockstars because they are rockstars! Mr. Richards might call this stalking, but I disagree! The reason I do this is because when I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. But then I decided I didn't have the talent for it, but I still love stories. And I hope that, in some small way, this little blog might encourage one or more of our students to pursue their dream of being a writer, or an illustrator. Not because crazy ladies will stalk you like you're a rock star, but because stories are important. In all their forms. Storytellers tell us the truth in fiction, they preserve our culture and histories, they frighten us and take us places, stretch our imagination and challenge our intellect. And I'm going to stop now, before this becomes a giant tangent. Next time, I will update you on my Nerd Wars tournament.