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Media

All the Caldecott Medal Winners on Amazon

Time_of_wonder I love giving books as presents and lately I've been really into older children's books (more on this in another post) so I figured someone had a list on Amazon of all the Caldecott Medal Winners, right? Easy ordering for all your gift-giving needs! But I only found a Caldecott Winners Gallery 2010 to 1971. So I created a list of the rest: Caldecott Medal Winners 1938-1970.

Looking back at the covers was especially fun, as I had many of the winners from the seventies and had forgotten all about them! And the illustration/design time-travel scrolling through the covers is fascinating too.

The lives of kids in old books

Awhile ago I read Tom Sawyer in large part because I wanted a window into how kids, and boys in particular, used to live. I know it's a work of fiction, but I figured it would still provide insight into what was expected of kids more then a century ago, and what they were capable of. I loved it, and now don't feel so badly about giving my kids a bath only once a week, if we're lucky. Now as Ollie and I read together, I'm struck by world children used to inhabit.

In 1962's The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Peter wakes up to a snowy morning and goes outside to explore, all by himself.

The Snowy Day

At the end he goes home and tells his mother about his adventures outside, but the key thing is that he's had them unaccompanied, all by himself. And he's pretty young, because he's not able to join the big boys in a snowball fight. Maybe the whole thing's supposed to be a fantasy. Maybe when it was written young boys didn't go outside alone for snowy adventures, but I don't think so.

In the 1972 book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day clearly things are different. There are obvious technology differences, like going to school in a car with no booster seats (and from the looks the mom's not wearing a seat belt and there's a child in the front seat, no air bags!!), but also Alexander and his brothers are left all alone, out on the street.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

By the looks of the picture, they're even in in the street. I don't need to tell you the plot point is not that their mom is irresponsible and the children should be taken away. At school, Alexander's friends have sweets and candy ("a Hershey bar with almonds"!! NUTS!!) for dessert. Do you see what kids climb on during recess?

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

And have you read The Tale of Peter Rabbit? Their mother leaves all the children alone to go off to the baker, even though the very farmer who killed her husband and baked him in a pie is close by! While the daughters eat blackberries, Peter gets in all kinds of trouble by himself and is almost captured by the very same farmer.

I don't read many contemporary children's books, so I can't tell you if they're filled with helicopter parents shuttling kids to music lessons and soccer practice, or if they tell the story of kids trapped inside watching videos instead of dragging sticks through snow. But the more stories I hear of kids living without the opportunity to explore and play and be kids, the sadder I get. Every time I read one of these books to my kids, I want them to experience more than just a Very Bad Day, or a snow day, or a garden adventure. I want them to see what kids used to do and to know they still can.

The source of our literacy woes

I keep reading articles saying things about college graduates possessing poor reading skills (see the Guardian's 12m workers have reading age of children, apparently the UK has a similar problem.) Well today I think I stumbled upon the cause! It's TV! I was at the gym on the treadmill when I looked up at the TVs. One was tuned to MSNBC, and they displayed one of those static banners across the bottom of the screen as they cycled through clips of various people talking. It said, "World Reax to Hamas Victory." I must have looked at it five times, making sure there was no sweat in my eyes. But every time, it was still there. Reax. It was enough to make an English major cry on the spot.

We've got so much blog we don't know where to put it all

cover of new yorker with you've got blogIt's hard to believe, but five years ago today Rebecca Mead's article You've Got Blog, How to put your business, your boyfriend, and your life on-line was published in the New Yorker. My how times have changed! Though the magazine uses the word 'blog' regularly now, Rebecca's article was the first about blogs for the magazine, and the first mention of the b-word in its pages.

The article was also a really big deal for me. Of course, you wouldn't know it from what I wrote at the time:

I'm only going to mention this once, right now: there's an article in this week's New Yorker (November 13, 2000, the cartoon edition), p.102. I'm in it.

That's because I was horrified by the article. When I'd spoken so freely to Rebecca about my life, I'd somehow assumed it was just background material because my understanding was that she'd be writing about our company, Pyra. When I opened the magazine and saw the first line, my heart sunk. I guess I was just embarrassed, or something. It just seemed so dumb and cheesy that an article that (in my mind) was supposed to be about blogs -- important stuff! -- was about -- ick! -- love instead!

It took a long time before I realized how good the article really was, how Rebecca had taken something obscure and geeky and placed it in a context every reader could understand. And after all this time, I don't think many other articles have come as close to getting to the heart of what blogging is about (or at least was about at that time).

A lot has changed in the five years since Rebecca wrote "You've Got Blog." Pretty much everyone knows what a blog is now, and most people are probably sick of hearing about them. Pyra was bought by Google, who now own Blogger. Neither Ev nor I nor any of the people who were involved in Blogger when Rebecca came to visit our offices in San Francisco are involved in the product anymore. Most of us don't even blog very consistently these days. And I don't think any of us qualify as "A-list" bloggers anymore -- there certainly are no more shrines to Pyra!

And my life too has changed. I started another company and then left it. I left blogs and technology and I spent time working as a cook on Nantucket. Then I sort of came back to it, cooking less and less but never really diving back into tech. And Jason and I spent time in Paris, moved back east, spent more time in Paris, and moved around the east coast. Blogging grew and grew as my direct involvement in all things blog diminished, especially here on megnut.com.

I write a lot less these days, and rarely about such personal topics the way I did when Rebecca was reading. But there's something I've wanted to share for a while now, something I thought some of you might like to know, especially those who came to this site because of "You've Got Blog." Extra-especially those who wrote some of the nicest emails I've ever received in the history of this site, and those who wrote with words of support and encouragement about my relationship with Jason. I found one tonight that said simply, "Hope you two last a lifetime." :)

So for everyone who's been reading for five years, I just wanted you to know: a few months ago Jason and I got engaged. We're going to be married early next year. I guess we finally mastered the techniques for having an analog relationship as well.

The tyranny of TV in public

PBS's MediaShift blog has a post wondering Do We Need TV in Public Spaces?

I spent the past week on a work vacation of sorts in Austin, Texas, which is a good thing. But one annoying thing was when I was stuck in an airport, and couldn’t tune out the ubiquitous TV monitors blaring the CNN Airport Network .

As a longtime news junkie, I used to consider this TV broadcast in airports to be a service, a way to get updated on top news while on the go. But now it feels like overkill, with so many other ways to get news.

This is a question I've been pondering lately because my bank has a TV mounted over the teller line. As I've been doing more banking at the counter, I've been subjected to CNN (bank version?) as I wait my turn. I find TV pretty insufferable in general, and when it's politics, it's even worse. The other day when I was in there they were doing a live broadcast of some talk President Bush was giving, and it was nearly impossible to tune him out. It was like some strange 1984 moment where I wasn't allowed to have my own thoughts anymore, and had "more important" thoughts hoisted upon me.

Can't we have some unmediated time to ourselves anymore? What's wrong with standing in the line at the bank, just spacing out or day-dreaming about stuff? Some times it's nice to just stand there and be.

The oyster and New York

The Big Oyster: History on the Half ShellOne of the books I'm reading on my honeymoon is The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky. It was a gift from my parents to both of us, but since I'm the bigger oyster fan, I'm reading it first. It's a history of the oyster and New York. Apparently New York City used to be known for its oysters. And when the Dutch first arrived, there were so many oysters in the waters around the city that it was possible to find oysters as large as eight inches! Of course with all the pollution now, there aren't any oysters anymore. But I shall hold out hope that one day we'll clean things up to the point that oysters will return. Then when I go out to eat, the waiter will say, "Tonight we have two different oysters: a nice plump Hudson River and slightly smaller tasty East River. Both are $1 a piece." Because you know, in my fantasy, the oysters will also be cheaper because they're so local.

The NY Times wants fewer links

A couple months ago, I chatted with someone who said the New York Times was considering going to a subscription model for nytimes.com, similar to the Wall Street Journal. I said that would be a foolish and short-sighted decision on the Times' part; to place their content behind a subscription wall would be to remove themselves from online conversations now and in the future.

Adam L. Penenberg, in an article for wired.com on February 24, 2005 about the Wall Street Journal's for-pay approach, Whither The Wall Street Journal? expressed a similar point of view:

Since most people refuse to pay for WSJ stories, most bloggers are reluctant to link to them. It also has an impact on anyone who uses the web for research -- and there are a lot of us. As importantly, the next generation of readers is growing up by accessing news over the internet, and one place they are not surfing to is WSJ.com. With their habits being formed now, there is little chance the Journal will become part of their lives, either now or in the future. (emphasis mine)

The Times should remove all barriers to content, from their registration requirement to their for-pay archive access
And yet, yesterday the Times issued a press release, The New York Times Announces TimesSelect - New Online Offering to Launch in September announcing their decision to move more content to an expensive for-pay only section of their site. This is a move in the wrong direction: The Times should remove all barriers to content, from their registration requirement to their for-pay archive access. Such action would enable and increase linking to their broad range of content.

As Jill Walker writes in her paper, Links and Power: The Political Economy of Linking on the Web, "Links have become the currency of the Web. With this economic value they also have power, affecting accessibility and knowledge on the Web."

Enabling more links to the New York Times would:

Clearly, increased traffic would drive increased revenue in the form of online advertising. And in the long term, I believe it would generate more income than charging US$49.95 for an annual subscription. Perhaps US$49.95 is, as Martin Nisenholtz (senior vice president of digital operations for the Times) says, a "terrific price point" for what they're offering -- if you happen to live in the US or western Europe. But it truly is a world wide web, with English as its de facto language.

As media brands increasingly become more global, it's hard to fathom why the Times wouldn't do everything in its power to ensure it's the world wide web's news leader. By charging for its online content, the Times reduces its number of linkable sources, and thus its reach in the online world. It's their first step towards ensuring they will play a smaller role in it going forward.

A profile of me by Tufts

Ages ago (well it seems that way), I went to Tufts University outside Boston, MA. More recently, the school interviewed me about Blogger, Pyra, and my web life. The interview in online here, A Web Of Innovation. I look a little stern in the pictures, perhaps because -- while it looks nice and sunny outside -- it was actually quite cold and I was freezing. And since I'm not a famous model, there was no truck with hot chocolate or an assistant with a big warm coat waiting for me off camera.

A great present for a foodie

Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and CuringBefore I left for Asia, I had a chance to look over a review copy of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Many readers may recall that Michael Ruhlman is author of some of my favorite books on cooking, especially The Soul of a Chef, and so I was excited to have the chance to check out Charcuterie.

I'm a big charcuterie fan but haven't yet ventured to prepare my own. My original hope had been to make some of the items from the book as part of my review, but I never managed to have the time, ingredients, and equipment in the same place at once to do so. But I can say that the book is filled with wonderful history and detailed instructions about how to prepare all the yumminess that salting, smoking, and curing can bring to your table and your tummy. I expect to be cooking several things from this when I return and will let you know how they turn out. But please, if you're a charcuterie fan, don't wait for my experiments. Buy it and learn how to make your own sausage and pâtés, and just in time for the holidays too!

Some land problems

My post last month about free land, Get yer free land!, has landed (har har) me in a tricky spot. I now seem to be the fifth Googe response for free land which is leading to strange emails from people. Two excerpts:

I would like to request more information about the free land. I'd like too know how I could get in on it also.

And today's missive, with (I hope) some typos:

would love to move from calif to on of the places that has free land . But i have quistions like I have two foster bays I need to know what that county would give to them to live on. The other thing is do they have places to rent until you build. the other is could you place a mudular or moble home on the land to live in while you get a job and you feel me.

I updated the post. I don't know about the free land, I only link to it. And I don't want to feel anyone.

Looking at fonts underground

A neat article on Underground Typography compares the navigation of three major subway systems: London, New York, and Paris. I've ridden all three systems (though not London in ages) and I love that Paris and London tell you when the next train is due. Both those systems exhibit an orderliness that's apparent on the streets above. And the Paris metro font is amazing. But New York's subway, for all its grime and confusion, is my favorite because it's the embodiment of the city it serves: diverse, fast-paced, surprising, confusing, and awe-inspiring when you think of how it actually all works.

A good beach book about France

Almost French: Love And A New Life In ParisI recently read Almost French: Love And A New Life In Paris by Sarah Turnbull, a delightful memoir of a young Australian woman who falls in love with a Frenchman and moves to Paris. It has all the requisite examples of screwing up in a foreign culture, and really captures a lot of the essence of not only being an outsider in a new land but real slices of Parisian life as well. It's a good beach read -- nothing too strenuous -- just the thing as you sit on the sand to make you day-dream of heading to Paris.

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in DisguiseIf you've been reading this site for a while (or checked my reading page) you know that I'm a fan of former New York Times restaurant critic and current Gourmet editor in cheif Ruth Reichl's memoirs. I recently read her newest, Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, which covers her stint at the Times. Both funny and touching, Ms. Reichl details the various disguises she employed to avoid detection as she dined at some of the great, and not so great, restaurants of New York City. Also included are the eventual reviews she wrote after the meals. A very hunger-inducing and enjoyable read.

Interview with Ruth Reichl

Amazon also has an interview with Ruth Reichl on their site, Behind the Scenes at the Times: An Interview with Ruth Reichl in which she talks about writing Garlic and Sapphires, working at Gourmet and what makes good food writing. I only wish it were longer!

Why the Beatles still rock

An interesting article in the New York Times, Why This Band Plays On, examines the continued popularity of the Beatles after all these years.

But fun on the level that the Beatles managed to achieve - at least in those days - implied more than a collective, thrilling scream. We remember the Beatles for their music and spectacle, but we celebrate them because, when they stood before their American audiences in 1964 and 1965, we witnessed the social and cultural power that a pop group and its audience could create and share. From there, I guess, you measure how much we've learned, or how much we've lost.

The Beatles broke up before I was even born, yet from the time I was little I've been a huge Beatles fan. In fifth grade some girls asked me in the locker room what my favorite song was and I remember telling them, "Either 'Ob-la-di Ob-la-da' or 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'," torn as I was between my first love for early Beatles and my then-developing love for their later work. The girls scoffed and said something about old music not counting. Apparently I was supposed to like some song by Rick Springfield or something. Take that fifth grade girls! I don't see your precious Rick Springfield being mentioned in the Times these days!

Fifty years of Lolita

Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita was published fifty years ago yesterday, and there's an interesting article in the New York Times, Forever Young, about its history. I hadn't realized Nabokov struggled to get it published, though of course that makes sense. Anyway, an interesting look at one of my favorite books.

Beatles weirdness

For Beatles obsessives like me, this list of anomalies in Beatles songs (listed by album) is a total time sink! Alas one of my all-time favorites, Here Comes the Sun, doesn't have a very long list of anomalies. Still, a fun way to kill lots of time, for those Beatles fans looking to do so.

Cooking Under Fire on PBS

Finally, a reality TV show I can get into! On April 27, Cooking Under Fire will premiere on PBS.

Tracking 12 finalists plucked from the country's restaurants and culinary schools as they embark on a coast-to-coast cooking competition, this documentary-style series will bring viewers behind the scenes and into the kitchen. Each week, the aspiring chefs face intense cooking challenges, difficult deadlines, and the heated pressure of working against the clock. In order to survive, they must combine their kitchen savvy, unique style, and skills of organization and creativity to serve the judges a winning meal.

Contestants who fail to perform will run the risk of being "86ed" -- taken off the competition menu and sent home. But success will bring them one step closer to the ultimate culinary prize: a chef position in one of restaurateur Todd English's Manhattan restaurants.

Michael Ruhlman -- who you may recall is the author of some of my favorite books (see my The Soul of a Chef review) -- will be one of three judges in the competition. It should be good since I've really enjoyed every PBS reality show I've seen (Frontier House, Colonial House, etc.) I'm looking forward to it!

Can you name this song?

This is a favor for a friend of mine who heard a song at a bar the other night. We've searched on Google with the lyric snippet to no avail. So we're turning to the wisdom of the web, and hoping you readers may know the artist and/or the song. Do you know a song that's new and probably released within the past few years? He might have heard something about this band on MTV and this may have been the lead single off their major labor release. It's, "really good 'generic' funk." It's also, "The closest thing I've heard to Prince since Outkast." The lyric snippet that can be recalled is, "I'm gonna do it. Take your body out all night." He thinks. Do you know? Can you help?

Update: The mystery is solved! Reader's report it's, "Take Your Mama" by the Scissor Sisters. Well done readers, my friend thanks you.

So many interesting facts to know and use

The amazing interstingness of miscellany, specifically Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany has provided me with several hours of pre-sleep delight as I've perused its pages in bed. Last night I discovered that both the loganberry and the boysenberry are not in fact wild berries, but derivatives of raspberries! Beneath the heading, "Epicurean Eponyms," Mr. Schott explains:

LOGANBERRY · the sweet purple berry of the raspberry plant Rubus loganobaccus · created by the American judge and experimental horticulturalist James Harvey Logan, who developed the plant (c.1881). Some forty years later the botanist Rudolph Boysen created the hybrid BOYSENBERRY from the loganberry, the raspberry, and the blackberry.

No wonder I've never seen a loganberry bush in the wild! I'm loving this little book and all its wonders. Highly recommended for any foodie or food-curious person.

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