Thursday, January 31, 2008

Snowing Again

It's snowing out, and I had a long, snowy commute home today. It wasn't supposed to start snowing until 6:00, but it started at 12:00 noon instead. How nice. People are pretty good about driving in the snow around here, ie: going slow and not scaring me. But sometimes there's a total turd who doesn't seem to care or is all "I have four wheel drive." I don't think people even know what that means or know how it affects their cars. And the more annoying part is that it's all SUV drivers, who think they own the road anyway. The weird thing I've noticed is that the most psycho drivers on the road tend to be mini-van drivers, although they're not usually the mom mini-van drives but dude mini-van drivers. What's that about?

I don't know why, but I haven't felt much like blogging lately. Winter blahs, perhaps? Not that I mind the winter, but I think I may be in a slight creative slump. Not a big deal, but the blog may suffer because of it for a little while. I would say at least tomorrow's Friday, but I think it's supposed to be all snowy and cruddy during tomorrow morning's commute, too. The really exciting news is that I restarted playing the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix PC game. And that I'm getting all of my receipts and stuff ready for my taxes. Yeah. Exciting. So you can see why I'm not so inspired...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tvs, Movies, and Moose

This weekend was what I’d call cultured and extremely uncultured. I saw, on DVD, Once, which I really loved and enjoyed. I saw Persepolis in the theater, which was visually fabulous but I didn’t love as much as I would have liked to. I wish I knew a bit more about the whole situation, and, frankly, the French with subtitles had me zoning a bit. Not that I can’t handle subtitles, but some parts were more engaging than others. On the not so cultural side, I played Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on PS2 ALL day on Sunday. It was mind-numbing. The game itself cannot compare to the fun of The Order of the Phoenix game because that game just FEELS like you’re in Hogwarts. This game was all about shooting creatures and finding random stuff. I had no idea what I was doing. And yet I still played all day, which then made me really depressed and antsy and feeling all craptacular.

I have finally found a new thing to fuel my days: I am planning a trip to Alaska for the summer. I actually have already been to Alaska with my family about ten years ago, and I kind of hated the trip. Too much nature, too much family, no TVs in the bed and breakfasts we stayed in. But now I really want to go back. I think Matt would absolutely love it, and I think if I planned it I would feel more comfortable with the whole nature thing. This time around, I’ll be sure to find some TVs. Or at least we’ll have our portable DVD player. I know I sound like a horrid librarian/author who needs TV all the time, but you have your way of relaxing, and I have mine. I do love trio planning. I have that giddy trip planning feeling inside right now. Yeeee!

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Interview, More Potter

A student has now loaned (lent? I never know) me Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire game for PS2. This one was rated pretty low on Amazon, but I’m still excited to try it. I guess my Harry Potter phase isn’t over. I played Chamber of Secrets yesterday, but I may switch to Goblet, since that’s the movie I’ve been watching more lately. Matt and I are still trying to beat the champion chess player on the Order of the Phoenix computer game. It’s Harry Potter all the time in my house.

I am listening to a super scary audiobook right now called The Last Apprentice: Curse of the Bane by Joseph Delaney. I loved the first one (Revenge of the Witch). They’re both creepy, gross (blood sucking and baby eating), and very well-read. It’s one of my first audiobooks of choice, now that I am off the YALSA Selected Audiobooks Committee.

Please check out this new interview with me at author Jessica Burkhart’s blog. There you’ll find another opportunity to win a copy of Get Well Soon. Stop by her site and show some love.

Have a happy Friday!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Runway of Secrets

As much as I love Project Runway, I can't stay up until 10:00 to watch the entire episode. So I have a system: watch the first half hour while it airs and tape the whole show on a set VCR at work. My assistant watches the first half of the show on Thursdays during her lunch hour, then we watch the second half together during my lunch hour. Hooray! That way I pretty much avoid being told who's out. I hate ruined endings.

I'm kind of happy Victorya (I think she spells it weird) is out because she had a negative vibe. I'm not super happy that Ricky won. I guess I still feel sad that Elisa is out. She had a great spirit. I didn't think the denim challenge was very interesting. Next week I think they're making costumes for porn stars. I don't know how I feel about that.

I started playing the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets game on PS2. It's cute, although nothing as intoxicating as the Order of the Phoenix game. The biggest difference is that COS is very cartoony and OOTP is quite realistic and dreary. But it's still fun to come home from work to a relaxing video game. I think I prefer to play on my computer, though. The PS2 has that creepy jiggle feature on the controller which scares the crap out of me every time it goes off. I know I can turn the feature off, but what fun would that be? It's kind of like my shock therapy.

Sorry for the randomness. Perhaps I need more shock therapy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I am very weirded by the death of Heath Ledger. When I saw the story on Yahoo news, I gasped. I don't know if it's because he's so young, or if I felt a slight connection because I really like one of his movies (10 Things I Hate About You. Yes, I know, so less cultured than Brokeback Mountain. Truth be told, I never saw Brokeback. I just hate to watch movies that I know are going to make me cry, and I knew it would because my sister saw it in the theater three times and she LOVES a good movie cry). Or maybe because he's Australian, and I lived there and feel a connection in that way. Or because I know he has a young daughter. A part of me feels bad because Brad Renfro died recently, and I didn't have the same feelings. Is anyone else feeling this way?

Perhaps we can gain some wisdom from a Bazooka Joe comic:

Fortune: Friends don't let friends buy junk.

Thanks for the help, Joe.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Righty and Lefty fo' Cheap!

Just wanted to let you guys know that Righty and Lefty, written by Rachel Vail and illustrated by my insanely talented husband, Matthew Cordell, is selling for way cheap at Amazon right now. Who knows why, but everyone should take advantage of the fabulous price! It's an adorable book about two feet and how they get along/don't get along, and how it's OK to be different from those close to you. Great for ages 3-8. For more pictures, check out Matt's website here. If you order three or more, you can get free shipping(I'm just saying)!

Shiny New Vacuum

I have been obsessed with Consumer Reports lately, trying to ensure that the products I buy are THE best in terms of longevity and price. I guess it's the librarian in me, but I like to think I'm doing things the best way possible. My vacuum's handle broke off years ago, but Matt had managed to duct tape it on very well up until our last cleaning spree. Then the handle cracked off completely, and we had to buy a brand new one. Kohl's was having one of their 15, 20, or 30% off deals this wekend(see other blog entry here), and this time we scored a 20% off on a nicely priced Consumer Reports Best Buy vacuum. How excited are you?

In MUCH more interesting news, I had a wonderful reading at Under the Sycamore Tree Bookstore. There was a great mix of teenagers, bookish adults, and press (the local newspaper people were there). Even an old friend from high school, who knew me in the crazy, depressed days, showed up. The store was beautiful and so nice, and they gave me a gorgeous calla lily plant. I did a reading, although I hope I didn't bore to death when I kept going back and reading more. I never know how much or what parts to read! Anyway, it was really fun and I will hopefully be back at the store to do another reading in the summer. Thank you to everyone at Under the Sycamore Tree!

In final shopping news, Matt and I are looking at LCD TVs for our bedroom. I am still hesitant, as there seem to be so many problems-- like if you don't have an HDTV show on, it can look crappy? And if a pixel burns out, you will only be able to focus on that? And they are really, freaking expensive, so is it worth it? Our current TV is a hand me down with mono sound, so anything will be a step up, but it just seems like such a BIG step. Do any of you guys out there have anything nice to say about LCD TVs to help convince me?

Small piece of business: mesanchez08 , please contact me at I have something for you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

No New Degrassi!

I must retract my statement that there is a new Degrassi on tonight. Alas, not until February 8.

I do want to remind all of you that I will be doing a reading and signing at Under the Sycamore Tree Bookstore in Grayslake, IL at 2:00. Please come and say hi!

Food, Folks, and Bathrooms

Why is it that I can’t eat lunch these days without having to go to the bathroom? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. My apologies to any of my students who are reading this and would rather not know these things. But it especially sucks because my work bathroom is a single bathroom with a waiting room, so if you want to do anything that takes any amount of time someone ALWAYS comes in and hangs out in the waiting room and LISTENS to whatever you’re doing. Serves ‘em right if they hear something!

Let’s move on to the foods of Philadelphia (as promised). Matt and I had some great meals in Philly. Our first night was room service at our hotel, The Sofitel (did I already tell you they upgraded us to a suite? It was so swank AND pretty soundproof because it was on a corner and we had a little living room separating us from the outside door). The room service was way expensive, of course, but fun to eat in our room and mighty tasty. Plus we needed something fast, since I had a long night of meetings ahead of me. My favorite part of fancy room service is the little ketchup and mustard bottles. So cute! I don’t even remember what I had, but it was some sort of sandwich and fries. That’s not important, really.

A weird meal was had at the overwhelming Reading Terminal Market. It was supposed to be a falafel salad, and it was, but the falafel wasn’t fried or even very ball-like. It was more like uncooked chickpeas. I was kind of disappointed, but made up for the lack of friedness when we went to a small but SUPER tasty and MEGA food for your buck counter service restaurant called Mama’s Vegetarian (also certified kosher!). I had a combo plate, which consisted of three falafels, a vegetable latke, an eggplant thingy, a pita and some condiments. If I had ordered the falafel plate, there would have been EIGHT falafel balls! Believe it or not!

Our fanciest meal was at Susanna Foo, which I read about and thought we could try. I don’t normally pick fancy joints for us because I don’t like to dress up, and most of the time they don’t have many vegetarian options. Foo seemed OK for the veggie options, but I actually emailed the place to see if I could just wear jeans (since I was going to be in meetings all weekend, and I only brought carry-on). The email answer was very vague, so I took my chances. They ended up seating us in a bizarre one-sided booth (so Matt and I had to sit next to each other. Kind of romantic.) that faced out to the entire restaurant. I felt like we were the king and queen of the place, or perhaps a couple of freaks who everyone else was supposed to look at. Maybe they put us there because it had a long tablecloth to block the unsightly view of my jeans. In any case, the food was very good, the server was pretty nice (didn’t seem prejudiced against my casual look), and the dessert was fun and fancy. A $100 meal, not including any alcohol, but including appetizer and dessert. That will be our one $100 meal this year.

So that’s the Philadelphia Food News.

Ooh! I just remembered—New Degrassi tonight!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's in the BAG

So Matt is on his American Idol kick again. There is some freak on right now who is 19 and will not kiss a woman until his wedding day. Say what? And his dad holds this heart pendant for him to give to the girl. Iicccckkkkk. Poor dude.

I had promised some restaurant chat from Philadelphia, but I am too tired to think about that right now. Tomorrow. Today I have to share this clip from youtube. I was actually looking for a specific 90210 David Silver clip of him singing the HIDEOUS song "Precious," [sample lyric: "You're so precious to me. Am I precious to you?" Repeat.] but instead this is all I could find. Before I wow you with BAG (that's Brian Austin Green), this is a reminder to Jessica to email me her address by this Friday to receive her signed copy of Get Well Soon. And now, the magic of David Silver:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Philly News

So now for that Philadelphia stuff I promised you (don't get too excited now). I will begin with the awesome airline Matt and I took: Midwest. Lately we've been flying out of Milwaukee, which is so fast and easy compared to O'Hare. Midwest is an airline that has more legroom than your average bear, as well as fresh-baked chocolate cookies on the plane. The flight attendants were so funny and nice. We really had a good time on both flights. And we lucked out on the way home because we landed twenty minutes early, and encountered a snowstorm on the drive home that left at least ten accidents along the highway as we drove. Scary.

Our first stop in Philadelphia was a small museum called the Rosenbach Museum and Library, where we went to see a Maurice Sendak exhibit. It turns out the museum has a close relationship with Sendak and houses most of his work. Sadly, they are renovating the second floor in order to showcase thousands of his drawings, so we saw very little Sendak. But we did get a tour of the museum, which was once a house of two very rich brothers (I may be getting the story wrong. I'm not the best listener) who collected and sold rare books and antique furniture. It was pretty cool, except for the part where we entered the rare books area and some hoity toity librarians were all up in James Joyce's grill (I don't know why I just wrote that, but I'm cracking myself up). There were originals of all sorts of fancy books, but that's not really my thang.

The only other sites I saw were the Liberty Bell and a lot of pretzel stores. Next blog I'll talk about some of our fine dining experiences.

Just in case

I was thinking, as I waited for my alarm to go off this morning (I never seem to actually be woken up by the thing) that my blog post yesterday may have sounded like a diss to librarians. I hope it didn’t (the whole “pedestrian librarian” thing). I didn’t mean librarians who aren’t on committees aren’t as important as those on committees, I just meant that I feel like, without my audiobooks committee and the huge goal that we have every year, I don’t have a HUGE LIBRARIAN GOAL going on right now. That’s all I meant. I hope no one’s mad.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Signed Get Well Soon Winners...

Hi! I'm back from Philly (and I should have some stories to tell, unless I have other stories to tell ahead of time, in which case my Philly stories will disappear into oblivion). The first big news: I entered all of the blog commenters' names into an empty taco dinner kit box, and the two winners of a signed copy of Get Well Soon are...


Both of you have until THIS FRIDAY to email me ( with your mailing address and who you'd like the books autographed to. If I don't hear from you, I will draw a new name (that's fair, right?).

I can't believe I have to go to work tomorrow after being up and about for four days in Philly. I don't know why, but it seems wrong. I'm pooped. My committee work this weekend was so wonderful and fun, I feel a huge loss now that I am no longer on the committee. I loved sitting in a room with these women for hours on end, discussing and debating over audiobooks. It was incredible and I will miss the committee work and the committee members so much. Sigh. It makes me feel like a lesser librarian. A librarian pedestrian. No longer in the librarian elite. Silly, since I made the choice to not to be on the committee anymore in order to make it kosher to have a Get Well Soon audiobook. That should be my focus now. The audiobook. I just heard from someone at Listening Library because I had expressed interest in reading my book myself. I don't know if I should even attempt it. I'd really love to do a small podcast, so people can get a sampling of my reading skills and voice. Maybe I can do that this weekend, and that will help with the decision of whether or not I should pursue this or leave it to the experts.

Later this week I should have a link to the final list of audiobooks we came up with for the YALSA Selected Audiobooks of 2008. Sorry if this isn't the most amusing blog. I'm still trying to get back in the blogging groove. Plus, my nails are too long to type with comfortably. Not like those ladies with the crazy long nails who tap on the cash registers, but too long for me.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Call Me Hulie

Check out this excellent review of Get Well Soon (including the hilarious goof-up of my name).

No More Potter

Okay, Okay (hey- when do you use "okay" vs. "OK? I usually use "OK."), enough with the Potter. From the lack of posts, I can see the majority of my readers aren't Potterheads. Ah well. I can still dream of life in Hogwarts, but I'll try to keep it to a minimum on my blog. The contest will still continue through Monday, so if you do feel like commenting on the Potter posts, you have until Monday to be entered into the autographed Get Well Soon drawing.

I'm going to Philadelphia this weekend for the American Library Association Midwinter conference (I may have said some of this before, but I don't feel like re-reading my blog, so consider this a recap). I am on the YALSA Selected Audiobooks Committee, and this will be my last meeting with the group. There are nine of us, and all year we listen to hours and hours of teen audiobooks in order to come up with our final list of favorites at Midwinter. We have a firecracker or two on the committee this year, so there may be some battling. I'm not looking forward to that part of it, but it's fun to talk about all of the books we've been spending so much time with all year. I was actually asked to be on the committee for another two year term, which I was so honored about, but I said no. I don't know how much money we'll have to travel to conferences twice a year (it adds up!), plus-- do do do doooo!-- there is going to be an audiobook of Get Well Soon!!! I don't have any info on it, mostly because Listening Library didn't want to do anything until I was done with the committee (that wouldn't be kosher). I am so stoked. I would love to read it myself, as I am an excellent reader, but I have a pretty nasally Chicago accent. Plus, it will be really cool to hear a professional do it.

ALA also announces the winners of all of the big awards this Monday (my birthday), like the Caldecott and Newberry and PRINTZ (the mother of all young adult literature awards). Every YA author out there is probably feeling a tiny bit of hope right now that maybe, just maybe, they'll pick their book to win. I can't help but wish and hope. I mean, one of my favorite funny books, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, won a Printz honor, so why not me? Oy. But that's such a dream. It all depends on who's on the committee (as I know from my own committee experience) what types of books they'll fight for. And is my book even good enough? It's almost worse to be a librarian at these conferences because I'm SO AWARE of all of these committees and all of these awards. Think good thoughts for me this weekend, please.

See y'all Monday!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Don't Be a Hater

Well, my little blog readers, I am sensing that most of you don't love the Harry Potter posts (sniff sniff--those are tearful sniffs, although I could be wrong?). So I will post today about Potter, and possibly tomorrow, and that's it (Ha! Because I'm going out of town! Not because you readers made me do it!). Today's is funny because I actually surveyed my students all day about this one. I asked any student who knows me relatively well which Hogwarts teacher they thought I was most like (Therefore, your question of the day is: Which Hogwarts teacher are you most like?). The majority of them answered Professor Trelawney-- the weird, fortune-telling teaching of Divination (and they answered this without any prompting from myself). I though that was particularly hysterical because she's so odd. One of my students gave this reason: "Because she's all 'wooo wooo' [waving his arms], and you're all 'wooo wooo,'" Which I took to mean a little out there. Most of the students compared me to her because they thought I was funny, funky and eccentric. Not bad, I suppose. Could have been much worse. And really, who would have been that much better? Yeah, Professor McGonagall is the coolest, but I wouldn't really want my students to think I was anything like her--kind of crotchety and stern.

You will be happy to know that my Potter Mania is waning just a tad, so next week my posts will probably be normal. As normal as Trelawney, anyway.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

And the Winner Is...

shartley2 wins the signed copy of Get Well Soon and a button for his hilarious resolution about Sweet Pickles. That had me laughing a lot. However, you all had great answers, and it was hard to choose. In fact, I hated choosing, so from now on all of my contests will be drawings from all of the commenters. AND SO- because I feel all guilty, because you all are so nice and sweet to read my blog and enter my contest, that I will have ANOTHER contest. This contest is very simple: I will take all of the names of the people who entered my resolution contest, and all of the names of anyone who comments all this week on my Harry Potter posts (which I think you're already getting sick of, but whatever) and on Monday night--my birthday!-- (I'm going to ALA Midwinter this weekend, so it won't be before then) I will draw two names (cause that's like I'm giving away three books total) and those people will win the books and buttons. The exciting part is that the more you comment, the more times I'll enter your name into the drawing. (One comment per post, however. Don't get greedy.) Does this all make sense?

Today's Harry Question (why didn't people like yesterdays question?):
Which Harry Potter character are you most like? [side note: if you have any better questions for me to ask, please email me at]

I'm not proud of it, but I think I'm most like Hermione because I'm pretty smart and know a lot of things (you wouldn't know it by that sentence). I'm not as obnoxious about it as her, but I sometimes feel superior inside. And my hair could be crazy if I let it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

So Sleepy

It is really hard falling asleep at a decent hour when you get used to staying up late to watch various 90210 episodes/Harry Potter movies. I am soooo tired now that it's the end of the first day back. Can't wait to snoozeroo. But first, one more reminder about the New Year's Resolution Contest- final day tomorrow!

On to today's Harry Question (by the way, please feel free to answer the previous days' questions if you haven't already). I forgot to say yesterday that all questions are being asked in a sort of alternate Harry universe-- no deaths of any of our beloved characters have occurred, so anyone is fair game. Now for the question:
If you went to Hogwarts, who would you be crushing on?
My answer is, without question, Ronald Weasley. I think if it were just based on the books, I would maybe go with the Weasley twins, but the combination of Ron in the books and movies makes him my absolute number one Potter crush. [Is this a weird question? You all get crushes on book characters, too, right?]

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Harry Break Ends

*Quick reminder that there are only two days left to enter my New Year's Resolution contest. You can win a signed copy of Get Well Soon!

I am mourning the end of my Harry Potter Vacation. It really was all about Harry (well, Ron, too, of course). I read (and will continue to read) the sixth book (which I have never read, even though I have read the seventh, because a student, who I refer to as "She Who Must Not Be Named," told me the ending to #6 soon after it came out. That's evil.). I played the Scene It Harry Potter second edition. I watched the fifth movie on DVD, as well as the fourth and all of their extras. And then there was the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix computer game. How I will miss you. Sniff. I pretty much conquered the whole game (on the "easy" setting), except for the Wizard's Chess because I tried and tried, but I have no idea how to play chess. Who knew it would come in handy for a computer game?

Now, in honor of the end to my Harry vacation (not to be confused with my hairy vacation, although I did get a haircut), I will try posting a new Harry Potter-related question that you all must answer every single day in my comments section. It will help me get through my Harry withdrawal. Today's Harry question:

If you went to Hogwarts, who would be your best friend?

My answer is Luna Lovegood. Because she's kind of strange, wears funny earrings, and has a good heart. And she's into underground publishing. [Check out this cute interview with Evanna Lynch, who plays Luna in the film.]

Saturday, January 05, 2008

My Daemon

I saw The Golden Compass yesterday. I read the book a long time ago and remember very little from it (which isn't rare for me; I tend not to remember a lot of book details unless I'm constantly book-talking them to my students). I really liked the movie. I think, if I re-read the book, I would prefer the movie to the book. I actually prefer my pop culture to be more mindless than analytical. I would rather not have to think too much about what I'm reading or watching because my brain is usually annoyingly on overload all of the time. Not that I think everything I read or watch is fluff, but in terms of The Golden Compass, I liked that the movie didn't make me focus too much on the real message of the story (all of that religious stuff they're focusing on in the news). I LOVED the ice bears and, of course, the daemons. They did a fantastic job in the movie of making them look real enough that I was never distracted by the fact that they were all computer generated. Now I can't look at Tobin, my cat, the same way. He is sort of like my daemon. He's always near me (except when I leave the house; I have always wished I could bring him to work), he is sad when I'm sad, etc. And I feel like I can't live without him. A little too attached, I know, but he's such a good friend. Anyhow, you guys probably already know this, but the Golden Compass movie website has a thing where you can find your own daemon. It's pretty neat. Anybody else want to rate the movie vs. the book?


Friday, January 04, 2008


I don't know what's going on with me, but I can't get enough Harry Potter. I know, I know, it's old news. But in fact, I bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone right when it came out in the US (thanks to my mom, who read a review that compared it to Roald Dahl). So I'm no poseur. It's just that for the holiday's I received the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix computer game, and I can't stop playing! It's like being at Hogwarts! This is just like a year ago (exactly a year ago, actually. Weird.) when I couldn't stop playing the Buffy Play Station game (until I got stuck in this annoying Initiative level-- it would be at an Initiative level) and had to stop playing. I don't really play these games to win. I play because it feels like I'm in the book/TV show/movie. Dorky? I suppose. But I am having fun. I wanted to also blog about the store Buckle, which I went to yesterday for the first time, and had the sweetest sales girl and bought a pair of $100 jeans, but I'd rather go back to playing my game. Sorry, but the Weasley boys are waiting.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Resolution Contest!

I have never done a contest on my blog (I don't think), so here is a new year's present to you (depending on if you think a signed copy of my book and a button are presents):

I never do new year's resolutions, but I know people love them. Send a comment to this blog post by Tuesday, January 8 (Elvis's birthday!) with your new year's resolution, and the person with the funniest resolution wins a signed copy of Get Well Soon and a frowny-face button (now kind of rare until I decide to print some more). Good luck, resolutionists!

Snotty New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. I am still way booged up, feeling and looking crappy. Not a great way to ring in the new year. Last night I fell asleep right before midnight as Matt and I watched some season 3 of 90210 episodes. I was feverishly delirious, and I yelled for him to turn off the TV. The hillbilly neighbors were letting off fireworks. In the snow. To be semi-celebratory, we ordered in from Pizzeria Uno, a place I haven't eaten at since college. It was extremely buttery for pizza, and when I told my friend Ali that that's what we ate, she said Pizzeria Uno pizza was listed as one of Men's Health Magazine's top 20 worst foods. Huzzah!

So what did everyone else do for new year's eve?