Friday, October 03, 2008

What a Depression Looks Like; Pass the Meth; Fabled Game & More (Friday Roundup)

What does a depression look like? ... In my recent research of the Great Depression, I stumbled across a thread with comments dating back 12 to 15 months — more than a year's worth of speculation and supposition. The question posed on this particular thread is "What does a depression look like?" (I have corrected neither spelling, capitalization nor grammar in these comments. Ours is still a capitalist society, no matter how weak the dollar, and because we may be heading toward a depression, I cannot afford to work for free. These are hard times, so correct your own English.)

The following are actual comments left on the thread:

• "I think once it really took hold one of the first things you would prominently start to notice is a marked downturn in vehicular traffic. With the price of gas and food going through the roof."

• "You know, during the depression my grandfather had been a banker and he became a carpenter. But he had to leave for 4 years to work on the shipyards in California while my grandmother and five children were back in North Dakota. Men would come to the house asking for a meal....she would agree to it if they did a job around the yard to do for her. She never let on that there wasn't a man around but made them eat outside on the picnic table. I don't think this would happen in this day and age. I think people will hurt other people. I don't think there were people who looted and commited crime back would happen all over the place now. There was no martial law during this time to my knowledge but I'm afraid this will happen if chaos ensues. It's all very disturbing to contemplate....I hope the Lord takes us out before this would get to this point. I think (you may not agree with me) that there are a lot of people out there who use pot...and I think they will try to get their hands on anything out of escape reality and will do anything to feed this addiction."

Who needs a meteorologist ... when you are a human barometer? And have at least one child who, this time of year, looks like she has ebola?

People who claim to love fall weather clearly do not have seasonal allergies and really need to Shut Up.

My drug of choice just happens to contain the ingredients for cooking up some crystal meth, and I am certain my name is on all sorts of databases (thanks, Walgreen's, Wal-Mart and Publix!) with an asterisk labeling me as "suspicious" and "potential meth dealer" and "clearly an addiction risk." I don't care if it IS crystal meth; without it, my head would explode and my teeth would fall out from the blinding pain.

What do you take me for? A fool? ... Hunting season has arrived, and it seems a certain outdoors writer is busily promoting snipe hunting as an actual sport. When I shared this tidbit with the husband, he laughed and said, "No way." Click here for another expert's insistence that snipe hunting is For Real.

This is a snipe...or is it?

Not much else to say ... about Paul Newman that hasn't already been said. Except "no, you big bonehead" to the bag boy at Publix who examined my second purchase of Newman's Own salsa this week and asked, "Was Paul Newman a soap opera star?"

Whoa! It's Friday already! I'm off to the woods to shoot things (not snipes), drive an ATV, not cook my own food and enjoy lots of cool things that float my boat. Like, float my boat, or canoe. It's BOW weekend. May your weekend be equally entertaining ...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

How to Ward Off Depression: The Library Card

Two summers ago, my friend Julie was whining about not knowing what to read and blaming it on her high school experience. The problem, she said, was that she was never given much assigned reading. And with no direction, she never felt like she knew what she should be reading. I took that as an invitation to Make a List. Because I am very bossy that way. By the end of the summer, Julie was the biggest Bronte Sisters fan you have ever seen.

But before you click out of this blog and wander over to some other e-place because you don't want someone telling you what to read, I will tell you that I am not going to sing the praises of the Bronte Sisters here. Although they were quite awesome and I am sure that you would enjoy their fine work immensely.

Instead, I would like to tell you that now is an ideal time to get reacquainted with your library card because these are hard times and you have no business spending your hard-earned money on frivolity. For days now -- and for weeks to come -- you have heard and will be hearing about ways to cut back. In response, we have developed a program called How to Ward Off Depression, which is not to say that you are depressed, nor should you be, and it is not to say that we are certainly facing a full-on economic depression. Because that would seem ... depressing. But everyone could stand to cut back. And cutting back can be easy -- fun, even -- if you heed some simple advice.

This is Step No. 1: Use Your Library Card.

I would be doing a disservice by just cutting you loose in the public library with no direction. So I give you today's post about library usage by providing a theme: journeys into simpler times.

We'll start chronologically. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was published in 1943 and written by Betty Smith. If you missed it in high school English, know that it's never too late to enjoy a classic. And by classic, I don't mean boring or hard to understand. I mean, classically hard to put down. Set in 1912, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a coming-of-age story about Francie, who survives hardship and hatred. Her love of reading and an ability to self-teach sustains her and ultimately pulls her out of the tenements of Williamsburg, N.Y. Lumping it under the category of "journeys into simpler times" may seem off-target, but this truly is a story of simplicity -- doing a lot with only a little.

Next, reach out for a copy of The Sandy Bottom Orchestra, a young adult novel by Garrison Keillor and a must-read for girls of all ages. The raw honesty between members of the Green family is enviable, and Rachel makes 14 not seem so horrible. In the end, you'll want to move to a small town and learn to play the violin.

And if you're a Garrison Keillor fan, you'll appreciate the trademark Keillor storytelling that plops you right into the thick of things. Gosh, I love Garrison Keillor. Not to the Secret Boyfriend level, but maybe to the Secret Favorite Neighbor level. I would sit on his screened porch every night and say, "Spin me another yarn, Garrison." And then we'd sing songs like "Fools Rush In" a cappella.

And finally, the third and final recommendation in today's installment is A Girl Named Zippyby Haven Kimmel. One of the first and most notable titles in the modern memoir genre, Kimmel takes us back to 1970s Mooreland, Indiana, where she grew up the youngest of three, seemingly taking notes about everyone around her. Nobody in the book is particularly outstanding or odd. Kimmel's gift is to take the ordinary and make it readable and laugh-out-loud funny. Like the way she describes the '70s crafts rage: "D├ęcoupage hit Mooreland pretty hard." Know that it's only one of hundreds of phrases you will want to read again and again. And then, after you read Zippy, pick up She Got Up Off the Couch, sort of a sequel. And THEN try some of Kimmel's fiction: The Solace of Leaving Early, Something Rising (Light and Swift) and The Used World. (Iodine has recently been released, but I have not yet read it and therefore cannot endorse it, although I am certain it is terrific.)

And there you have an antidote to depression -- emotional AND financial. You'll feel a little better about these hard times, enjoy a little escape and still have change in your pocket.

You're welcome.