15 Apr
2014

We Miss You, Gilmore Girls! (and Other Thoughts from Our April Book Klub Meeting)

We are officially finished with our first book!  Though at times challenging (sometimes, magical realism can be really obtuse, you guys), the group’s consensus seemed to be that Little, Big was a gorgeous, thought-provoking read.  I definitely encourage everyone to pick it up sometime soon; we just got a fresh shipment AND we can tell you all about it now that we’ve read it!  

 We Miss You, Gilmore Girls! (and Other Thoughts from Our April Book Klub Meeting)  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

The Gang discussing “Little, Big.”

So, you’re probably wondering what’s next!  Well, geez, hold on a tic.  I’ll get there eventually.  But don’t you want to hear more about the meeting?

After finishing up our discussion of Little, Big we talked a little about our other current reads.  Adam is just now ending a months long Tolkien binge-reading spree (if you’re a fellow LoTR fan, you NEED to talk to him about the series).  JP is reading Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath as part of her mission this year to read a book a week (Godspeed, JP.  Godspeed…).  And Michael just started The Martian by Andy Weir (and so far I’m not enjoying it but I will prevail!).

Grapes of Wrath 300x225 We Miss You, Gilmore Girls! (and Other Thoughts from Our April Book Klub Meeting)  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

But seriously…

Sadly, Carly wasn’t able to attend t his past meeting, so tarot readings have been placed on hold for now, since they don’t really jive with next month’s book pick, but more on that LATER.  Stop trying to change the subject.  We did, however, pursue a lengthy discussion of Ricky Gervais’s body of work, and how he is quite possibly the world’s most annoying actor vis-a-vis his role in the film version of Stardust (branching off from an earlier discussion of Neil Gaiman, because obviously Neil Gaiman is a talking point of every book klub meeting).

And then we talked about SHAILENE WOODLEY because she is sweet and pretty and oh, ya know, she may have shopped at Kards Unlimited not too long ago (and bought a copy of The Fault In Our Stars!!!).  We are so planning a group outing to see the movie this summer.  And to get you all in the mood, I’m going to link to a hilarious interview where Shailene talks about her New Age-y philosophy regarding food and sunbathing.  LOVE HER.

yer divergent tris We Miss You, Gilmore Girls! (and Other Thoughts from Our April Book Klub Meeting)  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Ok, ok.  I suppose it’s time to announce our next book klub book, which issssssss {[(*pause for dramatic effect*)]} The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer!  This is a fantastic spring read and it just came out in paperback.  We are fully stocked so stop in and grab your copy!  Our next meeting will be Sunday, May 18th @6pm.  Hope to see everyone there!

interestings 198x300 We Miss You, Gilmore Girls! (and Other Thoughts from Our April Book Klub Meeting)  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

13 Apr
2014

It’s National Library Week!!!

My name is Jess and I’m in love with the idea of libraries.

If you know me you know that the library is one of my absolute favorite places to visit. I tend to get really excited when I talk about them, and here’s why.

Libraries represent everything that is right with the world. Want to learn how to knit, or plant a garden? Suddenly interested in a new genre or author? Thinking about getting a dog? Thinking about having a baby? Libraries provide you with an extremely useful amount of free knowledge. Not to mention all of the sessions they hold for things like intermediate French conversation club, teen book clubs, or children’s story time. And it doesn’t just stop at books. Libraries also offer movies to rent for a small fee, books on tape (or CD), computers, access to the internet, tons of magazines to read, printers, help finding a job or fixing up your resume… Libraries do all of the things that have the power to positively change someone’s life. Reading keeps me sane and the endless amount of books the library houses will keep me reading, well, forever. So let’s celebrate National Library Week and get to the library!

lib card Its National Library Week!!! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Arthur had it right all along

12 Apr
2014

Drop. Everything. And. Read.

dearday Drop. Everything. And. Read. Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

This is our sweet DEAR day card, obviously.

Here’s the thing about reading, guys: it’s the best thing in the world.  Now, plenty of people have waxed poetic about the joys of a new hardcover fresh off the shelves, the iconic smells of books old and new, and the literally awesome power of books to engage and entrance the imagination.  And I fully endorse and agree with all those things.  I’m not saying there isn’t anyone who loves books as much as I do, folks, I’m just saying those people are rare and if they and I could move to a deserted island and build a city out of words, we would.  And we would love it.

But on this Drop Everything And Read Day, I’m gonna talk to you about something slightly different (but still very much word and information-related, this isn’t Crazytown.)  One of the most surefire ways to get me to drop everything and read is to point me vaguely in the direction of Wikipedia.  It’s a bit of a running internet joke that reading any Wiki article can easily become an hours-long marathon of reading, since there are so many links in every article and they all link you to other pertinent articles!  It’s like a conspiracy to give people information!  Of course, information on ye olde wiki is not necessarily to be taken as Gospel, and students everywhere are uniformly admonished never to cite it as a source in papers, but I think that gives wikipedia an unfairly bad wrap.  Most wikipedia articles, at least the ones with real information (i.e., not the ones about pop culture icons and active political figures) cite their sources with links to the information across other media.  Randall Munroe really says it best in this comic:

xkcd Drop. Everything. And. Read. Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

It’s exactly like this.

Except by problem, he obviously means incredible glory.  It’s literally an almost infinite amount of information.  That’s amazing!

My point is that while books are great, (I seriously cannot stress enough that books are great.  For about an infinite number of reasons.) there’s plenty of reading to be done in other areas.  Literacy is probably the single most important skill a kid can learn in the information age, and a love of reading instilled at an early age is super important.  And that’s why Drop Everything And Read Day rules.  Thanks Beverly Cleary!

By    No Comments
11 Apr
2014

National Barbershop Quartet Day: Stories From the Front Line

April 11th is National Barbershop Quartet Day, a day to mark the creation of one of America’s characteristic musical forms (read: one of the most surefire methods of embarrassing oneself).  Over the years, I’ve participated in a number of rather ridiculous group activities – a few of which, for posterity’s sake, are better left undetailed – but my most bizarre experiences always seem to stem from my involvement in musical ensembles.

photo e1396643477954 225x300 National Barbershop Quartet Day: Stories From the Front Line Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Happy (happy) [happy] {happyyyyy} birthday to youuuuu.

For example, there was the time I spent my summer vacation in a small New Mexican town with my dad – a town where extreme boredom drives most teens to join either the local gang (and let’s be honest – I’m not built for that) or the mariachi band.  As far as I know, the only lasting evidence to come out of this experimental period is a handful of Polaroids in which my band mates and I can be seen sporting cartoonish, tire-sized sombreros, and which by now have probably been buried deep beneath the town’s drifting sand dunes.  I hope.

 National Barbershop Quartet Day: Stories From the Front Line Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

A forensic artist’s close approximation of the incident in question.

Without a doubt, though, the award for Singular Most Scarring Adolescent Experience Involving Music and Costume goes to my role as “Quartet Member #3” in our middle school’s performance of The Music Man.  As one might safely deduce from the fact that my character is numbered, rather than named, my personal role in this production was quite small.

But baby, did we steal the show.

You see, it turns out that harmonizing with three other young men at a time when puberty has just started to mold our girlish voices into their older, more masculine equivalents – or, in my case, its older, slightly less girlish equivalent – is really quite difficult.  It certainly didn’t help that our group’s soprano (somehow, miraculously, the music teacher had managed to unearth a boy whose voice reached even greater heights than my own) thought it would be funny if he made his voice crack during the last bar of our song, effectively profiting from his own puberty.  The music teacher – damn her to hell – agreed.  And thus, what was supposed to be a simple musical number quickly devolved into a four-man comedic act.

CatsMeow2011web1 300x240 National Barbershop Quartet Day: Stories From the Front Line Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

The gents. (I’m second from the right.)

Each rehearsal, I would beg the soprano to give up his little voice-cracking thing, because really this was about all of us – not just him – and I wasn’t comfortable with the group’s artistic direction.  I wanted us all to be serious, yet musically cohesive; he wanted to go for laughs.  I saw myself as the band’s lead guitarist, trying in vain to prevent one of my back-up instrumentalists from making us into a joke.  But the soprano had our music teacher’s blessing, and he wore it like a talisman.  I was powerless to stop him.

beyonce meme 300x168 National Barbershop Quartet Day: Stories From the Front Line Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Some would say I have a diva complex. #noshame

A few weeks later, after our opening performance, I went up to my mom and grinned at her through my stage makeup.

“What’d you think, Mom?” I asked.

“Oh, you guys were hilarious!  Your voices sounded so awful together.  Everyone in the audience was cracking up!”

Dear God.  I hadn’t expected that.  Honestly, I had begun to think our quartet sounded quite good – considering, you know, everything mentioned about it already.

really kitty 220x300 National Barbershop Quartet Day: Stories From the Front Line Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Still, though, there comes a time in a young man’s life when he realizes it’s better to accept certain praise – misplaced as it is – rather than none at all.  Unexpectedly, our quartet had become one of the highlights of the show, which is why I finally decided to stop fighting our quartet’s little shtick and just go with it.

“Did you like the way the soprano’s voice cracked right at the end of our song?”

Mom laughed.  “That was my favorite part.”

My grin widened.  “It was my idea.”

Note: This story has been modified slightly to make the narrator appear more devious and clever, but essentially that’s just how it happened. 

7 Apr
2014

KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys

Customers are constantly asking us for book recommendations (we *are* a bookstore after all), and one of the things we always get asked about is book recommendations for teenage boys.  Something about that age group, perhaps, is a little off-putting to people.  What if he doesn’t like it?  What if he’s already read it?  Questions of that nature.  But one thing about young male readers: much like their eating habits,  they’ll consume pretty much anything!  Classics, contemporary, science fiction, realistic fiction…it’s all up for grabs.  Here’s a list of tried-and-true books geared towards young guys.  For even more recommendations, stop in the store and we’ll help you out!

Science Fiction/Fantasy:

The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

sorcerors stone cover 207x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

enders game cover KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      Percy Jackson & the Olympian Series by Rick Riordan

lightning thief cover 200x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

lotr cover KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

The Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer

artemis fowl cover 206x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

hitchhikers guide cover KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance) by Christopher Paolini

Eragon book cover 200x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

graveyard book cover 200x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     The Dark Is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper

dark is rising cover 200x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman

subtle knife cover KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked cover 217x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

Classic Fiction:

     Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger

catcher in the rye cover 190x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      Lord of the Flies by William Golding

lord of the flies cover 225x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

to kill a mockingbird cover 203x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

outsiders cover 198x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

red fern cover 178x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

terabithia cover 198x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

 

Dystopian Fiction: 

     The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hunger games cover 300x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

maze runner cover 206x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     The Giver by Lois Lowry

the giver cover 200x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Realistic Fiction:

     Holes by Louis Sachar

holes cover KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

perks of being a wallflower cover 212x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

part time indian cover 198x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

      Life of Pi by Yann Martel

 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

 

     The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

westing game cover 204x300 KU Picks: Best Books for Teenage Boys  Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

6 Apr
2014

New Beers Eve

The day was April 6th. The year was 1933. Prohibition had been seriously bringing people down for thirteen long, sober years. But there was a new dawn on the horizon. A new dawn filled with intoxicated Americans, and tall, cold, foamy beers. Midnight marked the end of the drought cause by prohibition, and dedicated beer drinkers around the country lined up to purchase the golden liquid of the gods when the clock struck 12:00.

prohibitionweb4f 1 web 229x300 New Beers Eve Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

This calls for a drink!

Since then, the night of April 6th has been referred to as “New Beer’s Eve”, although what was served wasn’t quite beer, it was only 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, but after 14 thirsty years, it was close enough.

prohibition end thumb 300x300 New Beers Eve Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Apparently the “good old days” included marching band attire. 

When the act took effect at 12:01 a.m. ET April 7, trucks and carriages burst out of brewery gates bearing cases and barrels of beer for a parched republic — at least for the District of Columbia and the 20 states whose laws permitted it. Several breweries dispatched cases directly to the White House and the Capitol. According to the Brewers Association, more than 1.5 million barrels were snapped up in the first 24 hours.

new beers eve 0 300x230 New Beers Eve Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

“To beer!…. and late night drinking!”

So this New Beer’s Eve, gather around with some close friends, support a local pub, and celebrate the great beverage that is beer, and be ever thankful that you have it!

tumblr lvue8rfHlX1r2xmedo1 1280 300x248 New Beers Eve Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

By    No Comments
5 Apr
2014

Robotics Week X Gundam Love

zero epyon Robotics Week X Gundam Love Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Ya that’s the stuff

You can worry about the zombie apocalypse all you want.  It’s not going to happen though. But now that robopocalypse. That’s very possible. And that should scare the shit out of you! Robotics week is April 5 – 13th in 2014, and while I may be entirely convinced that the robot uprising will be very real, swift and calculated, I still LOVE robots. So instead let’s talk about the fun kind of robots. And by that I mean the ever amazing robotery of Gundam. If you want to talk about Gundam, I’ll talk to you about Gundam. For a period of time that will make you uncomfortable and make my mouth dry.

MSA 0011S Robotics Week X Gundam Love Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Urggghhh robots in space.

These are the kind of robots with no AI, so there’s no worry of overthrow. You have to pilot them. The fear then becomes global war with the advent of the greatest and most powerful piece of military destructive force ever developed. Different fears, but I’ll take this over robopocalypse any day. In fact I’m hoping for it. I have dreams of piloting giant robots. The day the military comes out and says they have a new robot you can pilot is the day I enlist. TEN-HUT!

gundam 08th ms team gouf custom Robotics Week X Gundam Love Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

one of the best animated robo fights ever.

Mobile Suit Gundam 0080  640x434 Robotics Week X Gundam Love Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

if you don’t get how great this is we’re done.

While a few of the Gundam series are made for kids, most are for adults. Full of political intrigue and the horrors of war. What I love most about it (aside from intense robo-action) is that it is sci-fi in a far-off future full of real human conflict. It’s people fighting against people. Not aliens or monsters. And don’t get me wrong those are great too, but I’m far more interested in seeing the humanity of both sides of the conflict. And of course this is perfect for tropes like “Oh no I fell in love with you but we’re on different sidessssszzzzzz!” They can play that one out a million times and I’ll keep watching it.

5131731 Robotics Week X Gundam Love Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

A war between Earth and Space can’t keep us apart!

Now back to the robotics of Gundam. The original designs were innovative and ahead of their time. As the universe expanded, though, the designs became more and more complex, incredibly detailed and thought-out. It got to the point where real-world mechanics were being applied in addition to sci-fi mechanics. Then at some point they figured out how much it would cost to actually make one in Japan.

Gundam Cost Table Robotics Week X Gundam Love Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

worth every penny.

And that is just materials. Clearly not gonna happen. Totally impractical given the physical restrictions of something that big existing. So for now my dreams of being  a Gundam pilot will have to remain dreams. I’ll just settle for going to see the life-size version that doesn’t work. I’m still fine with that.

gundam life size 18 meter 59 foot 04 Robotics Week X Gundam Love Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

(i secretly think it works.)

By    No Comments
4 Apr
2014

The Game Begins Again!

So at the end of last season, the Red Wedding happened.  It garnered a lot of negative reactions from people.  Some lovely, sadistic souls who knew what was coming even filmed or tweeted their unsuspecting loved ones’ reactions.  It was serious business, y’all.

got reactions The Game Begins Again! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Yeah, it was pretty much like this, only instead of just covering their mouths in horror, most people either went into uncontrollably ragey diatribes against GRRM and/or HBO or simply collapsed on the floor in a puddle of disillusioned and despairing jelly.

 

Nevertheless, those of us who haven’t sworn off the series (and/or life in general) are getting ready to continue the saga this coming Sunday.  And we are so excited.  Like, whoa.

renly clapping game of thrones The Game Begins Again! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Like a kid in a candy store.

KU is absolutely the place to come for all your Season 4 needs.  We’ve got a bunch of great new Game of Thrones stuff like House shot and pint glass sets as well as House patches and t-shirts.  Not to mention fairly boundless enthusiasm and excitement for the new season.  There’s also Feast of Ice and Fire, a cookbook featuring recipes for many of the dishes mentioned in the series (a literal must-have for your season premiere party)

feast 640x439 The Game Begins Again! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

Aw yeeah, time to Feast.

We also have all the books (singly and in a convenient boxed set), and did I mention fanatical love of all things Game of Thrones?  So, just hypothetically, if all your friends are tired of talking to you about how hard it is to pick a favorite character, or if none of them have any interesting theories about what’s going to happen and who’s going to murder who, you definitely need to come see me because I will have all the GoT conversations with you.

stuffs 640x278 The Game Begins Again! Pittsburgh Gifts Cards

So so so good.

Season 4 starts this Sunday, so get ready!  You win or you die!

By    No Comments