Articles by " Katie"
11 Nov
2014

Happy Birthday Kurt Vonnegut!

 

Do you ever spend way too much time thinking about what tattoo you would get, if you had to? You would never actually get a tattoo, obviously, because the fear of waking up and regretting it is much too great ("Why did I think this Goo Goo Dolls tattoo was a good idea?!?!" etc....), but what if, after a crisp fall night of too many PSL's and those weird candy corn flavored white chocolate candies you just, like, woke up with one?

I would definitely want a Kurt Vonnegut quote tattoo! And if you spend as much time as I do on literary tattoo blogs like this one or this one, you might roll your eyes at the ubiquity of a sweet KV tattoo. Ok. so, there are pages and pages of "so it goes" tattoos and ....um......asterisk..... tattoos and many more of his most famous quotes,

 

but I think their popularity speaks less to unoriginality and more to Vonnegut's unmatched ability to condense the absurdities and tragedies of life  to simple, beautifully written prose.

 

Kurt Vonnegut is often pegged as a writer whose cynicism is mainly appealing to disaffected youth. I think his fans know though, that his cynical nature went hand in hand with a sentimentality and  faith in kindness that keeps his stories cautionary tales instead of caustic predictions.

 

So let's say you woke up one morning deciding to get a KV tattoo (and perhaps a bit unstuck in time)-- great! You have so many wonderful options to show what a wry, special snowflake you are! Whether you go with his often repeated advice from the good uncle Alex above, a stack of your favorite incredibly re-readable novels, Eliot Rosewater's number one rule "God damn it, you've got to be kind!", or even the flip meaning of life quote from the top of the page,  you'll be highlighting the work of a fantastic and influential writer.

 

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29 Oct
2014

Wish Hello Kitty a Happy Birthday on November 1!

Super adorable Hello Kitty was born on November first!  Let's celebrate the star of our favorite elementary school stationery sets ( for our important childhood correspondences) with a list of FUN FACTS about Miss Hello Kitty!

Ready?!

  1. Hello Kitty's full name is Kitty White. Much catchier than her original name in Japan, "the white kitten with no name".

    hk cake

    ummmm can this be my bday cake this year?

  2. She weighs 3 apples and is 5 apples tall! How does that even work?!
  3. She has a twin sister named Mimmy. Please don't get them confused-- it's so easy to tell them apart! Hello Kitty wears a red bow on her left ear and Mimmy has a yellow bow on her right ear!

    hk mim

    soOoOoo different

  4. Though she was created in Japan, Hello Kitty is from the London suburbs. How chic!

    hk brit

    'ello Kitty

  5. She was named after Alice (of Wonderland)'s cat, also named Kitty.
    hk alice
  6. Hello Kitty was introduce in 1974, but is eternally a fourth grader!

    hk stat

    Purrrrrfect! Because this stationery set would DEFINITELY make you the coolest kid in fourth grade!

  7. Hello Kitty has two pets, one is a hamster named Sugar and the other.... well we'll get to her later!!

    hk sugar

    so cute !

  8. Her first modeling gig was for a vinyl coin purse.

    og hk

    awww, she could be smizing more, though.... #antmhellokitty

  9. She caused a commotion recently when reports surfaced that she wasn't really a cat! She is, it's just that shes more of a Goofy than a Pluto.
  10. Which brings us to our final Fun Fact.  Are you Sitting down?! Good, then you are ready to know that Hello Kitty HAS A PET CAT!!!!! Whaaaaaaaat! Her name is Charmmy Kitty (????) x (infinity).
hk charmmy

Sooo.... let's just unpack this... Hello Kitty, a kitten, is dressed up like Charmmy Kitty, also a kitten. I guess some kittens are more equal than other kittens, hmm Sanrio?

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4 Oct
2014

National Storytelling Weekend/ Two Dimes for a Nickel

Once upon a time, there was a nice boy named Duncan who lived in in a nice town with his nice family.  One day while walking home from school, Duncan decided to take a shortcut through the woods. " What could go wrong" he thought as he skipped through the spooky, spindly trees. Suddenly, Duncan came upon two strangers in an angry confrontation. "

What did you just say ?!?!" The man in the cowboy hat shouted to the man in the clown suit. "I...I.. I said TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL" boomed the clown, blowing defiantly into a kazoo.

Well, that just enraged the cowboy even more, and their fight became even louder and more intense.

Duncan was startled to say the least and hurried home to tell his mother about the strange fight he witnessed on his way home from school.

"HEY, MOM!!!" Duncan shouted to his mother, who was putting away dishes in the sunlit  kitchen.  "MOM, the WEIRDEST THING JUST HAPPENED...." Duncan rushed to tell his Mother the whole story, and she listened patiently if a bit absentmindedly.  Just as Mom was making mental note to remind Duncan not to go through the woods on his way home from school, she heard him say a horrible terrible thing. "...two dimes for a nickel.."

"WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!"  Duncan's Mom immediately freaked out, dropping all the plates she was holding, barely registering when they shattered on the kitchen floor.

"I CERTAINLY DID NOT RAISE MY SON TO SAY SUCH THINGS" she screeched, literally clutching her pearls.

"But....but, Mom" Sputtered a startled Duncan, "I don't even KNOW what... I've never even HEARD...."

But Duncan's Mother just would not listen "Go straight to your room! Just wait til your Father gets home!!"

Duncan sat in his room nervously waiting for his dad to come home. Duncan felt terrible for upsetting his mother so, but at the same time, he felt electrified by the intensity that this phrase, which he had never before heard, inspired. He knew based on his mother's ballistic reaction that he would be in trouble when his father got home, but he hoped that his father could at least explain what two dimes for a nickel meant.

Later that night Duncan heard the front door open with a click. His heart started pounding as he strained to hear his mother's heated retelling of that afternoon's events. Soon the voices downstairs quieted and Duncan heard his father's heavy footsteps clomping up the steps.

"Ok, Son," his father said with a sigh, "tell me exactly what happened." Duncan told his story, the walk home, the shortcut through the woods, the fight, the yelling of "two dimes for ....."

"STOP" Commanded his father with a queasy look on his face. "I didn't want to believe it was true, but I heard it with my own ears..." Duncan tried again to protest "I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL MEANS, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON...."

Before he knew it, Duncan was being thrown out of his house like DJ Jazzy Jeff's character Jazz on the best sitcom ever The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire. "We simply can't have you corrupting little Mary-Beth" they cried at the front door.

Now Duncan was just plain mad! He didn't have his backpack or homework and would now have to spend the night in the school playground. "And besides" thought Duncan, "Mary-Beth is just our dumb housecat." Settling in on top of the Monkey Bars, Duncan decided to just let it go and never say those stupid words again and maybe soon his parents would forgive him.

The next day in school, Duncan was a total mess he was wearing an old t shirt that read IT IS  TUESDAY even though it was Wednesday, he had forgotten all of his assignments, and he could barely keep himself awake during class. At the end of the day a friendly, hip teacher pulled him aside to ask what was wrong. Duncan was so tired that he retold the whole terrible story to his teacher. You can probably guess what happened next, Duncan was taken directly to the principal's office and the principal immediately called the police.

As he was being sentenced to ten years in jail, the judge droning on and on about how he had" never in all his years heard such unspeakable language from a boy as seemingly nice as Duncan", Duncan realized that he may never know what two dimes for a nickel meant, and to be honest he didn't really care, he just wanted to forget the whole thing and move on.

Ten years later, Duncan is indeed ready to move on with his life. As he walks down the streets of his old town for the first time in a decade, he takes a deep breath and really notices his surroundings . As he gazes across the street, he sees a billboard with huge letters spelling out TWO DIMES. Duncan gasped, the rest of the billboard was covered up by a bus waiting at a red light. Soon the traffic began to creep along and Duncan saw more and more of the billboard TWO...DIMES... FOR.... A ...NIC ....

Duncan saw the phase that had destroyed his life and couldn't keep the old curiosity from bubbling up inside. Maybe now he would know why the phrase held so much power.  And as he crossed the street to get a closer look, Duncan was hit by a bus.

The End

Isn't this the best/worst story ever!!! I told this story many times as a camp counselor and heard it many more times as a camper. It's great because a good storyteller can stretch out the saga in a number of imaginative ways to keep the listeners on the edge of their seats ...or you know their patch of grass around a campfire. It's also super fun to tell the story and see everyones anger about the way it ends.

Try it out this weekend for National Storytelling Weekend! Or you know... you could tell a better story, I don't know! It's up to you! That's the thing about great storytellers whether they are harnessing their Larry David angst to punch up a story about a Starbucks run or creating something new they keep their listeners fully engaged. Three cheers for storytelling!

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2 Oct
2014

October is National Field Trip Month!

Did you know that October is National Field Trip Month?!? Of course it is! Crisp October weather is perfect for a trip to the zoo, local farm, Science Center, or field trip location of your choosing.

ft1

How exciting were field trips in elementary school? There was no joy greater than piling in to the school bus with your pals, ready to start a new adventure, spend some time out of class and maaaaybe learn something.   Even if your teachers never expertly coordinated their outfits to that days lesson plan and even if they couldn't defy the laws of nature/gravity/space-time continuum just to prove a point, field trips were and are super rad and should be celebrated.

ft4

My favorite field trips as a kid were trips to the Carnegie Science Center, obviously! The exhibits were always fun, engaging and stealthily science-y, their model train game is consistently outstanding, and if you were super lucky you got to see a sweet Omnimax movie!  I also have fond memories of trips to the zoo (where I got to pet a kangaroo !), trips to Trax Farms (CORN MAZE, APPLE CIDER!!), and an excellent trip to a ... mill or  a mine or something.... I don.t remember but they had THE BEST GIFT SHOP EVER ! (googly eyes on EVERYTHING!)

ft2

Shout out to field trips, fun teachers, mid day snacks, cool moms (and dads), and the patient, patient bus drivers that allow kids to take a well deserved break from school life to actively learn and make life long memories!

ft3

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19 Sep
2014

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!!

Constant Readers,

king

In 2003 the stuffy faction of the literary community (blerg) were outraged to learn that immensely popular author Stephen King would receive a National Book Award lifetime achievement award. Well known curmudgeon and literary critic Harold Bloom huffed "[King] shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis." Millions of fans, critics, and peers disagreed, clutching well worn copies of It, The Stand, Carrie, and Salem's Lot to their chests, promising themselves that after they have slogged their way through the latest New Yorker darling they would return their attention to the Dark Tower series and all it's mystical mystery.

Look, I have nothing against so-called Literary Fiction, some of my favorite authors write literary fiction, honest! But, once you get over genre snobbery, you'd be hard pressed to find a better or more prolific storyteller than Stephen King. Born September 21, 1947, King is the author of an astonishing fifty novels and hundreds of short stories. Classics like The Shining, The Green Mile and Four Seasons are the types of books that stay with you long after they are put away on the bookshelf because King knows how to get at the reality of our fears and darkness in even his most fantastical books. Carrie White's rage feels real to anyone who has felt the anger of being duped or the intense emotions of adolescence, Jack Torrance's madness simmers under the surface and boils over with an eery, creeping, slowness, and  Pennywise the Clown (AHHHHHH) personifies the feeling of your past fears and anxieties catching up with you.

And if you must read something critically acclaimed,  try one of his collections of short stories, like Everything's Eventual. This one was even published in the New Yorker, so there! Also, his book On Writing is widely considered to be on of the best writing manuals on the market.

Get in to the holiday spirit with a Stephen King book! It's sure to be a page turner!

king2

You're the coolest!


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11 Sep
2014

Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl!!!

"So Matilda's strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone." - from Matilda

RD1

Shout out to Quentin Blake!

It’s that time of year again, time to consume outrageous amounts of pumpkin spice flavored food and drink time to celebrate Roald Dahl! Why? Because it’s his birthday September 13th, and of course, because he was a great writer with an enormous imagination!

rd4

Remember how their spit was blue so they didn't have to buy ink?!

rd2

The Twits. There is a recipe in the book mentioned at the bottom of the post for a mashed potato and veggie model of this guy!

Roald Dahl  delighted generations of children with his captivating, original, and slightly dark stories like Matilda, The Witches, The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and James and the Giant Peach. Some parents, for their part, have found his writing to be off-putting (he is a member of the Banned Authors That You Should Definitely Read Club) and bristled at the thought of a world where adults are regularly outsmarted, more often than not the villains, and could be flattened by a giant peach on the loose at any moment. But those details just made the books better, right?!  Real talk: adults aren’t always smart or kind or the types of people to be trusted.

rd11

hahahahahahahaha

What an amazing thing to discover as a child, and how great did it feel to read about awful Mr. Wormwood getting his comeuppance again and again. He deserved a hat glued to his head, Ms. Trunchbull deserved a newt filled water glass telekinetically thrown at her and those awful parents on the Willy Wonka tour deserved blue balloon-like or stretched like taffy children! Children know this, and will continue to read his original, updated fairy tales forever. How could they resist when Dahl so brilliantly filled his books with details like lick-able wallpaper, a boy triumphantly eating an huge chocolate cake in front of a cheering crowd, or the weird description of the witches with their blue spit, wiggly nostrils and square block feet!

rd3

Oh, boy! You should not have worn pigtails today...

For adults who still sympathize with James and Matilda and Charlie, (and are still trying to picture “square candies that look ‘round” in their heads) Roald Dahl also wrote over sixty dark and surprising short stories, published in the New Yorker, Harpers and in book collections as well. I also highly recommend checking out his autobiographies Boy and Going Solo, quick reads with great insight into the life events that influenced his writing.

rd5

Yes, there IS a recipe for Snozzcumbers!

Re-read a favorite to celebrate his birthday, check out his fun website or make your own chocolate cake or edible pillows with this fantastic book!  

rd6

I could definitely eat this entire cake.......as, you know.....a protest or something................

Thank you Roald Dahl!

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20 Aug
2014

Happy Birthday, Gene Kelly!

Don't you wish movie stars still had to know how to sing and dance to be in the pictures? Wouldn't you put up with James Franco's shenanigans if he could tap dance like this?

Yep, that's Gene Kelly tap dancing on roller skates (!) like a champ in the movie It's Always Fair Weather. I love the thing that always happens in his movies where he's dancing and singing down the street in the rain or on roller skates and the random non-whimsical extras look at him like "SIR, WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU SINGING AND DANCING DOWN THE STREET WHILST WE'RE STROLLING ABOUT THE BLOCK" and he's "who, me....I'm not doing anything unusual".....

**LOOKS AROUND AND WHISTLES**

singing

**WAITS A MINUTE**

sitr

**RESUMES EXCELLENT  TAP DANCING**

singin-in-the-rain 2

How charming is that!?

And even better- Gene Kelly was born (on August 23rd, 1912) and raised in Highland Park! According to wikipedia (which I trust unreservedly) his childhood dream was to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates! In 1938 he became a choreographer for the Pittsburgh Playhouse before quickly moving to New York City to pursue the stage. In the same year he danced in Cole Porter's Leave it to Me and in less than two years he was picked for  the staring role in Pal Joey.  Soon he won an MGM contract and began creating choreography for and staring in classic movies like Anchors Aweigh, An American in Paris, Singing in the Rain.  Kelly was a phenomenal, expressive dancer who studied everything from ballet to Spanish dance. Like any artistic BA, refused to categorize his craft. "I don't have a name for my style of dancing...It's certainly hybrid...I've borrowed from the modern dance, from the classical, and certainly from the American folk dance – tap-dancing, jitterbugging...But I have tried to develop a style which is indigenous to the environment in which I was reared." Woo Pittsburgh! What a feather in our snazzy cap! 

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15 Aug
2014

Happy Birthday, Mr.Snuffleupagus!

It's Snuffy's Birthday August 19th!

In honor of one of the best muppets ever (and Big Bird's bestie), I present to you a top ten list of Snuffelupagus Fun Facts:

10) Snuffleupugus is turning 4 on August 19th. He is perpetually 4 years old!

ClassicMrSnuffleupagus

<3 you Snuffy!!!!

9) His full name is Aloysius Snuffleupagus

8) Snuffy does not live on Sesame Street! He lives on 456 Snuffle Circle.

7) He lives there with his family; Mommy, Daddy, little sister Alice, Aunt Agnes, Granny Abigail, cousins Abigail and Sr.Snuffleupago and Uncle Abe Snuffleupagus!

Mommysnuffy

Mommy and lil sis Alice

 

6) When he first appeared on Sesame Street, Snuffy was a little .... weird. During the first few seasons, Snuffleupagus had an Eeyore like pessimistic outlook and often answered questions nonsensically. Example conversation with pal Bird,

Big Bird "Where did you go?"

Snuffy "I Suppose so"

....ok

5) He also was originally terrifying.

300px-Firstsnuffy

AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Snuffed

Thats......better......I guess......

4) When Snuffy's not working on set he hangs out in the rafters covered by a giant pink blanket!

300px-Snuffy_stored

"I'll be here if you guys need me..."

3) His shoe size is 65 triple G

2) Snuffy is also a great tap dancer who once danced with pros Maurice and Gregory Hines.

1) The adults of Sesame Street didn't believe in Snuffleupagus!  At first they thought he was just an imaginary friend of Big Bird's. Finally in 1985, Elmo caught Snuffy in Big Bird's nest and Gordon and the gang had to apologize and say that from then on they would alway believe what Big Bird said.

2096u

Sorry, Big Bird!

Happy Birthday, Buddy!!

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