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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in mandabach's LiveJournal:

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Friday, August 29th, 2008
10:49 am
I need help finding books for Alternative School!
I'm hoping to get a whole bunch of books ordered for the library at my new school, and I'm looking for recommendations.

We have a very diverse group here, from voracious readers to reluctant ones, and they like everything from Orson Scott Card to Ellen Hopkins to Kerouac.


But we're alternative, so I'm thinking that the usual high school setting as it appears in the young adult novel won't appeal very much.

Or I'm thinking that they typical suburban issues won't appeal very much.

At the very least, I'm looking for stuff that's close to the edge, but maybe I'm wrong in my assumptions. Maybe our students will dig into any good read—regardless of my prejudices.

N E waze--- please comment!!

I really want your list of top titles for the 15-19-year-old set.
Saturday, June 28th, 2008
10:13 am
Random notes on my work in progress: CONTACT HIGH

I’m nearing the end of break time. I finished the latest draft of my work in progress 13 days ago, and am going back to work on the next round of revisions on Monday.

Until things are almost finished, I can’t tell anyone anything about what I’m writing. But now, I’m excited and feel compelled to share a little:

>At this point, the novel is called CONTACT HIGH.
>It takes place in the late 1970’s.
>There are no cell phones (or even cordless ones.)
>There is a lot of Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and the Stones. **
>It’s the story of one year, four friends, two couples, best friends, complications, breaking into an abandoned round barn, breaking up, breaking walls that maybe stood for a reason (of which the
heart knows nothing), getting back together, driving to Wisconsin, a 1971 Duster, a motel, a bonfire, a beach fire, breaking up again, camping, Special Export, German Wine, rain, strip poker, stomach flu, stories, cigarettes & other combustibles, a redhead, the police, swimming, a basement, another basement, a pizza joint, a lake, a canoe, a field party, another lake, long hair, THE SOUND AND THE FURY, THE SUN ALSO RISES, blankets under the oak trees, blankets on the hay, sleeping bags, mosquitoes, OFF!

** I hate Journey and Foreigner and REO, and so do my heroes! {but not thier girlfriends, and like my heroes, I also adore some people who enjoy these horrid bands–my wife and Kylie C. among others.}


(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

9:56 am
READING AND BOOK SIGNING @ BARNES & NIZZELOBLES

I STILL AM GETTING TO BED CLOSER TO 3 AM THAN MIDNIGHT, but I am relaxing a little, now.

Despite plumbing projects. More on that later.

My first catch-up blog is about my Barnes & Noble reading on June 7.

The event started with a writing club mini-reunion. Taylor, Jack, Brandon, & Li-Mae and I had lunch and I read bits from my work in progress, CONTACT HIGH, and they helped me choose one to read that day.

The reading was super fun. I brought my new portable turntable and started with Cassie’s fav form Zeppelin I, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Then I read from OR NOT as well as a tiny bit of CONTACT HIGH.

I had great questions, including one about who had inspired Cassie and have I actually ever had someone that amazing as a student. No one in particular and lots of people. Some of my former students in the room are easily as amazing, gifted, insightful as my beloved Cass.

As I signed books, I played my Nirvana, LIVE IN NEW YORK record, and knew I was doing the right thing when management asked me to turn it down.

Overall, I love, love, love the energy I get from these things and am so thankful to have people who will come out and support me. Always a little sad when it’s over, because I’d like to spend more time with people than I get to. But, you know me–I love being the center of attention, and I love you people who come to see me. Lot of love in this paragraph! Sorry for gushing, but that’s how I feel, and I’m grateful and want to express it.

Here’s a few pics taken by Liberty Grad, writer, and all around awesome-woman, Marty:

Also in attendance were:
Lee, Andy, Niles, Brandy, Kyle, Anna, Caltera, Chy and her two cool friends in the picture where V. is hiding, Kelsey, Kaley, Brittany Lana, Emily, Mary, Becky, Leah, Michaela, two old CC people and their wonderful daughter, Druzzie Dru and friend and sister, Dennis, and that lady just outside the cafe who was working on legal pads and laptop who kept scowling at me for having a reading in what she seemed to think of as her own private Idaho–love you, too, lady!</p>

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
11:15 am
finally done with latest revisions and ready to blog about old stuff like my barnes and noble readin

I STILL AM GETTING TO BED CLOSER TO 3 AM THAN MIDNIGHT, but I am relaxing a little, now.

Despite plumbing projects. More on that later.

My first catch-up blog is about my Barnes & Noble reading on June 7.

The event started with a writing club mini-reunion. Taylor, Jack, Brandon, & Li-Mae and I had lunch and I read bits from my work in progress, CONTACT HIGH, and they helped me choose one to read that day.

The reading was super fun. I brought my new portable turntable and started with Cassie’s fav form Zeppelin I, “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Then I read from OR NOT as well as a tiny bit of CONTACT HIGH.

I had great questions, including one about who had inspired Cassie and have I actually ever had someone that amazing as a student. No one in particular and lots of people. Some of my former students in the room are easily as amazing, gifted, insightful as my beloved Cass.

As I signed books, I played my Nirvana, LIVE IN NEW YORK record, and knew I was doing the right thing when management asked me to turn it down.

Overall, I love, love, love the energy I get from these things and am so thankful to have people who will come out and support me. Always a little sad when it’s over, because I’d like to spend more time with people than I get to. But, you know me–I love being the center of attention, and I love you people who come to see me. Lot of love in this paragraph! Sorry for gushing, but that’s how I feel, and I’m grateful and want to express it.

Here’s a few pics taken by Liberty Grad, writer, and all around awesome-woman, Marty:

Also in attendance were:
Lee, Andy, Niles, Brandy, Kyle, Anna, Caltera, Chy and her two cool friends in the picture where V. is hiding, Kelsey, Kaley, Brittany Lana, Emily, Mary, Becky, Leah, Michaela, two old CC people and their wonderful daughter, Druzzie Dru and friend and sister, Dennis, and that lady just outside the cafe who was working on legal pads and laptop who kept scowling at me for having a reading in what she seemed to think of as her own private Idaho–love you, too, lady!

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Thursday, May 29th, 2008
6:09 am
READING AND BOOK SIGNING @ BARNES & NIZZELOBLES

Hope to see you there!

Barnes & Noble Booksellers,

1565 Briargate (across from Chapel Hills Mall

Saturday, June 7, 2 p.m.
call 266-9960

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008
9:33 pm
u like youtube better? a book trailer for Mandabach’s OR NOT

I love my myspace, but here’s Meredith’s OR NOT preview on youtube. Share if you like. :)

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008
10:19 pm
A video trailer for OR NOT

My dear family friend, high school senior and all around superteen, Meredith, made this video for me ages ago, but I only just figured out how to upload it. :)

Mandabach’s OR NOT: a book trailer

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Monday, March 17th, 2008
9:04 pm
NObody expects the SPANISH INQUISITION!! Contest, interview, etc.

ONE of my very favorite Monty

Python sketches is

The Spanish Inquisition:



But first, here’s a link to Niles’ full interview of

yours truly. This was the basis of his article in the

Doherty High School paper, (which I got some

nice comments about that rightfully belong to

him.) Be a friend and comment his blog, and

read the interview–I go a little long sometimes,

but there are some interesting questions and

at least one embarrassing answer that has to do

with Monty Python.

And here’s the contest:


What four items are among the chief weaponry

of the Spanish Inquisition? (Not including nice

red uniforms, the soft cushions, the comfy

chair, and the rack.)


Email your answer to

bmandabach @ msn dot com, and one person

who answers correctly receives a free book.


Peace, Love, & Vinyl,


M

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Friday, March 14th, 2008
5:37 pm
And the winner is . . .

Anna!!


At first she was confused by my previous blog

that showed my sharpie drawing, but Anna has

won a copy of Or Not, and I couldn’t be more

pleased. She was a loyal fan of the book when it

first appeared, bit by bit, on my myspace blog.

She also left lots of comments, which I love.

Thanks forever for all of your support, Anna!

By the way, the ink is as permanent as my arm and its epidermis, and the design is by J.R.R. Tolkien. Not so original on my part, but my love for the professor and his work has lasted over thirty years without diminishment. My daughter and I are reading LOTR for the third time, and are at the point where Frodo has just taken off the ring (at Gandalf’s long distance urging, and against Sauron’s long distance urging) on the seat of Ammon Hen.

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008
10:33 pm
Ink, Contest

Permanent or permanent marker?

and, what does it signify? If you can answer both questions, I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free book. Send your answer in an email to bmandabach at msn dot com. There are clues in an earlier blog on my myspace, if you feel like doing some research.

(no comments that give away the symbol, please:)

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
10:10 pm
Sympathy, American History, We Wear the Mask

One extra day of Black History Month this year, so I’ll close it out with some thoughts and some poems:

Today’s BHM trivia contest question at school pissed me off:
“Who killed Martin Luther King?”

Yes, knowing this person’s name is knowing some history. But how many other, better things are there to know?

Forget his name, never speak it again, let it rot like his soul was rotten. Let’s not sing the names of murderers. Let’s close our fists around their syllables and plunge our hands deep in the mud and drown them.

And let’s lift up the poems on our voices, because it’s only one month until National Poetry Month! (formatting is funky–always is when I cut and paste from poets.org)
by
Paul Laurence Dunbar:

Sympathy
 
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!

When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;

When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,

And the river flows like a stream of glass;

When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,

And the faint perfume from its chalice steals–

I know what the caged bird feels!

I know why the caged bird beats its wing

Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;

For he must fly back to his perch and cling

When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;

And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars

And they pulse again with a keener sting–

I know why he beats his wing!

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,–

When he beats his bars and he would be free;

It is not a carol of joy or glee,

But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings–

I know why the caged bird sings!

American History


by Michael S. Harper

Those four black girls blown up
in that Alabama church
remind me of five hundred
middle passage blacks,
in a net, under water
in Charleston harbor
so redcoats wouldn’t find them.
Can’t find what you can’t see
can you?
We Wear the Mask

by Paul Laurence Dunbar
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,–
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
 
Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
    We wear the mask.
 
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
    We wear the mask!

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
11:03 pm
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You


Saturday night I finished this amazing book by Peter Cameron. It’s one of those stories that summaries fail, so I won’t even try. This review does pretty well,
Brian Farrey’s review on Dispatches from an MFA-Seeking Writer, but it seems to me that this story is so well-told that telling what it’s about doesn’t say much about the book at all.

Furthermore, even though I’ve given you that link, I’ll say that I think it’s better to read Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You without knowing anything that’s going to happen. Not that what you read in a review will spoil it, it’s just that my preference is always to avoid knowing too much about a book before I read. I want to be open to the most subtle bit of surprise. I want the story to reveal itself. I want to guess and predict. I want to let the writing tell the story.

And this one is the kind of book that you can read the first page and know you want to keep reading.

What I will say here is that the book is hilarious and smart. Protagonist/narrator James slays me with his observations and Cameron just kills me with his dialog. James is a kid (18 years old, in the summer before college) with some serious issues, but despite how impossible he is, I believed that he was either right on or I sympathized completely despite the fact that I knew he was fucking up.

And the way Cameron begins with such a strong, endearing voice and “gotta read this passage aloud to your friend” humor, then gradually reveals the story with precision and restraint . . . What can I say?

I wish I could write like this!

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008
12:29 pm
What is Young Adult? What’s not? Why? And other Questions . . .

Not long ago I read a really interesting novel, The Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson.

It’s a bildungsroman, story of a girl, her twin brother, water, and fire. (Salon Review of Tribes)

My wife, Lee, who doesn’t read much YA, picked it up at the library, read it, and passed it my way. It’s just over 200 pages, which is the usual length for realistic YA fiction, and the characters are the right age–so why isn’t it YA?

A while ago I asked FLUX editor Andrew Karre why he though Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep wasn’t YA, and he said it was just because a YA editor hadn’t gotten a hold of it. But I wonder.

I happened to be on a pink-jacketed novel kick (why don’t some guys read some books?) when I read Prep, which was the second in the series, the first being Natasha Friend’s Perfect, which happens to be YA.

A couple points of contrast stand out in my mind more than a year later:

  • Perfect is 200 pages long.
  • Prep has a post-adolescent perspective.
  • Perfect’s cover is almost entirely pink, while Prep’s just has a little pink in it.

Now, I know that not all YA is under 300 pages, but it seems like most of it is. And don’t you wish that more of it was longer? Are teens, if they aren’t looking for fantasy or sci fi, scared of thick books? Or do adults just think they are?

And have not some agents, editors, and reviewers come to expect a certain length and formula from YA? I don’t read nearly as much as they do, and I know most are looking for something that stands out as different, but it seems to me that a lot of the YA I read gets going and wraps up at much the same pace.

Back to Prep: it was a bit too long, maybe, and could have used some cutting, but the pacing of the book develops–as I remember it–with more immersion detail and complexity than Perfect. I’m loathe to criticize my peers–and Friend is probably a better and certainly a more successful writer than I–but Perfect left me wanting more.

Not because of the ambiguous ending. I had a fabulous discussion with a couple of my students about it, and we all appreciated how the end allowed us to imagine a future for the characters that is suggested rather than spelled out.

I wanted more because, though Friend brilliantly made me understand bulimia for the first time. (In a purely physical level her writing took me right there so I almost feel as if I have gorged myself sick and then released it all back again. I almost feel like I want to.) I just wanted more of the characters, their relationships, their lives, and all I got was 200 pages.

After all that about length, I still think that it’s probably not a central issue here. Fantasy YA gives intricate detail, and tends to take its time–even if the time rushes by in fast-paced action–and gives us the characters’ whole world.

Rather than quantity, I think that the what makes a book YA or adult is a qualitative difference. In Prep, a huge factor is the perspective of looking back on those teen years as opposed to being in them. This completely changes the voice, and though I don’t think that makes it any less attractive for teens, I think it makes it a lot more palatable for adults.

At the same time, I think this perspective gives YA it’s authenticity. As the FLUX motto says, “YA is a point of view.” It’s being a teenager, not trying to make sense of it from the dotage of your 20’s or 3o’s. The best writers of YA, then, must possess a gift of imagination (or else they exist in a state of arrested development).

In Palos Verdes there’s also a qualitative difference–something present in the voice, something very spare that says adult. Maybe it’s something not present in the voice, as well–the absence of a certain preciousness that too often finds its way into novels that we adults write for teens. I know there are plenty of YA novels that don’t have the preciousness; my point is that the clean, spare prose and the cool, distanced voice makes Palos Verdes something that’s marketable as a story for grown-ups. And, if such books get into the hands of the not-quite-grown-up, I think they will often appeal.

I asked Lee why she thought Palos Verdes isn’t YA, and she said that the Medina (the protagonist) isn’t exactly a great role model. (Andrew is screaming, now, if he’s reading this! :)

C’mon! How many girls are there out there who are going to get themselves and their brothers nice, if slightly used, surfboards by lifting up their shirts in the pool house? Really clever girls might even figure out that they could “pay” for a snowboard by showing their stuff in the garage! Lee recognizes that its possible for teenagers to empathize with the protagonist without emulating her, but she–like a lot of adults–are concerned. What about the kids who might see maladaptive behaviors and be attracted to them?

I don’t know. I don’t think that the fabulous Alaska is going to tempt anyone to jump into a car after a night of boozing. Nor do I think that any more kids who have gone and asked Alice over the years have been scared off drugs than have been intrigued by them, regardless of what happened to her. If she really existed. I remember people saying that the whole thing was propaganda. And Alaska got hers, too, didn’t she? Are characters who make bad decisions okay as long as they are punished?

Are characters in YA more likely to be good role models than those in other fiction? Unquestionably. Is this good for kids? Is it good for the literature?

Premise for a distopian teen novel:

In a not so distant place and future, all kid and teen literature (media?) is produced by a shadowy government/media conglomerate like Harpercollins corporate collective with the purpose of inculcating future citizens/consumers with appropriate self image and values. Until the kids start writing for themselves!

But we old fogies need not worry. They won’t really be able to write until they are old enough to sell out appreciate the need to guide the hope of our future!

Did I get off topic?

What is an isn’t YA and why?

btw, snopes.com says that Go Ask Alice is not in fact “a real diary”.

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

10:52 am
Who says there’s no significant content on myspace?

Who indeed?!?!?!?
Check out Melissa’s blog for an interview–

with MEEEEEEE!

Okay, I’m not significant. :(
Click here to go right to Melissa’s blog interview with me!

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Friday, January 11th, 2008
10:14 pm
Quotable Quotes for 500

From Friedrich Nietzsche:


The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate

his friends.

Digressions, objections, delight in

mockery & carefree mistrust are signs of

health; everything unconditional belongs

in pathology.

He who fights with monsters might take

care lest he thereby become a monster.

And if you gaze for long into an abyss,

the abyss gazes also into you.

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008
5:45 pm
I’m talking about Shinola, not shoe polish! (Sheesh! Don’t you know your brass from yo

Photobucket

shinola!

PhotobucketPhotobucket

Shoe polish:

From Wikipedia:

Shinola was immortalized in colloquial English by the phrase You don’t (or He doesn’t) know shit from Shinola which first became widely popular during World War II. The 1979 Carl Reiner film The Jerk includes a memorable demonstration of the phrase, and Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 novel Gravity’s Rainbow includes a lengthy discussion of the phrase.

Aside from being an amusing bit of alliteration, the phrase implies that the subject is stupid or woefully ignorant. Shit and Shinola, while superficially similar in appearance, are entirely distinct in their function; only one is good for polishing shoes, and anyone who fails to distinguish one from the other must be ignorant or of low acuity. Similar expressions include, doesn’t know his ass from his elbow or Sir Henry Wood’s doesn’t know his brass from his woodwind.

Shinola!Photobucket

NOT shinola: (and not prettiful like the shinola pictures, so DO NOT SCROLL DOWN here if you don’t like being grossed out, because if it’s not shinola, then it’s crapola!!)

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(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Monday, January 7th, 2008
10:55 pm
SHINOLA!

From an old song I used to dig from from Todd Rundgren & Utopia,
“Shinola”:

Sung:
I see you’re still in the headlines
You pegged the latest trend again this week
I’m not impressed by the outfit,
Or your revolutionary chic
And here it comes,
I see you forming the words, you’re performing the exercise
And here it comes,
It’s the feeling that I heard the same speech a hundred times:

Screamed:
This is the jabber of a

chimpanzee!!


The motion of your mouth

looks much the same to me!!!


The differentiation might

be hard to see,

But this is crapola!!!

(the political message of the picture, while I don’t
disagree)
is incidental to what I’m talking about)

Sung, very melodically, with harmony:


This is shinola–

shinola!!!

Spoken:
Everyone’s talking, few of them know
The rest are pretending, they put on a show
And if there’s a message I guess this is it
Truth isn’t easy, the easy part’s shit:

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Sunday, January 6th, 2008
11:01 pm
viral

I keep thinking about this, from Publishers Weekly:

Yes, teens spend a lot of time online. But for publishers trying to use that to their advantage, it takes

more than just shifting promotional dollars to

the Web. “Part of the trick to marketing

books to teens online is that the most

effective results seem to come from the

coverage that appears most organic,

viral and uncommercial in

nature,” says Tracy van Straaten, v-p of

trade publicity at Scholastic.

wtf? 




(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

12:12 pm
of-the-people, bottom-up, nonhierarchical

Dictionary
grass roots (also grassroots |–gras?ro–ts|)
plural noun
the most basic level of an activity or organization : the whole campaign would be conducted at the grass roots. | [as adj. ]
• ordinary people regarded as the main body of an organization’s membership : you have lost touch with the grass roots of the party.

Thesaurus
grassroots
adjective
a grassroots movement: popular, of-the-people, bottom-up, nonhierarchical, rank-and-file.

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008
11:45 pm
Book Lists, Recs, Reviews: Teen Book Reviewer and Melissa’s POISED AT THE EDGE

I promised Em that I would post some book recommendations on my blog, but I am sick and lazy, so I will just point out a couple of links:


Teen Book Reviewer missed her goal of reading 365 books last year, but she did read over 300! Here is her myspace, and here’s a link to her 30 favorites of the year.


Melissa has a myspace blog, Poised at the Edge, filled with reviews, interviews, etc. Melissa is a great resource when you’re looking for a good read.

And there’s also the Cybils! Short list of young adult novels coming on 1/7!!

(Originally published at mandabach.com. You can comment here or there.)

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