Monday, December 31, 2007

Money Magazine's Best of 2007

As a culture our interaction with the Internet continues to expand. The Internet has become a powerful tool in greatly augmenting our abilities to connect with each other on a personal level. It has also evolved into a crucial resource for purchasing, planning, and decision-making in regard to the management of personal finances and asset allocation. It is in this vein that I introduce to you some of “Money” magazine’s 28 most highly recommended websites to aide you in maximizing your investment returns and keeping as much of your hard earned cash in your bank account as possible in the coming year. For a full listing and a detailed explanation of the web resources included below please consult the January 2008 issue of “Money” or find the full text of the article using the Austin Public Library’s Masterfile database.

Personal Finance:


Car Buying:


Best Sites for Investment Advice:




Career Networking:


Home Buying:




Friday, December 28, 2007


Dictionary editors are using a "word of the year' ritual as a way to get publicity for their dictionaries. It's also a way to check to see if you are keeping up with current trends.

Merriam Webster's WOTY is w00t, which is an interjection that expresses joy.

New Oxford Dictioanry's WOTY is locavore, which is someone who eats locally grown foods.

Webster's New World Dictionary's WOTY is a phrase - "grass station", a theoretical place where cars could fill up with ethanol one day.

The American Dialect Society will hold its 2007 words-of-the-year vote January 4th in Chicago. The society claims that it is "the
longest-running such vote anywhere, the only one not tied to commercial interests, and the word-of-the-year event up to which all others lead."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Rock ‘N’ Roll Novels

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to start your own band, or to listen to more music, then you might want to start by reading a rock and roll novel.

The Exes is about an up-and-coming underground Boston band comprised of people who used to date each other.

Bill Flanagan, music journalist and current executive vice president of MTV, reveals the ins and outs of the recording industry in A&R.

Nick Hornby's first novel, High Fidelity is about a music junkie, record collector, and owner of London record store who experiences a self-discovery.

Lewis Shiner's Say Goodbye: The Laurie Moss Story tells the story of the rise and fall of Laurie Moss, a singer-songwriter who almost makes it.

Jesse Melungeon, is a 20-year-old bassist for a bar cover band in Anything Goes.

Reservation Blues is Sherman Alexie's brilliant novel that brings to life band members and their on-the-road experiences.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Less than heroic

Some of the most intriguing characters in literature, movies, and television have been antiheroes. Take for instance, Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David, Michael Scott (or David Brent) from The Office, or Alex Vega from Cane. These are the protagonists that just don’t quite live up to our heroic ideals due to some character or personality flaw. Nonetheless, they do capture our interest and hopefully a little bit of understanding or sympathy for their human failings. The antihero label is subjective and therefore not always an easy one to bestow on characters. Below are just few examples of antiheroes and antiheroines. Feel free to disagree or to suggest others!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mitchell Report and Baseball

Some say it’s a token gesture while others applaud baseball for addressing the steroid era. The Mitchell Report was released last week and tips the scales at a stout 409 pages. It names 88 players alleged to have taken steroids or human growth hormones over the past decade to improve their baseball prowess. While the report has no judicial power, Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has stated that he will consider punishing the players mentioned. How this affects the future of baseball is uncertain. Congressional hearings are slated for January to discuss the findings of the Mitchell Report. Depending on those findings, the 2008 season might have a different look to it, namely missing a few notable players. Amid this confusion, one thing is for sure: baseball is still popular. Major League Baseball set a league-wide attendance record last year while grossing over $6 billion and expects to surpass that in 2008.

If you’re looking to catch up on the hoopla concerning performance enhancing drugs and baseball, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams’ Game of Shadows is an excellent read. Noted steroid-user and home-run basher, Jose Canseco released a 2005 tell-all called Juiced that reveals his and others rampant steroid use throughout the past two decades. Canseco has another tell-all on the way and is promising to name more names. I wonder if he’ll mention his refusal to toss me a batting practice ball in 1988?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holiday Recordings

If you want to get into the holiday mood, check out some holiday music: Christmas with Yolanda Adams, Julie Andrews' Greatest Christmas Songs, Making Spirits Bright, Ray Charles' Spirit of Christmas, Lou Rawls’ Merry Christmas, Baby, Marty Sexton’s Camp Holiday. Two from Texas are One More Christmas and Jerry Jeff Walkers’ Christmas Gonzo Style. Three international recordings are Circle of Light, Vuelve por Navidad and Homecoming from South Africa. You can find more holiday recordings by searching for carols, christmas music, or holiday music as a subject. If you are looking for the recording of a particular song, type the name of the song as “search everything” followed by {505} which searches for song titles in the contents field. An example: auld lang syne {505}

You can also download some free Christmas music.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Making Decisions

Some new consumer web sites that will help us vote, travel, buy a new car, or purchase other new items:

truth o meter


travel awards

best cars


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Traveling librarian goes to the International Book Fair in Guadalajara

Every year, the last week of November, the city of Guadalajara, Mexico, opens its doors to thousands of people from all over the world visiting their International Book Fair. This is the second most important book fair in the world after the one in Frankfurt Germany. Lucky me, I got to go!

More than 1,600 vendors and more than 500,000 people attended this prestigious event. Writers from around the world presented their books and spent time with their fans, for example: Arturo PĂ©rez Reverte from Spain, Tahar Bekri from Turkey, Rubem Fonseca from Brazil and Chenjerai Hove from Zimbabwe.

An amazing mass of local teenagers stood in line every day to participate and also have their pictures taken in front of their favorite publisher stand’s, holding a book in their hands as if it were a trophy. Parents with their little children, retirees, all kinds of people, from all ages and different countries were there, sharing ideas and talking about their favorite books. The never-ending line, outside the Expo Center where the book fair was held, was a clear indicator that for nine days, that was the place to be.

If you didn’t have a chance to go this year, don’t worry, next year, you will have another opportunity to participate of this great event! For more information visit this website.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tennis, Anyone?

US tennis players have not done that well the last few years in Grand Slam matches, but the US team recently won the Davis Cup, thanks to James Blake, Andy Roddick, and Bob and Mike Bryan.

Blake beat the Russian player Tursunov to bring the US final score to 4-1 to win the Davis Cup in Portland, Oregon December 1. The U.S. hadn't won the gigantic silver trophy since 1995, foiled not only by tennis-rich countries such as Spain, Sweden and Australia but also by Croatia and Russia. You can watch match highlights from the Davis Cup.

In Breaking Back, James Blake tells the dramatic story of the tumultuous year that followed a convergence of tragedies in Blake’s life, including a serious injury and the death of his father. The Davis Cup victory certainly confirms his "breaking back".

This winter is predicted to be dry and warm, so you don’t need to wait until spring to pick up a racket. The City of Austin has courts throughout the city .

If you would rather enjoy tennis off the courts, please see this list of tennis fiction, including two films.

Drop Shot by Harlan Coben. Sports agent Myron Bolitar has under contract one of the hottest young male tennis players around. When a young former tennis star is murdered he finds that his client may be connected.

McNeils’ Match by Gwynne Forster. A tennis love story.

Murder is My Racket by Otto Penzler. This collection of stories by famous mystery writers, including Ridley Pearson and Lawrence Block, deal with the prestige of the high-stakes race to become one of the few international tennis stars.

The Tournament by John Clarke. The greatest minds of the 20th century-128 of them to be exact-have gathered in Paris for a two-week tennis tournament.

Match Point

Friday, December 07, 2007

Happy 58th, Tom

If there is one entertainer I would spare no expense seeing, it would be Tom Waits. In one of my favorite albums, Closing Time (1973), his signature craggy voice has not yet been fully developed, but his heartfelt lyrics and melodies are astounding especially considering this is his debut album. The song "Martha" brings me to tears every single time I hear it no matter what my mood. In his 2004 album Real Gone, Waits steps away from his jazzy/bluesy/folksy origin to a bellowing, industrial sound. He has achieved a cult following as well as two Grammies, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar nomination. He's also appeared in several movies including Ironweed, The Cotton Club, and Short Cuts (a great role alongside Lily Tomlin), as well as composed for films. He's a class act who has no fear in pursuing new endeavors and styles. With a career spanning over 30 years, you're bound to find something you love about him. Rolling Stone provides articles, reviews, a biography, and much more, and you can find the following at the Austin Public Library:

Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
Mule Variations
Real Gone
The Early Years. Volume Two

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

2007: Top Ten Lists

The end of the year brings “end of the year lists.” Before we turn our gaze towards the new releases of 2008, December serves as a time to look across the expanse of 2007 and compile our favorites: those memorable books that we read, recommended to others, and just might see canonized as classics down the road. Be on the look out as publications begin to release their “best of 2007” lists.

The New York Times’ Ten Best Books of 2007:


Man Gone Down

Out Stealing Horses

The Savage Detectives

Then We Came to the End

Tree of Smoke


Imperial Life in the Emerald City

Little Heathens: Hard times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm during the Great Depression

The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

The Ordeal of Elizabeth Marsh: A Woman in World History (on order)

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century (on order)

Some 2007 books I enjoyed or look forward to reading:

Falling Man

Exit Ghost

Bearing the Body

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


The Gathering

Refresh, Refresh (on order)

Like You’d Understand, Anyway (on order)

Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black (on order)

The New York Times also compiled a 100 Notable Books of the Year list.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Latin Redux

An editorial in today's New York Times is about the revival of Latin. The author believes this trend could strengthen the country's political rhetoric. Reading the foundations of Western civilization in its original form is a richer, fuller experience, and opens one eyes up to our classical roots. And, translating Latin is a wonderful way to train the mind. All of our early presidents studied Latin in school, and even Presidents Clinton and Bush studied Latin, but in in the mid 1960s the study of Latin collapsed. In 1977 only 6,000 students took the National Latin Exam, but in 2005 that number increased to 134,873.

Those of you who were lucky enough to have studied Latin, please visit the new website, Vicipaedia. The goal of Vicipaedia is to keep Latin hip and alive, but the articles are written in authentic classical Latin. Some articles are written by beginning Latin students, so Vicipaedia should not be used as a reference work, but as a way to practice the language.

Vicipaedia has 15,000 articles. Catullus, Horace and the Roman Senate are included; so are musica rockica, Georgius Bush and cadavera animata, aka zombies. You can read in Latin about hangman (homo suspensus), paper airplanes (aeroplanum chartaceum), as well as about famous Italians like Leonardo da Vinci and the Super Mario brothers.