Goodbye, National Poetry Month

Categories: News

April may be the cruelest month, but it’s also National Poetry Month. In honor of the month that’s almost lost and gone, let’s celebrate the art of losing before it’s too late:

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

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Forget What You Know and Just Ride

Categories: Crafts and hobbies, News, Sports

When you were a kid, the first day of Spring-like weather probably meant it was time to dust off your bike and take a spin around the neighborhood.  But we’ve come a long way from those carefree days.  As cycling becomes more popular, especially in big cities, it brings with it some unexpected downsides, many of which Grant Petersen takes on in Just Ride, his book about opting out of racer culture and into enjoying your bike the way you did as a kid.  Petersen is the founder and owner of Rivendell Bicycle Works, and a well-known figure in the bike world.  His argument?  “A lot of the advice you’ve been getting ever since you became a bike rider is flat-out wrong and is actually bad for your health.”  Just Ride is against all of the following: helmets, carbohydrates, biking as a way to lose weight, and wearing silly riding outfits. Well, he’s not exactly against those things, but Petersen has some unconventional opinions about them.  If you’ve ever ridden in the bicycle lane, rode in a charity race, or watched the Tour de France (or, as Petersen calls it, the BORAF, for Big Old Race Around France), you’ll want to read what he has to say.  The book comes out in May, and until then, the Atlantic has an excerpt to tide you over.

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Plunder Underground! Larcenist Lusts After Artist’s Subway Sketch

Categories: News

Photo by Librado Romero/The New York Times

If you’ve ridden a New York City subway lately, maybe you’ve noticed an elongated illustration depicting a wide array of commuters. The print is by Sophie Blackall, our very own author of Missed Connections, and it’s part of the MTA’s Arts for Transit initiative. This weekend, according to news reports, one subway rider admired the illustration so much that he tried to steal it, with a screwdriver! He was quickly nabbed by a plainclothes police officer who happened to be standing nearby. Ms. Blackall was flattered by the attempted heist, but other fans should note that there are more lawful ways to obtain her work: the print itself is available at the Transit Museum’s store, and Missed Connections, a collection of illustrated love stories, can be found at bookstores everywhere.

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To Marry an English Lord, Specifically Lord Grantham

Categories: News

Though it was much beloved around Workman’s editorial department, until recently To Marry an English Lord, originally published in 1989, was out of print, and, we feared, forgotten. Then, like like the appearance of a long-lost cousin or a wealthy American heiress on a soap opera to save the day, fate intervened. On January 19th of this year, the New York Times ran an article celebrating Edith Wharton’s 150th birthday as well as the cultural moment that, thanks in part to Downton Abbey, women like Wharton–late 19th century and early 20th century heiresses–seem to be enjoying. And right there in the article’s second paragraph was To Marry an English Lord, by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace, cited as one of Julian Fellowes’s inspirations for creating Downton Abbey.

Workman jumped at the chance to re-release the book, and now it’s available once more, with a redesigned cover and the same juicy stories of real American heiresses taking on the British peerage: women just like Lady Grantham, who left the nouveau riche-distaining Gilded Age United States for the greener pastures of England, and brought her fortune, which saved the estate of Downton Abbey, with her. The difference between an earl and a “mere sir,” a thorough explanation of entails, the roots of Anglomania–it’s all there, and more, in To Marry an English Lord, a sure-fire method of keeping yourself occupied until the third season of Downton Abbey airs next year. Find the book here, or check out an excerpt of the book here.

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Guest Post from Alan Hatfield: There’s Still Time to Up Your Score

Categories: News

The dreaded March SAT test date is upon us this Saturday.  Whiz kid Alan Hatfield, who scored a perfect 2400 on the test and went on to guest edit the 2011-2012 edition of Up Your Score (that’s him in red on the cover), joins us with some tips in this guest post:

It’s the week before the SAT. You’ve spent weeks, if not months, poring through reams of vocabulary flashcards and meticulously reviewing your subsection scores on practice test after practice test. By now, you should have a good idea of which sections you’ve made the most progress in and which sections are your strong suit. So how do you make the most of the final sprint?  Over the course of the next few days, take some time each night to go through practice questions from your two weaker subsections. If you have or can find some practice tests, go through individual sections each night, focusing on simulating a testing atmosphere. This means you should be giving yourself just as much time as on the real test, just to make sure that you’re ready for the rigors of fast test taking. Focus on being comfortable while working in a rushed manner, since your most valuable weapon on test day will be a clear and focused mind along with confidence in your answers.

Once you hit Thursday night, spend a couple hours going through practice questions from all three sections. You don’t have to time yourself: Just focus on developing your unique pace, answering questions only as fast as you can confidently and completely. By this point, you will be able to predict the various kinds of questions you’ll encounter, so practicing with individual questions as opposed to sections will be your best option.

On Friday night, take a half hour to go through a few individual questions from your weakest section, but make sure you don’t take a full practice test. You’ll want to save your energy for Saturday morning, so eat a full, healthy dinner and after your short review session, blast your theme song to get yourself psyched. By the time you wake up on Saturday morning, you’ll feel comfortable and confident. The rest will be history.

For a more comprehensive study plan, check out Up Your Score!  Good luck to everyone taking the test Saturday–may you hit the triple-800 jackpot.

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A Month to Celebrate Unlikely Friendships

Categories: Kids, News

Goodbye February, hello March.  “In like a lion, out like a lamb” is the proverb we associate with this month’s weather, and it got us thinking: lions, lambs, the harsh and the soft meeting in the middle when we never thought they would (think Beauty and the Beast)–sounds like an unlikely friendship.  While we hope you’re familiar with the runaway bestseller Unlikely Friendships by now, you may not have known that the book has been adapted for younger readers.  In each book in the Unlikely Friendships for Kids series, kids can read five stories of improbable, heartwarming friendship between species.  The books come “out like a lamb” in April, and are great for animal lovers age 7 and up.

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Washington’s Birthday, Fandex Style

Categories: News

Today we wish a happy birthday to George Washington, born this day in 1732.This year would mark his 280th birthday!  Not only was GW our nation’s first president, he is also the very GQ cover boy of our Presidents Fandex Family Field Guide.

As the first president, Washington set the standards for the American presidency: he selected the first cabinet, oversaw the bill of rights, warned against foreign alliances, and bowed out after 2 terms.  Forty-three presidents have followed since then, but most have struggled to live up to Washington’s legacy.  Read about them all in the Presidents Fandex–and if you have a minute, send your birthday regards to George!

Presidents from the front and back of the deck join George Washington in celebration.

 

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Dispatch from Patricia Schultz: Sydney

Categories: Author guest post, Travel

photo by Flickr user HerryLawford

Patricia Schultz, author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die, continues her whirlwind tour with another guest post:

I love big cities, so I knew good-lookin’ Sydney would win me over. Established in 1788 as a British outpost, today it’s a beautiful and vibrant modern city that is the NYC and London of Australia. An international center for commerce, art, fashion, culture and tourism, it is understandably rated one of the most liveable cities in the world–in great part due to the 4 million spirited and fun-loving Sydneysiders who call it home. The iconic Opera House always has a world-class performance going on, or you can follow in Oprah’s footsteps and sign up for the Bridge Climb up and over the “coathanger” (it celebrated its 75th birthday in 2007) for breathtaking views of the stunning harbor, the city’s playground. Jump on one of the countless ferries that ply its waters and head out to Manly for a beachfront stroll to watch the surfers; make sure to stop for a bite at Hugo’s at the wharf before heading back.

Tips:

  • The Bridge Climb is especially magical at twilight.
  • The Bridge Climb is expensive, but you can get a glimpse of the excitement merely by walking across the pedestrian walkway for free!
  • With great views of the Opera House and harbor, the nearby newly renovated Park Hyatt is the city’s #1 hotel; it’s also a fun spot to linger for a cappuccino or a late afternoon cocktail.

For more recommendations from Patricia Schultz, check out 1000 Places to See Before You Die and 1000places.com!

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A Toast to Rejection at The Strand

Categories: Events

For cartoonists, getting published in The New Yorker is quite an achievement, but even the tried-and-true among them aren’t immune to rejection.  They loved you last week, but this week you’re “too lowbrow”?  It stings.  Matthew Diffee, who managed to sneak into The New Yorker between rejections, compiles the cast-aside submissions of well-known cartoonists in The Best of the Rejection Collection: 293 Cartoons that Were Too Dumb, Too Dark, or Too Naughty for The New Yorker.  Join him and several other rejectees as they celebrate the book and the agony of defeat on Thursday, January 12th at Manhattan’s Strand Books.

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Dispatch from Patricia Schultz: Papua New Guinea

Categories: Author guest post, Travel

photo by Flickr user Ian @ ThePaperboy.com

When we last left 1000 Places to See Before You Die author Patricia Schultz, she was offering tips on traveling to Rio de Janeiro. Now she joins us again for a sojourn to PNG.

Simply put, Papua New Guinea is unreal. Or surreal. Unlike anything I have ever experienced anywhere on the planet. For a country that is wild, untamed, and locked in the Stone Age (albeit a Stone Age where the appearance of a cell phone is not unusual ), its people are unexpectedly warm, welcoming and curious. We traveled there in August 2011 for the 50th anniversary of the Mt. Hagen Sing Sing Festival, but the country is a remarkable destination at any time of year. More than a third of the country’s 5 million people live in dense, rugged rainforest in remote highland villages, and hundreds of tribes travel for days to the festival where they fiercely compete in dance, song, and costume. It’s a heady display of colors and sound proudly put on for the locals and a modest number of international tourists who–if they’re like us–felt as if they had died and gone to National Geographic heaven.
Tips:

  • More than 800 languages are spoken throughout the country, but it’s easy to learn a few words of the commonly spoken Pidgin (“Happy noon,” for example. means good afternoon).
  • Even if you are not an avid birder, bring your binoculars: Some of the 42s pecies of the Bird of Paradise that live in PNG are found nowhere else.
  • You will rarely see an outstretched hand asking for money. You may be tempted to bring practical gifts to the villages (such as the pencils and pens often welcomed elsewhere), but simply interacting and talking with the villagers is most recommended by the local tour guides. Villagers are shy but curious and love, love, love to have their photo taken (and would never dream of asking for remuneration. Something rare indeed!).

For more recommendations from Patricia Schultz, check out 1000 Places to See Before You Die and 1000places.com!

 

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