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Read a Good Book Tomorrow in Collingswood

September 30, 2011

Tags: books, libraries, Collingswood, Collingswood Book Festival, Jerry Blavat

They’re throwing a special birthday bash in Collingswood this month. The Borough Library is turning 100 years old in September, and literary enthusiasts from New Jersey and beyond are invited.

A younger, award-winning organization, the Collingswood Book Festival, will be culminating the birthday festivities with its ninth annual event on October 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Every year the Collingswood Book Festival showcases authors for adults and children, booksellers, workshops, poetry, exhibitors and entertainment for everyone. Loompaland offers activities for the kids.

Featured authors this year include veteran rock DJ Jerry Blavat, who has written “You Only Rock Once: My Life in Music, Jen A. Miller, independent writer and journalist who is bringing her second edition of “The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May,” and George Anastasia and Glen Macnow, who have co-written “The Ultimate Book of Gangster Movies.”

It’s been tough for libraries in recent years with state budget cuts. For those who don’t remember, books are kind of like extended blogs, and authors are bloggers with a college education.

The Collingswood Public Library was initially established in 1911. They got a new building in 1917 through a grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation for $15,000, and have maintained a presence at Haddon Avenue in Collingswood since the early 1970s. Pretty impressive record in an age of Kindle, Nook, and iPads.

Of course, a milestone like a 100th birthday certainly deserves an appropriate birthday card. Book lovers have been designing cards for the party all summer, which will be on display at the Book Festival for prizes, telling what books and the Collingswood Library mean to them.

The party actually began on the Library’s actual birthday, September 17, with an event known as the Book Ball. The affair took place on Powell Lane in Collingswood from 7:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Library staff said the street became a “book lover’s dream,” and guests appeared as their favorite literary character or author. The Book Ball also had decorations that were book themed, as were guests’ chosen cocktails.

After the Book Ball comes the week of events leading up to the Collingswood Book Festival. The 100th anniversary 5K run and 1 mile Family Fun Walk took place on September 24th , and a town book discussion of “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” by Christopher McDougall was scheduled at the Library on September 27th at 7:00 P.M.

And a favorite of the 50 plus crowd, Sages of Ages, returned this year from 1:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. on September 28th at the Senior Center.

If that’s not enough, when October 1st finally arrives, Book Festival patrons have more than six blocks of literary events to fit into their day. That’s enough walking to make the heartiest book fancier hungry. So the Collingswood Book Festival will be featuring books that are so good, they’re good enough to eat.

The Books 2 Eat contest is sponsored by the Retrospect newspaper, which offers a grand prize of $100 to the winner. Entrants are required to submit an edible entry that relates to the literary world. They can look like books, authors, or literary characters, and interpretation and creativity figure strongly in the judging.

Entries will be on display all day at the Festival. All entries become the property of the Collingswood Book Festival, and will be immediately devoured ravenously at the conclusion of the contest. Those connected encourage edible “War and Peace” entries.

The Festival will also include book appraisals, the Philly Liars Club, and John Wesley Harding from Philadelphia, he of the fifteen rock and folk albums, along with three novels.

A lot of people will be celebrating the Library’s centennial and the world of books at the Collingswood Book Festival on October 1. The Collingswood Library has 65,000 resources, and has been providing books and information for learning since its inception. Frankly, it looks pretty damn good for its age.

The Finest in Physical Fitness

September 28, 2011

Tags: calories, weight, surveillance

A sign at my gym reads: "Cubicles watched by closed circuit cameras," to protect a member's belongings. Since I no longer have the sight faculties of a 21-year old, I thought the sign read "Calories watched...". But my reading of the sign would actually be the best diet plan ever.


September 26, 2011

Tags: reality television, Washington

Is Extreme Musical Chairs finally reaching the bottom of the barrel in reality television? I'm holding out for Pin the Tail (or any other appropriate item or organ of your choice) on the Congressman.

Genius at Work

September 22, 2011

Tags: Acme, cartoons, genius grants

Just noticed that twenty-two Americans have just received genius grants worth $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation. Once again this year, ACME’s anvils and dehydrated boulders failed to gain recognition for Super-Genius grants from the Wile E. Coyote Foundation.

The Rules

September 21, 2011

Tags: Jimmy Buffett, wine

I always thought that Buffett's Rules turned every time zone in the US to 5:00 P.M., creating large numbers of jobs in the wine industry.

The Rules

September 21, 2011

Tags: Jimmy Buffett, wine

The article has been removed.

Avast, Y'all

September 19, 2011

Tags: pirates, New Jersey, Albany

Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day, whether you scurvy dogs realize it or not.

This unofficial holiday has yet to catch on in New Jersey, despite the state's rich pirate lore. And I, for one, intend to help popularize the effort by growling "Arrrr!" at unsuspecting store clerks and answering my phone "Ahoy!"

Talk Like a Pirate Day was conceived in 1995 by John Baur and Mark Summers while they were playing racquetball in Albany, N.Y. As often happens during spirited competition, they were yelling friendly encouragement to each other, like "Owww, I think I tore something" and "Not in the face!"

Eventually, these reassuring words began to drift into pirate slang. Talking like pirates made their game more enjoyable. They decided then and there that the best way to bring the world together would be to create a national holiday on which everyone talked like pirates.

As Baur and Summers explain on their Web site,, they chose Sept. 19 because it is the birthday of Summers' ex-wife. Upon hearing the news, Rhonda Summers reported that she had never been more proud to be Mark's ex-wife.

Baur and Summers have pillaged and plundered their way through several radio interviews. They have spoken to National Public Radio, and stations in Phoenix, Albany, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia, trying to make Talk Like a Pirate Day a truly international holiday. Summers also was able to land an interview with Purplebeard, the Gay Pirate, a host on KRSK-FM (105.1) in Portland, Ore.

And I'm certainly going to walk the plank for a cause that supports international harmony. We need an International Talk Like a Pirate Day, if for no other reason than to give guys another excuse to act like slimy bilge rats. Even women can feel free to swash their own buckles as they see fit.

It's especially appropriate in New Jersey, where pirates roamed the coast in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The Raritan Bay teemed with pirates and privateers. Blackbeard attacked farmers and villages near what is today Middletown, and Capt. Morgan often visited New Jersey's shores.

Legend has it that the infamous Capt. Kidd buried treasure in New Jersey - possibly around Cape May, or near Toms River, or at Sandy Hook.

On Talk Like a Pirate Day, you can fill a mundane workday with romance, skullduggery and a whole lot of cockeyed stares. Pirate language is rich and complicated, but Baur and Summers say you can get by if you master five basic words:

Ahoy! Hello! To be directed at me hearty, whomever that might be.

Avast! Stop and give attention. This is usually used as a sense of surprise, for example, if you should see mates coming out of Pirates of the Caribbean at the cineplex. Johnny Depp is not a pirate. Pirates are not pretty.

Aye! Why, yes, I agree most heartily with everything you just said or did, me hearty.

Aye aye! I'll get right on that, sir, as soon as my break is over.

Arrrr! This term offers the most possible meanings. It can mean "Yes, I'm happy," "I saw “Bucky Larson” and it reeked," or "Another round of grog!"

But you need to avoid certain mistakes that could keelhaul you on Talk Like a Pirate Day.

At your workplace, do not make "treasure chest" remarks while reciting an old sea chantey to a wench you met at the water cooler.

This is an idea whose time has come. Talk Like a Parrot Day annoyed too many people, and Talk Like a Parent Day was fun only for your kids. But as Baur and Summers say, you can greet Talk Like a Pirate Day with a smile on your face and a parrot on your shoulder, if that's your thing.


Mother Nature Strikes Back

September 4, 2011

Tags: environmemt, earthquakes, Hurricane Irene, Jimmy Buffett, Carmageddon

Most of us in the Delaware Valley were just minding our own business and enjoying a relatively uneventful summer last week, when suddenly the scorecard read: Earthquake: Check. Tornado: Check. Hurricane: Check.

Summers in New Jersey have mainly been pleasant before Hurricane Irene if you discount that little matter of your $237,000 air conditioning bill coming from all of the heat waves this year.

That kind of hot weather is not entirely unexpected. But Chiffon margarine commercials from the 1970s had already warned us: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” The brand has been discontinued, but was this Mother Nature’s way of exacting revenge from us for all of our sins against the environment?

The earthquake was relatively mild. Its worst effects may have come from a few West Coasters who mocked us for being rattled by a mere 5.8. These, of course, are the same people who feared that brief freeway closing that was dubbed “Carmageddon.” We need to remember to invite these people for a visit sometime in January so they can see what a two-foot snowfall looks like.

We’ve grown accustomed to snow, but hurricanes are something else again. New Jersey hadn’t been directly hit by a hurricane in over 100 years. In 1821, a hurricane was believed to have moved along what would later become the path of the Garden State Parkway. Fortunately, it had to be diverted off at Exit 38 due to ongoing road construction.

When Irene began heading in our direction, we looked to our local weather forecasters for reassurance. They surrounded us with their overly technical, yet somehow comforting meteorological jargon in describing the current conditions, like: “This is going to be the big one, people! It’s time to kiss your ass goodbye!”

Feeling better, we were then informed it is always wise to prepare ahead of time for an emergency such as Irene. Local hurricane preparation guides say the best way to survive is to collect three days worth of food and supplies for you and your family, fill your car up with gas, and point it toward Sacramento.

But that would be panicking. We needed to start with a plan to protect our house. As a former Sony Music employee in Pitman, I tell people the best way to protect your home is to completely cover the property with rolls of that damn shrink wrap we always put over compact discs. Just be sure to keep a machete handy inside the house to cut it open after the storm ends, or you will never leave your house again.

After putting that plan aside, we did our best to remain calm. We watched the progression of Irene on television, just as long as any of the year’s supply of batteries we just bought in various sizes fit the TV remote. Our favorite local station always has up-to-the-minute coverage of the events, usually featuring ace reporters hanging horizontally from lamp posts in Atlantic City reminding us that we should stay away from Atlantic City.

And we are thankful that the majority of people locally escaped the storm with minimal damage. Most homeowners are protected because their homeowner’s insurance includes hurricane insurance. For the unfortunate people who did receive significant damage, your insurance company will happily cover the repair costs for you. Granted, next year’s premium will now cost more than the value of your home determined by your community’s latest reassessment.

Anyway, I understand the Jersey shore survived the disaster relatively intact, everything considered. Unfortunately, they are still dealing with the series “Jersey Shore,” which has been upgraded to a Category 3 level disaster this season.

And I will admit we need to do a better job of looking after our environment. We came out of this week OK, but we have to learn from every experience. Our comfort zone can be taken from us very quickly.

I sure hope there are no volcanoes in our future. They would be next. Jimmy Buffett has been warning us since the 1970s.

Nutritional Information

September 2, 2011

Tags: Whatchamacallit, Chunky, candy

Items in the candy aisle at your supermarket named Milk "Duds" or "Whatchamacallit" have questionable nutritional value. And a bar named "Chunky" is definitely a red flag.
We're seeing too much of this:

Have you completed your summer reading list yet? Whatever you want, you'll find it here:

Hey, we're right in the heart of Shark Week. It's Shark Summer in South Jersey at a lot of beaches. Anyway, are you doing your part? Here's some great research material from Jim Toomey.