Cheapskate: Get Ye to a Library Book Sale

I loved used-book stores, but somehow I had avoided library book sales for my entire life until last spring. I went out looking for a plant sale and stumbled upon a library book sale. The Farmer and I wandered in there and found ourselves among a horde of middle class people looking for a bargain. They came prepared with boxes and canvas bags. They had strategies in place. Couples worked in tandem to make sure they went over every book in the place. So when I started seeing signs pop up around town for the fall library book sale I immediately texted The Farmer. We were going to score some used literary gems!

During that first trip to the book sale, I looked at people piling up dozens of books in boxes and canvas bags, and imagined they lived in dark, dusty houses where the walls were taken over by sagging bookshelves. Of course this didn’t stop me from finding a pile of books of my own to buy–most importantly, a copy of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom that he wouldn’t get any royalties for. (Actually, there were multiple copies of this book at both library book sales). I also found a copy of a book I had been examining during every trip to Barnes & Noble and then not buying because I have so many unread books piled up at my house.

A week before the second sale The Farmer and I wandered in and out of stores in Northampton, including some bookstores–used and otherwise. I found several books I was thinking about buying, but I knew the library book sale was coming so I held back. As we drove to the library, I read a list of books I was hoping to find. One of which was An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.  (more…)

Connecticut is a Fertile Valley of Magic (and Unicorns)

The name doesn't lie...

The name doesn’t lie…

So recently, a guy dared to say he likes living in Connecticut. Internet commenters immediately jumped into action trying to cut this affable, generous human being down to size because fuuuuuuuckTAXESmaaaaan!  This spurred a column from Colin McEnroe, which spurred a letter from an angry reader who doesn’t understand internet commenters or how news sites work. (For the record, trolls love it when you insult them, it’s their oxygen. And news sites love it when commenters get angry and drive up page views. It’s a win-win.)

So I decided it was a good time to remind you why it’s nice to live in Connecticut. I’m not going to claim we’re the best state–we’ll leave that kind of gauche boasting to Texans–but we do have a pretty good thing going on here. Not only do we make some basic attempts at treating our citizens like human beings with basic rights and dignity,  but we’ve got good pizza (pizza is basically an abomination in much of the country), and potable water (which doesn’t seem to be a given for some states, and certainly not for many countries). A couple of years ago I got a free rain barrel from the MDC, meanwhile Californians are resorting to drinking their own urine a la Bear Grylls, thanks to a devastating drought. The school near my parents’ house in a crappy neighborhood gives out free lunch to hungry kids every day, and we have lots of wineries.

You know what, if you’re one of those haters who just complains about Connecticut because it isn’t New York or Boston — or worse yet, a hater who hates because this isn’t Georgia or Texas or some other wild pig-infested paradise for pro-lifers and open-carry enthusiasts– I don’t have time to try to convince you how awesome the Nutmeg State is. So here is some of our best propaganda:

There’s a lot more to be excited about, but it’s late, I’ve got a summer cold, and if you’re not already convinced that Connecticut is better than the vast majority of other places you could live, then just move… Hurry up and go to Arkansas, it will help solve our traffic problem.

The Glawackus is on the Front Page of The Courant!!!

In the name of all that is unholy… my prayers have been answered — by Peter Marteka of all people. We all know that I love cryptic creatures, especially the Glawackus. Unfortunately, the article does not mention my completely scientific conclusion that the Glawackus was a Fisher.

Check it out --

Check it out —

Hospitals Can Be Good Places…Sort Of

As Colin McEnroe likes to remind us, we are rapidly aging. This is true. As part of this aging process, I had a baby in February and dammit, it was one hell of an adventure. However, we would not have gotten through it without Hartford Hospital and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC). Let’s be honest, hospitals are genuinely crappy places and no one wants to be in one. However, I want to share my great experiences because I feel extremely fortunate.

Broken ankle, pregnant belly

Broken ankle, pregnant belly

Back in January, I slipped on ice in a parking lot and fell while I was six months pregnant. I know, totally brilliant. I went to the Hartford Hospital Emergency Room where I was given amazing care. There was no delay getting me in a room to check the baby, who was, mercifully, fine.

I had to go through a bunch of x-rays and the techs were not only happy and hilarious but they took so much care to pile lots of heavy gown things on me to make sure that the baby didn’t get radiated. While we were there for several hours, the staff was remarkable. Comforting, upbeat, and professional. There was a really irate, demanding and seemingly impossible older woman in the room next to ours that kept yelling out and screaming at nurses and patient assistants. I think we even heard a racial slur against one, but even then, staff maintained their cool.

Things to Do in CT: From Hare Krishna to Mapleleaf Farm

The day after I went to see Jaws! in the park, I headed to two very different but equally entertaining events. The Farmer saw a listing for Hartford’s Festival of India in the newspaper, and it promised free snacks and a chariot parade, so obviously we went. And then, when we were done, we took a tour of Mapleleaf Farm in Hebron.

The Festival of India was not quite what we’d expected. There was a smattering of tents, most of which were trying to sell the Bhagavad Gita in one way or another. There was also a vegetarian tent that tells you all about how your meat is poisoned with “pain toxins.” They were kind of preaching to the choir with us on that one, but even I found some of their claims a bit dubious. There was a “Questions & Answers” tent with nothing but an empty chair in it. We assumed this was an existential statement — or an unmanned Information Tent.

To our chagrin the free food tent was not open yet, so we were reduced to paying $8 for our delicious food at another tent. The chariot parade turned out to be a crapload of people pulling one chariot.


The chariot itself was pretty cool, though, complete with a cow balloon. The thing that we found most confusing about the festival was the emphasis on Hare Krishna, including the constant playing of a chant that is kind of calming/infuriating–but I also suspect it of brainwashing me, just like it did to Chion Wolf’s brother. (more…)

Chill Over Hillary and UConn Already

Call it poor timing. This week’s hullabaloo around Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee for an April appearance at UConn is unfortunate in light of tuition increases. It also has me wanting to sit you all down and give you a lesson in Fundraising 101. So sit down…

Yes, $250,000 is a ton of money, but it’s the going rate for a Clinton. Actually, I’m sort of hoping Hillary gets more than Bill because of that whole glass ceiling thing. It’s called a speaking fee. Just about every famous person has one, unless they are donating their appearance.

This brings us to donations. Donations can be categorized as “unrestricted” and “restricted.” As you might guess, unrestricted funds can be used for whatever the organization deems necessary from paying for programs to salaries to fixing the toilet. These dollars are the most helpful and what most people give. (more…)

Get to Hartford’s Free Movies After Dark Before the Summer Ends

Quint telling us all about his shark-related PTSD.

Quint telling us all about his shark-related PTSD.

One of the main reasons I started this blog so many years ago was to prove that anyone who claims Connecticut is boring is wrong. Or, if I’m feeling less generous, that those people are themselves boring. Lately, I’ve felt vindicated because I’ve been doing so many fun and diverse things that I hardly have time to write about them. For instance, a couple weeks ago, I convinced the Asian Persuasion and the Pilot to drag their newborn out into the hot summer night to attend one of Hartford’s Free Movies After Dark.

I always like free stuff, but I especially like free stuff when my cat is sick and I am bleeding money to deal with feline gallstones. GALLSTONES!!!!!! So when I realized I could see a movie in a park after dark for free, I was all about it.

We happened to see Jaws! Like any red blooded American, I saw this movie a bunch of times as a kid–though some of those times were probably actually the sequels. But I haven’t seen this piece of cinematic genius (at least according to one Dawson Leary) in a very long time, so I was totally pumped. Plus, I can’t think of a better summer movie. (more…)