I’m writing this intro at the reference desk on the night of my late shift. I still have about an hour and a half to go and I can no longer feel my butt, so we’re doing some standing desk/lunge writing! No one told me I’d sit this much as a librarian (although I don’t think the knowledge would have turned me away from the career). The wind is howling through the weird atrium in the center of the library and it’s all Very Atmospheric. I really like every one of the 5 things I’m sharing with you this week, and I hope you do too:
- Gardening Games Are Blossoming in Turbulent Times, The Verge. This is my type of game! “What the Animal Crossing games, Stardew Valley, and Ooblets all do is mix free-form play with a relaxed atmosphere, elements which seem to have resonated with players keen for a change of pace from the barrage of stimuli and hyper-kineticism video games are best known for. They’re chill in the same way real gardening is.” Another reason I like these games is that they’re noncompetitive and no one can see me struggle with keyboard controls or blow myself up with my own grenade. Gentle games for this gentle girl!
- Emotional Expression Through Baking, Bon Appetit. “Life is not easy. It’s hard to say, “I care about you.” But it is not hard at all to make boxed brownies.” I think you will really enjoy reading this one. This section reminds me of my mom’s thorough scraping of pots and bowls: “Then, one day, near the end of the year, a faculty member, Erik, taught me to bake sourdough bread. Erik had two children. I still remember him carefully scraping each bit of dough off his hands and collecting it in the bowl: “Each scrap is another bite for them,” he said.” My mom would say, “That’s a bite!” if my spatula didn’t catch that bit of chili on the side of the pot. I would have just left it there when I was a kid, but now I see that last chunk of pot roast or lonely potato and think, “That’s a bite!” Boys, learn how to make tender things for the sole pleasure of sharing them with friends! A beautiful little piece.
- Why the Library of Congress is Archiving Government-Made Memes, Rolling Stone. As anyone who’s done social media for a company or institution knows, corporate memeing can be super corny and fall flat. So here’s a cool success story about the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Twitter. “The CPSC memes will reside within the “Government Publications — United States” collection, which boasts items distributed by the government (mostly federal, but also some state and local) as far back as the country’s founding. In this way, while the CPSC memes capture a new shift in government communication, there is a vast historical precedent for them. The Great Baby, for instance, exists on the same continuum as Smokey the Bear, while Walker cites the LoC’s collection of comic books that government agencies once issued as a way to reach younger readers.” Archives collect the records that represent a culture, a community, or a project, and you might think that memes are a less serious mode of communication but they are actually a super influential medium, and I think it’s good that the Library of Congress is archiving them.
- Sandra Boynton’s Captivating Universe, The Atlantic. (CW: There is a brief mention of loss of people and pets in this.) Sandra Boynton kind of rules. I love this part: “Like Fred Rogers, Boynton treats children, even very young ones, with deep respect. Like Sendak (whom she calls an “unfailingly and affectionately supportive” mentor), she accepts that kids already encounter the distress of adulthood. But Boynton also makes a space for children and adults to occupy together. Take this line about a throng of Halloween chickens: “One heard a robot intone: Trick or treat.” Suzanne Rafer, Boynton’s editor of 38 years at Workman Publishing—one of two publishers that print Boynton’s books—passed on sales agents’ objections to the verb intone: “We’re reading this to a zero-year-old.” Boynton’s reply: “All language is new to a kid. Why not invite them into a vocabulary that’s special from the beginning?” And apparently there’s only one board-book printer left in the United States?!
- Congratulations to Holly, America’s Fattest Bear, The Cut. “Fat Bear Week, for those of you who have not yet been blessed with the knowledge, is a March Madness–style bracket competition held every year by Katmai National Park in Alaska, which allows the public to vote and decide which of the park’s brown bears has beefed itself up the most for their upcoming winter hibernation.” They’ve picked their winner and she’s precious and I love this fall tradition so much!