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Lost art

I have a book recommendation for all you true "make no apologies for it" geeks and nerds out there. It's "Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog," which has been out a few years but which I just discovered. It's about -- are you ready? are you ready? -- diagramming sentences, which those of you of, um, a certain age might remember actually doing in school.

Prithee, varlet

Let's make this a national project. Even if it was Richard Daley's idea, it's still a good one:

Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, Illinois, has declared Thursday as "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" to celebrate the 445th birthday of the man many consider the greatest playwright in the English language.

While the bard's actual birth date is not known for sure, many scholars think it was April 23, 1564.

Kindle magic

The plug has been pulled on newspapers. They're already circling the drain. But, wait -- Kindle to the rescue?

Dogs' lives

When I want a good, escapist read in the fantasy/horror genre, I tend to go to Dean Koontz before Stephen King. King gets awfully wordy -- he's so successful he can tell his editors "no thanks; hands off" -- and Koontz still knows how to keep a story moving. Besides, he's a wry observer of the human condition and at at times a gloomy moralist. In a Koontz book, you're likely occasionally to stumble across a passage that says what you always knew but couldn't articulate.

Posted in: All about me, Books

A dog and a rat

There are two movies out at the same time that I want to see enough that I might not wait for the video or cable release, pretty unusual. One is "Marley & Me" from the book by John Grogan. Many of my journalist aquaintances couldn't bear reading the book because the very idea seemed like such maudlin drivel. But I actually liked it.

Posted in: All about me, Books, Film

Eat it

What I'm reading right now (besides the usual junk fiction) is "Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopsin," featuring the musings and recipes of a New York

Check it out

I can understand people having strong objections to consolidating school districts or combining city and county governments. There is a sense that government will get so big and complicated that the ordinary citizen's concerns will get overlooked. But consolidating libraries at the county level -- having a county library system with numerous branches instead of a county library and several city libraries -- seems like a logical move to me.

Holden on

What do you think?

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger's beloved novel, once banned and full of frank four-letter words, will continue to be assigned to high school reading lists this year.

But Anne Trubek, a professor of English at Oberlin College, argues that it's time to update Salinger's coming-of-age tale.

Posted in: Books

Foxy Hemingway

He fished. Then he wrote about fishing. It is a good read. A fine read. Not a hard read:

In a letter to Gertrude Stein, Hemingway described "Big Two-Hearted River" as a story in which "nothing happens." Nick Adams walks out of Seney, makes camp, and goes fishing. Beneath this mundane surface, however, swims a potent personal drama.

Dumbed down

Well, this won't be controversial:

To Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University, the present is a good time to be young only if you don't mind a tendency toward empty-headedness. In "The Dumbest Generation," he argues that cultural and technological forces, far from opening up an exciting new world of learning and thinking, have conspired to create a level of public ignorance so high as to threaten our democracy.