Monday, August 4, 2014

Throwdown 3.0 Update (Maybe I Should Have Been Team Sharktopus)

Week 1 of the Runge Reading Throwdown is in the books, and things are pretty tight. Right now Team Goblin Shark (that's me!) leads the way with 3526 pages read. Team Gummy Shark (3509 pages) and Team Dusky Shark (2822 pages) are nipping at my heels, but Team Silky Shark (1312 pages) and Team Prickly Shark (677 pages) need to step it up a notch. All of the teams are doing a fabulous job of checking books out, but remember: the pages don't count until you turn the books in! Those of you who signed up and haven't checked out books yet? Get crackin'! Your team is counting on you!

Please feel free to drop a note of encouragement to your favorite team here at the library (c/o Runge Public Library, PO Box 37, Runge, TX 78151), via email ( or on our FaceBook page. Words of support are always welcome, and the idea that people are watching the contest and following along just might spur our readers on to greatness.

And once again, I'd like to offer up a huge Thank You to the Runge community for all of your support—we wouldn't be here without you!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Throwdown 3.0: Let's Do This!

Hello there, Cats and Kittens--it's that time of year again: Throwdown Time! Time to shake the dust off of my under-used blog and tell you all about this year's contest.

For the third year in a row, I have challenged the people of the small country town where I work to put together a team to try and outread me. This year we've had 44 people sign up, so we've divided the hopefuls into four teams:

Team Gummy Shark

Team Dusky Shark

Team Prickly Shark

Team Silky Shark

I am, as always, my own team, so you can call me Team Goblin Shark.

Our rules are simple:

You must have a library card, there must be no fines on your library card, all books must be checked out from our library (Inter-Library Loan books count), books must be turned in to count, all pages read will count towards your team totals. At the end of three weeks, the top team will win town bragging rights as well as some nifty team prizes. To encourage maximum effort, we are also offering individual prizes for the top three readers, including a 32-inch TV!

We're trying to encourage team spirit, so pick your favorite team and send them some love or simply encourage their efforts against the wicked Goblin Shark. You can send letters and postcards c/o Runge Public Library, PO Box 37, Runge, TX 78151, or you can email us at or even post on our FaceBook page. It's always a great reminder that the community of readers extends far beyond our tiny town.

As always, I will post my reading list here and keep you informed about the teams and how they're doing. Feel free to read along with us and let us know how you're doing (same rules apply--substitute your local library). Let's do this!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Goodbye to Neal Barrett, Jr.

I've just heard that my friend Neal Barrett, Jr. has passed away. Neal was a fabulous writer (Rick Klaw has a nice list of the variety of work that Neal accomplished in his long career over at The Geek Curmudgeon). He had a skewed view of the world (one of his collections was called Slightly Off Center) that I adored and a fine recognition of the absurdities of everyday life. How can you not love a writer who came up with the idea of Liver-Eatin' Johnson: mountain man, cannibal, and poet("Winter on the Bell Fourche")? Or Mama Lucy's Vishnu and Jesus Barbecue, a sadly non-existent barbecue joint in the East Austin of Interstate Dreams? Or the little old lady in the pink pillbox hat who carries an uzi in Pink Vodka Blues (the hilarious story of a blackout drunk trying to remember why a bunch of people want to kill him)? Or that bus tour of Hell or the inimitable Ginny Sweethips or a tennis-playing Jesus in a Heaven located in Oklahoma? Yeah, I think it's fair to say that I'll miss Neal the writer.

But I'll really miss Neal my friend. I met Neal back when I worked in a bookstore and we hit it off right away. Even when I no longer worked on the sales floor I'd get a call that Neal and Ruth were in the store and I'd head on down. We talked about books and authors we loved and hated and we recommended stuff to each other (if you've ever known a bookish person, you know that every conversation, no matter what, will always include that). I got to see Neal and Ruth at conventions and we occasionally got to have lunch together and it was always a fine time. This is the Neal--telling wild stories (that all happened to be true), playing Grumpy Old Man, laughing and talking books--that I'm really going to miss.

You're on to your next adventure, Neal, and I surely hope it's a fine one. I bet the stories will be awesome.