Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Speakers

Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics was the speaker at Opening Session.  He didn't say much about libraries, and was not particularly inspiring, but then he started talking about some research he did with prostitutes, which turned out to be interesting.  I guess he does a lot of unusual research, which is how he's made his way in the profession.

I had checked Freakonomics (audio) out of the library but forgot about it as I was busy listening to Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris, so I haven't read or listened to any of Levitt's books (yet).

While I know that Temple Grandin's story is an amazing one, nothing could quite prepare me for just how awe-inspiring she really is.  Her talk was informative and accessible, plus she has a good sense of humor.  I bought her book, The Autistic Brain (the only book I purchased at the conference) and I look forward to reading it.

I would also like to note that she pointed out that, especially in her day, mothers were often blamed for any kind of unusual behavior in kids, which reminded me of the only good advice my mother ever gave me: "Don't blame yourself ... everyone else will do that for you".

Just sayin'.

I also saw Oliver Stone interviewed along with the co-author of his latest book, Peter Kuznick.  The book is called, The Untold History of the United States.  Let me just say that I think Oliver Stone is an ass.  He is guilty of one-sided-know-it-allness in the same way as the writers of stupid textbooks are ... just from the opposite side.  He offended my fellow librarians from the South and Texas to the point that someone actually got up during the Q & A to defend herself (she's a librarian in Texas).  He also talked about how awful television is and how greedy and stupid the television industry people are - did anybody else notice how ironic that was coming from a wealthy movie maker?  Their mention of theories about what would have happened if Henry Wallace had been FDR's VP instead of Truman when FDR died were, IMHO, particularly ridiculous.

The Paula Poundstone event was a blast (thanks to Rose the Gypsy for enlightening me about Ms Poundstone).  There were other funny people* who spoke/read too, but let me say that when PP was talking about her son it made me realize what Boy-child and I look like to others (we have been told that we are like a comedy act, the way we are with each other).

Also, I noticed while we were walking out that there was lots of cheese and crackers on the tables, but all the wine bottles were empty ... who did they think they were dealing with?  Just because we wear cardigans and sensible shoes doesn't mean we don't like to have a good time!

Alice Walker was there too, but I was a little disappointed as I was looking for a storyteller, not a political activist.  The really terrific surprise was Octavia Spencer at the Closing Session Tuesday morning.  She is smart, grounded, an activist AND she has a wonderful sense of humor.  I could not stay to get her book, but if you know any child-sleuths, Nancy Drew and/or Scooby Doo fans, look for The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, coming out this October.

*The other comedians/writers at the comedy event were Ross Mathews, Nicole Knepper, Paul Rudnick, and Selena Coppock (who won a Moth slam for the story she re-told at our event).  I also got a copy of Treasure Island by Sara Levine - no idea what it's about!

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