Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog of Hope and Glory

In 1987, the college-radio/alternative rock/children's music duo They Might Be Giants achieved critical praise (if not commercial success) with their eponymous first album.  That album burrowed one line of one song deep into your loyal blogger's brain, ready to return every time I sit down to type a blog post.  Buried between tracks "Don't Lets Start" (perhaps the band's single most beloved song) and "Put Your Hand Inside the Puppet Head" (the supreme example of how to play the Casiotone MT-100 keyboard) is the song "Number Three".  And as Number Three's writer laments of his own songwriting: "I don't know where I got the inspiration, or how I wrote the words... I've got just two songs in me, and I just wrote the third."

Preach on, Giants, preach on.

Going in, I have no clue how to string together enough nonsense to pass for a blog post.  And because I'm always grasping at material to write these posts (like the entire first paragraph), I frequently fear I'll cover the same topic twice.  I'm especially afraid of covering the same topic twice and being worse the second time around.  And so, while poking about through past posts today, I realized I have written about hoodoo magic, Jacques Derrida, Billy Beer, and Fournier gangrene, yet still totally missed Country Life magazine.

Country Life, for those who don't know, is the journal of the British countryside.  So utterly thorough in its Britishness, in fact, that I can't describe it.  So I'll share a small sample of recent cover blurbs:

Marmalade: a perfect antidote to winter

The bluffer's guide to Chopin

Knot in the club?  What your tie says about you

The Archers: why we're still addicted after 60 years

The Archbishop of Canterbury's favourite painting

1,600 years on: what have the Romans done for us?

Roman Britain 1600 years later: if nothing else, it makes a pretty great Dr. Who finale.

All that plus forty pages of property listings in the front; classified advertisements for thatchers, oil painters, bespoke gunsmiths, etc. in the back; and in the middle, all the depth and erudition you'd expect from something like Foreign Policy or The Week.  Except it's about handcrafted West Country cheeses and the eternal glory of the red postbox.

In short, it's people of wealth (or at least wealth's appearance) hunting, sailing, traipsing from the city to the farm, propping up giant ancestral homes, maintaining early 1990's Range Rovers and Jags, and fighting to maintain a unique regional identity against an increasingly homogenized culture.

Basically... it's a mashup of Charleston Magazine with The Village Green Preservation Society.

Subscription costs around $400 a year, and it's worth every penny.  It is by far our highest-circulating periodical, and dozens of members line up for a crack at back issues come discard day.  Heaven alone knows how many patrons would drop their memberships in disgust were we ever to discontinue it.  The Library Society was founded by folks to pool their money in order to procure the latest books and periodicals from London: perhaps Country Life's contemporary popularity can best be seen as a statement on the endurance and strength of that vision.

Either that, or Charlestonians really love their handcrafted West Country cheeses.

EVENT UPDATE: Join us next Wednesday, December 22nd, 7PM-8:30PM for the Charleston Symphony Orchestra's Holiday Strings Quintet and Holiday Brass Quintet.  Enjoy your favourite holiday songs in the beauty of the Library Society, with CSO concertmaster Yuriy Bekker leading the performance.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Her hardest hue to hold...

It only took a month. While the ginkgo leaves started falling steadily as early as last week, today was the first day for a fully golden front lawn. This is what the front of the library looked like this morning:

Bingo.  Drop day.

 Ginkgo-tacular.  Even the tree we keep indoors isn't too bad:

Pretty sweet, eh?  Though if you haven't seen it in person, you should.  And no better time for it than this Thursday night at 7PM, when fiction writer, member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and part-time Charleston resident Bernard Cornwell will be with us.  A few tickets for the event  are still left, so give us a call (843.723.9912).  C'mon, it'll make some historical fiction fan in your life very happy...

A couple of librarians wouldn't mind, either.