Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.

2008-04-30

Wednesday Night Lights: 1992's Influence on Music

This is quite long, I'm sorry for that. Once I got going, I couldn't stop. Also, I've linked primarily to Wikipedia articles for consistency of style.

It seems that I'm on a roll with music lately. The other day I was listening to Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks' new album, and there were some bits and pieces of it that reminded me of Nirvana. That got me thinking back to when I first heard Nirvana. Well, not first heard, but when I first bought Nevermind on casette. That's right, I bought Nevermind on casette.

This was 1991/1992 so portable CD players existed, but they were iffy. You were better off with a portable casette player since the CDs tended to skip. A lot. So if I was trying something out, I'd get it on casette. Nevermind came out in September of 1991 (is that really 17 years ago!?) and I had heard/seen "Smell Like Teen Spirit" a bunch.

No one knew who they were; not me, not my friends. I already was listening to Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam. Without knowing it, I was already keying into the Seattle sound, aka "grunge."

I decided "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was a strong enough song that I would pick up the album. A friend was coming into town that weekend, and we swung by a record store on the way to my place. I picked up the casette, having no idea what lay in store for us.

To show how dorky I am, the weekend was spent listening to Nevermind (the casette didn't have the hidden track that's on the CD, so the auto-reverse would just flip the tape over and we'd get the other side) over and over and over and over again while we played Super Mario Bros. That was basically it.

The album was brilliant. I couldn't get enough of it. My roommates and my friend...? They had their fill. Thankfully for them, I could listen to it in my trusty Sony Walkman.

In early 1992 (see, I'm bringing the title of this post in) Nevermind hit #1. Music was changing. The grunge music was in full swing, causing a ton of Seattle-based bands to get signed to record deals so that labels had a grunge artist in their list. I bought a lot of that music, and I won't even try to list it all.

Even outside of Seattle, you had releases from bands like San Diego's Stone Temple Pilots, who had a definite Seattle or grunge quality to their music. I was in my third year of college, and music was hugely important to me. I was in bands, playing guitar, singing, doing all the things that I thought would make me a rock star (except actually working hard at it, of course).

On top of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, there was the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and they both got me thinking about 1992 again. And I was curious what was released that year and what sort of influence it had. I came up with a short list of, in my opinion, hugely influential in music.

In addition to grunge, there was Rage Against the Machine (RATM) with their self-titled debut. This didn't sound like any of the Seattle music. This was quite different. And it had a lot of say. Even today, sixteen years later, I can listen to the first RATM machine and became angry due to the content of the lyrics. Highly politicized, RATM caused controversy wherever they went:
"At a 1993 Lollapalooza appearance in Philadelphia, the band stood onstage naked for 15 minutes with duct tape on their mouths and the letters PMRC painted on their chests in protest against censorship by the Parents Music Resource Center. Refusing to play, they stood in silence with the sound emitted being only audio feedback from Morello and Commerford's guitars."
Sca-core band The Mighty Mighty Bosstones released their first full-length album More Noise and Other Disturbances. I saw them for free at the student union, and can safely say that was the craziest show I've ever been to.

While I didn't come upon the album until much later, Gordon from the The Barenaked Ladies came out in 1992. And I'm not ashamed to admit that the Barenaked Ladies are my favorite band. I saw them on a whim in 2000, and metaphorically kicked myself for missing out on the band for so many years. Although to be honest, I probably would have hated them at the time.

It was all good, 1992 foisted a full Right Said Fred album on us, and Color Me Badd had a #2 single with "I Wanna Sex You Up" (sorry, no links...I can't bring myself to do it). This was the type of stuff that was burning up the charts prior to grunge. I, for one, was glad that grunge came along.

But what about the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy? Who the heck were they? Well, frontman Michael Franti has gone on to form Spearhead, and like RATM, use his music to bring awareness to political issues that are often overlooked in the United States. But there's more. The album Hypocrisy is the Greatest Luxury introduced us to the work of a young guitarist named Charlie Hunter.

Hunter is a jazz guitarist, and one of my favorite musicians. He plays an eight-string guitar (although now I see he's moved down to a seven-string) and performs both the guitar and bass lines on the same instrument simultaneously.

Here's where things get funky, Hunter's 2001 album Songs from the Analog Playground featured the vocals of a young songstress, Norah Jones, who of course went on to win a Grammy for Best New Arist with her 2002 alubm Come Way with Me. When I first heard "Don't Know Why," I couldn't figure out why her voice sounded familiar. Then I figured it out. I had heard it a year earlier.

If not for the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy (who I found through the Alternative Tentacles album Virus 100, a compilation of Dead Kennedys cover songs) we might not have heard of Norah Jones. Considering the talent level of Hunter and Jones, it's likely we would have heard of them regardless, but the connection is there.

Jones' Come Away with Me hit #1 on the charts in 2002, ten years after Nevermind hit #1. Things had changed over those ten years, not least of all Kurt Cobain's tragic suicide. My own musical tastes had changed to allow in artists like the Barenaked Ladies and Norah Jones. What albums from 1992 resonated for you? From 2002? What musical connections do you know about that are kind of cool and funky (if not obscure)?

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2008-04-28

The Frederatorian Armada

Remember when Hanna-Barbera was brought back from near death in the 90's? Like Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio in The Abyss? Fred Siebert was Hanna-Barbera's Virgil Brigman. He slapped the life back into the studio by creating the What-A-Cartoon! showcase for new shorts, reorganizing the personnel and modernizing their process, resulting in scads of great shorts that spun off several great shows for Cartoon Network including Cow & Chicken, Powerpuff Girls, and Dexter's Lab.

With the Hanna-Barbera brand saved, Fred then founded Frederator Studios in 1997, and their first project was Oh Yeah! Cartoons for Nickelodeon, another showcase of shorts featuring many of the same animators and directors who had produced work for What-A-Cartoon. Oh Yeah! has spun off 3 series for Nick so far, most notably the wonderfully awesome My Life as a Teenage Robot (created by Rob Renzetti who storyboarded some of the best episodes of Dexter's Lab) and Megahit work of genius The Fairly Oddparents, created by Butch Hartman. Farily Oddparents is Nick's second most-popular show, only surpassed by the mighty Bob l'éponge; it's a powerful mix of wish fulfillment, brilliantly mutated character tropes, mind-blowing voice performances, and a self-aware formula that never seems to get stale, with a seventh season of episodes just beginning to air. The loud characters and slapstick potty moments (Supertoilet!) successfully scare off most adults, but Cosmo and Wanda just kick so much ass on so many levels that you musn't dare write off FOP as pablum.

While Fred excels at pulling together fresh teams for these showcase incubator series, and the newest Frederator project, Random Cartoons, is another installment in Fred's trademark genre. Frederator has also produced the Nicktoons Film Festival, an open call for shorts from animators of all stripes. The best shorts are aired on TV and the possibility of being the next Frederator star looms large for the participants. Fred is serious about crowdsourcing and his methods have brought TV some of the most innovative and hilarious cartoons of the past 15 years.

However, Fred (who was also MTV's first creative director, producer of the early MTV and Nick animated IDs, and savior of Nickelodeon with the Nick at Nite concept) is no one-trick-pony; Frederator's online offerings rival their TV projects, and Frederator gets it right so much more throughly than almost anyone else in the TV business it's a little shocking. For instance, check out one of Frederator's 65 blogs, including Fred's official blog or the Fairly Odd Blog. While it's still unique for a studio to essentially insist that each project has a corresponding blog, the best parts of the Frederator online presence are their web-native projects.

Channel Frederator takes Fred's trademark approach -- welcome all comers -- and ports it online into a channel full of new cartoon shorts that anyone can submit to and a podcast of the best stuff. There's also annual Channel Frederator Awards (voting is now open for the best of 2007) and one truly standout original series of shorts: The Meth Minute 39, by Dan Meth. The Meth Minute can best be described as the Wario Ware of cartoons; short, hilarious, usually inappropriate, steeped in pop references, and with many sets of recurring characters. The latest episode of the Meth Minute features Ultra and the Lazer Hearts, who exist to hang jokes upon the truly outrageous carcass of Jem and the Holograms. One of Meth's most-forwarded shorts is the undeniably NSFW Dog Video Dating, and the first episode, meme-tribute Internet People, became a bit of a meme of its own. Even the Meth Minute 39 is in on Fred's crowdsourcing mission, currently running a contest to find the best viewer-created short using meth minute characters, with a cash prize.

In addition to the awesomeness of Channel Frederator is ReFrederator, a simply amazing daily podcast that features a different vintage cartoon each day, along with some incredibly knowledgable posts. The work the ReFrederator folks are doing is nothing short of miraculous; acquiring, digitizing, and archiving priceless but usually commercially worthless cartoons in a modern format that's simply one of the very best podcasts on the whole dang intertubes.

However, the absolutely best thing that Fred has done recently has been to discover a guy named Pendleton Ward and give him the chance to make Adventure Time. Go watch Adventure Time right now, and be forewarned that the next time you see something really awesome, you just might find yourself using 'ALGEBRAIC!' as an expletive of awesomeness.

Frederator Studios is doing totally RHOMBUS work all over the place; but Channel Frederator is merely the anchor of Fred's newest corporation, nextnewnetworks, which takes Fred's proven old/new media flexibility and mastery and stretches the definition of a video network in a very forward-looking direction, towards nichier audiences and snappier, shorter, more frequent programming. See Ultra Kawaii (so cute it hurts), Threadbanger (for DIY Fashionistas), Vette Dogs (for corvette owners) or Total MMO (for Massively Mutliplayer Online gamers). Fred will rule the world someday, perched atop his shiny red armada of networks and viewer-created content flying in close formation. Submit now and you can say you were a Frederatorian before it was compulsory!

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2008-04-25

Fun Friday: It's Caturday!

Like many librarians, I have cats. Just two, though, Henry and Beezus. (Witness their adorableness!) And like many people who are not librarians but have cats, I like to read cat and kitten blogs. So for Fun Friday, I'm going to share my favorites.

First, I Can Has Cheezburger? spawned an internet culture and a new way of speaking online. This site consists of LOLCats, pictures of cats with funny captions that are meant to emulate a cat's way of thinking. If you know of no other sites dedicated to silly pictures of cats, you should know about this one.

Cute Overload
features pictures of kittens, puppies, hedgehogs, and all other kinds of adorable animals.

Kitten War! It's not really a war, just clicking through cute pictures of cats. Cats "battle" each other by showing the viewer two pictures at a time, and the viewer clicks on the ones he believes is cuter.

The Daily Kitten. Look forward to 3:07 p.m. every day, because that's when the Daily Kitten adds a photo and little bio of their Kitten Du Jour.

And my personal favorite, the only one I look at every day, the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. Let me tell you, there is a special place in heaven for the humans that update IBKC. They're a couple in the Seattle area that fosters homeless kittens until they're ready for adoption. I dare you not to read this blog and NOT think, "That is one of the cutest things I have ever seen in my life." Right now they're fostering five kittens, three of which are polydactyl, and a mama cat.

Try not to fall over from the cuteness.

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2008-04-23

Wednesday Night Lights: Feels So Good

A few weeks ago, I claimed writer's block and wrote about places to find inspiration. I also claimed that I had half-formed thoughts on: "absinthe, Chuck Mangione, science fiction, baseball, and syrup." Some of that was true, some of that was grabbing disparate things in my mind and stringing together an absurd combination of things. OK, I threw in syrup at the end for no reason, but the other ones I had thoughts/post ideas about.

Growing up, we had a giant Magnavox record player cabinet sitting in our family room. Every Sunday, my father would load it up with four to six albums (linked for you young'ns) and sit and read the paper and work on the floor. The albums would fall one by one onto the turntable. Once they were done, we would fight over who got the chance to flip the stack over and play the other side of the records.

Of course today I look back at this fondly. It was a time when my father was around (as a partner in a large accounting firm, he was very busy) and we all loved that. But it wasn't like we could interact with him. He had work to do. And often when he was home, it was time to do chores around the house he wanted done. Nonetheless, there was something serene about lying on the family room floor and reading while my father worked.

The soundtrack of these Sundays was an eclectic mix. My father's listening tastes runs in streaks. We all remember the eras that made up the 1980s: Julio Englasias, Willie Nelson, and Kenny G. By the time he got to Leon Redbone, it was CDs and I was in college.

But the 1970s! Oh man, there's a whole bunch of music that I have an overly fond nostalgia for because of these Sundays: Peter Frampton, Chicago (there was a set of the first five albums), Jesus Christ Superstar, the Young-Holt Unlimited Trio, Supertramp, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, and Chuck Mangione.

Oh Chuck was the man. We heard him more than anyone else. I hear the opening flügelhorn notes of the song "Feels So Good," and I could be four years old again. I was more excited than I should have been when I got a copy of this for myself a few years ago. Sometimes when I'm working on things late at night, I use the album now to clear my mind and help me focus on the task at hand.

There are times when I'll hear a song from these Sundays, and I get transported back to those times. Last night American Idol did an Andrew Lloyd Webber night, and when I heard "Jesus Christ Superstar" I was four years old again in front of that big old Magnavox. Whenever I hear songs from Frampton Comes Alive, I know all the words, I know all the musical phrasing...but I couldn't tell you anyting about the album sitting here in my chair. I'd have to hear it, and then it would all be there.

For my wife, it's country music. She knows every (and I actually mean every) country song from the 1950s through the 1980s. It's eerie.

How about you? What music reminds you of your childhood?

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Buried Ortiz Jersey on ebay

Anyone who watches baseball or follows the history of the game knows about the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox. The latest episode included a David Oritz jersey buried in the concrete during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium. The Ortiz jersey was dug up and is now being auctioned off on ebay with all proceeds to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund. Last time I checked the bidding was up to $84,000.

Go to ebay.com and find the auction with the key words "Ortiz," "Yankees Curse," "Jersey," and "Jimmy Fund."

2008-04-19

Just call me Lucien: Recap of NY Comic Con

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the New York Comic Con, and here are some highlights:

1. THANK YOU, REED EXHIBITIONS, for learning from your mistakes. This is the third time I've attended NYCC and every year it is more organized, seems less crowded, and offers a wider range of programming. The first year, the exhibits hall looked like rush hour on the A train. This year, there were wider aisles and everyone could move around much easier. I got through registration quickly and easily. Also, thank you for offering free registration to librarians. What was the one major thing wrong with this year's programming lineup? All the programs I wanted to go to were at the same time. It seems like no one considered the idea that often, the children's librarian and the teen librarian in any given library are the same person. With the children's-centric panels and the teen-centric panels running concurrently, librarians often had to sacrifice one for the other.

2. The exhibits themselves were really neat. I am not as well-versed in the comics world as many of my colleagues, so it was cool to see the wide range of available (and vintage/collectible) comics and graphic novels. In addition to the comics booths, major publishers had booths and were offering some galleys and trade editions of popular titles. I know I saw Harper, Random, Tor, Hachette, and a few others. What I found most interesting, though, was that the titles these publishers were offering were almost entirely fantasy and science fiction. I realize many comics and graphic novels are centered on fantastic themes and ideas, but didn't Neil Gaiman say that graphic novels are a format, not a genre? One would think that people who enjoy comics and graphic novels but prefer realistic fiction to fantasy would want to see publishers displaying their realistic fiction as well. So now I'm curious: Who else out there likes graphic novels but prefers realistic fiction to speculative fiction?

3. Fabulous panel #1: "Helping bookstores buy and shelve comics for teens." I know libraries aren't bookstores, but when it comes to moving and marketing the teen collection in a library, I like to employ the occasional bookstore technique (handselling, faceouts, themed displays, etc.). The panel included buyers and distributors of YA novels and graphic works, who talked about issues of visual content, cultural differences, and age ratings on manga. They also discussed issues behind shelving and marketing a graphic novel collection for teens.

4. Fabulous panel #2: "Age-appropriate content for kids and teen comics." Lana Adlawan and the awesome Alison Hendon from the Brooklyn Public Library gave an excellent run-down of high quality graphic works for people ages 0-18. At the end, they talked about their wishlist for graphic novel publishers who want to see more libraries buying their books, including higher-quality printings, better bindings, etc.

5. Sherrilyn Kenyon is just about the nicest author ever, even though I made a fool of myself in front of her.

6. Fabulous panel #3: "Minx: Your life in pictures." Minx, an imprint of DC Comics aimed at teen girls, had several of their authors and illustrators on a panel and showed preview pages from upcoming books to the audience. I'm really excited to read all of them, especially because I've read and loved previous Minx titles.

I really wanted to go to the dinner with Neil Gaiman, too, but alas, I lack the $400 it would have cost. Ah well. I will have to follow my fish from afar.

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2008-04-18

Friday Fun: The Mortified Shoebox Show

How about a few hilarious little movies to kick off the weekend? (LONG weekend for myself and the rest of Massachusetts, Maine, and the public school system of Wisconsin--happy Patriots' Day, one and all!)

Mortified's latest project in the ongoing "comic excavation of the strange and extraordinary things we created as kids" is the Mortified Shoebox Show, "videos from the vaults of everyday life." Building upon the Mortified stage performances, the series already includes six episodes, including "Stairway to Winnipeg," a modern recreation of Johanna Stein's version of "Stairway to Heaven," once performed for her entire eighth grade class on guitar; "Everyone's a Critic," Will Seymour's retelling of his shoplifting exploits, drama club failures, and the much-needed intervention of "Aunt Liza"--Minelli, of course; and the latest: "500 Miles to Hollywood", a reading of "500 Miles to Indy," the two-decade-old screenplay of Jason Smith as performed by a truly all-star cast: Elijah Wood, James Denton, Busy Phillips, Kevin McDonald, and Curtis Armstrong!

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2008-04-16

Wednesday Night Lights: You wanna be on top?

Blame my friend Amy.

Amy is a corporate lawyer with a penchant for bad reality television. Years ago, I was at her place in Colorado for a weekend and a bunch of us crowded around her TV on Friday night to watch America's Next Top Model (this was the Cycle 4 premiere; they're not called seasons in ANTM world). I had never seen the show before and was convinced it was going to be the most horrendous thing ever. Instead, I found it compulsively watchable and delightful chat fodder, quite a pleasant way to turn one's brain off for an hour. Since that fateful weekend, I've been hooked on Top Model. But what good is being hooked on a show if you can't share it?

Pop's own Melissa and I had been invited to a publisher's preview the morning after the premiere of Cycle 6, so I said, "Let's do this: Come up and spend the night at my place, because I live close to NYC. We'll get Indian food the night before and watch Top Model." Melissa, I think, was a little dubious. Top Model? Wasn't that just bad reality TV? But we know the ending to this story: She got hooked and we've been gossiping about it ever since.

Fast forward to February, 2008. Liz and I drove to Melissa's place to celebrate my birthday weekend, and Melissa and I came upon a marathon of Cycle 9 running on VH1. Liz sat on the couch with her laptop and her book but couldn't help but watch.

Another Top Model fan was born. And after, we all went out for Indian food.

We're now up to the seventh full ep of Cycle 10, and every Wednesday night Liz (supermodel name Zed, because we learned in Cycle 8 that having a standout supermodel name is really important!), Melissa (supermodel name Issa) and I (supermodel name Leeslay) all chat while watching Top Model. Tonight, we're having Chinese (not Indian, sorry) and sharing our catty, ridiculous, completely fun chat with you.
Melissa: okey-dokey
so, time for a Chinese food roll-call? :-)
8:02 PM Elizabeth: steamed dumplings, sesame chicken combo dinner
me: I've got sweet and sour chicken, and spareribs which are impossible to eat while typing
Elizabeth: enough for lunch and dinner tomorrow, whoo hoo
Melissa: Chicken with cashews, pork fried rice
me: I have white rice, too
Melissa: the place I go to gives you HUGE portions. I'll have enough for a couple of days.
Elizabeth: i considered spareribs but thought it would be a problem
yay for one meal = feedsmany
8:03 PM me: i just gotn the small portions
Elizabeth: sticks tongue out at carlie
me: : licks Liz
Melissa: my place only does one size. expensive, but huge
Elizabeth: its on
me: MODEL
8:04 PM Elizabeth: wow, blondie does math
me: Whitney can do math!
Melissa: [giggle]
me: Laruen wants to be on top
GO HOME, STACEY ANN
Melissa: oh, Dominique. [rolls eyes]
8:05 PM ooooh, travel drama!
me: Dominique needs to go home, too
They usually travel with six, though, not 7
Elizabeth has left
8:06 PM Melissa: yeah, so it'll probably be next week that they jet off to a glamorous foreign destination
me: Like...what's left? Tierra Del Fuego?
WHERE GO LIZ?
Melissa: awww, Zed gone.
me: Paulina is teh cool
8:07 PM Melissa: geez, Paulina's crazy skinny. but yes, teh cool
me: Paulina lesson #1: Don't act the fool. Talk to people.
Anya, you are too cute.
Melissa: I do like Anya
8:08 PM me: Oh, Lauren..
Invite liz back
Melissa: [headdesk] What not to do: what Dominique just did
Elizabeth has joined
me: Katarzyna, I heart you, but you are not a waitress!
Elizabeth: am i back?
yay!!!
8:09 PM me: FATIMA, TMI.
Melissa: OMG, YES
me: Dom, yapyapyap
8:10 PM Elizabeth: walking down the street...oops social situation!
me: Lesson 2: Brevity is the soul of wit...and lingerie modeling
Elizabeth: sitting on the toilet..oops... social situation
me: Liz, that happens to me every day
Elizabeth: when you least expect it....social situation
Melissa: [snicker]
Elizabeth: someone is going to get cut
damn i knew it
Melissa: Oooh, this is Lauren chopping off her finger!
Elizabeth: her career as a hand model is over
me: latke drama!
8:11 PM Elizabeth: (and fatima knows pain)
Melissa: [snort]
Elizabeth: follow the rules, SVA. er i meant fatima
8:12 PM me: Gossip Girl commercial
ok, we're at commercial, I'm eating a sparerib
Melissa: [grin]
I got different commercials.
8:13 PM my Chinese place does these cool little cucumber things, as a palate cleanser, I guess.
8:14 PM Elizabeth: went downstairs to get dinner
Melissa: mmmm
me: STOP SHOWING ME GOSSIP GIRL TEASERS. I ONLY WANT SUPERNATURAL TEASERS.
Elizabeth: so who is cutting and pasting to pop?
8:15 PM me: Ok, the rest of these ribs are dinner tomorrow.
I am, Liz
Elizabeth: cool
Melissa: OMG, YES to SPN!
Elizabeth: make me smarter and thinner in the post!!!
Melissa: I just wanna be thinner.
8:16 PM Elizabeth: (silence as melissa waits for someone to say, 'cause you already are smarter'...)
me: Does this mean I'm still the ho?
Melissa: [giggle]
but you're our ho, Carlie
me: thanks
8:17 PM Sounds Like Lauren will be ok
Tyra mail: YOU'VE ALL GOT SCURVY. LOVE, TYRA.
Elizabeth: i was hoping theyd have to make lemonade and market it
Melissa: hee
8:18 PM or find out how to take life's lemons and add vodka to them
Elizabeth: if she worked her ass off she wouldnt be a plus size model!
(thank you thank you)
me: after distilling the vodka themselves
Zed, that was terrible.
Melissa: oh, I have a bad feeling about this, with the dresses being in bags
8:19 PM Elizabeth: THEN WHY DIDN'T YOU KEEP TRACK OF YOUR VERY IMPORTANT TRAVEL DOCUMENT
me: The dresses ARE bags
Melissa: [snicker]
Elizabeth: how many times will lauren trip
Melissa: you sip when Lauren trips, and chugs when anyone else does
me: What happens when Charlie says "algorithm?"
oh, wait...
8:20 PM Melissa: Kat rockin' the dress
me: And Dom blows it!
Melissa: OMG, Dom blows it again!
me: LAUREN! YOU CAN'T SAY THAT ON TV.
8:21 PM Oh Whitney, I do love you.
Melissa: me, too. gotta love the Whit
Elizabeth: so are all the other girls us citizens?>
me: Yes.
Elizabeth: yes the lawyer is now obsessed about documents
Melissa: look, it's Mr. Porizkova!
8:22 PM me: I didn't recognize him not dressed as a beatnik with a picture frame around his neck.
April! She's cool. My favorite from that cycle is still Shandi, though.
Melissa: Zed and I are still new-schoolers
me: Lauren is kind of killing it. Huh.
8:23 PM Fret not, grasshopper.
Melissa: hmm, so . . . Stacy-Ann is from Miami?
me: Stacey Ann, if books were marketed like you were, Barnes and Noble would go out of business.
Melissa: oh, don't show it again!
me: Once more, with feeling!
8:24 PM Melissa: yay, Anya!
oh, Whit, don't badmouth. Makes you look small
me: She can afford that.
meow!
8:25 PM Elizabeth: ball pit
me: Like American Gladiators, Zed...
Melissa: it is a good ad
Elizabeth: i want to be a supermodel
me: Oh hey, go Anya!
Melissa: oh, dude!!
me: I was supposed to be a supermodel. Both my parents are 5'9". Alas.
8:26 PM Melissa: have they ever out-and-out won money before, Carlie?
Elizabeth: poor carlie
me: Not that I know of, Issa.
Maybe Fatima and her collarbones will go home this ep.
Oh no. Saleisha
Melissa: okay, based on this editing, what's more likely: Fatima gets eliminated or she has to drop out 'cause of her legal issues?
me: Just when I thought her hair couldn't get any worse.
8:27 PM Elizabeth: notice how she isnt' shown saying more than 10 words in a shot?
Melissa: Dude, that hair has its own zip code
me: I'm suddenly ashamed of my CoverGirl lip gloss addiction.
Zed, unfortunately, she's no Orlando Bloom.
8:28 PM Okay, all, question for the halfway point of the show: To finish the sweet and sour chicken, or not to finish?
Melissa: oooh, you know what's good? L'oreal Color Juices Lipstick. It's a lot like Clinique's Almost Lipstick
I had a second helping of mine, but I still had a ton left over
Elizabeth: i'm off to go put mine away in the fridge brb
me: I'm going to do the same
and wash my hands!
8:29 PM turns out someone at the consulate watches ANTM
8:30 PM TYRA MAIL
Melissa: sadly.
ooooh, leaving right from judging?
me: Why do I think they're not really going abroad yet?
Elizabeth: what did i miss
8:31 PM Melissa: [snicker]
Elizabeth: wouldnt it be funny if the went to canada?
me: Tyra Mail that makes them think they're going abroad.
Melissa: or LA?
Elizabeth: puerto rico?
ha!
Melissa: BWAH!
me: Hahaha Jay
8:32 PM Melissa: I like the wah-wah-waaaah sound effect
me: I knew it.
Speed photo shoot!
Melissa: dude, how did Jay not know this?
me: Could Fatima go first?
Elizabeth: no, you have a different case BECAUSE YOU CANNOT KEEP TRACK OF ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS YOU OWN
8:33 PM zed. jd.
me: I love Mr. Jay.
Elizabeth: double "boo" in that she hasn't kept people other than us in the loop
Melissa: and the ANTM producer
Elizabeth: why go to a plane if youdidnt have the document to go???
8:34 PM Melissa: is there any photographer on this show that hasn't shot Tyra?
me: Poor Lauren's thumb.
Elizabeth: he heh he...hide the thumb
me: could they paint the thumb thing the same color as the rest of her?
Melissa: [snicker]
the wind's blowing . . . and they have a fan going?
me: Stacey Ann, try wearing RGP contact lenses for 12 years, then complain about wind
8:35 PM Whitney always poses with her mouth open.
Melissa: oooh, yeah, she does!
me: G-L-A-M-O-R...
8:36 PM Melissa: okay, Fatima, stop celebrating and get back!
Elizabeth: pose without posing
he he remedial posing 101
me: Remedial posing 101!
Melissa: HA!
Elizabeth: where is the airport?
Melissa: Oh, Mr. Jay > everyone
me: Well, there aren't many around NYC they could shoot at...
I figured they were at JFK
8:37 PM Elizabeth: what s the one jfkjfr felw out off? i thought that one
me: Oh my hell, that's PANEL
Elizabeth: yayza
Melissa: YIKES!
oooh, poor Fatima
me: Commercial.
8:38 PM NO. MORE. GOSSIP. GIRL. SUPERNATURAL.
Melissa: WE WANT HOT BOYS.
Elizabeth: essex county airport
me: : blinks Essex Co has an airport?
Melissa: Check out Liz's Librarian-Fu
8:39 PM Elizabeth: actually google fu, but thankyew
me: Did you both see the clip from next Thursday's SPN?
Elizabeth: not yhet
Melissa: yes. [giggles]
8:40 PM me: Oh, is this that Corelle commercial with the greased runway? Every time I see it I'm convinced Tyra's going to think, "Hey, what a great idea!"
Melissa: nope, different commerical, Carlie.
me: You gotta be FIERCE while you're falling on your arse
Oh. Bad me. But still.
8:41 PM Melissa: although I do love that commercial
8:42 PM Elizabeth: (off the record, someone just posted a total smackdown on child lit to the anti jkr ers)
me: (rock!)
Every week, another model has to go.
8:43 PM Melissa: dude the commercial breaks seem longer each week
Elizabeth: am i the only one having highlander flashbacks?
there can be only one?
Melissa: [giggle]
Elizabeth: models with swords?
me: I swear Ambrose Bierce wrote a story about Fatima getting her travel docs and then getting eliminated right before travel...
Melissa: [snicker]
8:44 PM Elizabeth: canada please let it be canada please please please
me: YES TYRA, WE WONDER
Elizabeth: vancouver!
spn!
Melissa: [giggle]
Liz--ooooh!!!
me: NOOOO HOW COME THEY GET TO MEET JENSEN AND WE DON'T!
Melissa: And they're all tall enough, they don't have to stand on teh SPN Makeout Box!!!
8:45 PM me: Issa, I was just about to say, "Because they reach the 'You must be this tall to guest on SPN' line."
Hooray, Katarzyna.
Melissa: Yay, Kat!
Elizabeth: long long legs
8:46 PM me: She got legs enough for all three of us.
Melissa: yeah. I'm bitter
Elizabeth: bad hair
me: "booty touche?"
Elizabeth: um, technical model term?
Melissa: gah, don't like Dom
me: Dom, boring, meh.
Wait, why is that not a feature shot o Stacey Ann?
8:47 PM Melissa: gah, that sucks she couldn't get a solo shot really
me: It does.
Melissa: second time this ep she got called Miss America
8:48 PM me: That means she's goin' DOWN.
Elizabeth: hhhmmmm
me: The P word is the kiss of death on this show.
Elizabeth: so many bottom peeps
Melissa: so Whitney and Fatima in the bottom?
Elizabeth: fatima has to be in the bottom
me: Oh, that is the coolest picture of Anya
Melissa: it is!
8:49 PM me: If they send Whitney home over Fatima, I will throw something.
Elizabeth: it sucks for the others if fatima's no photo is better than whitneys foto
me: Probably a tissue, because I don't want to break anything.
Elizabeth: that is just wrong
Melissa: Fatima has no picture!
the only time I've seen someone not do the photo shoot, they got sent home
8:50 PM me: Issa, ANTM has a 50% track record for that.
Elizabeth: if they don't send her home, its playing favoritese based on backstory
me: because in cycle 1 they did nudes for the final 4, and one of the girls who didn't do a pic got to stay.
Melissa: well, and we've never see them do favorites.
Elizabeth: carlie knows everything
Melissa: :cough: Saleisha! :cough:
me: Saleisha. Worst winner EVER.
Tootie Carparts.
8:51 PM Melissa: just bad bad bad
me: Zed, sometimes I am holding the brain.
8:52 PM And we're back!
Elizabeth: hhhmm...it is back
me: : howls at their critique of Dominique
Melissa: oh, thank you, Paulina!
8:53 PM Elizabeth: they believe in lauren, yay
go home stacy ann
me: told you so
Melissa: gah, Stacy Ann
me: Thank you, Paulina. Stacey Ann is lame.
8:54 PM Oh, this is what I talked about, with the girl and the nude shoot in C1
wait, now her pit picture is "stunning?"
They're totally setting her up to stay.
8:55 PM Melissa: they are. damn it
me: Anya first, no surprise.
Melissa: yay, Anya!
me: Yay, Lauren!
LOL, half a thumb
Meh, Dominique
Elizabeth: notice how fatima has her pocket book she doesnt want to lose her paper again
8:56 PM Melissa: yick, Dom
me: Katarzyna HAS PERSONALITY, TyTy.
Elizabeth: yaya whitney
Melissa: yay, Whit!
me: Stacey Ann is totally going home.
Melissa: woo-hoo, so it's Stacy Ann and Fatima!
Elizabeth: music drama.....
me: Fatima's lack of picture is better than Stacey Ann's picture.
8:57 PM Melissa: trufax, Carlie
Elizabeth: where did fatima leave her papers again
damint
me: Liz, in Atlanta.
Oh, lecture from Mama Tyra
and finally, Stacey Ann goes home.
8:58 PM Melissa: is it sad that I'm woo-hooing over Stacy Ann?
me: No. Because I am too.
Elizabeth: yay yay aya
and go to....
me: I mean, she seemed nice enough, but not a model the way the others are.
8:59 PM Elizabeth: ha!!!
but where to ?
not canada?
me: Rome! Nice!
Melissa: yay, Rome!
Elizabeth: that is the one in wisconsin, right?
me: That's surprising, because they're repeating a country. They went to Milan in Cycle 2.
Melissa: no, the one in Georgia
9:00 PM me: Oh yes, Cover Girl commercial next week!
Elizabeth: brb
9:01 PM me: So, off the ANTM topic, I'm on page 189 of Paper Towns.
9:02 PM Melissa: lucky bitch
9:04 PM me: No, lucky bitch is my cat, who is asleep on the heater.
with all of her cow spots showing
Melissa: awww.
I had to send my kitty away 'cause she wanted my Chinese
9:05 PM me: Henry was walking around on the table when I had my chicken out
But I suppose he IS Jewish
9:07 PM Elizabeth: back
me: hooray!
9:08 PM So. That's us, posting for Pop. I will copy and paste into Bloggermort.
9:09 PM Melissa: yay!
me: anything anyone wants to add?
Melissa: ummm . . the CW should have shown SPN commericals?
me: And nothing else.
Just 5 minutes of Jensen and Jared
9:13 PM Elizabeth: no disagreement
9:14 PM me: Ok. Over and out.

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2008-04-15

Pop Goes the Book is Almost Here!

Check this out.
And this.

Say it with me, now: Squee!

Liz & I will be reviewing galleys in the next couple of weeks. We've lined up awesome blurbers and a fantaaaastic forward-writer. We are beyond excited.

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2008-04-11

A Question for You

I want to start podcasting.

What type of digital recorder to you suggest I buy?

I want something that I can take with me, for interviews and things like that.

Thanks!

2008-04-10

Ganbare! Irresistable Japanese TV on G4

G4 is a cable channel owned and operated by Comcast intended for gamers. It was formed out of the smoldering wreckage of Comcast's purchase and subsequent dismantling of the once-venerable TechTV channel that resulted in the banishment of legitimately knowledgeable on-air personalities like Leo LaPorte to the world of podcasting (which he says should be called Netcasting).

If you have Comcast and have ever tried to watch G4, you may have discovered that it's crappy. The on-air personalities are clueless bimbos of both genders and their attempts to be edgy, informative or entertaining fall flat every time. As usual, Penny Arcade nails it. A teleprompter does not make one a gamer. Can you tell I have strong feelings about the issue? G4 stinks.

Except for one thing. Well, two things. G4 has acquired and localized a few Japanese shows that are so mind-bendingly awesome that they almost make up for all the other dreck on the channel. Almost. Ninja Warrior and Unbeatable Banzuke are simply two of the most entertaining, gripping, and unmissable shows on TV.

G4's Ninja Warrior is made of two japanese shows based around a brutal, ever-changing 4-stage obstacle course. Sasuke is the men's version, and Kunoichi is the women's version. In Japan, Sasuke happens twice a year, in midsummer and at new year's, to be broadcast between Japan's two seasons of new episodes of television drama. Both Sasuke and Kunoichi start with 100 competitors, some serious, and some ridiculous. The gamut runs from steelworkers to acrobats to businessmen to movie stars to olympians to comedians to sumo wrestlers to the guy who works at the curry shop. Each field of competitors usually includes some Gaijin, including Sasuke regulars and US olympic medalists Paul and Morgan Hamm, Track star Paul Terek, and Bulgarian gymnast Jordan Yovtchev.

Sasuke has happened 20 times so far, and only twice has a competitor managed to complete all 4 stages: Crab Fisherman Kazuhiko Akiyama and Fishing Boat Captain Makoto Nagano. Kunoichi, which focuses more on astounding feats of balance than Sasuke's focus on upper body strength and stamina, has been held 8 times and a single competitor, Ayako Miyake, Acrobat and member of the G-Rockets Acrobatic stage troupe, completed the course 3 times in a row, but failed to complete stage 2 on her fourth attempt.

So, yes, this is a show that has had only 3 winners out of some 2700 attempts. A significant number of the competitors are clearly there for comic relief and rarely make it past the first obstacle in a clear homage to the International 80's success of Takeshi's Castle (currently airing in a horrific dubbed incarnation on the Spike channel as MXC), but because many of these hopefuls return year after year, they have a unique scrappy appeal and you can't help rooting for them, especially the 60-year-old proprietor of the Edokko Izakaya, known as Tako-san (The Octopus).

As you can imagine, the drama is intense and the action is irresistable. In Japan, each tournament is shown in one 3-hour show, so G4 repackages each tournament into several half-hour shows. The stage is set by english voiceovers and edited cutaways, but the actual attempts at the course are shown with the Japanese announcers and some (passable) subtitles. Compared to other localizations of japanese shows (cough MXC cough), this is huge step forward, and the excitement and intensity of the Japanese play by play is a big part of the appeal of the show.

Ninja Warrior has been a huge success for G4 and is now one of their flagship products. They've even had contests to find the American Ninja Warrior fans most qualified to compete in the show and have sent two sets of Competitors to Japan to try to hold their own.

Sasuke is just the tip of the iceberg of innovative Japanese athletic competition TV, with no confessionals, infighting, or immunity challenges in sight. Viking was an earlier version of Sasuke that was also show briefly in the US, and other shows such as Monster Box, Junior Sasuke, Sasuke Construction Workers Special, or stage shows like the smash hit Muscle Musical are surely to follow. G4 has been quick to move on another great acquisition that they call Unbeatable Banzuke.

A Banzuke is an old-school broadsheet showing rankings of sumo wrestlers, interpreted here to mean a book of champions. Instead of Sasuke's grueling 4-stage course, Unbeatable Banzuke (again a repackaging of a few different Japanese shows) features over 20 simply incomprehensible events, such as obstacle courses for hand-walking, unicycle, pogo stick, or mountain bike, or pole balanced on two fingers, each with its own field of competitors. Again, some English narration and graphics set the stage and the Japanese play-by-play is subtitled, but the intro and bumpers feature a bluescreened Japanese Sportscaster-looking guy named Kai Kato, speaking Japanese with subtitles, but obviously shot in a studio somewhere in LA and intended only for the US G4 audience. Kai is a very pleasant guy, but I guess the producers felt the show couldn't be successful without some artificial foreignness.

While this stuff is not likely to come to DVD, there is tons of it on youtube, and it is hugely popular with young guys. A Ninja Warrior viewing program or a broader program about Japanese TV could be a very cool event for teens and twenty-somethings, and as the influence of these shows continues to grow, we may see more demand for subtitled japanese shows in our collections.

Ganbare!

2008-04-09

Wednesday Night Lights: Television & Movies

Here is last week's idea that slipped out of my head from one place of work to another. I warn you, it's a little underwhelming after the deal I made out of it last week. On top of that, it's something that Pop has covered before.

I was thinking about DVRs and Netflix and how they've changed how I watch tv and movies. I know, nothing groundbreaking, there right? Obviously the two technologies provide access to material in a way that didn't exist before them.

Those of you out there who have a DVR know how it completely alters the television watching experience. Laughing too hard at a joke and miss the next line? Run back and see what you miss. Got a favorite tv show that's on while you put the baby to sleep (7:30-9 CST; that's 8:30-10 for you East Coasters...total prime tv show time!)? Set up a timer and watch them later. Then, after watching your show, run back and watch the news.

It makes you feel like you can run EVERYTHING back and catch it again: the radio, conversations with people, the sky...I tell you, and I'm not exaggerating, during each of those examples I've had the thought pop in my head, "what was that? maybe I'll just run it back a little..." It's like those commercials for the Microsoft Sync. I like my DVR.

Netflix, on the other hand, I LOVE. I feel safe saying that it's changed my life. We used to watch about a movie every other month in the theater and something like two a month as rentals. That's like 30 movies a year. Since we signed up for Netflix, we've averaged 70 movies (I should say DVDs as we watch a fair amount of television and documentaries through Netflix) a year. Not that we need to watch so many movies; we just do.

We have a three movie subscription. We get one for both of us and one for each of us. That way we can watch movies separately at our own pace. We keep about 200 movies in our queue. If my wife wants to watch Hornblower or The Forsyte Saga series on DVD, she can get it and watch it to her heart's content. If I want to watch Takashi Miike or Kar Wai Wong movies, I can. So many things come out on DVD these days, we hardly ever run into things not available through Netflix.

So what's my point? It's about choice. It's about me selecting when and how I watch television and movies. And I like it. I don't want to go back. Both of these things anticipated a need of mine that I didn't know existed. Sure cable, video recorders, and movie rentals sort of give me what I get through the DVR and Netflix, but they don't do it as efficiently or as quickly. This is a case-perfect example of environmental scanning. They determined there was a hole in service and they filled it.

In my opinion, environmental scanning is one of the most under-utilized skills of a librarian. What is your community lacking? What service can you provide to them that they aren't currently getting? Are there groups in your community that are under-served by the library?

It could be something as simple as offering $8 1GB flash drives and $1 ear bud headphones or even providing a place to watch World Cup soccer. Sometimes you need to reach out a little bit in order to bring them back to you.

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2008-04-04

Friday Fun: Great Comebacks

This is my husband's week of jubilee, for R.E.M.'s new album, Accelerate, has just dropped to universal critical acclaim and the distinct possibility of entering the charts next week at #2. Also, the new single completely rocks, which is something R.E.M. has not done for their last three albums. Marcus is a huge R.E.M. fan, and he has stood by them even when their work was, to my ear, snore-inducing, so the band's return to form is particularly sweet for him, as it seems to be for their many fans.

This comeback puts me in mind of other great comebacks in various media, all of which would make for good displays, book group discussion ideas, or bulletin boards:

  • The Rumble in the Jungle -- showcase great bios of Muhammad Ali (there are some wonderful ones for kids & teens out there) alongside Michael Mann's film Ali and the documentary When We Were Kings
  • The Stooges -- No, not these guys, these guys! Arguably, Iggy Pop wasn't in need of a comeback, but the Stooges hadn't recorded together in years. Now, they're enjoying quite the renaissance, releasing an album, touring, and performing for Madonna at her recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction.
  • Johnny Cash -- another fellow in the arguable "he never left!" category, but you could just as easily argue that his American Recordings series, on which he collaborated with the chameleonic producer Rick Rubin, introduced The Man in Black to a new generation of listeners. Without his haunting cover (and moving video for) the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt", I doubt he'd ever have won, much less been nominated for, an MTV Video Music Award.
There are tons of comebacks, returns to form, re-emergence from obscurity, or whatever you want to call them, in every media -- music, film, literature, TV, websites, -- and you can do anything with them, from programs to trivia contests to multimedia reader's, watcher's, or listener's advisory.

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2008-04-02

Wednesday Night Lights: Writer's Block

I had an idea for a post on the drive from my full-time job to my part-time job. I was musing in my head about some things, and thought "Oh! That would make an interesting post!"

Of course, I had nothing to write it down with nor did I try to mantra it into my brain so that I could write it down when I arrived here. I've been trying for almost four hours to return the idea to my head. But it won't come. The initial process was so random I can't recreate it in my head to jigger the dust motes together.

So I've been trying to come up with other ideas for tonight, and I still got nothing. I have half-formed ideas about absinthe, Chuck Mangione, science fiction, baseball, and syrup. But nothing concrete. Nothing good. And while writing a post that could somehow connect all those things together would be awesome...it's beyond my powers as a writer.

And I know this post is such a cop out on writing something with substance. But I want to make a post tonight (stubbornly refusing to admit defeat and perhaps post something later tonight or tomorrow) and I'll post whatever I have.

But this brings something to mind for me. What do you do when you're out of thoughts? What resource do you use to spark your imagination? When faced with the need for an emergency program, is there a favorite book or website that you go to for ideas? Is there a movie that makes ideas pop in your head like crazy? Are you like Betteredge in The Moonstone and dive into Robinson Crusoe to interpret the world around you?

I myself like to dive into the world of commercials. Yes. I said it (and was rightly mocked for it last night when I wanted to skip some): I like commercials. They can be like perfect jewels of storytelling to me. And they can be utter garbage. But good and bad, there are worlds of the unknown out there in commercials.

How about you?

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2008-04-01

April Fool!

Okay, admittedly, I am a goofball. And, y'know, a nerdfighter. So it should come as exactly no surprise at all that I was ROFL, as the kids text, when I read today's Shelf Awareness, which is full of "really? No way! Oh, right, April Fool. Hee!" moments such as:

Random House has created an imprint, Memoiries, which will specialize in autobiographical titles whose editors are reluctant to do fact checking. Because this is a presidential election year, initial titles on the spring list have a decidedly political bent:

  • On the Front Lines in Bosnia by Senator Hillary Clinton
  • How I Uncovered Iranian Support for Al-Qaeda in Iraq by Senator John McCain
  • A Million Little Accomplishments: My Stupendous Presidency by George W. Bush with James Frey
and

Potter Prosecution: Rowling's New Move to Protect Work

Lawyers for J.K. Rowling have indicated in public filings that the author of the Harry Potter series has directed them to use their "full powers" to protect the reading experience of fans of her iconic work.

To that end, legal staff are continuing the suit again RDR Books over the Harry Potter Lexicon and will remain vigilant in opposing in court any other similar infringement on Rowling's intellectual property.

More strikingly, in an additional new move, the lawyers have copyrighted and trademarked the words "Harry" and "Potter" and will protect those brands. In a statement, the author said, "Muggles everywhere should be happy that I have been so restrained. Some thought I should protect every word I wrote in the seven Harry Potter volumes."

Nonetheless, a range of affected people and groups have already protested, and Rowling quickly responded with suggestions that she said would be legally satisfactory to her. For one, new editions of Peter Rabbit titles can have the byline "Beatrix P." Likewise future DVDs of the 1989 classic may be retitled When Harold Met Sally. And Chapin and Connick, Jr., should be enough to convey the identities of those magical musicians.

Hah! I am easily amused.

What are you doing for April Fool's Day at your library? Changing your fine structure to $10 per item per day? Banning Charlotte's Web? Reading stories backwards during storytime?

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