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.


Friday Fun: Book Covers

One aspect of book production that can get the short shrift is cover design. Everyone's heard the platitude that you can't judge a book by its cover, but if that were true, why would publishers put so much effort into creating their covers? I have a only slightly secret crush on Chip Kidd, who is my favorite book designer (you can see some of his work here) as well as being an entertaining author.

But there's a lot of other imaginative people out there, like Pablo Defendini (who is also very passionate about electronic books) at Tor Books. Pablo doesn't have as much online as Chip, but here's a great example of a print he designed for Cory Doctorow's Little Brother.

Now, there are some other things I've been seeing online that also deal with book covers. A little old now, but here's a blog post from Joseph Sullivan's Book Design Review from November of last year, showcasing some of his favorite book cover designs from the year. While I'm partial to the cover for Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! (better known to many people as the movie Soylent Green), the cover for The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is just amazing.

Pursuant to that, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is part of Penguin's (through their UK office) Great Idea series. There are three series, and the link takes you to the first one. Each is twenty books, and they comprise everything from Karl Marx to Seneca to Thomas Hobbes to George Orwell. I think each and every one of these books has great cover design. They are small, hand-sized editions, and if someone wanted to buy all three series for me (a bargain at just under 300 pounds) I would love them forever.

On the more fun side of things, blogger Spacesick recently created a whole bunch of book cover mock ups, taking popular movies and creating 1960s style book covers for them. I don't know if I can pick a favorite from these. Every time I settle on one, the next one catches my eye.

For practical purposes, you can always create displays of books designed by the same person/design team. That would take some research, but could be well worth the results. Alternately, you can pick out similarly themed book design, and put them together under a "Judge This Book by Its Cover" display. For programming items, you could have people design new book covers for their favorite book. Or take a book with bad design and redo it. The possibilities are endless!

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Friday Fun: Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble

I recently had the pleasure as serving on the jury for the Independent Games Festival, and out of all the games I played, the one that I spent the most time with by far was Keith Nemitz's Indie breakthrough Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble. It's a single-player RPG based in a 1920's high school, disguised as a board game. You choose a girl to play from a set of characters, then attempt to build a girl gang through threats, intimidation, taunting, and leveling up. Your gang then attempts missions such as uncovering suspicious school accidents, finding the school's hidden still, electing a horse mayor, and other shenanigans.

Each of the 12 playable girls have different starting stats for popularity, rebellion, glamour, and savvy, and they play mini-games such as Taunt, Fib, Expose, and Flirt... not the most positive activities, but remember, these are DANGEROUS girls, and they're in trouble. It's like when Kit Kittredge turned 14 and started smoking in the conservatory and piercing her hat with safety pins.

Most of the minigames use the four card suits as tokens or icons, giving the whole experience a parlour-game feel that fits in beautifully with the 20's setting. The story sucks you in and the constant promise of leveling up one of your gang or learning new taunts teasing Bully Girl in the gymnasium makes you forget the underlying unusualness of playing a solitaire RPG that's pretending to be a board game on a computer.

There's a free demo available, plus a gameplay video on youtube, and firsthour.net has a walkthrough of, well, the first hour of the game. Check it out and enjoy!

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Friday Fun: Skype

I'm sure that if you had your druthers, you'd bring in every author for your book clubs. Who wouldn't want to? Sometimes access to an author is not possible due to their celebrity status; no one expects to be able to bring in Stephen King or Janet Evanovich to their book club. It's just not feasible. Other times, the author's availability is restricted due to their physical location. Most public libraries don't have the funds to fly an author in from another state, much less another country.

Enter Skype, a free online service that allows you to make phone calls, including video, over your internet connection. One of MPOW is using Skype in just this fashion: bringing authors into their book discussion. They had contacted Scottish author Peter May, who currently lives in France, about taking part in a conference call. May suggested that the library use Skype and they could teleconference the book discussion. Since that first Skype book discussion, they've gone on to do several more, and they make it a point now to reach out to authors for the possibility of taking part in their discussion.

Now, there is a little set up needed on both ends of things; in addition to downloading, installing, and configuring Skype on a library computer, the author needs to do it, too. Thankfully Skype is very easy to use in all aspects. Skype has been around since 2003, but has gained immense exposure in the past six months with people like Oprah and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire using the technology to talk to people. Perhaps not everyone will be able to use it, but it doesn't hurt to ask and perhaps find a way to enhance your book discussion.

And for you authors out there, it may be a great promotional device to be available for Skype teleconferences. I'm just saying.

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Friday Fun with Pancake Mountain

What could be better than a Pancake Mountain? How about a tv show, ostensibly and mostly for kids, featuring live performances by some kickass bands, an amblyopic host called Captain Perfect, with the nonexistent "board" of the show as his enemies? What if that show was called Pancake Mountain? Well, it is, and it beat the also-awesome Yo Gabba Gabba to the party for kids shows that don't suck by several years on public access TV in Washington DC.

The show was created by producer Scott Stuckey (yes, of those Stuckeys) and features Captain Perfect and a goat puppet named Rufus Leaking who attends band press briefings and music festivals, plus cartoons, music videos, and footage from several Pancake Mountain Dance Parties, which are basically concerts for kids where no "kid's music" is actually allowed. Pancake Mountain has featured acts like Thievery Corporation, Arcade Fire, Steel Pulse, M.I.A., The Melvins, and even legends like Billy Idol, Henry Rollins, The B-52s, and George Clinton. Rufus is a hilarious interviewer, rude without being crass, and the amount of awesome kids get exposed to in just one episode of Pancake Mountain handily offsets a Wiggles Marathon's worth of suck.

Pancake Mountain episodes are available on DVD and would be great in the youth video -- or the non-youth video --- collection, because the show only airs in a few cities and full episodes aren't around much online. Plus, these discs are a slam dunk for the emerging hipster parent demographic who has already torn through Here come the ABCs and Here come the 123s and have been given hope that children's tv doesn't have to stink all the time.

Because the show airs on cable access, you can also consider trying to get Pancake Mountain to be broadcast in your community, especially if you're colocated or affiliated with your cable access channel. At my library, we've been able to bring Pancake Mountain to the good children of Ann Arbor, Mondays at 6PM, and we hope to get Rufus out someday to stage a PM Dance Party of our own.

Check out Pancake Mountain, but realize that you may never look at kid's TV the same way again. In a good way!

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Friday Fun: To Boldly Go...

While much of my childhood has been served up to my adulthood in great big steaming piles of garbage, occasionally there's something that comes up that's worthwhile (or at least as fun as the original).

Now, one of my most cherished bits of my childhood, classic "Star Trek" is due up for a remake. You see, classic "Star Trek" is one of the few things my older brother let me do with him when we were kids. We even had "Star Trek" books and watched the movies in the theater (at least the first three movies). To be completely random, the first time I ever had Doritoes was while watching classic "Star Trek" so whenever I eat Dorito's, I often think of Kirk and Spock.

I know the show is campy with low production values. But a lot of the stories were great (the problem being that they are now so entrenched in our mindset that it's hard to remember that sine if tge okit devices weren't used until the show). If I run across a show while flipping through the channels, I'll stop and watch it. I should probably get them on DVD, but I haven't. It's one of the few science fiction things that I really geek out about. And I don't think I've ever said that out loud before.

So, I was understandably concerned when a "remake" was announced. Of course, it's not a true remake, but the new movie will be using "Star Trek" canon figures played by actors other than those who made them famous. Would these new stars do justice to Shatner, Nimoy, Takei, Doohan, Kelley, Nichols, and Koenig?

Vic Holtreman of Screen Rant shares many of the same concerns that I do. Here Holtreman created a nice image putting the classic actors next to those of the new film. I honestly think they've done a great job of casting, although I agree that Karl Urban as "Bones" and Simon Pegg as "Scotty" seem not quite right, but I think both actors are talented enough to do a good job. Chris Pine as Kirk might be just about perfect.

You can get to the official website for the new movie here. And the trailers for the new movie are here. In trailer 2, there's a bit of exchange between Kirk and Spock that makes me more excited than I should be about the new movie:
Kirk: Are you afraid or aren't you?
Spock: I will not allow you to lecture me
Kirk: Then why don't you stop me?
This quick back and forth shows me they have the characters right. Hopefully the rest of the movie is this good.

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Fun Friday: This is Halloween, everybody make a scene!

Christmastime is nice, but I've always been of the opinion that fall is the most wonderful time of the year. Colored leaves, new sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, and my favorite holiday, Halloween. Goblins and ghosts and ghouls, oh my! (And also, free candy.) This year, I'll be dressing as Jenny from the short story "The Green Ribbon" from In A Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz and Dirk Zimmer. Some green ribbon, a dress I already own, and poof! Instant costume. Hey, you gotta be creative when you can't sew.

For all of you who read Pop Goes the Library, I wish you the most spooktacular of Halloweens and offer these links for your Halloween-themed web browsing pleasure:

Have a fun Halloween, everyone, and remember to stay far, far away from the house that gives out toothbrushes.

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Fun Friday Make-up Exam: Election Addiction

My last post was a lame cop-out, so here's what I had planned to write about: Elections A Go-Go!

My friends, you may need to stage an intervention. I am reading and listening to little other than election coverage, and almost every single other person I know is in the grip of a similar mania. When SNL is creating midweek specials on the election (fueled in equal parts, I believe, of the following: wanting to capitalize on Tina Fey's unimpeachably perfect impression of Sarah Palin; wanting to leverage the popularity of said impression into a ratings boost for Fey's show, 30 Rock; and wanting to make the most of the awesome chemistry between Weekend Update's Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers before Poehler went on maternity leave after giving birth to her son, Archie Arnett -- if you're reading this, congratulations, Amy & Will!), when you can view a really well-edited Obama vs. McCain dance-off (which I will not spoil for you -- it's work-safe, so click away), and when Jon Stewart & Steven Colbert's respective shows are pulling down better ratings than they ever have before, you know an election isn't just an election. It's a Pop Culture Event.

I know you didn't need me to tell you that. I'm just indulging in a little rhetorical flourish.

I'm curious about what libraries around the country are doing about the elections -- Presidential, Congressional, and local -- for their communities. At my school, the senior high library is one of the locations where students, faculty, and staff can purchase McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden t-shirts, so we have a display case decorated with sample shirts, along with student-produced information on the candidates and red, white, and blue decor of various types. We're holding a mock debate later this week, and I created a wiki for one of our Sociology teachers for her and her students to use in conjunction with a poster assignment she gave them for this week.

It's really all about the Presidential election at my school -- here in NJ, incumbent Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg is presently up by an average of 17.4% (you'll have to scroll pretty far down to see the NJ polls, but all Senate races are included there!) -- but your community may be more focused on a state or local election.

I hope you'll leave some information about and links to whatever your library is doing to celebrate Election Day. Meanwhile, here are some of my favorite resources, which tend towards blue & purple:

FiveThirtyEight.com -- this is probably my favorite site right now. I check it several times a day, because it's updated so frequently. Nate Silver, statistical wunderkind, breaks down, analyzes, and explains in plain English what frequently conflicting poll results actually mean. He's an Obama supporter, but this is a site about numbers, not about policy. While most of the site's coverage is specific to the Presidential election and how it will play out in the Electoral College, Silver & his team also offer comprehensive coverage of all of the Senate race polls, too.

The Christian Science Monitor's Patchwork Nation -- this project bills itself as "The American voter beyond red and blue, and how you fit in." You can take a survey to see how well you match your county's community type (there are 13 types, and each is represented by a blog written by a community member), follow project director Dante Chinni's blog, and evaluate the project's statistical methodology.

The Cheat Sheet from The Daily Beast -- I am not exactly cutting-edge these days, so I'll cop to not having heard of The Daily Beast -- Tina Brown's latest venture -- until Christopher Buckley's Obama endorsement in its pages got him kicked out of the National Review. Now that I have found it, though, I am a big fan. I love the variety of opinion, I love the intelligent irreverence, and I love love looove The Cheat Sheet, which is kind of a political Buzzfeed.

Campaign Stops -- This NY Times blog is written in the form of conversations between Gail Collins and David Brooks, two of my favorite columnists. I cannot wait for Brooks to publish another book. His 2005 book, On Paradise Drive, is one of my favorite works of popular sociology of the past 5 years.

This American Life -- Ira Glass & Company have been doing some truly stellar reporting lately on both the election & the economy. Great stuff!

My favorite historical perspective on elections & presidents & American political thought in general comes from Sarah Vowell, whose interview on this week's Studio 360 was, unsurprisingly, as illuminating as it was delightful.

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Friday Fun: If You Have Twelve Seconds To Spare

I just got back from the EXCELLENT Internet Librarian 2008 Conference, sponsored by Information Today...and yes, I did indeed **squee!** aloud to see Pop Goes the Library, The Book, on the cover of the catalog tucked into my nifty tote.

My brain is filled right up to the top, and I hope to have much more to share with Pop, The Blog, over the next few weeks concerning the conference and the amazing people there, but for Friday Fun, here's a quick little snippet.

Connie Crosby gave a great talk on Instant Audio and Video in which she discussed all sorts of very cool, cheap-to-free sites that allow online production and distribution of, yes, audio and video. One of my favs? 12Seconds.tv, which might be described as "Twitter with video." Each post is only, you guessed it, 12 seconds long. I searched the word "library" and came up with 89 returns, including a series called Biography of the Day, Cupcake Library TV (!!!), and, of course, a very nicely done SHHH! It's in "public alpha," so go request an invite! I just did!

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Friday Fun Substitute: American Libraries Update

George Eberhart, Editor of American Libraries, asked me to share the following with you all, dear readers:

I wanted to let you know about some important news about American Libraries.

1. Our weekly e-newsletter, American Libraries Direct, is now available to anyone who wants to sign up for it, not just ALA members. The sign-up form, as well as the FAQ, is at http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/aldirect/aldirect.cfm .

2. American Libraries has launched its own blog, AL Inside Scoop, http://www.al.ala.org/insidescoop/ . Editor-in-chief Leonard Kniffel offers an insider’s view of goings-on at ALA headquarters and what hot topics ALA staffers are talking about in the hallways. Associate Editor Greg Landgraf offers his perspective from “the lower floors” of what many see as the ALA ivory tower.

3. Login is no longer required to view the current issue of the American Libraries print magazine online (in PDF format), or to view the archives, which date back to the January 2003 issue. Go directly to http://www.ala.org/ala/alonline/alonlineebrary/alonlineebrary.cfm . First-time viewers will need to install the ebrary reader to view issues. To download, go to http://site.ebrary.com/lib/ala/Download . Firefox 3 users installing the reader for the first time will need a workaround, http://www.ebrary.com/kb/users/ff3install.jsp , to make the ebrary reader work with their browser.

I realize that while this information is useful & timely, it doesn't really meet our usual standard of fun for Fun Fridays, and I have only the following to offer by way of apology: your correspondent is beyond exhausted due to participation in her school's Spirit Week, including chaperoning the Homecoming Dance last night and yelling her lungs out during the Field Events in support of the Class of 2010, who donated over 400 books to the Library Club's book drive. I owe you all one, is what I'm saying.

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Friday Fun: All Kinds of Fun Time-Spenders

Note how I don't call any of these sites "time-wasters". All of us here at PGTL would never advocate that you spend some time on this Friday looking at frivolous websites!

[removes her tongue from her cheek]

Woot!: This site is for all of you who don't want the tension of eBay, who'd rather have a relative bird in the hand. Each day, Woot posts a new product, one that is available at typically substantially reduced prices. And once they're gone, they're gone! Although most items are electronics or appliances, there's certainly some whimsical choices. How about a toilet paper dispenser with a built-in FM radio?

Fine Lines: Reminiscing about those books you read when you were a teen? So is Jezebel, in their weekly feature where, in their own words, they "give a sentimental, sometimes-critical, far more wizened look at the children's and YA books we loved in our youth." I particularly liked the recent look at Cheaper by the Dozen/Belles on Their Toes, by noted mystery author Laura Lippman.

Firefox News: No, this has nothing to do with the browser--although they'd certainly recommend it to you. Firefox News is a site for tv discussion, articles about fandom topics, and even info about technology and the paranormal. It's a nice little niche site, and is mostly free from the frenzied politics of fandom at large. I really like their coverage of Supernatural.



Fun Friday: Trailer Park

My husband Marcus & I are mad for movie trailers, so much so that we sometimes decide to forgo an evening out in favor of queuing up 90 minutes or so of trailers at Apple. We started this little habit of gorging ourselves on 90-second mini-movies back when we couldn't afford to go out, and we just never gave it up, because it was so much fun. Turns out, it's also a handy & super-cheap way to keep up to date with what's coming to the multiplex & local arthouse cinema.

Here are some of my most recent favorites, with contextual notes for fun, reader's & viewer's advisory, and displays!

Cthulhu -- I am not a fan of horror by any means, but I have a soft spot for Cthulhu. Maybe it's because I fell in love with Michael Chabon's Lovecraftian ghost, August van Zorn, in Wonder Boys (another very fine film adaptation). Maybe it's the exuberant, extravagant creepiness of putting a cephalopodic head on a quasi-human body. Whatever, it's awesome. Plus, this film co-stars Tori Spelling, which...well, that's just classic, isn't it? Teen soap queen-turned-low-rent reality star & sometime horror princess. Bust out the Lovecraft for all those Darren Shan fans who have torn through every book in his Cirque du Freak and Demonata series!

The Duchess -- Let me tell you, Britney? Paris? Lindsay & Samantha? Ladies, you have nothing, nothing! on Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Great-great-supergreat ancestor of Princess Diana (Georgiana's maiden name was Spencer -- she grew up at Althorp, too), the Duchess was the It Girl of the 18th century, a fashion icon, political heavyweight, and object of endless gossipy scrutiny. I kind of hate that they've rebranded her as The Duchess (what, like there are no other duchesses?), because that reminds me of the willful mis-speller Fergie, and I just don't want those streams crossed in my mind. I hate it even more that Amanda Forman's thoroughly engrossing biography, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, has also been rebranded with Keira Knightley's lovely, if too svelte for the 1700s, face on the cover. I'm kind of surprised at how grouchy I am over this, but you know I'll be seeing that movie as soon as it comes out. Hello, fabulous period costumes! Forbidden romance! Intrigue! This is a no-brainer for your Gossip Girl fans.

A Quantum of Solace -- When I first heard Daniel Craig would be replacing the ultra-suave Pierce Brosnan as Bond, I made my face of ultimate skepticism. I am very happy to admit how wrong I was. Having never been saddled with the "pretty" label, he's developed his chops as a character actor, and he brings an emotional depth to Bond that I think we've never seen before. He's also far scrappier, physically -- he's got more in common with Matt Damon's Jason Bourne than any previous Bond, who has never seemed like an action hero who ever actually got his clothes mussed while fighting off five thugs at once. Craig rules, basically, and I love the new, emotionally tortured Bond. Cross-market with the Bourne franchise, and for those readers too young to see a potentially R-rated film, the new Young Bond series by Charlie Higson.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
-- Of course! Quirky, music-loving teens find true love in one crazy night in New York. There's not much in this world better than that.

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Friday Fun: Fabulous Flash

My very favorite website has a wonderful tradition: Flash Friday. It's wonderful because it usually restricts the posting of productivity-obliterating flash games to the day of the week when you don't usually get anything done anyway. Flash games are a picocent per gross or something, most endlessly rehashing game mechanics from the 80's, but there are some truly amazing things out there too... like You Have To Burn The Rope. It's very short, very accessible, and very awesome... especially the end credits If you get stumped, try the 1-minute walkthrough. Hint: You have to burn the rope. Just ask this kid.

The Swedish student game developer who unleashed You Have To Burn The Rope upon the world was surely influenced by Still Alive, the incredibly perfect ending credits song from Portal, written by geek superstar Jonathon Coulton and sung by GLaDOS, the AI that guides and leads the player through the game. Coulton is huge with geeks, and his song Code Monkey is used as the opening theme for, well, Code Monkeys, the atari-look southpark-style comedy about 80's game developers.

Then there's Puzzle Farter. Let 'er rip!

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Friday Fun: My Favorite Pop Culture Reference Sites

Happy Friday, all! This week, I'd like to share three of my favorite pop culture reference sites for those idiosyncratic information needs to which I love to cater [admittedly, usually my own, but I'm always happy to share]:

Second Hand Songs: "Find out who performed the original version of a particular song, or who covered the song." Great to consult before making your iPod playlists. "Great party! Love the three-layer dip! Oh, is this Rob Base? No, wait...it's Lyn Collins!"

The Hype Machine: Aggregates MP3 blogs; you can search for a particular song or artist and/or find the artists that are most often blogged and searched. "Hype Spy" lets you see what other people are doing on the site RIGHT THIS MINUTE! Fun!

Rocklopedia Fakebandica: A great way to kill about eleven hours without even realizing it. It calls itself the "ultimate fake band list" and it's not kidding, despite not being updated since last September. Sure, there's Spinal Tap, but there's also The Bower Family Band, as featured in the 1968 Disney flick The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band, the plot of which involves the family band attempting to perform their original hit "Let's Put it Over with Grover [Cleveland]" at the 1888 Democratic National Convention and the stars of which include Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn YEARS before they started permanently living in sin!

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Fun Friday: Happy Anniversary!

No, it's not Pop Goes the Library's anniversary, it's mine. Five years ago today, my husband decided I was worth putting up with full-time. So for Fun Friday, I bring you anniversary traditions and ideas.

Most people know that the 25th anniversary is the "silver" anniversary and the 50th is the "golden," but many don't know that every anniversary has a certain gift attached to it. For example:

The 5th anniversary is traditionally the "wood" anniversary, with a modern gift of silverware.

The 11th anniversary is the "steel" anniversary, with a modern gift of jewelry. (Of course, being the girlie girl that I am, I think every anniversary is an appropriate time for jewelry.)

This August, my parents will celebrate their 35th anniversary, which is the "coral" anniversary, with a modern gift of jade.

Of course, nothing says anyone celebrating an anniversary has to follow any tradtion, but I find these gift ideas fun and inspiring. For the wood anniversary, why not give an acoustic guitar or plant a tree? For the steel anniversary, take a trip to Pittsburgh (and while you're there, have a Smashed Potato pizza at Fuel n' Fuddle for me). My favorite might be the paper (first) anniversary: BOOKS!

One of the coolest anniversary traditions I've seen is from author/blogger Peg Kerr. Peg and her husband Rob take what they call "tunnel" pictures, one of which you can see here. Every five years, they get a portrait done, and in those portraits they're holding their anniversary portrait from five years earlier.

Gifts or no gifts, I'm happy to celebrate, and I think the husband is just happy that I didn't request a wedding cake that looks like this.

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Friday Fun: Happy birthday, Melissa!

Today, our very own British TV maven and dear friend Melissa is celebrating a birthday, so I think we should all gift her with our current favorite pop culture links.

Mine is Musicovery. Some days I feel like listening to Metallica. Other times, I'm more in a Tori Amos mood, or sometimes I just want to shake it like a Polaroid picture. Musicovery will let me tell it on a matrix whether I want music that is more energetic, positive, dark, or calm, and at the same time I can tell it what genres of music I like so it knows not to give me Keith Urban when I really prefer Boys Like Girls.

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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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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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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.



Friday Fun: Guess The Show

What television show is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-running science-fiction television show in the world?

What show has villains who cry "Delete!" or "Exterminate!"?

Who travels through time and space in a blue box?

If you said Star Trek or Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica, guess again. It's Doctor Who.

A British institution, the original version of the show, featuring a 900-year-old alien named the Doctor, ran from 1963-1989. Except for a TV movie in 1996, the show was off the air until 2005, when it returned bigger and better than ever before.

During the writer's strike, I could take comfort in the fact that since Doctor Who was a British show, it meant it wasn't affected by the strike. Series (or season) 4 will be starting on April 5 in the UK; thanks to the Sci-Fi Channel, you'll be able to watch the newest series of Doctor Who only a few weeks after episodes premiere in Britain.

So, in honor of the upcoming return of my favorite show, interesting facts and trivia!

--To allow the show to keep running, the Doctor is able to be recast with a new actor whenever necessary. On the show, the process is called "regeneration". Currently, we're on the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant.

--The Fourth Doctor, played by Tom Baker, is probably most familiar to American audiences, thanks to Baker's long tenure: seven years as the Doctor.

--Although the show is called Doctor Who, the character is called the Doctor.

Want to check it out for yourself? Doctor Who, both the classic and new versions, is readily available through Netflix; there's also Amazon or your library (my library system carries both Classic and New Who, as fans have nicknamed them).

I would recommend starting with series 1 and series 2 of New Who; the stories are better designed for modern audiences, and with those two series, you get a full introduction to what makes this show so fantastic. And although for a British show they have a long season, compared to American shows they're on the short side; series 1 is 13 forty-five minute episodes, while series 2 has the same number of episodes plus an hour-long special. Easy for a weekend marathon!

The most interesting thing about Doctor Who? It's a family show; in Britain, it airs at 7pm on Saturday nights, and it's very much designed to appeal to people of all ages. From farting aliens to omnisexual conmen to an unstated love story, Doctor Who is a show that brings everyone together. So perhaps the next time someone asks you at the reference desk for something to do with their kids, you could recommend watching Doctor Who.

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Can fun guess lyrics these Thursday: you

We do love our song lyrics guessing games here at Pop, and since I was bad and missed posting on my Fun Friday last week, you get Fun Thursday With Song Lyrics.

Earlier this week, I saw the greatest song lyrics quiz ever invented: And Great Lyrics Quiz Rock Roll The. It's just your standard quiz: Guess the song these lyrics are from. Only all the lyrics are in alphabetical order. So far, I've solved 28 and there are three that I know I know but I can't put the words together just yet.

So I bring you Pop Goes the Library's "Guess Lyrics Song These," using songs that are not on the other quiz. If you guess these lyrics you get nothing but our eternal admiration and the pride of being able to unscramble song lyrics. Ours are easier than theirs, I promise. (Beware: repeated words only show once on the list, and not all of them are rock songs.)

1. a ago and be can chance could dance for had happy how I if knew long make maybe me my music people remember smile still that they'd those time to used while

2. enter exit eye hand gripping land light my never-never night off one open pillow sleep take tight to with your

3. always and away beg boy boys but can can't cash cause cold credit don't give hard hug I if is just kiss light me mister okay plead proper right see some that's the they they're think walk with

4. again and blow break can chain damn don't hear I if in lies listen love me never now rise run saying shadows still sun the to watch will wind would you your

5. ain't and another Bobby blues buddy but easy enough
feelin' free freedom's for good it's just left lose me nothin' sang that the to was when word worth

6. a and baffled but care chord composing David do don't fall fifth for fourth goes heard
it I've king lift like Lord major minor music now played pleased really sacred that the there this you was

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Fun Friday: Music Trivia Quiz

I tried coming up with a unifying theme for this quiz, but I am recovering from a broken foot and just started a new job (more on that later -- it's awesome and I love it), so I am slacker girl this week.

1) What do the following albums have in common?

Weezer, Weezer
Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers [UPDATE: this is wrong -- see the comments]
Guided By Voices, Do The Collapse
Bad Brains, God of Love

2) What was legendary British DJ John Peel's favorite song?

3) When The Modern Lovers broke up and Jonathan Richman went solo, which notable New Wave bands did some of its members go on to join, and who were the members?

4) What do the following artists have in common?
Bryan Adams
Shania Twain
The Cars
Def Leppard

5) Who are (according to some reports) the real-life Terry and Julie in the great Kinks song Waterloo Sunset?

First person to post all correct answers -- without using Wikipedia or other reference materials -- to the comments (be patient -- I'll have to approve each comment before they show up!) wins...um, something cool. Brainstorm a reasonably priced prize in the comments!

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Fun Friday: "Are we going to catch that Sirius Black dude?" Dean asked Sam.

Hi, everyone. My name is Carlie, and I like fanfiction. (Want to know more about fanfiction and the people that create it? Come to the panel that Liz and I are presenting that the YALSA YA Lit Symposium in November!) Specifically, I like drabbles, a form of fanfiction in which the entire story takes place in exactly 100 words. Often, people write drabbles around one very specific idea, or sometimes a word prompt, anything from "storm" to "dedication" to "triumph."

Your Fun Friday event is to write a drabble based on one of my favorite TV shows, books, or movies: Harry Potter, Sweet Valley High, Numb3rs, House, M.D., Star Trek: The Next Generation, Veronica Mars, CSI Las Vegas, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Supernatural, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Casino Royale, Ocean's 11. The drabble must somehow involve a library because that's what we do around here and contain the word "birthday" because mine is coming up on the 17th. Other than that, anything is fair game.

Here are some prompts to get you started, Feel free to use these if they suit you, or come up with your own idea:
  • Tell me about the shining moment of Dean Winchester's high school career.
  • Charlie Eppes finds out math really can't solve all his problems.
  • Who was the first patient Gregory House couldn't save in time?
  • Jack Skellington decides to celebrate Easter.
  • What other career(s) did Beverly Crusher consider before becoming a doctor?
  • Gil Grissom is assigned a lab partner in college who hates dissection.
  • Complete this line of dialogue: Harry said, "Ginny, I hate to tell you this, but I really like..."
Please make sure your story is content-appropriate for all literate audiences. And don't try to sell it because that's not legal.

The writer of the drabble I like best gets their choice of books: A galley of Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen, a paperback of Klepto by Jenny Pollack, a paperback of The Squad: Killer Spirit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, or a galley of The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson.

(Really, if it's not exactly 100 words I won't yell at you. Just have fun.)



Fun Friday: Guess the Smartypants Lyric

Our best ideas happen in IM. Carlie & I were chatting about the slogan for the YA Section's traditional sassy buttons for this year's conference, and started using our prodigious vocabularies to smarten up the lyrics of a certain quasi-royal multi-platinum artist's recent hit song .  Next thing we know, we're writing this post.

Post your guesses for the songs & artists in the comments, gentle readers, and please feel free to steal this idea for use in your library.  This would rock the bulletin board in your teen area or outside your school media center.

The lyrics we used our 10-cent words on are a mix of current Top 40, Classic Rock, and one Golden Oldie by a formerly (some might say currently) reigning monarch of the genre.  

  1. If you are lacking in financial resources, kindly return your bankrupt posterior to your dwelling place.
  2. They attempted to steer me to a place of recovery, but I was disinclined to acquiesce to their request.
  3. The lady was quick with her mechanical workings. She paid special attention to the fastidious state of said workings. She happened to be the finest example of feminine pulchritude that I had witnessed to date.
  4. Everyone was transfixed by her rear-flattering denim trousers and her footwear. Suddenly, we were all shocked to see her writhing near the floor!
  5. Previously,  I was very nervous. I gazed at the floor. I couldn't get my response out correctly after you inquired as to the state of my thoughts. 
  6. Please escort me to the sunny metropolis, where the lawns are well cared-for and the female residents are pleasing to the eye.
  7. Dear John, I don't feel kindly towards your female companion. I think you might want to consider starting a new relationship.  You know, you might consider me for that post.
  8. No entity, none whatsoever (and I really mean that) exists that has the power to interrupt my feelings of adoration regarding your person and self.
  9. The supervisor of those held captive by the state hosted a get-together in the taxpayer-funded correctional facility.
  10. Assistance! I am in need of a person! Au secours! Only  a very special person will do!  You are well aware that I must have an aide of some kind! Rush to my side!
First to get all 10 (or closest to it) over the weekend wins a free We [Heart] Our Dead Gay Headmaster button in the Hogwarts House colorway of their choice.  CafePress store is coming, promise!

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Friday Fun: Nymbler is Name-Tastic!

Are you a name-a-holic? If so, oh, the fun you will have with Nymbler! I believe I've linked here before to Laura Wattenberg's formidable blog & name-search tool, NameVoyager. Now, there's Nymbler, which can help you find a stylistic match for names of siblings, or just help you while away some time idly contemplating your taste in names. Trust me: this is fun even if you are not actively contemplating procreation.

I was playing with it last night to find some names that would go well with the names of myself, my siblings, my husband, and his siblings, and was impressed with what Nymbler gave me. I didn't love every single name, but I liked at least a few of them enough to put them in my favorites section.

For example, this set of names: Sophie, Sarah, Charlotte, Marcus, Adam, Rebecca
Yielded the following suggested names: Elsa, Elizabeth, Madeleine, Joseph, Ivan, Matthew

(All the names it suggested as companions for Nell (for boys, at least) were way, way too informal for my liking, though.)

And if you don't like what's on page one, you can request more suggested names, and more, and more, and more. Many, many minutes may be spent poring over name lists and meanings, and on subtly adjusting your six inspiration names to glean results more to your liking.

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