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.


Mr. Nostalgia and Little Miss Back Again

OF COURSE you remember Mr. Men. And Little Miss. Tiny, square paperbacks on a rack in the grocery store's impulse zone. You had to have one every single time you went to that grocery store, too. And maybe your mom started taking you to Price Chopper instead because they didn't have a Mr. Men rack for you to whine about, so you never got that copy of Mr. Muddle until years later, when chasing your other lost childhood dreams on eBay, when you thought to look for Mr. Muddle, but eBay only had cookie cutters, because of course the damn things are still in print after all these years! So you remember Mr. Men.

The 43 Mr. Men books and the 30 Little Miss books haven't actually been continuously in print since they were first published starting in 1971, but they have come back several times in support of various television treatments over the years. The second to last time this happened was in the late 90's, when a pretty lousy Mr. Men and Little Miss show was produced by French children's animation studio Dargaud-Marina, shown on Britain's Milkshake! kid's show block, and then localized for the US and brought into local syndication in the US in 1997. That show wasn't very widely aired in the US, but it was enough to bring the books back into print, just in time for the new parents of the oughts who loved the books as kids in the 70's to see them on impulse racks and buy them for their own kids, finally achieving closure on those old price chopper wounds.

It appears that the closure market has been enough to keep the books in print for the past 10 years. In the meantime, Adam Hargreaves, the son of original author Roger Hargreaves, has kept the series going a bit, creating 6 new Mr. Men and 7 Little Misses, many of them odd promotional tie-ins, such as Mr. and Little Miss Birthday, created for the 35-year anniversary of the first Mr. Men book, which Adam was also responsible for as a little kid when he asked his dad what a tickle looked like.

And now, another new cartoon based in the Mr. Men and Little Miss universe has arrived, and this time, it's really great. The Mr. Men show is produced by Renegade Animation, producers of the quite wonderful and underappreciated Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi, which attempted to introduce the completely awesome japanese girl rock band PUFFY to US audiences with some success. Renegade also developed the very strange live action / animation hybrid telefilm Re-animated, which spun off the not-exactly-beloved Out of Jimmy's Head. Renegade does a lot of work in Flash, which allows them to cut out overseas tweening studios and produce whole shows in house. Their New Mr. Men show is vibrant, stylish, well-written and fun, and while they may be playing just a little fast and loose with the canon, they've added some fun new ideas into the show. For example, each character now comes complete with a catchphrase ready to infiltrate elementary school conversations; Mr. Bump's expletive of choice is 'Poopity-poop!', and Mr. Rude's catchprase is "You want X? I'll give you X! *loud fart*." The new show also features an awesome title song, which is reminiscent of the awesome theme song from Lauren Child's wonderful Charlie & Lola, written by Søren Munk and Tom Dyson of Northwood.

The new show's sketch comedy format and clever expansion of the already-strong property make for a very funny cartoon, and the show's official blog shows why; the team is taking the property and the funny very seriously, and it's clear that they are engaged in putting out a great product. They're also soliciting ideas from fans in the comments of their blog, and with the perennial appeal of these characters, a Mr. Men and Little Miss character design contest could be a pretty cool library craft program for kids and a hearty does of nostalgia for gen X parents.

As Mr. Nervous says, I think this is the end.

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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
8:04 PM Elizabeth: wow, blondie does math
me: Whitney can do math!
Melissa: [giggle]
me: Laruen wants to be on top
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?
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?
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
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
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
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!
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.
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
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?
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?
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.
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
Elizabeth: vancouver!
Melissa: [giggle]
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
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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Kid Nation: Will It Ever Air?

Kid Nation has fascinated me from the start; will it be all Lord of the Flies? Or a kinder version of The Girl Who Owned a City, with everything perfect because kids are perfect? (I say that last bit with a "no I don't believe that kids are inherently perfect and wonderful" look on my face, having spent a week with my much loved, but extremely real, niece and nephew.)

I also wondered at the parents -- and the more I read about the contracts that adults signed on behalf of minors, the more I think that the parents should be investigated, as well as CBS.

Seriously, these parents waived any rights on behalf of their children not just for the standard injury, dismemberment, and hurt feelings but also for STDs and pregnancy (link to New York Times article.). I'm so not kidding. Plus, agreed to not have any contact with their children for the 40 days of filming. Anything to be on TV, right?

Newsweek speaks to the culture of "anything to be famous" . While I dislike kids being exploited (and feel that is the source of two thirds of Britney Spears' current problems), I disagree with their point that the responsibility for these children and these shows is not just with CBS / the entertainment issue and "not just the parents whose kids are on the show, but all parents who fuel an industry that has no respect for what it means to be a kid." (emphasis added). When I watch a show that uses children, whether movie or TV series, I watch with the assumption that the laws are being followed and the kids are not being mistreated.

Kids have been acting, since, well, forever. And some parents are responsible about it, and some not so much.

I watch reality TV; the good (The Amazing Race) and the I - can't - believe - I'm - admitting - it (Flavor of Love); the "we are adults so we are turning the genre around" (the Two Coreys.)

It's not unusual to have grown up participants of reality shows cry foul and "it's not me, it's how I'm edited" (along with other accusations of plotted stories, deceptive editing, spoon fed dialogue, and on set psychologists who feed information to producers at the expense of the participants). I tell myself: these people are grown ups. Their choice. They knew what they were getting themselves into; and sometimes, even turn the tables on the show.

These kids... not so much. Seriously, can a kid truly comprehend that they are about to live the rest of their life with the label "bully," with footage of them shown over and over forever? I have this image of a 10 year old kid, forever marked as "the crier" or "the whiner" because, hello, it's reality TV by a network who wants ratings.

They want conflict; and the conflict will come from the kids. And now this kid -- when they are old enough to realize what they were involved in -- has to live with the consequences. With no recourse. Because of the waiver. At least child actors who play unpopular people can say, "acting!" These kids? "It's how they really are!" Or, at least, as a network interested only in ratings defines "real."

As more and more information comes to light about the filming of this show (kids working for 40 days, on call 24/7, for, um, free) I wonder: will this spell the end of cheap reality shows?

It's one thing for adults to say, hey, I know what I'm getting into, it's not work, etc. To say, it's just cameras following me as I live my life (The Real World) or, like The Amazing Race or Survivor, I agreed to play a game and now it's being televised. Heck, there have been game shows just with kids before.

But this... this is something different.

Because, these kids aren't living their regular life; they have been put into a very scripted arena. It's similar to Frontier House, I guess; but still, it seems like there is a big difference between something involving parents and something where the kids are following what the production company says to do. For example, in Frontier House, one of the families basically let their kids off the hook in terms of working the homestead. The family didn't let the show dictate how they would parent or what their kids would, or would not, do.

Here, the parents were not involved. Instead, it was only kids, and kids whose parents said, bye bye for 40 days.

I wonder, what if the courts or powers that be rule that these children ARE working; how will that impact other reality shows?

And you know the worst part?

If this makes it to TV... I think I will watch.

I know.

I'll watch to see if my fears are founded... or unfounded. And I'll feel like taking a shower afterwards.