Monday, July 23, 2007

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson

While I was tremendously fascinated by the interview with Bill Bryson on NPR when A Short History of Nearly Everything was published, my brain was not quite ready to tackle his view on life, the universe, and everything. So I waited a few years until I found myself trying to find a paperback I could read during the long hours I was spending with my grandpop in the ICU at St. Mary's Hospital. A Walk In the Woods it was. In the few days before I figured out the hospital did have wifi, I had time to let my brain adjust to the funny old white guy who wrote in ginormous hyperbole. I think it had a lot to do wishing my uncles were as funny as my grandfather, who is about as funny as Mr. Bryson.

My grandfather left the ICU and is recovering/living/raising hell at home again. I'm doing my best to free my schedule so I can spend some quality time there, and I just happened to pick up The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid at the Southwark Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library before I went for a visit.

I think the most pleasant thing I can do with friends, and especially family, is spend a few hours reading together. Grandpa with the sports page, Grandma with her prayer book or Danielle Steel, and me, giggling away on the couch with Mr. Bryson.

See, my grandparents still live in Levittown. A set (maternal) and a half (paternal grandma, aka Nana). Of course, my parents wanted to get AWAY from that delightful suburb and decided to raise my sister and me in the country. As a kid I was fascinated by the sidewalks and parks and the general bounty of OTHER KIDS that were always there to play with.

So with that dream it was quite cozy to spend an afternoon at my grandparent's house in Levittown, with everyone engrossed in their own reading (Grandma had picked up Glass Castles because Laura Bush mentioned it on TV). Bill Bryson's memoir of growing up in Des Moines the 1950s was kinda like what I imagined Levittown to be like, but as someone who had not quite grown up there but heard firsthand stories, not someone who was raised on the horrors of suburbia and hadn't gotten over the punk rock anti-suburb mentality I so gleefully (not) tried to navigate during the 1990s. It was dangerous, wonderous, happy, terrifying, friendly, strange, and just wonderful. If we made fun of the 1950s as this horrible time of suburban conformity, Bill Bryson instead gives us real things to laugh about.

I finished the book at my dad's house back in the country. "Did you have electric football? Did you watch Sky King?" I kept asking.

"Yes." He said. Not elaborating, but I can assure you that Bill Bryson is much funnier than anyone in my family. Cept maybe my grandpop.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In defense of the New Look

To the meanie bloggers who are getting press for criticizing the librarians in the new look librarian articles and the commenters cheering them on:

I think this makes you look like a meanie. The young librarians I know are fighting hipster stereotypes by doing things like finishing two degrees (instead of being a perpetual student), picking a career path (instead of floating between food service and retail jobs with their BA degree),and being engaged in the conversations about intellectual property and technology and the common good (ah Jessamyn, we all love Jessamyn) etc.

I can't believe how un-professional librarian bloggers criticizing the librarians profiled in these articles are. The critical librarian bloggers (and while I should be posting citations and quotes and all, I don't want to give any more credit to their meanness) are oddly, acting like a bunch of effin scenesters. They don't like the way the writer describes "their scene". They accuse the people in the article of being "poseurs" for being in a major media outlet. Of course, anyone interviewed in the media can't be as true to the librarian ethic as they are. Are you defending librarianship or your idea of what is and isn't punk?

Maybe I need to finish the criticism of AUTOCAT that I was re-writing into a parody of as a criticism of the Indiepop List. I'm sure it would be just as easy to take a letter to MRR about how new punk isn't real punk, and revamp it into a rant about what is and what isn't librariness.

Instead of bands and labels its all about citations and publications. Instead of local scenes it's library systems. And most of all, instead of being professional and supportive of different people's endeavors, it's about making fun of people you don't know because you are so insecure in your self that you can't be nice to people who are enough you like you that you might be competing for jobs or status someday, somewhere.

In a way, I find it to be a hilarious one-sided scene war. Or maybe it is just more interesting to the major library blogs to post the criticisms of the article because it's hard to defend strangers or say "oh, I'm kinda like these librarians". Or maybe because I've met some of these women and before the article was even published listened to their concerns about how they would be represented and if they said too much about their workplace.

And it's making me hesitant to post the cute picture I took at ALA of me "riding the wave" to ALA in San Diego because we were all kinda matchy and cute. Grrrrr. I would be crying now if I had gotten the librarian rock show and social hour together at ALA like I wanted to before I got caught up in Popfest planning.

Besides, geesh, Stephen Pastel, the library issue of Tim Alborn's Incite! fanzine, and all the librarians on the poplist...hipster librarians? Do your research librarians, that stereotype is so early 90s!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

More evidence of the "new look" librarian...

Sunday Style: Librarians are So Hot Right Now

I like the commenter that mentioned Olympia as being full of faux librarian types. Who is this person and when were they in Oly? They must have NEVER gone to the public or Evergreen library or they would have seen the staff.

1:30 AM
So the real link is to the New York Times although if you go there you miss the colorful commentary Crewcial provides but gain photos of said librarians.

Oh, and I deleted some whining about the Oly hipster librarians because really, all you need to know is the NYC ladies are friendlier.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Good News for Evergreen Grads

So there is still career hope for those of us spending our post-undergrad years living in small art towns:
Job Skills of the Future in Researchers' Crystal Ball

"In the end, said Mr. Cappelli, the Wharton School professor, the skills that might turn out to be most valuable for students to learn are “the skills for managing uncertainty.”"

After graduation

For New-Look Librarians, Head to Brooklyn

I have to say nice phrasing with the "New-Look" know what he really means...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ah Useless Facebook

"Facebook is made up of many networks, each based around a workplace, region, high school or college. Join a network to discover the people who work, live or study around you."

So maybe this is why I find Facebook the least interesting of the social networking sites. I was an undergrad when social networking sites were for hipsters only (I'm amused, I'm still 19 there). Now I'm doing my degree online. I don't know my classmates. I have lots of friends and acquantences from penpals, music lists, and travelling to keep in touch with. Basically, location and education are not how I make friends, and Facebook is based on this model.

Feel free to tell me what Facebook is better than MySpace for. I joined because it is studied in the library literature but I'm severely dissapointed.