Monthly Archives: March 2005

Old habits die hard

When I was in library school a few years ago, Ask Jeeves was something of a joke. A product whose original idea of using natural language queries had failed to deliver on its early promise. In those innumerable conversations about patrons, if Ask Jeeves came up, it was always disparagingly.

But it’s on my Firefox search engine plugin list, which I love incidentally. This feature will let you search any number of engines or databases directly. No need to get to a site like IMDB or Amazon or PubMed first. Anyhow, I was looking for something slightly tricky the other day and accidentally went to AskJeeves and there it was. Didn’t show up on Google mind you.

Now try telling other librarians to check it out. Harder than you would think..


Been playing around with CiteULike for the past week or so. It has a lot of potential. I’ve found a number of articles that I ordinarily might not have, but … it’s heavily skewed toward the hard and health sciences, which is fine, but most of my lit is not accessible from his list of supported sites. Still it’s a free source and has a lot of potential applications.

Confused, you won’t be after this episode of

After a fairly busy Friday and Saturday, I took the time to veg out a little bit with the Season One DVD of Soap. As with a lot of things that I haven’t seen in a good long while, I was afraid it would be dated or disappointing or simply not as good as I remembered it.

Truth be told, it was a little dated. The references to homosexuality and sex change operations a little facile. It’s pre-AIDS really so there’s a ton of fooling around. The clothes and such are of course a little scary. The cast was amazingly talented. A lot of the material is both brilliant and yet has, an unexpected poignancy. Not sure they could make something like this today.

Fame whores

It was with disgust that I watched the Amazing Race last night. I’m well aware that this bizarre subculture of reality TV show contestant wannabe celebrities has sprung up. As long as it doesn’t impinge on my life, I don’t care. Now they’ve got Rob and Amber from Survivor on my TV screen on my favorite reality show. And they’re smug and annoying and I don’t want to watch this show because of them.

Network TV execs seem to be of the opinion that there always needs to a “villain we love to hate” on these things. Now don’t get me wrong, “the man you love to hate” is a much used, much beloved archetype that has a long dramatic tradition going back centuries. The difference is that those figures usually have some kind of charm that keeps audiences enthralled. If I dislike watching the antics of people who can’t accept their check and that their 15 minutes of fame is over, then there’s no love involved. I simply hate them and stop watching.

The Wienie King

To my great joy, TCM aired my favorite Preston Sturges’ movie, The Palm Beach Story. While I know full well, there were other, better Sturges films, this one has a special place in my heart. I mean, how can you not love a movie that has a character called “The Wienie King?”

Sunday Morning Decadence

Took my own sweet time getting up on Sunday. Made myself some coffee and a bagel and spent the morning in bed devouring two gothic novels I’ve been meaning to read for ages.

There’s this writer, Francis Swann, who wrote some of my favorite episodes of Dark Shadows and a couple of years ago, I did a little research on him. He had an interesting if predictable career. Started out with a hit Broadway play, ended up in Hollywood writing screenplays that gradually went from A-pictures to B-pictures. Then he wrote a number of soft gothics and eventually wound up his career by writing for Dark Shadows.

Anyhow, I started out with a number called The Brass Key. Sweet young thing [SYT] goes to her father’s hometown of Seco, Maine with the mission of connecting up with her newfound relatives and also of clearing her father’s name. Unfortunately for her, her grandfather, who runs the town claims that she’s a gold digger and that her father never existed. Whole town seems to be against her. Weird things happen. Some local color. Things go bump in the night. Eventually all is resolved.

Second one was decidely inferior. The cover proclaims that You’ll Hang My Love is soon to be a major motion picture, but I can’t find any trace of that. It’s co-written to boot. Premise isn’t too bad, but the execution is . . . well, let’s just say this is pretty awful. Set in a small village in England, but there’s absolutely no attempt at establishing an English voice for any of the characters or for that matter there’s no attempt at authenticity whatsoever. Anyhow, the SYT in this one is waffling about getting married and is spending time with her grandfather. Turns out that when she was a kid, she possibly witnessed an awful tragedy involving a drowning. Things start getting weird with the mother of the drowning victim real fast.

Still, there are worse ways to spend a morning…

My how grown-up you are

After about four years absence, I have started watching The Guiding Light. I left because of the stupidity of the various storylines and the unbelievably awful writing. Now that All My Children’s nose dive into mediocrity continues to plummet, I need something else. I think I’ve found it.

The weird thing is that when I stopped watching in 2000 or 2001 the core characters had the requisite number of small children. Coming back four or five years later, these tykes have all been SORASed into ingenues and young male leads. It’s not really weird because this is a common enough soap opera device, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for it.