Monthly Archives: December 2005

All this and Death Takes a Holiday too!

I had an unexpected Christmas present this year. A large media store is going out of business and it was an EVERYTHING MUST GO! situation. Naturally, I steered my aging car into the parking lot to partake of the DRASTICALLY MARKED DOWN PRICES.

Picked up a mess of stuff including The Wedding Banquet, Eat Drink Man Woman, and Apollo 13. It was tempting to buy more, but I restrained myself.

And then, the icing on the cake as it were, was the fact that TCM aired Death Takes a Holiday last night. Before there was that piece of dreck called Meet Joe Black (which I refuse to hyperlink), there was this charming haunting movie. To be fair, I don’t think it would have been possible for anyone to do a remake that would do the original justice. They really don’t make this kind of film anymore.

You know, the kind that’s almost ethereal. There’s really no attempt to ground any of the stock characters in reality. No, here, they’re a group of Italian aristocrats. For example, Henry Travers as an Italian count–the only way to make it work is to just accept it and move on. The plot is very simple; heck, the film is barely 90 minutes. Unlike the remake, there aren’t any serious subplots. It’s really just a very simple, very charming fantasy.

I hope it airs again soon. I have a birthday coming up.

Down, down, down

It never ceases to amaze me how lost everyone (including me) becomes when the Internet is down. When I first started library school, they were still hammering home the need to be able to use the print sources. I don’t disagree with that. But we’re not getting Index Medicus in print anymore so that won’t help me with the patron looking for anything in the past couple of years. And health sciences patrons typically consider anything older than the last five years as prehistoric. Short of sending them toward the periodical stacks and suggesting they start randomly pulling down journals (the last, best hope of the truly desperate), what the heck do you do?

Thankfully it went back up, but honestly, I always feel like I’ve been amputated or something…

Subversive thoughts about a classic

This weekend, I had the chance to see a screening of that perennial holiday favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life the way it was intended–at a proper movie theatre on the big screen. To be honest, I have lost track of the number of times I’ve seen this movie. For all of its schmaltz, the sheer number of character actors makes this worth watching. Plus, I can’t help it, I always cry. Always, always, always. However, as is my wont, I find myself wondering a few things:

  • Does George Bailey ever get out of Bedford Falls? Like even for a weekend? Or is the man forever trapped there?Also, what message are Capra and the film actually sending us in respect to this. George doesn’t hate the people in Bedford Falls, he just wants to do more than the town’s physical limits will allow him; he wants to see things most of us would like to (e.g. Paris, London, Rome, Athens). Is that so very wrong? The film seems to be suggesting that we’re supposed to be content with our lot.
  • Pottersville is apparently a very prosperous city. It would have to be to support that kind of entertainment economy. I mean, Bedford Falls is apparently located in upstate New York somewhere. It’s not a suburb. So we’re supposed to believe that a city that’s the equivalent of Batavia or Seneca Falls turns into Sin City? I think not. Unless of course, Pottersville has expanded by leaps and bounds and Main Street is now the bad part of town.
  • Speaking of Mr. Potter, I get that he’s a nasty piece of work and really rich, but he seriously owns everything in town but the Bailey Building and Loan? Everything?
  • The much touted Bailey Park in the movie is located over a graveyard and is suburban tract housing, rather grim looking suburban tract housing.
  • And finally, I love how Mary’s fate worse than death turns out to be an existence as an old maid librarian. While four children in close succession in the one reality has left her a lithe, attractive woman with 20/20 vision, spinsterhood in the alternate reality has caused her hair to grow prematurely grey; her eyebrows to grow bushy and unattractive, and her eyesight to fail. I guess single life will do that to ya.

Citation chasing

Lots and lots of questions lately involving incomplete citations, supplements, and my personal bĂȘte noir, conference proceedings.

Add these to the list of things I wish they had taught me in library school.

Citations aren’t so bad. PubMed’s Single Citation Matcher is a thing of beauty. Unless of course we’re talking about non-medical citations. Although Web of Science and Google Scholar are pretty helpful with those.

Supplements, I’ve come to accept as an inevitable part of my working life.

And then there are conference proceedings. There’s really no gold standard search for finding the little darlings–good luck if they’re incomplete or incorrect. They won’t show up in MEDLINE or PubMed. Papers First and Proceedings First are not comprehensive. I’ve had some luck with the aforementioned Google Scholar, but I always feel like I’m looking for a needle in the haystack.

I do have to say though that there is nothing quite like the rush you get when you track down the darn thing for the patron. It’s even better when they’re impressed.