Monthly Archives: July 2006

Music to Groove By

I’ve been bitten by the Space Age Pop bug. It’s a strange subgenre of music that seems to defy explanation (there are those who have made a stab at it). It’s probably good I don’t own a turntable or I’d be haunting thrift stores for this stuff.

Right now, I’m listening to a zippy rendition of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Yes, I’m weird.

Collection Development Goes to the Movies

You know you’re a librarian when you’re watching Return to Peyton Place and spend your time thinking about its connection to collection development. Allison Mackenzie, the heroine of Peyton Place (albeit played by another actress–practically all the roles were recast), has written a tell-all potboiler about her not-so-innocent home town. Her stepfather happens to be the principal at the local high school. And he decides “wow, what a fine work of literature! Let’s buy it for the high school library!” Unfortunately for the principal, the amazing and underrated Mary Astor happens to think the book is smut and vigorously campaigns to have it banned. So now Carol Lynley (Allison MacKenzie) and Jeff Chandler (Allison’s publisher) have to defend the book. There are all sorts of trashy subplots (Mary Astor totally rocks) and for a sequel, the film is kind of fun.

But I digress. Not that you expect the fine folks in Hollywood to care about the accurate portrayal of librarians–remember Mary’s “fate worse than death” in It’s a Wonderful Life?, but why exactly is the high school principal doing selection? Does he do this for all the books? Am I seriously supposed to believe that in addition to his administrative duties and smooching with Eleanor Parker he spends his time building up the library collection? Do they not have a school library media specialist in Peyton Place? They have a fancy dress shop. They’ve got about 4 churches. They also have some kind of mill or factory, alcoholics, venereal disease-ridden whackos, a number of folks from the wrong side of the tracks, and some really, really messed-up citizenry. But no librarian.

They also have no collection development policy. The principal has nothing with which to back up his purchase except righteous indignation and the fact that he’s married to the author’s mother.

So I tried explaining to my friend who was watching this dreck with me that all of this could have been prevented or mitigated with a good collection development policy.

My friend didn’t get it. In fact, the reaction was pretty much identical to the one I got when I denounced the behavior and skill level of the archivist character in Attack of the Clones. “It’s only a movie,” is what I was told…

Crazy or Annoying: which is worse?

So new season of Project Runway is in gear. I think PR is my favorite reality TV show. It’s certainly one that has the most social acceptability. This is probably because it’s not one where they randomly go out and pick people who’ve never sewn before. The contestants have actual ability and backgrounds in fashion design. The focus is also usually on the talent and less on the personality.

This week the contestants had to pair up to design a gown for the reigning Miss USA to wear in the Miss Universe pageant. Okay, not so exciting. I must say Miss USA was surprisingly articulate and had pretty good taste. The emphasis this week was unfortunately more on the personality issues. On the one hand, we have Vincent, who seems high-strung and not in a good way. Keeping in mind that this is TV and people can end up looking totally opposite from who they are in real life, something ain’t right with the man. Also, so far his aesthetic is not one I’m loving. Then we have Angela. Angela, who was, well…really, really irritating. She apparently knew this was not her forte, which I can respect. But she spends her sketching time campaigning the contestant who designs pageant gowns for a living to pick her if he wins. Then she goes up to pitch her own idea to Miss USA, and hasn’t even bothered to make a presentation.

Guess who get paired together?

Vincent, in addition to not being terribly stable, apparently can’t play well with others. To an extent never before seen on Project Runway. He won’t let the woman do anything at all. Tells her to stand three paces away from him, and then seems surprised when she disses him and his design on the runway.

To my surprise, it’s Angela who gets lambasted by the judges. I’m not sure if it was because she was inarticulate (again, that pesky editing) or what, but she’s in the bottom two. Go figure…

All things to all people

I seem to have become everybody’s personal reference librarian. It got out in my neighborhood that I’m librarian. Now I have the people next door asking me to do reader’s advisory for their pre-teen daughter. Another person wants me to tell her what her books are worth–ten boxes of books. Bear in mind that I’m a medical reference librarian. You go to a dinner party. People ask you to find out what is honey exactly and who was that guy? You know, the one who was in that movie that they can’t quite remember the name of (bookstore employees will recognize this as a variant of the Green Book Syndrome*). I suppose it’s better than being asked to look up symptoms and tell them if they have a disease or not…

Incidentally, everyone seems to think I spend my days in an ivy-covered edifice, seated in a leather club chair reading Dickens. Even when I mention committee meetings, e-mail, and problem patrons, they don’t seem to believe me.

*Green Book Syndrome: “I’m looking for a book. No, I don’t know the title. No, I don’t know who wrote it. No, I don’t know what it’s about. Oh, wait, it had a green cover!”

Interesting little film

I happened on Killer’s Kiss this weekend. It’s a very early Stanley Kubrick film, very much in the film noir school. I didn’t recognize anyone in the cast, but in a way it made it a more interesting film–no screen personae to get in the way. Boxer who’s past his prime gets involved with a dance hall “hostess.” Unfortunately, her boss (who according to IMDB was African American and who sounds like he had an interesting career) has a thing for her and doesn’t take too well to being pushed aside. Can’t say I’m the biggest Kubrick fan, but I liked this a lot. Really interesting direction.

Those wacky hypnotists

Thanks to a media store closeout sale, I was able to get a bunch of DVDs on the cheap. I finally had a chance to watch one of these, Otto Preminger’s Whirlpool. Gene Tierney plays one of the ladies who lunch. She’s ostensibly the happy, contented wife of renowned shrink, Richard Conte. Unbeknowsnt to him, she’s on the verge of a breakdown–her illness manifests itself in insomnia and kleptomania. Enter the sinister Jose Ferrer, who plays a charming quack specializing in hypnosis; he starts his “therapy” with her. Next thing Gene Tierney knows, she’s accused of murder and she’s got the late, great Charles Bickford leading the police investigation against her. The plot is on the improbable side, but the performances are solid.