Extra sugar, extra salt, extra oil and MSG!

Wednesday, August 20, 2003


Too many prying eyes have made this blog a lot less fun and a whole lot more worrisome for me. I'm going on hiatus for awhile, and in the meantime you may start to see some changes. Links will disappear (and some others added), and all non-library related posts are going to vanish. I don't want to disrupt this forum entirely, because, darnit, people need to read funny and horrific stories about public libraries, but my somewhat guarded personality is going to become even less of a presence. Somewhere out there, a new blog shall rise, minus the Dr. Chameleon alias and with no obvious connection to this place. There, one can read the mundane details of my weekend, or my latest rants about music and politics, and maybe I can be a little more open, more free, more nasty, more sentimental, without worrying about what anyone might think. We'll see. I have to re-evaluate the whole purpose of blogging, my motivations, and my goals. Originally this was a space to vent, and a motivation to keep writing. Unfortunately, most of the writing has been done in a hurry, and hasn't really helped me improve or grow. As far as providing an alternative to feel-good, professional-minded library blogs, there are plenty of others out there providing that service now. I'm not sure what's going to happen next. Sorry about the drama, and sorry to all you excellent non-library people who've been tuning in and linking to me. It's really been great. Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 18, 2003


I spent yesterday at Afton State Park, hanging around a picnic table giggling uncontrollably, and lying on a dock watching hawks slowly circle overhead. For some reason a young boy with a tattoo kept riding his scooter around us, and I later spotted him with an orange plastic shovel. I'm not sure what he was up to but I'm sure it was no good. Fish were jumping in the St. Croix but I never managed to see one, only the ripples they left in the water. Sometime near 8:30 PM I began to worry that I would see Grimace hiding in the woods, but fortunately was spared that frightful sight. The chirping of insects and amphibians eventually replaced the constant roar of boats, and fireflies came out in the dark. It was a lovely, happy day. We all got home late, watched Office Space and ate up a whole lot of Pizza Lucé. Paradise.

Friday, August 15, 2003


Apparently the rogue nation of Canada is to blame for the massive power outages across the northeastern part of our proud land.

Now, to war!

Michael Moore predicted this way back in 1995.* Of course those wily canucks are trying to point the bloody finger of blame back at us, but the House Energy and Commerce Committee, under the direction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will prove that it was a crafty bunch of government-trained woodchuck supersoldiers working in conjunction with radical Québécois separatists who engineered the disaster. The U.S. government will provide hard evidence that this attack was sponsored by the Canadian government, and we will be forced to make a pre-emptive strike against the threat they pose to American sovereignty. May God have mercy on our souls.

*So all you haters betta step off! He's the new Nostradamus an' shit.


I've heard tell from my underworld contacts that a library had a problem with a man in an electric wheelchair selling drugs. He would come in and use the library phone, then go outside and hand over the goods to people driving by. When the security guard noticed what was going on and confronted him, the man's wheelchair had run out of power and was plugged into a library power outlet.
[cue humorous muted trumpet]

Wednesday, August 13, 2003


Today I've been noticing a lot of irritated mothers, as in the kind who sits at a computer ignoring her child, squinting angrily whenever it makes a plea for attention. It's so horrible watching people whose primary response to their children is annoyance. You inconvenienced yourself, honey, so don't blame the kid. You're stuck with it, please deal with it. I don't want to have to watch them for you, especially not the little ones who run around crying, wetting themselves, or throwing kittens (don't ask).

After making this observation, I got a call from a patron who wanted to reserve our meeting room, juggling a phone in one hand and a child in the other. She didn't have the dates in front of her (go figure) and I waited for a significantly long time while she simultaneously struggled to get her datebook out and placate the child, who had started whining loudly. "Brandon, calm down, it's just a shoe...honey, we needn't go to extremes over a shoe." Thank you, Mary Poppins.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003


This morning I saw a man limping down the street, red-faced and wearing a Superman t-shirt. It made me want to clap and shout "Go, Sup'man, you can do it!" like I was Richard Pryor to his Christopher Reeve.

Friday, August 08, 2003


In recent days I've been called a cool librarian, hilarious, serio-comic, sympathetic, and "really good," and my numbers are at an all-time high. Thanks, everyone!

Who is want to come LIBERRY I can invitate .....
She can stay my home .......


We drank deep from the steely well last night, and there was much rejoicing. Of course the venue was gigantic, and we spent much of the show straining through my binoculars, but the sound was pretty good (by cave standards). The crowd was a pasty sea of forty-somethings who had seen the softer side of Sears, sporting summer pastels and even a few sweaters (mind you, it was about 80°F outside). There was more than a handful of married dudes trying to recapture their glory days by shouting a lot, and for no apparent reason. This wasn't a rock show so much as a laid back cocktail jazz hour, and I think by the end many of them had figured it out. A snippet of conversation I overheard in the bathroom after:

Drunk #1: "They didn't play a single one of my top five. Can't Buy A Thrill MADE you guys- I can't fuckin' believe it. 'FM?' --gimme a break."

Drunk #2: "I'm with you 100%"

I couldn't quite agree with the chatty gentlemen at the urinals. Yes, it would've been nice to hear "Do It Again," which I know they played on the first night of the tour, and I was pretty surprised they didn't play "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" (maybe they still fear legal retribution from Horace Silver), but what did these guys want? Here's the setlist:

Latin jazz intro (just the band, no Donald or Walter, playing "Cubano Chant" by Ray Bryant)
Time Out Of Mind
Caves of Altamira
Big Black Cow
Babylon Sisters
Slang of Ages
Home At Last

"Tribute to Steely Dan" (or something- missed it while procuring a beverage)
unknown song from Two Against Nature (Janie Runaway?)
Hey Nineteen
Haitian Divorce
Things I Miss The Most
Parker's Band
Kid Charlemagne
Don't Take Me Alive

My Old School

Yes, I'm sure 90% of the crowd wanted to hear "Reelin' In The Years," but I'm truly at a loss for what other four songs the angry drunks expected to hear and didn't. They only played three songs from the new album, and just one from the undeservedly Grammy Award-winning Two Against Nature. I could've done without "Home At Last" which was just as long and meandering as "Aja" but not as memorable, but "Kid Charlemagne," "Don't Take Me Alive," "My Old School," "FM" and "Hey Nineteen" were all on my must-hear list, and I was happy they included "Big Black Cow," "Josie," "Peg," and especially "Caves of Altamira," which I did not expect them to do. I even liked "Time Out Of Mind," much to the dismay of my two comrades. I just get a kick out of hearing Fagen say "tonight when I chase the dragon." "Haitian Divorce" was sung by Walter Becker and was pretty hilarious, though eventually tedious as the wah-wah guitar slunk and squawked constantly throughout the song (just like on the album!). Generally they stuck to the mid-tempo jazzy numbers and avoided the heavier stuff (I envisioned a brilliant medley of "Bodhisattva" and "The Fez"). I guess my only real disappointment was that they totally ignored Katy Lied (as they did Can't Buy A Thrill), but I've heard they don't really like that one too much. Fools!

Donald Fagen was a little more entertaining than I was expecting. He threw in some Ray Charles-esque head bobs and switched up the lyrics in "Hey Nineteen," replacing 'Retha Franklin with Otis Redding, and the back-up singers chimed in with "sockittome sockittome sockittome," a nice little pun on the fact that Redding wrote and recorded "Respect" before Aretha had her defining moment with it. Fagen referred to the back-up singers as his "beauteous ladies choir" and called his long-time writing partner Walter Becker "demented." Becker stoically plucked a Strat in his best imitation of Mark Knopfler (the sound was poppy and clean...too clean), and Fagen rotated between Rhodes, melodica, and a keytar that seemed to be decorative more than anything, unless it was triggering samples for the vocal parts he can't manage anymore. I jest, of course, but his voice sounds so thin and reedy on Everything Must Go that I was worried he'd sound terrible live, but the giant sound system did a good job of pumping it up.

While neither Fagen nor Becker seemed to notice, longtime 'Dan associate and former Doobie Brother Cornelius Bumpus looked terribly dejected and lethargic throughout the show, occasionally setting his horn down and taking a seat. His shoulders were hunched over the whole time, and he resembled a cardboard cut-out. Actually, Becker and Fagen could've easily been animatronic characters, as they moved in very short, repetitive bursts, when they were moving at all. Whenever Becker was watching the other guitar player, Jon Herington, I imagined he was mentally cataloging every detail that he disapproved of. I would really hate to work for that guy. The drummer, Keith Carlock, bothered one of my friends, but I thought he was fine for this kind of show. Unfortunately there was a pointless, bombastic drum solo (during "Josie," of all songs) in which we imagined a Tommy Lee-like cage lifting the drum kit into the air and out over the audience.

The merch table was full of overpriced junk, as you might expect, but we were able to score some free Steely Dan travel mugs by filling out bogus applications for GM credit cards. The tickets were around $50, beer cost $5, drinks $5-9. Supposedly we supported some disabled Haitian kids with our $5 for parking, but who knows. All told it was fairly costly, but not as bad as it might've been. I think the evening can best be summed up by the behavior of an annoying guy at the bar next to me:

Loser: "What kinda brandy you got? Christian Brothers? That stuff is awful!"

Bartender: "You don't have to drink it, then."

Loser: "Where's the E&J?...blah blah blah...blahblahblah..."

The guy crabbed for awhile and then ordered a Christian Brothers anyway. I'm sure he really impressed the woman he was with. Such class. Such elegance. We drove home and watched LL Cool J on the Conan O'Brien show, then I poured myself a scotch and soda and switched over to a Black Sabbath video, happy as a clam. A sleepy clam.

I'm off for the weekend, so tune in next week for more thrilling stories about bear wrasslin' and axe-wielding maniacs.

Thursday, August 07, 2003


Last night, as I waited with bated breath to hear Schwarzenegger's announcement, I heard Diana Pierce pronounce Liberia like "Libraria," and I thought "hey- that's where I come from!" I want all of you bitter and bedraggled library staff to sail away with me to the beautiful land of Libraria, where information flows as freely and easily as wine, hammocks are plentiful, and there's no dress code. All aboard!

Gary Coleman and Larry Flynt are also running for the California governorship. I don't know what's real anymore!


A frustrated patron using the internet asked me for help. She said she was trying to get to the site for "LTD Condiments." She meant "commodities." I hear things like that a lot around here.

Looking at that website now, however, I may have erred in directing her to it. I mean, look at this stuff:

"Hey kids, wanna play with a pretend ATM? The glowing angel will protect you from muggers and greedy tax collectors!

Staging a midnight raid on an enemy bunker? Don't get caught without these!"

Here's something else I could use on the job.

Shocking ribaldry: A Unique And Humorous Gift For Men!

Okay, this is just sick.

At least I learned something out of all this, a beautiful sentiment I'd like to share with you all: Angels are mommies with wings. Put that under your pillow at night and sleep well.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003


The phone rings. Yours truly answers with a generic, polite, semi-professional greeting.

Kid's voice: "Hello? Can you hold for a second?" *click* "Are you there? Okay, is um, is Tatiana or, um, uh Diamond in the liberry?"

Me: "Is this an emergency? Because we really don't take calls for people unless it's an emergency."

Kid: "Well, uh, my momma be callin'...my momma be...my momma be...my momma be callin' there to check if I'm at the liberry so why can't I do that?"

Imaginary Me: "You can't check to see if you're at the library because you aren't here. I know because I'm talking to you on the telephone and I'm at the library. I'm concerned because you seem to be exhibiting sings of what Laing called "ontological insecurity," which, if left unchecked, can lead to schizophrenia. I strongly urge you to consult a psychiatrist. Good day."

Friday, August 01, 2003


Strike number two in the summer blockbuster series, I'd actually expected The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen to be good, or at least reasonably enjoyable.  Instead it was most cringeworthy.  I don't know why I set myself up for these falls, but every once in awhile a big Hollywood adventure film jumps out at me and I take the bait.  Fooled again.  They certainly had the makings of a good picture, here, but squandered it on a convoluted storyline with several extraneous elements.  Case in point: the inclusion of "Agent Sawyer," apaprently due to the producer's belief that Americans needed to see a character from American literature represented or they wouldn't buy tickets.  Instead, U.S. viewers were treated to an Allen Quartermain Jr., whose skills were superfluous except in making Sean Connery blubber and [spoiler alert!] ultimately die.
The production design was pretty great throughout, though the effects ranged from impressive, to cartoony, to just cheap (e.g. some obviously CG flames following an explosion).  A sequence in which buildings toppled like dominos in Venice was neither fabulously over-the-top nor even remotely tension-filled, it just seemed poorly conceived and I couldn't wait for it to end.  And while the set-up seemed to promise an interesting film, the whole thing kept skidding to a halt and veering off in disappointing directions.
Connery wasn't too bad, considering how old, ignorant, and egotistical he is.  The Nemo character was cool, and Dr. Jekyll was okay but Mr. Hyde was WAY too gigantic.  Dorian Gray was amusing and the Invisible Man was mostly just that.  In the end, I wish they'd made the entire film about Mina Starker, who was rewritten as a sly yet sympathetic vampire.  Starker was played by Peta Wilson, who I did an IMDB search on afterward.  As it turns out, she was in a b-movie called Mercy that I'd brought home from the library once.  My boss donated the video, and she introduced it to me as a "sado-masochistic lesbian erotic thriller" with lots of nudity and "weird sex."  Great!  I'm sure the kids around here will love that.  Suffice to say, I only watched it long enough to determine that it was no Bound, and brought it back, insufficiently titillated.  And speaking of titillation, who wants to see American Wedding this weekend?  C'mon, you know you want to!

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