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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

BUSH BOY REVEALS HIS TRUE NATURE

Coleman rethinks ANWR position

I am hopping-steaming-bloody-red-faced mad, because our Senator Norm Coleman has proven himself worthy of every nasty thing we've said about him over the last year. Not that I'm surprised or anything.

In case you forgot:

I disagree with the president over drilling for oil in Alaska, and that we have an opportunity now — our oilfields are soy, biodiesel, are ethanol.

And I've looked in the eyes of the farmers in southwest Minnesota, I've traveled the state over the last two years, visiting with, listening to those farmers, and they tell me we don't have the seven years it's going to take to get a drop of oil out of ANWR, we've got to do it now. As the result of listening to those farmers, I'll tell the president, "Mr. President, I think that's wrong."

--"Non-partisan bridge-builder" Norm Coleman, November 2002

"I would very, very hard pressed — very hard pressed — to vote against an energy bill … that has a power plant for northeast Minnesota"

--"Reptilian scumbag" Norm Coleman, September 2003

According to the Star Tribune, "Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., is willing to vote to allow oil drilling in the Alaska wilderness if it means getting $800 million in federal loan guarantees to build a power plant on the Iron Range." So he's making a trade for the good of Minnesotans. I guess it's okay, then. But the spin doesn't stop there, oh no:

Tom Steward, Coleman's spokesman, said that the debate over oil drilling in Alaska is hypothetical but that the Minnesota project "is real" and "represents potentially thousands of jobs and millions of dollars for investment."

"The environmental community can debate hypotheticals or they can work with the senator to create jobs for Minnesota, expand the use of renewables to protect the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Steward said.


Perfect! Coleman shifts the focus to make people like me look whiny and difficult, which is much easier to do than to ADMIT THAT YOU'RE A STINKING LIAR!!! I hope you're all proud for electing him, Minnesota. I really do. I like to think that we get what we deserve, but I'd hoped to find that we deserve better than this, like a Senator who votes based on his constituency and his conscience rather than the money lining his pockets. Goodbye to all that...

Monday, September 29, 2003

THE BEST-THING-EVER OF THE DAY

Woah! Puppets.

Friday, September 26, 2003

FUN AND GAMES AT THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY

Check out this searchable database of American Social Hygiene Posters ca. 1910-1970.



































[ thanks David ]



I DON'T KNOW WHETHER TO LAUGH OR SCREAM
 
Rich Lowry, the so-called "edgy voice of a fresh-faced conservatism" and editor of National Review, makes a call to "Kill all the librarians."  Good work, Rich.  Thanks a lot.
 
He also wants America to "bring back the stay-at-home mom" by — how else? — lowering taxes.  Yep, tax cuts are the answer to our children's problems, because one man should be able to support a whole family without the government forcing his wife into labor- er...taking a job.  I can only assume that Rich doesn't blame low wages and a lack of affordable health care for our national family and education woes, but the pipe-dreams of unnaturally career-driven women and the frivolity of overpaid public school teachers.  There are so many things wrong with this editorial that I don't even dare begin to criticize it point by point.  I gotta sleep sometime, you know.
 
Here follows a sample of some of good ol' Rich Lowry's more fresh and edgy statements:
 
On racism
"This is a slur, plain and simple, made by people in the practice of calling "racist" anything they happen not to like."
 
On racial profiling
"The profiling of young Arab men -- especially those from overseas -- is based on Osama bin Laden's repeated promises to send such men here to murder us."
 
On Native Americans
"It's time to ditch the fiction of tribal sovereignty and recognize the tribes for what they are: good, old-fashioned, all-American sleaze merchants and scam artists."
 
On music
"Country is the deepest and most realistic of all popular music genres."
 
On the mentally ill
"I encounter the mentally ill every day. I step over them on the sidewalks, I ignore their rantings, I look the other way when they rummage through the trash."
 
On baby harp seals
"In ecological terms, there is nothing wrong with clubbing them. Since many of the young won't survive to full maturity anyway, killing a baby is probably preferable to killing an adult."
 
I guess "compassionate conservatism" has gone the way of the Lanai Hookbill.
 
In related news, I ran across this guy ranting in Rolling Stone about "Radical Islam," and was quite disturbed.  Here's an excerpt from his Atlantic Monthly article in which he repeats some of the same ideas about our American Empire:
 
"[F]or the time being the highest morality must be the preservation—and, wherever prudent, the accretion—of American power.

The purpose of power is not power itself; it is the fundamentally liberal purpose of sustaining the key characteristics of an orderly world. Those characteristics include basic political stability; the idea of liberty, pragmatically conceived; respect for property; economic freedom; and representative government, culturally understood. At this moment in time it is American power, and American power only, that can serve as an organizing principle for the worldwide expansion of a liberal civil society."
 
I love Kaplan's old-school colonialism in claiming that bending all other nations to our will is a moral duty.  We need to sustain a worldwide respect for property?  Did we prove that by invading Iraq and privatizing their energy and telecommunications industries for them?  Exploitation and morality seem mutually exclusive to my (perhaps unimaginitive) mind. 
 
When someone like Ann Coulter claims that liberals hate America, it's because we hate being a part of an ideological system perpetuated by the likes of Robert D. Kaplan and Rich Lowry.  They're certainly entitled to gleefully mock foreigners and the underprivileged from their comfortable positions, but I have every right to attack them for it.  In their America, though, we're supposed to keep our damn mouths shut. 
 
I'm pretty sure Coulter is not clear on the definition of "treason," and has a rather skewed concept of democracy.  One of the most frequent criticisms aimed at "liberals" in the last few years is that we are hypocrites who claim to fight for free speech and equality while supporting systems that prohibit free speech and equality.  Think "PC," racial quotas, and "the Welfare State."  Somehow I doubt she holds Dick Cheney to the same high standard as those for us scheming liberals, be we unwashed hippies or the cultural elite.  Of course we on the left have our problem children, but these are constanly turned against us as "proof," somehow, that our concerns are not only invalid, but an actual threat to national security (how easy it is to play on such fears these days). We've been turned into bonafide enemies of the state. 
 
The left must truly be something to fear that we are accused of treason, and it's no coincidence that this is happening under the near-totalitarian Bush administration, which encourages attacks on dissent (it's quite possible that Rumsfeld's war of words is being waged domestically).  No doubt they'd like to forcibly remove us from the country, so that the right can go on unimpeded, with no room for debate.  Let's oust that "liberal media" and fall in line behind our President.  Do not question.  Obey.  Obey.  Obey. 
 
Once more, I have to ask: what could be more un-American than that?



BOB DYLAN EULOGIZES JOHNNY CASH

I was asked to give a statement on Johnny's passing and thought about writing a piece instead called "Cash Is King," because that is the way I really feel. In plain terms, Johnny was and is the North Star; you could guide your ship by him -- the greatest of the greats then and now. I first met him in '62 or '63 and saw him a lot in those years. Not so much recently, but in some kind of way he was with me more than people I see every day.

There wasn't much music media in the early Sixties, and Sing Out! was the magazine covering all things folk in character. The editors had published a letter chastising me for the direction my music was going. Johnny wrote the magazine back an open letter telling the editors to shut up and let me sing, that I knew what I was doing. This was before I had ever met him, and the letter meant the world to me. I've kept the magazine to this day.

Of course, I knew of him before he ever heard of me. In '55 or '56, "I Walk the Line" played all summer on the radio, and it was different than anything else you had ever heard. The record sounded like a voice from the middle of the earth. It was so powerful and moving. It was profound, and so was the tone of it, every line; deep and rich, awesome and mysterious all at once. "I Walk the Line" had a monumental presence and a certain type of majesty that was humbling. Even a simple line like "I find it very, very easy to be true" can take your measure. We can remember that and see how far we fall short of it.

Johnny wrote thousands of lines like that. Truly he is what the land and country is all about, the heart and soul of it personified and what it means to be here; and he said it all in plain English. I think we can have recollections of him, but we can't define him any more than we can define a fountain of truth, light and beauty. If we want to know what it means to be mortal, we need look no further than the Man in Black. Blessed with a profound imagination, he used the gift to express all the various lost causes of the human soul. This is a miraculous and humbling thing. Listen to him, and he always brings you to your senses. He rises high above all, and he'll never die or be forgotten, even by persons not born yet -- especially those persons -- and that is forever.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

"LIBRARIANS GULLIBLE, NOT HYSTERIC" SAYS U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL

Here's an editorial condensing the various high-profile library stories of late into a tasty little tidbit: Librarians making noise over freedom.

A Justice Department spokesman later claimed the Attorney General hadn't actually meant to insult librarians, only to suggest that they had been "duped by those who are ideologically opposed to the Patriot Act."

We're only fooling ourselves, apparently. Of course, previous reports by librarians nationwide counter Ashcroft's claims, so John of LISNews asks the timely (and timeless) question: Who is Lying?


In case you hadn't heard this one already, Woman Bites Two Librarians in Robbery:

"When I grabbed her it was kind of stupid," Barry told the Journal Review newspaper. "What I should have done was yanked her hair and sat on her, but I didn't think of it at the time."




SURPRISE! GENUINE LIBRARY-RELATED CONTENT
 
I've mentioned her before, but since I've disabled the archives, I shall recap: There's a woman who's been coming here for months asking questions about STDs, without knowing what "STDs" means (e.g. she'd use AIDS and STDs like they were interchangable terms).  In fact, we were just commenting that she hadn't been in for awhile, when I got a call from a woman asking what "STDs" are, and it must be the same woman because she just couldn't grasp the concept.  
 
First I told her "it's an abbreviation that stands for Sexually Transmitted Diseases," and she asked me what that meant, so I grabbed the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book for a more thorough, official answer.  Their definition was something to the effect of "bacteria and viruses transmitted through sexual contact."  She asked me what the symptoms were, and I told her it depended on the specific disease.  She couldn't understand that it was a category referring to a group of various diseases.  I kept rephrasing it for her and she kept re-asking the same question.  "Is it like, a yellowing of the skin?"  I'd tell her that "STDs" wasn't referring to a specific illness and that the symptoms differ depending on the STD in question.  She started to make progress when she latched onto the word bacteria - "is that like an infection?" but then she came to the conclusion "so you mean, it's like you've got gonorrhea AND herpes?"  No, it doesn't mean a combination of two, necessarily...and on and on.  
 
Apparently she's taking a test to become an RN.
 
Yikes.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

SONG OF THE WEEK

"I Was Wrong" by Sloan, on their new album Action Pact -- not yet released in the U.S. for reasons unknown. Watch for it: those Canadians really know how to rock. And did I mention the absolutely gorgeous harmonies? Pay attention, you stupid Americans!!!

Friday, September 19, 2003

LOOK OUT, WORLD!

I'm finally ready to enter the twentieth- er...the twenty-first century. Yup, by this time next week I will be the proud owner of my very own mobile cellular telephone unit. It beeps, whistles, vibrates, reflooberates, and takes pictures! Cool! Just lookit dis thing...oh yeah...:


The LG VX6000 SuperDestroyer Deluxe®










Thursday, September 18, 2003

LIES! ALL LIES!

Hey there, fans of the "burrito as big as your head," check out this huge, gaping hole!

While we're at it, let's thank global warming for getting rid of those pesky, unwanted squids.

Lions are on the outs, too.

Fewer trees = more Krispy Kremes!


Chompin' Chilluns









Man, CNN really must be part of that "liberal media" I keep hearing about. How 'bout some good news for a change, huh?!?

Speaking of liberals...look out, librarians, John Ashcroft bites back! No surprise, there. He also claims not a single library record has been sought by the FBI under the Patriot Act, contradicting previous, unofficial reports of government meddling in library business (i.e. your private business). Look at what he said back in June. Meanwhile, Bush is finally discussing Patriot Act II in public, because, you know, the only way to be safe is if we all watch each other, constantly. More on Section 215 of the Patriot Act here (so when is Ashcroft going to start shouting at the Quakers?) and a legal rundown on access to library records, post-Patriot Act, here. Or, if you prefer, the shiny, happy version. [ via LISNews et al ]

Whew! At least nobody famous died today. Not anyone I really care about, anyway.



COOKIN' WITH CHIMES

That Charlie Christian 4-CD set is paying itself off right now as I listen to the five tracks included by the "Edmond Hall Celeste Quartet," featuring Meade Lux Lewis on celeste, Charlie Christian on guitar, Edmond Hall on clarinet, and Israel Crosby on bass. This is a rare session in which Christian played unamplified, recorded for Blue Note on February 5, 1941. Plus, you know, celeste: it's unusual for a jazz recording (Monk did it once, as did Fats Waller), and I'm a bit of a sucker for unusual instruments, especially chimey, ding-dongy ones. Great stuff.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

FREEDOM IS A ROAD SELDOM TRAVELED BY THE MULTITUDE









 
I finally got to see WATTSTAX this summer.  I'd been wanting to see it since last November, but it isn't on VHS or DVD, and then *blammo!* there's a 30th anniversary theatrical re-release.  Woo!  It was hard to motivate myself out the door on a weeknight but I was glad I did.  Sadly, Kelly and I shared the theater with just one other person, all three of us white.  I don't know if the film wasn't properly advertized locally or if it's just a forgotten shred of black American culture, but I wish I'd loaded up a bus of kids from the library to go see it.
 
The film documents a 1972 concert in the suburb of Los Angeles, intercutting concert footage with a Richard Pryor monologue and interviews of unidentified Watts residents.  One of those seemingly random citizens looked a lot like Isaac (Ted Lange) from The Love Boat, and it turned out that it actually was him.  I can't remember if he was the one talking about sleeping with Chinese women or not, but I definitely need to see the film again, now, knowing that.  
 
Everything about the film was great.  The interviews and music touched on all kinds of crucial issues: the Panthers, gender relations, poverty, racism, you name it.  What made it so wonderful, though, was the ability of the film to straddle the line of grim cynicism (or is that realism?) and pure escapism.  One was able to experience an intertwining of both, making for a deeply satisfying whole.  The music was beautiful, the crowd shots often hilarious and impressive (straight outta Soul Train), and a general sense of fun worked in tandem with a cautionary shadow.
 
Among many highlights, The Rance Allen Group was an early standout.  I'd never heard of them before, probably because they function primarily as a contemporary gospel group, but Rance Allen's infectious singing and guitar playing (and the Buddy Miles-like drummer) were propulsive and uplifting.  The song they performed, "Lying On The Truth," was included on the "Straight From The Heart" CD, which I promptly bought.  Unfortunately, the AMG entry on this album was a bit misleading, as it was actually recorded in 1978.  "Lying on the Truth," live from 1972, was just a bonus track.  The rest of it is a bit disco-fied, overproduced with bright horns dominating the mix; not in the classic Stax/Volt vein at all.  In short: a disappointment. 
 
The "real" gospel of The Emotions was captivating as well, and I'm not a particularly spiritual or religious person.  Other highlights included my old favorites The Bar-Kays, the Staple Singers, and of course, the overblown self-importance of headliner Isaac Hayes, garbed in gold chains and skintight pants.  For my money though, a fifty-five year old Rufus Thomas won the "best dressed" prize, clad as he was in pink shorts with a matching pink suit jacket and knee-high white boots.  Classy! 
 
The other cool thing about seeing this film was discovering the source of so many familiar Public Enemy samples, especially Jesse Jackson's "Brothers and sisters, I don't know what this world is coming to!" and the Bar-Kays quotation of Frederick Douglass which I used for the title of this post. 
 
Now keep your eyes open for a DVD release, and treat yourself to 98 minutes of recorded exaltation.



YAY!
 
Hello Kitty Cab!

Monday, September 15, 2003

"MY LIBERRY SENSE IS TINGLING"
Spidey
Twice, now, on the job, I've been told that I resemble Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man. You know, "that Peter Parker dude?" The first time it was an older white man, sometime last year, then a black teenager said the same thing to me just last week. Though I have no particular interest in looking like any celebrity, this is a vast improvement over being called Harry Potter, as more than a few had done previously.

Unfortunately, it didn't take any superpowers to notice a giant man with fuzzy white hair, sunglasses, and suspenders tromping through my library, pants hanging down, exposing creamy pink crack for all the world to see. Unbelievable. Did I mention he had suspenders on?

In other news: OUCH!

Friday, September 12, 2003

A LONG BLACK VEIL...

Well you're my friend
And can you see
Many times we've been out drinking
Many times we've shared our thoughts
But did you ever, ever notice
the kinds of thoughts I got
Well you know I have a love
a love for everyone I know
And you know I have a drive
to live I won't let go
But can you see its opposition comes rising up sometimes
That its dreadful imposition comes blacking in my mind
And that I see a darkness
And that I see a darkness
And that I see a darkness
And that I see a darkness
Did you know how much I love you?
Is there hope that somehow you can save me from this darkness?
Well I hope that someday buddy, we have peace in our lives
Together or apart, alone or with our wives
And we can stop our whoring
And pull the smiles inside
And light it up forever
And never go to sleep
My best unbeaten brother
This isn't all I see
Although I see a darkness
Although I see a darkness
I know I see a darkness
I know I see a darkness
Did you know how much I love you?
Is there hope that somehow you can save me from this darkness?

(Will Oldham - 1999)

Thursday, September 11, 2003

A REASON TO READ THE FUNNIES AGAIN

Opus is coming back! I just read about it on Chuck's blog. Can't wait.

Also- everybody's reported this already, but the Pixies are reuniting. Cool! I heard about it first on Ryan's blog. Now, if we could only resurrect Joe Strummer...


MY SICKNESS
 
I am nearly uncontrollable in music stores.  Last night I dropped a big wad o' plastic on the following:
 
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Master and Everyone
Partially inspired by the story below, partially by my desire to get more quiet, rootsy music, I gave in and picked this up.  Earlier in the year I kind of overloaded on Palace, having snapped-up used copies of "There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You" (one of my all-time favorite album titles), "Lost Blues and Other Songs," and "The Mountain EP."  None of them excited me the way "Days in the Wake" and "Viva Last Blues" had, though, and I figured I'd better stop throwing my money at Will Oldham for awhile.  Listening to clips from "Master and Everyone" changed my mind.  I hope it turns out to be worth it. 
 
Damien Jurado - Holding His Breath
I can't help myself, I buy everything this guy releases (minus a 7" or two I have yet to acquire), including this overpriced five-song EP.  Fortunately, after a sketchy first track, the rest holds up nicely.  If you haven't heard Damien before, pick up "Rehearsals for Departure" (quiet, pretty, sad) or "I Break Chairs" (beautifully noisy) — I highly recommend them both. 
 
Iron & Wine - Sea and the Rhythm
I discovered Sam Beam's Iron & Wine last winter on a Radio K webcast and ran right out to buy his first album.  Really good, low-fi backcountry woods kind of stuff.  This is a quickie EP -- more of the same, though less immediately striking.  I probably could've lived without it. 
 
Nanang Tatang - Muki
Ooo...almost like a new Ida album, but actually a continuation of the string of side-projects and leftovers they've been slowly releasing over the last three years.  AMG has a surprisingly accurate review which describes it more concisely than I can.  "Muki" was recorded by Warn Defever, and is stylistically similar to His Name Is Alive's "Last Night."  The jury's still out on this, but from what I listened to it is heaps better than Dan Littleton and Tara Jane O'Neil's "Music for a Meteor Shower."
 
Low - Murder
The second release in Vinyl Films' 10" series.  I really hope I can get my hands on the Mark Kozelek one, too.  Do you get the impression that I sit alone in the dark and cry a lot?  'Cause I don't.  I swear I don't.  Not never.  Okay- "not anymore," then. 
 
Beulah - Yoko
A full review should be forthcoming, I imagine, after repeated listenings to this, Beulah's fourth full-length.  A new Beulah album is always an event for me.  I got their second album, "When Your Heartstrings Break," at least a month before its official release in 1999 and it remains one of my favorite pop albums of all time.  Boy, did I think I was cool (don't worry- no one else did).  Their third album, "The Coast Is Never Clear," came out on September 11, 2001, a day which you may remember for some reason.  I think I bought it on September 12.  I was in Hawaii visiting my sister and her family at the time, and feeling pretty vulnerable.  Miles Kurosky's seemingly happy-go-lucky approach toward the gloomy was a perfect match for my mood, and nicely complemented a long stroll down Ala Moana and Waikiki beaches. 
 
Consonant - Love and Affliction 
Clint Conley's new band.  You may know Conley as the writer/singer of Mission of Burma's "That's When I Reach For My Revolver," "Academy Fight Song," and "Peking Spring."  He also plays a mean bass, and sometimes guitar.  Loved Consonant's first album, decided to take a chance on number two.
 
Guided By Voices - Get Out Of My Stations
My favorite band in the whole wide world, and beyond.  Haven't listened to this yet but I'm excited about it.  It's a re-release of the 1994 EP with four live tracks appended.
 
Charlie Christian - Complete Studio Recordings
Okay, so the last thing I need on top of all this other stuff is a four disc, comprehensive collection of the legendary, groundbreaking jazz guitarist...aw heck, who am I kidding?  I've been wanting this for a long time, and it was priced much more reasonably at the Fetus than it is on Amazon.  While I may someday regret choosing this collection over Sony/Columbia's recent "Genius of the Electric Guitar" box set, I already had Definitive's "Complete Live Recordings" before the Columbia set came out, and wanted to get the second half.  The Columbia box, besides costing more and featuring potentially fluffy liner notes, is a jazz geek's dream, consisting of multiple takes of the same songs from the same sessions.  I'm not a big fan of this minutae-oriented approach, however, and am much more interested in hearing the rare sessions included on the Definitive collections.  Until recent years, most Charlie Christian collections have been poorly slapped together, and the only truly comprehensive set was the extensive Masters of Jazz series, now out of print and hard to come by, not to mention pricey. 

"That shore is a lotta music, there, paw." Yeah, it is. I probably need to do some collection trimming, then endure extensive therapy sessions to free me from this compulsion. Please, give all you can to help a poor child find the help he so desperately needs.

On second thought, don't give me a cent. I'll probably just spend it all on CDs.
 
Huge thanks to Chuck and Joel for introducing me to Canadian rock overlords Thundermug.  After hearing "Mickey Mouse Club" just once, I found myself haunted and beleaguered by it until I was driven to obtain a copy of their 1972 debut, "Thundermug Strikes" on eBay.  For whatever reason, history has not been kind to these lads and none of their music is available on CD in the US, to my knowledge.  Fortunately, I got a sealed copy of the LP, and last night Nu Finish, bless his audiophile soul, digitized it for me so I can listen to it in my car on the popular "compact disc" format.  Now I'm rockin' down the highway.  Woah-oh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

TODAY MY LEAST FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE...
 
Election judges!  Near the end of a long, miserable day, two old ladies came crashing into the staff workroom toting some big piece of equipment, barking "where's the fax machine?  It must be back here!  Is the fax machine back here?  We need the fax machine!" and as I calmly explained that the fax machine was not in the staff room and that I would lead them to it, they kept squawking "we need to use the fax machine!"  OKAY!  I HEAR YOU!!!  I wish I was old enough to be able to tactfully admonish the elderly.  As it was, I just let them behave like fools and tried not to blow a gasket (did I mention what a horrifically excruciating day it had been?).  Several months earlier, two young women with a similar technological device came behind the reference desk and unplugged the phone line from the fax machine.  I quickly approached and asked if I could help them (polite for "what the Hell do you think you're doing?").  "We're from the County Elections Office and we need to test that your fax line is working."  And this apparently frees you from the burden of introducing yourselves or asking us before you disable our equipment?  The beauty of all this is that, for whatever reason, they weren't able to transmit the voting results over our fax line last night, so the judges had to stay late and count the ballots by hand.  Fortunately for me, our security guard was able to stick around so I didn't have to stay late.  I really needed to get out.  We all did. Long, bad day.

Something else to hate: stupid conversations with stupid people.  We're all swinging at the air with clenched fists.  Last night I chose to cuddle up with my loved one instead of wasting any more time on this garbage, and then today I couldn't keep my mouth shut.  It burns!  Mommy, it burns!  Please make it stop!
 
There is light at both ends of the tunnel, however.  This week's Strong Bad e-mail was one of his best, and I'm seeing Theatre de la Jeune Lune's production of Carmen for free on Friday night.  Thanks, Lori!

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

PUSHKIN RIDES THE LIGHTNING
 
Looks like Will Oldham is an avid library user.  Rock on!  Or...moan on, and strum softly, occasionally howling. 
 
SD: What kind of music were early influences, and how has that changed over those 12 years?

BPB: Now I just go to a library, get records out. Usually just try to find records that I have never heard of before. Maybe from places I have never heard of before. And then you go to the library and look in different sections, take about 10 records home each week, listen to them and take them back and get another batch.

[ via librarian.net ]


LANGUAGE BARRIER
 
Next to unattended, out-of-control children, some of the most frustrating things about my job are the myriad communication problems.  As endlessly complicated as they may seem, I think they all fit under these four general categories:
The first two groups can be difficult, and are only frustrating when they come to a standstill: the patron doesn't understand me and I don't understand them.  The others can be maddening because there's no visibly reasonable explanation for the problem.  Most troubling is when two of the categories overlap.  We have a deaf, teenage Hmong boy who I often find myself at a loss to help.  Usually the simplest way to communicate with deaf patrons is with pen and paper, but his English is pretty sketchy.  The other day he wrote down "miss the prints," which I was able to interpret as "the printer is out of paper" (we just had to walk over to the printer to see the problem), but that was a rare, simple case.  Last week, I had this brief exchange with a non-native English speaker: 
 
Patron: "My daugher is still here.  My daughter was here today."
 
Me: utterly baffled
 
Patron: "My son is here, is my daughter still here?"
 
Me: "I don't know who your daughter is."
 
You wouldn't believe how many parents come in looking for their children and (a) ask the staff where their kids are (this is not a large building), (b) expect that we know who their children are, and (c) clearly have no idea what their children have been doing for the past four hours. 
 
From the "questionable communication skills" category: A woman recently asked me if we had the movie Hannibal, then added "the real movie?"  I asked her what she meant by that, and she told me "the one that was in theaters."  In retrospect, I think she was confusing Hannibal with Red Dragon and was vaguely aware that two film adaptations had been made of the same Thomas Harris novel (Michael Mann called his 1986 adaptation Manhunter, with the most-excellent Brian Cox playing Hannibal Lecter).  I'm not sure how one of those film adaptations is more real than the other, but that's another one of those overly philosophic questions that aren't appropriate to the reference desk.  I specified "this is the sequel to Silence of the Lambs starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore" and she, still uncertain, said "I think it's something like that."  There aren't really any other films called "Hannibal" so I think we're okay.  That is, unless, she meant the 1960 film starring Victor Mature...
 
Of course, I am confronted with these problems in my everyday life, as well.  This was posted on an outhouse at Afton State Park:
 
It is unlawful for any person in a State Park to consume intoxicating liquors, or to display in public intoxicating liquor containers.
 
I hadn't previously realized that containers could be intoxicating. I know what they mean, but it's awkwardly worded, don't you think? Maybe I should change the name of this blog to "Public Intoxicating."

Monday, September 08, 2003

CLASSIC TALES FROM THE LIBERRY #7

One morning late in the summer of 1999 my supervisor asked me if I was growing a beard. Embarrassed, I replied "well, no, I just didn't shave this morning," and she said "oh," sounding disappointed. It occured to me that her husband sported a beard, so I asked her about it. "Oh yeah, I love facial hair on men -- if my husband ever tried to shave his beard off I'D KILL HIM!!!" she said, practically shaking with malicious glee. It was one of the most uncomfortable moments of my paraprofessional career.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

YOU MIGHT EVEN PICTURE "TOTO" FROM THE WIZARD OF OZ

I had a bit of a David Lynch moment Tuesday morning.  I was out watering the flowers (note to self: add "gardening" to resume), which was a nice excuse to get outside for a few minutes on a sunny, breezy day, when a strange noise caught my ear.  I looked toward the house on the corner and barely caught a glimpse of two people walking away, and as I moved closer I could hear a horrible sound, like a sick, demented dog barking. A hoarse, clipped, sort of gargling cough. It just kept going, and I couldn't identify it, but I was pretty sure nothing/nobody was being killed or maimed, so I backed up quietly and went about my business.  Sure was creepy, though.

Tonight an excited little boy asked me: "Do you have this movie, I don't know the name, with this guy, he has something in him, and they've got a beam gun, and they shoot him with it, and he takes this pill and he's the pill guy? It starts with an O. O I."

In case any of you out there ever get the same question, the correct answer is Osmosis Jones.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

ROAD RAGE
 
When my alarm clock beeped angrily Friday morning, it pulled me out of the middle of a dream in which K. and I were playing Oye Como Va on two keyboards in a hip record store.  Earlier in the dream, I had been driving at night (east on I-394) and stopped under a bridge, which police were urging motorists to do as a massive storm approached.  I noticed that some cars were forging on ahead, though, and I knew K. was home waiting for me and I didn't want to leave her alone, so I pulled out from the bridge and headed downtown.  Unfortunately, at some point I lost my car, and the overpass was high above the skyscrapers, with no exit.  Apparently this wasn't unusual, since I was thinking about how much harder it would be to get down with a car, but never once considered not jumping over the edge.  I grabbed a chair (?) and lept down, trying to brace my fall with the chair and bounce from rooftop to rooftop on my way down...
 
Wednesday night I saw one of the most atrocious stories I've ever seen on television "news."  Channel 4's "Secret in the Stacks" story was pretty bad (how many times did Don Shelby say the word "masturbating?"), and any number of our local Fox affiliate's "investigative reports" are enough to make you kill your television, but KARE 11's tasteless lead story was a new low in television journalism.  "KARE 11" - for you poor readers who don't inhabit Minnesota - is the local NBC affiliate, and like most of our local news programs, tends toward a right-wing perspective (no matter what Ann Coulter will have you believe). 
 
Case in point: some brilliant producer decided to contrast the Lake St.-Marshall Ave. bridge anti-war protests with highway deaths related to speeding.  "To what end?" you might ask.  The unusual juxtaposition of unrelated phenomena allowed the reporter to pose the brilliant question (and I'm paraphrasing): "why are those silly people protesting the US occupation of Iraq when more people are dying on our roads right here at home?"  Suprisingly, that manufactured question insults just about everyone in one way or another.  I'm pretty sure it's a question that didn't need to be asked, but KARE 11 was obviously looking some original way to take a shot at war protestors, and this, apparently, seemed like a good way to go about it. 
 
How completely stupid are the KARE 11 producers that they are corrolating accidental deaths with soldiers being killed in Iraq?  I mean, yeah- breaking the speed limit is against the law, and you could protest that, but you can hardly compare 45 accidental deaths with some 6000 killed in the name of Imperialism (or national security or whatever) . What I find particularly disturbing is that KARE 11 went so far out of their way to criticize war protesters again that they made themselves look like serious jerks in the process.  So let me get this straight:
 
If I correctly understand the story KARE 11 aired on Wednesday, August 27, 2003, citizens should be more upset about local vehicle deaths than military casualties because, right now, the numbers are higher on the vehicle side.  Really.  Does that mean we don't value the lives of the soldiers until they start to outnumber local motorist fatalities?  Should we be protesting cancer deaths, AIDS deaths, heart and lung disease-related deaths, then, most of all?  How do we decide when it is appropriate to protest the loss of life?  How many people die every day due to natural causes, old age, murder, accident, disease?  Is it always a mistake to protest?  Or is it only wrong to protest war?
 
It was a truly disgusting moment on television, and another example of how sick our nation has become (or at least our nation's media).  KARE 11, in particular, has always bothered me on a surface level.  I sat one table away from Paul Magers at Oceanaire a few years ago and I could barely control my rage as I witnessed a tableful of women fawn over him.  Print and television advertisements for the news team, portraying them as a bunch of happy-go-lucky pals who can barely pull themselves away from a friendly snowball fight to deliver you the news, just make me ill.*  The way their unearthly-white teeth shine down at you from giant billboards is both disturbing and demoralizing, because you can't fight them: they always win and they'll never leave you alone. 
 
Or will they?  Paul Magers is apparently off to bigger pastures (don't forget to send him your love!) and I don't know if the team can keep winning without their MVP (no offense, Diana).  Please join me for a "farwell, Paul" march in front of his house on Lake of the Isles.  We'll all make signs together and I'll provide the cabbages and tomatoes.
 
 
*On his way through town, Brit folk-popster David Gray was apparently so amused by one of KARE 11's bus-stop ads that he put a picture of it in the booklet to his 1996 album Sell Sell Sell.  I saw him do an in-store at Let It Be back then, way before he was cool.  Yep, I'm on the cutting edge of bland, overproduced adult contemporary music.  Well, he used to be a lot better.


Tuesday, September 02, 2003

WELCOME BACK?

As a famous man once said "These tall tales about me being dead have been blown all out of proportion."  I have no idea who that guy was, but I think me and him must have something in common.
 
I had written a big, long mission-statement sort of thing, but I threw it out in favor of this: I need an outlet, and I like having an audience.  The downside is that I can no longer vent freely since just about anyone might be reading this, and many of those people know who I am.  For example: I can't write something like "Geez, Joanna is constantly getting on my nerves, I wish they would fire her.  What an incompetent sack she is."
 
Oops.
 
You get the picture, though, right?  Things have to get a little more mature around here.  I don't think I was ever especially snipey, and while Jessamyn West may tire of the "I hate the patrons and they hate me" blogs, I'm pretty sure that isn't a good description of the former Liberry Blooze.  Actually, I'd like to know which blogs she's talking about, so I can check 'em out.  Jessamyn?  (P.S. Thanks a lot for the mention, I had no idea I was on your radar!).
 
And the worst news of all?  I think I will still bore you all with personal details, at least until I get myself together enough to start another blog.  Yep- the ol' personality will still be lurking about, minus the really juicy details about my heroin addiction and moonlighting as a male stripper.
 
The thing is, I wanted this blog to be anonymous so I could say whatever I damn well felt like saying, without worrying about who might think what.  Those days are over, but I still feel like I need an audience, and knowing that I have one means having to be more careful.  I don't think I did anything particularly wrong, here, but there were a few tidbits that I'd rather none of my co-workers had read.  Too late.  Surprise!  That's what you get for posting your rants online.  On the bright side, since my hiatus I've been getting all kinds of great word-of-mouth.  Even a German website mentioned my "passing" (I'm a sucker for international accolades). 

I'm attracted to dark humor (Brazil and Fight Club are among my favorite films, Vonnegut one of my favorite authors), and last fall I was getting overwhelmed by the insanity of my workplace.  I thought that if I could get a few laughs out of my daily pain that I'd be better able to deal with it, and I'd feel like I was accomplishing something positive.  Welcome to my creative outlet.  We now return you to your irregularly maintained weblog.

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