Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thoughts for the Day, Various Web Tools

I have started reading Oil by Upton Sinclair. The writing is very dense with a lot to say about industry, labor, and human motives. It will take me a considerable amount of time to read this book. At least four or five days. The writing has real substance to it. It is about as dense as Dostoevsky in its writing style. I am surprised that they were able to make this book into a movie. It does not seem to be very cinematic at all. There is a lot of internal dialogue by the characters in the book.

This almost seems to have nothing to do with anything at all. I keep track of many of the websites and webtools that I use on a personal web index. I have been using for many years to store links to sites of interest.

I am going to suggest a few web tools and search engines which I like to use a lot. The first is a downloadable search utility called Webferret, it has been around for many years. If I am going to do any really serious web searching, it is a utility which I add to my desktop. Some people like Copernic better which has both a free and a pay utility.

If I want to search for free databases on the web on specific subjects, I will turn to Completeplanet. This is useful for searching for information directories and searchable lists.
It has indexed over 70,000 sites with specialty database search tools inside them.

If you want to search for a person by either phone number or email address, one of the best search engines for locating people on the web is Yahoo People Search:

Similarly if you are looking for executive information and want an easy biographical search engine to use there is:

If you are looking for an excellent focused metasearch engine which gives a very short list of results, Mamma is quite good because of the limited results it gives.

My favorite place to look for public domain or creative commons images is

I just felt like suggesting a few web tools that researchers often use who have some specialty skills on the internet. These tools have all been useful to me at some point in my career. This is far from comprehensive.

Anyways, the last few days have been very busy. I am on jury duty which is tedious and difficult at times. I went to a really bad restaurant at noon with Americanized Italian food. I'll remember to bring my lunch tomorrow. Sitting in court has been very revealing, but I can't really talk about it too much.

I am not going to work which is kind of interesting. It really breaks up my day very differently.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Creating A World Without Poverty Social Business and The Future of Capitalism-- Muhammad Yunus-- Review

Creating A World Without Poverty Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus is about creating new ideas in and new forms of capitalism focused on creating social benefit for the poor.

Muhammad Yunus suggests that the whole point of capitalism is to make as much profit as possible. He suggests a new form of incorporating where the initial goal is to focus on a specific goal and put all dividends and profits back into that goal. A specific example of this type of business is a joint venture of Grameen Bank and Danone Yogurt where the goal is to produce a vitamin fortified yogurt affordable for the poor which will reduce malnutrition in Bangladesh. The goal is to put all the profits of the company into creating more small yogurt factories.

Muhammad Yunus philosophical business practices come from his experience founding the Grameen Bank, the first microfinance institution in Asia. He saw moneylenders charging exorbitant rates and tried to get the bank to give loans to the poor, but they would not support the loans so he put his name as the collateral initially. He eventually formed a bank to loan very small amounts of money to poor villagers. He has managed a 98% payback rate for villagers and has since expanded into textiles, housing, cell phones, and other small businesses.

This book is inspiring. It is a bit repetitive at times. He has a very important social message to get across. It describes how it is possible to start the poor on the road to self-employment and self-improvement through small loans and educational training. Muhammad Yunus already won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank which has helped millions of people escape poverty in Bangladesh. His methods have spread all over the world. Microfinance institutions have spread to China, the Middle East, and South America.

He describes how top down governmental programs and international charity create dependency, corruption, and often do not help poor people. He gives numerous suggestions on how to change the lot of the poor and describes ways to create a world without poverty.

If you are interested in important global social issues like fair trade, the environment, and globalization this book should be very interesting to you. Also if you want to read about a different way to help people out of poverty this book is quite interesting. One of the patrons who comes to the library was reading this book. He requested it. I thought it sounded very interesting. The gentlemen is from Africa and often requests books on fair trade, globalization, and international trade.

Searchlores, More Morning Stuff

Hello, I have been thinking about what people say that no one really understands the web and searching. The site Fravia will be eye opening to many of you. It teaches a wide variety of advanced web search techniques. Some of it requires a decent understanding of programming. If you are a researcher, there is also some very deep content in this site, both on the philosophy of search, and how to do some really interesting things.

Thre is a lot which is not adequately explained in your standard class on how to search for things. Every day new types of searching for things on the web are developed.

This is just something which I think many of you should know about.

Publishers Reception Software and Information Industry Association

Last night, I was at a publishers reception for the Software and Information Industry Association. I couldn't really figure out why I was at the reception. It was sponsored by Mark Logic and Really Strategies. Most of the people who were at the reception were content management people. At one point I got emails from Mark Logic so I must have been on some kind of invitation list. There was also an IT librarian from St. John's University. Almost everyone was wearing a business suit. I recognized at least one person from Microsoft who had given a keynote speech at the Day of Dialog, a yearly event that brings together publishers and librarians in Manhattan.

It is funny being a reference librarian surrounded by fairly high level people. But free hors d'oevres, beer, and soda isn't bad. It was entertaining talking to people. I kept my name tag so I could add it to my collection of name tags from conferences. The location 66 Park Avenue in the penthouse suite was quite ritzy.

I had gotten to the neighborhood quite early so I took a walk around. I enjoy walking. I looked at the tall buildings, the Scandinavian society and the El Salvador Embassy are not far from the Kitano hotel where the meeting was held. You can look all the way down the block and see the Metlife building. It is four blocks away from Grand Central Terminal. People were out walking their purebred dogs, little terriers and bulldogs mostly. Doormen in suits were standing outside of many of the buildings. A mixed fleet of yellowcabs and black executive taxis rolled through the neighborhood. There was an empty police booth with a cracked window on one corner not far from the hotel.

I sat down in a small cafe, ordered a cup of coffee and a raspberry turnover. I thought that the raspberry turnover was kind of funny. They had wifi listed in the window. I drank my coffee and ate my turnover and read. Nobody bothered me at all. I was reading Muhammad Yunus, Creating A World Without Poverty Social Business and the Future of Capitalism. I spent about an hour sitting and reading.

Then I went to the publishers reception. I checked my coat and bag in as I came in to the penthouse suite. The suite was quite crowded. It was mostly men or ladies in business suits. There were a few mavericks in the casual sweater, slacks, and black leather shoes as well.

The crowd was quite interesting. It seemed to intersect across a wide range of groups, USAToday, Elsevier, Mark Logic, Microsoft, Information Today, MuseGlobal, Hargrove Entertainment, St. John's University, and others were there.

Mostly you walked around and looked at peoples name tags to see who was there. Then you spent a few minutes talking to people just. I took a few business cards. I don't really know what I will do with them, but, I am going to try and recount a few of the conversations I had.

I talked briefly with Information Today about enterprise search, I also met a gentleman from Cuichu Printmedia, he apparently has a new kind of magnetic paper which you print signage on using a laser printer. . The reception was really a chance to talk to people about just about anything to make contacts.

I spoke briefly to Really Strategies about the digital divide. We talked about how people were coming into libraries and using myspace and facebook during their internet signup time. They were really there to sell a new content management system called RSuite . If you really like high end technology, especially content management systems, this might have been a good place for you to be.

Mark Moorehead from Muse Global mentioned that there was a westcoast chapter of the Software and Information Industry Association. They hosted meetings at Museglobal quarterly at their headquarters. I had always thought of the Software and Information Industry Association as a New York institution. At one point the Software and Information Industry Association absorbed the New York New Media Association after the dotcom crash.

Talking to people was quite entertaining. One of the first people that I talked to was from Elsevier-- he was a publisher of some 20 scientific and technical magazines. There are some 350 Elsevier employees in the New York office.

Another person I talked with was Peter M. Hargrove of Hargrove Entertainment. He has an interesting small catalog of films. He made some suggestions for doing film programming at my library. We have a projector, a screen, and a dvd player so it is not hard to do. If we set the films up as a lecture series, and do not advertise the films we generally fall under fair use.

It was a nice evening. I only saw one recruiter there for high level positions, Bert Davis from Bert Davis Executive Search, Inc. I am sure that there were a few others in the crowd.

I stayed for my two hours then headed home, reading a bit more on the subway.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Professor and the Madman-- Simon Winchester-- Review

The Professor and the Madman A Tale of Murder, Insanity, And The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester is a fascinating historical anecdote. This book is story of Professor Murray, one of the chief editors of the Oxford English Dictionary and his relationship with one Dr. William Chester Minor an american physician, gentleman, and madman. Dr. Minor was locked up in the Broadmoor asylum for the criminally insane in England during Victorian times.

Professor Murray initally requested volunteers to find sentences for examples of different words in the english language. Of special interest were examples from 16th and 17th century english literature. The central idea of the Oxford English Dictionary was to create a complete dictionary that would support the spread of the english language to all the corners of the world as well as christian moral values. This is an interesting idea because it speaks about the urge to use education as a tool of colonialism.

When Dr. Minor began sending suggested sentences for the dictionary he was locked up as being criminally insane. He had shot a brewery worker with a pistol because he had mistakenly thought him to be an irishman who had attempted to burglarize his house. Dr. Minor, a Yale educated American army physician was suffering from delusions that Irish men were trying to sneak through the floorboards and stuff poison biscuits in his mouth. It soon became apparent in his trials that he was a lunatic.

Dr. Minor was locked up in Broadmoor asylum where he was given privileges as a learned man. He had two cells adjacent to each other which he filled with fine and rare books. He even paid to have a servant from this civil war pension. Earlier he had been deemed unfit to be a surgeon because of his mental problems and pensioned off by the United States army. Apparently the Battle of the Wilderness and his being ordered to brand a deserter had made him unhinged. There is some truly incredible descriptions of Dr. Minor's behavior. Some of it is very darkly humorous.

He found the request for volunteers for the dictionary and decided to become a volunteer. The requirements were exacting. Despite this, Dr. Minor ultimately sent over 12,000 examples of words to Professor Murray. Initially, Professor Murray thought he was a gentleman of leisure that ran the asylum. It is fascinating to read how Dr. Minor attempts to redeem himself. He even tries to make amends with the widow of the dead man.

The description of the visits between Dr. Minor and Professor Murray are very interesting. It is hard to imagine coming into a cell where the floor has been coated with zinc to prevent people coming up through the floorboards, and a bowl of water has been placed next to the door to prevent evil spirits from wandering in.

When it was found out that Dr. Minor had become a lexicographer in an insane asylum, it was turned into a series of sensational stories that appearend in the newspapers of the day. Dr. Murray wasn't aware of Dr. Minor's position until seven years of sending him slips had passed.

The two became friends and Professor Murray would visit the asylum to discuss words with the mad physician.

This book is an astonishingly eccentric and entertaining book, filled with unusual details about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. It is about two extremely eccentric and learned men. Dr. Minor's insanity is both tragic, poignant, and at times darkly humorous. The freindship between him and Professor Murray is astonishing to read about. This is a unique book filled with thoughts about history, scholarship, and madness.

Morning Meme.

I am off to jury duty this morning. I got hit by a meme. You are supposed to do something or share some idea through the internet. This time it is to join an ever expanding list of people. The meme is called the Big Bang Meme. It looks like a giant chain letter, but instead of money, it is people joining a list. I found this meme on Cowgirl Betty's site. Anyways, I just updated it. I am in the listing now.

*Start Copy Here*
You do not have to be tagged to play along. This game is simple and so are the rules.
1. Copy from *Start Copy Here* through *End Copy Here*
2. Add your site(s) to the list. Just be sure to post at each site you add.
3. Tag or don’t tag, your choice, however, the more tags you create the bigger the list will grow.
4. Let me know your blog’s name and url by leaving me a comment HERE. I will add you to the master list. (If you would like the scroll box code, leave me your email address and I will email it to you.)
5. Come back and copy the master list back to your site, often. This process will allow late-comers to get as much link benefit as the first ones in.
1-Attitude, the Ultimate Power 2-Juliana's Site 3-Rusin Roundup 4-Grow Rich Along With Me 5-Comedy Plus 6-lynda's loft 7-Amel's Realm 8-MAX 9-Speedcat Hollydale 10-Mariuca 11-Complain Complain Complain 12-Mariuca's Perfume Gallery 13-Life Is A Roller Coaster 14-Sugar Queen's Dream 15-First Time Dad 16-Life 17-My Life 18-The Painted Veil 19-My Thoughts 21-Little Aussie Cynic 22-A Nice Place in the Sun 24-The Down Side OF Up 25-Ladyjava's Lounge 26-Cat Tales 27-moms.....check nyo 28-Colorado Baby 29-It's a Woman's World 30-ENLIGHTENED BITS 31-My View of "It" 32-My Reviews and Finds Along the Way 33-Our Hep Chat 34-Rantings of a Woman 35-The Callalily Space 36-Mom Knows Everything 37-Hazel 38- Chronicles and Tales Unlimited (RED) 39-From the Mouth of Jabber Jaws 40-Sunny Side Up Foodie & Lifestyle 41-Carmel Corn 42-Daily Stock Picks 43-The Whole New World 44-Wifespeak 45-Slavery Bliss 46-Rooms of My Heart 47-Unpredictable Life 48-My Life, My World 49- At Your Service 50-All About Ebay 51-Everything Amazon 52-Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out 53-My So-Called Site 54-New Wife Blog 55-Tendre Poison 323 56-Nick's Bytes 57-My Scratch Pad 58-Choc Mint Girl 59-Life Is Just Around the Corner... 60-Amori, poseia, art... virtuali by Hanna 61-Maryannaville 62-monaco - monaco's 63-Nyumix's Blog 64-read my mind - my keyboard monologues 65-Shower You Children With Love - The Right Way 66-Secret Agent Mama 67-Pinaymama's Diary 68-Answers to the Questions 69-Work of the Poet 70-A Total Blog 71-My life, my hope, my future 72-NORTE 73-A Window to Our World 74-Life as a Mom 75-FIELD OF DREAMS 76-lisgold 77-See Me for What You 78-Caught in The Stream 79-Pinay Mommy Online - My Home 80-I'm Running To Win Two 81-CRUEL VIRGIN 82-Garden of Moments in Blog 83-So Cute 84-Love Everlasting 85-WeLcOmE To My CriB 86-WELCOM TO PINAYSMILE'S JOURNEY 87-Ice's Icelog 88-Jenny's Wandering Thoughts 89-Hobbies and Such 90-Sweet Paradise 91-Mommy's Gibble Gabbles 92-Rusin Review's 93-My Small World 94-Little Peanut 95-Online Ramblings 96-My Mood My Feeling 97-BLOG it with ALLEN 98-Entertainment World 99-Let's Go Singapore 100-Firelynx 101-Catsy Carpe Diem 102-Every Beat Of My Heart 103-Always Da Fresh Princess 104-Listening.. 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Hate me 234-Everyday health and beauty 235-BLOGANDO & ANDANDO 236-Memoirs.:*CRoSs mY hEARt*:. 237-The Chic Shopaholic 238-CK Go Places 239-Red Empress: Hell Flavored, Taste like Valentine 240-QUEENBEE 241-Le bric a brac de Cherie 242-jaqqq in the blogs 243-Bijoux & Banter 244-When Silence Speaks 245-MadTomatoe's Blogging Tools and Widgets 246-Conceptis addict 247-Madamoiselle 248-My Wooden Robot Blog 249-A Simple Life 250-It's a dog's life 251-A Technocrat's Blog 252-Misty's Words 253-My Dogs Keep Me Sane 254-New England Lighthouse Treasures 255-NoDirectOn (not: NoDirection) 256-Additional BlogLOve 257-I am DZOI 258-Caroland's Breathtaking Adventure 259-Blur Ting 260-Rojoy's Daily Update 261-Down River Drivel 262-Momhood Moments 263-Real World Mom 264-REALWORLDMOMUNPLUGGED'S WEBLOG 265-Lucca D Jiwa 266-AngrianiWorld 267-Marketing•Review 268-sejuk sesangat 269-Everything and then Some..... 270-Gbex...reachingOut 271-Heart of Rachel 272-The working mom / Finding balance... 273-Madamoiselle ver.2 274-Latest Keyword 275-Tanny's Blog 276-Pay to Review 277-Happy Life 278-Pet Haven 279-Teratak Nurani 280- A Melhor Novela de Todos os Tempos do Último Verão 281-TYNIE World 283-mokkikunta 284-BLOGHIT, POLIBLOG, TOP TOPICS 285-none of your business 286-Expat Travels 287-The Poor Mouth 288-GIRLIEGEEK.ORG 289-Tau Tau 290-Points of View 291-kimf3's Blog 292-Bing-My Treasures 293-Everything Green 294-The Pipeline Fixation 295-~Menempuh Arus Masa-Life-Photography~ 296-Pea in a Pod 297-{Me and Mine} 298-Beblan Anak Tukang Jahit 299-How Bourgeois 300-Julie's Blog 301-Emphbone 302-Simply the Best 303-Euroangel Graffiti 304-My Daily Nourishment 305-the worldwideweb addict 306-(¯`·._.· PalavraS ArticuladaS ·._.·´¯) 307-The Big Life 308-Wild Borneo 309-Failure is the Key to Success 310-The muxic box's memories 311-What Goes Under the Sun 312-Cronaca di Gatteo 313-Angelika's other blog 314-So Real 315-Jaque 18 316-Overtime 317-When Life Becomes a Book 318-On the Bricks 319-Central Perk New York 320-The Simple Life of a Baghag 321-BlogBlast For Peace: The Official Site 322-Miss Cellania 323-Miss C Recommends 326-The Original Blue Ribbon Bloggers 327-No nonsense Internet Tips 328-Its Not a Weekend; Its a Lifestyle (Rich Valla) 330-Blog District 331-Official Travel Guide 332-EMJEI SAYS 333-www dot project rasso dot org 334-Work At Home Opportunities 335- INSERT YOURSELF HERE
*End Copy Here

Monday, January 28, 2008

Morning Thoughts. Afternoon Thoughts. Evening Though.

Right now, I am drinking a cup of tea with lemon and honey, it is 9:30 a.m.

I tried to pay my Comic Book Legal Defense Fund membership, I will have to call them, their online payment system didn't work. Oh well. I started reading one of Nancy Pearl's selections from Book Lust, The Professor and the Madman, A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. So far it has been enjoyable to read.

I have another book to consider reading Possession by A.S. Byatt.

I haven't checked to see which books have come in through interlibrary loan. The interlibrary loan books come in big plastic tubs which are practically indestructible. These are far more practical than cardboard boxes which usually end up breaking and costing more money in the long run. I usually check in the early afternoon when they are finishing checking in the interlibrary loans for the day.

I have been checking on my advertising. Adsense made me $1.55 in the last couple days. There may be real hope for Google adsense. I have 3 cents coming to me from Project Wonderful so I am on my way to my can of selter water. Amazon has stalled for a bit so that is alright.

I checked my various member sites and looked at a few new sites to add to my fuelmyblog widget, as well as my friends section in blogcatalog. I also noticed that entrecard has a favorites section for blogs. I'll add some favorites to my page to generate some goodwill.

Tomorrow, I am going to the New York City Publishers Reception at the Kitano Hotel for the Information Industry Summit. It should be fairly interesting. I am going on library time, so I will have to describe it to my supervisors and spend at least a little bit of time talking about things relative to libraries. I might write a short one page description as well.

I am debating about what I should wear. I'll probably wear slacks and a black turtleneck sweater. Something casual.

The morning has started off well for me. I'll write more as I think of new things.
I took a look through the Bookaholic blogring and looked at two blogs which I like a lot, , a very genteel seeming book blog, and a blog with a nice directory of book sites, and commentary on book related technologies like bookmarks, playaways, and ebook readers.

It has reached afternoon. I had a brief lunch. My holds have come in. The book Oil by Upton Sinclair has come in. It is the basis for the academy award winning film There Will be Blood. Someone asked me to read it earlier. I also have Sunshine by Robin McKinley, a Mythopoeic award winning book, and a book which a patron was taking out, Creating A World Without Poverty Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus. Muhammad Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. This book should be both important and interesting.
I called in this evening. I am a standby juror tomorrow. I get to sit until they maybe call me and read. I will bring a few books to sit in the waiting room. I have to bring a pen. I wonder why.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Information Overload, Shrek The Third

This is one of the four Three Stooges shorts that they failed to renew copyright on in the 1960's.

Sometimes, I have to stop reading because I have read so much during the previous week that I get information overload. Usually, I stop for one or two days so I can let what I have read gel in my head. I often do memory exercises to handle the amount of books which I read. Very basic eidetic memory exercises like the method of eidos.

The story of the eidos is that a Greek was at a banquet hall and he left the hall. Shortly after he left an earthquake struck and caused the hall to collapse. Eidos sorted out who was at the hall by systematically trying to remember the hall and the pillars which held up the roof. He would place different people next to the pillars to identify who was in the hall. Through this method of memorizing the location and placing people inside the location, he was able to identify all of the attendees at the banquet.

Memory was considered the fourth canon of rhetoric in ancient Roman times. It was considered essential to be able to memorize very long speeches because of the limited amount of written material available. As part of this it included the ability to have learned a wide variety of subjects as well. The combination allowed for very flexible speaking ability without reliance on cues.

Anyways, this seems to be a bit off subject. I watched a film today, Shrek the Third to let my mind rest and not read any books. I have also watched the first two films, Shrek and Shrek 2, I really didn't watch it to review the film. I watched it for the same reason people watch Abbott and Costello, The Three Stooges, or Gilligan's Island. To relax and zone out a little bit.

A lot of people come in to check out videos and dvds for this express purpose at our library. They want to see things which have no redeeming value as cultural objects but will help them relax and tune out. Things like the Merry Melodies Foghorn Leghorn, Ren and Stimpie cartoons, and the Honeymooners.

These things will never get high ratings, but many of them will be watched far more than some of our better art films. Low comedy rarely gets good ratings from reviewers, but that is not why people watch it. National Lampoons Family Vacation, American Pie, and Norbit have little if any redeeming value.

It is the same reason that children check out books of Knock Knock Jokes, Knock Knock Who's There? Lettuce, Lettuce Who? Lettuce in and you'll find out. Or people create faux book titles like The Yellow River by I.P. Freely.

It is the same reason people ask for Jason versus Freddie, people want an visceral experience at the basic emotional level which does not require a lot of thought. It took me a while to get this. I used to resent people taking out really awful trashy films like Bride of Chucky. The conversation might go:

Do you have Rambo?
Let me check. Um no.
Do you have American Pie, The Naked Mile?
Yes, we have American Pie, but there is a waiting list.
Place me on the holds list.
Alright. Can I have your card?
Here is my card. Do you have Bride of Chucky? that was such a fantastic movie, even better than Leprechaun.
Let me check. No, we don't have Bride of Chucky.
Wait, let me think. No, yes I remember what I want. I need "I Dream of Genie". That was such a great show.
We have I Dream of Genie Season One and Season One Two.
Place me on hold for "I Dream of Genie." Wait, I remember a show I used to really, really like. Do you have "Welcome Back Carter"?
No, we don't have that, can I suggest a show that just came in. We got the first season of Kojak.
Hey, that sounds wonderful, put me on hold for that.
Alright, you have reached your hold limit of twenty items.
Thank you so much for helping me.

I got angry enough a couple times to ask people why they wanted a string of bad B movies while I was working at the reference desk. The answer I got was "I just want to turn my brain off and relax." or "I have been thinking all week at work and I don't want to have to think anymore for a while." Or, the most reliable one, "It brings back memories, I like to remember watching these things on tv. It was so wonderful." Sometimes, people just like to come to the library to check out lots of films.

Another class of film that gets very little respect from critics are comic morality plays. These really do deserve a little more respect. They aren't about being artsy. Tyler Perry is a very good example of a person who writes films that are not critically acclaimed but have a positive message. Movies like Diary of A Mad Black Woman, Medeas Family Reunion, Why Did I Get Married?, or Daddy's Little Girls are not high theater, but they offer comic relief with a strong moral lesson, somethng missing from many of todays films.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Djinn In the Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt-- Review

The Djinn in The Nightingale's Eye Five Fairy Stories by A.S. Byatt is actually five fairy stories and a novella. The book is six inches by eight inches and is about an inch thick. It easily fits in the hand. It is easy reading if you are on a subway or bus.

The first story in the collection is the Glass Coffin. It is about a little taylor who rescues a princess and her brother from an evil magician. I like the story because the hero is a master craftsman, not a prince. The ending is different than most fairly tales. It is a different kind of happily ever after.

The second story, Gode's Story again varies from other fairytales. This is not a tale I cared for much. The protagonist is rather cruel and unthinking. He is a sailor with merry feet who destroys womens lives. It is almost a relief when he comes to a bad end. There is a unique monster in this tale, a baby who dances a woman off a cliff. This seems to be an excellent metaphor for women who don't rear or like children well.

The Story of the Eldest Princess again changes the morals to a more modern sensibility. I especially like when the cockroach saves the first princess from certain doom by insisting she listen to the complete song of the woodsman instead of the first verse. Apparently the woodsman is a villain who drives women to their death.

Dragonsbreath is especially interesting. There is a metaphor for volcanoes as dragons who belch smoke and destroy the lives of villagers. It is the story of unhappy villagers who are driven to ever greater unhappiness by disaster.

The last story is not a story at all, but a full novellas. The story is told by a "narratist" woman. A woman who has her children gone, her husband run away, and now is free to wander the world happily providing lectures to universities. Two of the oddest passages in literature which I have ever read are in this story. The first is a lecture by Dr. Perholt, the protagonist, on the meaning of Chaucer's Winter Tale. The second is a lecture on the meaning of wishes in fairtytales. This makes it especially odd because she has just gained the services of a djinn from a blue Nightingale's Eye bottle.

There is something to be learned from the novella, The Djinn In The Nightingales Eye about wishing for things the right way in fairytales. It seems to reflect on ordinary wishes. It says we should wish for things that are both attainable and comfortable that we can appreciate in the real world. For example, Dr. Perholt wishes she was the age that she was most comfortable with her body and promptly turns 35. She is not young, but not old.

A.S. Byatt's stories are written with a very modern sensibility. They are often about creating myths which help women deal with false images of masculinity, sensuality, and the body if you read them carefully. The critics call her fairytales Victorian in nature. I find the style to not be Victorian at all. They are much too liberated and full of life. The images seem to draw out the free style of Art Deco or the 1920's than the Victorian age. They are not prudish.

A.S. Byatt uses glass in her fairytales. She describes snow globes, and glass weights. The way she describes these images, they are of glass you might see in a high end antique store frequented by an upper middle class professor, or nouveau rich person who liked Vogue magazine and elegant things from Tiffany's or Fortunoff. It is not a Victorian feeling at all.

This is a paperback version of the book.

Thoughts for the Day

Union Square Farmers Market, New York, Public Domain Photograph.

Good afternoon. I have finished reading The Djinn in The Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt. I have to sit down and go back through it to make some notes on what I read. Sometimes memory is not perfect and you interpret things differently while you are reading and have to check your own thoughts to make sure they are accurate. Everyone has different perceptions on what is being written. It is very easy for people to give very different accounts of the same event.

Today, I was cutting up scrap paper for the reference desk. We cut up old flyers, leftover printouts from the cybercorner, and other scrap paper into small squares to take notes at the reference desk. We of course check to make sure we aren't cutting up salacious printouts before we hand them to patrons. We also reuse scrap paper for the printer. If only one side is used, we use the other side. The amount of paper which goes through the library is truly amazing. In addition we have a scrap box to give out paper to patrons. We don't give out clean paper.

There is a famous story of an investor who visits two different railroad offices. In the first office, the man takes notes on monogrammed paper with a fine fountain pen and is dressed in a very nice silk suit. He tosses the paper which he makes mistakes on into the garbage without a thought. In the second office, the manager is dressed in a conservative, but inexpensive blue suit, the manager takes notes on pieces of carefully cut scrap paper, using as few pieces of possible and uses an old pen to take the notes. Immediately after visiting, the investor buys stock in the company from the second office without looking at the financials of either company.

People ask for whiteout, pens, envelopes, rulers, calculators, and various office supplies from the reference desk. We try to limit the amount of office supplies we give to patrons sticking to tape, use of the stapler, and golf pencils. If they insist on borrowing a pen, we ask them to bring it back. We put a piece of green tape around our pens to indicate they are library pens. We keep a magnifying glass in the drawer along with a ruler and a calculator for people to use. We have big steel scissors, but we ask for people to not sit too far from the desk with scissors and bring them back immediately when they are done.

Another thought which comes to mind about my earlier hobbies. Many of them were focused on avoiding spending money for things which I wanted. I didn't really understand then that investing is often a better vehicle for some than saving. I've never been particularly good at saving money. I have always been good at avoiding debt. I think many people who scout books for bookstores or sell books on the internet are preserving income not making money. They have a habit of collecting books or comic books that they really can't afford with their salaries.

So, they end up going to garage sales, estate sales, goodwill stores, thrift stores, library booksales, church sales, and book fairs to look for books which they want. They are never going to make enough money for a living, but they will be able to support their habit of filling their house top to bottom with old paper and books. For the few extra dollars they get in trade at their local store or on ebay, they support a book habit.

I still have five long boxes of comic books which I traded for where I live. Not a huge amount. Mostly ground level comic books, things like Den, Quack, Cobalt 60, Vaughn Bode, and Alien Worlds. Ground level is an odd term which is not quite alternative and not quite mainstream. It is bringing material in at the "ground level" to the comic book seller. There is not a huge amount of value in this, but most of the material is fairly rare.

I used to go to the big open air flea markets in Manhattan. Some of them have shutdown because the real estate values rocketed to the point where it was worth more to build skyscrapers in the open parking lots where they were than keep them as parking lots. There are still some indoor flea markets like in Manhattan. There is also the Chelsea Antiques Fair which is going the way of the dinosaurs or the old book shops.

It seems many of my old hobbies are becoming part of the musty old dust bin of history. I no longer have time for these things, but it is interesting and sad to see them go.
The first few ads from Project Wonderful are up. Three are comic strips. One is from a site which I happen to enjoy reading on occassion, Environmentastic. The cinemacomics site looks interesting, it has a whole set of different free downloadable comics.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Random Thoughts.

Andrew Carnegie, Patron of Libraries

I am going to start reading the Djinn In The Nightingales Eye by A.S. Byatt on the way home on the train tonight. Hopefully, it will be well written like most of A.S. Byatt's work.

Today is library tour day. I had to walk a couple people around the building and show them things. I showed the whole building top to bottom. This includes all the nooks and crannies. Where I work is a very old building it was built in 1904, it is a giant old Carnegie building which has truly seen better days. If you walk downstairs we have two floors of mezzanine with many last copies of books from the last hundred years. The building has a kind of creaky character all of its own.

The train is on a repair schedule, they are putting in new signal equipment, so I have to leave a little early today. It gives me a longer time to read, but it also takes longer. I can't stand it that they have to repair things while people are on the same line. The conductor announced the train will be continued to work on until February 29.

I put in my professional association memberships. ALA-- American Library Association, with the subdivisions RUSA-- Reference and User Services Association, IFRT-- Intellectual Freedom Round Table. I also joined my local library association. I am debating whether I should shell out money and pay for the CBLDF-- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund membership . It is a rather unusual organization. Their website is really interesting. They document all of the legal cases against comic books which are occurring all over.

Of the organizations, I have found RUSA to be the most useful. They have a nice magazine which they put out every quarter-- Reference and User Services Quarterly, and they also have various online classes for improving reference and collection development skills that are inexpensive. My particular strengths in librarianship are reference and collection development.

I really enjoy looking through catalogs of books to order. I like the feeling of looking in the Baker & Taylor ordering system. Book catalogs have a nice glossy feel to them.


Today, I am trying out a new advertising system. I wonder if it will work. The advertising is based on bidding for spots on my website. I put four spots up. The site is called Project Wonderful. Currently, the ads at this point cost nothing.

Right now, like most of the stuff I have for advertising purposes it is in the experimental stage. I am cheering for an initial 75 cents so I can buy a can of selzer from the staff vending machine.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thomas The Rhymer by Ellen Kushner-- Review

Thomas the Rhymer By Ellen Kushner is a novelization of the ballad Thomas The Rhymer. It is also a Mythopoeic award winner. The story begins when a wandering harper named Thomas stays with a shepherd family Gavin and Meg. Thomas spins tales with the old lady Meg. It is there he meets his first love Elspeth, who he sends favors to while he is travelling to the courts and fairs to harp.

In the second part of the novel, he is wandering through the hills near Gavin's home when he meets the Queen of Elfland. The Queen challenges him to kiss her and he takes up the challenge. In return for the kiss, the Queen of Elfland demands seven years of service and carries "True Thomas" to fairyland. In the book Meg sends the dogs to find him, but can find neither hide nor hair of him.

The novel describes elfland with beautiful flowery unreal descriptions. There is nothing earthly in elfland. It is a land of gardens of lilies and roses, bright green fields, and magical beauty. Still much is left to the imagination. The Queen of Elfland is more beautiful than any mortal woman. She demands that for seven years he may only speak to her, but he can sing to any of the elfen court who ask him to sing. He is also the Queens mortal lover.

During the sojourn there he saves the lost soul of a human woman by harping the answer to a riddle. At the end of his sojourn Thomas is given a boon for both answering the riddle and serving the queen. He is given the gift of truth-- the inability to lie and the ability to act as a seer or prophet.

He returns to the human world in a daze. Thomas's mind and body are mended by Meg and Gavin. He ends up marrying Elspeth. He prophecizes and sings his way to fame, ending his days in Ersylton tower.

There are poem versions of ballads like Tam Lin and the Lady of the lake throughout the book. They are short and sweet and easy to read. In addition there are riddle games in spots as well. Most of these are fairly simple. What is whiter than the milk and softer than the silk? Snow and down.

This novel is the story of a life, albeit, a magical one focused on poetry, music, and sensuality. There is a decent amount of sex and romance in the book, but none of it is pruriently described. If you want a fantasy story with music and poetry in it, this novel is for you.

This novel is not in the least bit violent and it has a lot of thought put into it with the descriptions of everyday life in the middle ages. It is a very much romanticized version of country life with fields, flowers, sheep, and meadows in the hills of Scotland. There is also a small bit of court life thrown in as well, mainly singing and feasting for the minor courts of Scotland.


It was hard knocking out a review today, but I did it. Today was quite a busy day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Mythopoeic Books, Debt Is Slavery by Michael Mihalik-- Review

I checked today to see which books came in for me from the Mythopoeic awards. The Djinn In The Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt, The Wood Wife by Terri Windling, Briar Rose by Jane Yolen, and Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner have come in. I started reading Thomas the Rhymer today at lunch time. So far, I am enjoying it. I think Thomas the Rhymer will fall into a special category of fantasy novels, those without violence that are based on wits and trickery like Mary Brown's The Unlikely Ones.

Also, three of the books which I was going to read from Book Lust by Nancy Pearl are here as well, Freedom In Meditation by Patricia Carrington, Ph.D., Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler, and The Professor And The Madman by Simon Winchester.

This gives me an awful lot of books to read.

On the train to work, during my commute, I read a thin book called Debt Is Slavery and 9 Other Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me About Money by Michael Mihalik. I really like this book because it is not a book by a financial analyst, but a set of offbeat personal philosophical experiences described by an Aerospace Engineer.

This book even contains a disclaimer in the front that says he is not a financial analyst. At the same time, it talks about a number of philosophical ideas about money. The first is that debt and especially credit card debt makes you into a slave.

The start of the book is Michael Mihalik's personal experience with going into deep credit card debt, then pulling himself out of it through hard work, overtime and thrift. He also describes how thrift saved him twice while he was out of work for extended periods. The time gave him to write a novel and go back to school.

It further expounds on ideas like possessions are a prison, and that money is not about happiness but about being free to do what you want with your life. There are descriptions about how it is better to invest in your skills than buy new possessions. There are statements like in 1950 the average size of a family home in the United States was 983 square feet, in 2004 it is 2, 266 square feet, there is an effective increase of size of 131%. This leads to more maintenance, paint, and hassle than in bygone years.

The author, Mihalik calls advertising a "Giant Marketing Machine" whose objective is to get you to buy things which you don't need to keep up with everyone else. There is the classic example of how it is best to buy a new car and keep it until the wheels fall off. This was my grandfathers philosophy, I find it vastly entertaining.

He also talks about how time is more important than money ultimately, you can't buy more time in the world. One of the best ways to control expenses is to equate how much time you have spent acquiring something before you buy it.

The book is quite small and densely written. There are not a lot of extra words. It is 123 pages long but every page tells you something about the authors philosophy.

I really enjoyed this book. It is the kind of book which will not sell a whole lot of copies in a bookstore. However, it is a choice item for a tightwad who will go to the library to check out items that tell them how to preserve their finances. There are a number of books like this. The Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift As A Viable Alternative Lifestyle by Amy Dacycyzn which extremely thrifty people go to the library to check out is another example.

This book will never make the bestseller lists, in fact, it is different enough in its philosophy that it will probably only sell a couple thousand copies. But, some people may find it quite useful.

We get part of our funding from circulation figures. Some of the books which circulate or get used in libraries are different from what is being sold in bookstores.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thoughts for the Day, Blog Promotion (Entrecard, Fuelmyblog, Blogcatalog)

Today, I walked down to my local library in my neighborhood. It is nice being in a neighborhood, living in a house, not a giant an apartment building. Houses are much more livable than giant apartment buildings. Like many neighborhoods, my home neighborhood has a library, but not a bookstore. I am not sure if there ever was a neighborhood bookstore. If there was, it was here long before my time. If you want to go to a bookstore, you have to get in your car or take a bus a decent distance to the local mall. There is a Barnes & Noble there but no independent bookstore.

I have to go into Manhattan to go to the big bookstores. I rather like going to the Strand. I also like going to Housing Works Used Book Cafe. The store is very beautiful with tall ceilings and a wooden balustrade. All of the proceeds go to help keep homeless people with AIDS off the streets. Some of the local publishing houses donate their review copies to be sold there. Their selection is very good.

If I am going to the Strand in Manhattan, I will also stop off at Forbidden Planet to look at the science fiction, fantasy, and comic art books. I haven't been in a while. If I have time after that, I might wander down to Roger's Time Tunnel, a very old school comic book shop. I like looking at the movie stills in Roger's shop, not just the old paperbacks and old comic books.

I could also go online and order a book from Amazon or Powell's but it still wouldn't be my local bookstore. I miss the small neighborhood bookstores. There are still small neighborhood libraries which I am glad exist. Some people claim that the neighborhood library is not necessary, but if there are no longer neighborhood bookstores in many small American communities where are community members going to go to read or get books if there is neither a library or a bookstore. Are they going to go online and order a book from one of the giant commodity bookstores?

Anyways, I first went in the morning, the library was closed before one o'clock so I dropped my books in the book slot and peered through the window. Sometimes if the book cart is positioned wrong, the books slide off the cart onto the floor. Most of the time this doesn't happen. My books were on top of the cart.

Later in the day, I came back and went inside. I looked around and asked for the seven books on the Mythopoeic awards list. They did not have a single one of them. It was a slight disappointment. I'll get some of them tomorrow.

Everything these days is merchandised in todays library. They break portions of the collection into little shelving units, humor, biography, graphic novels, new books, new travel books, and many different categories. The main advantage of this is that it becomes easier for patrons to find categories of books they want. The disadvantage is the people shelving the books have a dozen different places to put the books and it is much easier to misshelve items.

I had today off because of Martin Luther King's Birthday, I usually get Monday off when I work on Saturdays, but Monday we were closed so I got Tuesday off as well. This is one of the benefits of being a government worker. I know Wall Street was open on Martin Luther King's birthday. In a way, it would be better if it was a national holiday for everyone because of what it represents, but the United States still holds to a certain views that don't match with how many people are acting.

On Wednesday of last week, someone asked for the speech, "I Have A Dream," by Martin Luther King on tape or video. We had the audiocasette of the speech, but it was part of a nine hour long collection of audiotapes, none of the tapes were labelled with what was on each tape. So, searching for a one and a half minute speech would not have been practical. It was rather odd.

A lot of audiocasette and cd companies that make nonfiction audios don't label what is on each individual tape. Imagine if you would, that you were listening to the unabridge bible on audiocasette, there were 66 tapes, and you wanted to find a specific passage or book of the bible. It would be incredibly hard. I imagine with nonfiction MP3s, it would be much easier, because you can check each track of the MP3.

We pulled the speech off of Youtube. The teacher was going to play the audio of the "I Have A Dream" speech over the loudspeakers at the local schools in the morning.

There really wasn't anything which I wanted to pick up to read at my local library today. I am pretty picky about what I want to read. This is why I place so many books on reserve and wait for things.

I still am taking some time to read selections from Rumi. I have been flipping back and forth in the book, reading a poem or two every day.


I focus on three sites for blog promotion, Entrecard, Blogcatalog, and Fuelmyblog. I am going to make a few suggestions and thoughts about each one.

Entrecard is basically a business card network, where you display a small picture on your blog for advertising purposes. I try and focus on specific categories in entrecard. This means, I focus on relevant categories in the ad network for my blog; books. writing and literature, and the environment mostly.

My Entrecard page:

With entrecard, one of the first things I do is make sure my ads are going to be running. I cancel any advertisers who don't choose to run my ad within three days. This keeps my ad list clean. I also check each blog which is going to advertise on my blog for objectionable content. I feel it is best to click each day on the blogs which are going to advertise on my blog, as well as the blogs who have visited my blog. I generally advertise in the Books Category and Writing and Literature Categories first. I spend all of my points on these two categories.

My page on blog catalog:

With blogcatalog, I join groups focused on my interests, I am a member of 10 groups, Writers and Writing, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Popular Science, Book Readers, English Literature, Eco Friends, Dialogue Raises Consciousness, Comics and Graphic Novels, Anime and Manga, and Entrecard Group. These are not general groups, they are groups focused on what my blog is writing about. They are not generic groups designed to ask for reviews.

Every day I check to see who is reading my blog. I don't just randomly add websites to my friends list. I also checked the directory in my categories, Art & Entertainment-- Books, Art & Entertainment-- Comics, and Writing. I added many of the blogs which were the top blogs in their categories to my friends list. If I find a blog which I like in the directory, I will look to see who is friends on their blog and add the blogs which I like from their list.


I don't get as much traffic from fuelmyblog. But, one of the first thing I do everyday is check to see who has recommended my blog, then give them a positive recommendation in turn. This has let me build up a recommendation list of 31 blogs. It has also put me in the top category position. Once again, I focus on checking three categories, Books/Writers, Entertainment, Art/Design. I try to look through a blog category each day and make a recommendation for one blog. This adds up quickly.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Super Librarian

New Jersey libraries publicity image.

The Superhero Librarian (A pure and wonderfully silly image), Adbrite

Good morning. I have been thinking of the stereotype of the librarian as superhero. This is a collection of links that explore this idea. The most famous superhero librarian is Batgirl or Barbara Gordon. She is trained by batman to fight crime. ALA -- the American Library Association even has a poster of her at their library store. It is the ultimate stereotype of what a librarian should look like.

I guess the image has caught on in the mind of the public. New Jersey public libraries have adopted Super Librarian as their mascot. The image is of a woman in a purple suit with glasses carrying a book. I don't know why they choose to put glasses on librarians, not all librarians are myopic. I don't wear glasses. However, many of my colleagues do.
Super librarian is on the front page of the New Jersey Libraries web site.

This image is not just in the west. Jet Li in the film "Black Mask" works as a librarian during the day and a kung fu super soldier by night. Black Mask even had a sequel, Black Mask 2. It is an interesting juxtaposition. I rather liked the film. It had a lot of action in it. There must be some universal appeal to the idea of scholar by day, hero by night. It is a common motif, the film Iron Monkey has the character as a physician by day, and a kung fu robin hood by night.

Somehow, on some level, you can look at it as an alternative to the reporter by day of Superman. But, even ordinary librarians are being turned into superheros. There must be something in peoples psyches that identifies with the bookish literate person as hero. I have shown the Nancy Pearl action figure earlier. There is even an article on the action figure and Nancy Pearl in the Seattle Times.

There is a certain amount of profound silliness in turning librarians into superheros. While I was wandering around the web I ran into this and decided to use it in this article. This is the librarian dress up doll. It includes not one, but two superhero outfits. It was well worth a good laugh. A lot of people take themselves too seriously.

Very few librarians fit this stereotype. However, it is not a particularly new idea. Most images of librarians in comics are of severe woman with buns and glasses. I am going to include a bibliography of librarians in comics which I also found.

Finally, I found it. I don't know if it as any good. This is Rex Libris, I Librarian a librarian superhero with his own comic book. It is done by Slave Labor Graphics. I don't know if it is any good. The preview looks interesting.

The closest thing I think can be compared to the librarian as superhero is the librarian who is a librarian by day and an artist, writer, or musician at night. This is another crossover thing which often happens. It is fairly common for librarians to be writers. Book reviewing is a common activity for librarians, and there is a certain amount of artistic talent involved in choosing material, planning programs, and creating displays for libraries.


I am rather disappointed with Adbrite, I managed to earn 5 cents in one day... then they shut off my advertisements. I was looking forward to earning 35 cents in week.

There, I added two ad boxes from Adsense. One is on the very bottom of the page below my posts. The other is a small ad box over my biography. Hopefully, these are not too intrusive.

Amazon affiliates are doing the best so far. Since I started with Amazon, I've earned 58 cents in two days, a profound amount of money. More than even Powell's. I will celebrate with a cup of coffee in three months when I earn enough to get a $100 check from Amazon.

Very late at night I used to see these homeless guys who would stand over the sewer grates in the sidewalks of Manhattan. They would lower a thin cord with a magnet attached to it. Coins and other small objects would attach to the magnet and they would haul the change up to add to their paper cups.

I think if I searched couches, I might find more change than what is being earned from Adbrite.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mythopoeic Award Challenge

This challenge is being hosted at:

This is the first book challenge I am going to attempt. The objective is to read seven books from that have won Mythopoeic Awards. The Mythopoeic Society is very interesting. Here is their awards list.

I will try and read books which I haven't read before from the list.

I have seen many book challenges before on a wide variety of subjects. Everything from Japanese Literature to Graphic Novels. This is the first time I have seen something which I really wanted to participate in. Plus the banner is really beautiful.

The seven books I aim to read during the next year are:

Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner

Solstice Wood by Patricia McKillip

The Wood Wife by Terri Windling

The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye by A.S. Byatt

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

I have between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008 to finish reading them.

I put in requests for all seven titles at the library. This means I should have quite a bit to read for a while as well as review.

The Book of Ballads-- Charles Vess Illustrator with Neil Gaiman, Charles De Lint, Jane Yolen, Jeff Smith, Emma Bull, Sharyn McCrumb, and Others

Arthur Rackham illustration for the Twa Corbies.

The Book of Ballads , Charles Vess Illustrator, with Neil Gaiman, Charles De Lint, Jane Yolen, Jeff Smith, Emma Bull, Sharyn McCrumb and others is a collection of ballads translated into graphic stories. First the ballad is illustrated in comic book form, then it is written out as a poem. The ballads are of English, Irish, and Scottish origin and have a wonderful fanciful quality to them.

All of the illustrations are by Charles Vess. Vess has a beautiful black and white illustrative style. The style reminds me of a cross between P. Craig Russell and Hal Foster. There are hints of Virgil Finlay in the use of light and dark, and Aubrey Beardsley in the use of lines and some of the sensuality of the images. Charles Vess runs Greenman Press

The book is a real delight to look at. Each ballad is scripted differently by each writer. There are 13 ballads. I will list them. The False Knight on the Road by Neil Gaiman, King Henry by Jane Yolen, Thomas the Rhymer by Sharyn McCrumb, Barbara Allen by Midori Snyder, The Three Lovers by Lee Smith, Tam Lin by Elaine Lee, The Daemon Lover by Delia Sherman, Two Corbies by Charles De Lint, Sovay by Charles De Lint, The Galtee Farmer by Jeff Smith, Alison Gross by Charles Vess, The Black Fox by Emma Bull, and The Great Selchie of Sule Kerry by Jane Yolen.

The contributors are some of the finest fantasy writers of myth fantasy around. Most of them take traditional myths and legends and translate them into fantasy novels.

I especially liked three of them. Thomas the Rhymer travels to Elfland with their queen where for seven years he remains silent and serves her in exchange for the gift of truth and site. He can predict the truth of what will happen to people.

Tam Lin is told differently than the other tales. It consists of one page of dialogue translated into modern english juxtaposed next to a single picture on the next page. It is quite striking to look at.

The Great Selchie of Sole Kerry by Jane Yolen is a classic fairy story of what happens when a mortal woman lays down with with a fae creature. It is tragic both for her husband son.

All of the stories have an air of magic, revenge, or trickery about them. Many are about fairy creatures and places. The ballads content is often bloodier, trickier, and more beautiful than many modern fantasy novels.

This graphic collection is an excellent read if you are interested in myth fantasy, folklore, legends, or fairytales. It will introduce you to a number of authors who write in these genres. It might not quite fit with people who like regular tales of sword and sorcery.

Book Lust-- Recommended Reading For Every Mood, Moment, and Reason-- Nancy Pearl -- Review

Book Lust Recommended Reading For Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl (Sasquatch Books, c2003) is a selection guide for choosing books to read. Nancy Pearl is the Director of the Center for the Book and Programming at the Seattle Public Library. There is a library action figure done of her.

Nancy Pearl wanted to be a librarian since she was ten years old. She is a constant reader since she was very young.

This is an A to Z subject guide for books broken down into subject headings like Cat Crazy, Graphic Novels, and Irish Fiction. Each subject heading has about a page and a half of recommended readings. She suggests that someone should not read more than 50 pages into a book they don't like.

Most of the books being discussed are mainstream fiction and nonfiction. The subject guide is pretty comprehensive. The only subject which I found missing which we get a lot of questions about at our library is "urban fiction" books about street life, sex, drugs, and money in the ghetto. Authors like Noire, Zane, Eric Jerome Dickey, and Omar Tyree.

The focus is on the absolute best books by mainstream authors for fiction and nonfiction. Authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, George Macdonald Frazer, and Milan Kundera are discussed. The fiction comes from every part of the globe, Mexico, the Middle East, Africa, Ireland, Japan, Australia, China and many other locales. Fiction titles include romance, science fiction, fantasy, and westerns. She admits she is not a big fan of horror.

I also noticed that some of the more controversial titles are not included. For example Henry Miller and Anais Nin are not included in the section on sex books. The section on Robert A. Heinlein mostly focuses on his juveniles. While Stranger in A Strange Land is mentioned, Starship Troopers is not.

Her selection of favorite authors includes Jonathan Letham, Iris Murdoch, Richard Powers, Connie Willis, Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), Gore Vidal, and Ross Thomas. These are all fairly mainstream novelists. I rather like Nero Wolfe myself.

Her popular romance section includes a few regency romances and popular novelists like Judith McNaught and Victoria Holt. It takes some courage to suggest romance novels. Many librarians and editors look down their noses at romance books.

In her graphic novels section she mentions a few comics lit titles that are popular like Maus and Maus II and Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy on Earth. She does not have a section on manga in this book.

Nancy Pearl's selection of popular science books is also quite good. Guns, Germ, and Steel by Jared Diamond is quite good. If you get a chance also read Collapse by Jared Diamond about what happens when a civilization exceeds its environmental carrying capacity.

Among the hundreds of listed books, I found a few titles to put on hold which I will look at to determine if I want to read them:

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice On Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler.

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Freedom in Meditation by Patricia Carrington.

This is actually quite good. I usually am able to only find one book among selection lists to read.

She does a really good job of selecting mainstream fiction and nonfiction titles. If you are looking for more controversial writers like Audre Lord, Samuel R. Delany, or Charles Bukowski look elsewhere.

Nancy Pearl now has a deluxe library action figure of her with books, book carts, and a computer. It takes a real heroine to promote literacy and books these days.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Last Man on Earth - Part 1

The first part of the 1964 film version of I am Legend. This is public domain.

The Last Man on Earth - Part 2

The 1964 original version of I Am Legend.

I am Legend-- Richard Matheson-- Review

Count Orlock from the movie Nosferatu (1922)

I am Legend by Richard Matheson is a classic vampire novel. The version I am reading is c1995, it was originally c1954, Richard Matheson renewed the copyright. There are also several short stories included with this version. I am going to focus on the story "I am Legend."
I have read it several times. It has a very different feel from when I first read the horror novel. I think the novel is really written for someone in their late twenties. It had a lot more impact for me then.

The darkness wasn't there for me this time. It was more of a description of a horrible experience for the main character, Robert Neville. The story is more about the main character than the vampires. The world has pretty much ended for the human race. A terrible plague has spread across the world turning the population of humans into the undead.
Robert Neville is the last man on earth. He survives by living in a world fortified against the vampires outside.

Every day he goes out and stakes the living dead around his property. For me this no longer scary because they are just dead bodies to be searched for. We also learn because of a plot device he is immune to the vampires bite. One time he had been bitten by a vampire bat while he was in the army. This is an entertaining gimmick more than anything else. It lalso means he can be bitten and torn at without turning into a vampire.

The dog dies in the novel, apparently, the dog doesn't die in the movie starring Wil Smith. An interesting note about the book is that the character is a tall, muscular, blue eyed, blond haired man. But, this doesn't matter because as you are reading the novel, you can see the character as an every man. The main characters physical description seems incidental.

I've also read quite a few more vampire and zombie novels. The plot by this time has spread to numerous other novels and films. World War Z by Max Brooks is another story about a horrible plague, this time it is not vampires but zombies. Also, 28 Days, the film is about a plague that turns people into raving killers. The vampire as plague story started with this novel. The novel was very original for its time.

The vampire as plague is an interesting idea. I rather like how the book ends. This is a spoiler. Survivors who have come up with a partial cure find Robert Neville and execute him. He is a legend, the last man of the old earth. I am sure this is nothing like the new Wil Smith film even if I haven't seen it. I did see the Omega Man, an earlier version of I am Legend on the screen. In the Omega Man, Robert Neville finds a cure for the plague. I like the partial cure idea, it is much scarier and more grotesque.

I like how Robert Neville survives. He listens to classical music and he drinks. If you read carefully, you realize some of the music being described is atonal classical music. It is meant to disrupt ones emotions. The liquor he drinks is strong, scotch mainly. Scotch is a pretty sophisticaed drink

The library is of course a central motif of the book. Robert Neville searches the library, now covered with dust for books on physiology and the circulatory system. The author uses the books as a plot device to explain how the plague spread.

Robert Neville ponders the plague and the classical vampire motifs, garlic, the cross, running water, stakes, immunity to bullets. The author doesn't fully explain how or why these things work completely. He does give just enough to tantalize you, but not enough to finish the complete idea.

For a vampire novel, the writing is quite complex. It has a very detailed quality to it and misses very little of what is important. It is clear when reading the novel, the author thought things through very carefully when he wrote the novel. It is detailed enough that he gives specific dates for when things happened, chemical descriptions, and percentages. These of course aren't that important because the novel could just as well have been set today as thirty years ago. Yet, they do give a finished feeling to the writing.
Stephen King and many horror writers consider this novel to be one of the top horror stories ever written. The novel is short only 170 pages long allowing one to read it in one sitting.

There is an element of unbelievability to the novel. The author even comments that he doesn't understand why the vampires with a tiny bit of intelligence don't just burn the main characters house down to get rid of him. They throw stones at his house. But, then the novel would end. He has to be caught as an individual for the novel to end.

I am wondering what the sound track of I am Legend will be like. I hope they include some decent piano music.

I remember watching Nosferatu in the park on a summer evening at around six o'clock. You paid for your ticket and sat outside. Maybe you got a glass of beer or soda, or some popcorn. Then the piano would start playing. The film was a silent black and white with a slightly grainy texture. Nosferatu had a dreamlike quality much like animation. Everything was either very dark or very light. The whole movie was a movie of extremes.

I am reviewing this book particularly because the movie is in the theater. I am not going to go see the movie in the theater. I will wait until it comes out on DVD. When it comes to the library, I will put it on reserve. I will probably end up being number 250 in line and have to wait three months to get the movie. I am in no hurry to get movies, books, and other media. I don't feel an urge to rush out to get things. I think this is much more satisfying when you are younger. There is an excitement to be the first one to see a movie. You get wide eyed and rush out to see the latest thing, or grab the newest comic book. It is a very intense experience.

I also have Spiderman 3 and Shrek The Third on hold. I rather like these kinds of films. Like, I am Legend, I am not in a hurry to get things. I follow the same habit of some of my patrons. I fill up my holds list and keep it filled. There is one patron of the library who comes in and first fills his hold list of 20 films, then he uses his mothers card to add another 20 films. He is disabled. It is what he does with his time. There are a couple others like this who fill all their holds with videos.

In a way, I am just as obsessed, however, I have a little more variety, books, dvds, and comic books. I usually get a few items every couple days.

Here is the paperback book. It has a picture of Wil Smith on the cover. Some people will buy this book only because it has a picture of Wil Smith on the cover. They collect paperbacks based on films. The clearer the shot of the film the more they will like the paperback. The paperback is currently on the Locus bestseller list for science fiction, the film has definitely revived the books.