Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Pay attention to what you say and do.


My boss asked me to come into work today because there was no one in the building from our department. I did it. It is probably a mistake. I'm still a bit under the weather.

Still, I think I am doing alright, not great, but alright. I'm trying to focus on light duties. I filed the monthly report, ordered some annual reports, and read the New York Times Book Review. The New York Times Book Review was advertising a new Neil Gaiman book, The Graveyard Book. It is a novel for middle graders. Most all of his books have been for teenagers and adults, so this is something new.

I also read the New York Times Bestseller list and put Killing Sacred Cows, Overcoming The Financial Myths That Are Destroying Your Prosperity on Hold by Garrett B. Gunderson.

It took me a while to pick out books on the financial crisis for the display stand. There are a huge number of subjects the books can fall under; social security, short selling, mortgages, bad debts, politics, economics, globalization, government corruption, hedge fund trading, banking, predatory lending, financial crisis, and recession are just a few of the subjects.

There are many different books which seem to touch on the financial crisis the United States is in. It seems to reach into many corners of the collection. It is not just one cause, if you start looking for information on the financial crisis, it becomes a tangled web that spreads its fingers into every aspect of finance.

I am not surprised by the failure of the initial bailout. It never addressed the people on main street who are the ones who will hurt most. In the last bailout in the United States, the 1988 Savings and Loan bailout, there was not so much information available to everyone. Now, it is impossible to hide. You get it from the news, from the government, from books, from the internet, and many other places.

People have started checking out items from the book display stand. I think the display will do well.

I filed some more Bender's Forms for the Civil Practice in the law collection. I am almost caught up with my law filing. I like it when most of the looseleafs are done.

Things are a lot more caught up than before. I think I accomplished a lot this month. I think I'm starting to feel a little better.

I like to walk around my sections and check to see if everything is in order. I pick up magazines, books and other things and put them on the sorting carts. I do quick checks to see if books are out of order or lying on top of the shelves. Sometimes, I find soda cans, or candy wrappers lying around. I checked the clipboards of the government jobs to see if they were up to date, cleaned off the old flyers from the job information center bulletin boards, and neatened things up a bit.

I got the top image from this list of resources. I do like it.
There is a new incarnation for the Society of Midnight Wanderers. It has a nice new interface.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Day To Rest

The Sick Doctor (1892) Jehan Georges Vibert.

A Day To Rest

I am sitting here with a strong cold. I have poured various things down my throat, reddish syrupy cold medicine, red zinger tea boiled with chamomile, cranberry juice, and soon, chicken noodle soup. Most of the day has been spent lounging on my couch or flat on my back. I have even chewed a few vitamin tablets.

My head is a little fuzzy, not quite ready for writing. I hate being sick. I violently hate it. Probably more than most people. I also don't like going to doctors. This is a common trait. I probably should be resting right now, but I am not.

Being sick is the same as being in a cage. You can't go anywhere or do anything. Maybe, I just need to rest.

I have a book, Writing Begins with the Breath Embodying Your Authentic Voice by Laraine Herring in front of me. The opening line to chapter 8 is a quote. "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."-- Thomas Edison. It is so true, but what I need to do is rest not work. Maybe work at resting.

I admit, I did a few rounds to keep my blog going. Everyday, I fuel a group of people at Fuelmyblog, check my Twitter and post a short entry, check blogcatalog for threads to comment in, then I comment on a few blogs in my link exchange, and finally check on any bids on projectwonderful.

Also, each day, I take some time for reading things like libraryjournal.com, Bookselling This Week, Locus Magazine, and maybe look at the Yahoo! News section.

So, I think I will do my daily rounds and avoid doing a review, or some special commentary. It will be too much. There was nothing too exciting today. Just the usual stuff.

Here is a really interesting article on an amazing home library built by a very wealthy internet entrepreneur.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wordless Books the Original Graphic Novels by David Berona

Wordless Books the Original Graphic Novels by David Berona

This book is a survey of the different wordless books printed between 1918 and 1951. The book gives a short description of an artist then includes several pages from their books. The book is written in chronological order and is very easy to follow. There are a large number of artists in the book. I am going to choose to focus on a few of them.

Woodcut novels are designed to deliver a message without words. The images are for the most part black and white with very heavy lines. The only exception to this are some of Lynd Ward's dream images from the book Wild Pilgrimage (1932) which are an odd orange color. Sequencing is done by moving the characters in the panels to different locations and changing their actions. There is one panel per page. There are occassionally words, but these usually indicate a simple descriptor like gas or marriage certificate.

The books opens with Frans Masereel who is an artist that worked with the International Red Cross and the International Pacifist Movement. There is often a strong political element in many of the artists work in this book. Frans Masereel's drawings are of common scenes. They include depictions of everyday life activities in the raw. In the book, Passionate Journey (1919), we see the protagonist piss on people below him from the top of a skyscraper, fart at some industrialists, dance, and make love. This is a link to the complete set of wordless woodcuts for The City one of his novels. http://www.nebulous-cargo.com/masereel/woodcuts/city1.html

The simplicity and the focus on delivering an artistic medium to the middle class and working class made these books populist in nature. I would call most of the artists in this work to be progressives. Lynd Ward's father, Harry was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Lynd Ward was heavily involved in social movements. His art depicts cities as industrial hells, brutal strikes, the harshness of slavery, equates industrialism with spiritual malaise, and suggests a return to pastoralism.

Not all of the books are about a social message. Some are light humor about family, love, and marriage. Milt Gross, a popular cartoonist wrote the wordless book, He Done Her Wrong, a satire about a country bumpkin falling in love with a girl in the city. Fantagraphics reissued this book in 2006.

Not all of the artists work in wood. Otto Nuckel used black and white lead cut prints. This allowed much finer lines to appear in the prints on the page.

Some of the later woodcut novels strike much closer to home. Many of the social issues in the 1930s which were decried have not gone away at all. Southern Cross done in 1951 is about the forced removal of native polynesians so the United States can test and atomic bomb. White Collar (1940) is the story of the downward spiral of a white collar worker. First he loses his home, then he has an unwanted child because he can't afford an abortion, then he loses his job and becomes homeless with his family, finally he turns to labor radicalism as a homeless man. This really hits home on what could happen if the mortgage crisis goes wrong in the United States.

I am not an artist, so I can't tell you too much about the styles of art. I can tell you that there are a variety of different artistic styles being expressed throughout the book. Lynd Ward was supposed to have been influenced by German Expressionism and Art Deco. Myron Waldman's Eve is the work of a cartoonist who drew Popeye, Superman, and Betty Boop. There are quite a few artists I didn't cover. I think they are all interesting.

The book itself is beautifully designed. It is on high bond glossy paper. You can see the stitches in the binding. The cover has very heavy boards. This enhances the artistic images in the book itself. There is an index, pictures of many of the covers of the books, copyright credits, and a bibliography of wordless novels. We have one of the more contemporary novels listed, Flood! A Novel In Pictures by Eric Drooker at our library.

This is a book that I can recommend without hesitation. I really enjoyed reading it. But, it also fit well with my political views. Get it, read it, enjoy it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts, Evening Thoughts

Brer Rabbit as a London gentleman.

Afternoon Thoughts

I have to work this Saturday which is kind of hard after going to a conference. Wears you down a bit. I dumped all of my goodies on my desk this morning and went back to the grindstone of everyday work. I was too tired to read on the train this morning.

It was the usual start, replace old Code of Federal Regulations with new codes, order more annual reports, order more books on industries that are big in our area; construction, cleaning, nursing, medical billing, health service, child care, retail, and similar things. This is taking me a while to compile properly.

Then my Saturday partner called out sick so I ended up having to be in charge of the building, and fixing up the little things that pop up like the AARP driving course instructor showing up late, and someone tripping over a hole but luckily not hurting themselves. It was a run around the building like a jack rabbit day.

It has been quite hectic more than usual. I am on lunch right now. I am not leaving the building to go to lunch this time. No sitting at the corner table in the diner today and reading the newspaper. I am fueling up with coffee in the afternoon.

No writing reviews today. Maybe, I'll read some more on the train home. Sometimes you just have to rest and recharge your batteries or get a little battie.

Three books came in for me. The first is Writing & Personality Finding Your Voice, Your Style, Your Way by John K. DiTiberio & George H. Jensen. The second is The Predator State How Conservatives Abandoned The Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too by James K. Galbraith. The third book is Wordless Books The Original Graphic Novels by David A. Berona. There is an introduction by the graphic novelist Peter Kuper. The book is filled with beautiful woodcut illustrations.

Evening Thoughts

On the train home I read Wordless Books, The Original Graphic Novels by David A. Berona. The book is full of beautiful woodcuts taken out of often very stark wordless novels. Many of the wordless novels are set in the great depression during a period of labor unrest and often dark social conflict. The woodcuts seem to be a combination of black and white expressionist art and art deco style. This changes as you read further into the book. There are a variety of wordless novels that are humorous in nature filled with simple gags. These remind me a bit of Sergio Aragones silent humor strips in Mad magazine. The author of this book has a blog which is very academic oriented. I found out about this book from him, http://wordlessbooks.blogspot.com/

Peter Kuper does an introduction to the book. Peter has written a number of books which are speechless. He even has a gallery of artwork from his book, Speechless . This is an art gallery tour of the book. http://www.peterkuper.com/gallery/gallerytour.htm

It is getting late. I will do what I usually do, write a review of the book in the laundromat. Actually, I might sit down and write it out.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New York Anime Festival

New York Anime Festival

Alright, I have to go to my convention. I usually do a few things first. First, I bring a large shoulder bag, some pens, and a pad of paper to take notes. The shoulder bag will be empty except for som very light reading which is my obsession.

I like to look at the floor plan before I go as well as the list of author talks or presentations.
I am going to visit Booth 201 Bandai Entertainment, Booth 241 Anime insider, Booth 308 Diamond Book Distributors, Funimation Entertainment 504, Random House Del Rey Pantheon Booth 314.

I hope to go to the panel on Anime Journalism Room 1A24 1:45-2:30 P.M.
And I also hope I get to see Hideyuki Kikuchi the author of Vampire Hunter D 5:30-6:30 P.M in Room 1A24

Anime Next is running a Manga Library so I'll probably go there as well. Room 1 B 01.

I like to have an idea of where I am going before I go to conferences and be prepared. I usually do something different from what I originally planned, but that is alright.

When I got there it was completely different from what I expected. There were people all over in costume, cosplay. They were dressed up as different anime characters, everything from the Transformers to Naruto, to Fruits Basket. It was kind of fun to see the girls and guys in some very funky and sometimes revealing costumes. There were a lot of brightly colored maid costumes, not just in black, but also pink. People were wearing rabbit ears, fox ears, and cat ears. Some people were dressed up as cats. I bought a ten dollar cat ear hat. I think I might wear it on halloween. The young adult librarian wants to do a cosplay party as part of the anime club at the library. She bought a disposable camera to take pictures of the costumes.

There were tons of toys as well. All sorts of different stuffed plush toys which came from different anime shows. There were booths with an incredible variety of costuming material and prop fantasy weapons. Eight foot long wooden swords, ninja outfits, kimonos, cat costumes, doll costumes, superhero outfits, corsets, funny hats, buttons, masks, and all kinds of oddities. There was even a magazine devoted to this Otaku magazine. A lot of it was cute, harmless, and fun. However, the lolita material is a little bit disturbing. We are very careful at our library about lolita material and teenagers. http://www.otakuusamagazine.com/ME2/Default.asp

I skipped the animenewsnetwork panel and went to hear a panel on independent j rock, Japanese Rock. There were two bands who were talking Karaterice and Echostream. In the program guide there were eleven musical guests.

The variety of different types of things associated with anime was incredible. There was a Naruto videogame, anime card games, there was even a lightsaber dueling club. The convention was a kind of fun house for adults and late teens. Anime is stretching into many aspects of popular entertainment.

The show floor had a lot of very risque material. People were selling x-rated material, hentai and yaoi. I was quite surprised at the amount of this kind of material. I thought it was a little over the top. Some of it was quite salacious. The material ran the gamut from childrens material to very adult material. We can buy R rated material and some unrated material, but for the most part we don't buy x rated. Selling x rated material can drive away some of the buyers who are looking for more conventional material for children and adults.

There were not a huge amount of publishers there. I did not see Viz or Tokyopop at the convention. Bandai and Funimation were at the convention. Del Rey Manga was there as well. There was very little free material.

There was an interesting attitude prevalent at the convention that they were there to make money at the convention, not later. Everything was focused on the immediate sale. This was less prevalent at New York Comic Con. At New York Comic Con there seemed to be more of an understanding that some of the professionals might be ordering large amounts with long term accounts.

I did pick up several free magazines with information on the bestselling animation and manga; anime insider, and ICv2 were two of them. I also picked up a free copy of Previews from Diamond Comic Distributors, which is a magazine which lists all the forthcoming comics and items for the next month which are going to be sold in comic book shops.

I bought three Vampire Hunter D novels from Darkhorse Press for myself. I really enjoy Hideyuki Kikuchi's work. He was one of the featured guests at the conference. Unfortunately, I could not get them autographed. The tickets for the autographing table had run out by 10:30 a.m. for his book signing.

A criticism which I have for a lot of the people at the conference is that very few people had paper catalogs. Being able to read about a book or video in a full page spread is quite helpful. Catalogs are tactile. Most people have difficulty wading through websites. I have said this before; people read slower on the internet and don't like scrolling through large amounts of material.

I have been to both New York Comic Con and Book Expo America in the Jacob Javits Center. Almost all of the publishers there had paper catalogs. Preferred referred me to their websites http://www.media-blasters.com/ (This distributor had classic martial arts films-- Shaw Brothers films like Five Deadly Venoms), http://www.manga.com/ , and http://www.kinokuniya.com/ Only one publisher had a paper catalog which they gave to me, Vertical Inc.

I think I drove the AnimeNext Library people crazy. They had a library of donated manga. There were a number of manga which I had wanted to look at. I spent about an hour and half looking at different manga. I was hoping to select a few titles to order for the library. Looking at manga in booths where you are expected to buy it immediately can be uncomfortable. We buy with our discounted accounts from distributors like Baker and Taylor at the library.

Six titles stood out among the manga Absolute Boyfriend, Aria, Case Closed, Record of the Lodoss War, Samurai Legend, and Silent Mobius. Animenext is another large convention in New Jersey. http://www.animenext.org/

I was just a little annoyed that a professional pass did not get you in early like in New York Comic Con or Book Expo America. We got in at the same time as the fans. They did have a seating area for professionals on the exhibition floor which was a nice touch. I also liked the idea of the Maid Cafe. The food at the Maid Cafe was good. I got a cobb salad and a bottle of green tea. It was a bit expensive $8.25 for the salad and $3.00 for the tea.

There were some areas that I am not exactly sure about. I walked through the section of artists tables. I really was not sure what to make of them. The Anime Festival catalog had very little on the artists biographies. Knowing what an artist does before you look at their art can make a big difference.

Another missing element which might have helped in this conference are some of the producers of anime and manga instruction materials, both books and films. Anime and manga are great, but it is even better when you can buy instruction materials on how to draw manga and make anime films. Also, having artists biographies can be quite interesting.

I realize this is the second year that this convention has happened. I really enjoyed going to the conference, but it was flawed.

There were more professionally oriented panels for manga and anime at the New York Comic Con than at the New York Anime Festival. I saw only a single panel specifically for librarians, Starting an Anime and Manga Club at a Library on Sunday. I would have liked to see a panel called how to select anime for your library.

There were quite a few librarians who I saw that were attending. There were two other people from my library at the conference and several people from surrounding libraries in the county. I went on company time. It was fun, but it was also business. Our anime club is for teenagers.

I was surprised that Kinokuniya was the official bookstore of the conference. I have never been to Kinokuniya bookstore. I might stop by there sometime. When I go to Manhattan, I often go to Forbidden Planet to look at both graphic novels and manga. I would have liked to see more publishers, bookstores, and distributors of media.

If I had more time, I would have gone to the screenings at the conference. There were anime screenings all day long for anime films. It was impossible to visit even a fraction of what was available at the show in a single day because of the variety of panels and showings.

I also really liked the catalog design for the conference. The description of panels, floor layout, and inclusion of a story by Hideyuki Kikuchi was top notch.

The highlight of the show for me was the translated talk by Hideyuki Kikuchi who is an amazing writer. I learned a number of points during his talk. D in the Vampire Hunter D novels is based on the character Shane in the classic western novel by Jack Schaeffer. Many of the scenes in his novels are based on westerns. The other major influence on the novels are the classic Hammer horror films.

Hideyuki Kikuchi is supposed to have written 300 novels. He has produced some 20 Vampire Hunter D novels in 30 volumes. He says that the greatest number of pages he has produced in a single day is 94 pages. He claims that when he becomes absorbed in his writing he does not sleep.

His first novel was Demon City Shinjiku which he based on the John Carpenter film Escape from New York. When he was young he would go to the movies or read comics. There was not as much entertainment available to youth as there is now. He wrote his first novel because he ran out of stories to sell as a magazine writer.

His process for writing a novel is that first he decides on a location, then he creates a hero, after that he makes it up as he goes along.

It was truly fun listening to him talk, even though his words were translated. I really like the new Vampire Hunter D manga, I reviewed one of them earlier. As I do this blog, I am learning more about how to look at comics and manga. The Vampire Hunter D novels in english which are being distributed by Dark Horse comics. Hideyuki Kikuchi says that D is a complete fantasy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts

International Year of the Book, Postage Stamp 1972, The Vatican. I just found the image interesting.

Afternoon Thoughts

I removed the symbol for The Society of Midnight Wanderers. They are going into hiatus and coming out with a new design. I look forward to seeing something new and interesting in the future from them. I have always liked some of the blogs on Society of Midnight Wanderers. I especially like The Uneasy Supplicant among the blog membership. http://uneasysupplicant.wordpress.com/

This morning was a much easier day. Last night, I forget my pen on the subway and ended up finishing reading Too Many Curses instead of taking notes and doing writing exercises. I enjoyed it anyways. Having more than one option to do at a time is a way to avoid wasting time. Time is not something which ever comes back to you in life. Money can be earned, but time flies away.

Sometimes, I think of my muse. I think of it not as a female muse, but as "Mr. Muse" a kind of shadow that follows me in my writing. I am beginning to think of him as an undefined character, a kind of everyman. It is a way to envision my voice in writing.

David Henderson is sending me an Advanced Reading Copy of his book, The Media Savvy Leader. It sounds kind of interesting. He has a website here. http://www.davidhenderson.com/ . He found me on Twitter.

I did more everyday things today, ordering lots of annual reports, starting on ordering industrial books, filing looseleafs, and general reference duties. I also redid the central display as a current events display. I am thinking of doing a display on the financial crisis in the United States. It might take me a couple days to do it properly. Later this afternoon, I get to do some more weeding of the collection. It is another day, another dollar. I also have to order a bunch of missing Job Information Center titles as well.
Today is wrapping up nicely. I am going to the New York Anime festival tomorrow. It will be a welcome break from the routine of the library. I will get to walk around and look at anime and manga. I hope they have martial arts films as well. I think it will be a lot of fun. The writer of Vampire Hunter D is doing a panel in the evening.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Long Day

A crowded day in Manhattan. Everything moves slow as molasses.

Long Day

Today has started out as a very long day. I went into Manhattan in a cab this morning and it was United Nations week, this made me very late to where I was going. Police were lining the streets directing traffic so it would not interfere with the diplomats. I could not stand it. It basically shot most of my morning. Cabs are for comfort in Manhattan. The subway is usually faster.

I read a little bit more of Too Many Curses. It is turning out to be quite entertaining. Many of the characters are based on different jokes, cliches, or literary allusions. There is a skeleton named Dan who is probably modeled after Dangerous Dan McGrew, there is the monster under the bed, the vampire king, and the hanged man in the library (think the boardgame Clue). The writing is light and full of puns and rhyming. It is fun but not very literary in nature. I rather like it. I am not sure it is something for the critics, however.

On the way in to work, I stopped at Posman books in Grand Central Terminal and took a few minutes to look at the computer books. I like Posman books because it is well lit, orderly, and easy to find books there. I noted some titles to order, but I only had a few minutes before my train came. Such is life.

Work has been typical, but boring. I did all of my daily tasks, weeding, ordering, sitting on the desk, ordering annual reports, and filing some looseleafs for the law. It is steady and monotonous. I am thinking of ordering books based on the major employees in the town I am working in; nursing, hvac, refrigeration, construction, social work, welding, and manufacturing.

Today seems like it is not going anywhere yet. I have to see. I had some soup and a buttered roll for dinner. Right now, I am sitting down and typing for a minute. Life goes on.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Afternoon

An old clipping from the New York Times.

Good Afternoon

Good afternoon. I was reading the New York Times Book Review this morning and I came across a very interesting title; James Galbraith The Predator State How Conservatives Abandoned The Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too. It seems to have very strong mixed reactions. We need to read something different than what is happening now. James Galbraith is John Kenneth Galbraith's son. Maybe we will get a little wind too blow away the smoke and mirrors. I put the book on hold.

Also, Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez came in for me to read. I cracked the book today.
A. Lee Martinez has a website for his books. http://www.aleemartinez.com/ . I am definitely a fan of his work having read Gil's All Fright Dinner, and The Automatic Detective. I find him to be a humorous but versatile writer. I would compare him to Terry Pratchett or Robert Asprin.

Life keeps on going doing the usual things. I weeded a bunch of books in social sciences again this morning. I cleared off the 9/11 display and put up a display of current computer books that are coming in right now. I am trying to include books on devices as well as computers, cell phones, ipods, blackberries, game machines, digital cameras, and all the peripherals (or tethered devices) that go with computers.

I hope I get a chance to do more of the law looseleafs as well as ordering annual reports. None of this is easy.

I did a brief time putting looseleafs in the law books. I always pace myself when I do this. I try to do a little bit every day for an hour a day so it does not overwhelm me. It is impossible to finish most of the tasks I am doing in one sitting. On that note, I also ordered more annual reports. It is a long task once it starts. I ordered one book oriented annual report today, The New York Times Company.

I also placed a short list of social science books to order.

I am going to order more computer books tomorrow. They are literally flying out the door. There is a tremendous demand for computer books. The most popular computer books are photoshop and digital photography books. After this, we get requests for web design and blogging. We could probably never order quite enough computer titles.

On a less solemn note, I did some more writing exercises from Writing Begins With the Breath by Laraine Herring. This is a short poem from one of them.

Pen moves rolls and dips
Releasing black ink on the page
Nouns verbs form stories

I like to think of writing as a metaphor of a ship sailing on a sea trying to reach a distant land. The oars write on the sea moving the ship forward towards its destination. I am not sure where this came from, but it is a recurring theme which I experience when writing short poems.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Good Morning

John Singer Sargent Boston Public Library (1895). I am not sure why I chose this image, it just stuck.

Good Morning

Yesterday, I spent some time at the laundromat doing writing exercises. What does fear mean? Risk mean? Chance mean? Change mean? from the book Writing Begins With the Breath. I wonder what it will be like attempting to do writing exercises on the subway.

I noticed that my review of Rebel Visions has been circulating among blogs, unfortunately, it has been attached to another group I belong to, Society of Midnight Wanderers, not my blog Book Calendar. I am wondering what it will mean. It is a rather interesting mix up. I kind of like it in a way. It seems like serendipity.

I am going to visit the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in Manhattan, New York today. I intend to buy a membership so I can sort through their library and find some interesting things for our library to purchase. I will be a cartooning scholar. :)

I got on the train to the museum and found out that one of my neighbors works for http://www.royalflushmagazine.com/ Royal Flush Magazine. It looks like a cross between an indie rock and roll magazine and Mad magazine or Cracked. The style is very interesteing. It clearly seems to draw a little bit from Ed Roth.

I also did some writing exercises on the train from Writing Begins With The Breath Embodying Your Authentic Voice. I wrote two short poems as part of the exercises.


I march in lock step
Holding the blazing flag high
Goosestepping brown hate


To own the whole world
Clenched fistfuls of dollars
You are my bondsman

When I got to New York, I found the museum was closed. I went next door to Housing Works Used Book Cafe. I bought two books which I found quite interesting. Then I sat down and had a chicken gyro.

The first book I got was an old Daw paperback, Gordon R. Dickson, Naked to the Stars. I had never seen it before. It was about the conflict between diplomacy and military expansionism when people contact alien cultures. Gordon R. Dickson is a very interesting writer.

The other book I found was a book by a radical political artist who focused on the issue of labor. Lynd Ward is famous for his novels composed completely of wordless woodcuts. Wild Pilgrimage a novel in woodcuts combines art deco style and german expressionism.
http://paganpressbooks.com/jpl/LYNDWARD.HTM This is a link to some of his illustrations for the novel Frankenstein.

Wild Pilgrimage is a very stark novel with strongly drawn lines. A working man leaves hellish factories to work in the fields. He watches the hanging of a black man. Then he gets a job working on a farm. The color changes from black to orange as he imagines seducing the farmers wife. He travels from farm to farm. The drawings are very stark. Then he sees guards breaking a strike. His thoughts turn violent orange and he thinks of exploitation. He attacks a guard and gets killed.

Even though there are very few words, the emotional impact is strong enough to explain what is happening. It reminds me slightly of Charles Burns' work, Black Hole.

On Saturday September 27, 2008, Housing Works Used Book Cafe, in Manhattan, New York, is hosting an open air bookfare where they are selling used books, dvds, and cds for $1. This is the fourth year they are doing this. It is listed on their events page. I won't be able to go, but I thought it might be interesting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Personal Thoughts On A Sunday Morning, Toon Books

Muse holding a mask.

Personal Thoughts On A Sunday Morning

As a final thought in Ben Yagoda's book The Sound on the Page, he says self-editing is a form of personal growth. I find this to be true. When I look at my blog and see what people want to read about, it is primarily my essays on different library and book related subjects.

Although, there is a claim, book reviews are more interesting than my rambling personal thoughts, my readership on this blog goes up when I write about myself and my experiences. In other words people want to see my experiences on the printed page.

I don't particularly understand this when people tell that the exact opposite is what they want. Human nature is often self-contradictory.

This self-contradiction reflects in many things people claim are not art. Comic books are a quintessential American art form. Science fiction is considered to be a form of low art. I am quite happy to exist on the ground not in the clouds. My existence is not one of academia. I am very much a public person in a way. I enjoy existing in comic book shops, bookshops, public libraries and other every day places. Academia is not for me.

Right now, I am looking at Writing Begins With the Breath, Embodying Your Authentic Voice by Laraine Herring. This book will be impossible to finish quickly. Not because the book is long, but because the book has specific writing exercises that take at least an hour to do at the end of each chapter. Some of the exercises require keeping a writing journal.

When I am doing reviews, I am realizing that some books take a long time to read, others a very short time. I can read a graphic novel in an afternoon. A nonfiction book may take several days. This creates a kind of strange interspersion of reviews on this blog. First a nonfiction book or fiction book, then a graphic novel.

Of course, you can write about an event immediately after the event occurs. This has an immediacy to it which is quite compelling. I still have not gotten my time slip for attending the New York Anime festival. I know it has been put in, but not authorized.

Tomorrow, once again, I am going to attempt to visit the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art so I can look at their library. This is almost ironic. I keep promising myself and you that I will do this and something always seems to come up at the last moment. I'll try though. I want to see if they can recommend some graphic novels which might be good for a library.

On a tangent, I realize that many people are finding this blog through Google image searching. They are looking for pictures. I think the pictures that I am putting on top of my posts are being picked up by search engines.

Another tangent. I rejoined the bookaholic blogring. I was getting some people visiting from there.

If you want something mildly entertaining to watch, you might try http://www.playcole.com/ . It has some videos that use action figures which is kind of interesting. There is also a video of Star Trek the Next Generation with a laugh track.

Toon Books

This site http://toon-books.com/ looks rather interesting. It sells graphic novels designed to teach literacy. Toon Books reminds me of the classic childrens cartoons like Nancy or Little Lulu which you no longer see much of. It used to be that you were able to get childrens comics that were light and full of fun. Now, it seems many of the graphic novels and comics are far too serious.

I like the idea of reading something meant to satisfy simple humor and basic reading skills.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Reading A Book For Specific Content Rebel Visions (Patrrick Rosenkrantz)

Rebel Visions (Patrrick Rosenkrantz)

Today, I spent some time reading Rebel Visions The Underground Comix Revolution 1963-1975. This book is the history of underground comics. I did not read it for that specific content. I am very interested in "ground level" comics, alternative comics that come in at the ground level to the comic stores, that are not distributed through mainstream channels. These are not necessarily drug comics, or comics about the counterculture.

Quite frankly, drug comics bore me. They are repetitive and they often have a single minded focus of getting high then escaping from the police. The themes are very juvenile. There is not much literary merit in comics like The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers . Even Robert Crumb's early comics can get kind of repetitive and boring on occassion. I like some of his stories, but as a person he is quite strange.

The movie Crumb which is an excellent film is a showcase on how disturbing he can get. So can counterculture fantasies with no connection to reality. I think if you are selling underground comics through headshops which were the first venues for these comics, it limits the audience

I like comics with a story like Maus, Slow Death, American Splendor, and similar works. Being able to buy comics out of small stores and bookstores is a tremendous advantage over when underground comics first became available.

Also the shock value in some of the underground comics has worn away. You know what you are getting when you pick up a 1960s style underground comic. Hazy sex filled stories like Fritz the Cat. Even the authors sometime tire of them and let them go. Robert Crumb killed Fritz the Cat.

There is a lot of material on the development of major figures in comics. The book talks about the life of Art Spiegelman, Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch, Trina Robbins and many contemporary artists who started out as part of the underground comics movement. There are quite a few illustrations in this book which contain extreme sex, violence, and drugs

We also get a sense that a lot of them attempted to emulate Harvey Kurtzman's Mad Magazine, and draw elements from the precode comics like EC comics.

At the same time, there are some very interesting stories spread throughout the book. Not all of the history of underground comics comes from San Francisco and the hippies. The book covers the story of the magazine, The East Village Other in Manhattan, New York which is surprising. Some people like to think of the counterculture coming from San Francisco.

There are also bikers (S. Clay Wilson), hotrodders (Ed "Big Daddy" Roth), and surfers who play a role as well. Rick Griffin who drew underground comics was also instrumental in creating the logo for the Rolling Stone Magazine. Robert Crumb drew record covers for Big Brother and the Holding Company.

The story is one of artists who lived cramped lives working in greeting card companies like American Greetings, doing sign painting, working for bubble gum trading card companies like Topps, then suddenly having a powerful mix of new technology and psychedelic drugs made available to them. The real start of the Underground Comics story is in the creation of new offset printing technology in 1965 which allowed small runs of tabloid newspapers at affordable prices. Add in a strong welfare state with a more permissive society and you get an interesting mix.

The artwork in this book is nothing short of astounding. It contains a very wide variety of artists. There are many full color comic strips in addition to psychedelic rock posters, photographs of the artists, cover art of comic books, and single frame cartoons.

The book is written in chronological order. It is very male oriented like most underground comics with the exception of Trina Robbins who wrote some interesting feminist underground comics. There were not as many lady artists as there are today.

I slogged through the biographies of dozens of artists until I found the bits I wanted. Vaughn Bode who wrote Cheech Wizard did not appear until 1967 which is four years into the underground comics story. I consider him to be one of the founders of the type of comics I am interested in. This is a short animation of Cobalt 60 one of my favorite Vaughn Bode stories. http://www.hollywoodcomics.com/cobalt60.html

In 1970 we see Gary Arlington try to revive the tradition of EC Comics by creating an alternative comic series called Skull. Also at about the same time, we see the arrival of a similar comic called Slow Death. This creates a venue for new science fiction comic books to start appearing. The star of these comics is Richard Corben who is one of my favorite comic book artists. I especially like Corben's work in the comic books called Hot Stuff . This is a gallery of some of Richard Corben's work. http://www.corbenstudios.com/Corbenstudios/comgallery.html

Just prior to this we see a few images of this type of work in the underground comic Gothic Blimp. There are images of the covers in Rebel Visions. There are a few pictures with artists I recognize; Gothic Blimp April 1, 1970 #2, Michael Kaluta, Artificial Limbs, and Gothic Blimp #6, featuring a story by Bernie Wrightson.

In 1973, Bill Griffith lead a backlash against Richard Corben, Slow Death, and Skull. He calls the books juvenile with strong adolescent male sexual fantasies. I have mixed reactions towards Bill Griffith's comic work Zippy the Pinhead and Young Lust. It did however help create a separation between the underground comix and the alternative or ground level comics.

I think this backlash ultimately allowed a separation to occur between very deeply underground works focused on sex, drugs, and the counterculture, and plain alternative comics. What Bill Griffith did may have had unintended consequences but ultimately allowed more variety to flourish in the alternative comics scene.

Also in 1973 we see fanzines like Witzend being produced. Wally Wood is partially absorbing some of the counterculture elements into his work. I have a few copies of Witzend which I have read. It is a mix of alternative and mainstream comics.

The end of the book summarizes in a few paragraphs the biographies of the artists in the book. It tells where they are now. This is interesting if you want to learn who were the people who created the underground comics story. There is a recommended reading list for each artist. I noticed there wasn't much for Richard Corben. If you can find it, Richard Corben Flights Into Fantasy by Fershid Bharucha is an excellent overview of his early works.

This book is for adults. There is a lot of explicit content. It may upset some peoples religious and ethical mores. The comics being talked about in this work almost always break a lot of taboos. However, it does have quite a bit of artistic merit that is quite relevant and valuable. Art Spiegelman wrote Maus which won the Pulitzer prize, Kim Deitch's work has appeared in the New Yorker and Details.

The Sound On The Page-- Ben Yagoda

The Sound On The Page

I am still reading The Sound On The Page by Ben Yagoda. The text is dense, slow reading with lots of deeply meaningful statements and quotes. There is a six page appendix of original Interviewees in the back of the book which lists people; Cynthia Ozick, Dave Barry, Bebe Moore Campbell, Stanley Crouch, and many amazing authors.

Every time I pick this book up to read, I learn a little more. This is a wonderful quote from Dave Barry: "There is a lot of what I call "God Writing" in the newspaper. We're taught to sound authoritative and impartial and professional, and often to sound boring. I always wanted my column to look more like it was a total mistake that I had gotten hold of the wordprocessor."

I think that this is the problem I am having with my own writing. Maybe, I have been taught that in order to appear serious, I must be intensely and overwhelmingly boring. To put in my voice and spice will disconcert the reader and make them run far far away.

There is a later discussion on whether to use a pen and paper or wordprocessor. I personally feel that I must write down my reviews of books before putting them into a computer. There is something wonderfully tactile about putting words on paper. It makes them concrete and physical. The wordprocessor is ephemeral. It is lightning on a screen focused through our eyeballs.

He compiles dozens of different writers quotes to create a vision of how to create style. Think of a jigsaw puzzle completely made of quotes arranged to say something completely different once the quotes are all put together and you would have this book.

I may not finish reading this book until tomorrow or the next day. It is slow going, but worth it.

I find myself talking to myself out loud more as I write about The Sound On The Page. I think it is helping me develop an original voice.

This book has some very interesting polemics in it. Ben Yagoda comes out against The Elements of Style because the style is too simple. This makes the book quite interesting. This book unlike many writing books does not admonish you to write simply. It gives examples of both simple styles and very ornate writing styles; Harold Bloom, Henry James, and Saul Bellow . I rather like the idea of writing in a complex style.

Some writers will go against this book because it challenges the canon and introduces some very different ideas about writing style and voice.

Here is the book.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good Morning, Good Afternoon

Sarah Palin in a Salvation Army Apron...

Good Morning

I was reading more of The Sound on the Page. The last chapter I was reading was on personality in writing. Dave Barry one of my favorite writers was mentioned. My father sends me a subscription to the http://www.funnytimes.com/ (The Funny Times) every year, a liberal cartoon newspaper with editorial columnists. Dave Barry is one of the columnists. He is quoted in the book describing his basic modus operandi. Dave Barry takes every day ordinary annoying activities like standing in line for a drivers license and makes them funny. I have been told to put more of my personality into my writing. Somehow, my personality is supposed to make this blog shine.

The next chapter is about emulating other peoples style. I have a real hard time doing this. There is an egalitarian streak in me that pushes out the idea of adulating people, especially writers. I can't adulate people who hide in a corner of a room slamming words into a computer. Just kidding. Once again, there is a wonderful quote:

Gertrude Stein: "One writes for oneself and for strangers."

Good Afternoon

I ordered some more annual reports for our collection. A few book related ones were Barnes and Noble, The McGraw Hill Companies, and Readers Digest. The McGraw Hill company building is in Manhattan. McGraw Hill hosts events for libraries and publishers. I went there during Book Expo America for one of their events in their auditorium.

There is a new blog out, Librarians Against Palin. I am not fond of Palin. I find her stance on book banning problematic at best. http://librariansagainstpalin.wordpress.com/

I spent some time reading The Chief which is the local civil service paper for Manhattan. It lists all the current job openings in Manhattan for civil service jobs plus many important union issues. It is one of the main ways that I order test books for jobs. They have long lists by title of what stays open and what is opening and closing.

We also keep clipboards of the listings of county jobs. Some of them are on white paper, and some of them are on a hideous pink collared paper.

If you are ever in Manhattan and want a civil service job, The Chief is the place to look.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Evening Thoughts

Morning Thoughts

I am following lucius_fox, harvey_dent, James_Gordon, and _brucewayne, they talk to each other on twitter. It is kind of funny. I am also looking for other accounts on twitter like gothamsfinest.

A whole bunch of graphic novels came in yesterday. I have not looked at them too closely. My previous choices have been doing quite well. People are taking a lot of them out.

I am ordering a lot of books which other libraries are not getting. This is because I like to physically look at bookstores and examine books. It allows me to choose many books which are never reviewed properly. Library Journal, Choice, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly are a near complete failure with certain categories of the most popular books. Craft books and cookbooks are two of the most popular types of books in public libraries, this is not reflected in the review journals.

Also, review journals rarely review books focused on technical aspects of the home like plumbing, heating, and airconditioning, We order lots of books from Sunset, Black and Decker, House and Garden, and similar publishing companies.

This is also true of computer books. People buy them by the imprint from the publisher mostly. The only way for me to properly understand what people need is to visit a very large bookstore, library, or search online through companies like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Strandbooks. The reviews are nonexistent or spotty.

I have always found most book reviews to be about prestige or demonstrating bookish skills. There is very little prestige in reviewing books on tools, do it yourself projects or other practical books. This is actually kind of sad. It is a gaping failure in the profession. Libraries are failing to provide this kind of material at the level which many people want.

There is a belief that fiction and literature are harder on many levels than popular or practical material. I often think serious practical books which are instructional in nature can be far harder to write than fiction because there needs to be much greater clarity and ease of use than a novel. Combining pictures, words, and diagrams in a clear manner must be quite difficult.

Evening Thoughts

I read some more of Ben Yagoda (I'll call him the Yoda of quotes.) The Sound on the Page, Style and Voice in Writing. He describes how punctuation is a major factor in writing style. Punctuation sets the rhythm of writing and where people pause. Different writers often use punctuation in distinct ways. For example Peter Carey uses no commas in his novel, True History of the Kelly Gang. This makes the style very unique.

I am male which makes my writing style different women's writing style most of the time. At least people claim this. I don't know if it is always true. As I read the book, I am learning quite a few things about what makes writing distinctive. One of the best ways to tell if you are writing in a unique style is to read it aloud and see it sounds.

Because Mr. Yagoda uses so many quotes I am include another one from the book:

If any man would write in a noble style let him first possess a noble soul. -- Goethe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Afternoon Thoughts, Evening Thoughts

Sandro Botticelli

Afternoon Thoughts

I have been reading more of The Sound on the Page by Ben Yagoda. What separates this book from almost every book I have ever read is the extraordinary ability of the author to quote people at exactly the right time. He has quotes from original interviews as well as past quotes.
A quote which I particularly enjoyed was:

Benjamin Disraeli, "It is style alone by which posterity will judge a great work."

On a more pedestrian note, I have been ordering annual reports. Sometimes requesting these things is one of the worst most interminable things to do. This is especially true if you get a customer service person who does not want to transfer you, but puts you on endless hold. Then you have to search around the company website for an email to investor relations.

I have found that internet forms to fill out requesting annual reports are often far easier to handle than secretaries. You simply fill out the forms and pray that they send you the annual report. For some reason, they are more often likely to do this than if you talk to the investor relations person who sometimes loses your request.

Most of the company reports for publicly traded company annual reports I request are either very local in the surrounding counties, or are the biggest companies in the state of New York. The majority of the time people request paper annual reports is not for reasons of finances, but to read about the company for a job interview. This is the main reason we still keep the paper annual reports drawer. The majority of people who are looking only at finances will just look the SEC report online.

I am going to anger you now, with an account of deeply boring tedium. I spent a bit more time weeding today. I have also been replacing some of the older titles with new editions.

I also spent some time replacing the looseleaf pages in the law books. This is supremely boring to do. It is so boring it is almost meditative. It does require accuracy, however. Sometimes, it requires when the window is open you block the area off so the the thin pages don't fly away as well.

Laws must be constantly updated because of the continuous arrival of new cases. At the same time, it is very hard to let go of anything because law is based on precedent. Thus every law collection I have ever seen in a library, unless it is mostly online has run out of space.

Evening Thoughts

My goal is coming to fruition and rising to a head. My immediate supervisor recommended me as the person with the most knowledge of books in the library for collection development to the new director. I was a bit surprised today that he did this. It is one step in a slow crescendo towards a goal.

This gives me two recommendations in step towards what I want to get. We are having the collection development meeting that was cancelled tomorrow. Also, the director said that my goals were in line with what she was seeking in changing the collection. I will have to talk specifics very soon. I am thinking it out carefully right now. I will have to be very careful about what I say. I like to be methodical about these things.

Right now, I am trying to outline a strategy in my mind before I do anything. Of course like everything, it will change from what I am thinking about. This blog has helped me focus on the issue. I know, I know it is one of those things which is not deeply fascinating to you, but it helps me focus.

Short list of Environment, Alternative Energy, and Clean Tech Books.

Short list of Environment, Alternative Energy, and Clean Tech Books.

Occassionally I like to summarize some of the books I have read on this subject and reviewed here.

Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy by Jay Inslee and Bracken Hendricks (This book is about a progressive alliance called the Apollo Alliance).

The Citizen Powered Energy Handbook-- Greg Pahl
The book describes solar power (solar hot water and photovoltaic), water power (micro, small, medium, and large hydro, hydrokinetic, wave power, and tidal power), wind power, biomass (pellets, syngas, wood, cofiring), liquid biofuels (bioidiesel, ethanol, and SVO-- straight vegetable oil), and geothermal energy. Examples are given for both houses, district plants, and community efforts.

The Clean Tech Revolution: Discover the Top Trends, Technologies, and Companies to Watch (Paperback)Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder
(About clean technology investing).

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough, Michael Braungart
(About making thngs so they are reusable)

Earth The Sequel:The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming (Fred Krupp)
(This book is focused on how we can come up with economic and technical solutions to global warming. )

Farewell My Subaru An Epic Adventure In Local Living by Doug Fine
(A story about a man who decides to live locally back to the land)

The First Billion Is the Hardest On a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future by T. Boone Pickens
(A biography, business history, and energy plan.)

Freedom From Oil: How the Next President Can End the United States' Oil Addiction (Hardcover)David Sandalow
(A discussion between the president and his staff on how
they can end America's addiction to oil.)

Green Investing A Guide To Making Money Through Environment-Friendly Stocks by Jack Uldrich
(A nice listing of many different alternative energy stocks.)

Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (Hardcover)by Daniel C. Esty (Author), Andrew S. Winston (Author)
(Covers environmental strategy in business-- lean manufacturing, recycling, clean products, green advertising, waste reduction, alternative energy use in factories.)

Green Your Place In the New Energy Revolution by Jane Hoffman and Michael Hoffman
(An overview of different energy technologies)

Leviathan: The History of Whaling In America by Eric Jay Dolin
(You may not think of it this way, but whaling was America's first energy industry. Whale oil provided candles and oil to light the streets.)

Living Like Ed A Guide to the Eco-Friendly Life-- Ed Begley, Jr.
(This is a comprehensive guide on how to live a more environmentally freindly life. It covers the Home, Transportation, Recycling, Energy, In The Garden and Kitchen, Clothing and Hair and Skin Care. )

Natural Capitalism Creating The Next Industrial Revolution by Amory Lovins and Paul Hawken
(A book on how to create a capitalist society based
around green economics. This book is connected with The Rocky Mountain Institute http://www.rmi.org/)

A Safe and Sustainable World, The Promise of Ecological Design by Nancy Todd and John Todd (A rather radical book that talks about how to use ecology to design things. John Todd is the Creator of living machines and is very important in bioremediation.)

Stirring It Up How To Make Money And Save the World--
Gary Hirshberg.
(This is the Story of Stonyfield Farms, a very
environmentally oriented corporation.)

Untapped The Scramble For Africa's Oil-- John Ghazvinian
(An expose on oil in Africa).

Winning The Oil Endgame by Amory Lovins
(Another plan for oil independence)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

First Biocrude From Algae Produced In New Zealand

First Biocrude From Algae Produced In New Zealand

The first commercially viable algae oil has been produced in New Zealand from the company Aquaflow Bionomics.


This represents a breakthrough which could change the energy market. Already, there has been a round the world flight using 100% biodiesel http://www.greenflightinternational.com . Boeing company is heavily invested in Aquaflow Bionomics.

This has the potential for major changes in the energy industry, not just in New Zealand but all over the world. It also offers a cost effective way to remediate wastewater.

Hopefully, this will mean some major changes in the viability of biofuels as a replacement for oil. Biocrude could be used to create a variety of products.

Morning Thoughts, Writing Begins With The Breath, The Sound on the Page

Morning Thoughts

I was very tired yesterday. More than I usually am. I found myself a little upset about Saturday because there has been a change in who I am working with. I much preferred working with my old colleague who is leaving. Even though we had some differences, she was easy and pleasant to work with the majority of the time. I hope she has good luck wherever she is going. There is a box with cake in the basement, but she is not here to eat it right now.

I sometimes think I try to get along with people too much.

Writing Begins With The Breath

A book on developing your voice came in today, Writing Begins With The Breath, Embodying Your Authentic Voice by Laraine Herring. It is very hard to write exact what I feel sometimes. I have a certain sense of discretion which limits what I say. This book has a lot of meditation exercises around writing. It appears to focus on spiritual aspects of the written word. It is c2007, Shambhala Publications.

The book opens with an interesting quote from Abraham Maslow:

A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is ultimately to be at peace with himself. What one can be, one must be.

The Sound on the Page Style and Voice In Writing

The Sound on the Page Style and Voice In Writing is by Ben Yagoda. It is a book on how to develop a personal style or voice. The author writes about a number of different authors style and voice.

I think that style and voice are a critical piece in the success of an author. Often this is overlooked to the authors detriment. Some authors can make a piece of lint interesting, simply because of the way they write.

Because I have been criticized for being boring, I am going to take a break from my usual books and write a review on what I learn from these two books. I think it may be useful for you as an audience.

Persepolis Film (Based on Graphic Novel) Marjane Satrapi

I really enjoyed watching Persepolis yesterday. It is an animated film written for adults. I learned some interesting facts about the film from the special features on the dvd. It was entirely hand drawn using markers and felt tip pens. This makes it very different than much of todays animation. I think the artwork was quite beautiful. Marjane Satrapi says she was using some of the style in film of Fritz Lang and the style in graphic novels of Art Spiegelman. The background music used a mix of contemporary artists and classical music. There was quite a bit of Johann Strauss in the film as background music.

Only first four minutes of the film are in color and the rest of the film is in black and white. The whole graphic novel is in black and white. The film is a story of a life of a very free spirited Iranian woman. You get to see her grow up through two revolutions, the overthrow of the shah, and the institution of the islamic party. It is quite interesting seeing a different viewpoint on that world.

I was exposed to very different view of the world watching the film. Even watching the extras on the dvds was quite eye opening. I liked watching Iggy Pop talk about his role in the translation of the film from French into english. Chiaro Mastroianni the lady actress who spoke the voice of Marjane Satrapy was quite striking to look at. The film is very international in flavor. Marjane Satrapi swithces between French and English at different points in her interviews.

The current Islamic revolution in Iran does not approve of the film. There are some fairly strong political statements in the film about freedom and the concept of democracy. You wonder when the Iranians were electing an Islamic party whether they were thinking of the Islamic style parties in Turkey or the way the Ottoman empire ruled. You see the country move from one form of repression, the Shah, to another form of repression, a republic withut the rule of law. There is a touch on how the west sold weapons to both sides in the Iran Iraq war.

I really enjoyed the bohemian segments in Vienna and Satrapi's experience with the decadent side of French life. She eventually ends up almost dead because of her misunderstanding of western culture and concepts of love. The scenes with flowers are especially beautiful to watch. My favorite character in the film is Marjane's grandma. She is the character with the most integrity.

I also like the depiction of how to live and enjoy oneself in Iran, the characters often break the law. No lipstick, no music, no cards, and no alcohol. Things which we often take for granted in the west. She says during her interviews on camera, she wrote the graphic novel and the film to show freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

There are some interesting scenes in the film while Marjane is in art school in Iran. The scene of a life drawing class with a lady in a burka is kind of odd. I also like the scene of Marjane and her grandmother watching Godzilla. Marjane's grandmother comments that she doesn't understand why people don't just run away.

The film seems to reach a universal audience. It talks about what we all experience, love, death, sex, remorse, and hardship. There is a deep honesty in the film. The strong lines in the drawing bring out the often dark qualities of the films and graphic novels. This writing is definitely for adults.

The animated film was the winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It has been nominated for numerous other awards as well.

All of our copies of the graphic novel Persepolis and Persepolis 2, the graphic novel are currently checked out. We have multiple copies of both. Marjane also wrote Chicken With Plums which I wrote a brief review of earlier. I am currently looking at Embroideries the only copy of her book which we have which is not in use. It is a bunch of ladies sitting around drinking tea and discussing men. This happens all over the world.

This is the DVD

This is the book.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The First Billion Is The Hardest-- T. Boone Pickens-- Review

The First Billion Is the Hardest On a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future by T. Boone Pickens is a combination of biography, energy business management, and platform for energy independence in the United States. Somehow, it all ties together very well.

T. Boone Pickens comes across in a folksy direct manner. He includes Booneisms in his book. Booneism #8 is I have always believed that it's important to show a new look periodically. Predictability can lead to failure.

The Frog and the Scorpion is one of the stories he tells in the book as well as many crass jokes and some rather crude, but colorful commentary.

His childhood is described as that of a normal American boy mixed with lessons in entrepreneurship from his grandmother. He had a paper route and mowed lawns for money. At the age of 11, he even pumped gas.

Combined with this is a strong drive for sports. He played basketball and was driven to win. Later in life this translated into his winning business practices and his huge donations for a sports complex at Ohio State University.

Although, it is not my style I can recognize the classic republican sportsman who loves Reagan in his writings. Luckily, he doesn't go too deeply into personal beliefs about race, religion, and social issues, he stays focused on business and energy. He does say he liked Wilt Chamberlain

His whole life seems to say energy entrepreneurship. His college degree was in geology a good precursor for the oil business.

He gives lots of advice. Make big deals, they are as easy to make as little deals, and they often have added benefits to them. He shows his disdain for bureaucracy and old school management.

He does this by describing how he used shareholder rights to help takeover poorly run companies. It shows an interesting combination of ruthlessness and compassion. Usually when he took over companies the stock prices went up. He was bent on winning for the underdog. He envisions himself as the underdog reaching up to face the giant.

About halfway through the book, the story changes. He burns himself out gets divorced, nearly loses everything. He even describes how he loses his dog. We get a very different person than the man who ran Mesa energy.

He reopens a new business which seems much more focused on teamwork BP Capital Energy Equity Fund, a hedge fund which can both sell short and long in both stocks and commodities.

There is a section of maxims on how to run a business. These read something like a story out of Aesop's Fables in a way: win fairly, lead, it's all about team, concentrate on goals not growing the company, and let people succeed are some of the exhortations.

It is towards the end that we get his opinion on America's energy problems. These are straightforward, direct statements, we have reached peak oil, America does not control the oil industry, the reports on reserves throughout the world are false, the age of alternatives must begin immediately.

One of the reasons he is so compelling in his writing is that he tells you that he intends to give away all of his money, he already has enough cash. Then he describes how he is giving away his cash.

We get to the plan. Here is where I am having a little bit of trouble. In his descriptions of working with natural gas, T. Boone Pickens has always not quite succeeded in making the natural gas companies the giants he envisioned them to be.

I think in a way, his attempt to sell natural gas in combination with wind energy is a kind of last attempt at leaving a legacy. He is putting his money where his convictions are. He realizes that is no longer just about the money anymore. Some people will have a hard time believing this.

The one problem I had with his book was his description of how he sold off the water rights under his land. I don't agree with this. There is too much potential for environmental damage when major aquifers are drained.

He says, on page 146, "With supply pushed to the brink of unquenchable demand, we're going to need everything. We're going to need all the oil and gas we can find. We're going to need ethanol, natural gas, solar, wind, biofuels, and nuclear."

He is describing the outcome of "being addicted to oil."
I have mixed feelings about his plan, but I hope it will break the deadlock in Washington. T. Boone Pickens plainly states he has never seen a politician capable of facing the problem of energy independence.

This is an excellent interesting book which people should read. There is a center section with full color photographs. I rather like the picture of him on the cover of Time magazine holding cards and poker chips. He also has pictures of him with his wife, George Bush, and Ronald Reagan. The back has an index.

Put aside any political differences you may have. What he is saying is very important. Get in the dialog, I took the time to sign up for http://www.pickensplan/theplan

The Pickens Plan Video, The First Billion is the Hardest

The Pickens Plan Video

I really enjoyed watching this video. I do not agree with some of the premises in the video. T. Boone Pickens stands to gain from the sale of natural gas. I am not sure that it is the ideal fuel to replace gasoline. It is not particularly renewable, even though it is our second largest natural resource. I think there should be much more competition between different fuel sources. The playing field needs to be open and level for all the different types of alternative liquid fuels.

Where I do agree with him is the massive buildout of wind energy. It needs to be done. It would revitalize rural America and create many many "green collar" jobs. The problem I have with this is that T. Boone Pickens is using the same corridor which he plans to sell water rights as he plans to lease windfarms. This could be potentially environmentally destructive. Ultimately, I think the wind part of the project will succeed while the water could be another story.

I also think he does not fully address the solar corridor issue. While wind is an incredible boon, recent advances in solar energy, specifically magnified solar open the possibility of creating solar farms that are equal in cost to coal power plants. This may seem impractical, but I think it ultimately is the future. Right now a number of companies including IBM have the technology in development.

I like his website the Pickens Plan. I don't agree with some aspects of it. However, I think it is refreshing that there is a major oil figure who is willing to step forward and push a solution. He has managed to simplify, directly address, and give part of the solution to American energy problems. Sometimes it is necessary to get the conversation started before anything happens.

I am really enjoying reading The First Billion Is The Hardest by T. Boone Pickens. It is filled with numerous anecdotes and sayings. There are all kinds of stories throughout including the legend of the frog and the scorpion. Mr. Pickens can be quite crude in an entertaining way. There is a lot of deep insight in this book. Even though my personal philosophy doesn't match with his, I find that he has a compelling mix of integrity, entrepreneurship, and ruthlessness that makes him an excellent businessman.

I finished reading the book this afternoon. I am going to write up my review in the laundromat this afternoon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Palin and the Library Books

Palin and the Library Books

Library Journal finally reveals what the book may have been that Palin objected to, Pastor, I am Gay. You couldn't think of a more provocative title than this one. It is kind like setting a match to a firecracker.


On many levels this is quite upsetting to me. There are a lot of potential issues. Separation of church and state, gay rights, censorship, and intellectual freedom are just the tip of the iceberg. There are also questions of freedom of government information. I would like to know what really happened. Palin has a record of tight secrecy.

I think this is a story which will grow and grow and grow because it was not dealt with immediately. The story has spread to various gay groups which makes it truly strange. This is not a story you could have made up in a novel. At first it seemed like a minor issue, but now it has become something else.

The more the issue grows the more it becomes a liability to my profession. Initially, the American Library Association tried to stay out of the political discussion. I am not sure it will be possible to do this for much longer. I also think it may effect public libraries funding stream on a national level because it is effecting the election.

Watching this election and listening to it is the equivalent of stepping into another universe. I have seen some of the worst aspects of American character come out. Sometimes I wish I had a reset button so I could hit it and the candidates could say something completely different than what they are saying right now.

What makes this really interesting is that September 23-28 is banned books week and libraries, publishers, and book people are going to be celebrating banned or censored books. Knowing the way librarians act, this could lead to some very interesting protests or confrontations. I think the full details will come out around then.

Green Investing A Guide To Making Money Through Environment-Friendly Stocks by Jack Uldrich

Green Investing A Guide To Making Money Through Environment-Friendly Stocks by Jack Uldrich is a guide to companies that have alternative energy products.

The first part of the book is about how you need to do your due diligence on stocks. Jack Uldrich warns you against investing in companies that have not yet fully developeda working product that is on the market. Doing this can be extremely risky. I personally lost money on Finavera because of a failed test of their wave buoy energy technology. Unfinished and untested products are a very high risk. Many companies make promises on undeveloped products.

Due diligence is the process of checking companies to see if they are safe to invest in. Thismeans looking at the finances, management, products, marketing, human resources, and everyaspect of the company which you can get your hands on. Do your due diligence when investing.

Jack Uldrich correctly points out that over half of alternative energy investments are occurringin Fortune 500 companies that are doing a variety of different things. Archer Daniels Midland is invested in ethanol, General Electric bought Enron's wind business and made it profitable, Goldman Sachs is investedin Horizon Wind Energies and Sun Edison a solar company. Although, it is not described in the book,Bank of America is working on building the most environmentally friendly office building in the world.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bank_of_America_Tower_(New_York)

There is tremendous interest in clean technology. It is not just a passing trend. In the chapter on Fortune 500 companies and each proceeding chapter there are brief two page summaries of major companiesthat are invested in alternative energy and energy conservation. Many, but not all of the companies arepublicly traded companies. They are not just in the United States.
The chapters cover biofuels, solar, wind energy,alternative alternative energies, and energy conservation. Alternative alternative energies covers geothermal, wave power, fuel cells, and clean coal.

The book misses the boatwhen it comes to waste to energy conversion. There is nothing on Startech, a company developing a plasmafurnace for garbage http://www.startech.net/faqs.html, or landfill gasification. There is a little bit onanimal waste to biofuel in the chapter on biofuels. I don't think of clean coal as an alternative energysource. It is more of an attempt to clean up a very dirty source of power.

In each chapter, you get summaries of a variety of companies. I found two very interesting companies, Ormat Technologies for geothermal power and FPL Florida Power and Light (the nations largest producer of wind energy). I found in general like most books that advise about stocks, the book tended to be more bullish than bearish in stock opinions. This can be quite dangerous. Most companies are a tremendous risk to invest in. I am not giving any recommendations on investing other than saying it is risky. But, crossingthe street is risky.

This book is very to easy read. It is a general introduction to the subject. If you want to learn the basics of alternative energy investing this book is useful. The summaries are too simple to rely on them for making complete investment choices. I would look at them as snapshots or introductions to companies which you can do research on. The book is written in 2008, so most of the company information is still fairly recent. The book is not very long. The copy I read was a paperback. It is light and easy to carry around so it might make a nice subway read, or a read on an airport flight. I like the design of the book.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Afternoon Thoughts

A World War II Poster Which I liked produced by the government.

Morning Thoughts (Rummaging Through Donations.)

This morning, I spent some time going through the piles of donated books in our basement. Many of them are old and musty. Some can never be added because of water damage, age, or poor condition. Many of them will be sent to the booksale so we can sell them to buy new books. A considerable amount of the paperbacks which we cannot use get sent to the prison libraries. This is where the Friends of the Library sends a lot of the material they cannot sell in the booksale. Hardcover books are a problem for prison libraries. A lot of it simply gets recycled.

As usual, there were piles and piles of old romance paperbacks. Lots of Harlequin and BET black romance paperbacks. Mixed in these were various nonfiction titles from the 1980s and 1990s which had long since gone by the wayside. Most people were shortly interested in them, then they faded into someones attic. Sometimes, if you look closely, you can see garage sale stickers. These are the books that didn't get sold at the garage sale.

Many of the books are still in cardboard boxes. I sometimes wonder how old the cardboard is since it costs money to buy cardboard boxes these days and the supermarkets are not as willing to give them away.

You have to be careful because if you move too quickly, one of the stacks of books will fall over. They are piled very high. They are either on tables or in deep shelves where they are stacked willy nilly. One of our retired librarians comes in to select which books will get picked out for the booksale. She usually has a couple of retired people with her who are sorting through the books. They are in old clothes so they do not get too dirty.

The first thing which I look for are the classics, these never go out of style. We will always get asked for Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 51, Pearl S. Buck, The Good Earth, and any good old classic books. I find a copy of Voltaire Candide which was recently assigned to the local high school students.

Among the romance books, I find a few urban fiction books. These are very hot titles. There are two copies of Zane Books, a Wendy Williams books, and a copy of the author Noire's book. We have trouble keeping urban fiction in our library because it is so popular.

There are a few very new books which I like, a brand new Elizabeth Lowell Bestseller, and several new books on business innovation. After digging a bit more, I find some new mystery paperbacks as well, a 2007 copy of a book by Faye Kellerman.

Also, among the stacks, there a few books on subjects that really never go out of style. A fairly new book on sailing and a book on pet hermit crabs.

I've managed to pull about 30 books from the piles. Now, I go to the computers and check them on the computer to see if we have them. 15 of them are good enough to be added to the collection.

Later in the morning, I did some more weeding. It is more tedium that needs to get done. I will be doing it every single day until I am done with the 300s which is basically all of social science. It is slow methodical work.

Afternoon Thoughts

The T. Boone Pickens book, The First Billion Is The Hardest Reflections On A Life of Comebacks And America's Energy Future (With a Plan for Reducing U.S. Oil Dependency) came in for me today through interlibrary loan. It is one of the books which I am hoping to read.
It has been a long week and I am very tired.

Things are piling on very fast. I have to work this Saturday. I don't particularly like working on Saturdays. In winter time, I work every other Saturday. During the summer, I manage to have no Saturdays. Things don't always make sense.

I like to think that libraries operate in another zone of time where the clocks are set slightly off cue. Libraries and bookstores seem to somehow be a space where you can step into which isn't quite the same as the rest of the world.