Notable Quotes

In a shipwreck, someone always drowns.
Henrik Ibsen, John Gabriel Borkman


Culture Vulturing

Earlier this month, my friend the E-techer and I were having lunch and she mentioned the culture vulturing post I'd recently done.  Apparently her otherwise wonderful husband wouldn't even consider going to these events, and she was jealous that not only did Thing One want to go, he'd suggested some of the plays (her amazement and jealousy grew when I said that Thing One originally said this was the year "he wanted to see more ballet").  Of course, Thing Two is closer to Mr. E-tech's way of thinking, so...

Let's not dwell on the fact that I had squealing teen girls in my car on the train ride down, shall we?  Instead, let's focus on the fact that Cyd is settling in nicely, and seeing The Girls was something to which I was looking forward.

Considering that I've had a place to lay my head in what's known as "Brownstone Brooklyn" since 1993, you'd think I'd know more places to eat than I do.  Problem is, I tend to be a creature of habit and places like Cafe on Clinton were a good habit to have.  So it's a bit embarrassing that I learned about a wonderful French restaurant via a British blogger, Swisslet.  Last night was our second dinner there (we've also had brunch there once) and once again we left saying "we must eat there more."  The soupe aux oignons was among the best I've had, and the osso bucco was yummy.  Dessert for me was a trio of creme brulee, and while the regular and Nutella versions were ok, the lemon version was heavenly.  (Thing One enjoyed his meal, too, but he can rave about that in the comments if he's so moved).  Also, who knew that Michigan had good vineyards?  Seriously?  Well, Gamay Noir has made it on to my Must Drink list.

Two bottles and a good meal later, we left to head to BAM.  Thanks to the snow, and it being a Saturday evening, buses along Atlantic Avenue weren't running frequently, so we walked to the theatre.  Remind me to get new snowboots.  Our seats were in the balcony, and I'm not the best at heights but they were wonderful seats.  What were we seeing?  The Abbey Theatre's transfer of John Gabriel Borkman, an Ibsen play. The big draw, of course, was Alan (squee!!) Rickman... but I've seen Fiona Shaw before and had just finished watching Lindsey Duncan in "Shooting the Past" (haven't see it?  add it to your Netflix queue now! and ignore the fact that Timothy Spall is now ubiquitous).  

My first thoughts were that I hoped they hadn't spent money on the set (sparse furnishings among snow drifts) because I was sure that the parking garage next door could spare a few shovelsful.  When the play started, I was happy that the audience didn't do the awful American thing of applauding the Big Star when he or she arrives on stage, before they've said (or sung) one word.  As for plot, think Madoff... Lay... or any financial scandal of the past few years.  How prescient of Ibsen to write this over 100 years ago!  John Gabriel Borkman (referred to by his wife as "Him" or "the bank manager") embezzled a fortune, of course it was for the good of the people but it still led to 11 years of official incarceration, and 8 years isolated on the second floor of his house, now owned by his sister-in-law (and first love), who bought the house when it was auctioned off to recover assets.  

Ella and Gunhhild are locked in a battle over Erhart, the heir to the Borkman name and hope for its redemption.  He, on the other hand, is involved with Mrs. Wilton, a - gasp! - divorcee and wants nothing more than to leave Norway with his love.  Much declaiming and speechifying later, Erhart is gone, John Gabriel is dead, and the twin sisters are left holding hands in the snow.  Of course the acting was excellent, and the script was surprisingly fast-paced (none of that second act drag).  Had we seen this at the start of the run, the snow set (including second act snowstorm) wouldn't have been so humorous.

So that was the first of my planned theatrical experiences this year... stay tuned for further adventures!


Paging Ted Nugent

Guess what I might have?

I'll know in three weeks.

Seriously cranky

Today I was told we had a 2-hour delay at MPOW. Given the depth of the snow, and that my development was already being plowed, I decided to dig myself out before I got plowed in deeper, and head down slightly less early than usual. The roads were actually better than they were on Tuesday, and I got in to work with no problems at 7:30.

At 8:30, still chatting with friends in the dining hall, I got another phone call - school was canceled. As in, I'd driven down for no good reason. None.


Fashionable changes

I forget which of my friends suggested that I watch The Last of Sheila (Cam?), but it's one of those Great Cast films the 70s were noted for: James Mason, Raquel Welsh, Dyan Cannon, Ian McShane and others all having fun cruising the Mediterranean playing a mystery game based on the hit-and-run accident that killed Sheila.

This isn't great acting by any stretch, and the unnatural speech patterns (reminiscent of how my grandmother spoke thanks to her rhetoric classes) are sort of funny in retrospect. What's interesting is not just the outdated hairstyles, but the body types. Men have hair, not just above their eyes and on top of their heads, and none seem to have "gym bulk" or 6-packs. Women aren't size 0 (or less), but have slender - but realistically so - bodies.

I've heard many times that by today's standards, Marilyn Monroe would be considered fat (yet is still thought to be gorgeous by many people). Seventeen magazine decided, several years ago, to focus on "normal" body types yet managed to have a complete disconnect between editorial and advertising. Milan ruled that there were to be limits on how thin runway models could be. Healthy does not equal near-starvation weight.

So why are we still obsessed with unnaturally thin? Maybe our national obesity crisis would lessen if we didn't aspire to an unattainable goal. What do you think?


The quiet of a snow day

I do love my snow days (Thing One is less enthused, because he gets the early morning Happy Snow Day Dance call) but recently, well... Since January 3 2011, we've had four snow days. Four. Two in the past week, which led to a rather disconcerting two-day work week (thanks to the MLK Day holiday).

I'm starting to lose track of days. Last night I thought that a show I watch on Monday was on. This morning I thought it was First Day and that I needed to head off for Meeting. Neither were true, obviously.

Snow has such a quieting, calming effect, though, and I'm enjoying that. Of course I'm reading a lot, and cuddling with The Boys (The Girls are getting acquainted in Brooklyn). Not being productive at all, which is a bit troublesome.

One of the few productive things I've done is to clear my RSS backlog. Given the quiet of the snow, I encourage you all to enjoy these Holy Ordinary photographs of Meetinghouses.


Airing the laundry

I know it's fashionable in most librarian circles to hate the Annoyed Librarian - he/she/it is soooo negative, or soooo reactionary, or some such. Of course, I take the "I never read the blog" statements with as many grains of salt with which I take "I never watch tv (except for certain PBS shows... documentaries... the occasional Iron Chef marathon... sports)" comments. If you know what AL is saying, you're reading the blog. One of the AL's overriding themes is that critical thinking about our profession is akin to airing the family's laundry in public.

A while ago I was involved in what could have been a controversial article in a national library-related publication. One of the darlings of my professional world was being called into question, and people were up in arms that the editor would dare to do this. The article was never released because of the pressure. No, there's no paper trail, and if I have any proof it's lost somewhere in my backed up files in cyberspace.

Here's the thing: we should publicly call into question our own deepest beliefs, personally and professionally. We should ask pointed questions about why we hold certain truths to be true, forcing ourselves and others to assess the situation. Perhaps we're wrong. Perhaps we've been right all along. But to not allow public questioning and comments? To say this piece of research or that trend doesn't seem quite right? That seems antithetical to being a librarian.

Doesn't it?


Why do I do this to myself?

All I want is time to curl up and read the 73 (yes, that's right, 73!) books I snagged at Midwinter:
but nooooo... I have culture vulturing to do, MPOW to attend to, friends and family to see, and the minutia of daily living.

For the most part, the new books aren't really easy younger teen books, they're older teen/adult books (and I'm really looking forward to a number of them!) so we're not talking easy 1-2 hour reads. And I truly enjoy going to the theatre, and spending time with other people, and I do enjoy the students and projects at work. And then there's this crazy idea I have that because of Upcoming Big Life Changes, I should really buckle down on the uncluttering (closets and basement, I'm talking to YOU!).

Methinks I need two things: a Sven and a Xerox of myself. FYI, my birthday's coming up so if you see either, send it along with a nice bow! And possibly a cupcake. Or two.


Culture Vulturing, future tense

I'm so psyched: my theatre plans for the next few months are all in place, thanks to Thing One's quick thinking (and ordering).

January is a trip to BAM for John Gabriel Borkman (an Ibsen play I've never heard of, have you?).  Then February brings That Championship Season, while April is back to BAM for Derek Jacobi's portrayal of  King Lear (haven't seen him live since Cyrano).  Finally, May is the NT's transfer of War Horse.



Year-end Reading Round-up, 2010 edition

Counting down from last year's 3581 books left to read, I've got "only" 3381 more books to enjoy. What did I think about books I've read this past year? For lists, go here, here, here and here.

And here's the 2010 reading analysis (2000 numbers in parens):

number of books read in 2009: 200 (192)
best month: July/37 (March/35)
worst month: September/7 (September/7)
average read per month: 16.6 (16)
adult fiction as percentage of total: 14.5  (17)
children's/YA fiction as percentage of total: 43 (51)
mystery as percentage of total: 11.5 (5)
Advance Readers Copies: 106 (115)
books read that were published in 2010: 125
books that will be published in 2011: 10

Five star reviews: 20 (12)
One star reviews: 6 (10)
(don't know if this means I've gone soft, or if there was more "good stuff" this year)

200 books. A nice, neat, tidy number, but wholly unexpected. I'll be very surprised to repeat that feat in 2011. And since I added 184 books, Mt. Bookpile only shrank by a mere 16, leaving my goal of <300 for next year.

Notes from Mt. Bookpile

The final round-up of 2010... Reviews are over on Killin' Time Reading...

Children's/Young Adult


  • Integrated Advisory Service; Jessica E. Moyer