Thursday, October 01, 2020

Thick: And Other Essays

Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tough issues illuminated in prose that I’d call “conversational,” but she uses footnotes, so maybe I can’t.

"Because I was such a big deal to an actual big deal, the black man seated to my left made a great effort at small talk. I wish he had not bothered. I hate small talk. It is small. Small is for tea cups and occasionally for tiny houses. Too much small talk is how a country is given to sociopaths who thrive on shallow chatter to distract their emotional sleight of hand. Talk should be meaningful or kept to a minimum."

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Saturday, May 02, 2020

Oh No Not Again

Fifteen years ago, I didn't really want to build another life and another persona with SecondLife. Why would I take time away from creating my primary life to build an alternate Lisa and an alternate house, public library for her? It with that same weary mindset that I read about the metaverse and the likelihood of it launching out of (violent) gaming. The only appealing part of it, from my read of this Washington Post article would be that it's a unified platform - a single space. No separate logins, vocabularies, currencies.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Recommended 8

Jill Lepore in The New Yorker describes two essential structures for "plague novels": stories set during a time of sickness and quarantine, and those "set among a ragged band of survivors." She cites many, beginning with The Last Man (1826) by Mary Shelley, that end with a portrayal of society having regressed.

And that, in the modern plague novel, is the final terror of every world-ending plague, the loss of knowledge, for which reading itself is the only cure.

 Maybe today is the day, then, to recommend Station Eleven by Emily Mandel. In this plague novel we do experience the lock-down quarantine and also the time after. In the after times, a man curates a archive of artifacts in the airport in which he and others live, and a band of musician and actors roam the land putting on Shakespeare's plays, because "survival is insufficient." Mandel gives us a hopeful ending.

If there are again towns with streetlights, if there are symphonies and newspapers, then what else might this awakening world contain? Perhaps vessels are setting out even now, traveling toward or away from him, steered by sailors armed with maps and knowledge of the stars, driven by need or perhaps simply by curiosity: whatever became of the countries on the other side?

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Are We on Web 3.0 Now?

The other day, a colleague asked me to remind her about the 23 Things initiative we did when we worked together. It sounded like she was looking for structure to guide people in their self-teaching activities while working from home. I used my 23 Things tag to direct her back to some of the original posts. At the same time, I glanced at those "web 2.0" posts and the things we were excited about then: mashups and widgets; Flickr and BookThing.

I'm also taking a look at the sidebar on this site and culling dead links. In the early 2000s, I liked sites that were internet directories and portals. Before search engines gained strength, these directories reliably pointed users to credible sources. I used them on the ref desk all the time. Now it seems that one of them, the Internet Public Library has become a very bad essay farm? Only it acts like it belongs to Barnes & Nobel??

Library Spot appears to be active and useful still. Here's a page of links to directories: one or two patrons do call my current branch to have us look up phone numbers. Sometimes it's straightforward, but with personal numbers or address you can get bogged down in ads and paid sites. 

Hmm: YALSA book lists is dead and can go; most of those other blogs are long gone. Weird how my early online connections were mostly with strangers. No, wait, that's not right. I follow famous people on Twitter and witty strangers on Tumblr. It's really only Facebook where everyone is someone I actually know.

Recommended 7

99% Invisible on toilet paper.

Tiny Pantone matches on Tumblr.

"Stephen King is Sorry You Feel Like You're Living in a Stephen King Novel" on Fresh Air

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Recommended 6: News Sources

The Washington Post makes COVID19 related articles freely available, here.

The New York Times makes COVID19 related articles freely available, here.  

Quality coverage for Virginia includes
Central Virginia COVID dashboard.
Virginia Mercury
Richmond Times-Dispatch

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Recommended 5

My folks aren't interested in FaceTiming me. They're retired and not trying to #wfh. They live in rural Virginia and have terrible internet speed. They're not talking about zoom or new podcasts or what restaurant has pick up now. Mom's pretty tech savvy; Dad, not so much. Thus I am surprised to tell you that today's recommendation for something to do while isolating comes to you from Dad. He recommends the "takeout" art talks from the Barnes Collection, available here on YouTube. More online offerings from that museum are here.

Red Headed Girl in Evening Dress by Modigliani

Also recommending the storytimes my library system is presenting online (those videos won't stay live for very long). Loving the new-to-me song that Jodi sings, "Knife Fork Spoon Spatula."

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Recommended 4

Break out of your claustrophobia with the Lumberjanes! Sure you should start at the beginning, but Indoor Recess is my quick pick today.

Lumberjanes : indoor recess

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Recommendations 3

The Librarian is In, a podcast from the New York Public Library, made me want to be better at readers' advisory (the practice of recommending books to all kinds of readers). General interest listeners will come away with additions to their To Read list. This year's first discussion of a book on the NYPL 125 list prodded me to read Giovanni's Room, a title always lurking on my "should have read" list.

I always describe my GoodReads reviews as "notes to myself" rather than proper reviews. Here's what I jotted down:

Giovanni's Room
Passion and the futility of love in Paris in the 1950s.

While David's girlfriend tours Spain without him, he gets evicted from his Paris hotel. He turns to an older man he knows, someone who often helps "boys" like him. They go to Guillaume's bar and both immediately become enamored of Giovanni, the bartender. The larks and liaisons of this (gay) crowd roll along at a leisurely, drunken pace until girlfriend Hella returns. Only, the book tells the story out of order: sooner than we see those scenes we know that something terrible happened and that David and Hella definitely aren't getting married.

(Lots of undergrad paper / book club themes to mine: "room[s]" and being trapped; the way the characters -- Baldwin? -- view women; the caricatures of the older men.)

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Recommendations in the Time of COVID19, part 2

Graphic Novels and the Like

Many public libraries buy into the digital hoopla collection for their patrons -- this service offers music, steaming video, and books including comics and graphic novels. Henrico's collection includes Joe Hill's Locke & Key which you may have gotten sucked into via Netflix (surely that wasn't just me?)

hoopla 220

Some things I've read recently that I recommend are below. If you're here in Richmond, local booksellers are delivering. I know Chop Suey will order books for you.

Chop Suey Books

Fountain Bookstore

Small Friend Records & Books

Sara Berman's Closet

A great example of the art -- photos and paintings -- being as much of the point as the biographical story of a Greenwich Village personality.

Sara Berman's closet

Spill Zone

When Scott Westerfeld brings his A game, it's an A+. He captures young people's voices well and brings us amazing post-apocalyptic visions. This cover doesn't do the art justice: Puvilland uses vivid color to convey the spill zone itself.

Spill zone. Book 1'



I approach things that are Girl Scout or summer camp-adjacent with trepidation. I fear lack of the proper reverence, knowledge, or simply not getting it. The creators of Lumberjanes get it and have nothing but love for girls' camps. In this series, our heroines take on magical monsters, champion friendship and teamwork, earn badges -- and try to make curfew.