Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Thanks, as they say, to an alert reader for drawing my attention to this adventure flick: TNT Originals: The Librarian.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

"When the new Congress convenes in January, its fifty-five Republicans will be there on account of the votes of 57.6 million people, while the forty-four Democrats and one independent will be there on account of the votes of 59.6 million people." - Hendrick Hertzberg, The New Yorker, 11/15/04

Two Appearances by Sean Connery
At G. High School, the students read their novels (Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice) or had study hall time. A couple of kids had make up tests, too. Out of 20 vocabulary words, I missed one: ductility, the ability to be molded or shaped.

Both G. and H. High Schools filled a good bit of time with movies. The VCR (and DVD) have banished the darling filmstrips of our youth, as well as the occasional rented 16 mm movies shown in the multipurpose room. In two days, I saw Sean Connery twice. Once, as King Arthur in the very tepid First Knight and once in the very nice Finding Forrester. Alas, we didn't make it to the end of the latter and I don't recall how it ends. Somehow, we got in all of The Color Purple. Oh, I think it was lunch block. To complement the "medieval" theme and the bad movie theme, I also endured a crappy early 90s version of the Robin Hood story.

If Jesse and Greg would quit calling from the studio, I could make more of a story of this movie marathon. . . .

Monday, November 22, 2004

Dept. of "It Coulda Been Worse"

Behold the Washington Nationals.

I like driving out to R Middle School. It's on the rural edge of Henrico County, so I pass strip malls, then wooded areas (still pretty, in reds and yellow), and finally swing into a parking lot across from a corn field (harvested weeks ago). As I drove back into town this afternoon, I spotted the first truckload of Christmas trees, waiting to be arranged for sale.

Today, some boys set fire to a trash can in the boy's room (actually, it's marked "Gentlemen"), so we stood outside for 40 minutes or so in the 50 degree damp. I wished I had grabbed my sweater. The real plan today involved a test on energy (kinetic, potential, etc.) and some of those handouts -- you remember! -- in which solving math problems leads you to the correct order for connecting dots (marked 88, 105, 73 -- not in order) to reveal. . . . a turkey on a platter! Whee.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A pretty good article from a year ago on 21st century library service and (not quite "vs") Google that those of you with library school comps in your future might want to read.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Shout out to Carrie, Dan, Brian J for the weekend's hospitality! At the market, I liked the cookies. At the Pratt Library, I liked the new space. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, I liked the Lalique hood ornaments, the Won't paining, and the works by Rosalie Gill. Carrie became interested, briefly, in the Dutch, despite not knowing much about their land. On Sunday, I liked catching up with B & J at the Tastee Diner.

At today's high school: A dense collage (years in the making, surely) of 4-leaf clovers suspended in scotch tape on the top of the lectern. Also, many depressing displays of the chasm between the sexes and the races; a gap that has not been as wide, elsewhere.

Capital City weather: clear and 60 degrees

Shopping News: John's new book is due out in the new year

Friday, November 12, 2004

More goodness from the people at the NYer: Boing Boing: Malcolm Gladwell talks about why opinions are often useless
"Everywhere Should Be More Like New York"

That's the subtitle of a New Yorker article by David Owen (10/18 issue) that shows how Manhattanites are easier on the environment than people living in the country or suburbs. People who live in major cities enjoy the utilities-saving benefits of shared walls, use far less gasoline, and don't throw chemicals all over the earth in the name of lawn maintenance.

Owen draws our attention to one or two of Washington's failings, including the way Metro keeps growing out into the 'burbs, so people can maintain a single-family home, car-driving for-every-errand lifestyle, but still take public transportation to work. I can attest to that; I've seen Springfield, Va.

Yet, there is a "powerful anti-city bias [to] American environmentalism." Consider, Owen writes, the use of "urbanization" to describe the suburban sprawl of the West Broad Streets of this country.

He also asks us to consider recycling: a break-even proposition that can often use more fossil fuel in the reprocessing process. "By far the worst damage we Americans do to the planet arises not from the newspapers we throw away but from the eight hundred and fifty million or so gallons of oil we consume every day," Owen states, launching into a brief recap of the we're-almost-out-of-oil facts.

Richmond is very minor league city. On occasion, though, I can go a day or two without driving, yet still go to work / volunteer commitments, shop, see a movie, or visit a museum. I live in a row house with ivy in the front yard and mulch and plants and a fishpond in the back. Even when I admire dream houses, I find it hard to appreciate ones with more lawn than I could trim with, like, a pair of scissors.

Capital City weather: Rain.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

NotMartha always finds the good stuff: Thanksgiving dinner from Jones Soda Co. and "a hint of traditional holiday spicy flavors" in your Pepsi.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

For an outstanding collection of 50s-70s art, packaging, and snapshots, visit Tick Tock Toys - Archives & Galleries.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Calooh! Callay!
Jabberwocky Translated into Africaans, Esperanto, Yiddish, and other languages.

At School
So this one boy comes into class late, drops his bright blue bag on the floor and sets a substantial bottle of cologne on the desk. My job as an instructional assistant today was to take a few students to another classroom so they could take their tests away from the others. When I returned from that duty, Mr. Cologne was at the teacher's desk and I had a chance to see his full outfit. He had on a flashy ring, baggy jeans, basketball sneakers, and a cable-knit sweater. Over the sweater he wore a leather (?) belt with a medium-sized metal buckle. Girls in my high school wore belted sweaters (usually papagallo belts or metal belts) twenty years ago.

These sorts of things happen all the time. Boys seem to be wearing things that look feminine or out of style to me. With their baggy pants, though, it's the gesture that seems ladylike: to facilitate actual walking, the guys gather up their pants (at thigh height, usually) rather the way women gather up long skirts to go up stairs. Now on the one hand, I believe in tearing down gender stereotypes: girls should be allowed to wear pants in public, play sports, and run for political office. Boys should think about growing up to be teachers and nurses (or even librarians), and know how to cook. So shouldn't boys also wear pink or belted sweaters and gather up their voluminous skirt/pants when walking?

One of the things noted at tonight's VYA meeting: the Valentine Richmond History Center's new website. You'll find a frequent Capital City Desk reader here, sporting a smart hat.

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Shout out to the Coskis who included me in a field trip up to Ashland to watch "Casablanca" at the Ashland Theater (picture; better text, here. I'd call it Streamlined Moderne over Deco.) The show was a benefit for the Hanover County Humane Society. It turns out that the current set up at the theater is a jumbotron DVD player. Once they got all the lights off, the movie's magic made that okay.

The theater itself is quiet skinny; about as narrow as many modern movie theaters, but it goes much further back. It enjoys the mixed blessings of having been in use for most of its 50-some years. In the plus column: it stands, it's usable; the back-lit silhouette signs for the restrooms, and the wall tiles in the ladies' room, seem original. The seats seemed old, but are much further apart than any other older theater I've ever been to. Under the heading of "disappointing": the 1970s brown title on the bathroom floor, some odd dropped ceilings, a strangely plain lobby, late 1990s "deco" light fixtures. The new "deco" carpet and fresh paint, combined with a well-scrubbed feel bode well, though. A spot of peeled paint and damp in the theater itself suggests that, like so many of us, this ultra-rainy two years gave the owners roof troubles. (Sorry, quick Google and Kartoo searches don't tell me who owns it.)

Saturday, November 06, 2004

I updated my other Capital City website with info about this weekend's Open House Sale at the antiques mall (click Urquhart's Place) and some of the text we used for the Church Hill Tunnel Macabre at the Valentine Museum (click Richmond, then History).

Thursday, November 04, 2004

But is it art? Boing Boing: Balloon-based haunted house. Sure. It certainly complements the book-built room.

High School
I'll be back at H High's library today; and there on Friday for French class. The drawback of repeat visits is that I have to think about what I wear. When I go somewhere different every day, I can just pull on one of a couple of interchangable outfits. The nice thing about repeat visits is that faculty may try to get to know me (with more or less probing than I might consider polite); that I get to know the students.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

To re-use my word from yesterday: why the heck are people so mesmerized by Bush that they voted for the dufus? Are there more zillionaires than I realized, and they all look forward to the tax cuts? People think a gum-chewing faux-Texan who often seems spaced out is a good representative of our country on the world stage?!

I am very annoyed.

And not because I waited for over an hour to vote at my new polling place. That was not a problem. The poll workers at Randolph Community Center were polite and helpful. The voters weren't too chatty, but they were a steadfast cross-section of Richmond, committed to voting. Black, white, and even Asian people voted, in this, a part of town that looks mostly black, at a glance. I was there from a little before 10 to a little after 11. Lots of members of the under-25 set stood with me. I could tell their age by the tattoos and piercings; the messenger bags and cell phones; the college texts they pretended to read while in line. Surprisingly, only one NextGen talked on her phone at any length. She did say loudly into her phone, "Yeah, what the f*** was up with that?" The whole anteroom (where the line had snaked) turned on her with raised eyebrows -- or amusement. She did apologize profusely. The people with children, and the oldest folks, in our line segment were back in the big room at that time. As a I walked out, a man in an official City polo shirt, with an official name badge bustled in saying, "Oh, we need another machine here."

Too bad I spent all that time to have only one of my men win (Governor Doug, as I like to call him; though I guess I need to switch to Mr. Mayor.

Thanks to Maggi for the evening of political S&B'ing.

[I wrote this item this morning, but Blogger's been a bit backed up. . . .]

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


In the October 11 issue of The New Yorker, John Cassidy writes about the recent history of the US's dependence on oil. I need to go vote, so please accept some bullets and not a narrative summary:

  • November 1973, Pres. Nixon: "'Let us set as our national goal, in the spirit of Apollo, with the determination of the Manhattan Project, that by the end of this decade we will have developed the potential to meet our own energy needs without depending on any foreign energy source.'"
  • A statistical report written in 2003 reveals that "if the United States were forced to rely on its own resources, it would run out of oil in four years and three months."
  • "some geologists believe that global production [of oil] is about to start falling."
  • 1980, Carter Doctrine: "'Any attempt by an outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf Region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America...."
  • an Amherst College professor writes, "'From the vantage of officers and enlisted personnel in the U.S. Central Command, the invasion of Iraq is only the latest in a series of military engagements in the Gulf proceeding from the Carter Doctrine.'"
  • Cars and trucks (which is how most SUVs are classified) are not very fuel-efficient; political sides; investing in research: bottom line?: "'The public is really not up to speed on energy issues.'"
  • "Many Americans also appear to believe that they are entitled to cheap fuel, regardless of how much they consume."
  • "Between 1976 and 1985, when gasoline prices were high, drivers switched to to smaller, less wasteful cars, and oil consumption fell by ten per cent. Once oil prices slipped back, Americans returned to their beloved gas-guzzlers. Between 1985 and 2000, the demand for oil rose by almost twenty-five percent."
  • "Americans prefer low prices at the pumps even if they have to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes to support a U.S. military presence in the Middle East."

    Much of that troubles me, but in some ways, the last point worries me the most. How can people be mesmerized so much by gas prices under two bucks that they don't notice the price tags, in dollars and lives, on war in the Middle East?
  • This January Term, MIT students created an exhibition called Building With Books! They used old books to make furniture for a room.

    Monday, November 01, 2004

    Halloween, Continued
    For Saturday's party, we were to dress as What we wanted to be when we grew up. In attendance:

    • Jenny, as Brooke Shields
    • Steph, as John Macenroe (sp?)
    • Jesse, as a mind-blowing Freddie Mercury-as-Flash Gordon
    • Greg, as Mozart

    On Sunday, I caught up with the sibling and nephew (and dog) for a really long walk in the park. A sunny, 80-degree walk through the leaves, up the hills. Whew. I also did all kinds of crazy household projects, like scrubbing the mildew off the outside woodwork. I had just enough time to carve a simple jack-o-lantern before the first of 20 or so kids arrived.

    Get Out the Vote
    On my answering machine when I came home from school, messages from:

    • Doug Wilder, asking me to vote for him for mayor
    • Senator Lambert, urging me to vote for Marty Jewell for city council
    • Al Gore, urging me to vote Democratic