Saturday, February 19, 2011

Do your own homework

Teen girl of about 16 or 17 approaches the reference desk.
Lazy Teen Girl: I've got a report to do, I need some information on Shakespeare.
Me: Did you do a search in the card catalog yet?
LTG: No.
Me: What type of information are you looking for?
LTG: (shifts weight and looks at the ceiling) Ohhh, like what made him important. My teacher said the report is on why Shakespeare was such a big influence and why he was...important. Can you tell me where the books would be about like other authors explaining why he was important?
Me: You mean like literary criticism or a historical perspective?
LTG: Yeah that.
Me: (searches) There's one book and its description sounds like it would fit your topic, the only problem is that it's located in another library. I can put in a request for you, but with Monday's holiday it's probably not going to get here until Tuesday or Wednesday. When is your report due?
LTG: (appears to be thinking) Sometime at the end of next week.
Me: You want me to put it on hold for you?
LTG: No. Are there any books filled with essays on why Shakespeare is important at this library?

I write down some call numbers for literary criticism and explain to her that our databases are also useful for her project and send her on her way. A few minutes later she returns, this time with who I assume is her mother.

Lazy Teen Girl's Mom: My daughter has a report due on Tuesday and needs some information right now. Where are the books that have examples of old student reports on Shakespeare? Or magazine reports on him too.

One painfully drawn out reference transaction later, where neither side is really satisfied, my coworker leans her chair into me and whispers, "It's a good thing her mom will be going with her to college."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Gatsby, the video game

Ok, so since discovering this last night I'm a little obsessed:

The Great Gatsby by Nintendo!

I really don't care if it's a hoax or not (and c'mon folks, it obviously is), but what fun and creativity! I love the lengths that someone went to in order create this 80's nostalgic literary game -- it's awesome! As someone who received (and, ok I admit it, actually asked for (yes, I was that nerdy)) Nintendo's sucky The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as a xmas gift in '89 (pictured right), which had the amazing ability to be simultaneously difficult, confusing, and boring -- I kinda wish The Great Gatsby Nintendo version had been around instead. It certainly is much more interesting with better graphics and gameplay than probably at least a quarter of Nintendo's real games, even if it only takes five minutes to beat. This goes to show that classic literature can work in video game format and I'm betting with all the hubbub surrounding it right now, Nintendo only wishes that they really had secretly invented and never released this.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Who are Pultizer winning authors, Alex?"

A mom (I'm assuming she's a mom (someone's mom), she had mom jeans and that hideous Kate Gosselin style haircut) in her mid to late 40's approached the reference desk looking for a new book to read.

Suburban Mom: Where are the best sellers? I want something on the best seller list.
Me: Anything on the current best seller list is going to be checked out but I can put you on a wait list.
SM: Yeah, reserve me something then.
Me: Who do you like to read? What types of books to you enjoy? Fiction, non-fiction, romance, thriller…?
SM: Oh, I'll take anything.
Me: Ok...
SM: As long as it's good.
Me: Ok...
SM: And it's not depressing.
Me: Alright, so you want something on the current best seller list that's good and not depressing?
SM: Yes. Oh, and it should be about women or girl stuff, you know.

Side note -- just as a librarian has not read every book in the library, we are not mind readers either. Readers' advisory can be a great way to connect a reader with a book, but the more information we have to work with makes our job easier and the possibility of getting a book you actually want to read is higher.

Me: (looks up some stuff, reads her off titles that she rejects one by one)
SM: (face suddenly lights up) You know who's supposed to be a really good author?
Me: Who?
SM: Lauren Conrad.
Me: Lauren Conrad? (surprisingly repeated without a hint of sarcasm)
SM: Yeah, you know, from "The Hills." I heard she's a pretty good writer, why don't you request me her latest book.
Me: Ok...
SM: You know who else recently wrote a book? That Nicole Richie. I hear she's pretty good too, why don't you get me her book too.
Me: Alright.
SM: And that Paris Hilton, what about her? Does she have a new book out?
Me: (searches) I don't think so, I believe her last book was Confessions of an Heiress, which came out about five years ago.
SM: Get that for me too, I can't remember if I read it or not. Isn't it great when a celebrity can actually put two words together and write something worth reading?
Me: (desperately fights urge to cough "ghost writer" or "crap"). Yeah, it's...something.
SM: But I'll never read that book by that Snooki. That girl is not so smart and she's hardly a role model. She doesn't deserve to be on the best seller's list.
Me: ???

I imagine the thrill of being on the New York Times Best Seller is deflated for any author who’s achieved the title and is on the same list as any of these reality TV stars.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A thrifty day

About a year or so ago I found out about this neat shop that specializes in selling vintage/retro-y type stuff that's located about an hour away. On Friday, after talking with my coworker and his interest in acquiring an old telephone and my knowledge of a shop in an antique mall that sold refurbished phones, I decided I would make Saturday all about living vintage.

I started my trip early in the day, getting on the road before considering giving the shop located an hour away a call to see if they were indeed open as the website indicated. It was a good thing that I did call ahead because the recording that answered the phone informed me of their hours and they were not open yesterday. Feeling slightly disappointed and not wanting to derail my day's plans completely, I settled on visiting some of the antique and thrift stores in a nearby town.

The first stop was the Court of Antique Shoppes, outside of town. I have only visited this string of shops, which are located in an old motel with the all the room walls knocked down, a few times in the past -- usually because I forget it's out there. But on those few occasions I managed to come out with something awesome, like a 1950's prom dress I purchased as a junior in high school, or a metal "Pigs in Space" lunchbox my sophomore year in college. Unfortunately, I think the internet and places like ebay have made these types of shops harder to find and raised the price of items to ridiculous heights. Apparently now anything old is a collectible. There was an oil painting of a girl and her dog, but even with its sale price of $275 I chose to leave empty handed.

For my next stop I went into the downtown area. There used to be this outdoor, wooden, Swiss Family Robinson treehouse looking shopping area that was so cool when it opened in the 1980's, but now it's pretty much offices with a restaurant and a deli on the first floor. There are parking signs that line the lot that clearly say that the lot is for that shopping center only, however, in the past four years I have parked there numerous times without incident so I parked my car in the mostly empty lot and started walking toward the Black Shutter Antique Center.

This building, which once was part of a store as well as a very wealthy family's home, is a series of rooms on three different floors complete with twisty stairways and full of old stuff. This was my third trip to this center, but I'd yet to purchase anything because their prices are usually high. I saw a rhinestone poodle broach I was interested in, but not for $45. On the third floor in the last room that is devoted all to vintage clothes, I was about to give up (so many ugly 80's prom dresses priced in $60's?!?) when I found an adorable little box purse -- the type I've been searching for. At $30 it was a little more than I wanted to spend, but a teen girl who had been trailing me was obviously waiting for me to put it down, so I ended up getting it. Score!

Next I walked down the street toward another antique shop that I'd also discovered in high school. I had rarely found anything there to buy, but it was inside an old lunchtime diner and they had a shop kitty, so it was at least cool to dig around in there for awhile. I waited at the crosswalk and turned around to see another antique shop (yeah, it's like the antique district) that I'd passed many times before but never went inside since usually it had in the windows boring old furniture or things like candlesticks or those giant metal stars people hang on the outside of their barns in the country. I crossed the street and rounded the corner to be disappointed -- the little antique shop with the kitty was no more! I put my face against the window and peeked inside at the complete emptiness that remained, mourning the shop's disappearance.

Not yet ready to head home and call it quits, I skipped back across the street and decided to venture into the boring candlestick antique shop. For the most part it was boring, but in the basement I came across a paint by number desert painting that I considered buying, before wandering into a narrow hallway lined with clearance items. There was a clothing rack I quickly thumbed through, as most of it was sequined old lady gear, when I suddenly saw this dress. I pulled it out and examined it -- silk, dotted with black polka-dots and trimmed with this black ribbon. It was too cute and as I checked, and double checked the price tag, it was marked down to $9!

I wanted it, but I wasn't 100% sure it would fit me, so I looked around for a dressing area and when I couldn't locate one I went back upstairs and approached one of the ladies at the register. The first lady was opposed to letting me try it on. "Isn't there a bathroom I could slip into for a moment?" I asked.
"Nope," she answered, and then I started to imagine these old ladies holding going to the bathroom all day, or being forced to pee in tupperware containers. The other lady at the counter was nicer, "There's a storage area downstairs, you can try it on in there if you don't mind it being full of old stuff."
"I love old stuff," I proclaimed and followed her back downstairs, past the area I thought was the storage room, and into another long hallway with a door at one end and a conveyor belt covered in cobwebs running from the floor to the ceiling.

It smelled musty and the dangling naked bulb cast eerie shadows on the walls. I quickly stripped and was stepping into the dress when I lost my balance and tipped around to come face to face with a large taxidermy fox I had somehow missed upon entering. I nearly let out a little yelp, but managed to swallow it, hopping farther away. I then raced through dressing, eyeing the creepy fox the whole time. I knew I had passed a mirror going in, so I stepped out to find it, running into the nice lady on the way who said it fit me so well that I had to buy it (good selling strategy!) and after taking a look in the mirror I agreed. Plus it was only $9! Back in the storage area, I did a record clothes change before tipping my imaginary hat to the fox on my way out.
So I was pretty happy walking down the street back to the parking lot where I'd left my car, when I could see in the distance a yellow something on my car window. It was a parking violation notice! I looked around for someone official, or even someone watching me, but I was alone. There was no fine on it, so I assumed it was not a ticket, but there was a box checked off for "recommended towing" so I'm glad I got there when I did. I won't make the mistake of parking there again in the future, but those jerks glued the notice to my window so part of me wants to do it out of spite.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The 1040 instructions arrive and it's like Christmas morning

Holy effballs! Today we got our delivery of twelve boxes of 1040 instructions that the public has been requesting. Everyday. At least once an hour. Even though I made two signs about their delayed delivery and had to explain to at least three patrons that 1040 A instruction booklet was not the same just because they wanted it to be.

Let the tax form shit storm begin!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When you Google you become a terrorist

It's movie award season and lately there's been a lot of buzz about Black Swan, (an arty film about ballet and masturbating while your mom is in your bedroom) which has made Winona Ryder suddenly relevant again because she has a minor (really minor) part in it.

And what does she do with this reclaimed fame? She acts kooky. (see photo of Winona inexplicably wearing a wedding dress to Sunday's SAG awards and giving the camera some crazy eye) “I don’t use the Internet,” Ryder revealed in last month's Elle magazine. "I have my e-mail on my BlackBerry, and that’s about it. I’ve never read a blog, ever." She then followed up this tidbit about herself with the reason why on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." It's because Winona thinks she will stumble into joining a terrorist group just like how one innocently wanders into a porn cyclone.

"The Googling was very terrifying to me," Ryder said, "Because I have this fear that I'm going to be trying to find out what movie is playing at what theater, and then I'm suddenly going to be a member Al Qaeda...We're a button away from joining Al Qaeda...You have to be careful."

This is totally true because I once accidentally joined the Symbionese Liberation Army while trying to snipe bid on some Garbage Pail Kids cards on eBay. While today's teen generation has embraced technology and the interweb with all of the wonderful and terrible things it can do, I am often interested by some Gen-Xers reaction to distance themselves from things like Facebook or Kindles -- though it is usually not out of fear. I occasionally feel like I am part of a gap generation, as those younger and older than me race to shed all personal and private information about themselves online, while somedays I feel like I could unplug and and walk away from it forever.

Maybe it's ok. After all, Prince did say "The Internet's completely over," earlier this year.