Monday, July 06, 2015

Lumberjanes, Vol 1 "Beware The Kitten Holy"--Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis

Did you go to summer camp? Did you read books about summer camp? Did you wish you could go?

Lumberjanes is a happy little comic about 5 friends at a Girl Scouts style summer camp. The central tenet of the Lumberjane code is friendship. April, Jo, Molly, Mal, and Ripley are residents of Roanoke cabin, headed by by-the-books counselor Jen. The girls are busy earning their badges (The Robyn Hood Badge, The Up All Night Badge, Naval Gauging Badge) and bonding though adventure and ritual.

However, the Miss Quinella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp For Girls Hardcore Lady-Types is a little different. Let's just say that it's kind of got a very "Welcome To Night Vale" feel to it. The local fauna tend to have three eyes or belong to myth, and the camp director is awfully unfazed by reports of a bear woman. What is "The Kitten Holy?" And why are there these glowing gems in odd places?

I'm a little over the Night Vale weirdness (it's starting to look like "Lost" to me, which I thought was just random and grasping for ideas and pretending to be going for a greater big, important reveal--ha ha ha). But while I am not totally into Lumberjanes, I still like the emphasis on female friendship, bravery and problem solving. The use of famous female role model names as an interjection gets a little old, and in some ways it's just aggressively twee. But you know what? Who cares? This comic is fantastic for teens and hardcore lady types. I just wish Peaches were about 5 years older to share this with her.

I first heard about Lumberjanes last summer when it was published. I'm not into comics anymore, so I put the collection on my list of titles to add to my ever-growing library list. I pulled the trigger and ordered it when I heard it had been optioned for a movie. Issues with it aside, I am looking forward to reading and seeing more about the adventures of April, Jo, Mel, Molly and Ripley in the future. Additionally, with the new fiscal year on July 1st, Phoenix Public Library's subscription to Hoopla includes comics and all issues of Lumberjanes are included.

Want my used copy? Let me know.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Please: Fiction Inspired By The Smiths--Edited By Peter Wild

It turns out that if you've never sat down and listened to The Smiths until you are 33 or 34, you have no deep background with or emotional attachment to the band. And therefore, short fiction by writers you've never heard of about the band are about 5 degrees too far removed from your interests.

If you'd like to read this, speak up and I'll send it. I have no opinions on quality or enjoyability of this collection, but maybe you are excited by it.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer 2015: I'll Send You A Book

As someone who raised herself reading anything she could get her hands on and became a librarian of all things, I have a lot of books. Of course. And now I have to get rid of them.

I do tell people bluntly that books are just piles of rotting paper attracting bugs to your house, but I'm not an absolutist about their continued existence. Actually, I am quite pro the book as a physical object as I find they are still the best way to share. I work in a medical library, and we maintain a book exchange for patients, family and staff to donate books and magazines and swap them back and forth. This is widely used--oh, you think everyone has a Kindle or likes watching "Ellen?" YOU ARE WRONG. Plus hospitals are places where you get stuck somewhere with nothing to keep yourself busy, lots of other stressed out folks, and a variety of weird. Hospitals, prisons and the city bus are where you will find readers--all places where you have time on your hands, little control over the situation, and where the ability to mentally disappear is so, so helpful.

So for my summer project, I am working on reading through some/most/all of my books and recycling by getting them into other people's hands. This past year or so I have started dropping them off at our book carts, sometimes with little messages about what (positive) things I thought about them. But I would also like to send them to anyone still reading here, friends, hams, and strangers alike. Just leave a message in the comments or drop me a line at atomiclibrarian @ yahoo. Anything I can't send I'll note in my comments about it. Anything I write a review or commentary on after this date is up for grabs.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Because Paulie Walnuts Wanted To Know About My Valentine's Day Bus Suitor

So last spring I was sitting on the bus reading a book (A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews--highly recommended, starts out hysterical but spirals into despair. Mennonites, man. Not quite the charming, loving, Old-World simple folk that Rhonda Janzen tried to pass her kin off as being). Anyway, this fellow strikes up a conversation and it really piques his interest that I'm a librarian. "Oh I have some old illustrated Bible pages, how can I display them? I love old books." And I tell him a bit about the dangers of direct sunlight and why you prop up books so not to bend the spine, show off my 1 credit hour of archives knowledge.

And then he asks me if I want to meet sometime and go to a movie and I say no. I mean whatever, but I am not attracted, his breath smells, and he seems a bit weird. Also, I reject the idea that just because I dare to be a woman in public doing things I should be macked on by men, especially men who interrupt my reading time. I mean I'll give him points for trying, but I have learned my lesson and I know I cannot be going places with someone after a 10 minute conversation. After 10 minutes my conversational skills are exhausted and I don't need to talk to anyone for at least 6 hours unless we are really on the same page. Like same references, listen to all the same podcasts, have extensive overlap in our reading materials. And I don't "go to the movies" anyway. Have you seen modern movies? I go to the movies with my mom and I don't even like to watch sex scenes with her, and she thankfully has barely acknowledged either of us has ever had sex since she did car sex ed when I was 6. And then of course, I must not want to go out with him because I'm married or have a guy or something and no, I just don't want to go out with you, dude.

So anyway, because my commute is LONG and the bus starts off crowded but thins out (I am usually one of the last 2-3 on the bus after an hour) I would occasionally see him but could avoid him for the next couple months. And then one day he sits next to me and I don't remember how exactly the this conversation gets started, but he makes the assertion that the United States is a ridiculously pro-abortion country. OH, REALLY? EXPLAIN TEXAS. And we are off to the races as I start calling him on his bullshit.

He is not an A+ arguer/discusser. Like maybe a B-. His argument is basically "abortion is bad because GOD" but he won't actually come out and say that. Instead he tries a lot of assertions based along the line that human beings are special, because they bury their dead (this is a big point with him), and you can't explain our evolution fully, and I poke holes in the argument all the way up Scottsdale Road. Which no, because animals mourn their dead. And humans are human because of a series of lucky environmental coincidences and anything could have evolved into humans based on enough time and luck. Maybe we could have been The Cat from Red Dwarf. Oh well there must be something other than evolution because of gaps in the fossil record. Oh you stupid intelligent designist. He tries the old "you must be pro-choice because you've had an abortion" angle. I say if or not, it's not relevant because I am a person with a brain and voting rights, you know. Because as a woman I can't have any opinions that don't stem from personal experience, apparently.

And his final summation, which he delivers with his supposed triumph clear in his voice is, "Well, if women don't want to get pregnant then they should be abstinent." And then I laugh because this fucker has no chance ever with me.

I don't even know what this guy's name is.

Then we abandon the Peak for the summer and then the bus schedule changes and I get on before 7am and I never see him again and that's fine with me.

So on Valentine's Day evening, I'm on the bus again on my side of town and holy hell he gets on. And he sits next to me and he's clearly feeling like "oh, I see that dumb liberal pro-choice girl and maybe I can win her over on Valentine's Day." And I say hello and he starts to talk and 15 seconds later I excuse myself as it's my stop anyway.

And I get off the bus.

Sheesh. My mom is right; I need a car.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Your House Is On Fire, Your Children All Gone--Stefan Kiesbye

If there's one thing I've learned as a librarian, it's that if you can display an item, someone will get interested in it.

This is how I wound up with this book, an impulse borrow as I was checking myself at the library*

It has a fantastic cover design, featuring a girl modeled after the original "Village of the Damned" look with some rustic dead animals hanging in the background. There's an additional nice touch if you turn the book about 30 degrees to the side--the message "IF YOU TELL ON ME YOU'RE DEAD" appears on the cover. Super scary. It promises a tale about a small, isolated town and four friends who grew up there and compares it to both the Brothers Grimm and Stephen King.

The problem with this book is that Kiesbye had one great vignette that exposes the depravity of the town, a village cooking contest that puts various people on edge and ends with the murder of one contestant and her family by the whole town once the social order of who wins the contest is disrupted. Plus they have possibly just eaten human flesh and the murdered were newcomers anyway. After that, it's just going through the motions of murder, witchcraft, incest, rape and maiming until he caps it off with a mention that, hey, there was a concentration camp down the road. When the Nazis show up, they are not even frozen Nazi zombies And like in all horror films, the characters are thinly drawn and second to the shock factor.

There's a reason "The Lottery" is a classic. It's a short story, the horror builds, and once revealed it ends.

At just under 200 pages, this book was great for commute reading--I finished it on one day. But overall, it was just an irritating waste of time.

*Yes, in Arizona you check out your own books at a machine. We did not have that back in Ohio--has it finally become a thing there?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

So Cleveland. So Very Cleveland.

Apparently, Clevelanders are into boasting about how hardcore Cleveland they are because the Republicans are coming in 2016 and LeBron is rejoining the Cavs.

I'm so Cleveland, I still have the exact same job I got when I got out of college 20 years ago.*

I'm so Cleveland, I once punched an Oberlin student in the face at the airport for being annoying. No, they didn't arrest me. It was an Oberlin student.

I'm so Cleveland, I go to Lakewood and I name every bar that was there 25 years ago and who drank there.

I'm so Cleveland, you name a closed parish I can tell you where it is and what ethnicity the original congregation was.

I'm so Cleveland, I can tell you what Central European country your baba came from based on the curve of your nose and your last name.

I'm so Cleveland, I actual have ethnic stereotypes about the difference between Slovaks and Czechs.

I'm so Cleveland, I know how to get to Shaker Square. And when I'm there, I'm mourning the businesses that were there before they got evicted and they put in the Gap that closed 2 years later. (That was in '99-2000.)

I'm so Cleveland, I'm always surprised when an art museum want to charge me money to see the collection.

I'm so Cleveland, Case Western was my reach school.

I'm so Cleveland, I'm indignent when it's suggested I should change or evolve in any way.

*Seriously, my ex.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Watch The Bridge With Me This Summer. Please.

Season 2 of The Bridge started on Wednesday. I watched Season 1 last summer, and it was a delight. Well, okay not a delight--it is a dark and unforgiving show, just like the desert it's set in. Numerous people get killed in gruesome ways furthering the plot, but those deaths aren't titillating. Real events and news form the backbone of this story, and well if there's a weirdo serial killer hanging around, at least he's got a serious socio-political message.

And Lyle Lovett appears in several episodes, at one point carrying a three bean salad that's not a three bean salad, if you know what I mean. So while the first episode maybe didn't hook me, my 25 year crush on Lyle Lovett* kept me watching that second episode and after that I was devoted. I'm devoted because I like character driven dramas with incredibly twisty plots, sly touches of humor and excellent acting, and dialogue that dips in and out of English and Spanish appropriately.

To slightly recap season 1 (no spoilers, just the basics)--one night the lights go out on the bridge that separates El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico. When the lights come back on, there's a woman's body left in the middle of the bridge, half in each country. It turns out there's two half bodies switched, which brings police detectives Sonya Cross** and Marco Ruiz together to work the case. Also on that bridge was the car of local journalist Daniel Frye, local socialite Charlotte Millwright with her husband in an ambulance, and local weirdo/social worker Steven Linder, who has a woman in his trunk.

And from them it picks up strands of the drug trade, the prostitution trade, the missing women of Juarez, corruption in the Mexican police, smuggled migrants, and tells the story of what's going on with these characters and the symbiotic American relationship between America and Mexico. It's streaming on Hulu and Netflix at the moment, and the DVDs were released last month.

I was disappointed Matthew Lilliard (formerly best know as Shaggy from the Scooby-Do remake 10+ years ago)as reporter Daniel Frye didn't get an Emmy nod as he is fantastic in the role of a hardcore, functional addict whose journalistic brilliance is just managing to save everyone from giving up on him, kicking him in the ribs and leaving him in the gutter beside the taco stand. You understand why Adriana Mendez (another good performance by Emily Rios) sticks with him, and their actual friendship is refreshing.

Let me tell you, I would watch the spinoff where Daniel Frye and Adriana Mendez hangout and investigate and report on anything, a la State of Play (aka the fantastic British series that is the best thing about smart people thinking, writing and modern journalism that I have ever seen). Considering season 1 ends with them involved in the most local heartwarming story of a local 100 year old woman's birthday gone bad, I think we can look forward to this. Or maybe if we get Season 3, Adriana will do something on Mexican DIY abortion pill usage in Texas, considering what's gone on there in the last year.

So in case you also live in a place where it's too damn hot to leave the house (110 today!)give The Bridge a shot and come leave comments and let's talk and dissect.

*My other 25 year crush is on Henry Rollins. Make of this what you will.
**I promise, before season 2 is over I will deliver my epic Sonya Cross/Asperger's/superpower rant. Maybe multiple times.