Monthly Archives: July, 2012

Penguin’s Progress

Back in January, my loyal readers – all like two of you – might remember me mentioning that I was applying for another job in the library.  Specifically, I was applying to be an official librarian – a reference librarian.  So I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat wondering if I got it.  The answer is no, I didn’t, but not because I was rejected.  I rejected the process.

Cows . . . we have them.

              Because, you see, we just now found our candidates.  In July.   Seriously.  Last summer, we lost a librarian, and another moved to a higher position.  So two candidates needed.  75 people applied.  Again, seriously!   I’m thinking these people must not have realized where we are.  They probably got confused and thought we were one of those big universities with money and stuff, located in a city with people and entertainment and not so many cows. 

                So I was a bit daunted by this, but what the heck, I could hack it.  But time at a university moves like a penguin.  If you’ve ever watched these birds, you know they aren’t exactly speed demons.  They waddle, and spend lots of time huddling together.  That’s what happens here too.  We’ve needed these two positions filled since last July.  For six months the position was “frozen” (like a penguin homeland) until they decided to open it again.  But that was just the beginning.  They then had to come up with a job description.  And post it.  And wait for applications.  And cry when they realized that by leaving the position open for an extra weekend, the number went from 55 to 75 applicants.  Which just goes to show how bad our economy really is.

                The position, while a huge raise for me, is not what most would consider highly paid.  But the little addition of “salary commiserate upon experience” doesn’t exactly tell people “Even public school teachers are paid better than this.”  With all these candidates, I figured they’d find some scientific way to eliminate people, like say all candidates with names starting with M.  But no, it is required that every single application be reviewed and assigned a numerical score.  Every. Single. One. 

I dunno . . . all the candidates are startin’ to look the same.

                No one person could do this without losing all mental faculties.  So a committee is formed (remember the huddle?) of seven people, only one of whom is not on staff.  So this means about half the staff was involved in the hiring process.  Of two people.  Who will make less money than a public school  teacher.  But it’s not about the money.  It’s about the prestige that a title like “librarian” brings with it.  I mean, sure, you could be a lawyer making six figures, but if you’re a librarian, you still get to do research, only you make a tenth of the salary.  Awesome!

                As time dragged on, I felt my stress-o-meter go up.  I filled in at this position since they were short handed, and to give myself experience.  Unfortunately, this experience showed me that not only is this a rather difficult job, it is also extremely annoying.  I’ve done reference work before, but not with university students.  It turns out that university students have a lot of questions.  And they will come up and ask you for help with everything.  You might help twenty people in an hour.  And the questions range from “Where is the bathroom?” to the more complex “Why is the computer melting?”  Let’s not forget the phone either, which you’re expected to answer.  Upstairs, at my regular position, most of my phone calls come from people trying to reach somebody else.

I smile because I have no idea what I am doing!

It’s tough when you’re sitting at a desk that is literally labeled “Reference” and you know absolutely nothing.  They’ll ask you lots of homework questions, and after a while, you’re willing to just do their homework, because you have no idea how to explain it.  That is, if you understand how to do their homework.  One student I helped was an ESL student working on law, which meant I had to try and translate two different languages.  My brain was pudding by the end of that session.  And then there’s the issues with the computers and printers.  The I.T. people downstairs have locked us out of most computer stuff, for good reason I’m sure, but unfortunately this keeps us from being able to access things we need, like the ability to put a travel drive into the computer.   You have to call them when a student needs to use a travel drive to upload their homework.  Every.  Single. Time.  I’m pretty sure most of I.T. assumes we’re all brain dead, although they are usually polite enough not to tell us so.               

I’m not a real people person.  I am what you call “introverted” which translates to “nerd”.  It’s not that I hate all people, just most people.  More than once, when a student came to me with a question I wanted to ask, “What???”  Sometimes I would work on my Jedi mind powers, trying in vain to direct the students away from me with my mind.  “You do not have a question.  You want to return to your dorm . . .”

                So anyway, this experience combined with the length and stress of the application process, caused me to change my mind.  And just in time.  We finally brought two people to campus to interview, and only one ran away screaming once she realized where we were.  Luckily, the next candidate we interviewed decided to come.  I’m not sure what they told her, but it had to be pretty good.  In a funny twist of fate, one of our new reference librarians has the same name I do.  So it’s like another me got the position, only this me is younger and more accomplished!  Yay!  

                Seriously, I wish our two new people well.  Maybe in a few years I’ll be ready for that step up.  For now, I’ll waddle back to my safe little cubby in Special Collections.  Which turns out to be more special than I ever realized.

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Books You Wouldn’t Read At School – at least, God, I hope not

I picked on some of the “Classics” of literature last time.  (I wonder how a book gets to be a classic.  Does it have to rate a certain level on the depression scale to be considered?  There are very few happy classic books.)  Anyway, now I move on to some of the more popular – for some reason – books that people are reading or have read.  Many of them have even been made into movies.  Then again, so have many comic books, so take that as you will.

 The Twilight Series:

representation of Twilight by my daughter who is too smart to read these books

Oh, Twilight, how can I rate thee?  Surely not as well as many others already have.  Just look at the blog roll to see some of the excellent blogs trashing this book like it rightly deserves.  I do have one complaint – these people, as far as know, were not around when the series first came out, so I suffered alone.  No one should suffer these books alone!  There should be some sort of AA group for the victims of bad books.  Anyway, be sure to check out these people – they are awesome.

http://dazzlemethis.wordpress.com/

http://speaker7.wordpress.com

http://markreads.net/reviews/category/past-books/twilight/

http://www.anamardoll.com/2011/02/twilight-twilight-deconstruction-index.html

And these are just the ones I’ve discovered so far in my ongoing quest to keep from doing productive work!  I’m getting off track again.  In case you are one of the six people who haven’t heard of or read this book, here is my summary of all four books in play form for dramatic effect.

TWILIGHT

Bella: Edward you are so hot

Edward: Yes but I am a vampire.  Stay away and get in my Volvo.

Bella: Edward you are so hot.  I want to be a vampire too.

Edward: No way.  Your blood smells yummy.

Bella: Let us lay in this meadow and stare at each other.

Edward: Watch me sparkle and dazzle!

Bella: Your family is totally cool. I want to be a vampire too.

Edward: No you don’t.  We are all beautiful and sparkly and live forever and rainbows shoot out our butts.  Why would anyone want that?

Bella: My life is awful.  My Dad cares and everyone in school wants to be my friend.  Please make me a vampire.

Edward: Let’s play baseball.  Oh, no, there is another vampire that wants to kill you.

Bella: What, a plot?  I will throw myself into danger for no real reason.

Edward: I will rescue you and blame your injuries on falling down the stairs.  Wanna go to prom?

Bella: No but I will because you are hot.  Make me into a vampire.

Edward: No – we have three more books to go.

Reader: Cries

NEW MOON

Bella: Yay it’s my birthday but paper cut and my boyfriend left me and my life is over.

Jacob: I am another super hot guy who is crazy about you for no known reason.

Bella: Cool.  Help me attempt suicide cause it makes me have hallucinations of my boyfriend Edward who is better than you.

Jacob: Okay. Jump off a cliff.

Bella: Wow I almost died but Jacob rescued me.

Jacob: I am a hot werewolf and I love you.

Bella: Oh no Edward heard I was dead and is going to kill himself by sparkling

Jacob: Lol, what?

Bella: I must go to Italy and stop him.  Whew he is alive but these other vampires want me to become a vampire.  Edward, turn me into a vampire.

Edward: No.  It would take away your soul. Never.  Unless you marry me.

Bella: Ew, that’s like a real commitment, yuck. Unlike eternal life.

Jacob: Hey, I’m still here guys.

Edward: Stay away from my girlfriend.

Bella: Oh, nooos, two hot guys are fighting over me!

Reader: This can’t get worse.

ECLIPSE

Edward: I want to protect you so no more seeing your friend Jacob

Bella: Hey where is my car battery?

Edward: I took it cause I love you.  There is a vampire chick out to kill you.

Bella: Make me into a vampire.

Edward: Not till you marry meeee.

Bella: Vampire chick is killing lots of people.  Lots of werewolves are mad and want to attack vampires.  I am full of angst.

Edward: Let’s be friends with werewolves after all and kill vampire chick.  Done.

Jacob: I still love you so I’m gonna force you to kiss my furry self.

Bella: Oh, another sign of abuse.  I love you and Edward!  How will I choose?

Edward: It says in the book you choose me.  Let’s get married.

Bella: Okay, I will send an invite to Jacob.  Won’t that be nice?

Reader: It got worse.  Wait – there’s still one more book?  Why????

BREAKING DAWN 

Bella: Yay, a wedding!  I am pretty and married to Edward.  Soon I will give up my soul.

Edward: Let’s honeymoon on my island.  Oops I almost broke you.  My bad.

Bella: That’s okay.  Oh, look, I’m preggers with a demon baby!

Edward: Let’s kill it.

Bella: No ways I luv my baby!  Oh, no, baby broke me.  I will puke blood.

Edward: Gross.  I guess I have to make you a vampire now.

Bella: Yay, I am a vampire and sparkly and perfect and wonderful and demon baby is oh so cute.  I will call her Reneesme.

Jacob: That’s an awful name.  I will totally marry her one day.

Bella: Ew, quit making googly eyes at my baby!

Edward: Other vampires are going to kill our demon baby.  We might have actual action.

Bella: No we won’t.  Cause I will make a shield and protect everybody because I am a special snowflake.  Mean vampires go away.  Yay, together forever and happy!

Reader: Throws book across room.

CRAZY TOWN

       We’re back to the kiddie shows in this latest installment of bizarro-world.  There’s more than enough freaks in this one for your very own freak sandwhich, with some to spare for a friend.  Next up is:
 
LAZY TOWN
 
           When I first heard the name of this show I thought, “A town of laziness?  At last I have found my people!”  Sadly, it turned out that the town wasn’t what I’d hoped for.  There were only three humans, and all of them were disturbing.  I mean more disturbing than the puppets, which is saying something.
 
  Okay, so the story is this.  There’s this town of puppets that is getting along perfectly fine being lazy jerks and then comes this pink-haired human girl to ruin everything.  She decides that everyone in this town should be healthy and exercise like she’s Michelle Obama or something. 

Oh, the perkiness . . . .

 
            And she had help.  Her help came in the form of an adult man in an uncomfortably (for me anyway) skin-tight jumpsuit.  His name was Sportacus.  Yes, really.  He flew in a sporty blimp and dropped down from the sky every once in a while to help out pink-haired girl.  I don’t remember her name, and I’m not looking it up, so I’ll just call her Katy Perry. 
 
            So Dork-a-cus and Katy spent every episode trying to educate the puppets on physical fitness and nutrition.  There was a stupid puppet mayor and several stupid puppet children.  I remember one was obsessed with candy and often had a lollipop stuck to his forehead.  Another one was called Stingy. I think he was a member of the Young Republicans.  And there was a black one with headphones because . . . I don’t remember.  Maybe he was trying to block out the sound like I was.
 
            But, oh no, I’m leaving out the bad guy!  The oh-so-subtle Robbie Rotten of the

Robbie and his victims . . . er, disguises

fake chin and freaked out disguises that could fool no one but Our Hero and Katy Perry.  His mission in life was to bring down Sportacus, so you kind of had to cut him a break there.  Guy’s heart was in the right place, but sadly his brain wasn’t.  So his plans to keep the lazy in Lazytown were always thwarted.

 
            I remember one episode where there’s this race and Sportacus goes on about how fruit is fuel for your body blah blah crap and so Robbie decides to trick him with a sugar filled apple.  Sporty takes a bite and ka-blammo!  Instant Diabetic!  He immediately has a total spaz attack right on the track.  I think even Robbie was weirded out.
 
            The thing that was ickiest for me was that little pink-haired Katy had to have this adult guy hanging out

Yeah, nothing creepy at all about this picture

with her all the time.  And he was totally French on top of that.  At least I think he was.  He kind of had an accent and this stupid Hitler stash.  Point being, it just seemed kind of odd for him to be hangin’ around a young girl all the time.  Couldn’t Sportacus find someone his own age?  Creeper.

 
            Also Katy was way too darn perky to live.  She always had this dance number at the end with Sportacus in which she bounced around like a caffeine fueled Chihuahua.  After watching a half-hour of that show, I was ready to eat several sugar apples, or possibly throw the sugar apples directly at her head.  I mean, what’s so wrong with being lazy?  Must we all conform to your impossible standards, Michelle – er, Katy???  Maybe we don’t want to be fit and healthy.  That’s why we’re here in front of the television and not at the gym. 
 
Besides, if those two freaks are the spokespeople for fitness, I’d rather chill with Robbie.
 
 
Final Analysis:
Creeper-Factor: High
Psychedelic Hair: Check
Irritating Puppets: Yup
Perky-Meter: Please make her stop

YOU SUCK: HELPFUL ADVICE FOR WRITERS

Note: This blog done with my own copyrighted illustrations!  Noooo one copy now!

            Last week I took a writing class, hoping to learn the secrets of the publishing world.  What do editors, publishers, and agents think about writers?  I can save you some time and sum it up fairly quickly.  They think you suck.
Close enough.
                Oh, don’t get me wrong, they like good writers.  The problem is that good writers are few and far between.   There might be one John Grisham in the midst of thousands of writers so bad that they should be beaten with their own laptops.   These people’s books are always quickly tossed aside by professional editors so that we are only left with exceptionally well-written books, like Twilight.
                I guess it’s hard to blame editors.  Anyone who has been a teacher, or even proof-read a paper for an exceptionally dense friend can attest to how much fun it is to edit.  I can imagine after going through the eight hundredth clichéd story (example: The age old story of a vampire and his dog) just about anyone could get jaded.
                Never fear, there are books to help you prevent bad writing!  And they have many useful tips for staying out of the “slush” pile, or at least not having your manuscript set on fire by vengeful, overworked editing assistants.
 
Tip One:  You really, really should carefully limit the extensive number of descriptive adverbs and adjectives.  Really.  Relentlessly using copious amounts of annoying adverbs and adjectives makes those silly old editors very, very angry. 
Tip Two:  Avoid printing your manuscript on “Hello Kitty” stationary.  Be professional.  Use only high grade electric blue cardstock.  You’re sure to be noticed!
Don’t use this stationary
 no matter how cute it is.
Tip Three: Sphell cheque yer werk butt donnt wirree a bout punktuasion an gooder grammer tat r onli fur sissies bee origanal k thanx bai.
Tip Four: Mention that you and Stephen King are best buddies.
Tip Five: Make up an interesting pen name.  No one wants to read a book by Sigmund Spelunker.  Try something catchy like Steel Gear, or Victoria Bloomingdale, or J.K. Rowling.
Tip Six:  Do your research.  Be sure and send your manuscript to the right publisher.  For instance, a romance should not go to a Science Fiction publisher, unless it’s about a romance between Predator and Captain Kirk. 
Example of Children’s Book Cover
Tip Seven: You can’t use “Predator” and “Captain Kirk” – that’s a copyright no-no.  Change up the names a little.  Pre’dator and Lt. Kirk ought to do it.
Tip Eight:   If they are looking for a children’s book, no need for a rewrite.  Just pen the tale of Lt. Kirk and his pal Pre’dator in crayon.  This will make you look “whimsical”. 
Tip Nine: Your story must quickly grab the reader’s attention.  Try something like this in your proposal: “Lt. Kirk decided that if he didn’t get published this time, he was to going to introduce his double-bladed axe to the editor and his family who live at 4098 Palm Street in San Diego, California.”
Tip Ten:  Once the editor has issued a restraining order against you, soften him up with bribery.  Send your manuscript with a batch of special home-grown brownies.  I’m pretty sure this is how that “50 Shades” book got published.
 
Well, that’s all the tips I have for today.  Before you start, remember that most people are never, ever published no matter how awesome they are, and you aren’t even close to awesome so what chance do you have?  Good luck!
 
Copywrited by ME

THE ONE WITH THE TEEN WHO HAPPENS TO BE A ROCKSTAR

I am taking a small break from the kiddie shows in order to focus on another genre, one possibly more deadly.  Teenie-bopper shows.  Disney and Nickelodeon (or Nick, cause they are trying to be cool) are two of the most responsible for this programming.  These shows tend to feature beautiful, pimple-less teens with major problems, like prom, boyfriends or lack thereof, and parents who are complete morons.

While these shows feature teens, they are usually watched by pre-teens in the 9 to 12 range.  That’s because once a kid reaches the age of the kids on the show, they realize that real school life isn’t remotely like the lives of these teenage stars.  But for younger kids, these shows are great, because they feature great role models they can look up to – um, at least until their role models get caught smoking crack.  Which brings us to the first example, by request:

Hannah Montana

Please don’t tell my heart, my achy breaky arghhhhh. . . .

Hannah Montana is about a girl named Miley, played by Miley Cyrus, in yet another T.V. trend of naming the main characters after the actress so that they can more easily remember which part they play.  Also on the show is Miley’s real-life country music has-been mullet-headed father, Billy Ray Cyrus.  Billy Ray made it big with the song “Achy Breaky Heart” which was played on the radio so many times in the early 90s that people were poking at their own ears with sharp sticks.  The song even spawned a line dance.  No, really.  Horrible times, the 90s.

Anyway, after Achy Breaky, Billy Ray didn’t do a whole lot until he was able to ride the coat tails of his daughter onto her new Disney show.  In the tradition of Disney, they chose a girl who was both pretty and a good singer.  They would also have her act, badly, but with the goofy scripts, it was really hard to tell.  The plot of Hannah Montana was rather simple.  Miley was a young teen who had just moved from Tennessee to Malibu and had to adjust to her oh-so-difficult life filled with problems like concealing her secret identity as rockstar Hannah Montana.  Her disguise was almost as clever as Clark Kent’s.  She wore a blond wig.  Yup.  A rock solid disguise there.

Totally fooled.

So what were the highlights of this show?  Well, first there was the corny accent that I could listen to for all of five seconds before I started looking for that pointy stick I used back in the early 90s.  Or the costumes, that were always modest and appropriate -for a showgirl.  And the singing – imagine the exact same song played over and over and over again.  Oh, sure, my daughter assures me that she was actually singing several different songs, but they all sounded the same to me.  Here’s some of the songs I got from Wikipedia that thankfully I don’t remember.

“Make Some Noise” (how very apropos!)
“If We Were a Movie” (whut?)
“Nobody’s Perfect” (except for Miley / Hannah!)
“The Best of Both Worlds” (I really don’t want to see the worst, then)

Hannah doll comes complete with bong!

Hannah Montana ran from roughly the beginning of time about a million years until mercifully ending in 2011.   By this time, Hannah had spawned a huge merchandizing frenzy, with dolls, bedspreads, and clothes.  At one point, Wal-Mart carried only Hannah Montana clothing in their girl’s section.  The face was everywhere – like Hannah was purposely following me around.  “Haha, you just think you can avoid me by screaming when the T.V. is on until your daughters turn it off.  I’ll show you!”

As Hannah’s fame grew, so did Miley Cyrus’s.  The little brat is worth millions but you’ll be happy to know she has been very responsible with it.  At 15, she posed nearly naked in bedsheets – pictures approved by her father.  Can’t describe the Ick factor there.  Later, she got a video leaked on youtube of her doing drugs on her birthday.  Parents everywhere were filled with joy.  Around the time of this scandle, I was helping at a kindergarden Christmas party for my youngest daughter.  An adorable five-year-old classmate of hers told me, “Miley Cyrus smoked a bong.”  “That’s nice dear, want a cupcake???”

On the plus side, Hannah and Miley are now of age, and the show has ended.  But never fear, for there are still other shows about kids who happen to be rock stars – dozens of them.  So exciting!  OMG.

Final Analysis:

Irritating, has-been country music star: Check

Teen with totally realistic alter-ego: Yup

Disney actress that does drugs: Uh huh

Ick Factor: Present