Monday, June 29, 2009

Setting a Goal for July: Participation Welcomed!

I contemplated waiting until July 1 to announce this goal I have for myself (and a goal I hope readers will consider assuming as well!), but I decided a few dozen hours' preparation might be useful.

I am deeming this July Literary Quote Month. The goal of the month-long celebration is to incorporate at least one literary quotation into ordinary conversation* each day in July. I have already talked to a well-read friend about possibilities for her own inaugural quote, and I can't wait to hear if she used it and how it went.

I'll try to post each of the quotes I use here throughout the month, and I encourage you to a) take on this quotation challenge for yourself and b) report back in the comments!

*The use of air quotation marks is discouraged. People tend to get annoyed by them. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Working in Abstraction

Today's reading for my main library class was a guideline for writing abstracts. You know, those short bits of writing that give you all the basic info you might need in considering an academic source, a summary but not? For someone who's always hated abstracts (they've always ranked ever-so-slightly higher than annotated bibliographies, for me), I actually really enjoyed contemplating what makes an abstract good. Thinking about the representation end of things is so different than thinking about writing for a professor's assignment. In college I never once thought about what the actual purpose of my writing an abstract for my work might be beyond satisfying paper requirements. But, it turns out, there's a lot of thought that needs to go into an abstract.

Take library search tools, for example. You want to do research on hamlets; the quaint little village type of hamlet, not the brooding, more-than-likely psychotic Danish Hamlet. Aside from searching an already specialized database of relevant information or sifting through page after page of "hamlet" hits, how do you know how to evaluate your possible source materials? Abstracts, it turns out.

You see, having an abstract that tells you all of the most important information about a particular source is like suddenly being able to speed read; an abstract could theoretically allow you to be fully prepared for class discussion on a particular article without reading the actual article itself. Having an abstract is being able to tell within one page whether you should give a hoot about a piece of writing or not. It's like reading the back of the book to decide if you want to read the whole thing, only better. With abstracts the information is always accurate. Or, at least, should be, as I've discovered in today's adventure in abstraction.

No longer shall I inwardly grimace when asked to write an abstract. When you stop to think about it, writing one is the ultimate logic challenge.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Madi's Wedding

The Beautiful Bride (Mrs. McCloskey!):

With her Bridesmaids:

The Cake:

The Cha Cha Slide at the Reception (John was none too happy to participate!):

Madi and Sam had an absolutely beautiful wedding; I feel privileged to have spent a day celebrating two people so happily in love. Congratulations to the newlyweds!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The connectedness of future librarians

This evening I was sitting in my library class, taking notes and trying to come up with examples to explain to myself the heavily theoretical material we were going over. Professors teaching three-hour classes have the kindness (and sense!) to give us a break somewhere around halfway through. As soon as the break began, three different people in the ten-person class immediately remarked upon Michael Jackson's passing. Talk about being connected--they new about it as soon as it was reported online, all the while keeping up with lecture notes. That's just the kind of people future librarians are: wild multi-taskers with an interest in practically everything.

Today I also attended a lecture by a bona fide puzzle librarian. No kidding, there's a librarian at IU who is the official curator of puzzles, in which puzzles are seriously her entire job. Have I mentioned that I love the entire idea of this profession?? Puzzles!!!

Tomorrow afternoon, following a job interview and a tech orientation, I shall be driving to Fort Wayne for my wonderful friend Madi's wedding. My plan right now is to listen to an audiobook on the ride, but I suppose I should leave some time to figure out my MOH speech. Short, heartfelt, and a little bit cheesy, right? Isn't that the criteria?

Moral of the story is, though, that I won't be posting again until at least Sunday. Perhaps, however, I'll have some pictures to share then to make up for my weekend absence. Until then...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Things I did today

This morning, I began my first-ever graduate school library science reading. I had thought that readings for graduate courses would be all sorts of subject-specific theory, i.e. in this case the library science theory behind how materials are represented. I was quite happily surprised when my four readings were from cognitive science, comics, linguistics, and theoretical physics. I think I definitely made the right decision in choosing to become a librarian.

This afternoon I used my apartment complex pool for the first time. It was the perfect antidote to a hot and muggy day, and I shall be using it more regularly from here on out.

This evening I attended Theology on Tap at a bar just off campus. I met some really interesting people, had some great talks about life and faith, and I drank almost a whole pint of beer. And I don't even really like beer.

Now it's time for bed, as I have to get up for my morning class tomorrow. Second day of graduate classes, here I come!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Taking note of the ambience, and reflecting all the time

Things I noticed today while looking up: the neon blue hue of the twilit sky; the textured ceiling of my room that reminds me of distant fireworks, in monotone; how I never seem to take notice of ceilings unless one is specifically mentioned to me.

Things I noticed today while looking around me: there are many types of matzo that I'll have to choose between when making an upcoming treat; two baby bunnies bounding out of a bush toward me while I walked to the parking garage after class; the mysterious group of neutral-colored cars parked in front of one particular apartment building in my neighborhood.

Something I thought about in general: I wish someone had had me read Jane Austen--I mean really read it, and think about it--before my senior year in high school. I'd like to think things would have gone different if I'd had the little morality maxim "what would Jane do?" in the back of my head. [I certainly wouldn't be having the same conversations now that I was then, I can pretty much tell you that.]

What is it about youth that makes the Wickhams and Willoughbys so desirable? So seemingly exciting? I think it might be because, as a teenaged young person, you already assume you're grown up, and thus your sensibilities won't be changing anymore. Boy oh boy is that wrong. The Wickhams and Willoughbys (and Crawfords, and Thorpes) may stay emotionally stagnant. But I, myself, am glad I am no longer a Lydia or a Marianne. Now if only some others would acknowledge it as well.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Video

Happily, this little video will be all of any Twilight movie that I'll ever see:

Although I may have to start watching Buffy...

Austen Hero Order of the Day

One might say it's a very good thing that I begin summer classes tomorrow. For the past week, aside from a few orientation and getting-oriented type activities on and around campus, I've mostly been reading and watching movies through Netflix. Not that that's a problem, per se; I saw a movie I haven't seen in a long time (Real Genius) and I've started reading a new series that should keep my dearth-of-book-idea days occupied for quite some time (the Stephanie Plum mysteries). Aside from those branchings-out, however, everything has pretty much been Jane Austen-related.

I told you about the 1940 version of P&P; since watching that I've also watched The Jane Austen Book Club, which I enjoyed, and I've also read this novel called What Would Jane Austen Do?

Which, it turns out, is a romance novel. A fact to which I would have caught on had I actually paid attention to the front cover image when I found out about it on Alas, I was none the wiser as to its romance novel-ness until I was actually in Borders, whose computer said the book was in stock but whose literature shelves were surely missing it.

And that's how I read my first-ever romance novel. I have to say, mixing Jane Austen with the awkwardly-worded sex of a romance novel does not seem immediately intuitive. All worked out for general reader satisfaction and plot resolution, though, so really my only complaint would be how many times the author says "What would Jane Austen do?" Since that's the title of the book, however, I don't know that I can complain very much.

Keeping in mind only proper Austen heroes, however, I've decided that it might be fun to rank them in my current order of preference. [Just think of this listing as a last-night-before-homework sort of thing.]

With #1 being my current preference:
6. Mr. Edmund Bertram (Mansfield Park)
5. Mr. Edward Ferrars (Sense and Sensibility)
4. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
3. Mr. George Knightley (Emma)
2. Captain Frederick Wentworth (Persuasion)
1. Mr. Henry Tilney (Northanger Abbey)

Anyone else have an opinion??

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Midsummer's Day

Today is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere -- the summer solstice, the first day of summer. Looking out my living room window, it is still reasonably light outside, even at half-past 9 o'clock in the evening. The outside ambiance is rather beautiful: the trees are absolutely still, yet the clouds up in the sky are moving quickly. The contrast of the still, various greens against the quick shades of gray. It reminds me of summer evenings at camp. Indeed, I'm probably thinking on camp now because I know several people who are lucky enough to be at their respective camps right now. I haven't been back in quite some time, but sometimes I'll walk outside and it will feel like a particular time at camp: a damp morning makes me think of walking from Sharples to First Word; bright heat in the afternoon reminds me of the heavy humidity that always seemed to blanket the grounds during free time. Summer weather always takes me back there.

Midsummer's Day, however, more recently makes me think of a book I'd like to recommend. The holiday features in it somewhat substantially. I actually read it the first time in Scotland during the spring of 2008, when I was studying there. I reread it just a few weeks ago, and it was just as lovely a book this time around.

It's an enjoyable film as well, but I definitely suggest reading the book first. If you're looking for good reading, try I Capture the Castle.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Visit your local farmers' market!

It's my first Saturday in Bloomington, so of course I ventured downtown to go to the Saturday Farmers' Market! Today was definitely a veg day, since I already have strawberries and that watermelon in my fridge: butter lettuce, green onions, snow peas, and green beans. I'll definitely be having a salad for lunch today, and I'll also be eating lots of green veg with dinners this week!

You should definitely venture out to your own local farmers' market. Here are some useful resources if you're not a regular visitor to yours:
  • Find a farmers' market near you! Plug in your state, city, county, or ZIP code info here or here
  • Find out what's in season when, and how to pick it fresh, here
  • Figure out some ideas for what to make with your farmers' market finds, as well as lots of other resources for eating more locally, here

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ghosts of Movies

Have you ever seen a movie, only to later entirely forget what that movie was all except for one or two particular details that don't do one thing to help you recall the film itself?

For example, once upon a time at a lake resort called Sleepy Hollow, I attended a Monday night movie (lots of the kids at the resort were there, and there was good popcorn). I knew that I'd enjoyed the movie; I even vaguely knew that it inspired a bunch of us kids to map out what we considered the "secret passages" all around the grounds, a map which I have long since lost. But for the longest time, probably more than eight years, all I could remember about this particular movie was that, toward the end, a girl kisses a boy in something like a cave. After the kiss, she remarks that "she didn't know that So-And-So wore braces," which So-And-So does not, because this girl was actually kissing her love interest's younger brother. I only figured out the name of this movie (The Goonies) once I overcame my general fear and embarrassment of ever talking about kissing and related this movie ghost to someone else. I always enjoy solving the mystery of another movie ghost.

A current ghost of a movie that I know I saw maybe five years ago on tv: There's some sort of virtual theme park, with Medieval and Western lands as well as at least one more, that goes malfunctions and ends up killing all of the park-goers. Any ideas what movie that might be?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Random Thought: Netflix Recommendations

Have you ever used Netflix? If you have, have you noticed just how interestingly specific they are about their movie recommendations?

For example, right now I am being recommended movies in the following categories:

Now, I plan on becoming a librarian, AND I love organizing and categorizing things. But only in my wildest dreams would I have so successfully been so specific. Kudos, Netflix.

[I have now set a goal for myself of amassing lists of films I've seen, books I've read, and music I've listened to so that I, too, might give successful recommendations. Go ahead and ask for one, but I'm not making any promises. At least not until I've got some more library learnin' under my belt.]

Pride and Prejudice (1940): A Review

While both Shakespeare and Jane Austen were Brits, logic does not necessarily follow that British actors could portray their characters successfully. Such was the case with Laurence Olivier, who was in fact British despite a particularly French-seeming surname. He was a fabulous Hamlet, to be sure, but a Darcy? Not so much.

To be fair, the failings of this rendition of Pride and Prejudice are not really Olivier's fault. The really troubling bits include such things as costumes literally out of Gone With the Wind; an Elizabeth Bennet who cries several times throughout the film (not including when Lydia runs away with Wickham, because Darcy has not yet informed her of Wickham's womanizing/gold-digger-ing); and the fact that Lady Catherine de Bourgh actually gives her blessing to Darcy and Elizabeth's marriage. What planet is all of this occurring on???

I suppose that I have to admit that Olivier does what he can with a strangely revised storyline, save one moment. When Lady Catherine explicitly tells Darcy that Elizabeth truly loves him (which doesn't happen in the real Austen!!!), Olivier gets all dreamy-eyed and looks into the distance somewhere over the viewer's right shoulder. Could this be a Hamlet gaze? Methinks yes.

Greer Garson was more amusing than anything else as Elizabeth Bennet. What really preoccupied me about the Bennet sisters, however, was Ann Rutherford as Lydia. She played the youngest O'Hara sister in Gone With the Wind as well, although that character was very small. Since the costumes already had me mentally merging this rendition of P&P with GWTW, my mind fancied a bit of fictional character development for Carreen O'Hara. Mostly it was fun juxtaposing the dangerously flirtatious Lydia with the convent-joining Carreen. One might say that Rutherford had a knack for playing characters who would fit in well at nunneries.

One final Laurence Olivier tidbit:
"In his delightful autobiography, Laurence Olivier, who made a special pilgrimage to Ernest Jones when he was preparing his Hamlet in the 1930s, recalls that one of his predecessors as actor-manager had said in response to the earnest question, 'Did Hamlet sleep with Ophelia?' - 'In my company, always.'" -Elaine Showalter


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Carried a Watermelon

For quite some time now, I've been a fan of a particular line from Dirty Dancing: "I carried a watermelon." [click here for a short clip if you want a better scene reference] I have always loved how awkward Baby is in this moment, when she first sees Johnny in his element and is at once trying to explain her presence at the staff dance without attaching herself to his cousin for the duration of the evening. And all that results from this hurried social consideration is "I carried a watermelon." Brilliant.

"I carried a watermelon" is actually one of the best metaphors for awkwardness, and Dirty Dancing is only one of the reasons for it being so descriptive of awkwardness. The other reason the metaphor is so successful is because, literally, carrying a watermelon is awkward.

I know, because I carried a rather large watermelon out of Kroger last night. [tangent, I'm pretty sure you could fit four of the Greencastle Kroger stores into the one Bloomington Kroger, it's that huge] I hadn't gone into the Kroger intending to carry out a watermelon which, I'm sure, is how lots of "But I didn't mean to be so awkward!!" stories begin. I wanted milk, baking soda, and fruit.

Milk? Check.
Baking soda? Check.
Fruit? Like cherries or strawberries, which are both wonderfully in season right now? FAIL.

I really don't know how a grocery store the size of this one could manage to NOT have cherries or strawberries. To be fair, both fruits were there when I went back for a more substantial shop today, so maybe the dearth of seasonal red fruits owed to the fact that I was shopping at 7:30 p.m. But it's a 24-hour Kroger, so I'm not really buying that excuse.

But I digress. I leave the Kroger carrying a small bag of groceries and this cumbersome watermelon. It's a heavy one for it's size, too, because that's how I was always told to pick a good watermelon: high density. Trust me, this baby would nearly sink if thrown in a lake for any strange, albeit amusing, reason.

I get it home just fine, but then I have to carry it up to my apartment. My new apartment, which just received it's finishing touches (and bed) today. Have you ever tried balancing groceries, your purse, a watermelon, and a pop while trying to unlock the door to your new apartment? It's remarkably awkward. Any number of things could have dropped and made a mess.

So there you go, a little example of why "I carried a watermelon" is so gosh darn awkward. From someone who, trust me, knows what it's like to be awkward a large percent of the time. You have it on good authority.