Libraries & Librarians, a Personal History

I did not know this week was National Library Week until this morning. Synchronicity! I wrote the first draft of this post last week, when it was not library week, but when I was physically in the library. I didn’t have time to edit and post it right away, but I’m leaving the language as-is because writing about a library in a library is perfect. More perfect is releasing said writing during National Library Week!

Oh, and please see this previous post, where I explain why this one is so very very late in coming. And yes, this is a patron-inspired post. Many many thanks to patron Brandee, who requested I write about libraries/librarians!

Library Week Gaiman Quote

Today seems like a good day to tackle this topic. I’m sitting at the Edmonton Public Library right now. It’s not the first time I’ve been here by any means, but it’s the first time I’ve done more than grab a book and go. I brought my laptop and vowed to be more productive than I sometimes am at home, where I have the temptations of the TV and the couch.

Libraries

I love libraries. Some of my earliest memories are of my mom taking me to the Waukesha Public Library back in the 80s. The children’s section had some toys I could play with while Mom looked for grown-up books. My clearest memory is of a farm play-set with realistic animals. The image of that dark bay horse is burned into my mind forever. Continue reading

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Art Attack!

Huzzah! It’s back to patron-inspired posts for me!

Many thanks to Chris Fone for this particular item. It’s easily the most delightfully weird thing I’ve watched for the blog yet! For those not in the know, Art Attack was a British series of short episodes in which Neil Buchanan (who wrote and produced the show) taught kids about cool art projects they could do at home. Apparently there’s a version of it that’s still going on Disney Junior, but that’s not what Chris wanted me to watch and write about. No, it’s the classic I’m here for.

First of all, I’d never heard of this show. It’s totally the kind of thing I would’ve expected to see on PBS, but I don’t think it ever made it there–at least not to the Milwaukee area where I grew up. My spouse, Steven, on the other hand–he remembered it almost immediately! (Yes, I made him watch it with me.) He thought he remembered watching it on YTV in Canada.

I love that this is available on YouTube so you all can watch the glorious VHS transfer like I did. (Complete with sporadic tracking issues–I LOVE IT!) It’s only about 15 minutes, so I do recommend you give it a view for funzies. It’ll make the rest of this post make a lot (or a little?) more sense.

So without further ado, here are my observations about Art Attack: Continue reading

The Philadelphia Story (1940) – The Katharine Hepburn Project #4

Once again it’s time for another installment of The Katharine Hepburn Project! Actually, it’s time and then some. I watched The Philadelphia Story ages ago and have been putting off writing about it. But there’s no time like the present, so without further ado, here we go. Oh, and this review has no major spoilers, so if you haven’t seen this picture, you can read on safely. But do yourself a favor and watch it as soon as you have the chance. You can thank me later.

philadelphia-story-1

The first time I saw The Philadelphia Story, it wasn’t The Philadelphia Story. In 1953, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra remade it as a film called High Society. That’s how I first stumbled across this story. They showed it on AMC or TCM, and I quite enjoyed it. My father, however, was appalled that I didn’t know the original. It’s not like it was my fault, but he made it clearHigh Society was a silly and inferior imitation.

Having seen them both, I agree with him, but it was many years before I could make that determination. This was back in the days before you could call up so many films at the touch of a button. Pre-Netflix, pre-iTunes. We had the library and video stores, but I never ran across the original film until much later. And for the record, I do still enjoy High Society. It was fun. But it wasn’t a patch on the original. But to be honest, the first time I saw The Philadelphia Story, I didn’t really get why it was such a big deal.

I think perhaps it had been built up too much. Continue reading

Holiday (1938) – The Katharine Hepburn Project #3

It’s time for another installment of The Katharine Hepburn Project! I expected to watch Bringing up Baby next, but as it turns out, iTunes only has that film available to buy–there’s no rental option. I’ve already seen it several times and never really liked it, so I decided to skip it and jump straight to one of my favorite classic films: 1938’s Holiday.

Holiday

Holiday is a film I loved and lost. I’d seen it on American Movie Classics or Turner Classic Movies and enjoyed the heck out of it, but I never caught the title (or I did and forgot it because Holiday is such a weird and generic title for this film). Anyway, I saw it a few more times, and the name never stuck. I just thought of it as “that Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn movie I liked a lot”. Imagine my delight when I discovered this movie, Holiday, is the one I loved so much way back when! I was so excited I bought the thing on iTunes so I can rewatch to my heart’s content.

[SPOILERS AHOY] Continue reading

The Boys from the Dwarf and a Big Polymorph

Time for another patron-inspired post! Want to get in on the action? Check out my Patreon page!

Red Dwarf Polymorph

I came to Red Dwarf by possibly the worst-best route ever. Technically, the first bit I ever saw was a very short (baffling) bit of “Meltdown” from series IV, but the first episode I ever watched properly was the final ep of series VI: “Out of Time”. My siblings and I were flipping through channels, and landed on PBS shortly after the episode started. We were riveted! When it ended, on one helluva cliffhanger, we dove for the TV Guide* to see when Red Dwarf would be on next.

(If you’re familiar with Red Dwarf, you probably know where this is going. Sigh.)

We dutifully hit the couch the very next week, ready to find out what happened after the explosion that seemingly killed the wacky characters we’d quickly come to love—only to be very confused. The episode title was “The End”. That in itself kinda made sense, but it most emphatically did not pick up where the previous episode left off. In fact, it soon became clear we were watching the very first episode of Red Dwarf ever. What the heck?

After a bit of research (which was much harder in those days!), we discovered not only had we caught the last episode of the most recent series (and PBS was wrapping around to start at the beginning of series I), but the show had been cancelled, and there were no more new episodes coming! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!** Continue reading

Alice Adams (1935) – The Katharine Hepburn Project #2

The Katharine Hepburn Project is alive and well! You may have noticed I didn’t stick to my pledge of one-movie-per-month in June. I thought I’d do two in July to make up for it, but I’m swiftly running out of time. We’ll see if that happens. If not, August becomes the double-up month! Anyway, on to our feature.

1935-alice-adams-2

Alice Adams, the next Katharine Hepburn movie available (chronologically) on iTunes, is a portrait of a young woman who wants desperately to belong to the “in-crowd”. Sadly, she can’t because her family is poor. The film opens with her preparing for and attending a dance at a rich girl’s house. She’s purchased a powder puff she’s very proud of, and she’s added new flounces to disguise a two-year-old organdy dress. To add insult to injury, her unwilling brother is her escort. He spends most of the night playing craps in the coat closet with the staff.

Alice spends most of the time hovering in the hallway, pretending to be waiting for her escort and looking longingly at the fellows passing by, hoping desperately that someone (other than “Fat Frank Dowling”) will ask her to dance. Eventually, our hunky male lead, Mr. Arthur Russell, does just that. This is the youngest I’ve ever seen Fred MacMurray, and golly gee whillikers does he look just like Benedict Cumberbatch. I have to admit I wasn’t a fan of this movie, but it gets a thumbs-up in the eye-candy department. Continue reading

Chasing the Shadows of the 80s – Shadow Chasers

I know I’ve been largely quiet of late, which means I haven’t chugged through the patron-inspired posts as quickly as I’d hoped. For that, I am sorry. Life and brain chemistry got in the way. But I am back on the horse,* and today I bring you words about a doozy of a patron-requested topic.

You may remember Mike Huberty from my most recent Cool People Doing Cool Things post. In addition to rocking and podcasting, Mike loves TV. And he has a ridiculously good memory for shows that ran for a very short time during his childhood. He asked me to watch one of those for the blog. Speaking of his podcast, the themes of today’s show fit perfectly alongside the topics on See You on the Other Side. So with no further ado, let’s get into it!

Shadow_chasers

Shadow Chasers is a maybe-spooky-maybe-silly show created by Brian Grazer and Kenneth Johnson. It ran 14 episodes in 1985 and chronicles the adventures of Serious Scientist Jonathan MacKensie (played by Trevor Eve) and tabloid journalist/novelist Edgar “Benny” Benedek (played by Dennis Dugan). They travel around and investigate reports of strange occurrences. The pilot, however, is the getting-the-band-together story. At the start, Benny is in the offices of The National Register. This the craziest of tabloids, judging by the newsroom in the first scene—it’s got everything from Elvis as an alien to a dude meditating on a desk with flames coming out of his palms. It’s worth noting that the blocking, acting, and timing of this scene smacks of cable access. You can’t even hear most of the dialogue. Happily, the direction does get better from here. Anyway, Benny hears about a house in California that started on fire spontaneously, and decides it’s a story worth checking out.

Meanwhile, Jonathan is trying to edge out of his father’s shadow at the fictional Georgetown Institute. His department head semi-blackmails Jonathan into heading to California to study the very same case Benny is looking into. She wants him to see if there’s any truth behind the reports of supernatural occurrences. She knows he’ll investigate in a thorough and unbiased manner because he’s a skeptic, you see.

As you might have picked up, this is something of an X-Files before there was an X-Files. Continue reading