Friday, May 21, 2004

Thanks to the excellent Making Pictures: A Century of European Cinematography, which just crossed my desk this week, I've started a little side project of European film-watching. I'm hoping that as the spring term comes to an end and we head into summer, I'll have more time to fill in the gargantuan gaps in my "Seen it" list. (Fellini, I'm looking at you.)

First up, last night: Lola and Billy the Kid (1999), a German-made film about gay Turkish immigrant subculture in Berlin. Which begs the question (at least for me): why do directors feel they have to follow a formula? It does the film no favours, it does the audience no favours. It's boring. A sub-question generated by the same film is: why do we need stereotyped secondary characters? I have a theory that film making (or any kind of storytelling) should be like cleaning out the fridge: if it fits a mold, if it's mold-y, bin it.

I don't mean to slam the movie; it took a good stab at representing the complexities of machismo and male sexuality, as well as those of immigrant minority cultures. But let's just say I've put in an interlibrary loan request for La Haine, and I'm looking forward to rewatching it. It's been a long time since I saw it, but that one scene, where the DJ in the mainly-Arab tower block is mixing Edith Piaf's "Je ne regrette rien" with a song called "F**k the Police" at top volume through the urban wasteland... That's a cool, complex, funny, sad, interesting scene. And Lola and Billy the Kid gave me nothing like that.

Though there was a very cool cream Daimler.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I love the Internet, I hate the Internet.

I love that the Internet has such gems as The Complete Review, which compiles and exerpts from reviews of literature from newspaper sources, and provides thoughtful full-text original essays on literary topics (in the Quarterly.) I love that it has tools such as Kinja, which is slowly but surely making my current-awareness project of reading relevant much more efficient. (Thanks, Amanda!)

I hate the way the Internet makes me feel like a small, not-very-worldy person with a pointy dunce cap, alone and adrift on a failing raft in the middle of a huge sea. A bit like that Winslow Homer painting, The Gulf Stream. You know? I can't help feeling, when I stumble across something like The Complete Review, that everyone else has known about it forever, and when I post a link they're all looking at me sort of quizzically, wondering Where have you been, exactly?

I realize that's my own issue, though.

And in unrelated news, possibly of interest to other instruction-oriented librarians, the peer-reviewed journal Academic Exchange Quarterly has posted a call for papers on information literacy for its Winter 2004 issue. Deadline is the end of August.

Monday, May 17, 2004

The New York Public Library has announced its 2003 edition of 25 Books to Remember. The one about corpses looks interesting, if I do say so. And I know people are reading the Mark Haddon, because our library's copy has already been stolen once.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Oh good Lord, a new interface for Blogger. And Yahoo's changed its mail too. I go away for a week and everything goes pear-shaped. Or at least differently-shaped.

Apart from technology allergies, all is well. I had a lovely time at the National Diversity in Libraries Conference in Atlanta, GA. I took a few extra days and explored Atlanta with a friend, and it was just great. Two Martin Luther King Centers, the Sweet Auburn Street Fair, The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History, a covert picnic in the botanical gardens, and lots of cute neighbourhoods with great restaurants and clothing shops. Sometimes one must be shallow.

The Vancouver marathon went well, and I did not die.

In somewhat more substantive (and on-topic) news, there's this: A hip little online literary magazine currently hosting an interview with one of my favourite modern comic writers, Jonathan Ames. An excerpt from whose novel, Wake Up, Sir! (originally titled Homes, Jeeves!) I just read in Conjunctions. It's about an effete young New Jersey wastrel with a drinking problem and a possibly imaginary manservant, and it's very Ames. In a good way.

What pointed me there was a fellow Blogger blog: Confessions of an idiosyncratic mind, which looks like a good candidate for Kinja. Which I keep meaning to set up. Any minute now. Yes.