Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bing & Bowie: The Holiday Odd Couple

One of the oddest duets of all time has to be Bing Crosby and David Bowie doing the classic holiday mash-up “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth.”

Let’s get a little bit of history: Bing used to do a Christmas special with his family every year. Music, skits, etc, mostly music of course, since after all, this is Bing “the Original Crooner” Crosby we’re talking about. Well his last special was shot in London in 1977a few months before his death. It had many guests, as Christmas specials are wont, and one of the guests was David Bowie currently riding high on his “Heroes” album.

No one seems to know who thought bringing Bowie on to Bing’s special was a good idea, but proximity probably helped considering Bowie was living in London at the time. Whoever it was booked Bowie and set him to perform “The Little Drummer Boy” with Bing, but, slight hitch, Bowie didn’t like “Drummer Boy” for his voice and asked for something else.

Frantic, the special’s team quickly wrote a new melody and lyrics to go over “Drummer Boy” and create a new medley. Once “The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” was complete, Bing and Bowie rehearsed for about an hour and filmed the performance.

Thus was the creation of one of the most beloved, if most anomalous, Christmas duets ever. It still feels weird to think of Bing and Bowie together, but I think everyone can agree they created a beautiful and haunting duet and it is certainly in keeping with the message of the season: Peace on earth, good will toward men.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

AbLib Strikes Back! ...mostly to rant

I am a very impatient person. I hate waiting for lunchtime, I hate waiting in a line, I hate the people who seem to think if there is no posted speed, they should go 20…I am, regrettably, a product of our instant gratification culture.

Which is why I have a love/hate relationship with book series.

I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction which are rife with series. I’m pretty sure authors in these genres have some kind of long-named phobia regarding stories that are confined to a single book. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I enjoy spending many hours with characters and worlds I have fallen in love with. A new book in a series is like checking in with an old friend you don’t get to see very often, which is why I don’t really have a problem with a continual series like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum or Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse. Those kinds of series, while they have a general overarching storyline of a character’s life or a specific fantasy world, are completely satisfying in a single volume. You know there will be another book eventually, but there’s no rush because all is right with the fictional world when the current book ends.

Not so with a series like Harry Potter or Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson. In these series, while each book has a quest or task that must be completed within each volume, the real story is the overarching task of defeating Voldemort or Kronos, respectively. Which, don’t get me wrong, is great, but the waiting to discover just HOW our plucky heroes will prevail kills me.

Most people will say, “Oh the anticipation is wonderful! I love feeling the suspense and riding the roller coaster! Trying to imagine what will happen is so much fun I almost wish they would NEVER publish the next volume!”

To those people I say, “Bite me.”

I hate horror movies BECAUSE of the “anticipation” and “suspense.” It makes me jumpy and nauseous and a complete emotional wreck. And I HATE roller coasters, I hate that feeling in your stomach when you go down a hill and the bumps and height and the realization that all that is holding me in place is a bar and gravity, neither of which I particularly trust. I don’t want to IMAGINE what is going to happen, because if I come up with something really cool, I’m going to mad when the author doesn’t think of it too and then I will remain disappointed for the rest of my life and end up in a dark basement writing fan fiction which no one will read.

The best time to start a series like Potter or Jackson is when the penultimate book has already been released and there is a date set for the final title. That way, you can read books 1-6 or 1-4 and not have an agonizing time waiting for the end of the story. It’s a win-win.

I speak from experience. I started the Harry Potter series when the first 3 books were already released and I had to wait about 7 years until I got to know the end of the bloody story all of which supposedly happens in 7 years. On the other hand, I got into the Percy Jackson series when the first four were out and I only had to wait about 6 months for the last book to be released, there was much less anguish.

Moral: Do not start a series unless you already can get your hands on the majority of the books.

But to be safe, just wait until they’ve all been published and pray you can finish before the apocalypse.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This song goes out to all my member stations

I’ve been slacking on my posts a bit lately. My rehearsal schedule has been getting a little crazier so I haven’t had much free time, but after I saw this video on today, it was too good not to share.

I don’t know who this kid is, but he is a genius. It may just be the best YouTube video I’ve ever seen. And that’s including March of the Librarians (which is epic).

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Open Letter to Politicians on Election Day

I am not a particularly politically-minded person. I have my beliefs of course, and there are issues I strongly support and others I strongly oppose. I might be more involved in politics and the governing of this country if I did not hate the people who try to run it quite so much. All of you seem to have a lot of problems that would best be solved on a psychologist’s couch as opposed to the halls of our states and nation.

All of you need to chill out.


I don’t think I’d despise you all quite so much if you actually treated the citizens you propose to represent with a little more respect. Most of us are not the complete idiots you seem to think we are. I cannot think of one person I know who responds positively to the attack-ads that have become the political norm. Everybody hates them. You need to re-think your marketing.

Here’s a crazy thought…how about advertising your campaign using your platforms. How about making the largest icon on your website “ISSUES” instead of “DONATE.” How about having enough respect for your constituents to treat them like adults who care about their governing system instead of children who still like to pick on other kids at recess.

I have a Master’s degree. I’m a librarian. I am completely capable of researching you and your opponents and figuring out for myself what they and you stand for and which side I agree with. And, another crazy thought, I don’t have to agree with everything you stand for. What I need to agree with are your methods and your plans for the future. What I need to agree with are the issues you emphasize.

I am having a hard time with this election. Partially because I’m in a new state and I am unfamiliar with the political landscape, and partially because I am having a more difficult time finding out what the $*@#& it is any of you stand for, and that is your fault.

So politicians, grow up. Remember the lesson we all learned in kindergarten to “treat others as you would want to be treated” and try to remember what you stand for other than against the “other guy.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Add 'Here' to 'Places I Don't Belong'

You know what, I kind of give up trying to be a New Englander. Not that I was trying all that hard in the first place, but now I’m going to stop all efforts completely. I want to go back to the Midwest where people are normal and don’t make fun of me when I talk.

I knew when I moved here I would have to prepare myself for some adjusted vocabulary. I knew, for example, that I would have to train myself to say ‘soda’ in public instead of ‘pop’ because New Englanders have apparently never heard the term before in their lives and have no idea that it refers to a delicious carbonated, caffeinated beverage. I was also aware that the word ‘wicked’ would creep into my vocabulary with increasing regularity and it would not refer to the musical.

But enough is enough. I do not enjoy being looked at like I am completely insane if I mention a word or phrase in all innocence believing all people here can’t be morons, they must at least get the gist of what I’m speaking of even if they don’t use the language themselves, and then being proved horribly wrong. Everyone here apparently is a moron and my faith in humanity is shattered.

New Englanders think they are so progressive and open minded, also that they are better than everyone else because they live on the East Coast which is the only civilized land in the world. I’m serious, if it is west of Worcester, Mass, it becomes the Great Beyond. A land of mystery and danger and people who should be pitied.

They take vacations to other places in New England. They go to New York if they’re feeling particularly charitable toward the rest of the world. They cannot comprehend someone living happily somewhere else. If the rest of the country fell off in some sort of cataclysmic earthquake, or were attacked by North Korea, it would take them over a month to notice.

It is like they are stuck in colonial America and do not recognize that we have added some territory since 1781. Well, this is my open letter to New Englanders: The map above does not include the entire country. There is more out there. Deal with it.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Bread

Fall is my favorite season. The weather is beautiful and it is the perfect season for baking! Autumn has fantastic recipes with seasonal ingredients like pumpkin and apple. My most recent recipe I found on, a great site that includes recipe ratings, and notes from people who have used the recipes including adjustments and substitutions.

AllRecipes is where I found the recipe for Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread. It's really simple and turns out some great pumpkin bread!

Prep time: 15 minutes          Cook time: 50 minutes

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree                                     2 tsp baking soda
4 eggs                                                                              1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil                                                         1 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup water                                                                 1 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cups sugar                                                                    1/2 tsp ground cloves
3 1/2  cups all-purpose flour                                        1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7x3" loaf pans.
2. In large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
5. Bake for about 50 minutes. Loaves are ready when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

To change up the recipe, add chocolate chips or nuts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Dynamic Biblio!

Ok, so maybe I need to work on my superhero name.

In my internet travels, I recently came across this short article.

Now I will be the first to say that I have absolutely no idea what this book is actually about, and from trying to do some more internet research, no one else knows either. It is apparently going to be a fantasy, but apart from the epic tagline, there isn’t much more to go on.

But let us look at that tagline: “What if being a librarian was the most dangerous job in the world?”

Just based on that, as soon as I’m done here, I’m going to see if I can pre-order on Amazon yet. I mean if you want a great hook, look no further. Some ad rep just earned their paycheck. The fact that librarianship has become a pop culture meme is fantastic and more than a little hilarious.

Librarians are already every-day superheroes in real life, it is only fitting that we become so in print. Be nice to your local librarian, you can’t be sure what their super power is.

I think the Librarian Avengers put it best:
Ok, sure. We’ve all got our little preconceived notions about who librarians are and what they do. Many people think of librarians as diminutive civil servants, scuttling about “Sssh-ing” people and stamping things. Well, think again buster.

Librarians have degrees. They go to graduate school for Information Science and become masters of data systems and human/computer interaction. Librarians can catalog anything from an onion to a dog’s ear. They could catalog you.

Librarians wield unfathomable power. With a flip of the wrist they can hide your dissertation behind piles of old Field and Stream magazines. They can find data for your term paper that you never knew existed. They may even point you toward new and appropriate subject headings.

People become librarians because they know too much. Their knowledge extends beyond mere categories. They cannot be confined to disciplines. Librarians are all-knowing and all-seeing. They bring order to chaos. They bring wisdom and culture to the masses. They preserve every aspect of human knowledge. Librarians rule. And they will kick the crap out of anyone who says otherwise.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fair to Middling

Being a good Midwestern girl, I love the county fair. I look forward to it every year, mostly for the deliciously awful food, but also to see animals and crafts and displays of how hick people become during that one magical week a year when it is completely socially acceptable. Granted, many of them are that hick year-round, but let’s move on…

Naturally, when I moved to New England, I believed the glory days of fried food and barns were behind me, happily I discovered this was not the case. The hillbilly-repressed Bay-Staters also take one week a year to embrace their unpolished side and revel in products of the great outdoors. They too highlight livestock, produce, and continue the fight for a high national weight average. It is very comforting to know they are not so different from their Midwestern cousins.

So it was on Sunday last, I drove my little car to meet friends at the Topsfield Fair: America’s Oldest Established 1818. And so it was the East Coast fair culture shock began.

In all fairness, the general principles remain the same: eat a lot, look at animals, look at produce, eat some more. It’s the general feel and attitude that is really different. For one thing, the Topsfield Fair is generally held at the beginning of October as opposed to the Midwest where fairs usually take place in July/August. Topsfield also resembles more of the state fair feel rather than your typical county fair. It’s much bigger (though not as big as a state fair) and many more people attend because this is one of the only fairs in the state. People come from all over New England and even Canada making the midway much more crowded and the atmosphere less happy and jovial and more…well…more East Coast-y.

The names for some things are different of course (elephant ears = fried dough) and they have never even heard of Lemon Shake-Ups (travesty, I know). It is more just a week of play then of actually showing what agricultural strides have been made in the previous year. The whole ambience is just off.

I still had a good time with the friends I went with and I got my funnel cake, which is all I really needed to achieve. I also got to see a pumpkin that weighed over 1,600 pounds, which in itself was worth the price of admission. It was not the county fair of my childhood, but as long as I can get my once a year funnel cake, I think I can deal with it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 have to go to school for that

Being a member of the American Library Association, every month I receive my issue of American Libraries. I even read it most of the time. This month it included this article by Jason Smalley discussing the librarian identity crisis facing many of us with library degrees these days. The fact that I am not alone in the paralyzing fear of being asked my profession is both parsimoniously comforting and horribly depressing.

I am a librarian. I consider myself a librarian and I have the degree to back me up. However, like Smalley, I do not earn my living by working in a library. I work for a database company and I enjoy my job most days. I even get to work with library catalogs and metadata which I absolutely love. None of this changes the fact that my job title does not contain the word “librarian” causing me no small amount of psychological anguish.

I still say that I’m a librarian when people ask what I do and most are satisfied with that. It’s the rest of you out there, the people who need details, who are really lining the money in some future therapist’s pocket. You people that can’t leave well enough alone and just have to ask, “So what library do you work for?” This is the social situation that causes my heart to skip a beat, my lungs to seize, and a deer-in-headlights look to appear in my eyes. Then the shameful truth comes out, “Well I don’t actually work at a library…” I can hear you judging me at this point, “Well why did she say she was a librarian then if she doesn’t work in a library?”

Here is the problem I have with people who think this judgment at me: you probably are one of the 9 out of 10 people who didn’t even know you need a Master’s Degree to be a librarian in the first place. So while you’re over there being Judgy McJudgerson, I am desperately trying to cling to my bookish self-respect and grapple with the fact that there really are no “real” library jobs right now due to the horrible state of the economy (it is a post for another day howmessed up it is that libraries, of all institutions, are having their budgets slashed to pieces in an economic crisis that would actually benefit from more information for the public).

The fact is, when I got my degree (Master of Library and Information Sciences) it says I get “all rights and privileges appertaining” and one of those privileges is to call myself a Librarian even when I do not work in a library. I worked very hard for that degree and I will forever identify myself as a Librarian because I can and because that, at the heart of everything I do in my non-library job, is what I am.

I like to eat and pay my bills as much as the next person, which is why I work at a database company instead of wallowing in psychological anguish. The education required for my chosen profession that I can’t technically claim didn’t come cheap.

So next time you just have to follow up that question either don’t, or don’t judge me for proclaiming “Librarian. Preferably, just don’t.

Monday, September 27, 2010


I had planned to keep this week festive and only talk about banned books and other library-related topics, however, you know what they say: the best laid plans of mice and men… Besides, a coworker offered me such a thought today, I had to share.

Peanut butter and ketchup.

They should never go together, but any food can be enhanced with one or the other, though never both (it's an odd paradox).

Stay with me on this, it will change your worldview.

Eggs: peanut butter on eggs is a horrible idea but add some ketchup and you have a delicious breakfast
Pancakes/Waffles: never ever add ketchup unless you're pregnant, but add peanut butter and not only do you have a sugary treat, but a sugary treat that might actually not give you the shakes in a few hours
Chicken nuggets: you would never think of adding peanut butter but ketchup is the best condiment ever
Cookies: peanut butter cookies = awesome; ketchup cookies = a failed Iron Chef recipe
Bread: add peanut butter, excellent sandwich; add ketchup without supporting layers, disaster
Meatloaf: ketchup is pretty much a given; peanut butter, are you out of your mind?

The list could go on forever. This could be a thesis paper for someone (a thesis paper I would actually read). Not for someone doing something important like medicine or social work, but a philosophy major could really get into this. I mean really, this would not be the craziest philosophy paper a professor has seen. Have you ever met a philosophy major? If you have listened to any of them talk for longer than five minutes, you can already see the potential.

All you philosophy majors reading this, you should be paying me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Happy Banned Books Week!

Every year during the last week of September, the American Library Association sponsors a glorious librarian holiday season called Banned Books Week. It’s a wonderful time of year when libraries and bookstores and all free citizens are encouraged to revel in their First Amendment rights.

Now I could go into a very long, involved, well-researched essay on censorship and its evils (seriously, I have a paper from college that goes into wonderful detail if you’re interested), but I will not (and I can hear the sighs of relief…). What I will do is share with you a few things from the ALA Banned Books Week site that I find interesting and generally wonderful.

This is just a sample, click on the link for the full list and the reason why:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Block
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a gURL by Esther Drill
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Sex for Busy People: The Art of the Quickie for Lovers on the Go by Emily Dubberley
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Cartoons That Shook the World by Jytte Klausen
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary by Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson & Peter Parnell
How to Get Suspended and Influence People by Adam Selzer
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Banned Books Week Proclamation
WHEREAS, the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms; and
WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of that freedom, and the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others; and
WHEREAS, the freedom to read is protected by our Constitution; and
WHEREAS some individuals, groups, and public authorities work to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label “controversial” views, to distribute lists of “Objectionable” books or authors, and to purge libraries of materials reflecting the diversity of society; and
WHEREAS, both governmental intimidation and the fear of censorship cause authors who seek to avoid controversy to practice self-censorship, thus limiting our access to new ideas; and
WHEREAS, every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of American society and leaves it less able to deal with controversy and difference; and
WHEREAS, American still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression, and can be trusted to exercise critical judgment, to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe, and to exercise the responsibilities that accompany this freedom; and
WHEREAS, intellectual freedom is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture; and
WHEREAS, the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year as a reminder to Americans not to take their precious freedom for granted; and
WHEREAS, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that the Library celebrates the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Library encourages all libraries and bookstores to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Library encourages free people to read freely, now and forever.

Library Bill of Rights
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

…and I keep hearing strange music…

The Twilight Zone is a real place, and I’m pretty sure I live there. People say the Midwest is a freakish place where people smile at each other on the street and everyone is polite and is somehow home of the happiest people on earth not on Prozac. I am here to tell you that there is a land that makes the Midwest look like inner-city LA and it is called New England.

When I moved to the East Coast, I was concerned about many things but I did not consider preparing for a siege against Pleasantville pre-technicolor. Apparently, I should have.

The first thing that probably should have tipped me off is that every square inch of this part of the country looks like a freaking post card. It’s idyllic to the point of creepy; like Mayberry and Stars Hollow and Hooterville rolled into one.

Then there are the towns themselves…and the townies. They make me with my sweet, Midwestern upbringing look downright rude. Cars stop so pedestrians can cross the street, and not only at the crosswalks or at stop signs and traffic lights, but wherever the pedestrian has deigned appropriate. In the Midwest we have strict driver/pedestrian etiquette. If you are driving a car and you see someone trying to cross the street, as long as no eye contact is made, you can keep driving unless said person is already in the crosswalk in which case you grudgingly slow down trying to time it so you do not have to come to a complete stop and glare at the person who has dared to impede your progress. Said pedestrian must cross the street as fast as humanly possible, also avoiding eye contact, and realize they have just taken their life into their own hands.

New England families walk their children to school. I live across the street from an elementary school, I have witnessed this phenomenon. Whole families and the dog walk the children to school. Both parents. Siblings. Aunts. Uncles. Cousins. The man who runs the dry cleaning shop. The woman behind the counter at the convenience store. Together. Walking the kids to school. Yeah, you keep denying the existence of the Twilight Zone facing that knowledge.

Still think you need more proof? Visit New England. Spend 10 minutes in a downtown area. You will find enough irrefutable evidence that you will run away begging for the eerie tune to stop permeating your skull…

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Gleeking Out

Season 2 begins on Tuesday and despite the fact that I will be in rehearsal (community theatre show I am sure I will mention in future posts) and will have to watch it on Hulu...Score! I am ready for more Sue Sylvester (You think this is hard? Try paying off your student loans, that's hard!) and some happy show tunes!

However, this post is not to wax eloquent about the many fantastic reasons I love this show. If you would like to read about those things, there are countless other sites on the web you can visit.

No, no, this post is about my deep regret for buying the complete first season. You see, I had already purchased the first half of the season when they released it last December but I was convinced via many blogs and announcements that I needed to buy the complete season when it came out instead of just supplementing with the back 9. I was told that the back 9 DVD set would not have the epic bonus features included with the complete season. 

I am a sucker for bonus features. I own all three of the 4-disc extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Obviously, it was not hard to convince me that I needed the complete season.

I finished watching the bonus features today...and I was horribly disappointed. There are not that many new special features; most are repeats from when they released the first 13 episodes. The new features consists of the 'Jukebox' feature allowing you to watch just the musical numbers of the episodes, a karaoke feature which is only available for 4 songs, the choreographer teaching the dance for one song (Vocal Adrenaline's Rehab dance from the pilot) and "How to Dress Like Your Favorite Character." There are also two featurettes about the Power of Madonna episode and the making of the Bohemian Rhapsody sequence in the season finale. 

The two featurettes were really the only worthwhile additions and even they did not countermand my buyer's remorse.

Moral of the story: if you already have the first half of season 1, just buy the back 9 set. I will lend you the bonus disk of the complete season if you really must see it. Please friends, save yourselves from my mistakes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welcome to ABLIB!

Hi everyone and welcome to ABLIB!

This is my first blog attempt, hopefully the look will improve as I learn more. It might take a while to figure the ins and outs though, so be patient with me.

I'm still working on a cohesive plan for the blog. Part of the reason I named it ABLIB is because I plan on this being pretty random; whatever I find interesting at the time of posting. I am planning on a few regular features:

East Coast Foreigner: a Midwestern girl's adventures in New England

Things of [Relative] Substance: book, movie, and tv reviews and pop culture

LIBeral Professionalism: library news, information and observations

Being Crafty: knitting projects, maybe some sewing and cooking thrown in occasionally

Distractions: new (to me) blogs, videos, websites, and other internet time-wasters

I'll start out updating every few days or so and see how it goes. Thoughts, comments and suggestions are welcome! Enjoy!