Reason #5,203 I love the Internet

This page from the TV Tropes and Idioms Wiki, on James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, written entirely in Wakese.*

It’s brilliant, not only because it’s so fiendishly hard to write in Wakese at any great length, but because there’s absolutely no reason to do so, especially on a wiki ostensibly dedicated to cataloging tropes found in popular entertainment. It’s an obvious labor of love by a truefan who did it just for their own pleasure in doing something creative in honor of a work of art they clearly love. Which makes it all the more wonderful.

*Joycean prose made up entirely of literary and mythic allusion and portmanteau of English, Latin, Gaelic and French words.

A New Utility: The Library as Critical Infrastructure

Everyone who plays the board game Monopoly knows that the real power properties to own are the utilities. If you have Water Works, the Electric Company and all four railroads in your pile, you’ve got a solid chance of winning, because while all the other players will eventually go bankrupt on some Park Place housing scheme, you can sit back and collect rent, because everyone at some point in the game lands on one of the utilities. I haven’t played this game in years and may never again, as the thought of playing a real estate game fills me with existential dread on a level of something out of Lovecraft. But as a child, the game taught me two very important lessons: 1) that real estate is an arbitrary mess that three times out of four leads to bankruptcy, and 2) the importance of well maintained and managed public utilities.

This isn’t one of those articles where I tell you what’s wrong with the library and how to fix it. I’m sure you’ve read enough of those. Over the last ten years or so, they’ve become ubiquitous, almost a sub-genre unto themselves. They all say the same thing: that the way to win hearts and minds and bring warm bodies into the library is to run the place like a business. We have to compete with Google, after all. You would think, what with recent events in the business world, this idea would have fallen out of favor. But you’d be wrong. A number of librarians still seem to think that the way to revitalize the library industry is to be even more like a business. It worked so well for AIG and General Motors, why not the library? Maybe when we go bankrupt, the federal government will step in and bail us out too, though I doubt it, since ALA doesn’t pull nearly the weight on Capitol Hill that the banking or auto industry does. Chrysler may be too big to fail, but the Library of Congress is just right.

If you keep trying to run a library like a business, someone, usually in the institution’s administration, gets it in their head that the library should perform as a business. They of course become disappointed when the library fails to generate any revenue. The esteem of the library in the administration’s eyes goes down, which effects budgets, which effects personal and acquisitions, and after ten years or more, we end up at the bottom of this downward spiral, wondering why every librarian in the country is doing the job of two (or sometimes three) people and no one like us and we’re short, our bellybuttons stick out too far, and we’re a terrible burden on our poor mothers. Continue reading “A New Utility: The Library as Critical Infrastructure”

Harry Potter and the Executive Short Shrift

The consensus about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is that it was a pretty good movie, but would have made a better TV series. I’ve been saying the same thing since The Goblet of Fire, and really about most novels that are made in to movies. and this isn’t even fannish griping about my favorite little moment being left out for plot expediency. Most novels are twenty gallon stories wearing a ten gallon hat. HBP was more relaxed and had some of the character moments that were lacking in the last two films, but still suffered from an excess of plot. But that is part of the problem with cramming a 650 page novel into two and half hours of movie. You have to break your neck swinging form one emotional arc to the next, just to fit everything into the allotted time.

Now, as a series, you have between 13 and 20 episodes to dwell on the character moments that make the story come alive, while still handling the various plots and subplots in a way that allows for subtly, drama and levity. You can spend a whole episode dealing with the Ron-Lavender-Hermione love triangle, as a break from emo Malfoy and the cabinet of doom, the whole business with Harry and the spell book, and the larger political fight going on as the buildup to the war escalates. Alternate this with prolonged episodes of Harry and Dumbledore in the Pensieve, hunting for horacrux and playing quidditch and you’ve got a pretty full season of television, right there. Squeezing all that into a movie leaves you wandering what’s happening, unless you’ve already read the books. Which just makes the movies little more than a visual plot summary rather than a living, breathing story on film.