Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home.

Most people move back in with their parents when they're in their twenties. Still young, still fresh and idealistic, still physically and emotionally prepared to escape the confines of the basement and paint the town till all hours. But if, hypothetically, you move back in with your parents when you're in your thirties, the situation is, hypothetically, different. World-weary and bone-creaky, the thirtysomething basement-dweller would rather just hunker down and hide out, resist all attempts at socializing and catch up on her hypothetical reading. Not that I know what that's like, or anything.

Hypothetical Basement-Dweller Reading List

1. Back issues of The New Yorker. Because suddenly, you find yourself with enough free time to read an entire twenty-odd page article about Paul Haggis and Scientology. Warning: your parents will get sick of you telling them how bat-shit crazy Scientology is at about page seven. Keep it to yourself.

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Because you've spent months scoffing at its popularity, as you do with all popular books, but now, humbled by your current circumstances, you decide to give it a chance. And then you discover that it is wonderful--a sweet, difficult, emotionally-wrenching portrait of women's lives and racial tensions in the 1960s South that will leave you weeping on your pullout couch.

3. Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson. Because you've never been much of a mystery reader, but books set in England are inherently enjoyable, and Kate Atkinson is just such a damned good writer, and because you just can't resist a plot line about a dithery elderly stage actress teetering on the brink of disaster. Also, maybe because someone gave you a free copy.

None of these tickling your fancy? Still stuck in an existential quandary? Then I recommend just closing all the drapes and doors and listening to Peter Elkas till the pain goes away.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

position paper: Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot-Tub Time Machine actually has some pretty great moments.

1. One character is a lapsed musician who gave up on his rock and roll dream. When he goes back in time and is reunited with his band, he realizes he can totally steal songs from the future and claim them as his own. Given the chance to claim any song ever written after 1986 as his own, what does he choose? Jesse's Girl by Rick Springfield. Hell to the yes.

1a. Rob Corddry's character eventually does the same thing with Home Sweet Home by Motley Crue.

2. Crispin Glover, best known in my family as the guy who played the dad in the Back to the Future franchise, has a cameo as a one-armed bellhop. It's so meta!

2a. How pumped were YOU when the opening sequence on the Oscars referenced Back to the Future? Answer: SO pumped.

3. The last scene of the movie features an "OMG THIS IS THE FUTURE" montage accompanied by Same As It Ever Was by the Talking Heads. I have a soft spot for filmmakers who aren't afraid to score the obvious songs, because oftentimes those songs are obvious for a reason, you know?

Man, I love working for an institution that lets me borrow and watch movies like this for free. I can almost convince myself it's an act of cultural edification.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Libraries: where shit gets real.

I have worked in a lot of libraries in my day. Libraries are weird, weird places. No one ever believes me when I say that, but they really are. They are not quiet or serene. They are holding tanks of human energy teetering on the brink of glorious collapse. One of the reasons I love this racket is the sheer anarchy of them, the precarious balance of so many different people with so many different agendas crammed into one poorly-ventilated, fluorescent-lit space. It's kind of like working inside an episode of Candid Camera, where I have the limited authority to kick someone out if they pee on something. The people who work in libraries are fascinating, too. I TOTALLY GET those posters that say "You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it sure helps," because I TOTALLY LIVE THAT. Something happens to those of us who spend most of our days interacting with a wide and varied cross-section of humanity and helping them locate books about Canadian birds written at a fourth grade level and/or instructions on how to build a log cabin. You start to get a little squirrelly. Shit gets real in the library, on both sides of the desk. Last week I started a new job at an old library, and I was thinking about the things that do stay constant from one space to the next and how delightfully random they are. Here's a by-no-means-exhaustive list of things you are bound to find at your local library, if you look hard enough.

1. Someone who sells Avon.

2. A sink full of egg-shaped maracas covered in baby spit.

3. A cupboard containing an empty cookie tin that no one ever retrieves, which you occasionally open up just to see if maybe, oh please god maybe, someone actually took it home and brought it back full.

4. A very common-place item with very complicated usage instructions (in this case, a ladder that no one can use until they have had Ladder Training).

5. Scratched copies of every Disney movie you loved as a child but had forgotten about till just now (in this case, The Great Mouse Detective).

6. A kid who will come in asking for books like The Odyssey or To Kill A Mockingbird and spend the whole reference transaction starting at your boobs.

7. The collected works of Kathy Smith. There's something unsettling about the fact that I can still borrow the very same aerobics video I used to do in my parents' basement as a teenager and relive those fuzzy memories of adolescent body dysmorphia all over again (coincidentally, still in my parents' basement. Although they have moved, so it's a different basement. But still.).

8. Someone who sincerely believes that the table she sits at every day belongs to her. And if you want to get philosophical, it really does belong to her, and to everyone else in the space who helped fund the place with their generous tax donations. Although usually she's not feeling very philosophical when you try to reason with her.

Libraries are so ridiculous, and I am so glad that I don't really know how to work anywhere else.