I see costumed people

Curious: Halloween seems to last longer and longer every year. Yesterday, out on the town for a haircut and dinner and a Virginia Film Festival screening (The Ice Harvest: funny up to a certain point, then it just got disturbing), I kept seeing people wandering around in costume. There seemed to be groups of trick-or-treating children already making the rounds, and lots of adults heading to and from costume parties. When the movie was over, I ended up sharing a cab with a couple of costumed students who were heading in the same direction. The cab driver told us that he’s been getting trick-or-treaters all week, and some of them showed up three nights in a row, in different costumes. Why did the idea for that kind of candy scam never occur to me when I was that age?

I have no particular Halloween plans of my own; nobody I know seems to be giving any parties. Last year I bought candy in anticipation of trick-or-treaters, but none showed up. This year I bought candy in anticipation of taking the leftovers to share with my officemates on Tuesday. But I’m keeping the mellowcreme pumpkins for myself.

(Speaking of pumpkins, it looks like it would be fun to knit one.)

A shout-out

So last week, apropos of a discussion about the uses of blogs in a library setting, I mentioned the existence of this blog to a group of work colleagues, some of whom have since stopped by for a visit. Hello and welcome to my scratchpad, all of you! Hope you enjoy. It feels a bit strange to be addressing readers who don’t know me only as a disembodied online presence (and vice versa), but I wanted to say hi, even so.

We now return to your regularly scheduled linking, poetry-quoting, and scribbling…

Poetry out loud

A few links for a rainy evening. I’ve always liked hearing poets read their work out loud, caveats about the "poetry-reading voice" notwithstanding:

The PENNsound archive, home of more recordings of poets reading than you can shake a stick at.

Paul Muldoon, whose work has interested me for a while, has a bunch of recordings on his home page, all from a 2002 reading.

New podcast I’ve just subscribed to: the Griffin Poetry Prize podcast.

And, found while Googling to figure out where I’d first seen the phrase "poetry reading voice": this article from Slate on the British Library’s "Spoken Word" CD. Check out the sound clips.

Personal anthology: Rainer Maria Rilke

In honor of the leaves finally turning, and because it’s been in my head lately:

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The huge summer has gone by.
Now overlap the sundials with your shadows,
and on the meadows let the wind go free.

Command the fruits to swell on tree and vine;
grant them a few more warm transparent days,
urge them on to fulfillment then, and press
the final sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now, will never have one.
Whoever is alone will stay alone,
will sit, read, write long letters through the evening,
and wander on the boulevards, up and down,
restlessly, while the dry leaves are blowing.

Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Stephen Mitchell)

More library graffiti

While nothing can top the graffiti I spotted last winter (now, sadly, painted over), today’s library graffiti sighting still made me smile. It was on a sign in the stacks listing the LC call number ranges and corresponding subjects in the
PS (North American literature) subclass. The last subject on the list is “Canadian literature.” An anonymous scribbler had added “EH!”

Even though one would never actually say “eh” with enough emphasis to warrant the exclamation point, it warmed the cockles of my half-Canadian heart.

Vaguely disturbing

Seen at the grocery store this afternoon: a toddler wheeling a child-sized grocery cart. That wasn’t the disturbing part; the kid and the cart were kind of adorable. What gave me pause was a little banner attached to the cart, right at eye level, which read "Customer in training."
Because we all need to be reminded that our ultimate purpose in life is to buy stuff.

Yes, it’s true. I am a great big sap.

Via Clancy and Shakespeare’s Sister comes today’s survey question: Which movie scenes always make you cry (and which ones always make you laugh)?

Here are my Guaranteed Waterworks moments:

Casablanca: the scene where everyone stands up and sings the Marseillaise (which is nearly everyone’s favorite tear-inducing scene, apparently).

The Return of the King: the beacon-lighting scene, and Sam lugging Frodo up Mount Doom, and, for that matter, quite a few parts after that. (Told you I was a big sap.)

The Shawshank Redemption: when Tim Robbins’ character broadcasts the duet from The Marriage of Figaro to the entire prison and all the convicts stop in their tracks and look up, trying to figure out where the music’s coming from. Though this has as much to do with the choice of music as with the scene itself.

Grand Illusion: de Boeldieu’s deathbed scene, especially the part where von Rauffenstein snips the one flower off his scraggly potted geranium. And Maréchal and Rosenthal’s reconciliation after their quarrel on the way to Switzerland.

Babette’s Feast: the very end, when the dinner party breaks up, and the sisters tell Babette that in heaven, she’ll get to be the great artist she was meant to be on earth. And we see that all the characters have had to set aside their ambitions and become something other than what they wanted to be, and yet there they are, looking up at the stars, looking at each other. That gets me every single time.

The reliable laughter moments are more frequent and thus harder to list off the top of my head. However: too many scenes in O Brother, Where Art Thou? to enumerate, and pretty much all of Jack Black’s dialogue in High Fidelity. And I am geeky enough to still chortle at Monty Python after all these years. (Favorite bit from The Life of Brian: "You don’t have to follow me! You’re all individuals!" Crowd, in unison: "Yes! We’re all individuals!" One lone voice in the background: "I’m not.")

If we expand it to include books as well as movies: The last few paragraphs of Joyce’s "The Dead" always, always make me choke up ("Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland…"). And — oddly, considering what a heathen I am — so does Milton’s Nativity Ode, especially stanzas 12 through 16 or thereabouts, and the very ending of Paradise Lost. If we expand it to include music, I invariably start to weep partway through the trio in Act 3 of Der Rosenkavalier (to pick one among many instances), not that regular readers of this blog don’t know that already.

Over to you, Reader. What are yours?

If only…

Now if only I had specialized in the Romantic period rather than the early modern, and if only I had major work experience in special collections, I would be all over this job in a heartbeat. I’m not a match for it, but still: curating a Shelley collection! At the New York Public Library! How fabulous would that be?

Further LibraryThing musings

I’ve nearly finished entering the data about my books into LibraryThing. Some additional thoughts I’ve had while cataloging:

The social data aspect of this is fascinating. I’m sure I’m not the only user who’s had the experience of entering a title, seeing that nobody else has it, and then noticing weeks later that someone else has added it to their collection. It’s a small but definite thrill to see that somebody else has a really obscure out-of-print book that you thought nobody else had ever heard of. It’s like scoping out someone’s bookshelves when you visit their house for the first time and seeing a shared book you weren’t expecting to see.

This is what a commercial site like Amazon can’t do: allow people to exchange recommendations and book reviews without demanding personal information.

Even with the addition of the "reviews" feature, people are using tags for very quick capsule reviews, like "lousy" or "brilliant" or "not recommended" or (my personal favorite) "thumping good read."

I wonder what percentage of users are librarians? I’m seeing a lot of people identifying themselves as librarians or MLS students in their profiles.

Patrick O’Brian fans tend to be completists. After I added my stack of Aubrey-Maturin novels to the catalog, I noticed a bunch of other people with the entire series suddenly showing up amongst my similar libraries.

I am nowhere near unselfconscious enough to tag which books I have and haven’t read, like some fellow LT users are doing.

The Zeitgeist page is always interesting. J. K. Rowling has been the top author since the get-go, and The Da Vinci Code is among the top 10 books. But otherwise the holdings don’t always look like the New York Times Bestseller list. Among the things that surprised me: Pride and Prejudice and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style are #15 and 16 on the top books list, and The Handmaid’s Tale outranks Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The Odyssey comes right after David Allen’s Getting Things Done in the rankings. This could be an interesting, albeit totally unscientific, way of looking at people’s reading habits beyond what they’ve bought in the last week.

And check out the sidebar over there on the right — I’ve added a blog widget that displays random books from my collection.

Deferred cinematic gratification

I’m finally seeing Serenity this weekend, having had too many other engagements last weekend to get out to Far-Off Movie Theater, the only place in town where it’s playing. And after-work moviegoing is a drag when you have to schlep long distances on the bus; so, Joss Whedon Appreciation Day will arrive a tad late. Meanwhile, the groovy downtown Vinegar Hill Theatre is going to show My Summer of Love, which I’ve been wanting to see for months and didn’t think I’d get to see on the big screen; and then at the end of the month there’s the Virginia Film Festival, for which this year I intend to get tickets instead of missing everything.

What are you looking forward to seeing? (Or have we exhausted that topic?)