Archive for June, 2010

Quick preliminary post-ALA update

Posted in Passé on June 29th, 2010

Since my online presence is going to be erratic [that is, more erratic than usual] for a little while, and I may not get around to proper posts for a bit, I thought I’d do a quick summary:

  • Making the Case: While it’s premature to say anything definitive, there’s some good news here. I believe that some level of sponsorship for Cites & Insights and (maybe) Walt at Random may be in the works. (I think it’s a little more positive than that, but it’s also not final yet. Separately, a book proposal–a “real book” through a first-rate library publisher–has apparently been accepted. (No contract yet; soon.)
  • That leaves the possibility of a new home for some of the content formerly in the Library Leadership Network and possibly ongoing development of content and conversations; I’d love to discuss this possibility. It also leaves the possibility of some sponsorship or other arrangements for some research that I’d love to do…
  • As for ALA itself: Thanks once again to the Library Society of the World. It was a good conference–a couple of highly informative programs, one good program that I was part of (hey, there were two other speakers, so I’m certain it was a good program), a couple of fine social events, unfortunately one great social event not held this time…and as always exhibits and casual conversations. (Exhibits were interesting: Very busy at book publishers, reasonably busy at service providers/traditional library vendors, seemingly very “unbusy” at library automation vendors, or at least at some of them. Dunno what, if anything, this means.) One interesting note from one particular session : I finally encountered a panelist being Always On Message in the Proper PR Style: The moderator was engaging the panelists with some tough questions–and this person, uniquely among the panel, simply ignored whatever question was asked and proceeded to give another pitch. Amazing. Effective? Maybe not so much.
  • But: When I set up the VCR to tape Good Guys last night because there was no way I could stay up until 10 p.m. (after, admittedly, getting up at 3 a.m.–really midnight PDT–to start the journey back home), when I realize that I’m not really back to full energy now, and when I think about how long it’s been since I did any writing and how long it will be until I get back to “regular” writing (partly due to issues that need to be settled having to do with being almost 65, sigh, but partly due to “ALA hangover” of various sorts)…well, as much as I find ALA worthwhile, I’m also starting to balance that out against the sheer body strain of going to East Coast conferences and the general week-long disruption a “three-day” visit (call it 3:30 p.m Thursday to 3:00 p.m. Monday, plus time for packing, organizing material, etc.) entails. I won’t say I’m getting too old for this, but…

So that’s a quick summary. More later, maybe…or maybe not. (Oh, I’ll be back to regular irregular blogging; just might not revisit these particular situations.) Meanwhile, there are Part D choices to download and investigate, Part A&B choices to actually make and activate, some other financial issues to deal with, some changes to make in one existing piece of writing…

And a day that’s cooled down just enough from yesterday that a good walk would be a good idea.

Not reaching 18: A little photovoltaic update

Posted in Stuff on June 22nd, 2010

On April 25, I posted “Little milestones,” about reaching two (or three) milestones with our solar photovoltaic system. (Again: “photovoltaic” both because it’s a great polysyllabic word and because there are quite a few solar systems around here that *aren’t* photovoltaic–that heat water for pools and the like rather than generating electricity.)

At the time, the milestones were that we’d reached–or almost reached–17 kWh in one day, 70% generation (that is, we’d generated 70% of all electricity used since the system went live in November 2009) and a “negative tick” on the monthly PG&E statement–the first month we generated more than we used.

I also thought it might take three weeks or so to get from 17 kWh to 18 kWh for a peak day, hoping that we might eventually get to 20 kWh. And noting the difficulty of moving from 70% to 75% to 80%…since each percentage increase gets tougher.

Consider: At 75%, you’ve generated three kWh for each kWh you get from the utility. At 80%, you’ve generated four kWh for each utility-provided kWh. At 85%, you’re approaching six kWh for each utility-provided kWh–and at 90%, you’ve generated nine kWh for each one you get from the utility. That gets tough.

I believe our target was 80% over the course of a year; that’s usually what companies aim for in designing photovoltaic systems.

Well…

The 18 kWh day has proved elusive, and I now suspect that unless we fully wash the panels (not just spray them down, which we’ve done), we may never get there (since Sunday was presumably our best chance). Spraying down seems to have done almost no good. Our peak generation seems to run around 2,200 watts, not the 2,350 peak the system should do. That’s the not-so-good news.

On the other hand, as of the last time I checked, we’re at 86%: That is, we’ve generated a little more than six kWh for each kWh we’ve used from the utility. (We peaked at about 680 kWh of PG&E power; that’s down to 380 kWh net as of this morning, since we’ve generated 300 kWh more than we’ve used over the last three months.)

I’m thinking we might get to 90% before the end of summer, depending on how much AC we use (so far, we’ve barely had it on at all, and we have an 18SEER system set at 80F during the day). Will we reach the end of the “true-up year” (end of October, basically) at 90%? Hard to say.

Again, a caution: Photovoltaic results vary wildly depending on suitable roof (or ground) areas, extent of cloud cover where you are, etc., etc., etc…. If a company says you’ll earn back your investment in six years or eight years, I’d triple-check the figures. Energy-efficient usage is still the best way to save money on electricity, and we’d already done a lot of that.

[Are we happy we installed the system? Absolutely.]

Making the Case 3: Research and other improbabilities

Posted in Worklife on June 21st, 2010

“Making the case” for what, exactly? Well, really, for “semi-” still being part of my self-description as semi-retired. Oh, and for going to ALA conferences (or any library conferences) after this year, as part of staying involved in the field–which, for reasons of real economics and household harmony, needs to involve some appropriate earned income.

To recap:

  • Making the Case 1 notes the solution I’d find most desirable–finding ongoing sponsorship for Cites & Insights or (and) Walt at Random.
  • Making the Case 2 starts with a surprise (the shutdown of the Library Leadership Network) and considers the possibility of a new site providing diverse essays that can inform library leaders (and managers) and possibly generate conversations on relevant topics.
  • Making the Case 2.5 explains some fine points (that 1 and 2 aren’t either/or, that finding a home for much of the LLN content is relatively easy but also less interesting, etc.)

I think this is the last of this post series, both because it’s getting close to ALA Annual (the ideal spot to discuss these possibilities) and because I’d rather get back to other topics.

Research

I’d love to be involved with some group involved in real-world library research, and I believe I’ve demonstrated my ability to carry out focused, transparent projects.

I did some of those projects on speculation, hoping that they would result in some modest amount of income either from book sales or, potentially, from speaking or other invitations. The results–not only monetary, but even having the research noticed–have ranged from mediocre to abysmal. It’s hard to justify doing any more projects except out of pure personal fascination, unless there’s some up-front sponsorship.

At this point, I don’t see how this is likely to happen. I’d love to be proved wrong.

Other improbabilities

When I was first looking for a new gig, three years ago, I did get a couple of offers–one to teach a library school course (after designing the course), one to do seminars. It’s also been suggested that I should become a consultant (hmm: suggest that someone out of work become a consultant–what a novel idea!)

Why haven’t I followed up on these possibilities? Turns out John Scalzi has a post today at Whatever that speaks to this situation: “The Self-Awareness of Incompetence (or Lack Thereof).” An excerpt:

I think there’s a critical intersection between being willing to try things you’re not good at (or good at yet) to learn and experience them — and thus accepting that there’s an interim period of incompetence in the area while one gets up to speed — and the self knowledge (or lack thereof) that no matter how much effort you put into something, you won’t ever reach a sufficient level of competence. Or in shorter words, there’s a cross street between “try something new” and “give it up, already,” and I think it’s interesting to find out, when people get to that particular curb, if they actually know where they’re standing.

I’ve done loads of the former–starting with computer programming and going on from there–with, usually, reasonably good results. I’m willing to continue.

But…

  • I really don’t believe I’d be more than mediocre as an adjunct faculty member at a library school, and I do believe that if LIS students are to be taught by non-MLIS holders, those non-MLIS holders should be a whole lot better than mediocre.
  • I know I’m not enough of a self-promoter to be a successful consultant, and the question “Consult about what, exactly?” keeps coming back to haunt me. I’m not closing this off entirely, but it’s clearly not My Future.
  • As for webinars, quite apart from the ungainly name…well, not impossible, but it appears that I’m no longer in demand as a speaker (possibly for good reasons), and I think I’d be even less spectacular as a webinar presenter.

So, well, I haven’t followed up on these. Maybe that’s wrong.

Otherwise, there are always columns, articles and books. I have one book proposal (yes, with somebody else publishing it) in the works now. I suspect I’ll have one or two others along the way, although the sheer multitude of books in the field (ten at a time?) gives me pause. (One topic that’s been near & dear for many, many years might be ripe for book treatment…) Always possible–columns and articles. But with all of those, maybe books more than others, the issues of compensation and value add come into play. That is: I don’t want to write books that I don’t believe add substantial value…and most books and articles don’t really yield much of a revenue stream. They’ll be part of it, I think, but not a major part. (Psst: Thanks to the two people or institutions who’ve purchased But Still They Blog this month!)

And I think that’s it for the cluster.

Availability during ALA: Most any time Friday from noon to 6 or so, any time Saturday (period, so far), and Sunday from, say, 2 p.m. through dinner time. But contact me beforehand, ‘cuz I still travel without a netbook or notebook or iPad or iTouch or…  waltcrawford at gmail dot com.

Strategic Future of Print Collections: My ALA Gig

Posted in ALA, Speaking on June 20th, 2010

Seems like I should promote the session at ALA during which I’m speaking, since (a) it’s my only speech during ALA (and I don’t really speak all that often at ALA), (b) it’s my only speech for 2010, unless something happens…

Here’s the official description from the (30MB!) online program, modified only for correctness:

Sunday, June 27, 2010, 10:30 a.m.-Noon:

Strategic Future of Print Collections in Research Libraries

ALCTS – PARS ACRL RBMS

Washington Convention Center -206

Tracks: Collection Management & Technical Services; Preservation

Use of print library collections is shifting from physical circulation to digital reformatting and screen delivery. Does this shift suggest a continuing role for physical collections or does their screen delivery inherently suggest print disposal? Recent technologies of print-on-demand will be evaluated from a preservation perspective, interdependence of similar physical and digital collections discussed, and preservation service reassignment and preservation advocacy for the continuing role of print in the context of its digital delivery will be explored.

Moderator: Gary Frost, University of Iowa, Conservator; Debra Nolan, LBI The Original Hardcover Bookbinders, Executive Director

Speakers: Walt Crawford, Library Leadership Network, Editorial Directorsemi-retired writer & editor; Shannon Zachary, University of Michigan, Preservation Librarian; [Not in that description: The third speaker, Doug Nishimura, Image Permanence Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology.]

Quick note

That’s the description. You should expect three roughly 15-minute talks and lots of time for Q&A. I’m the leadoff speaker, and promise not to lull you to sleep with Powerpoint bullet lists. My title is “Inclusionary Reading: Screen and Paper” and posits what’s now being called a “multiplatform reading future”–one in which books and booklength digital resources continue to be important, with some notes on why that might be. I’m defining “research library” very broadly.

The other two speakers are both experts. I anticipate lively talks that provide some real insights. I know there’s an absurd amount of competition Sunday 10:30-noon (as in every other prime program slots, since there are really only six or seven prime slots in the ever-shorter conference schedule); I think this one’s worth considering. (I would, wouldn’t I? But I didn’t design the program; I was asked to speak, and decided it would be an interesting topic.)

Making the Case 2.5

Posted in Passé on June 18th, 2010

Fair warning: There may be one or two more Making the Case posts. There may not be.

Meanwhile…

Obviously, Making the Case 1: Sponsoring C&I (and Walt at Random?) and Making the Case 2: Leadership? are both about “keeping the semi- in semi-retired”–finding revenue sources to encourage me to keep doing work that I believe I’m particularly good at and that I believe is valuable to the library field.

But I find myself considering the two posts together, which raises a couple of minor points along the way:

  • If it’s one or the other, I’d choose Case 1. That’s the one I’ll be most reluctant to give up.
  • It’s possible that the two could work together under the right circumstances, and I’d certainly be delighted to consider that possibility.

With regard to Case 2, a couple of people have suggested places that the existing articles–or at least the ones I feel primarily responsible for–could be archived in lieu of any ongoing development.

For now, I’m less interested in considering those possibilities. Finding an archive is easy–heck, since the pages I have stored are all HTML pages, I could set them all up within Walt at Random (or figure out how to spin off another blog using WP3 and turn that blog into a leadership archive). The harder part, but also the part that would continue to add value, is to maintain ongoing content streams.

Anyway, it’s the weekend–time to relax, read, maybe work a little on an ongoing essay (one where I scrap a category of material in the process), do chores, and make my ALA speech more presentable. And, of course, check blogs, email and Friendfeed from time to time…

Making the Case 2: Leadership?

Posted in Stuff, Writing and blogging on June 18th, 2010

Anyone want to set up a site containing worthwhile essays for current and would-be leaders (and managers) within the library field, about leadership, management and some of the issues library leaders need to be aware of?

Anyone want to pay for the site (minimal) and for maintaining and building high-quality material on that site, and encouraging participation and feedback from people in the profession?

If so, then do I have a deal for you…

This one’s sort of a surprise. I spent roughly 2.5 years as editorial director for the PALINET Leadership Network, which became the Library Leadership Network, which became a LYRASIS service. Working as a part-time contractor, I straightened up/edited/reorganized a whole bunch of material that PALINET had acquired (and continued to license) from the original Library Leadership Network, wrote a bunch of original articles, got contributions for a while from a panel, and put together a lot more articles with the help of more than three dozen library bloggers who were pleased to make posts available.

The whole thing started as a wiki (and some day I’ll use MediaWiki markup without twitching slightly). Then it moved to a Drupal site as part of a LYRASIS initiative to broaden the network’s sources and services…which meant retouching all the articles and, in the process, consolidating them into 189 longer and more substantial articles.

In March, as some of you know, LYRASIS stopped funding me as editorial director.

This week, LYRASIS announced that the Library Leadership Network would shut down at the end of June 2010.

Meanwhile…

All the articles I was responsible for carried (and carry) a Creative Commons BY-NC license, which means they’re freely available and can be copied for any purpose that doesn’t carry a direct charge.

When I knew my tenure at LLN was over, I started copying the articles that were primarily work I had done–which turns out to be 104 of the 189 articles (omitting articles that consisted of Leader’s Digest material, articles sourced from the original LLN, articles from the LLN Peer Panel and the PLN Challenge).

While I haven’t gone through those articles and excised *portions* that were from Leader’s Digest, that wouldn’t be an enormous effort.

What remains is partly my original writing (some of it excerpted from other writing I’ve done), partly–mostly, I think–articles consisting of combinations of credited blog posts by library people and some original commentary.

A future home?

With some appropriate level of commitment and compensation, I could see turning this into a new site, continuing to add new material and update existing material, and finding ways to encourage direct participation. I can’t see spending as much time on it as I spent on LLN, but I also wouldn’t be looking for equal compensation.

If this sounds interesting and you either work for, are, or know of some group (association, division, whatever) that could make this happen, get in touch–waltcrawford at gmail dot com–and we can talk.

  • The site needs to be open to all readers at no cost–the CC BY-NC license would apply on a new site as well.
  • Updated 4:45 p.m.: The site can, of course, have ads (text or banner), sponsorship or both. The requirement is that the material be freely available.
  • I think the site should encourage conversation, but I also think lightweight tools to do that need to be used, and that it needs to work even if there isn’t much conversation.
  • I’d be happy to work on organizing the site, which I think needs to run on HTML one way or another. (I could see doing this using WordPress. I could see doing it using Drupal, with somebody else doing the heavy lifting. I could not readily see turning everything back into wiki form, frankly!)
  • If I’m involved, I’d need some medium-term assurances…

If nothing comes up, I’ll probably look at the content again, see how much of it should be adapted for use in C&I or elsewhere, and possibly find a home for it as a static set of pages. (One such home has already been suggested…but, sigh, it’s a wiki.) That’s really not ideal.

We seemed to have close to 50,000 pageviews per month for articles on the wiki site (late in 2009), which suggests there’s a real readership for this stuff. I don’t think I’d have too much trouble restarting the network of blogger permissions, if the sponsorship/support makes sense.

Interested? Get in touch.

Making the Case 1: Sponsoring C&I (and Walt at Random?)

Posted in Cites & Insights on June 18th, 2010

Cites & Insights needs sponsorship–and ALA Annual would be a great time to set it up. That sponsorship could easily include a sidebar ad or banner on Walt at Random.

Current Reach

Here’s what I find from Urchin’s log analysis for January 1, 2010 through June 16, 2010:

  • Cites & Insights: Nearly 40,000 PDF downloads and 174,000 pageviews. An average of 1,000 pageviews and 400 sessions per day. More than 69,000 readers (based on IP addresses) this year.
  • Walt at Random: More than 617,000 pageviews–an average of 3,700 per day, in 1,500 sessions per day. Currently more than 1,100 RSS subscriptions. Although most posts are viewed via RSS, the home (/index) page has been viewed more than 60,000 times. More than 250,000 readers (based on IP addresses) this year.

I’ll admit that I’d rather see more C&I readers than Walt at Random readers, but the numbers are striking in either case–and, for C&I, don’t include passalong readership of print copies.

Other Facts

For better or for worse, Walt at Random was named a gold star “General Interest Library Blog” in Salem Press’ 2010 library blogs list–and is one of the 2010 LISNews “10 Librarian Blogs To Read in 2010.”

Cites & Insights issues and articles seem to age well–readership keeps growing. While the changes of sites over the years have prevented comprehensive statistics, here are some notes as of the end of 2009:

  • Two issues had been downloaded more than 10,000 times (one of them more than 25,000 times)
  • More than 30 other issues have been downloaded more than 5,000 times: two more than 8,000, three more than 7,500, 14 more than 6,000 and 12 more than 5,000. Add 25 with more than 4,000 downloads and 33 with more than 3,000.
  • Article viewership (including only HTML pageviews and PDF downloads–excluding in-browser PDF pageviews, because these are hard to equate to actual readership) can be much higher than that. The classic, “Library 2.0 and ‘Library 2.0′”, reached more than 44,000 views by the end of 2009–with another 17 articles viewed more than 10,000 times and another 51 viewed between 8,000 and 10,000 times.
  • Note that none of these numbers include the nearly 40,000 PDF downloads and roughly 100,000 article pageviews from January 1 through June 16, 2010.

Both Walt at Random and Cites & Insights have Google Page Rank 6.

Sponsorship Possibilities

  • Basic Sponsorship: “Sponsored by” as part of the banner on the front page of each new issue of C&I, acknowledgment in the masthead on the back page of each new issue of C&I, optional logo as part of that masthead, “Sponsored by” on the C&I home page. The masthead (without the logo) also appears in every HTML article
  • Expanded Sponsorship: Basic sponsorship plus either a sponsor’s column in some or all issues, or a partial or full-page ad in each PDF issue.
  • Adding Walt at Random: Addition of a sponsor’s name to the Walt at Random banner, possibly a banner ad as part of the footer, possibly a text ad in the sidebar.
  • Who? Anybody trying to reach “my part” of the library community–preferably a company or group in some area that I don’t directly write about, so there’s no conflict of interest. That could include book jobbers, library automation companies, consortia and probably others.
  • How? Get in touch with me–waltcrawford at gmail dot com. We could talk during ALA, if you get in touch by Thursday noon.

Mystery Collection Disc 13

Posted in Movies and TV on June 15th, 2010

The Mandarin Mystery, 1936, b&w. Ralph Staub (dir.), Eddie Quinlan, Charlotte Henry, Rita la Roy, Wade Boteler, Franklin Pangborn, George Irving, Kay Hughes. 1:06 [0:53]

This one’s a charmer—a relatively short, fast-paced Ellery Queen mystery (loosely) based on The Chinese Orange Mystery. A young woman arrives in New York with a uniquely rare stamp she’s agreed to sell to a doctor—who is investing his niece’s trust fund in rare stamps. As she’s arriving, she runs into Ellery Queen (Quinlan), a charming young PR man who was hoping to meet another woman but who will gladly chase after whoever’s available.

The stamp’s stolen before she can take it to the doctor; then she believe she’s retrieved it—from a dead thief (murdered in a locked room). Inspector Queen (Ellery’s father) arrives and the two of them, in very different ways, investigate a growing web of crimes including a second murder and stamp forgery, with enough suspects to make your head spin. Snappy dialogue, fast-moving, pretty decent acting (with Franklin Pangborn a hoot as the nervous hotel manager), in all a good time. It’s clearly a second feature/B movie, but a fun one—even with 13 minutes missing. $1.25.

High Voltage, 1929, b&w. Howard Higgin (dir.), William Boyd, Carole Lombard, Owen Moore, Phillips Smalley, Billy Bevan, Diane Ellis. 1:03.

Already reviewed as part of the 50 Movie Pack Hollywood Legends. Here’s what I said in Cites & Insights 9:1 (January 2009):

An odd title for an odd short flick with a fine cast. The setup requires a fair amount of disbelief: A coach or bus apparently going from Sacramento to Reno during a huge snowstorm. When it stops for gas, the station attendant says they’ll never make it through and should stop there, but the blowhard driver says he can make it. Passengers include one banker, one young woman on the way to meet her fiancée and a cop taking a woman (Carole Lombard) back East to serve out a prison sentence. The last two passengers are on their way to catch a train, as is (I believe) the young woman. The film is set in a time when there are not only buses but airplanes—but, apparently, either no train running from Sacramento east or the train’s so unreliable that it makes more sense to ride a bus out into a huge snowstorm. I suppose there was such a period, but it’s a little implausible.

Naturally, the bus gets stuck. Somehow, it’s 40 miles to the nearest city or town—but there’s a church close enough so the stranded group can see it and make their way there. Where they find a hobo (William Boyd), who (it turns out) is on the lam. (You may know William Boyd by the character he played in about 70 movies and 40 TV shows starting in 1935: Hopalong Cassidy. He’s a lot darker here!)

That’s the setup. The hobo has food but probably not enough for the ten days he estimates they’ll be trapped (based on nothing obvious). There’s jockeying for position, shoving around, threats…and mostly lots of talk and very little of anything else, although the hobo (who pretty much takes command) does manage to push them all out to get some fresh air, leading to two of them falling through ice (and being rescued). The hobo starts to go off in the night with the woman on her way back to prison (he knows of a ranger station ten miles away)—but when a plane starts circling overhead, he can’t go through with abandoning the others, and they agree to serve their time and move on from there. (Sorry for the plot spoilers, but there’s not much plot here to spoil.)

So I guess it’s a drama of tension among half a dozen stranded types. I suppose, but hardly enough tension to justify the title. Reasonably well acted. Some film damage. One real oddity: The opening credits refer to the characters as archetypes—The Boy, The Girl, The Detective, and so on—even though they all have names in the movie. Knowing the date does make a difference: This is a very early talkie. I’ll give it $1.

The Man Who Had Influence, 1950, b&w. Franklin J. Schaffner (dir.), Stanley Ridges, Robert Sterling, King Calder, Anne Bancroft. 0:59.

Not really a movie at all, and the sleeve’s clear about this: It’s a 1950 episode of Studio One, an early (live?) dramatic TV series—presented here including the three Westinghouse commercials within the story. It’s presumably a kinescope, that is, a film made from the TV broadcast, which helps explain the generally poor video quality (and sometimes poor audio quality).

The plot: We have an Influential Wealthy Lawyer—who’s backing a Senate candidate instead of running himself because he’s more powerful behind the scenes—and his absurdly overprivileged son, who’s always gotten away with everything because of his father and who just flunked out of college. He’s a drunkard but somehow has a fiancée who really should know better (she’s the daughter of the senatorial candidate).

After he comes home, he goes out with his fiancée, drinks too much, makes a play for the cute cigarette girl (notably, his fiancée is used to his leaving with somebody else!)…and the next thing we know, it’s the next morning, the car’s not at home, he is but doesn’t know what’s happened. What’s happened is a car crash and a dead cigarette girl, who he abandoned at the scene.

That’s the setup. The rest has to do with just how much influence the father has and how he gets it. It involves conversations with a copy who seems to spend his time in the jail cell with the son, playing cards and eventually bemoaning the fact that he shoulda been police chief but couldn’t be bought by the father…and a sort of redemption. Sort of.

I guess it’s golden age drama. Other than the achievement of doing this live, I can’t say that it’s all that wonderful—hammy, simplistic, and almost hard to watch. (There’s also something new on this and the next movie: A Mill Creek Entertainment logo in the bottom right of the picture for a few seconds every 20 minutes or so. I hope that was a temporary madness.) I’ll give it $0.75.

The Strange Woman, 1946, b&w. Edgar G. Ulmer (dir.), Hedy Lamarr, George Sanders, Louis Hayward, Gene Lockhart, Hillary Brooke. 1:40.

Bangor, Maine, 1824, a mostly-lawless logging town where the town drunk’s daughter is a handful—including an early scene where she nearly drowns a boy, then makes it look as though she saved him from drowning. She grows into a beauty, determined to marry a wealthy man—and manages, in the person of a much older man (the father of the boy, now away at college).

In the course of events, she seduces the son and makes it clear that she considers the father (her husband) a nuisance—and, when the son comes back alone from a trip to the logging camp, rejects him out of hand. She has eyes for the fiancée of her friend—and what Jenny wants, Jenny gets. The son turns drunkard, and eventually hangs himself—after telling the person who’s now her husband (and heads up the logging-and-shipping operation she inherited) what happened.

There’s more—specifically, a revivalist in buckskins from Ohio, whose third service is “The Strange Woman” and who seems to be speaking directly to her. Things do not lead to a happy ending—and, given Jenny’s sociopathic nature, it’s hard to see how they could wind up well. Hedy Lamarr gives a fine performance as a mostly-affectless beautiful woman plowing a path through all around her. George Sanders is upstanding and noble as her eventual husband, who stands by her to the end. The movie’s slow moving and there are a few glitches. Not great, not bad; I’ll give it $1.50.

ALA and All the Link Love

Posted in ALA, Writing and blogging on June 14th, 2010

A two-parter:

ALA

I’m still very much looking for (a) sponsorship of Cites & Insights, (b) some other part-time/telecommuting situation that would yield some revenue (and give me a solid reason to keep going to ALA), (c) both.

One good time to discuss this would be during ALA Annual in Washington, D.C.

My current schedule is such that I could meet with people pretty much any time Friday from, say, noon on; any time Saturday, period (at this point); or Sunday between 2 and 5:30 or 6:00 (or possibly Sunday over dinner).

As usual, I’ll be traveling mostly without technology (except for a cell phone), so ideally, any meeting should be arranged beforehand–my email address is waltcrawford at gmail dot com.

Link Love

That’s what comment spammers are trying to get, and here’s a few of today’s highlights:

  • Apparently, my site is “on the air in the radio” with posts “truly great and bookmarked.” People still bookmark individual blogs? (As for “on the air in the radio,” one can only surmise…)
  • It’s reassuring that “Coming here to this site wasn’t such a bad idea after all” (responding to my post about a possible C&I Executive Edition–the only response I’ve received to what was apparently a pointless idea)
  • Also good to know that my blog “keeps getting better and better” with “a lot more ideas and originality” than my old posts–of a couple of weeks ago–that “don’t offer as much insight.” That’s the oddly complimentary-while-insulting start to a long comment about getting ad revenue…
  • Several instances of Ye Olde Standard Spam Compliment, e.g. “Great blog post. Really looking forward to read more.” At least the four most recent occurrences were to posts that discussed something other than C&I issues and the business of the blog! There’s also “Your blog is so informative ; keep up the good work!!!!”–attached to a note on free shipping for C&I books. Well, that is pretty informative!!!! isn’t it?
  • Fortune cookie comments are always amusing, e.g., “Just write like you’re talking to your friends. And soon, they will be.” (Attached to one of the more controversial posts lately…)
  • Then there are the truly mysterious cases, e.g. “Hello, The Burden of your blog is very good to me, I hope more alternate with you this Motive.”
  • And the argumentative ones–such as one moderately long one that begins “Good luck getting people behind this one. Though you make some VERY fascinating points, youre going to have to do more than bring up a few things that may be different than what weve already heard…” and continues in that apostrophe-free manner. Oddly enough, that one–while not being a slam-dunk for spam points–has a name attached that makes it abundantly clear that it’s spam.
  • I’m delighted that “Nicholas Sparks is my favorite author!”–I guess (haven’t really read Sparks)–but it’s totally irrelevant to the post it was attached to.
  • A lot of spam attached to my post about spam, perhaps not surprisingly…one or two already noted, plus “I still prefer the novel instead the film, it just not able to put everything in the 2 hours show.” and “Sorry that I found too late … :(” and “For me, as a poet, it was very interesting!”…and more, several more.

Spam. You gotta love it. It’s amazing how much of this stuff shows up on other blogs…although I suppose it’s great for comment counts.

Random Sunday music musing

Posted in Media on June 13th, 2010

When I got my dandy little 8GB Sansa Fuze “MP3 player” (because it was on sale for $69 at Radio Shack, which it is again this week), I loaded it with 863 songs from my collection that I think are better than average–ones I give 3, 4 or 5 stars. (The whole collection, excluding classical, is around 3,000 songs–mostly fairly old CDs, but I’ve added a handful of used CDs purchased recently…)

And I’m going through it for a first pass, really listening to songs, usually about 10 a day.

Today I hit a song that was great–a recent addition, so I’d probably only heard it once before–but that also reminded me I’ve lost most of the specific vocabulary for music I might once have had.

The song: “Hard to Love” by Vance Gilbert (from one thru fourteen, released 2002 on Louisiana Red Hot Records).

It’s a blues of a particular style–with verses minimally accompanied (Hammond B3, electric lead & rhythm guitars, acoustic bass, drums–the bass descending one note per bar, minimal riffs from the rest), and then a solid horn section cutting in on the chorus. I mean a tasty horn section. (I’d actually been thinking, you know, I need a few more songs with really tasty horn sections.)

Yes, I can recognize a Hammond B3 almost instantly…or one heck of a good synthesizer simulation. Can’t you? Some day, all the Hammond B3s will be gone and irreparable; that will be a sad day for blues/jazz/whatever. Also yes, I’m one of those who thinks Al Kooper’s contributions to American music have been undervalued…

And I realized that I didn’t know whether this was Tower of Power-style horns, Memphis Horns style, or something else entirely. It only matters in that it’s hard for me to describe this number adequately.

[Checking the liner notes/booklet, one of those things that come with CDs, I find something really interesting, given that the horns seemed to have a pretty natural acoustic and stereo spread: The horns are the "Joe Mennona horns," which appears to consist of Joe Mennona overdubbing all the horn parts--tenor sax, alto sax, baritone sax, trombone and trumpet.]

No real significance here. You can enjoy music without being able to describe it properly.


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