Archive for February, 2014

To go or not to go…

Posted in Cites & Insights on February 24th, 2014

One of these days, I’ll start blogging again about a range of topics. To some extent, I’m still recovering from the compressed project of early February–and a followup to that project that occupied most of last week. Now, I’m polishing the next Cites & Insights…but also trying to make a decision, preferably by March 3.

Namely, to go or not to go? To ALA Annual in Las Vegas, that is.

The question is linked to “Toward 15 and 200: Your help wanted,” my attempt to establish a pool of sponsors and supporters for Cites & Insights–with perks for those who sponsor or support the direct and indirect costs of C&I, based on their sense that it’s worthwhile to them.

I believe it’s worthwhile to go to at least one library conference at least every couple of years, as part of an effort to stay involved in the library community. (The LSW FriendFeeders are obviously my primary involvement, but there’s worth in more general awareness, face-to-face conversations, seeing what vendors are up to, etc. as well.) The cost of attending is probably the major indirect cost of C&I–especially since it’s one I can certainly avoid (unlike domain registration, hosting, printer supplies and once in a while software/hardware: for example, this may be the year I give my five-year-old budget notebook its own retirement party).

Vegas would be a relatively inexpensive ALA Annual–the hotel prices are bargains, and it’s possible to get there for a reasonable price (on an unreasonable airline, but that’s a different issue). I’m a valley boy, so the heat of Vegas in June/July isn’t an issue. And it’s been a couple of years…

Anyway: I’m trying to make that decision. The level of support for C&I will help make it. If you find C&I to be moderately worthwhile, I invite you to chip in–with suggested levels of $30/year for supporters, $50/year (or more, of course) for sponsors, and perks at both levels. (The first such perk will go out this week to early donors–early notification of the next C&I.)

 

C&I sponsorship: Reminder and progress report

Posted in Cites & Insights on February 18th, 2014

On January 6, 2014, I posted “Toward 15 and 200: Your help wanted,” a request for donations to support Cites & Insights at two levels and with mild perks for support.

That request also appears in the current Cites & Insights (March 2014).

Briefly: If you regard C&I as worthwhile–both for the last 13 years and in the future–I could really use some evidence of that. Publicity (posts, etc. linking to issues that you’ve found worthwhile and think other people should read) is always helpful. Direct support–I’m asking for $30 or $50 in this case–is, of course, also helpful, to cover the direct expenses and encourage me to keep up the major expenses (which are indirect).

I’m targeting enough revenue to justify going to one professional conference a year–either ALA or something else–at least partly to stay in touch with people in the field and “the buzz.” But the perks would also provide an advisory panel, which could be mutually beneficial (I think).

The minimum target for this fundraising drive is 50 supporters & sponsors.

As of now, after roughly six weeks, the results are greater than 0% but less than 10%.

Your help would be greatly appreciated.

If, of course, you believe I’m another useless old white man who should shut up and go away, you could let me know that directly or simply ignore C&I and these requests. I’m getting some evidence that this blog itself is being ignored, at least as a source of worthwhile (linkable) comment*, and it’s certainly true that I’ve spent most energy recently on C&I and on research/writing that actually pays a little.

Right now, I’m looking at what I’ve tagged for future discussion in C&I and considering two sets of possible topics:

1. Those that are either fun or topics I feel really strongly about and feel I can add something worthwhile on.

2. Those I feel I can add something worthwhile on, but are perhaps more work than fun–and are perhaps more important for the field.

The growing temptation is to go through and strike #2 altogether. Some level of support may change that.


*For example, I thought “Favoring the ALA Statement of Appropriate Conduct” was an at least mildly useful addition to the commentary on that issue. As far as I can tell, nobody ever linked to it, certainly including one long list ‘o’ links on the issue. The other indications of this are the total lack of comments hereabouts–not atypical for blogs these days–and the fact that the most-“viewed” pages when I look at site stats are almost never either recent or anything other than random. E.g., for February so far, the top actual post is “What’s on your Firefox search dropdown?” from October 2006, and of the top five none are from 2014 and the only one from 2013 is about 2.5-buck-Chuck.

Some days you gotta dance

Posted in Stuff on February 12th, 2014

Emerging from the projecthole I’ve been in, at least a little, with an odd post…

Vacuuming today, wearing ear protectors with built-in headphones, playing the “mix tape” 6GB of my favorite 380-or-so songs (on a Sansa Fuze). I don’t much dance, and I don’t have much rhythm…but one tune got me going, at least a little. Not necessarily dancing, but moving at least.

You can see the title above (“Some days you gotta dance” if it’s too much work to look), but not the backstory.

To wit: I knew the version I was listening to was James Taylor’s cover, from his Covers album–but I didn’t know what it was a cover of. And with the tight Tower-of-Power-style horns absolutely driving the song, I assumed he was covering some black group, possibly mid-60s, possibly Oakland, certainly with horns.

So I finally checked today. And, sure enough, it’s urban blues–woops, country? Really? First recorded by Keith Urban, best known from a Dixie Chicks recording? From the ’90s?

Taylor comes by it honestly: Look at Youtube and you’ll find a Crossroads episode with Taylor and the Dixie Chicks, which begins with that song, Taylor singing lead. (Apparently Keith Urban played guitar on the Chicks recording: everything connects to everything.)

And, you know, now that I’ve listened to the Dixie Chicks version(s) (the recorded one and the Crossroads one) and Keith Urban’s version…

Damned if I still don’t think this is a horns-driven urban pop song from the ’60s or ’70s. There’s just an edge to that version that the guitar-driven versions don’t have. (Also: Urban rushes the song.)

I’d point you to the James Taylor version, but the ones I see on Youtube are live versions without the tight full horns. They’re OK, but not the same.

Update next day: I don’t know genres for s**t and I’m not particularly up on recent music. Could be late ’50s rockabilly but with an infusion of more recent horn sections. Or not. In any case, to me, Taylor’s version (a) isn’t country and (b) is superior. Nothing against good country, to be sure.

 

Mystery Collection Disc 41

Posted in Movies and TV on February 5th, 2014

A Dangerous Summer, 1982, color. Quentin Masters (dir.), Tom Skerritt, Ian Gilmour, Ray Barrett, James Mason, Wendy Hughes, Guy Doleman, Kim Deacon. 1:28 [1:29]

Set in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, this fiery movie starts with fire, ends with fire and is about firebugs and insurance fraud. It’s also deeply disappointing, in that it can’t seem to decide whether it’s a heavily plotted situation—or just an insane young man. Mostly, I guess, it was a paid Australian vacation for James Mason and Tom Skerritt.

It’s set in December (summer in Australia). We open with brush fires and school fires simultaneously, so that when Skerritt—the American co-developer for a supposed resort hotel that never seems to be much more than multistory wood framing—sees smoke from a (set) fire nearby and asks for firefighters, he’s told they’re all busy. We learn a bit later that the chief of the brush fire squad is absolutely convinced the resort will eventually burn down, and apparently not too unhappy about that. Meanwhile, a lawyer at a local insurance company is a bit concerned that the place is insured for $10 million—but only through the end of the year—even though it can’t possibly be worth more than a fraction of that. So is the co-developer, who is told by the person putting up the money that, well, a bit of the bank’s money went to “other little projects” like the money guy’s yacht. Oh, and the local insurance company, which has reinsured with Lloyds of London, either owns the company that owns most of the resort or vice-versa.

We wind up with a drowned insurance company lawyer who was an excellent swimmer (we see the drowning in some detail, and apparently the drowner felt the need to rip off the top half of the lawyer’s swimsuit: she was an attractive young woman). We get various other stuff, including the train the co-developer is on running right into a fire zone and catching on fire. And eventually the partial wood framing that’s supposed to be a big hotel burns down (this time through direct arson on Christmas day)—taking the firebug with it. (First, he sets the co-developer’s house on fire, with his girlfriend—the co-developer’s daughter—upstairs, naked and partly bound. Her father does save her.) And that’s it: We get no resolution of any plot other than the firebug himself.

I found it disappointing and, frankly, not all that well done: poor photography, mediocre directing, poor sound, mediocre acting, incoherent editing. Really nothing special. I’m being generous (mostly for Mason and Wendy Hughes) by giving it $0.75.

Mitchell, 1975, color. Andrew V. McLaglen (dir.), Joe Don Baker, Martin Balsam, John Saxon, Linda Evans, Merlin Olsen. 1:37 [1:31]

This feels like the pilot for a TV series—but it also appears to be filmed wide-screen (but displayed pan & scan), so maybe not. Joe Don Baker is Mitchell, a slob of a plainclothes detective who doesn’t get along with much of anybody, seems largely incompetent, drinks too much, lives in a studio apartment and seems to be sort of a wreck. He’s warned off one case that’s called justifiable homicide but that he thinks is murder (because the killer’s subject of a big FBI investigation) and told to tail another crook; things start out from there. He’s very obvious about tailing, winds up having drinks with the crook and saying what he’s supposed to be looking for (the crook’s been set up by an associate), and…well…lots’o’plot. None of which makes much sense, any more than Mitchell’s defective, er, detective work

We have Linda Evans as a $1,000/night hooker who shows up at Mitchell’s door as a Christmas present (he chooses the wrong crook as the likely donor) and shows up again—the second time, he busts her for pot. But he asserts that he’s clean, as in, he doesn’t take cash bribes. Some interesting car chases; some interesting interactions; and in the end all of the low-level bad guys are dead, which doesn’t help the FBI or anybody else get to the bigger crooks.

But never mind: it’s mostly just a hoot. Great cast, and if you suspend disbelief a little it’s fun in its own cornpone way. For that, I give it a credible $1.25.

Please Murder Me, 1956, b&w. Peter Godfrey (dir.), Angela Lansbury, Raymond Burr, Dick Foran, John Dehner, Lamont Johnson, Denver Pyle. 1:18 [1:15].

Raymond Burr and Angela Lansbury. In 1956. When Lansbury was a stunning young (31-year-old) femme fatale, and Raymond Burr was (39-year-old) Raymond Burr. It starts with him buying a handgun at a pawnshop, then going into a dark office, turning on a lamp, putting the gun and an portfolio into a desk drawer, then starting a tape recorder in the other desk drawer—and telling the story of how he’s going to be murdered in 55 minutes.

It’s quite a tale, involving best friends, apparent love, pure gold-digging, a dramatic murder trial and acquittal—and people with and without integrity. Talky, to be sure, but compelling enough. I downgrade it somewhat because the print’s jumpy at times, with missing frames and words. Still, $1.25.

The Squeeze, 1978, color. Antonio Margheriti (dir.), Lee Van Cleef, Karen Black, Edward Albert, Lionel Stander, Robert Alda. 1:39.

Great cast (Lee Van Cleef, Edward Albert, Karen Black, Lionel Stander, Robert Alda and more). Interesting concept—retired safecracker (Van Cleef) lured into one more job to help an old friend’s son, who soon finds out that the folks he’s helping are Bad Crooks (that is, they’d rather shoot helpers than share the loot). Odd side-story that leads up to an interesting triple-cross finale. (There are a lot of movies entitled “The Squeeze”—this one’s from 1978 and stars Lee Van Cleef, and was filmed on location in seedier parts of New York City.)

Also not anywhere near as good as it could be—but not bad. Unusual to see Van Cleef in something other than a Spaghetti Western, but his looks and personality work here as well. Not a great print, but not bad. On balance, $1.25.

Cites & Insights March 2014 (14:3) available

Posted in Cites & Insights on February 1st, 2014

Breaking the silence of project preparation to announce:

Cites & Insights 14:3 (March 2014) is now available for downloading at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i3.pdf

That’s a 32-page two-column PDF optimized for printing. If you’re planning to read it online or on an e-device, I suggest the 61-page single-column 6″ x 9″ PDF optimized for viewing (and much smaller as a download) at http://citesandinsights.info/civ14i3on.pdf

The issue includes:

The Front: Toward 15 and 200: Your Help Wanted  pp. 1-3

Cites & Insights is in its 14th year and has passed Issue 170. I’m asking for help to encourage keeping it up to at least 15 and 200–and offering perks for donors.

Media: Thinking about Magazines  pp. 3-24

Think print magazines are disappearing–or, worse, are just miscellaneous collections of articles? Think again. If you want a sense of the continuing importance of print magazines, maybe four words will suffice: World Wildlife and STAND–the new glossy print magazines from, respectively, World Wildlife Fund and the ACLU, both of which recognize the special power of a good magazine. This roundup includes some numbers and some perspectives. (No, Cites & Insights isn’t a magazine; it’s closer to a newsletter. And while a few journals are also magazines–Science, for example–most journals aren’t magazines and most magazines aren’t journals.)

The Back  pp. 25-32

A baker’s dozen of minisnarks (or, if you prefer, a dozen with lagniappe) on sound, prices, TED, silliness and casual (or ignorant) tech-sexism at “the newspaper of record.”


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