The Rock & Roll Librarian

May 16, 2008

Doom Asylum comes to DVD

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:29 pm
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Doom Asylum (uncut edition)Awhile back, like two years ago now, I wrote a piece on the Best-Worst Film Ever Made.  I gave that distinct honor to Doom Asylum.

At the time this cult classic could occasionally be found on Ebay, in VHS only, going for something around $60.  As much of a fan as I am of the film, I couldn’t justify the cost for a dying format.

But $12 for a DVD version?  Sold- to the tall guy with poor fashion sense standing in the back!

Amazon lists a tentative release date of July 15th for this, what can only be described as, so-bad-it’s-good horror film.

The story involves a surgeon, conveniently called The Surgeon, who is grossly disfigured in a car wreck near an asylum.  Well okay, at the time of the wreckhe’s just wounded.  However, the passing years of coping withthe death of his wife (Tina) in the same car accident causes his skin to rot away while he continues living… this isn’t explained anywhere in the film, it’s just my guess.

Anyhoo, a few years later, a group of kids go to the asylum to take in some sun.  They cross paths with an industrial goth band, who are inexplicably practicing in one of the wings of the asylum, and completely fail to hit it off.  As the story progresses, the goth band riles the prep-ish kids and their one geeky cohort by throwing water filled condoms at them… which is ingenious thinking on the director’s part as there is no other need for these in the film. 

So The Surgeon starts killing people, breathing heavily and offering witty comments to the deceased.  Everyone is in danger of losing their life, except the lead actress who reminds The Surgeon of his beloved Tina.  She gets to run around the asylum in a swimsuit.  One by one, the characters are picked off until, alas, the surgeon and pseudo-tinameet for an ever exciting climax, which is also polished off with a witty response to the deceased.

Obviously, plot alone can help you understand just how bad the film is, but it is the dialogue which really makes this a classic.  It’s been a good 13 years since I last saw this film and my childhood friends and I still cannot resist quoting soundbites from it.

If you need anymore incentive, consider this.  This film was Sex and City actress, Kristen Davis’, first film.  Just imagine watching Kristin and all her talent in its primal and raw form; before it was sculpted into some refined talent worthy of the masses.  

Oddly enough, it took nearly 4 years for he to recover from this film and land another acting role worthy enough for mention on IMDB’s bio of her.

April 3, 2008

Making good when you done bad… a Guitar Hero III story

Filed under: Gaming — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:24 pm
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As great as the Guitar Hero III game is, it received some negatively publicity for the Wii version.

And deservedly so.

In a previous post I gave the game a glowing review.  The controls were pretty good, I loved the addition of a pseudo-plot and the song selection was solid.  The sound was always a bit off to me but, I figured that was because of my hearing loss.

Then I learned that it wasn’t just my wonky ears, Activision actually released the Wii version in mono sound.  Yeah, it is kind of a cheap thing to do for any video game nowadays but not putting in minimal (and outdated) sound quality for a virtual rock and roll music game!?  

Bad Activision, bad!

After enough publicity was generated, Activision started a replacement program for any Wii-GHIII owners who were feeling the sting, which I took part in.  About a month ago, they sent a self addressed envelope with a very simple questionnaire and asked me to return my ‘faulty’ CD.  Normally, I’d expect this type of mail-in thing to take 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Within 10 days I had a brand new and improved version of Guitar Hero III and, man, the sound was infinitely better.  As a consumer I was pleased with the response time but still a little annoyed with Red Octane for trying to pull a fast one with its fanbase.

Two days later, a package arrived in the mail from Activision.  I opened it and the enclosed letter read:

Dear value Activision/Red Octane Customer,

“You recently received a Guitar Hero III Legends of Rock Wii replacement disc.  To show our appreciation for your patience during the re-mastering and manufacturing phase of GHIII, enclosed is a complementary Guitar Hero Faceplate.”

Wow, really?  My local gaming store hasn’t had a Wii faceplate in stock for a good two months.  Now I don’t have to bother looking each time I go in!

Good move, Red Octane.  You could’ve just given the remastered disc and left fans semi-satisfied that the company owned up to its mistake but, instead, you decided to try and win back a little support from the base by throwing in an extra gift.  Sure the faceplate probably cost mere cents to make, but it costs consumers $15.

And as a result; will I remember the “The Other Red O Incident” as I’ve come to call it?  Yes, but I’ll also remember the ending as well.  Freebies and an extra $15 in my pocket.

January 16, 2008

My Life Among the Serial Killers (audiobook) by Helen Morrison

Filed under: audiobook,Book Review,Reviews — Tyler Rousseau @ 4:23 pm
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Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murderers

Helen Morrison has spent her career working with serial killers.  At the time of publication, she interviewed more than 80 killers and conducted thousands of research hours with them (400 hours on John Wayne Gacy alone).

My Life Among Serial Killers is not so much about the killers themselves, although she does go into some of the more memorable people and details, as it is about her goal to find what causes these people to do what they do.  Her theory is that there is one particular aspect among all serial killers which leads them to killing over and over again.

As Morrison describes some of the cases she makes sure to go into the backgrounds and childhoods, pointing out that none are the same.  Some were abused, neglected, overprotected, suffered head injuries or emotional trauma but none, universally, experienced a common occurance that could be pinpointed as their turning point for everyday person to murderer.

After reviewing the cases and separating evidence, she contends that serial killing must be an innate affliction these people are born with.  In other words, a serial killing gene.  She goes as far as to say that a serial killer is a killer even as early as a fetus in the womb.

But she never offers any evidence to support this theory other than that she can’t find a common denominator among the killers.  

The problem with this idea is that not all mental illnesses can be mapped to a single point on a genetic strand and called the sole cause of the affliction; while other mental illnesses can be linked to several potential factors.  If she is looking for a universal answer it would seem contradictory to look at genetics as a reason it if it not a universal reason for mental illnesses altogether.

But it’s not just this logical fallacy which makes the book suspect in the end.  Morrison also talks about different traumas/events in these individual’s lives which seem to trigger their rampage.  But since each individual trauma was different she dismisses this as a possibility because not everyone who suffers trauma becomes a serial killer.  

In a way, her argument seems a little weird for a specialist with so many years in psychology.  Brain functions may be similar but the way in which people use them is not.  Genes may cause physical traits but there has been little evidence that suggest they control anything beyond basal emotional controls (in other words, you might be more prone to being angry but not more prone to being a criminal).

Stranger than all of this is that she states, several times, the serial killers she interviewed as never passing an emotional state beyond infancy, having very little ability to connect to people or see them as something more than an object.  Yet, this trait is never discussed any further, which seems odd as she clearly says every one of her case studies has this emotional characteristic.

In the end, she is more willing to accept an idea that a genetic predestination determines our lives more than a combination of environmental issues and a low emotional IQ.

And when I think about that I am reminded of a phrase that I heard twice in my life; once by a Philosophy professor and one by a Biology professor.

“Genes make us human but they do not make us who we are.”

December 19, 2007

Shameless Plug

Filed under: music — Tyler Rousseau @ 1:22 pm
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This year’s holiday breakfast was mix of happiness and gastrointestinal discomfort.  Fortunately, the oportunity to play “Daydream Believer” with my friend Karla fell in the first category.

The food could only be described as the latter though.  Here’s a good tip for any culinary business; when you heat eggs to the point that they turn green and become swiss in texture, don’t serve them.  Furthermore, if you make new eggs, don’t place them on top of the old, green ones.

This post is not about the breakfast though.  It turns out that one of our fellow librarians broke out a video camera during K’s and my performance and posted it on Youtube.

Incidentally, several people came up to me afterwards and said “I didn’t know you had talent!”

And that folks, is the key to sucessful performances… lower their expectations to the point that anything will be a nice suprise.

December 15, 2007

Saint Iggy by K.L. Going

Filed under: Book Review — Tyler Rousseau @ 6:03 pm
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Iggy Corso is about to get kicked out of school, but don’t worry, he has a plan to change everybody’s mind about him. 

First, he’s going to save a kid from a crack dealer, just like that guy in the paper did. 

Then, he will get his name in the paper for doing so, just like that guy in the paper did. 

Finally, he will bring that paper to his school hearing, show it to the  committee who will change their minds about him, not kick him out and let him come back.

Simple enough, right?

But time is of the essence, his stoner dad is no help, his mom hasn’t been seen for over a month, his friend has just made a really bad drug deal with a really bad dealer and he has to find some way to save somebody in order to get that much-needed mention in the paper.

K.L. Going created another great story that transcends deeper than the average YA novel.  As Iggy tries to find the right things to do, he looks towards his anti-materialist friend, a priest, former principal, a cop and memories of his mother to find answers.  What he finds is that good deeds are both simple and complex at the same time and he is left with the bigger question of whether good can come out of a bad deed (i.e. the Robin Hood dilemma).

Can he change people’s minds about him by doing some bad but good?

Although there is nothing particularily suprising in this book, it was a very enjoyable read through the quality of writing.  Good books make you feel for the main character and Going always seems to have that ability to connect.  I found myself sad for Iggy’s situation, near tearful when he finds his mother and really hoping that Iggy would find a way to show everyone the good person he really is.  His decision in the end convinced me taht Iggy is at-heart a good soul who is trapped by his pridicaments, but a good soul nonetheless.

And without spoiling the story, I wonder if any of the other characters in the book changed their minds about him…

December 13, 2007

Terry Prachett’s Sad News

Filed under: authors,books — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:47 pm
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DEATH Button BadgeI don’t really like to read fantasy but I love Terry Pratchett.  Those who have read any of the Discworld books probably understands how such a seemingly contradictory statement can be made. 

True, Discworld series is built completely around a world of Elves, Goblins, Zombies, Golems, Vampires, Dwarfs, Trolls, and so forth which is pretty much the definition of Fantasy.  These characters even play major/leading roles in the Discworld books but that is hardly the point of the series.

Pratchett’s world is all about satire.  It’s about taking a look at our societal norms and beliefs then showing them for the utter ridiculousness they embody.   From girl witches trying to get into an all-male wizard academy, the creation of post offices, the Trolls and Dwarves disdain for each other and, my personal favorite, the creation of a war for a few people’s personal gain… that one sound familiar?

With over 30 books in the Discworld series (and about a dozen others not part of Discworld) Pratchett has created a fantasy world so deep in characters and details that readers who do not normally find themselves fans of the genre get sucked in to spending the better part of a few months reading the entire collection of books.  They learn the streets, the buildings, the people and immerse themselves into the crazy place that is Discworld.

Sad to say, despite the prolific nature of Pratchett, the possibility of only a few more Discworld books has become a harsh reality.  Even though he is only 59 years old, Pratchett released a statementon his artist’s website stating that he has a rare form of Alzheimer’s.

Although Pratchett reminds us in the end of his letter that he is “not dead” and we should not be saddened by the news it is hard to feel optimistic.  I have seen the effects of Alzheimer’s and the tolls it eventually takes on the afflicted and their family from watching my own grandmother suffer its fate.  It is painful as all you can do is watch their world slip away.

And as the years pass by for Pratchett, the saddest thing his family and fans will see is not just one world slipping away, but two.

The Librarian

December 12, 2007

Gamers claim “Word of the Year”

Filed under: random — Tyler Rousseau @ 9:02 pm

Merriam Webster just awarded the wildly popular gamers cheer, “w00t” as Word of the Year.

Take that Colbert!

If this isn’t a sign of just how huge today’s gaming culture is, I don’t know what is.

December 7, 2007

Do we encourage our employees to leave?

Filed under: librarians,Libraries,Library Policies — Tyler Rousseau @ 4:13 pm
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If someone leaves your system for the same job in another (i.e. lateral move), that should get you thinking.  

If the average new-employee retention is less two years before they move on to another position, you definitely want to take notice. 

If your system sees people leave and then watches them flourish in another position, you shouldn’t brag that “they started off in this system.”  It should raise questions as to why your system couldn’t seem to hold on to him/her.

Employee retention has always been difficult in our profession but, sometimes, we unknownngly encourage people to leave.

The list below is a compilation of reasons I’ve heard Librarians give for leaving their positions.  If any of these sounds like a familiar complaint of former employees, you may want to consider it, especially from the employee’s perspective.

Pay- Bosses, Directors and Board Members tend to roll their eyes when this issue is brought up.  However, this is going to be a key factor for applicants.  If two positions are posted and one offers more money than the other it is no surprise which will get more applications.  Furthermore, I know several people over the last two years who have earned up to ten thousand dollars a year difference in pay simply by moving, laterally, into another system.  How much of a difference can that be?  How about the difference of affording your own rent or having to live with someone else.

Vacation and/or Holidays- Some New Jersey Library systems offer 10 days of vacation a year while others offer 24+ days.  This does not include federal, personal, floating holidays or sick time).  If everything else is equal (pay, benefits, etc.) which system would you rather work for?

Hours and/or Nights- How many nights a week do you require your librarians to work?  How many Saturdays and/or Sundays a month? 

Yes, we are in public services but we are also highly educated professionals with families, friends and social needs.  On the nights that I work I don’t get to see my children or wife.  One night is tough enough but two nights a week would be nearly impossible and a bigger strain on my family as it means my wife would have to feed, bathe and put both kids to bed by herself.  The effects of working multiple nights are further reaching than just the employee’s schedule.

Professional Investment- Some systems have a budget for training and others do not.  Some systems encourage employees to pursue professional interests and others look for a homogeneous staff.  Employees who feel invested tend to support their systems and be happier as they know they may not get the same treatment elsewhere.  This can also be a big draw for new employees as it shows the system’s interest in professional development.  And consider this; the more an employee can pursue their interest, the more they are noticed in the professional realm as an expert in that subject which is good for the system’s noticability.

Advancement-  A professor once told me that Librarians tend to have to promote themselves and that means they leave the system they are working in.  Obviously, we cannot promote everyone as there are fewer positions the higher up we go.  But, other than steady employment, what are we doing to encourage these people to stay? 

If employees leave because of these reasons it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are in [added 'in'] a bad system but it should rasie a warning flag.  As systems, we are in competition with each other in order to employ the best possible professionals.  Although we may hire that professional, what are we doing to keep him/her? 

October 31, 2007

Guitar Hero III- A Review

Filed under: Game Review,Gaming,music,Uncategorized — Tyler Rousseau @ 4:57 pm
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When I originally heard that the third installation of the wildly successful game Guitar Hero was coming out, there really wasn’t a question of whether or not I was going to buy the game.  The question was for which system I would buy it. 

Yes, I did originally buy Guitar Hero for the PS2 and sure, it would be nice to have only one controller but my recent displeasure over  their cheaper-yet-no-backwards-compatability PS3  scheme has really put me off Sony for the moment.

I decided to purchase the Wii version.  Although I was initially a little tiffed about having to buy another controller that quickly dissipated once I started playing.

Guitar Hero III-Wii has raised the bar for the music-gaming genre and really made something special.  The songlist is simply awesome, from Poison to Aerosmith to, believe it or not, Metallica… I guess they saw there is money to be made in this venture. 

The Wii’s controller (shown above) is unique when compared to the Xbox and PS versions and not just in appearance (a white Les Paul model).  A lot of thought went in to how to best use the features of the Wiimote along with the guitar design and hence, the Wii controller is actually placed into the guitar.  What this combination of guitar/controller does is add an extra element of sound and feel.  Missing a note will cause the speaker in the Wiimote to sound off.  The rumble pack will also react when you release the guitar’s Star Power.

Although a friend of mine did mention he felt he had to pull the guitar back further on the Wii guitar than the PS2 (for star power), I’ve found that a simple shake will register as well.  But I have found that backpicking is a little trickier as it doesn’t seem to be as responsive.

Overall, the game play is pretty solid.  There have been a couple times when I’ve reached a sequence of notes that felt unnatural or the rhythm did not really fit the song but not everything can be a masterpiece.  They also stepped up the difficulty.  Assuming that most of their buyers are already loyal fans means that learning curve has been scaled back a bit, so newbies may find songs to be a little trickier than the seasoned player.

There is even a storyline, albeit a simple one.  Basic animation sequences show your band starting out in a backyard shindig, eventually getting signed and ending with your evolution into Rock God status.

All in all, Guitar Hero III-Legends of Rock, is a solid purchase for fans of the music-gaming genre.  Playing this newest version of this franchise doesn’t just feel like new songs, it feels like a new experience.

October 29, 2007

Time released Top 25 Horror Films

Filed under: movies,Reviews — Tyler Rousseau @ 11:50 pm
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Time magazine just released their collection of Top 25 Horror Films.  Overall, I think they got it right.  Two or three of the films were put in more for humor’s sake but, nonetheless, worthy of mention for the psychological effect on the audience.

 As my friend and I finished reading the list though, we couldn’t help but think of other classics that were left of the list, such as:

American Werewolf in London- Man, you never know what kind of illness you can catch in a foreign country.  Although CG gives way to morphing scenes now, you cannot mistake the mastery that went into the transformation of man to werewolf in this film.

Village of the Damned- And who said a group of bratty British children couldn’t be scary!?

28 Days Later- My personal favorite of all time.  Rage in its purest form.  These zombie-esque didn’t kill for food or anything; they killed because that was their nature… and they did so until they starved to death.

Nightmare on Elm Street- My buddy didn’t sleep for three days after we watched this… unlike myself, who cried himself to sleep.

Poltergeist- Call this the worst decision of my parent’s parenting career. We watched it at a drive-in in Cape Cod.  It was the last time my parents voluntarily let my brother and I watch horror films… and I think it was the last time we ever went to a drive-in as well. 

Friday the 13th- Probably the biggest oversight of the list.  If only for the number of sequels the film has, and continues to produce.

Any we missed?

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