The Rock & Roll Librarian

December 30, 2006

Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Filed under: Book Review,Graphic Novelist and Artists,Graphic Novels,Libraries,Reviews — Tyler Rousseau @ 9:30 pm

Abandon the Old in TokyoIt is tough to find a book that translates so thoroughly from its original language.  Cultural differences, slang, context just simply get lost in the translation.  It can make the story hard to follow or understand.

This is where Tatsumi’s work clearly stands out above all others.  The words the characters speak are simple, making direct points, and Tatsumi does not waste too much time with extraneous conversations.  His message is clearly conveyed through the expression and actions of the characters.  My personal love for his stories in this book is that they require you to think back on the story and see where the message lies, therefore justifying the actions of the main character.

Like his previous graphic novel, The Push Man, Tatsumi has created an extraordinary collection of stories that may be somewhat unorthodox to American life, but universal in its message.  As Drawn & Quarterly continue to publish more books by Tatsumi, I can only imagine it is a matter of time before he is known as a master of storytelling.

World War Z by Max Brooks

Filed under: audiobook,Book Review,Libraries,Reviews — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:49 pm

An Oral History of the Zombie WarI’ve been on a lucky streak with books lately; I’ve read some phenomenal ones.  Upon finishing Max Brook’s, World War Z, I have found another gem to put on top of my list for 2006.

Max Brooks narrates a story of a post-apocalyptic Earth, one where the human race was driven to the brink of extinction by a completely new type of enemy, the zombie.  He travels to various parts of the world to interview survivors who tell the details of how corrupt governments, indifferent or self-interested politicians and just simply poorly prepared militaries botched the initial wave of invasions. 

This leads to the second wave of epidemic, known as “The Great Panic” where surviving members of the human race now need to find ways they can escape and survive the overwhelming number of invaders.  And try as militaries might, their traditional military practices are completely useless on these creatures.  Weapons and tactics that, in large part, also employ a certain amount of psychological warfare are ineffective.  More hostile firepower like missiles, grenades and mines are all-too-late realized to be useless as well… after all, there is only one way to kill a zombie.

Eventually, the human race does find different ways to survive, different countries employ individual practices based on regional and past historical accounts.  Twelve years later, the war is declared won but no one is letting their guard down.  After all, who knows how many were infected and how many were actually killed.

Believe it or not, this is one of the better thought out books I’ve read in awhile.  From the beginnings, to the cultures, to military tactics, to characterizations, Brooks put an extraordinary amount of effort in.

 On the website for this book, there is a great feature that will calculate the risk and your chance of surviving a zombie attack.  It takes into account various news sources, physical health, special skills, geographic locations, and group sizes to determine survivability.

You would think for all the horror films I watch that I could come up with better odds than 34% though… Man, I have got to brush up on my skills.

December 29, 2006

The Year in Review- The Idiot Tube

Filed under: humor,rants,Reviews,Technology,Teens,TV Time — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:21 pm

Yep, it’s that time of year again; anyone who has the time and effort makes an assessment of the year gone past. With the introduction of my beautiful and awesome daughter, I found myself at home more often and not going out as much; hence TV was probably my biggest pop-culture endeavor of the year. It seemed the logical place to start the “props and drops.”The Best of Them:

Heroes- Yeah, it’s no surprise a comic geek chose this as his favorite, but according to Sci Fi’s poll, 54% of watchers did as well. It just goes to show that there really isn’t a “geekiness” about superheroes or people with superpowers, it is the way in which it is presented. In this case, extraordinarily average people who wake up and find that they are more capable than they ever dreamed, showing their powers to be both a curse and blessing.

24-Jack Bauer, please forgive me… You still remain my favorite character on TV but it was just edged out of top spot this year. When it comes to keeping to keeping viewers on the edge of their seats, no one does a better job. There is only one cast member whose job is secure on the show, Jack’s, anyone else could, and often has, bite the bullet. Someday, Sutherland is going to give up his contract for this show and I just hope they keep it a secret because the day they get rid of Jack Bauer could cause the TV to explode on it’s own.

House- Consistently good, if you like curmudgeons with the ability to heal or kill and a love for Vicodin. I do and can relate to at least one of these defining characteristics. And if I ever meet the actor who plays the cop, I might not be able to restrain myself from punching him in the nose… thank goodness I don’t wander into Princeton too often.

Ben 10- Cartoon about a boy who gets a watch that turns him into several different types of alien beings, all with different powers. Villains try to take the watch from him but don’t succeed… it’s not a spoiler! How else could the show be a series!?

Teen Titans- Another cartoon about teenage mutants who go on various adventures and combat the forces of nature along with their raging hormones…

Eureka- In the small town of Eureka, a government facility is embedded and employs some of the world’s greatest scientists. Overall, this is a good thing, but can wield some seriously bad results as well. What happens when rocket scientists botch experiments in labs next to nano-bees or space/time continuum chambers? Apparently, it takes a normal Joe cop to control it all.

I Shouldn’t Be Alive- Real life stories of people who survive situations that are almost guaranteed death sentences. Each show interviews the actual survivors along with the narration and explanation of events, combining drama and science. Call it the morbid fascination part of me, but I really like this show.

Who Wants to be a Superhero- This was good in a very sad way. Fortunately, most of the contestants were using the show as a platform to promote their acting careers or whatnot. It was the other three who took it seriously that truly made the show. Anyone who actually looked towards Spiderman as their father figure when growing up probably has serious issues; ones that could be ideally captured in a comic book!

The Not-So Best… a.k.a. The Drops List

Lost- You really ticked me off with the 2-4 episodes on and month off format. It made no sense and seemed to prove the show was being made up despite your insistence of everything being well thought out. When you returned in the fall season, you stuck around for multiple episodes but went absolutely nowhere in direction with some serious plot flaws. I watched you in order to have something to talk with my friends about during our Indian buffet luncheon dates. If things don’t improve, I’m not sure any Saag Paneer or Samosa is worth that much.

1 Vs. 100- If the show is going to succeed, then they need to fix the format. No one is ever going to for the million bucks in this, the risk reward ratio is way too steep. That said though, if I had to pick a game show to pick up a cool $50K or so, this would be my choice.

Law & Order (pick whatever spin-off you please)- I just hate the show, alright. The main characters are complete jerks who are unapologetic even when they are wrong, the judicial process is a farce and half the things said would land the lawyers in contempt or cause mistrial. I’ve grown to at least tolerate, and sometimes- enjoy, the D’nofrio version of this show but, I’m sorry, I’m just not can’t suppress the urge to put a shoe through the TV for the others.

Obviously, there are going to be far less reviews for what I think are the crummy stuff. After all, I’m not getting paid to watch them and therefore, why the heck would I waste my time in front of the idiot box for them!?

December 26, 2006

Hooray for Wii, a Game Console Review

Filed under: Gaming,Reviews,Technology,Teens,Uncategorized,Wii — Tyler Rousseau @ 5:20 pm

Lucky, lucky me… I got a Wii for Christmas.  I mean, the actual console was there in my hands and ready to go on the very day of gift-giving!  This holiday season, that is a special thing.

 The set-up:  None of these systems are particularly hard to set up anymore.  The system was ready to play within three minutes of unpacking.  Of course, customizing the homepage could take hours, the system is designed with the idea of entertainment in various aspects in mind, not just the game you could play.  I may try to adjust the sensor bar a little bit though to see if I can get the range a little higher, however, this wont be an issue for most people; I am 6′ 3″ and pretty much nothing is designed with me as the main user in mind.

The Controllers:  What can I say, they are every bit as fun as they look on the commercials.  Okay, true, you don’t actually have to give a full baseball or tennis swing to get the characters to respond but you will probably find yourself doing so anyway.  The controllers are very easy to use but incredibly sensitive as well, far more than I expected they would be.  They will pick up on slight wrist changes and send things flying if you are not careful.  And yes, I can totally see how people have inadvertantly sent their controllers through the TV screens.

The Console:  I love the Homepage, it can be personalized to show just about whatever you want (weather, headlines, music, etc.).  Loading a game into the system does not change the interface, you still have to select it from your options.  Along with the customization of the interface, you can create your own avatars to use in the system as well.  These characters can then be saved into the controller so that you can take them to your friends house and use them for there (mobility customization… how socially awesome is that!?)

One of the truly great things about this system is the ability to shop for old games on-line.  Many games from the NES onwards are available to purchase and download onto the Wii system although they may require to purchase a different controller.  The retro games are reasonably priced as well, so thank you Nintendo for introducing an even larger level of impulse buying into the gaming industry.

The Library-Okay, the library of games is lacking right now.  There wont be any cheap, used ones for awhile.  Blockbuster and Hollywood Videos are starting to get some of these games in to test out before you buy them so that’s good.  However, that said, we all know this is a temporary problem.  I definitely look at the Wii as a version 1.0 system of this style.  Game designers will be testing out what works and what doesn’t and how the controls can best be exploited.  The system itself though, will be worked on to continually be improved.  I can definitely see the idea of someone creating controllers for the feet and creating an even larger interactive experience.  Guitar Hero and DDR are going to have their hands full in coming up with the next great thing.

The Reaction:  Simply put, Awesome!  Less simply put- Nintendo has taken on the seemingly insurmountable task of revolutionizing the gaming world and may well succeed in breaking the age/gender barriers Sony and Xbox have struggled with.  I have only gone over basics here, there is a lot more offered in this small little package.  The system’s primary is definitely about gaming, but there is a large social aspect going into it as well.  My wife, who begrudgingly accepts my gaming obsession, has been playing with me… not only that, she has been trash talking and beating me in bowling.  Our New Years plan changed from the annual visit to our Uncle’s house to a small party at our own so that friends could eat, drink and play erm… carefully.

The possibilities that come with this system and its following generation could be mind boggling.  The way the controllers could be used now could become far more intricate than anything we expected in the hands of the right designer.  Sony and Xbox are certainly in no danger of any Techno-Darwinistic extinction from the Wii, but they will face some serious competition as the console finds its place. 

Techno-Darwinistic…. aw yea, now there is a neat turn of phrase!

Nintendo has long been known for having a long standing legion of dedicated and passionate fans.  They anxiously await the new systems and games (Mario still remains one of the most recognized worldwide icons).  With this system, they may have a convert… I am incredibly excited to see what comes out of this system.

December 22, 2006

There’s a New Kid in Town

Filed under: New Jersey,random — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:07 pm

There is nothing like the birth of your own child, I learned that last year.  As happy as previously was for all family and friends, it just doesn’t equate until you know the one in your arms is yours. 

Oddly enough, the precipitating result of this has been reliving that complete thrill when a friend brings a new one into the world.  Hence, I am delighted to say congratulations to fellow librarian, game junkie, music afficionado and friend, John Porcaro and family for their newest member, Andrew.

  Is this the face of a new librarian or what?!

December 17, 2006

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:31 am

December 13, 2006

An Open Letter to the Guy I Caught Looking at Naughty Stuff on the Internet…

Filed under: humor,Libraries,New Jersey,random,rants,research,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 8:59 pm

Here is the helpful tip I would like to write to my most memorable customer today… 

If you are going to use a computer that has only yourself to block the view, there is a good chance that others will see what you are looking at anyway.  Not that you care what anybody else thinks but you may want to reconsider watching porn in public places.  But if the urge is too much to ignore, perhaps it would be a good idea to try and play some angle to your porn watching… say a site that you could claim you are researching different positions of the Kama Sutra, maybe some racey artwork where you could put up the argument that even a naked person holding a gun and snake is making some kind of statement.

Notice the use of tact and slyness?

However, once you completely cross the line of decency and start watching people playing with pigs, as I caught you doing so today, it is hard to find any sort of defense for yourself.  The research excuse is out the window, artful/political statement won’t fly anymore… and neither will those poor, pigs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going home to throw out every piece of pork product found in my house… you’ve taken me one step closer to becoming a vegetarian. 

Sincerely,  

Your friendly Librarian

December 12, 2006

Rethinking the Catalog

Filed under: Libraries,research,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:49 pm

For the general user, the library catalog can be a complete pain.  They are not set up for general users, at least users who don’t know exactly what they are looking for.  Today’s catalogs, although improved, still require a certain understanding of the cataloging system and a large amount of creativity in order to the full amount of information from them.

If you wanted to search the Socialism movement in Poland during the 1920′s, there are several search strategies to try.  You could start with a title or keyword search and hope there is a specific book on the subject.  If no results come up, then move to lesser specific terms and find books with either Socialism or Poland in the title, then go to the shelves and hope there is a section in the index on your desired subject. 

My personal preference would be to browse the subject headings under Poland and see if Socialism is a subheading.  If that doesn’t work, switch the terms and see what happens.  If there still aren’t any results, then it’s time to start thinking of alternative subject terms that this research might be found under like “Political Parties,” “Communism,” or general Polish history done by decades. 

It’s all good and fun for me, but how would our patron feel if they were looking for this and having to try all these different search strategies?

How can we wonder why our patrons turn to the Internet for their information?

It’s not even a matter of whether or not they trust what they read, it is a matter of convenience.  There is far less hassle for them to type into terms and come up with results… usually in the first couple tries.

Whether librarians (guardians and keepers of information and bibliographic control) like it or not, our patrons are moving along without us; they have found another way.  It is up to us to bring them back and make our catalogs easier to use.  We need to find ways in which they can find the information they want in ways they are used to searching now; ways like relevancy results, tagging & folksonomy, recommended/alternative/similar reads options.  Perhaps our catalog could even link to a couple trustworthy Internet sites.  If you are feeling really daring, let your patrons have the option to add their own tags to a specific title (obviously, put an administration hold on submissions for approval).

There are libraries that have taken notice and made steps to improve the usability on the patron of their catalogs but many of us are still way behind.  We can contain bibliographic control for our sake and use but we have to start looking at things from our patrons end.  After all, what good is all this information and entertainment if they are unable to find it in the first place?

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