What I Read Last Week – 1/16

 

 

Cold Spring Harbor Library & Environmental Center

Cold Spring Harbor Library & Environmental Center

Volunteering with INALJ keeps me consistently looking at job boards and assessing the LIS job market. I also get to do a bit of virtual library tourism when I see a cool job title or library name.

I am fascinated by this one. Library AND Environmental Center! What could that mean?

Humans of New York and Super Graphic

honycomic

I’ll make this quick, like these books were in a manner of speaking. They are coffee table books in the sense that they do not follow a narrative and intend to engage readers with visual images. I enjoyed both of these books in that sense.

Brandon Stanton, the photographer and mastermind of the project, updates the blog frequently with pictures of the individuals and their stories that make-up New York City. Started in the summer of 2010, Stanton’s project is a stunningly emotionally trip through the five boroughs. With each picture in the book and on the blog, Stanton will typically add an excerpt of the subject’s response to a question he posed. The questions vary, and the responses often add depth to the individual’s image. Sometimes, the images will be accompanied by Stanton’s own commentary or no words at all. Young and old. Wealthy and impoverished. Tan, Caucasian, Blue, and Green; Stanton accomplishes his goal of a “photographic census” vividly. I found this book from my following of the Humans of New York (HONY) blog on Tumblr. I was a little disappointed to not see some of my favorite images and stories included in the bound edition, but either way, the stories and the people still exist.

riley

“Come be in my picture, Riley.”

Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe was lighter than the former text, but not without moments of reality. In the age where infographics are included in news articles and reports, Tim Leong took them to another level by visually depicting the comic book industry literally and metaphorically in infographics. Utilizing the raw data and facts of comic books and their characters and traits across publishers, Leong engages the reader to think and laugh along with him using a new medium that he bends to be relevant to the data. There are bar graphs that look at cosplay participation at comic book conventions and scatter plots that look at industry professionals’ baseball team line-ups. The topics range in seriousness from Stan’s Lee Nicknames for fellow Marvel staff members (a Venn Diagram in the categories that the names fall under) and the Oppression and Rebellion in Persepolis (as it relates to the protagonist’s coming of age.) One of my favorites was the confusing and well-spun web of The Many Affiliations of the Marvel Universe.

venn

Thumbs: 1 out of 2

Science Fiction Double Feature

wolverinesnail

Neither of these can really considered “Science Fiction”, but they were a double-feature nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, some friends and I drove up to Warwick, New York for our annual drive-in trip. Unfortunately we did not plan this trip well around the new releases, but our impossible schedules. Just when we thought that we were going to seize a chance to see Pacific Rim in the full glory of the countryside and night sky, the weekend’s movies were posted and we were left with…pretty uninteresting and unusual pairings. Of the choices, we opted to stick with screen 3, which was showing a billing of The Wolverine and Turbo.

Usually the drive-in pairs similarly-rated or genre-ed movies together, but this was one pairing we could not figure out. The Wolverine is the sequel of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and as the title indicates, took a great departure from everything related to the X-Men. Being a familiar and generally well-versed with comic book lore and characters, The Wolverine confused me to no end in plot and execution. Canon characters and plot points were used independently and poorly. Fleeting references were made to the Wolverine’s canon background and history, but it was otherwise disappointing to see them not built-up with the utilized history. The events of The Wolverine take place after X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), a movie that one cared for and really wished to re-live again with any follow-ups. That being said, the best of this came in the credits where a clip alluded to the 2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past movie, the next addition to the X-Men series – which also marks the return of early X-Men film director Bryan Singer and utilizing one of the most epic stories in comic book history (To be as big of a comic book nerd as possible…).

Coincidentally, at the same time that Turbo was playing, Ryan Reynolds’ other summer movie R.I.P.D. was playing on screen 2 and we enjoyed flipping the radio stations in-between the two audio broadcastings as we weren’t invested in Turbo. Granted, Turbo is marketed for an audience a bit below our age ranges, but I’ve watched plenty of other G-rated movies that made clear, interesting and logical sense. Turbo was clunky and contrived. Some fun could be found in the throwback references to Youtube sensations and autotuning, but otherwise it was definitely not for us.

And like that, the annual drive-in pilgrimage was made and remembered. We’ll always have a lasting memory of watching the strangest movie pairing ever.

The Wolverine: 0 re-watches

Turbo: 0 re-watches

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild

A storm is bearing down on the East Coast and there is an eerie calm-before-the-storm sensation outside. People are stocking up on essentials, but at the same time, everyone is hanging-out, just waiting. Waiting for the uncertain. I am about to go into work, but before I go, I wanted to remark that I finished Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

With the nature of my job (and lack of self-control), I get sucked into reading crazes easily. I understood the general gist of this book: girl’s mom dies, girl backpacks to find clarity. But, I found much more in Strayed’s story than that. I found her well-documented descriptions of the realities of hiking and her detailed descriptions of the landscape of the Pacific Crest Trail. Most importantly though, I was enveloped in her sense of peace.

At the start of the story, Strayed bottomed-out. Her mother was dead, her siblings were scattered, she was recently divorced, and had a minor affair with drugs. Not exactly the description of a world-class hiker? But in a way it is. People hike for personal, internal reasons. As Strayed hiked along the trail, she encountered many different kinds of hikers. The Eagle Scout. The Honeymooners. The Adventurer. She didn’t consider herself among them, until near the end of her hike from southern California up to Oregon. Nothing made her any different from her fellow hikers. They were one. They each encountered their own struggles on the trail, but still, they survived. They conquered. They endured.

 

An aside, I loved the brief mention of Mt. Whitney in southern California. This past summer I had the chance to visit the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, New York where this painting was on display:

Mt. Whitney

Mt. Whitney. Albert Bierstadt.

The image doesn’t do the actual painting justice. I hope to see this site in reality someday.

Strayed included this quote:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”

– Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”

I have an idea for mine. What do you plan to do with yours?

Thumbs: 2 out of 2.