Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Library as Disney World

A recent survey suggests that most Americans don't use their public libraries very much, about once a year. So if you pay $100 in taxes to support your local library and only visit once a year, to me, that sounds like Disney World. It's $90 a day to enjoy the Magic Kingdom.

But Disney World has Space Mountain, you say. Big deal. A 45-minute wait for a 2-minute ride, in the dark. Not nearly as terrifying as a 2-minute walk to your car through the library parking lot at closing time with half our lights burnt out.

Disney World has The Country Bear Jamboree with those wacky backwoods bears. The library has five guys sitting by the newspapers who smell like bears, and might not be wearing pants.

Disney World has The Haunted Mansion filled with spooky creatures who occupy a cemetery. Ditto what I said about the guys sitting over by the newspapers.

Disney World has a parade. But have you been in the library when the doors open in the morning to see fifty people make that "I'm almost running, but still walking" beeline for the Internet computers? It's just like a parade, in fast forward. We're considering asking them to carry a banner.

Disney has Fast Pass and we have self check-out. And we both have long waits for anything new.

It costs $14 to park your car at Disney World. The library has free parking. If you still count having your hubcaps stolen, free.

So visit your local library once a year. We can't legally call it the happiest place on earth, but we do have a mouse for a mascot. Several, actually, and they just ran over into the Children's section to play with your kids.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ALA Criticizes "gay" Penguin.

According to a report that I totally made up and not in Publishers Weekly, "'If gay Penguin [publisher] has an issue with gay Amazon [online retailer], we ask that they deal with gay Amazon directly and not hold libraries hostage to a gay conflict of gay business models,' read a statement from ALA."
real report here.

Okay, that whole thing was made up. Nobody said "gay" anything. But from what I heard, the American Library Association has a whole box full of unused "gay"s laying around awaiting some future defense of gay-themed children's books that never were published.

Both Bi-curious George and The Very Horny Caterpillar were postponed by their publishers indefinitely, but the ALA was fully-prepared to defend them with 8 "gay"s each, although neither book was explicitly gay-themed. Hell, George is a monkey and would probably hump anything in real life, so I'm sure even that yellow hat needs to be taken out and burned. And that horny caterpillar was only trying to get down with anything that wasn't moving including boy and girl caterpillars and even a snoozing dachshund.

But the ALA had so many extra "gay"s from the previous attacks on homosexual flightless aquatic bird picture books written for children that they felt compelled to use a few, even if unnecessarily. In fact, had this report been true, this would have been the first time the ALA openly condemned a gay penguin.

Also, since this is 2011, we don't use the term "gay" to describe something negatively. But, oh, gosh, back in 1991, this would have been hilarious.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Why don't you get an iPad?" Zombies.

Zombies is the answer to everything. When you think of ebooks and social networks and your digital self, you should put it all within the context of zombies.

I don't literally mean zombies. But I mean that in any zombie-themed fiction, shit happens, society collapses, and survival gets back to basics. Shelter is a physical structure. Food is food.

There is no virtual world. Microblogging gets cut to four letters: Help. Or three, Run. Friending someone means you get to sleep for a few hours while she keeps watch. The only flash mob is the one that wants to eat your brain.

Anyone showing off his cool new Kindle Fire doesn't get it. He won't last 24 hours around zombies. But the guy with the tool box under his desk knows what matters. Hammer beats tablet. So think zombies.

Zombies says to build more libraries.
Zombies says to plan for failure and have an exit.
Zombies says your most important customer is right in front of you.
Zombies says don't over extend your supply chain.
Zombies says not to waste resources.
Zombies says to train your staff.

We take so much for granted: we assume that the wifi will be up and we expect to have a place to plug in. But this won't last forever. Zombies says so.

Buy books.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Don't Read Shakespeare on the Shitter."

Don't ask why, but I found a bunch of stories on how unsanitary it is to read while you're on the toilet. In fact, an image search for "reading on the toilet" can fill your morning with delightful visions of women and men and animals all enjoying a little light reading while voiding their bodies of waste matter. Dee-light-ful.

The good news is, reading a printed paperback or hardback book while you pinch a loaf isn't going to kill anyone and could possibly make you a better person. A disgusting, filthy, better person.

According to the Guardian, contemplating the Meaning of Life while dropping a deuce is an enviable position in which to find oneself and that others should aspire towards, noting that, "the toilet of the middle ages, high up in a castle turret, offered the perfect solitude for "uninterrupted reading"; Lord Chesterfield too saluted the benefits, recounting the tale of a man who used his time wisely in the "necessary house" to work his way through Horace."

And we know how sanitary the Middle Ages were. But I think those old dudes were simply masturbating. They'd take a book to pretend they were reading, but they were really just diddling themselves. "How was your Horace? Wink, wink."

The danger, they add, is, "your poo can get on your hands, [and] be transferred to your reading material." Ah, public libraries: Aiding poo migration since 1600.

"Microbes don't fare too well on absorbent surfaces, and might survive only minutes on newspaper. But plastic book covers and those shiny, smooth surfaces of Kindles, iPhones and iPads are more accommodating, and it's likely bugs can live on those for hours. A recent study by Curtis suggests that in Britain one in six mobile phones is contaminated with faecal matter, largely because people fail to wash their hands after going to the toilet."
So the conclusion, the disgusting conclusion, is that reading while on the toilet is a widespread practice, which is mostly harmless so long as you view spreading feces on the objects you touch as mostly harmless.

Personally, I don't read "whilst" (the King's English) upon the "crapper" (the Earl's English). I don't tweet or play Angry Birds or do anything else with my hands. Except floss. And knit. And write checks. And compose commercial jingles on my Casio keyboard. And blog. Because I'm on the toilet now.

And The Mouthy Housewives, when asked by a mom if her son's new toilet reading habit is gross, reply, "WHO THE HELL CARES WHERE YOUR SON READS AS LONG AS HE’S READING!?!?"

Point taken. Reading trumps poo hands.

But getting back to "those shiny, smooth surfaces of Kindles, iPhones and iPads" where germs can live "for hours"... [GAG!!!!!!!!]

Someone has got to start a campaign against the reading of Kindles and iPads while on the toilet. This is fucking gross. It's like when I hear a cell phone conversation coming from the stall in a public restroom and all I can think is that the is no level of cleanliness that exists in that tiny space that allows for zero transfer of crap to every surface including the dude's face. Hand. Ass. Hand. Phone. Ear. Cheek. Mouth. I don't care if your shit came out in a neatly wrapped gift box with a bow: you're dipping you hand into the no-fly zone of the toilet. There's a perimeter level with the seat that should not be broken with the same hand you're using to hold your toothbrush.

So let's get this started now. Here is the "Don't READ" campaign. And yes, these are terrible slogans. You try coming up with authors whose names rhyme with "toilet" or "crapper" or "shit." How about, "Don't leave a turd, holding the written word"?

"Don't READ Shakespeare on the Shitter."
"Don't READ Tolstoy on the Toidy."
"Put Down That Gertrude Stein Before You Wipe Your Behind."
"Don't Wipe Your Ass While Reading 'Leaves of Grass.'"
"Don't READ Stephen King on The Throne."

You don't want to hear what I came up with for Honoré de Balzac.

Or maybe these should just be simple posters of celebrities sitting on the toilet under the banner, DON'T READ.

"The hand that swipes is not the hand that wipes."
"Leave your ebook in the hall, when you answer Nature's Call."

And the worst one of all,