Dear Readers

Dear Readers,

I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise! I was sick, then home for a while, and now my computer is broken so my internet access comes through my wonderful iPod and the computer lab at school. Between the computer problems and having about 2905943 to do before I move back to PA, well, blogging is just going to have to take a backseat! Unfortunately, this means my 365 project has to as well. I’m still taking pictures every day, but with a broken computer I can’t exactly upload them!

I promise I’ll be back soonish!

Love always,

Emily

Illinois

Almost exactly six months ago I moved here. Can you believe how fast it went? I can’t! My time here in Illinois is quickly drawing to a close. I’m so ready to move home and finish my degree online! I don’t like living so far from my family, I miss Steve, I miss my friends and yes, I miss the security of being in place I’ve known my whole life. Despite being homesick, I am so glad that I did move here and force myself to experience life on my own. Living here has taught me a lot about myself, other people, and the world. I wouldn’t trade this experience or anything! Here are my top five uniquely Illinois moments!

… In no particular order

The Bathtub/Egg

This might actually be my favorite moment. In my class on library buildings we spent the entire semester learning what NOT to do when building a library. The two biggest things to avoid are 1) building underground 2) atriums. On our field trip to Chicago we went to the University of Chicago to see their library. While there we were given a presentation of what their newest library building will look like.

It is a giant atrium. With an underground storage facility.

None of us could make eye contact during this presentation–we would have just died. Everything–EVERYTHING we had been warned against was going into this library. Let me give you some more details.

It is a giant atrium with an underground storage facility. You’re thinking, what’s wrong with that? Underground isn’t so bad… And then you realize this is in Chicago. Next to a lake. Under the water table. On what used to be a marsh. The head of maintenance used to call it “The Bathtub” until the school asked him to stop.

And what’s wrong with an atrium? Lots of light, isn’t that a good thing? All those windows are hard to maintain. And those windows? Yeah, they’re only manufactured in Germany. So when (not if, when) one of them breaks they’re going to have to wait at least a few days for a replacement.

Other problems? There isn’t a bathroom in the building. There aren’t any private staff areas. And the real kicker? They’re putting the preservation and conservation unit in it. Maybe this isn’t obvious to everyone but… BOOKS DO NOT LIKE SUNLIGHT. Old books especially do not like sunlight.

You can see more pictures of the Bathtub here.

Gutenberg

I’ve blogged about this quite a few times already so I won’t go into much detail, but seeing the Gutenberg Bible and Shakespeare’s First Folio were amazing and awe-inspiring experiences. So, so so awesome.

Making Paper

I also already blogged about this. Making paper was such a cool thing! It was so much more fun than I ever would have thought, and it made me realize that I want paper making to become one of my hobbies. It was relaxing, fun, and it creates something beautiful! I’ve been looking for a long time for a hobby that doesn’t involve the computer, and I think this might be the one that sticks!

Meeting Jess and Deirde

And everyone else, really. I have met so many awesome people here. Everyone is so nice and smart! Librarians/future librarians are definitely my favorite people! But Jess and Deirdre definitely stand out as the people I’ve gotten the closest to. We figured out in the second week that we had all of our classes together and from then on we were always in each others corner! Having both of them in all my classes (except Rare Books) made my first semester of library school so enjoyable!

502

The more I reflect on it the more I realize that this class was the prefect introduction to the field. Instead of lectures we had discussions. It was such a great way to become accustomed to the issues within library science! My favorite night was the last night. We all presented on our final papers. I loved hearing about the things other people felt were important, and it was the perfect way to end my first semester. So thanks everyone from 502–you spoiled me for other classes with your awesomeness!

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–foreign movies are pretty awesome. If you’re one of those people who don’t watch them because you can’t stand subtitles you are missing out on a whole wide world of wonderful.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was originally a book written by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson. It’s the first in a trilogy, and from what I’ve heard it’s very good. After watching the movie I know I’m going to have to read the book sometime soon!

Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev adapted into a movie–in Swedish of course. And wow, is it great. I love a good mystery movie, and this was without a doubt one of the best I’ve seen. I think some of the great old classics like Double Indemnity or The Maltese Falcon might beat it, but nothing made in recent years even comes close.

The plot isn’t really anything unexpected, but it unfolds very nicely and I’m very pleased to say I did not figure it out who committed the crime early on in the movie! A journalist is hired to solve a 40-year old disappearance. The man who hires him suspects someone in his family who was there the day she disappeared. With the help of a punky young hacker chick, the journalist slowly uncovers some truly horrifying crimes.

It is a dark film and I don’t recommend watching it if you’re in a dark mood. The acting is fantastic–Noomi Rapace shines as Lisbeth, the punky young hacker chick. The cinematography, as I’m beginning to expect from Swedish films, is breathtaking. Sweden is a beautiful country and this film definitely takes advantage of that location! The music was good, the film didn’t drag on… really, I can’t say enough good things about this movie. Watch it now, and watch it with subtitles.

They are making an American version sometime soon. Apparently, Hollywood’s latest craze is to take awesome Swedish films and remake them. David Fincher, director of Se7en and Fight Club is supposed to direct the American trilogy. So maybe there’s a chance they’ll be good? We can only hope. Daniel Craig is supposed to be the lead male role, which I can see working out. Carey Mulligan is rumored to be playing Lisbeth, but there have also been rumors of Ellen Page going for the role. Personally, I’d love to see Ellen Page as Lisbeth. In many ways Lisbeth seems like an older version of the character she played in Hard Candy.

If you like mystery movies please try out the Swedish version before the American one is released! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

index, the patience it takes to

After spending the last three days on and off  indexing a book, I have nothing but the utmost respect for professional indexers. It’s a tedious process and it doesn’t leave room for the bsing skills I perfected in my undergrad years! Oh, dear readers, I know you take your indexes for granted! You casually flip to the back of your textbooks and look up the one phrase you know will be on the test without a thought to the person who spent hours and hours working so you could find that phrase! Next time you do that be grateful that there are people out there with more patience than me!

In class we talked about how one of the things indexers try to do is put some humor there… here are some of the examples we talked about for your enjoyment.

Pointed to a conservative –
Al Franken’s book: Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot.
In the Index, for example –
doughnuts, Limbaugh’s
consumption of, 27-32, 112, 123, 127

Pointed to a liberal –
In Key Words (reprinted from Brill’s Content, March, 2001) by Andy Borowitz
(part of an index for Hillary Clinton’s then future memoir) –
commodities markets
studied by Hillary as a child, 4
terrific understanding of by Hillary, 5-6
unfair right-wing scrutiny of Hillary’s profits from, 112
Williams Obstetrics
Index to the 16th edition, 1980, in the C’s –
Chadwick’s sign, 270
Chamberlen forcepts, 1063
Chancroid, 752
Chauvinism, male, voluminous amounts, 1-1102

I guess it’s time to jump back on the indexing wagon… only 40 pages left to go!

PS: If you have a copy of Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!) I urge you to check out the index.

The Hunger Games: A Poor Man’s Battle Royale?

When I started reading The Hunger Games around 9pm today did I intend to read the whole thing straight through? Nope. Not even a little bit. I figured maybe an hour of reading and then a blissfully early night. Obviously, that’s not how it went down.

The Hunger Games tells the story of a future America where things have gone very wrong. After disasters, rebellions, and wars the country is split into 12 districts and one ruling capital. To punish the rebel districts, the country requires that each give up two children a year between the ages of 12-18. Once these kids are picked they’re forced to fight to the death on national television.

Before I get into all my whining about how it’s just trying to be Battle Royale, I’d like to say that I liked The Hunger Games. I liked The Hunger Games a lot. Suzanne Collins has written an amazing engrossing book with a challenging message behind it. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve been up this late because I could not put a book down. I like the main character of the book, her love-triangle isn’t exactly a new feature in plot design but it is interesting, and of course I’m all about anything that challengers readers to take a look at how we live our lives and consume media!

But….

But…

It’s a poor man’s Battle Royale. For those of you who don’t know and don’t feel like clicking on the link, Battle Royale is a Japanese novel published in 1999 by Koushun Takami. It’s set in a future Japan where every year a middle school class is chosen for “The Program”. This class is sent to an island and forced to fight to the death.

Sound familiar?

There are a lot of differences in the novels and I can definitely see where parents would be more comfortable handing their teenager a copy of The Hunger Games as opposed to Battle Royale. Battle Royale is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it is also by far the bloodiest and most horrifying. For weeks after reading it I had nightmares. The Hunger Games doesn’t go into nearly as much detail with the deaths.

So why did I even like Battle Royale so much, you ask. I’m not typically the kind of girl who gets excited by blood and gore. In Battle Royale the blood in gore is a very prominent feature of the story, but it takes a backseat to character development. Takami takes you through every character and lets you know what they’re thinking and why they’re thinking it. You get back story for everyone, making the reader feel every death. The Hunger Games doesn’t get anywhere close to that. There was only one character’s death that made me sad, and his/her death really did not come as much of a surprise. Compared to Battle Royale it was very soft on the characters.

The Hunger Games weakness is that it just sticks with Katniss. We see everything through Katniss’ eyes and we are 100% always on her side. She’s a compassionate character and she doesn’t relish the idea of killing anyone, but there’s only so much an author can make you care about other characters in a set-up like that. I like Katniss. She’s smart, resourceful, she isn’t cruel. However, sometimes she is little too perfect. I think fiction in general suffers because we don’t want the major characters to have any flaws and that gets boring. I want flawed characters! I want them to make mistakes and do some real damage. I want them to be normal, like me and everyone I know.

I very highly recommend The Hunger Games. It’s hard to put down and it will get you thinking. I think it’s a great book, despite it being so close to Battle Royale. It’s different enough to still be interesting, and unlike Battle Royale it isn’t going to traumatize anyone. If you do read The Hunger Games, keep in mind that the next book on your reading list should be Battle Royale!

Conversations with Other Women

Tonight I was in the mood for something that could be labeled “romance” and while browsing the movies available instantly on Netflix I came across this gem. The description on Netflix makes it sound like just another terrible movie about a wedding, but trust me, it is so much more than that.

Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart shine in this movie as “Man” and “Woman.” They strike up a conversation at a wedding, and at first all you know about them is he’s American, she’s British. As the movie goes on their shared history is slowly revealed. They’re both involved with other people but despite that they go to her hotel room.

Ok, so even in that description, it sounds like it could be a terrible movie. But stay with me here! Gabrielle Zevin (writer) and Hans Canosa (director) take what could have been just another movie about a wedding and make it something new, exciting, thrilling and maybe even a little bit heartbreaking. The film is entirely in split screen, something that could have been incredibly annoying but actually works wonderfully. Most of the time you get to see one screen focused on the Man, and one on the Woman. The screens are always at least a little different. Sometimes the actors will do things differently or even say things differently. In many ways it’s like looking at what each of them will remember about the evening. Sometimes one of the screens jumps back into the past to reveal even more about their relationship.

I don’t want to give away anything about the movie–a lot of the thrill of it is learning the pieces of the puzzle of their lives. Trust me though, you want to check this one out!

Trailer Time!

There are some exciting movies on the horizon that I want to make sure you’re all aware of. So, pay attention, and get ready to go want to find the books they’re based on!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

First up is  Scott Pilgrim. Now, those of you who have had a conversation with me about books/movies in the past six months have probably already heard about how excited I am for this. The movie is based on a series of graphic novels written by Brian Lee O’Malley. The books are funny, entertaining, and just generally awesome. The movie is being directed by Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame. Michael Cera is playing Scott Pilgrim. From the trailers that have been released it looks like the movie will stay true to the feeling and content of the books and also be a lot of fun… but we’ve thought that before (coughWatchmencough).  I’m trying not to get too excited for it because I’ve rarely enjoyed adaptations of my favorite things, but… just look at this trailer! It makes me hopeful.

Steve did a great breakdown of one of the trailers over at his blog. You can see that here.

Let Me In

Ok, this one I am much more skeptical about. Let Me In is the American adaptation of the Swedish film Let the Right One In, which is based on a book by the same name. Let the Right One In is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and it is without a doubt my favorite vampire movie ever. The Swedish version stays pretty true to the book, and everything they took out made sense to take out. Regardless of what you think about foreign films or vampire films or horror films you need to see this movie.  Let the Right One In is beautifully directed, the child actors did an amazing job, and the story is exactly what you want it to be.

Flash forward to today. Why do we need an American version of this film? Why can’t American audiences just watch it with subtitles? I honestly don’t understand the hesitation when it comes to subtitles. Maybe it’s from having three years of film classes but they don’t bother me at all. Despite the fact that we don’t need an American adaptation of this marvelous work of art, we’re getting one. And of course, I’m paying attention to it, and I will see it when it comes out.

A trailer was recently released for the film and honestly… it looks like it might be ok. It looks very similar to the original, and apart from the terrible music I don’t have anything to complain about (yet). It’s being directed by Matt Reeves of Cloverfield fame. The girl playing the Eli character is Chloe Moretz from Kickass.

I especially like the bit at the end in Morse Code. In the original and the book Eli and Oskar (honestly, I can’t ever remember what their Americanized names are going to be. They’re Eli and Oskar.) use Morse Code to communicate. I’m told the bit at the end of the trailer says “help me”

Never Let Me Go

I had no idea this was going to be a movie until about an hour ago when I saw the post on SlashFilm and I have no idea how I missed this! Never Let Me Go is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It is incredibly well written. The story is revealed to you in little pieces as you go along, so I don’t want to reveal too much but basically it’s about a group of people who grew up at a school in the English country together and they aren’t quite normal. It has some elements of science fiction in it, but nothing that would push you away if you aren’t into that kind of thing. It’s cliche to say, but this book really did have me on the edge of my seat while I was reading it and I could not put it down. It deserves all the praise its gotten and more.

I’m very exited that they’re making it into a movie, although I am a little worried about how the story will translate into film. One of the best parts of the book was how slowly the author revealed key elements to you while still keeping you invested in the story, and I’m really not sure how they’ll do that in a movie.

From the trailer it looks like it’s going to be a good movie and stay true to the events of the book.

So, those are the three movies and books they’re based on that I thought you should all be aware of! I’m excited to see how they turn out, and I’m hoping they don’t become a travesty (coughAirbendercough). I highly recommend you check out these books before the movies are released! Amazon (or your friendly local librarian!) can certainly help you with this goal.