Saturday, July 31, 2004

New look

I had some time to tinker around with the layout here. Hope everyone likes. I lost the cool picture of the donkey, though, as the site that was selling it as a brass bookend must have sold out what with the Democratic National Convention (hadn't thought of that!).

Sunday, July 25, 2004

No, fuck you!

On a lark I decided to check and see whether Widener had a copy of English as a Second F*cking Language: America Swears By It! by Sterling Johnson, one of the three books my brother actually admits to having read in the course of getting two Bachelors and a Masters degree from Georgetown (the other two books are his psycholinguisitics textbook and the autobiography of Mr. T). Not only does Harvard have it, but it gives English as a Second Fucking Language as an alternate title, which got me to thinking - how many other books are there in the HOLLIS catalog, discounting accidental non-English works with the word "fuck" in the title? A title keyword search pulls up 42 hits, including the autobiography of rapper Ice-T - The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck? - and a short-lived 'zine from the 60's called Fuck You, the entire run of which is kept in the vault at Houghton Library.

Who knew? Title keyword searches of other swear words sure to follow, as I'm all out of homework to do until September...

(p.s., Looks like "shit" narrowly beats out "fuck," with 44 hits in HOLLIS; "asshole" gets only 3; and "motherfucker" turns up 2)

Saturday, July 24, 2004

End-of-term goodies

So much for the daily updates while I took my Reference class this summer, eh?

But have no fear!  I have some new general reference links to share, fresh from doing my final written assignment:

1.  How Stuff Works.  Actually I think this one came from a coworker, and then I noticed the site got a mention on FARK the same day;  nevertheless it's an excellent clearinghouse for that most vexing question of toddlerhood, "Why?"  Don't think I'm not already boning up.  My fifteen-month-old daughter is just on the threshhold of speech, and as a librarian-in-training I feel I'll have no choice but to answer every inquiry of hers to the best of my professional abilities!

2.  Robert Young Pelton's The World's Most Dangerous Places.   Granted, the web component of this most excellent print survival guide is a little out-of-date, but the majority of its information is still extremely useful and absolutely fascinating.   For example, take the tips on travelling to Chechnya -

Chechnya is currently a republic within Russia... but don't take any bets on how long. Depending on what's going on you need either a Russian visa or a Chechen bodyguard. (About ten is a safe number) Right now its only volunteers, stringers and live fast, die young, types (and DP of course) who enter rebel-held Chechnya. Reporters are allowed to work in the country only on trips organized by the Chechen Interior Ministry. If you hang with the Russians you won't get close to much. If you are in the south with the rebels you'll be too close. Take your pick.

And for those of you who decide that you can't live without such an essential reference at your desk, alongside your dogeared copy of the the New York Public Library Desk Reference, here's the Amazon link to the 5th and most recent (2003) edition of DP (I'd buy it for my reference collection in a heartbeat). 

3.  Oddens' Bookmarks.  You may already be aware of this site, as it's chock full of links to maps, atlases, and gazeteers around the Internet, but if you haven't been there recently I urge you to visit the site again, as its just gone through a major redesign which makes it an order of magnitude less annoying (it's chief drawback before was its sheer clutter, which the webmasters have taken care of with a generous helping of simplicity and elegance).

4.  There was supposed to be a number four, but I forgot it.  Damn - it was a good one, too!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Of reference and rotten tomatoes

An interesting conversation in my Reference and Information Systems class arose in response to one of our homework exercises in which we were asked to find a review to the VHS release of the 1927 movie "The Prairie King". Most of the students had been stymied by this one, save for the film geeks, who recommended a slew of online indices for films and film reviews that haven't quite made their way into the Reference librarian textbooks yet:

Internet Movie Database - the first of its kind, and definitely the most comprehensive. IMDB was recently acquired by Amazon, which should only further raise its profile, but the question remained for us: how authoritative is it? The consensus seemed to be that it is the most authoritative of the online film indices, but that isn't necessarily saying much.

Rotten Tomatoes - offering a clearinghouse of film reviews, from the national news networks to the local papers, Rotten Tomatoes is not only a movie database but a fairly comprehensive review index as well. The signature gimmick of the site is its overall rating metric, which samples a hundred different reviewers (the same for every movie) to determine whether or not the movie was a rotten tomato.

Metacritic - I wasn't aware of this site until one of my classmates swore by it, but it's supposed to take the Rotten Tomatoes concept and extend it not only to film, but video and DVD releases, music, and even video games. I'm not sure how comprehensive the site is compared to RT or the IMDB, but the concept is sound and the interface is slick, so I'll be sure to give it a try.