Cauli Le Chat

Cauli Le Chat
Cauli Le Chat, MPL Roving Reporter

Friday, September 30, 2011

Morgan Hits the Terrible Twos

If you are a close follower of Hoosier library spokescritter blogs, you will have seen that Morgan the Library Bunny is celebrating a second birthday next Friday, October 7, 2011, at 3:30 p.m., at Morgan County Public Library in Martinsville, Indiana.

Morgan the Library Bunny
(Photo Courtesy of Morgan County Public Library)

This is THE party of the month, possibly of the entire Fall season, so you owe it to yourself to be there, or be square. News flash--there WILL be cake! Possibly other treats that we felines particularly enjoy, eh, Ms. Alyssa, who is setting up the big birthday bash. Just saying.

If you plan to attend, you must RSVP to Morgan County Public Library. Click here to go to the MCPL online event calendar to register your spot at this gala event. If you're unable to attend, please send Morgan your birthday wishes by commenting on the Bunny Blog.

Now I've got to think of a birthday present to give Morgan. How about carrots? Always a winner with the hopper crowd.

Am I Being Paid to Cover This, Boss Lady?  Just Asking,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Birthday News Beat

P.S.  No birthday is complete without the Beatles singing "Birthday," from the "white album" (1968).

Banning a Secret Place & a Forbidden Love

I'm going to try a larger font in today's posting to see if it's easier to read.  What do you think?  Comments, please and thanks.

To celebrate ALA Banned Books Week, you might want to watch our book trailers below to see if you would like to read the two books I'm recommending in this post.

I talked about The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, on my Catch It @ MPL (Cauli 4 Kids) blog. There have been attempts to ban this classic children's book in schools and libraries. 

Why have some grown-ups tried to remove The Secret Garden from libraries and schools?  They argue that the book is too depressing for children ages 9-12, because it talks about death, sadness, and loneliness.  But most kids have experienced the death of an elderly relative by the time they are reaching the upper elementary school grades, so this subject is hardly outside their personal experiences.  The book is mostly about finding new friends and a special place where they can bring their secret garden back to life, and, at the same time, bring happiness back to their lives.  The book's message is overwhelmingly positive.

Other adults who want to censor The Secret Garden criticize the author's portrayal of the wealthy uncle to whom Mary Lennox is sent after her parents died in India.  Apparently, the grouchy old man upsets these grown-ups, because they think it unfairly portrays how the rich care for their kin.  But the uncle has his own sorrows, and he, too, must find his way back to happiness, and Mary and her friends will help him.  Again, readers feel good about how these people cope with their heartbreak and learn to live full lives again.

The best way to decide whether or not you should read a book is to give it a try.  If, after reading 30 or 40 pages, you decide that the book isn't for you, then return it to your favorite library, wish it well, and send it along its way to the next reader.  However, you may find yourself engrossed in the book, and that is always worthwhile.

James A. Michener's Sayonara was released in 1953, which marked the end of the Korean War. This novel, especially short by Michener standards, followed the tradition of "star-crossed lovers" made famous by, among many other writers, William Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet) and Emily Brontë (Wuthering Heights). Sayonara stands among these great love stories because of its poignancy and its honesty to the time period. Michener knew first-hand about the societal barriers to interracial marriage (he married Mari Yoriko Sabusawa in 1955, and Sayonara was framed partially from an autobiographical perspective). He clearly understood the stigmas and associated difficulties such couples endured in the 1950s and continue to endure today. But love is blind to national boundaries, skin color, religious and cultural differences, and other such superficial characteristics. Human hearts connect, regardless of anything, when love brings them together. That makes for a great story, and Michener delivers what many consider to be his finest work.

It is this direct, honest treatment of interracial relationships and the societal tensions generated that has infuriated those wishing to ban Sayonara from schools and libraries.  Protestors may talk about rough language among military characters, and the development of intimate relations (translation: sex) between an American airman and a Japanese woman, but, make no mistake, those people who wish to pull the book from the shelves are upset because an interracial relationship is being favorably depicted. This is exactly the societal reaction that Michener is criticizing in his novel!  The irony surely did not escape him.

Our book trailer borrows some images from the motion picture adaptation (1957), starring Marlon Brando, Miiko Taka, Red Buttons, James Garner, and Miyoshi Umeki, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Likewise, Red Buttons won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The film was directed by Joshua Logan.

Michener novels are typically gigantic tomes with broad, sweeping vistas of plot covering enormous time spans. He had a lot to say, and he said it very well, in his longer books. But this novel showed, as did his other short work, Tales of the South Pacific, that he was a master of shorter forms, too.  Sayonara is a quick read, but here, too, there is much to tell.

Saying Sayonara 'Cause It's Getting Pretty Late, Way Past My Bedtime,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
BBW News Beat

P.S.  Speaking of sayonara, here is "Hello, Goodbye," by the Beatles, released as a single (1967) and shown here in the group's remastered music video.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Broadway Gal Puts On The Scare, Big-Time

Broadway Gal, or Her Spirit?
(Or Just a Blurry Photograph?)

Our favorite Youth Services Librarian is going to scare you silly!  On October 28, 2011, at Mooresville (Indiana) Pioneer Park (8:00-9:00 p.m.), join Broadway Gal to hear some of the most creepy Halloween stories you have ever heard. These tales of terror will send chills down your spine!

This program is appropriate for grades 4 and up, along with their parents or guardians. It is NOT--repeat, NOT--suitable for younger children. We don't want any tears from tiny tots or early grade schoolers.
Join us, if you dare!  Please register online through our website calendar, or call the Library at (317) 831-7323.
Sharing Spooky Halloween Stories

In keeping with the haunted Halloween spirit(s) (just a little ghostly joke there), here's a book trailer of a true-life ghost story collection. Pretty scary! Remember, I'm a black cat, so I love this stuff.
Click Play Button (in middle of picture) to Start Book Trailer

Your Roving Reporter On The Ghostly Go,

Cauli Le Chat

Banning Books Makes Me Completely Mental, I Must Say

Ed Grimley, one of Martin Short's characters on the television series SCTV (and later reprised on Saturday Night Live), had many excellent catch phrases, but "Makes me mental, I must say" is particularly appropriate for one of today's banned or challenged books.

"Totally Decent, I Must Say"

ALA Banned Books Week continues with a book that would make anybody "completely mental."  If you want to know what life in an insane asylum was like during the 1940s, you get an up-close, personal, and in-depth view in The Snake Pit, by Mary Jane Ward, a native Hoosier (born 1905, in Fairmont, Indiana; died 1981).  The novel is heavily autobiographical, portraying Ward's true mental institutional encounters within a fictional context.  When you finish the book, you wonder which side of the metal mesh doors houses the crazier people--the "white coat" staff or their torture victims --er-- patients.

It was for this reason that The Snake Pit was banned from schools and public libraries.  The content was allegedly too traumatic for teenagers or even adults; more to the point, Ward's perspective suggesting that the medical profession's treatment of mental illness was draconian at best was too bitter a pill for establishment-supporting censors to swallow.  They cried foul and felt that readers' mental health would be much improved if they weren't burdened with Ward's grisly details from real-life experience.  And so, out Ward's book went from some schools and libraries.

Humorist Art Buchwald (1925-2007) once commented that he wished somebody would ban his books, because sales and readership would go through the roof thereafter.  Readers have found their way to The Snake Pit since it was first published in 1946, and, hopefully, they will continue to do so.  Out-of-sight, out-of-mind is an unacceptable attitude when people who need psychological care are being treated badly and harmfully.  Lucky for us felines that we never go crazy.

Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote many fine books, but his two classic tales were Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Both have been included in the juvenile collections at many public libraries and school libraries for over 100 years.

Some critics have attempted to ban both books from school and public libraries because of their violent subject matter (pirates in Treasure Island and a scientist's evil alter ego in Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde) and encouragement of immoral behavior (again, by pirates and an evil dude).

During ALA Banned Books Week, or any other time, for that matter, you may find out for yourselves whether or not these books are too dangerous for you to read.

Read What You Choose, But Choose What You Read,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
BBW News Beat

P.S.  In this SCTV episode, as the "SCTV Movie of the Week," Ed Grimley stars as "The Nutty Lab Assistant," which parodies Jerry Lewis' title role in the movie The Nutty Professor (1963).  The Jekyll/Hyde dual personality theme in these cinematic gems is fairly obvious.  Enjoy the brilliance of Martin Short, played with fellow cast member Andrea Martin and Indiana's own John Cougar Mellencamp.

P.P.S.  Speaking of insanity and nervous breakdowns calls to mind two songs:  "Shine on Brightly," from the album of the same title by Procol Harum (1968), and the single "19th Nervous Breakdown" (1965) by the Rolling Stones.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Winning This Lottery Will Make Your Blood Run Cold

If you love a chill running down your spine as you read a good horror story, you can't do any better than "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. This short story shocked and outraged readers when it was first published in The New Yorker in 1948.  Anthologies that have included the short story have been banned or challenged in schools and libraries many times in the past half century or more, and so it is a natural to include in my recommended reading list for ALA Banned Books Week.

You may read a digital version of the story as it originally appeared in the magazine, or you could read a collection of Shirley Jackson classic tales in The Lottery and Other Stories, which has been published in numerous editions, several of which are available in our Evergreen Indiana catalog.

Beware, however.  This is a fully creepy tale, particularly since the author set it during contemporary times, which, for her, were during the 1940s.  Many high school students encounter the tale in their American literature classes; once read, it won't be soon forgotten.

One comment about our book trailer.  It says the date for the village's lottery was July 27.  It was actually June 27 in the short story.  Well, close enough for horseshoes and stones.

No Jokes About Black Cats and Horror, If You Please,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
BBW News Beat

 P.S.  Procol Harum released "Something Following Me" on the band's debut, self-titled album (1967).  There's a creepy feel to the lyrics as the character singing is facing mortality.  More strange and possibly sinister is "She Wandered Through the Garden Fence," which may have influenced Paul McCartney's "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" on the Beatles album, Abbey Road (1969).  There was much more to Procol Harum than just the group's megahit, "A Whiter Shade of Pale" (1967).

30K, My Way

Sometime during the wee hours of this morning, my blog topped 30,000 viewings.  Thanks to everybody who reads my blog!  I'd give each and every one of you canned tuna-in-oil, but who's got that kind of money?  So, instead, I'll share some great videos about fellow library felines.  First, the most famous library cat ever--Dewey Readmore Books.

Dewey Readmore Books, the Spencer (Iowa) Public Library Cat (1988-2006)

Tober, the Thorntown (Indiana) Public Library Cat
(Sorry, only have a photo stolen borrowed from Tober's blog)

Browser, the Pine River (Minnesota) Public Library Cat

Pumpkin, the Camden (N.Y.) Public Library Cat

 Pages, the Valley Center (Kansas) Public Library Cat

Melvil, the State Library of Kansas Cat

Somehow, Melvil doesn't seem as feline-genuine as the other library cats.  Can't quite put my paw on it, however.

Tomo, the Flying Library Cat
(No library location given with video;
possibly a private library)

Although not a library feline, here's a video of world-famous author (and long-time, loyal reader of this feature) Sparkle the Designer Cat receiving her 2011 Pettie Award.

Let's close with a cute library cat animated video.

Designed by Corentin Dombrecht

Where's the Celebratory Tuna, Boss Lady?  Just Asking,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Statistics News Beat

Book Challenges Closer to Home

Five days into ALA Banned Books Week, and we're finally getting closer to home with book challenges.  A couple of months ago, Scowl-Face was approached by an angry patron demanding that Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen, be removed from our Library.  Scowlly dutifully provided the patron with the Library's book challenge form, indicating that it would help if specific examples of offensive material were identified from the book.  He further instructed the patron to return the completed form either to him (Scowlly) or the Circulation Desk, and a Library committee would consider the patron's request and notify him by mail or email of the decision.

As the patron left the MPL Indiana Roving Reporter Room, Scowl-Face saw him wad up and toss the form into a nearby wastebasket.  So much for following complaint procedures.

What was inside Loewen's book that irritated this patron so much?  Perhaps our book trailer will provide some insight.

Some people have fragile world views, and, consequently, they don't want to be confronted with any information that contradicts their opinions or perspectives.  Experiencing inconsistency between reality and one's perception of reality, which results in psychological stress, is called cognitive dissonance by social psychologists.  Loewen, a sociologist, would appreciate this reaction to his book.  Persons who wish to ban books from schools or libraries often experience cognitive dissonance when exposed to ideas inconsistent with their attitudes or beliefs.  To alleviate the psychological stress, they suggest the easiest route--eliminate the stress-inducing object, i.e., the offensive books. Their world view remains intact and unscathed, and they have achieved a personal victory in preventing an opposing perspective from being disseminated to others using the library or attending the school at which the ban has been instituted.

Of course, if one is going to complain about a book in a library collection, one needs to follow proper procedures for that book's review.  This requires the protester to complete the written form.  That seems like a reasonable request, but it requires more effort than some challengers wish to invest.

Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, has been banned or challenged at schools and libraries based upon its few swear-words and a brief segment detailing the main character's emerging sexual feelings for the female scientist tutoring him.  You'll have to search carefully to find it, since it occupies only a few paragraphs of the novel.  Still, some references drive certain people crazy, and, for such persons, anything remotely approaching bad language or sexuality makes a book too "filthy" to place upon a library's bookshelves.

Our book trailers above summarize each book's particulars, which may be sufficient to help you decide if you'd like to read them.  They are both available in our Evergreen Indiana catalog (click here and here.)

Why is Keyes' book "closer to home," as I said in the introductory paragraph? No sinister reason--Scowl-Face used it as his example of a banned or challenged library book in his library school collection development course. Bet the class was sawing those proverbial logs before he managed to hit the 30-second mark in his presentation.

Allowing Everyone to Decide What to Read For Her/Himself,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
BBW News Beat

P.S.  On October 28, 1956, Elvis Presley performed "Hound Dog" live on The Ed Sullivan Show.  Scowl-Face told me that his grandmother told him that Elvis was censored by being broadcast only from the waist-up to hide his gyrating hips and legs, but this kinescope recording of the live performance belies that myth.  Sometimes, actual experiences can be remembered differently than they really happened, based upon subsequent misinformation about the original events.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Follow-Up Breaking News! More Rocket Transport Log-Jams

Thanks to my unnamed sources, I have discovered that there are four or five additional rocket transports behind the one stuck at the Main-Monroe Street intersection waiting to make the turn.  They have now moved the stuck truck, and the stragglers are taking their best shots at the intersection.

I would have posted additional photos, but two people dressed in black arrived and took my digital camera.

Hey!  Those Dudes Took My Camera!

News flash, Agents K and J.  Neuralyzers don't work on felines.  Word to the wise.

Sorry, Guys.  Flashy-Thing Doesn't Affect Us Kitties

That's why we cats are given charge of galaxies.

Loved That Slobberdog in the First MIB Movie,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Transportation News Beat

P.S.  Here's Will Smith performing the theme song to Men in Black (1997).  He makes everything look cool.

Breaking News! Another Ginormous Rocket Transport Log-Jam

We have breaking news to report at my Library!  Film at 11.  (Always wanted to say that.)

Dateline, right now, outside my Library:  Another ginormous rocket transport has log-jammed at the intersection of West Main and South Monroe Streets right outside the Indiana Roving Reporter Room of my Library.  Excited locals scurried to the scene (moi-self included) and began asking the tough questions, like:

  •  Whose rocket booster is this, and why is it stuck in my hometown?
  •  Is this an earth-originating craft, or are we being invaded by extraterrestrials?
  •  Did they bring canned-tuna-in-oil for moi?
Once again, my alert photographer minion captured these telling images.  Not my fault if they're out-of-focus.

Rocket Booster Log-Jam by the MPL Electronic Sign
(Just Beyond the MPL Courtyard)

Obviously a Rocket Booster, Probably the First Stage

Sinisterly Unmarked--Must Be Super-Secret
(Like, Maybe, INVADERS?!)

"Yep, It's Stuck.  Pretty Much."

My Supper Dish Had Better Not Be Anywhere Near There.  Just Saying.

Confidential sources have told this roving reporter that the super-secret rocket ship is part of a slobberdog space station project that NASA rejected (because, well, how could slobberdogs run a space station?  I mean, come on!  Duh!) but which has been privately funded by mega-billionaires from several nations where there's a lot of money lying around.  So we can rule out space invaders (too bad--they might have brought moi some treats).

You may recall that we had this rocket/traffic jam difficulty before.  Who plans the routes for these trucks, anyway?  You'd think somebody would have found an alternate way, since these huge shipments cannot seem to negotiate the turn at this intersection.

Perhaps the drivers of these behemoths need to have an experienced feline driver handle the big rigs in these tight quarters.  We all know what a great driver I am.

Can Turn On a Dime,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Transportation News Beat

P.S.  The best trucker novelty song is "Convoy" (1976), by C. W. McCall, the pseudonym of William Dale Fries, Jr.  The song reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles charts.

60K OK 4 Moi

It's halftime during ALA Banned Books Week, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to report that the MPL YouTube Channel has passed (drum roll, if you please . . .) the 60,000 viewership mark!  You may recall that, at the end of January, my Library blogged that our YouTube videos had just passed 25,000 viewings, so we've made some progress since then.  We are approaching 200 uploaded videos, which is another nice round number (especially good for these commemorative postings).  Thanks to our tireless staff who make all these great things possible.

Our YouTube Channel has many playlists for our book trailers, program trailers, promo trailers, music videos, history videos, and other video stuff.  The playlists appear along the right side of our YouTube Channel home page.  They're worth a look.

I suppose I'll post when we reach 75K and 100K and so on . . .  I like all these statistics.  Seems like we're accomplishing something.

My Blog's Poised to Hit 30K--Just Saying,

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
Statistics News Beat

P.S.  Speaking of numbers, Keith (James Barry Keefer, now Bazza Keefer) released his biggest hit, "98.6" (1967), which climbed to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles charts.  It was typical of the "bubblegum" sound of the mid- to late-1960s.  (It was called "bubblegum" because the music was marketed to, and appealed to, preteens and early teens--probably the 10-14 age range.)  Tiger Beat territory, eh, Lady With the Red Hair?

Workplace Woes and Magic Gone Wrong

Day four of ALA Banned Books Week brings two strange bedfellows to our list of banned or challenged library or school books.  Well, that's the way they're listed on my Library's "Banned Book" Trailers playlist, and I like to keep things orderly.

Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich

It's easy to understand why Barbara Ehrenreich's book is a victim of censorship attempts.  In Nickel and Dimed, she candidly reveals what it was like for her to work multiple low-paying jobs, like millions of underpaid, overworked Americans who struggle to make ends meet.  She pulls no punches and tells it like it is--from her viewpoint, which admittedly leans liberal and Democratic.  But she has solid ideas behind her rhetoric, and her experiences are honest and straightforward.  High school students and adults would profit from perusing this book.

The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks

The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reid Banks (illustrated by Brock Cole) was first published 31 years ago, and it has been a favorite among readers ages 9-12 and older. Some grown-ups have even read it to their preschoolers.

Why has The Indian in the Cupboard been challenged or banned in schools and libraries? Some adults think that Native Americans are stereotyped in the book, but the author extensively researched Iroquois life during early American colonial days, and her portrayal of Little Bear is historically accurate. Other adults think there is too much violence in the book, but that's difficult to understand. Any violent actions in the book are mild compared to anything on television or at the movies to which children are routinely exposed. Lastly, some grown-ups say there is bad language in the book, but, frankly, I can't remember reading any. If there are any "swear words" in the book, they're nothing compared to what kids hear daily from their elementary school classmates.

Readers ages 9-12 are old enough to understand and learn from the problems that Omri, Patrick, Little Bear, Boone, and the other characters encounter. Mostly, it is a fun adventure you should enjoy. Look for it in my Library's Evergreen Indiana catalog.

Keep Reading What You Want!

Cauli Le Chat
MPL Roving Reporter
BBW News Beat

P.S. John Lennon explained that "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was based solely upon a drawing his then four-year-old son, Julian, made of his school classmate, Lucy. The elder Lennon was impressed with the imaginative design and colorfulness of his son's artwork, and this prompted the psychedelic imagery of the song's lyrics. There are people convinced that the song promotes L.S.D. use--which is why the BBC banned it from radio airplay when it was released on the LP Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)--so I suppose, at this late date, nothing would convince them otherwise. Personally, I believe John Lennon's version of the song's origins.