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Monthly Archives: July 2012

In my new position at the public library, I’ve been learning my way around the print reference collection. Let me say this. If a library is a magical place, the reference collection is the source of the power. In my ignorance, I had never ventured behind the reference desk during my initial year at my branch. After spending a mere half hour wandering through the shelves, I realized the error of my ways.

I have been spending my initial training days studying the print reference collection because it is an integral part of our library. Even if most of the searching and problem solving that reference librarians and information services specialists do now is done online, knowing our way around the physical reference section is critical.

Even if it’s only a matter of being able to search for information in the event that the power goes out or the internet is down, I know where I can go to find necessary info for my patrons or for myself. There’s something incredibly satisfying about being able to go to a shelf, pull a book, and open it to the page you need for the data you are trying to find.

A part of me really misses the old card catalogs of my youth. That’s right, folks, I grew up learning the Dewey Decimal system so that I could find a 3×5 card with a book’s call number on it, match the number on the card to a book on the shelf, and take that book to the librarian to check out. Now I understand and fully accept that technological advancements have made it so that a card catalog is now found in a museum rather than a library, but I am still proud that I know how to use it. (I file that accomplishment along with my knowledge of 8-track tapes, rotary phones, and manual transmissions.)

I’ve found all manner of wonderful tools to put to use, both for myself and for others. Here’s a few of them.


I am very pleased to have found copies of books like these on the shelves. I foresee a great deal of free time being spent browsing through the reference collection now, and I am happy to say that research for future projects is going to be a lot more fun than I ever would have guessed.

The Dark Knight Rises premiered at midnight on Friday, after four years of waiting since the release of it’s predecessor. Batman Begins showed us that Batman films could be done well, and pseudo-realistically. Its sequel, The Dark Knight, was an epic film, clouded by the untimely loss of Heath Ledger, but nevertheless a critical and commercial success. Now we have part three to director Christopher Nolan’s grand work.

The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years after the events of the first film, and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been living in the shadows, though this time without his cape and cowl. Batman is retired, and has been for most of the eight year timeskip. He’s become a recluse, choosing to hide away as criminals are put into Blackgate Prison by the Gotham City Police Department. The public remains convinced that former Gotham City DA Harvey Dent was killed by Batman during the events of The Dark Knight, and so Dent is a celebrated martyr in the war against organized crime and the truth remains hidden by both Bruce Wayne and his chief ally, Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman).

Bruce is under pressure from the Wayne Industry board of directors. A planned clean energy project had been funded and then canceled, costing Wayne nearly half of his fortune and prompting his board to ask for him for his resignation. Luckily for Bruce, new love interest Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) arrives to provide financial backing and take over operation of the company. Meanwhile, Batman is forced back into action by the combined efforts of cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and genius bruiser Bane (Tom Hardy).

Bane quickly establishes himself as a major threat to Batman, both physically and intellectually, finally being portrayed in accordance with his comic book origin. Tom Hardy is nowhere as difficult to understand as many critics feared, and his mask only serves to enhance to sense of terror and unknown that his victims must feel when he arrives. His face is as inscrutable as his motives, as he appears to be a fierce mercenary with a hidden agenda for Gotham City. As Batman’s most deadly foe to date, Bane will leave you wondering if Batman can ever survive their final confrontation. In Gotham, after all, nothing is what it seems.

Nolan’s final foray into the world of Batman does not disappoint. Everything about this movie felt right, from the phenomenal cast to Hans Zimmer’s elegant score. The plot is complex, but not overly so. The cinematography and effects are everything that we love about Christopher Nolan’s filmmaking techniques. I’ve never seen a conclusion to a trilogy leave me feeling so satisfied and still so hungry for more. Thank you, Christopher Nolan, and all of the cast and crew, for giving us three unbelievable Batman films over the last seven years. I could not ask for more than what you gave us with The Dark Knight Rises.


This guy was at my theatre in Colorado Springs. Epic Bane costume. He was generous/friendly enough to let me take a photo of him before the movie started.


A few weeks ago, I got my first smart phone. This week is proving to be great fun as I adapt to the new piece of technology in my hand.

I have sought out some of the most useful applications for my phone, one of the foremost among them for me being a WordPress app. I’m using it right now, actually. That’s right. I can blog right from my phone.

I have already been working on several more stories for sending out to various publications, and now I can manage that on the go as well, thanks to dropbox. Any stories I have in progress can now be modified on the go, via cloud storage.

I have downloaded a pair of mobile reading apps, one from Kobo, since I started an account through them back when I worked at Borders, and the other from my current employer, PPLD. Now I have mobile electronic reading, so I don’t have to bother with the old eReader debate. I will still focus my reading on paper books, as I have already said time and time again. In my new position with PPLD, though, it’s going to be very much to my benefit to have a more thorough understanding of the services we have available.

The final critical app I have found (all free, by the way) is a QR code reader. This lets me scan and create quick read bar codes from my phone, letting me quickly jump directly from my scanner to a url wherever I am. It’s fun and convenient.

Anyway, I know that I still have a lot of reading and writing to do, and I hear thunder in the distance too. I should wrap it up for the night.

I woke up a few days ago and I found this in my twitter feed. Now I like good zombie fiction as much as anybody else (and probably a hell of a lot more than some of you), but the topic is one that I’d tried to avoid mainly due to the over-saturation of modern popular culture. Well, that and I’ve worked in retail over Christmas, so I’m pretty certain I’ve already had some first-hand experience with fending off zombies. NO! BACK! YOU CAN’T HAVE MY BRAIN! HAVE THIS DELICIOUS HOMELESS MAN WHO HAS BEEN CAMPED IN FRONT OF THE STORE ALL WINTER INSTEAD!

The zombie craze has been going strong for several years now, and I am pleased to say that I think the vampire sex fantasies are dying off slowly, as exposure to light generally shows how stupid that concept is. (Disclaimer: I have read the Twilight books, and once I was done, I found myself wondering if I hadn’t briefly been turned into a zombie… I got better once someone handed me a copy of A Game of Thrones, and I am fully convinced that this is a legitimate cure. If nothing else, you can use the hardcover editions for bludgeoning weapons and a layer of the paperbacks as a sort of lightweight but still nearly bulletproof armor. Thank you for saving me, George.) Not that vampire stuff can’t be done well. Bram Stoker’s Dracula give me chills, three readings later, and Anne Rice had a great thing going with her earlier work. Or there’s always the Sookie Stackhouse books. You might know them as those stories that Stephanie Meyer completely ripped off when she wrote Twilight, or like A Game of Thrones, you might know of the story from the sexy HBO adaptation (I’m still waiting for the HBO version of my own life to kick in).

This isn’t to say that the zombie fiction isn’t just as ridiculous as the vampire fiction. Far from it. However, it is technically a little more plausible, especially given recent events. People are even catering to the zombie apocalypse with “anti-zombie” ammunition, bladed and blunt weapons, and fortresses. Zombies are in our video games, our movies, our books, and even our news articles. Combine pop culture’s love of this kind of shit with the fact that some people are legitimately convinced that the world’s going to end because a calendar carved in stone around 2600 years ago is running out of room (oh, hey, look, my calendar printed on paper is going to end this year too, I wonder if that means that the world really WILL end…) and people start to get a little twitchy. I must admit, though, that I am curious as to how a civilization that has supposedly predicted the end of the world couldn’t have foretold their inevitable downfall… I mean, it’s not like anyone who’s ever predicted the end of the world has ever been wrong. Wait, what? You mean they’ve ALL been wrong? Oh man, I need to rethink my strategy… But I digress. In all seriousness, the zombie apocalypse could be a lot of fun. There are some great depictions of it. I just can’t help thinking that any disease or thing like that might likely just kill everyone rather than creating living dead. You can blame my recent reading of Margaret Atwood for this.

Anyway, I should get some sleep. Zombies are making me sleepy. What’s that sitting beside me, you ask? Nothing, nothing, just a little shotgun in the event that you start moaning and craving brains in the near future. Can’t be too careful.

The door was locked. It had been for as long as I could remember, and it would probably remain so until the day that I died. Maybe even longer than that. It wasn’t that I couldn’t unlock the door to find out what she had hidden away so carefully. It was that I made a promise.

The door stood at the far end of the hallway from the room where I slept. I didn’t sleep in my bedroom anymore at that point. It seemed futile to try to fall asleep in that bed after she was gone. No, the room where I now slept, where I had been sleeping for nearly ten years now, was my study. The overstuffed recliner next to the fireplace served as a better bed for me, and I had lost count of how many times I had nodded off while a fire roared to counter the howling wind and snow outside of my windows.

The door led to a room that had been intended as a nursery, but the children had never come. One day she had gone into the room, and stayed there for several hours. When she came out, her face was pale, but filled with grim accomplishment. She locked the door then, and made me swear to never open it again. She threw the key into the fire that night, and we sat together in the recliner and watched as it melted away.

For a time, we were happy again, and we ignored the door at the far end of the hallway next to the bedroom, when the bed was still shared and we didn’t need the fire to stay warm. The door stayed locked, and I never asked her the reason. We trusted each other with every secret but this one, and it eventually drove us apart.

I don’t remember exactly what happened on the day (or night, I can’t seem to recall the hour) when she left. I don’t know where she went, but I know why. The locked door seemed to torment her more than me, a reminder of the life that she couldn’t carry. I want to say that I plead with her that night, got down on my knees and begged her to tell me what was eating away at her, what this secret was, but I don’t know. I may have, instead, filled my heart with courage from an increasingly empty bottle and told her that if she couldn’t live with herself then she couldn’t live with me, and that she needed to get out.

I don’t remember when it was that I took every one of my books and my lamps and my blankets and my pillows from the room that had been ours and left every one of hers behind. I haven’t been back in that bedroom for years, but I’ve left it unlocked. I can’t risk doing what she did. I can’t leave the house, either. That’s not to say that I can’t go out my door to buy groceries or to find a new book, but I can’t move. I can’t pack up and find somewhere new to live. I’m held here by my promise to her. If someone else were to buy the house, they might open the locked door, and I cannot bear the thought of some stranger learning the secret that tore her away from me.

The door sits at the end of the hallway, on the second floor of my home. My kitchen is directly beneath the room, and some days I find myself staring at the ceiling in wonder. What-if’s fill my head, and I find that I lose my appetite until the next day, when another empty bottle of whiskey or rum or vodka has turned up next to my recliner and I have no memory of coming back upstairs. One morning, I woke up on the floor of the hallway next to the locked door, a screwdriver and a hammer beside me. I must have decided that I had to open the door, but I had passed out before I could put my plan into action.

It’s better that way, really. I don’t want to know what’s behind that door, or at least that’s what I tell myself. Instead I sit next to the fire, or at my desk, and I read, or I write, or I try to do one or the other and fail miserably at both because I remember how much she used to inspire me and remember that she’s gone and she’s not coming back. Occasionally a magazine calls and asks me if I can finish another story for them this month, and I tell them yes, because I still need to eat.

Once in a while, I thought about having a new key made, or having a locksmith come in and open the door, but I realized that would still be breaking my promise, and even now I am still a man of my word. I know what I’m going to do now, though. I’m not going to break my promise to her. I’m not going to unlock the door. I’m going to stoke the fire high tonight, and I’m going to leave my chair closer to it than usual. I’m going to have a drink, and I’m going to fall asleep, surrounded by my books and covered in an afghan that she made for me the winter after I proposed, one of the blankets that I took from our old bedroom after she left. I’m not going to leave a note. It wouldn’t survive anyway. I suppose that the fire will start slowly, kissing the pages of the books, blackening them and turning them to ash. It will start in the study, and make its way down the hall.

It will consume everything in its path. It’s fire, after all, and it will devour the house that was once ours and is now mine and mine alone. The hallway will offer little resistance. Likewise the bedroom we once shared and I now shun. It will burn, and the smoke alarms will attempt to wake me to save me from myself, but it will be in vain. The locked door will stand at the end of the hall, but it too will burn, and her secret will die with me.