Sunday, October 6, 2013

Viva Librarianism Newsflashes!

Welcome back to the blog!   Since I’ve been negligent again lately, this post is actually three in one.  You’ve been warned!

ITEM. Nerd Rage!

I’m a big comic geek from way back, so I’ve been watching Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD on ABC with great interest.  It’s nice to see Agent Coulson--speculate on whether he’s a Life Model Decoy now, and wonder what really happened with Tahiti--as well as to get to know the other new agents.

But I am concerned.  We’re two episodes in, so there’s still plenty of room for me to be proven wrong, but so far there is very little of the Marvel Universe in this Joss Whedon-scripted show.  And, sadly, I don’t really have time for another basically generic sci-fi/adventure show, not if it’s merely draped in the imprimatur of a beloved institution without even working to build on the cinematic beachhead the Marvel Cinematic Universe has established.

So, even though no one asked me (come on, Joss), here is a list of characters that Agents of SHIELD could employ that I’m fairly certain fall into the stable now owned by Disney (not even counting Yoda and Darth Vader). This list is hardly exhaustive, but it is diverse and includes characters who would be light on the budget and high on the dramatic potential.

  • Cloak & Dagger
  • Night Thrasher and most of the New Warriors
  • She-Hulk
  • Monica Rambeau/Photon
  • Batroc the Leaper
  • Taskmaster
  • The Black Knight
  • Hercules and the Olympians
  • Starfox, Sersi and the Eternals
  • Wonder Man and the Grim Reaper
  • Radioactive Man (already left on the Avengers cutting room floor)
  • Absorbing Man and Titania
  • The Skrulls
  • The Kree
  • AIM
  • The Serpent Society
  • The Secret Empire
  • Hellcat
  • Hank Pym and the Wasp (obviously), and Scott Lang, sure
  • Luke Cage (since our hopes for episode one were dashed)
  • Fin Fang Foom (pretty please?)
  • The Great Lakes Avengers (just kidding)
  • Zemo, Moonstone, Goliath (III), Fixer, Beetle, and Screaming Mimi (to begin setting up for a Thunderbolts arc/movie a few years down the line, of course--I would also accept another lineup with the same concept)
  • Graviton
  • The Maggia
  • The Crimson Cowl
  • Klaw
  • Triathlon

...and so on.

I’ll even give you a great storyline idea, Joss.  (Feel free, dear readers, to skip the next paragraph if you can only handle geekery up to a certain point.)

SHIELD calls in prickly lawyer Jennifer Walters to consult on issues of superhuman rights.  (If the movies are planning to go in a Civil War route, it might be a good idea to float this topic years in advance on the TeeVee.)  Walters is frankly confused by SHIELD’s interest in her opinions, as she has no particular professional connection to the topic, but she has her unspoken suspicions.  Just as the interpersonal clashes reach a head, the team is attacked (by HYDRA, by AIM, by the Serpent Society, the Secret Empire, anyone real, please!), and Walters is grievously wounded.  All hope of finding a match for her unique blood type seems lost, until a courier arrives with a donation from a mysterious source.  Walters is saved, but with unexpected consequences--she transforms into the savage She-Hulk!  She rampages for an episode before her body and mind get in sync with the changes from being imbued with Gamma-irradiated blood, and She-Hulk recovers her normal personality, though she is noticeably sunnier of disposition.  Her cousin, it turns out, is Bruce Banner, the Hulk himself, and he risked revealing his currently vague location to save her; he was the reason for SHIELD bringing Jennifer into the fold, hoping she would shed light on the personality and potential liabilities of Banner.  The agents wonder at Jennifer’s ability to maintain a human personality in Hulk-form, while Banner is prey to animal-like rages.  Walters speculates that the Gamma transformation somehow magnifies the emotions at the core of a person’s psyche, and that while Banner’s is all torment and anger, her own is essentially happiness--happiness built up through her normal childhood with a loving family, her fulfilling career, and so on.  Bruce, she remembers, was full of sadness and anger even as a child, when they would occasionally get together during the summers.  It seems Bruce remembers his cousin fondly and was not willing to stand by and let her die.  Knowing he must be in pain having caused this transformation, Jennifer publically thanks her cousin for giving her this new life, asserting that she’s happy being “big, green and beautiful.”  She agrees to remain as a consultant for Coulson’s team (and a recurring character!).  [Oh and obviously the paramilitary attackers will play into the plot somehow, handwave timey-wimey season long arc.]

So how about it, Joss?  I’ll accept a co-writing credit and a reasonable honorarium…


I attended the NYLA conference in Niagara Falls this year, since it was relatively local.  I got to see some old LIS world friends, at the conference itself and at the reception hosted by my former department, which was definitely a highlight (as was getting to meet the new chair).

The conference, though, left me somewhat underwhelmed.  For one thing, Niagara Falls is pretty dead, which I think casts a pall over all such proceedings.  For another, the early start time of sessions was prohibitive to my getting in to see much of what I would have liked to, traveling all the way from Fredonia as I was.  And finally, the vendor hall seemed somewhat scanty, and packed up and shipped out Friday night.  I guess I’m unfairly comparing the NYLA experience to the ALA conference, but I expected slightly more from the Empire State.

What I had no reservations about were the two sessions I was able to attend.  First was an eye-opening discussion of the plight and status of refugees in our country, with a case study of the efforts of agencies in Utica to support them and integrate them into our society while also maintaining their cultural differences that makes the United States so excellent.  (Uticans sound like very lucky people to have such a melting pot of a community.)  Obviously the library has an important role to play in this, offering welcoming services, translations of important documents, educational opportunities, and a place to build a sense of community within and beyond the refugee population.

Next was a session on makerspaces.  This was mostly given over to various librarians discussing what they’ve done and how they did it, but that in itself was inspiring; in addition, I gleaned two important takeaways: 1) a library makerspace need not be the sparkling, high-tech robot-filming-3D-podcast money pit that the term usually immediately conjures--though those are good if you can do it--but can just as easily be comprised of knitting circles, cooking classes, or any skills the members of your community want to share; and 2) a makerspace is possible if you have a tiny bit of space for it and the will to make it work.  Don’t mind if I do!

ITEM. Leaf-Peeping and Library-Looking in New England

Went on a little excursion with my aunt this past week to Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Beautiful scenery and very tasty, strangely old fashioned foods in Derry, NH, Manchester, VT, and Stockbridge, MA.  But you’re only interested in the libraries, huh?

I didn’t do an exhaustive study on this trip, but Derry has a very approachable, contemporary public library with a dandy graphic novel collection (superhero titles shelved with the teen section) and copies of David Eddings’ and Tad Williams’ fantasy novels for me to peruse.  Stockbridge, MA, meanwhile, has a much more old-fashioned feeling library, in a charming brick colonial building that would probably drive me crazy to work in, but which was lovely to visit.  The basement is home to a very comprehensive historical society that has pleasantly cluttered, researched-in feel (and hey compact shelving!  Nice to see you again).

I’ve been fall-crazy this year so it was a nice excursion, and it’s always good to get into new libraries.  As the season continues, maybe I’ll share some of my ghoulish thoughts on how libraries ought to serve as centers of paranormal investigation!  Yes, we all have fun here.