Author Archives: Anna

lemony snicket the movie

The trailer for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was playing in front of Sky Captain. Jim Carrey looked like a suitably scary Count Olaf, and the set design captures the creepy feeling of the books. I loved the shot of Violet tying her hair back with a ribbon, ready to start inventing her way out of trouble.

And Jude “Sky Captain” Law is the voice of Lemony Snicket. I hope he keeps warning people to close their eyes during the scary parts of the movie, or tells them to leave the theater. That would capture the narrative style of the books — “I’m sorry to tell you that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children…”– very well.

sky captain

One of my old friends from high school who I haven’t seen in around 6 years came up to visit this weekend. We ran around Boston (not so much fun in the rain) and went to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, which I thought was very much a style over substance movie, but in a good way. The plot wasn’t very complex and the characters weren’t exactly very well developed, but I enjoyed the retro futuristic look of the film and started laughing every time the director referenced old 40s cinematic storytelling techinques, like visually showing radio waves and putting exposition in newspaper headlines. And Jude Law is a pretty, pretty man.

Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden

One of my recent resolutions was to try to revive my atrophied Japanese langugage skills. I was trying to make myself study in a very painless way so instead of pulling out any of my 4 or 5 Japanese textbooks, I decided to try to read some manga in Japanese. One of the things that makes Japanese very difficult to master at the beginning is the sheer number of alphabets you need to memorize. There are two phonetic alphabets with 48 letters– one called hiragana is used for native sounds/words and the other, katakana, is used for imported words like pizza. Once you have memorized both sets of phonetic alphabets, you can move on to learning kanji, Chinese characters that have either a Chinese (onyomi) or native Japanese (kunyomi) pronounciation depending on the word that you are reading. This is why even at my best I never got much beyond the reading level of a young Japanese elementary school student. Well, my failings in my knowledge of the Japanese language are also due to my hatred of memorization and laziness 🙂

So I’m reading Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden in Japanese, or at least trying to. One nice thing about reading untranslated manga is that often the kanji will have the relevant hiragana printed right next to it. So you can sound out how the kanji would be pronounced, and if you already have a rudimentary Japanese vocabulary you can figure out what is going on, or just use a good dictionary to look things up.

Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden is a prequel story to Yuu Watase’s long running manga Fushigi Yuugi about a girl named Miaka who finds a mysterious book at the library and finds her self transported to the world in the story, the Universe of the Four Gods. In this world, which resembles ancient China, four countries are watched over by four different guardian animal gods. Only a priestess from another world has the power to summon the god, and the priestess always seems to be procted by a gang of mostly comely young men, who have magical powers and are all marked by a unique Kanji that relates to the sign they are connected to in the Chinese Zodiac. Whew! For more about Fushigi Yuugi, take a look at The World of Fushigi Yuugi

Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden is set in the 1920s. The heroine of the story is named Takiko Okuda. In some ways, she is the typical spunky Watase heroine. She loves to train at martial arts, and clobbers her classmates with her enthusiasm. All isn’t well at home though, her mother is seriously ill, and her father (a writer) has been away from home for years. Takiko has a tendency to become enraged if anyone mentions her father, as she feels that he abandoned her family. Her closest friend is Takao Osugi, who is also a friend of her father. She’s in love with Takao, but since he is much older than her and has a wife and child she can’t do anything about her feelings.

Takiko’s father suddenly returns home, but he doesn’t seem very concerned about his sick wife or his daughter, as he is frantically trying to finish translating a book from China, “The Universe of Four Gods”. Takiko’s mother dies and she is furious that her father doesn’t seem to care, she grabs the book that her father has been laboring over and tries to rip it in half. The book opens and emits a bright light. Takiko is drawn inside the book and it slams shut.

Takiko finds herself on a snow covered mountain. In front of her is a girl chained to a stone piller. The girl advises Takiko to run away quickly. Some very scary snow monsters appear, and again the girl tells Takiko to run. She seems strangely unconcerned about her own fate, even though she is chained to a piller as a sacrifice. Back on earth, Takiko’s father picks up his book and sees that the story has changed. He’s now reading about the adventures of his daughter in another world.

Takiko thinks that she’s having a bad dream, but she picks up a stick from the ground and prepares to defend the helpless girl. The girl mutters to herself that she’ll have nightmares if she lets Takiko be killed, and suddenly gusts of wind come out of nowhere and break her chains. The girl uses the power of wind to defeat the monsters, but then collapses with a high fever.

Takiko picks the girl up and starts to take her to a nearby village, but she almost collapses herself. A child suddenly appears, greets Takiko as the Priestess of Genbu, and helps her on her way. She gets a room at an inn, still mystified about not being in Japan anymore. Takiko removes the girl’s clothes and notices the character for woman on her chest (女). She decides to treat the girl’s fever by removing her own clothes and getting into bed with her. I seriously wonder if body heat is a good way to treat a fever. Perhaps the good doctor over at Polite Dissent could clarify this? Theoretically, if you were trapped in a world without modern medicine, would getting into bed semi nude with your fever afflicted patient help? Or is it just an excuse for some fan service? As they sleep, the sick girl’s 女 mark fades away and Takiko wakes up in the morning in bed with a boy (Rimudo) who comments that she’s very daring!

As the story continues, Takiko and Rimudo (the boy with the Ranma 1/2 like tendency to gender switch) get to know each other a little better (not that way!) and she wonders what to do, as everywhere she goes in this strange new world, she is greeted as the Priestess of Genbu…

There’s a very detailed site on Genbu Kaiden mantained by a fan in Austria, it was a good crutch for me as I was working through this book. I was able to read some sentences with ease but there were several times that I got bogged down, and there is an English translation of the dialog available there, as well as summaries of the characters and some scans of some of the comic pages.

wonky day

I had a very strange day today. I was so groggy this morning, I forgot to sign the UPS slip to enable the delivery guy to leave my package with the 3rd season of Alias at my door. Oh, the trauma! What will I do? I’m seriously uninvested in the new fall tv season. I think of the new shows, I’m going to be watching the Benefactor and the new J.J. Abrams show, Lost. And I’m waiting for the Earthsea show and the return of Farscape on the SciFi network!

Then I got to work and I was insanely busy. It was weird, because I didn’t really have anything much on my calendar, but things were nutty at the reference desk and various failings of technology kept me running around. These frantic moments were interspersed with random minutes devoted to arts and crafts, as I worked on a banned book exhibit. I cut out gold letters. That’s right, gold! I’m proud to say that this year, I’m bringing the bling to banned books week!

comic enthusiasms

I was happy when I woke up today and discovered this link for the Sin City footage from ComicCon, because nothing goes better with your morning coffee than watching Clive Owen (sigh) threatening someone with a razor blade. I wonder if the completed movie will have comic book panels incorporated into the live action the way this footage did. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read Sin City, does someone out there whose read it have any recommendations for which volume to start with?

I’ve blogged before about how much I liked Amethyst Princess of Gemworld when I was a kid. Unfortunately when the first series was coming out I was 8 or 9 years old and I didn’t really spend a whole lot of my allowance on comic books. So my memories of reading the comic are based mostly on the issues that I’d find at my local public library (and read every time I visited) and the few issues of the second series that I collected. But I just got the first 12 issue series and the second 16 issue series on Ebay super cheap! You can recapture your childhood through the magic of Internet auctions and Paypal!!!!

blast from the past, blogging and rss

I’m glad that LISBlogsource is more active right now, I found out today that a significant library from My Youth now has a blog. I got such a kick out of it. It doesn’t surprise me that this library has a blog, as the head librarian is totally cool and always trying new things. I always enjoy running into her at ALA.

I’m going to give an overview of blogging at a staff meeting and teach part of a workshop focusing on RSS later this month, so something that has been a hobby for me is now crossing over a little bit into my worklife.

Monday Monday

Veerle is sharing all of her CSS bookmarks, all organized in a PDF file with hyperlinks to each site. Very nice!

I enjoyed this post on bookslut about the books that changed the way Jessa read.

I had to watch The Benefactor, since I am such a Dallas Mavericks fan. I guess only Mark Cuban would eliminate someone from a contest to win a million dollars based on their performance in a game of Jenga.

To Read is to Dream
, a poster for book and Sandman fans.

Swamp Thing, defender of all good! (the board game)

help with work project

Hey, I’m trying to see about setting up a blog for internal reference desk communication at work. Right now everyone scribbles things down on a piece of paper when something happens at the desk that everyone needs to know about. I’ve set up a demo reference desk blog here. Registration is open. If you feel like helping me populate the demo blog with tales of reference desk woe, feel free to register and post away, add categories, etc. Or try it out if you are just curious to see what wordpress looks like.


opacs, refworks, and usability

Dorothea over at Caveat Lector has been making some observations about usability (on More Stupid Opac Tricks and RefWorks and Usability) lately that resonate with my own experiences over the past year working with RefWorks and revamping an OPAC.

Having just transitioned to a new OPAC, I served on the committee that was responsible for the look and feel of the design, and although I wasn’t really expecting much, I was still disappointed that the tools the vendor gave us to customize the OPAC only enabled us to make minimal cosmetic changes. Some automated warning messages that the system generates make little sense to this librarian (I can guess what they mean) so I can’t even imagine what a user would make of them.

RefWorks is a great tool that should be easier to use. I think what Dorothea was saying in her post about having to tell RefWorks what kind of database you are using before you can import your citations points to the way RefWorks is designed for database vendors as opposed to users.
Having to tell RefWorks that you are using the database family “Ovid” and then having to pick “PsychInfo” after selecting Ovid is sort of crazy.

RefWorks does work very well with Cambridge Scientific Abstracts databases, where you just select your citations and you can click on a “save to refworks” button and your citations will be automatically imported. Hopefully more database vendors can add this direct export to RefWorks option. It would certainly make using it much easier.