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Random quibbling - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Random quibbling
I have half a dozen essay ideas, and I promised a short Buffyfic to stakebait--it will be my first try at that universe, and it might be good before I attempt my threatened HP/BtVS crossover (well, not a total crossover, it's just going to be Spike and Dru with the Potterians). But nothing is really coalescing, and I don't even feel like finding the Patronus quiz right now (I got "Horse"). So, random quibbles.


Teens
Teenagers are actually people, people. Not aliens. While there are certainly some dangerous teens out there, Lord knows there are also some dangerous adults. And yes, their fashions and fads can look a bit odd to adult eyes, but having hair streaked black and scarlet or multiple piercings has not, in my experience, been much of an indicator of behavior, as long as I am aware of my own and follow the same manners I would follow with an adult, no matter how he or she happens to be dressed. Is it so hard to say, "May I help you?" And yet, this is treated as a great mystery. How do we talk to teens?

My general procedure is thus: I open my mouth, allow air to pass over my vocal cords, and form the same words I would use in the same situation with someone my own age. I don't try to use the language teens use with one another because it's not mine, and it would just be phoney.

As far as safety goes, I'm a bit more nervous about the old drunk in the basement shouting violent things than I am about a couple of boys who think they're getting away with things when they figure out a way around the filters to look at dirty pictures.

Joliet Public Library seems to have a different idea about teens, though--they have a gang problem, so they are demanding I.D.s and reasonable excuses for any teen entering the library, apparently. I wonder what would happen if they demanded this of everyone. "Oh, Mrs. Doobiddy, I'm sorry. If you forgot your library card, you can't come in to sit in the air conditioning and read your Harlequin." "Oh, Mr. Retired, I'm afraid we have a new rule--you can't sit around the courtyard and shoot the breeze with your friends unless you show us proper I.D. and prove that you must do this in the library." Or, heaven forbid, they should try it with some other defined group, but not anyone else. Hmm. It seems to me that Southern states tried that system for awhile.

I'm sorry. When I read that, just became enraged. What in the world is wrong with people? The fact that some teens are in gangs is a sad truth. The fact that some adults are criminals is also a sad truth. But you can't extrapolate from there that teens, as a class, should be subject to random I.D. checks and expulsion from public areas before they've actually done anything.

Someday, I will just do a full fledged rant about working with teens, though for the life of me I can't figure out how I will tease much out of it, since my entire philosophy boils down to my first sentence here. Teenagers are people, people. If you can deal with other people, you can deal with teens.

The election.
Sooner or later, I'll address the YEAAAARRRRGH! heard round the world, but I'll leave it alone for now.

I'm not much of a political scholar, but the whole process jazzes me up a little. I wish the candidates were more exciting and had interesting ideas to get my brain kicked in (back to the space exploration thing from earlier), but I still am enjoying myself. I should find a campaign to work. Just for kicks.

Professional writing.
I really want to get back to writing original stuff, but too many of my ideas just go nowhere. And the thing is, I don't like a lot of the books that are out there--I'll open a book in the store and sniff disdainfully at it, with the thought, "Hey, I write better than this." Then I realize, "Um, except that, unlike this author, I haven't finished a bloody thing in years."

That said, I'd really love to get into a new series that makes me excited for the next installment. I was reading Alvin Maker religiously, but I have so far been unable to summon the enthusiasm to go out and buy The Crystal City, out for weeks now. Dark Tower 5: Wolves of the Calla disappointed me. And there won't be a new HP for awhile. So what kind of trouble shall I get into next?

I've harped a hundred times about not posting original stuff online--it's a good way to get plagiarized, and even if you don't, you're giving away first rights and making it impossible to sell the piece offline. Yet I'm still toying with the idea of putting up one of my old pieces that I already broke the rule with, just for reaction.

Why I don't think psychic phenomena are a particularly big deal.
Ref, 100 things about me meme.

(Heh, written down, it looks like 100 things about ME-ME-ME!)

My grandmother had a first cousin, Roger, who we never particularly go along with. For no reason, a couple of weeks ago, I thought, Huh. I wonder what's going on with Cousin Roger and his family.

He got sick that week and died that Sunday. Like I said, no one close--I wouldn't have recognized him on the street--but it felt a little strange to suddenly hear something important about him after having no thoughts whatsoever of him except for that random one.



I guess that's it on the randomness. Just, well... random.

For a change of pace, I'll give you one of my two Tolkien!Sues today, Gala Baggins, in The Jewel of Brandy Hall. Her mother!Sue, Lily, has her very own prequel, The Girl Who Aimed Straight. To date, "Jewel" is the only one of my stories to be translated (into Italian), by the very generous Francesco Amadio, who also did some artwork that I can't find online anymore. Sniff.

(These are archived at the Pit. Pop-up warning if you don't have them blocked.)
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Comments
silverhill From: silverhill Date: January 30th, 2004 07:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Sooner or later, I'll address the YEAAAARRRRGH! heard round the world, but I'll leave it alone for now.

The "YEAAAARRRRGH! heard round the world" makes me giggle every time I hear it. (And I like Dean.)
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: January 30th, 2004 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, Fern takes on the Buffyverse. Can't wait. :) (A tiny BtVS plotbunny - Dawn-centric, of all characters - has been nibbling at me lately, but I haven't quite had the motivation to nourish it to anything beyond a fetal state. For some reason I'm wary about making that foray into the Buffyverse.)

But you can't extrapolate from there that teens, as a class, should be subject to random I.D. checks and expulsion from public areas before they've actually done anything.

Amen. Amen to that whole part of your post, really.

I know what you mean about finding a new series to really get into. I've had luck with a couple of stand-alone novels, but again, those are stand-alones with nothing to look forward to beyond the ending page. Aside from HP - and even OotP I didn't find quite as satisfying as I'd hoped - the only new series I've read is Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which is decent enough and creates an interesting world but is sorely lacking in anything resembling a sense of humor, and at times his characters fall a bit flat. Not that I really need another fandom to be eating up my time, but it would be nice to have something that went a little beyond 'huh, that was a nice little read' once I turn the final page.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: January 30th, 2004 02:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re:

Try Diane Duane, if you haven't? Start with So You Want to Be a Wizard and proceed -- the feline wizards are in the same universe.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 30th, 2004 06:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re:

Try Diane Duane, if you haven't?

I've seen those books. They sound decent--maybe that's where I'll go next. And the titles themselves make it sound like a sense of humor is involved in the package. (That's the same reason I'm tempted to read Sir Apropos of Nothing.)
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: January 30th, 2004 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re:

Hmm. I've heard of that series, but somewhere along the way I thought I heard someone comment that the concept was way too HP-like - it might be better for me to just see for myself. Thanks for the rec. :)
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: January 31st, 2004 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Re:

Well, possibly you did hear someone comment that, but I'd advise you to see for yourself. I suppose there are a number of elements that could be seen as similarities -- the first book does in fact contain a number of sentient self-driving cars, the major villain is one it's problematic to name (and in this case it actually IS dangerous, because it very likely can hear you) and gets referred to on one occasion as you-know-who, there is a wand (but only one), there are strong girl-boy friendships, there are bullies (treated somewhat differently...), and the wizards rely to some extent on people's tendency to dismiss what doesn't fit into their worldview in order to be able to go about their business without interference.

Please note that So You Want to Be a Wizard was published in 1983. :)

The concept, however, aside from involving teenage wizards, is very much not HP-like. For one thing, while some of the traits facilitating it are inborn, wizardry itself is not -- it's a power and responsibility acquired when one is offered and adopts the mission of slowing down the death of the universe, by taking oath to do so and by learning a language that can describe, define, or redefine reality. The major villain is both far far worse than Voldemort and intrinsically redeemable. Young Wizards-series wizards would be utterly appalled at Hagrid's comment about hiding because otherwise Muggles would want things from them. ...Come to think of it, given that we've had mention of reading X-Men comics and watching Star Wars, it's entirely possible that they have been. ;)

Um, so, yeah. Seeing for yourself would be good. :) (I'd give you a couple more examples of differences and one oddly coincidental similarity, but the ones coming to mind are a bit spoilery.)
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: January 31st, 2004 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)

Re:

Oh, and there isn't a wizarding school. At least, not on earth. Which is sort of a major difference in terms of setting. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 30th, 2004 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re:

For some reason I'm wary about making that foray into the Buffyverse.

I am, too. The way the show uses language is amazing, and I'm not sure I have the rhythm in my head, even after a year of constant watching. Then again, I picked up one of the pro books, and the language use was nowhere near up to the level of the episodes, so maybe it's not that scary.
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: January 30th, 2004 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re:

The way the show uses language is amazing, and I'm not sure I have the rhythm in my head, even after a year of constant watching.

Definitely - the Sunnydale gang has this wonderfully unique jargon that's darn difficult to pick up unless you're the one who created it, or spent years writing it, like the show's writers did. ;) Far as the pro novels, you're right, they don't get it either - a couple get close (frankly, the best pro BtVS book I've read is the Spike/Dru one, in which case the author didn't have to worry about the way the Scoobies talked, and did a passable job with Spike and Drusilla, the only canon characters he did have to worry about). But then I suppose that really shouldn't be an excuse. I could just flesh out the bunny and then go back and worry about putting the Scoobyisms in later. ;)
atropos87 From: atropos87 Date: January 30th, 2004 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean about the teen thing. We have some of the same issues here in the UK. The conclusion that because some teens are in gangs then all teens are a dangerous incomprehensible subclass of human is all too common here. It reminds me of the time that my old employer set up a committee for women's issues, to discuss why more women weren't staying in the firm to partner level. They couldn't understand that one of the reasons so many women left was because they were treated as special cases by the largely male partnership group. And that the committee was another wrong-headed example of that approach. It was also headed by, and mostly consisted of men. It makes me laugh to think of it now but I was angry at the time.
jiminyc From: jiminyc Date: January 30th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
they are demanding I.D.s and reasonable excuses for any teen entering the library, apparently.

*eyes bulge out* Wow, that is just mind-blowing. Hey, let's discourage teens from being in a LIBRARY! This just sounds like a bad joke. I wonder what they consider a 'reasonable excuse.' Knee jerk reactions are really doing rotten things to our world.

Here in NC, we had a nasty car accident a few years ago that resulted in the tragic deaths of 4 teenagers...so local law enforcement reacted with a new law stating that teen drivers under 18 could only have 1 other teenager in the car (unless they were related to them) to minimize distractions. Hmmm...let's see, that means we are now forcing 4 teenage friends to go everywhere in TWO cars. TWICE the number of teenage drivers on the already crowded roads. And this helps the problem how, exactly? Plus, if it's still within the law to talk on your cell phone, eat, listen to your radio, talk to the 1 person in your car...you're still prone to distraction, which you have to learn to deal with eventually anyway.

Ugh. Sorry for long rant...blanket classification of teenagers as another race gets in my craw, too. You're absolutely right - they're PEOPLE.
ashtur From: ashtur Date: January 30th, 2004 03:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
All a regulation about "ID's for teens in a library" will do is marginalize libraries still further. Yeah, it might keep the "gang members" out, but it will also highly discourage any other teen from coming by, and with what long term effects? As likely as not, any love for books they may have had will get cut off at the knees.

Besides, maybe one of the "troublemakers" will actually *gasp* start reading while they are there and find something better to do with their time.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 30th, 2004 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re:

All a regulation about "ID's for teens in a library" will do is marginalize libraries still further.

Good point about marginalizing the library, as well as the teens. There are a lot of theories about getting more teens into libraries, but they all seem to shatter on this particular rock of libraries not being certain that they really want teens, and of course kids pick up on that.

Of course, as a teen librarian, when I read that Joliet had a hundred kids in the afternoon, I was thinking, "Hey... I wonder what their outreach program is!" I mean, a hundred kids randomly deciding that the library is the coolest hangout? You have to dig it.

So naturally, they decide they have to solve this "problem."

:headdesk:

Just a hint--having a YA space helps a lot. The volume level tends to be a little bit higher; they're playing games and working on group projects, as well as just hanging out, and a space that's handy for that helps keep the less noise-tolerant adult customers happy as well as giving teens a place that is unequivocally their own.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: January 30th, 2004 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I work in a library in the north suburbs of Chicago and I think if anyone tried this innovation, the reaction would be a resounding silence and a lot of librarians who "forget" to check IDs and cover stories. (After all, the movie theater signs say that you have to look at least 28 before they stop carding you; I'm frequently mistaken for a teenager, but I've never been checked once). The whole thing is just idiotic. You shouldn't have to justify your presence in a library unless it's a research library full of priceless old books, since those tend to be thief magnets. But we do have a YA section, as distinguished from the little kids' corner, which seems to work pretty well.

I'll admit to having had occasional fantasies about forcing parents with several small children to wear those wrist-leashes, but that's only because of the truly alarming practice some of these people have of taking their toddlers and first graders to the little kids' section and then LEAVING THEM THERE for several hours. Free babysitting! Also an engraved invitation to lurking perverts! Nothing's happened yet, fortunately, and we put up signs and get on their cases when we catch someone coming back from grocery shopping to pick up little Emily. I'm just afraid that someday something will happen, and some luckless employee is going to end in tort hell because these people treat their children like parkable accessories.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 31st, 2004 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Re:

I'll admit to having had occasional fantasies about forcing parents with several small children to wear those wrist-leashes, but that's only because of the truly alarming practice some of these people have of taking their toddlers and first graders to the little kids' section and then LEAVING THEM THERE for several hours.

That's not exactly the same thing--the parents in this case have actually done something they shouldn't. They're responsible for their children and the library doesn't have in loco parentis--or staff--to deal with childcare issues. Unlike teens, who have some independent experience, toddlers just don't have the wherewithal to look after themselves for a few hours. Older kids, I'm happy to deal with on a case by case basis--I went to the library alone a lot at nine and ten. But toddlers on their own is a bit ridiculous.
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 31st, 2004 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Dean

You're at work and your boss tells you one thing and a bystander another--which do you listen to?

For myself? I look at the situation and analyze the morality.

If it's just a question of disagreeing with my boss, but not having a big moral problem, I'll probably go with my boss. I'll grumble, but I'll go.

But if my boss tells me to do something patently immoral, as this is? (I mean, singling out a subgroup of society and penalizing them as a class for crimes they might commit? That's not moral rocket science.) I know that Milgram's obedience experiments don't give good odds, but I'd hope that I'd have the moral fortitude to refuse such an order.
From: 88l71 Date: January 31st, 2004 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
That does suck. It's ironic that racial profiling is vehemently decried and at the same time, we have policies like this for teens. It's worse when you're a male teenager/early 20's with long hair - people tend to assume you're a biker, or a druggie, or something else equally horrid. I remember in high school I used to hang out with that odd crowd with the dyed hair and piercings, etc, and you know what? They were, on the average, damn nice people.

As for the teen driver stereotype: believe me, the worst drivers I have seen here seem to be middle-age types.

And, of course, we all know that is those teenage gang members who go to the library so often....

-Tim
myf From: myf Date: February 3rd, 2004 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)
*echoes the :headdesk:ing going around re: pesky teenagers and libraries* Insanity prevails once more.

If you're concerned about plagiarism from your original work, how about emailing it only to those people who express and interest and who you (to some degree) trust? I'd love to read some of your original stuff.

Oh, and for some fun reading, try Jasper Fforde's books about the literary detective Thursday Next. She inhabits an alternative version of 1985 where Shakespeare and Milton are elevated to the status of pop idols and movie stars, where you can clone your own dodo and your husband can cease to ever have existed if he pisses off the wrong people. They're wonderful fun. The 3 published so far are: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book and The Well of Lost Plots.
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