Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Letter to My Newborn Baby Granddaughter

Dear Newly Born Granddaughter,

Welcome to the world!

I had almost given up hope that I would ever have a granddaughter.  I have two wonderful grandsons whom I love very much, but they like boy things and as they get older will probably not want to go shopping with their old grandmother or try on make-up, you know, girlie stuff (anyway, so far they haven't shown an interest in that). 

And now here you are.


I know your Mommy will be your very best friend, but I hope that I will be a BFF too.

I am looking forward to all of the fun times we will have and things we will do together,


Tea parties.


My mother used to collect cups and saucers.  She kept them in a cabinet and she would let me pick out the ones that I wanted to be "mine."  I have those cups and saucers now, and I will let you choose your favorites too.  My mother used to do little tea parties for my girlfriends and me.  She would make us some tea and toast and cut the toast into long strips that she called "fairy cakes."  I will do the same for you and I will also make some little sandwiches and cut off the crusts and we will have scones and jam, just like they do in England.  If you like, your dolls can join us.

Playing with dolls.

Your Aunt Ashley had a few American Girl dolls, and I still have those.  However, I have added a few more to the collection, well more than a few.  Her room looks like a shrine to the American Girl doll.  OK, more like a horror film starring a bunch of dolls.  I couldn't help it.  I needed a little granddaughter in my life!

I also have all of the Disney Princess (Barbie) dolls waiting for you.

("Twilight Zone" music ensues)

Playing Dress-up.

It's no secret that I have been known to buy the odd outfit or two.  OK, or 100.  Clothes come and go, but I have saved some that I thought a little girl just like you would love to dress up in.  I loved to play dress-up when I was a young girl. So did your Aunt Ashley.


My grandparents lived across the street from where I grew up and I would spend time with them.  One time I was snooping around up in their attic and found a trunk.  When I opened it, I couldn't believe it.  It was like being in a movie and finding treasure.  The trunk was filled with clothes from the turn of the century and I'm talking about the turn of the 20th century!  My grandmother said I could play with those clothes and boy, did my friends and I have fun with them.  When we play dress up, we can pretend to be princesses or fairies or the President of the United States!


This is something I have honed to a fine art. 

I can teach you the "bob and veer." That's where you are shopping in a store and suddenly take a sharp turn and disappear because you spotted a Marc Jacobs dress on sale. It's like "bob and weave," but with "bob and veer," you bob and then, rather than weaving, you veer directly in a straight line to the object of your desire. Hubby, your Papi, HATES that.  

Or the "I can't afford NOT to buy this!" technique.  That means that the item is on sale and has been marked down so low you will lose money if you don't purchase it.  OK, that's sort of a joke, but the idea is that it would be a crime not to buy it.  So you do.

There is also the "I can't live without it" technique.  My Dad would always ask me that. "Is that something you can't live without?"  What do you think my answer was? 

And finally, there is the "It might be gone forever" ploy.  This means that you might find something you can't really afford, but if you don't get it, then when you DO have the money the item will be gone and you will never find it again and regret it for your whole life.  So you have to buy it to avoid that kind of pain in your life.

I learned most of these shopping techniques from my Dad.  My mother did not approve.  In fact, it is easy to misunderstand these things, so let's just keep them between you and me, OK?

Reading together.

C'mon, of course we are going to read and read and read.  Your brothers already love books.

After all, your old Glammy is a librarian.  We can go to the library together and get your very own library card and that card will open up a whole wide world of adventure. 

And speaking of Glammy, you might wonder why I am called that.  Well, I might have wanted to be Grammy, but my mother was Grammy to her grandchildren, so that nickname was taken.  If you had known my mother, you would know why there was only one Grammy!  And even though your other grandmother is quite a bit more glamorous than I am, she wanted to be called Grandmother, so I thought, why not?  I wanted to be an actress, I have a bit of an Auntie Mame side and love to dress up, so Glammy seemed to fit. 

Watching Musical Comedies Together.

Growing up, my mother and I loved to watch the old musicals - "Singin' in the Rain," "The Music Man," "Oklahoma."  Then I watched them with my own daughter and now I look forward to showing them to you.  Who knows?  Maybe you will be the next musical comedy star!

Talking about boys.

And boy, can I tell you some stuff about boys!

Those are just some things I have been wanting to share with a little granddaughter.  You.

But you know what? If it turns out you don't like those things, that's OK too.  I will just be happy to spend time with you doing whatever you love to do and getting to know you as you go through life.

And I wish for you a life filled with giving and receiving happiness, thoughtfulness, kindness, empathy, compassion and equality.

You probably won't be able to believe it, and I hope by the time you are old enough to notice there won't be any vestiges of inequality still around, but there was a time when women didn't have rights - they couldn't own property, they couldn't vote, they had to ask their husbands or fathers for permission to do almost everything, they were treated as second class citizens, and even today many women do not get paid the same amount of money for doing the same work as men.  Can you believe it?

Your mother, grandmother, aunt and I are all feminists and we hope you will be proud to call yourself one, too, and you will care about women's rights. Because there is still work to be done.  I have been concerned that many young women today don't seem to wear the word "Feminist" with pride. It's almost as if they take for granted what women in earlier generations had to do to get where we are today.  I wrote about that a few months ago - "Why is Feminist Such a Dirty Word?"   

And can you believe that the United States has never had a woman President?  We are one of the few major countries in the world where that is the case.  I hope that by the time you are old enough to vote, there will not only have been a woman President, but more than one!

I hope that you will be proud to be a woman and not take any crap.  There, I said it.

I wish for you a world you feel safe in.

I want you to be able to go out in the world without fear.  Women should be free to travel, go out at night, dress how they wish, all alone and without fear. But the reality is that there is some bad stuff out there. So be brave but be smart and don't take any crap.  There, I said it again.

I also wish for you a wonderful education and the joy of learning.

You come from a family that has always valued education.  Growing up, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't go to college.  Your Dad and grandmother had to get a lot of education to become attorneys, your uncle is a professor and your Aunt and I both had to get master's degrees to become librarians.  Your Mom has a master's degree in business from Berkeley and your Aunt went to Stanford, neither of those were small feats.  So you and I will be talking about colleges in a couple of years.  You can never start too early.

I wish you love.

You have the most wonderful parents and brothers and family all around you who love you.  I hope you will experience lots more love in your life, giving love and receiving love, and no matter what happens, even if your heart gets broken, that you never give up on love.

You are only 5 days old.  I am 67 years and 243 days old, so I hope we will be able to do all of those things together and that I am still around to see you grow and graduate and find love and have children of your own.

But if not, you have this little thing I wrote so that you will know I couldn't wait to meet you and that I love you already.

So my darling girl, it's a big wide world out there just waiting for you. 

Live fearlessly!

Go for it!




Thanks for Reading!
See you Friday
for my review of the new movie 
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"
(Who can resist a title like that)? 
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

and the latest on
My 1001 Movies I Must See Before
 I Die Project."

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Friday, February 12, 2016

"Hail Caesar!" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new Coen Brothers film "Hail, Caesar!" and the DVDs "Truth" and "The Visit." The Book of the Week is Brene Brown's "Daring Greatly."  I also bring you up-to-date on "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die" with Michelangelo Antonioni's "L'Avventura."]

Hail, Caesar!

It's the early 1950's in the waning days of The Golden Age of Hollywood and a famous actor is kidnapped.

What you can count on from the Coen Brothers is that the film will be fresh, original and quirky. Think "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski" and "No Country For Old Men."

Here we have Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), the head of the fictional Capitol Pictures and Hollywood studio fixer (who was a real person, by the way), making sure the viewing public doesn't know just how jaded their beloved movie stars really are. That is certainly something that would not be possible today with social media reporting everything from a star's latest romance to his issues with passing gas.

Mannix is a deeply religious man who goes to confession so many times that the priest tells him to cool it.  He is in the midst of producing his big religious epic (think Cecil B. DeMille) "Hail, Caesar! A Story of the Christ" starring leading man Baird Whitlock (George Clooney).  He also has to deal with swimming diva DeeAnna Moran's (Scarlett Johansson) illegitimate child and turning singing cowboy Hobie Doyle (charmingly played by Alden Ehrenreich) into a sophisticated romantic star.  Amidst all of this, Whitlock is kidnapped.

The Coen brothers have created a loving and hilarious send-up of the movies at the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood, a time of innocence when we believed what we saw in the movies was real and that our heroes were as lily-white and scandal free as portrayed by the studio driven movie magazines.  But now we know that behind all of that dancing and singing and drawing room elegance were the dark secrets of the real lives of our idols- sex (gasp!), illegitimate babies (gasp!), homosexuality (gasp!). 

But the stars were protected by the studios.  There was always someone like Eddie Mannix, who was the fixer, who made sure the stars, but more importantly, the studios, the moneymakers, were protected from scandal. But that time of innocence was about to end as the fear of "the bomb" hovered over everyone and Hollywood started blacklisting anyone who even breathed the word "Communist." 

This is a bunch of movies within a movie. The Coen Brothers have the clichés from the movies of that era covered: a singing, dancing Gene Kelly character channeling "Anchors Aweigh," a swimming goddess like Esther Williams, a singing cowboy - think Gene Autry and Roy Rogers - and an effete director specializing in elegant drawing room dramas. 

Highlights include Channing Tatum dancing up a storm as a Gene Kelly clone in a dance number that has some moves that never would have made it past the censors in the 50's and Johansson channeling Esther Williams except with a Brooklyn accent and chewing gum (Johansson played that same kind of character in "Don Jon" and I love her doing that gun moll kind of character).

Ralph Fiennes as stuffy effete director Laurence Laurentz has one of the funniest scenes in the film as he works to whip cowboy actor Hobie Doyle into a sophisticate for a drawing room drama by trying to teach Hobie, with his pronounced cowboy drawl, how to say "Would that it 'twere so simple." Classic. And speaking of Ralph, when did he get so funny? How did he go from "Schindler's List" and "The English Patient," where he turned brooding into an art, to "The Grand Budapest Hotel" to this?  It doesn't matter.  He can do anything.

There is also a particularly funny scene where Mannix assembles religious leaders from the various religions to get their approval of his depiction of Christ in the film.  They get into an argument about Jesus' relationship to God. You had to have been there.

This Golden Age of Hollywood homage is wonderfully funny. But one wonders how many of these old Hollywood references anyone under the age of 50 might recognize, unless they are devoted movie lovers, and there are too many references to count.  Tilda Swinton hilariously plays twin sister gossip columnists, Thora and Thessaly Thacker, a nod to Hedda Hopper and Luella Parsons who were not twins. They were not even sisters, but they might as well have been, because they were both almost interchangeable old bitties plying their trade at the same time, and Esther Williams did lead a sexually adventurous life (read her book) despite her wholesome screen image. Singing cowboys who couldn't act were rampant as were Hollywood scandals involving sexual preferences.  Lots for a "fixer" to do.

Brolin, who, I think, is one of our most underrated actors, carries the film well as straight man to the wacky shenanigans of the other actors, some of whom are Coen Brothers regulars: Frances McDormand looks just like you would imagine a female film editor of the day, glasses, smoking, toiling away in the dark; Clooney as Baird is handsome but brainless and very funny.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins, who worked with the Coens on their version of "True Grit" and who has embraced digital photography, shot this film on 35mm, because the Coens don't like digital and they especially wanted this film to have the look of films of old.  And thank god, because I hate digital films.

There is so much going on at any given moment, that it's difficult to figure out what the Coens are actually trying to say here.  Is this film just a love letter to The Golden Age of Hollywood or is it a comment on lost innocence, religion or blacklisting? Or something else?

It doesn't really matter.  It's good fun.  And the more you know about movies from 60 years ago, the more fun you will have.

The film is full of oblique movie references.  Mannix arranges for DeeAnna to go away, have her baby and then adopt her. Loretta Young really did adopt her own daughter as per her daughter's book.  Hobie, our western star, does a bit where he is on a date in a restaurant and turns his spaghetti into a lasso. Voila!  Spaghetti Western.  Get it?  Movie trivia fans will have a field day.

Rosy the Reviewer says...is this going to stand as a Coen Brothers classic like "Fargo" or "The Big Lebowski?"  Probably not but it is a fun evening of theatre that only the Coen Brothers can deliver.

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

Now Out on DVD

Truth (2015)

The "truth" behind the 2004 "60 Minutes" report about George W. Bush's military service which cost newsman Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes their jobs.

Cate Blanchett plays Mary Mapes, a hard-hitting news woman out of the CBS office in Dallas. One of her stories, about Abu Graib, had won a Peabody and was considered one of the best pieces of journalism ever. Dan Rather (Robert Redford) was a trusted news anchor who followed Walter Cronkite in that role on the CBS Evening News and was also one of the reporters on "60" Minutes."

During the 2004 Presidential Election Campaign, Mapes gets wind of the fact that in the 1970's George W. Bush not only used connections to get into the Texas Air National Guard to avoid serving in Vietnam but once there went AWOL.  It was a story too good to be true.  Little did she know.

Mapes got a team together to investigate the story - Mike Smith (Topher Grace), Lt. Colonel Roger Charles (Dennis Quaid) and Lucy Scott (Elizabeth Moss).  Much like the Boston Globe's Spotlight Team, so wonderfully portrayed in the Oscar nominated film "Spotlight," this is an investigative team story, except this time instead of investigating pedophle priests this team is investigated allegations that George W. Bush avoided the draft and going to Vietnam by using his connections to get into the Air National Guard and then did not fulfill his duties while there.

In the course of their investigation, Mapes and her team discovered that not only did Bush get into the Guard by using connections to then Texas Governor Barnes, but in 1972 he was suspended in writing for not taking a physical and never showed up for work from 1972-73.  The next time he appeared on the record was in 1973 when he was granted an early discharge and went to Hawaii.

Question #1 - Did Bush get into the Air National Guard to avoid Vietnam?

Question #2: Did he skip his physical because drugs would have been found and did he go AWOL for a year?

Question #3: Who got him into the Air National Guard?

As the team investigated these questions, no one would talk.  They kept getting a stock answer from the higher ups:  "No strings were pulled."

Keep in mind, this was the Presidential election where Bush's opponent, John Kerry, was getting attacked by the Swift Boat group who tried to discredit Kerry's war hero status.

However, Mary finally found someone who claimed to have proof.  Lt. Col. Bill Burkett (Stacy Keach) had copies of documents that showed that Bush made no attempt to be certified to fly and that his pilot position was a critical function.  This contradicted what Bush had said about his early discharge:  that he had not been needed.

As the investigation continued, Gov. Barnes confirmed he used his position to get Bush into the ANG and with some other confirmations about the accuracy of the documents, the show aired...and then all hell broke loose and Mapes and Rather became the story. 

Strangely, it wasn't the content of the memos that were called into question but the authenticity of the memos, because supposedly the typewriter used to type them was not in use in the 1970's and it didn't help that they were copies, implying the memos were forged, typed on a computer and then made to look authentic.  Conservative websites went crazy.  ABC News went after them.  And sources started to recant.

"60 Minutes" did an internal investigation and Mary was thrown under the bus and Rather was forced to apologize on air and his career never recovered. "60 Minutes" did not stand by Mapes and Rather.  They caved and used the two of them as scapegoats. So much for journalistic guts.

Rather was clearly a father figure to Mapes and the two had a close and trusting relationship.  There is a scene at the end of the film where Mary asks Dan," Why didn't you ask me if the documents were real?" to which he replied, "Because I didn't need to."

Cate plays ballsy women like no other.  She continues to amaze.

Redford is believable as Rather.  He has captured Rather's cadence and how he sometimes garbles his words, though he could have used a bit more of Rather's drawl.

Elizabeth Moss and Randy Quaid didn't really have much to do but Topher Grace was a stand out.

Based on Mary Mapes' book (and this is clearly her version of "the truth") and adapted for the screen by James Vanderbilt (he also directed), this docudrama is a riveting newsroom story very much like the Oscar-nominated "Spotlight."  Released a month before "Spotlight," not sure how this movie got buried as it is every bit as compelling and has an all-star cast.
"60 Minutes" was riding high.  It was the first news show to ever make money.  But moral of the story?  If you go after those in power, you cannot win. When people don't like a story, they will throw all kinds of crap at it in order to obscure the truth.

There is a poignant scene between Rather and Mike Smith.  Smith asks Rather why he got into news and Rather answers, "Curiosity."  Rather then returns the question to Smith and Smith replies:  You.

Rather's career never recovered and it's sad to see him relegated to the AXS Channel and his "Big Interview" series.  It's a good show and highlights Rather's extraordinary and tactful interview ability, but who watches AXS?  It's a sad end to what was once a stellar career. 

The ending of the film has the usual ending for a docudrama:  before the end credits roll we are brought up to date on what happened to the key players - a poignant reminder of what happens when you mess with the Big Guys.  Mary Mapes never worked again.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a powerful docudrama every bit as good as "Spotlight."  It's enough to make you stop watching "60 Minutes!"


The Visit (2015)

Two kids visit their grandparents and are frightened by their strange behavior.

Kathryn Hahn starts the film by facing the camera and talking about her bad relationship with her parents who she hadn't seen for 15 years. However, she has recently made contact and arrangements for her teen daughter, Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and young son,Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), to visit them while she goes off on a cruise with a new love.  She is being interviewed by her 15-year-old daughter who is making a documentary of the reunion in hopes it will help mend the rift between her mother and her parent.  Well, you know what that means.  It's all going to get very "Blair Witch Project."

Becca and Tyler take the train to meet their grandparents, Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), who are there waiting for them.  They go to their farm and about 20 minutes into the film, strange things start happening.  Nana has this habit of running around at night on all fours and gnawing on the woodwork.  Pop Pop has strange fits of anger.  At first the kids try to explain away the behavior, the running joke being that they are old and old people do all kinds of strange things.  When the kids ask Pop Pop about Nana's behavior, he too says old people do strange things.  Made me wonder if I can start using that excuse.  Anyway, Pop Pop tells them it's best if they don't come out of their room after 9:30.  Now right there, if someone told me that, I would be on the phone to my Mom immediately demanding to go home.

With the kids filming everything and the camera on constantly, even when it is laid down, there is a sense of ominousness and that this is going to be one of those "found footage" films.  It sort of is and sort of isn't.

I am known to dabble in the occasional horror film.  Hubby can't handle anything scary so I'm usually watching on my own.  My interest goes back a long way to the Vincent Price/Edgar Allen Poe films and my all-time favorite, "Circus of Horrors."  But those so-called horror films of the 1960's can't compete with the special effects of today.  There were no axes plunged into skulls or intestines teeming with maggots. Hubby could have probably handled this one.

Here M. Night Shyamalan harks back to those less gory films of bygone days by relying more on suspense than thrills. Shyamalan's most famous films are probably "The Sixth Sense" starring Bruce Willis, "Signs" starring Mel Gibson and "The Village," but since then he has been plagued with a series of flops.  This one is more like his early films, but sadly not as good.  I figured it out right away whereas when "The Sixth Sense" ended, my daughter had to explain it to me.

Shyamalan seems to like psychological suspense stories that lure you in and then give you a big twist.  I like his films.  They are not slasher films but more the "what the hell is going to happen next" kind of films with a big twist ending. He plays on our childhood fears of the boogie man under the bed and people not being what they appear to be. Unfortunately I figured out this big twist early on.

But what sets this apart from the usual horror film is that it's actually quite funny and purposely so. There is one funny scene where Nana asks Becca to climb inside the oven to clean it.  She does and for a minute there, I thought I was watching "Hansel and Gretel."

DeJonge and Oxenbould are appealing young actors.  They didn't annoy me at all, as precocious kids in movies usually do.  And Dunagan and McRobbie take their roles seriously. 

It's not a bad film but it's certainly not in the same league as "The Sixth Sense."  It feels more like a "Lifetime Movie." The film still has the production values of an A-list horror film but there are no A-list actors here. This movie relies on one big reveal moment.  If that doesn't work the movie doesn't work.  There are also some issues that stretch the limits of belief such as sending your kids to visit your parents when you haven't seen or spoken to them in 15 years. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...even though you will probably figure out the ending, you will still be compelled to find out if you are right.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

261 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

L'Avventura (1960)

During a boating trip, a young girl goes missing on a stark volcanic island and her friends try to find her in this early film by auteur director Michelangelo Antionioni.

Anna and Sandro are lovers but Anna (Lea Massari) is confused about their relationship and Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti) is a bit of a lothario.  They join their wealthy Roman friends Claudia (Monica Vitti), Anna's best friend and others for a Mediterranean cruise off the coast of Sicily.  They anchor on a small volcanic island, Lisca Bianca, and sunbathe and explore.  Sandro takes a snooze and when he wakes up, Anna is missing.  They scour the island and find nothing.  As the weather worsens, they all decide to leave and seek help, leaving Sandro and Claudia behind. 

Now it appears that Sandro has a hankering for Claudia.  Despite police efforts, Anna is not found and everyone leaves the island and tries to go on with their lives.  Sandro and Claudia get together but the ghost of Anna hangs over them. 

Antonioni likes the barren landscapes and themes of social isolation and lack of connection. Here he plays with the idle, decadent rich and their bored existences.  The film just drips of existential ennui.

I had a love affair with foreign films from a young age.  My friends and I, thinking ourselves very sophisticated, would talk our way into the local adults only foreign film theatre.  A fake ID didn't hurt.  We loved all of the existential stuff that was so popular in the 60's.  I mean we started the school Philosophy Club, for god sake, so we could talk about Sartre.  We were serious kids.

This one would have fit right into our existential yearnings but in 1960 I was only 12 so that would have been a hard sell to get in to see it.  Plus, I think I was still playing with Barbies when I was 12.

Anyway, this is one of Antonioni's early films.  It was booed at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, but some critics hailed it as one of the most important films ever shown there.  Two years later an international critics poll listed it as the second greatest movie ever made.  Four years after that Antonioni came to international stardom with "Blow-up."  I WAS old enough to see that one and it blew my mind.  This film also brought stardom to Monica Vitti, who was Antonioni's muse and starred in his next two films "La Notte" and "L'Eclisse."  From the loving close-ups of her, it feels like Antonioni was in love with her too.

Why it's a Must See:  "Although writer-director Michelangelo Antonioni had been making documentaries and features for nearly twenty years, this epic-length film was his major artistic and commercial breakthrough."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...perfect film for a dark rainy day so you can tap into your existential angst, and it's worth it just to drown in the gorgeousness that is Monica Vitti.

***Book of the Week***

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brene Brown (2015)

Brene Brown teaches us how to have the courage to be vulnerable.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”—Theodore Roosevelt

This quote is at the heart of Brene Brown's book and the work she does.  She made a huge hit at a TED talk she did on this topic and has emerged as one of Oprah's self-help darlings. I have even signed up for her video course as part of my self-help binge that I am on.

Vulnerability is not being a wimpy little victim.  That is not the kind of vulnerability Brown talks about.  Brown equates vulnerability with courage.  It's the courage to show up, to put yourself out there, to step into the arena - the arena of life.

Brown uses lots of imagery that reflects "the arena," such as the armor we wear as we go about life and the "shields" we use to combat feeling vulnerable.  The three most common "shields" being "foreboding joy," perfectionism" and "numbing."

"Foreboding Joy" is all about feeling something is too good to be true so we must have to pay somehow for feeling happy.  We wait for the other shoe to drop.  And by the way, do you know where that phrase came from?  Well since I am always trying to help, educate and provide a public service (comes from my years as a librarian) here it is:  In the early 1900's when immigrants flooded into the cities and people were crammed into apartment building, you could literally hear your upstairs neighbors taking off their shoes at night.  Once you heard the first show drop, you would wait for the other shoe to drop.  Get it?  You are welcome.  And you can thank Brene too. 

Anyway, my mother was great at "foreboding joy" and passed it down to me.  Don't get too happy.  Otherwise, something bad might happen.  It think it's a Swedish thing.  I always liked to think that if I anticipated the worst, then it wouldn't happen. 

The way to combat "foreboding joy?"  Gratitude.

Next, perfectionism is the belief that "if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame...[it's] a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it's the thing that's really preventing us from being seen." 

The antidote to perfectionism?  "To be kinder and gentler to ourselves and each other.  To talk to ourselves the same way we'd talk to someone we care about."

And finally, "numbing."  It's not just wine, pills and cigarettes, it's also being crazy-busy or anything else you do to numb the anxiety, shame and disconnection you are feeling. 

What to do?  Learn how to actually feel feelings and how to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions.

This is just a taste of her book and what we need to do to live a "whole-hearted" life, but if that is what you want, to live fully, you need to have the courage to be vulnerable.

If you are interested in learning more about Brene and her courses go brenebrown.com or watch this TED talk and see what you think.

Rosy the Reviewer says...Read the book and I will see you in the Arena!

That's it for this week!

See You Tuesday for

"A Letter to My Newborn Granddaughter"
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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Go to IMDB.com, find the movie you are interested in.  Once there, click on the link that says "Explore More" on the right side of the screen.  Scroll down to External Reviews and when you get to that page, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list.
NOTE:  On some entries, this has changed.  If you don't see "Explore More" on the right side of the screen, scroll down just below the description of the film in the middle of the page.  Find where it says "Reviews" and click on "Critics." Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list.
Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Interview With a Librarian

Recently an eighth grade girl asked to interview me about my career as a librarian.

She was working in her school library and in order to get credit she needed to write a report about the profession.

She asked me 13 questions that ranged from what kind of education a librarian needs (a master's degree) to what pay you can expect (not much) to skills that would be helpful (just about everything) to what is the work environment like (it depends).

I had to explain to her that my responses mostly related to working in public libraries.  Though I had worked in a college library and a medical library, most of my 40 years were spent working with the public out on the front lines and as a manager in a public library environment.

I expanded on those answers, but the question that really had me thinking was:

What have you learned from being a librarian?

I can't really remember how I answered that question for the young girl, but it struck me as a question I hadn't really thought about.  "What had I learned from being a librarian?" I have been thinking about that question ever since and wanted to sort that out, so here I am.

I have written quite a bit about libraries and librarians, sometimes in a humorous way, sometimes in a serious way, but I haven't really addressed that particular question.  So after much thought and late night glasses of wine, this is what I have come up with.

What have I learned from being a librarian?

I have learned that

  • being a librarian involves many skills and tasks that we never learned in library school, such as plunging the public toilets several times per week. 

I know, ha, ha.  But for some reason, putting whole rolls of toilet paper into the toilet is a fun activity for some people. Not fun for me, though, when I am wearing a cute outfit with fancy shoes and the toilet stall is amok with water.  And again, ha ha.  Yes, librarians wear cute outfits and fancy shoes.  

Another skill that I did not learn in library school - oh, right, it's not called library school anymore.  It's Information School because for some reason LIBRARY is a dirty word.  OK, sorry, I am ranting. 

So another skill not learned in library, er, Information School, is "reuniting "lost children" with their parents who are obliviously using the public computers."  And then there is the fielding complaints thing from the smell in the lobby to "why is that man in the corner staring at me?" I was not warned about any of that in Information School. "Putting out fires" should be in the curriculum as well as on the job description because a librarian's typical day consists of what anyone would have to do when managing staff and working with the public in a public space. 
      (I wrote a blog post called "What Do Librarian's Really Do" back in 2014
       that illustrates that).

  • managing and working in a library requires the same skills as any business: good customer service skills, the ability to lead, initiative, creativity. 

For some reason, people think that all we are doing in the library is what you see happening out in the public areas, which sometimes, I confess, can look chaotic. Several years ago when I was managing a branch library, a woman came in who wanted to volunteer.  Library staff welcome volunteers from the community.  They add value by doing tasks that library staff often don't have time to do.  The woman informed me that she wanted to volunteer because she felt she needed to whip us into shape.  She didn't think we were doing what we were supposed to be doing.  We signed her up and, let's just say, it wasn't long before she realized what really went into running a library.  I think I saw her hair turn white over the course of five weeks. She came to me and said, "I had no idea what you all go through to keep this place going!" 

  • having a sense of humor when I tell people I am a librarian is important because they will most likely put their finger to their lips and go "SHHHH," or say "I bet you read a lot of books," implying that's what I do on the job, or "You don't look like a librarian." 

The sense of humor is important because what I really want to do is bop them. 

Stereotypes still remain when it comes to libraries and librarians, despite the fact that libraries are not dusty institutions run by ugly old bats. Well, mostly not.

  • people like the idea of having a public library even though they never go there.  

A library is a part of the fabric of the community.  They know it's something good to have and they want to have it.  Don't try to take a little branch library away from a community.

But ask the regular person on the street or in a bar or at a party if he or she goes to the library and you will inevitably hear, "I haven't been in a library since I was a little kid," or "I buy my books" or worse yet, "I haven't read a book in years."  But then, after I get over my initial impulse to bop, I realize that people don't really care about public libraries that much.  They just don't think about them.  Why should they? As a librarian, libraries were always on my mind because I lived and breathed them but that just isn't the case for most of the public. They take them for granted as part of what is expected in the community, but they don't necessarily see them as a part of a successful life.  And if we librarians don't make the case for how important they are, why should they?

  • libraries have not done a very good job of promoting themselves and their services

When I was younger I used to think that if people knew all of the services and materials that were available for free at the library, they would be beating the door down.  It was just a matter of good PR and we would be beating people off with a stick.  I thought that 40 years ago and still think it's true, but for those 40 years, little has changed. I have come to realize that the library is not the first place people think of when they have a question or problem and no amount of talking about it will change that until they have a personal issue that takes them to the library and they find out for themselves.  Then they are converts!  But until then, the stereotypes remain.

I call that the "ME FACTOR," (and I wrote about that back in 2014). 

  • if public libraries want to be community gathering places, and many do, then the "rules" need to be relaxed.

Food and drink should be available, there should be areas for noise and vitality and areas for quiet study and staff should be welcoming, professional and knowledgeable and be able to deal with members of the public who want the library to be a quiet, old-fashioned place (and yes, there are still some of those).  Some libraries do that very well; others still have restrictive rules.

And by knowledgeable and professional, I mean that a librarian should know as much about "Dancing with the Stars" and Kim Kardashian as she does about Dostoyevsky and Beatrix Potter and treat questions about them as equally important. No one should feel demeaned by their questions or interests.

Those are the things that I have learned about being a librarian that have also frustrated me over the years.

I didn't share any of that with the young girl. 

I didn't want to discourage her because the truth is, despite some of the issues, ask any librarian.  Nine times out of ten, when asked how he or she likes being a librarian, that librarian will respond positively. 

Despite my feelings about what libraries could do better, what I have learned from being a librarian is that Librarianship is a noble profession that provides a life of service to our communities. 

Librarians help people every day and librarians and libraries protect Americans' rights to access to information, their right to read what they want without censorship and libraries provide a place to share that information. People need a place they can go to where they can get information on all sides of a question and ask questions without judgment.

We will always need libraries and librarians. 

The Internet has not taken that need away. 

One of the mottos of the American Library Association used to be "The right book for the right person at the right time."  I think that's still true, but we only need to change a couple of words to make it say that much more about libraries: 

"The right information and services for the right person at the right time." 

That's what librarians do every day.  They provide vetted information in a timely manner for people who need it that helps them live a better life and make sense of the world they live in.

As I wrote back in April of 2014 in a post called "Why We Need Librarians," I talked about how often a library customer would come to me looking for help, telling me not to bother looking on the Internet because he or she had already looked there and didn't find the answer to his or her question.  I would quickly do a search and find the information and the customer would say, "How did you do that?" I wanted to say, "This is what I do. I am a Librarian." But I didn't.

If you have been reading my blog, it's no secret that I once wanted to be an actress and trained as one.  I actually was in a play directed by Karl Malden.
I dreamed of one day winning a Screen Actor's Guild (SAG) Award or, dare I say it? - an Oscar.

When I watch the SAG Awards, I always enjoy the opening where actors introduce the show and themselves. 

The camera goes from one actor to another and each does a little intro like this...

and they all end their statements by saying proudly, "I am an actor."

So what have I learned being a librarian?

"I dreamed of being an actor.
But when I didn't become an actor, what could I do?
I became a librarian
And for 40 years I have been helping people make sense of the world they live in (in a most theatrical way)!
I am Rosy the Reviewer
And I am (proud to be) a Librarian!"


Thanks for Reading!


See you Friday


for my review of the new movie

"Hail, Caesar!"


The Week in Reviews

 (What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before

 I Die Project."
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