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This jukebox is going out to the members of the Women’s March and to all protesters everywhere fighting the good fight. Your strength inspires and encourages me.

Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come” is a classic. I like the way the video draws parallels between the protest marches of the past and those of today.

A new classic for our time, “Quiet” by MILCK (Connie Lim). Performed at the Women’s March in Washington (Jan. 2017) and then on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

And my favorite protest song of all time, “Step by Step,” a 19th century union song popularized by Pete Seeger and here performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock. A great marching song.

Re: Inauguration Day

Re: Quotable Quotes

ernest-shackleton

“Optimism in the face of overwhelming odds is the truest form of moral courage.”
–Ernest Shackleton

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My colleague, Angie in the Film Archives, shared with department staff this lovely and articulate thank you letter that she received from a homesick patron, Aurora Lang, formerly of Alaska, but now living in Washington state. The letter is reprinted here with Aurora’s kind permission. Over the past four years, our library has lost half its staff and half its funding with more potentially to come as the state is buffeted by budgetary winds. Aurora’s letter lifted our hearts. Library work can be tedious, grinding, and, more often than not, underfunded. Knowing that what we do is appreciated by the public makes it all worthwhile.

Here is the clip that Aurora refers to:

The clip was put together by Dirk Tordoff, the former head of the Film Archives, now retired, and was designed as a spot for our local public TV station. The music playing is the “Bravura Variation on Alaska’s Flag Song” by Paul Rosenthal.

Dear Angie and the entire Alaska Film Archive Department,

This is a letter of gratitude for the work you do.

In the time since the election I have found enormous comfort in the 80
Years of Alaskan History film clips you compiled. I have watched it often
in the last few months, and at least a dozen times over the past few days.
It makes me tear up with pride and love each time.

Those five minutes remind me that our state is resilient and resourceful,
our friends and neighbors are our greater family, the boroughs our extended
community, that we value our wild places, and even though our state has
seen its fair share of ugliness and inhumanity, as a state we have worked
towards justice and, I believe, will continue to right our wrongs and work
toward a better Alaska.

Those five minutes remind me to be proud of the place I came from, and in
these past few months I had forgotten to be proud. It reminds me that our
state, like our country, has overcome seemingly impossible hurdles before
and will again.

Alaska is home, where I was born and raised, where my family and best
memories live. It’s the place I identify with and is what makes sense,
even during these past couple years when I’ve been down in Washington.
Those five minutes are invaluable when I’m homesick and overwhelmed with
freeways and people. I’ll move back, probably sooner than later, because
it’s home.

But in the meantime, as I’m trying to maintain hope for the future, belief
in humanity and justice, and draw upon wells of courage that feel dry right
now, I lean on those five minutes. Inevitably I feel better, more
courageous, and more hopeful.

Thank you for the work you do to preserve our history, to celebrate our
state, to inspire the future. Your work is necessary and invaluable.

With gratitude,
Aurora

One of the topics of conversation between me and my colleagues recently has been the much-talked of proliferation of fake news stories this election cycle and the difficulty students (and adults) have telling fictional stories and real stories apart. Most recently, you may have read about a 12-state survey conducted by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education that found that students on all levels (college, high school, and middle schoool) displayed an unfortunate lack of ability to distinguish between true and false sources. [If you would like to read more about the study, click here for an executive summary].

The solution, the study concluded, was to teach students to evaluate sources like fact checkers would. For a list of tips on spotting fake news, check out this post from Factcheckers.org. As the post highlights, part of the problem is that fake news is now more sophisticated that the viral e-mails of 2008. Also great fact checking sites: Snopes.com and Politifact.com.

Librarians aren’t immune from fake news syndrome either and, as I’ve discovered, it can be difficult to track down quotes even from relatively well-known sources. For example, here’s a quote that I struggled to place:

thorin-death-scene-quote

Should be easy to find a quote from a famous actor about a movie [The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies] that he’s promoting, right? Think again. I hunted all over the ‘Net before I discovered that the source of the quote was an Empire magazine podcast. The quote itself appears at the 52:38 minute mark, almost at the very end of the podcast.

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Thought everyone would enjoy this video that my colleague, Erin, put me on to. It’s from the University Library in Olsztyn, Poland.

 

ghostbusters-ii

“We just gave a ghost a nuke. We should probably run.”

                                                                            –Abby (Ghostbusters 2016)

I have shamefully neglected this blog, friends, but I’m back now and ready to rumble.

Just spent an excellent couple of hours watching two really great sf/f movies with surprisingly feminist subtexts. Be forewarned: plot developments are discussed so if YOU DON’T WANT ANY SPOILERS, READ NO FURTHER.

First up is the new Ghostbusters movie which is probably most famous for receiving a large amount of misogynist and racist hate mail before and after its release. Having watched it, all I can say is that the haters must be evil spirits who want to wreak havoc upon the earth because this is a great movie and easily three times better than the original which was, let’s face it, a raunchy ’80s locker room comedy.

In this version, the focus is on the relationship between two estranged former friends–physicist Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and paranormal investigator Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). Erin is on the verge of her tenure review at Columbia when she is drawn back into Abby’s world of paranormal investigation by a desperate curator of a haunted mansion and a whole lot of ectoplasm. Out of work and on their own, Erin and her team must race against time to find out who or what is triggering a city-wide outbreak of ghostly activity. Kate McKinnon steals many scenes with her cool-yet-crazy turn as team engineer Holtzmann while Leslie Jones is local historian/subway worker-turned-ghostbuster Patty. Sprinkled through the movie are lots of great shoutouts to the first movie as well as cameos by the original cast.

What intrigued me the most, though, is the feminist thread that runs throughout the storyline. For example, a number of critics found the character of Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), the handsome yet thick-as-a-plank receptionist to be unrealistic. I, on the other hand, found it completely realistic. Kevin is the type of lousy assistant that the Ghostbusters team has to tolerate because as women they don’t have the leverage to hire someone better. I flashed immediately to two male student assistants I was once asked to find work for. Both of them bungled the simple jobs they were asked to do and both seemed to resent being corrected or given orders by women. Needless to say, I got rid of them as soon as I could.

Throughout the film, the Ghostbusters team receives constant flack because they are female with pretty much every sector of society questioning their competence, their honesty, and their sanity. As Abby puts it, “we get dumped on all the time.”  One of the underlying themes of Paul Feig’s movies is the power of female friendships and this is what the team relies on to get them through, save the day, and New York City.

 

alice-through-the-looking-glass

“You cannot change the past, but you can learn from it.”

                                             —Time Himself (Through the Looking Glass)

Next up is Alice Through the Look Glass, another sequel that has unfairly received negative reviews. Again, I can’t understand it because this film is a beautiful, touching allegory. Bring your tissues because unless you have a clockwork heart, you will tear up.

When we last saw Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) at the end of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, she was sailing away on trading vessel bound for China, having chosen a life as a Company apprentice over marriage to the pompous Hamish. As Through the Looking Glass opens, three years later, we see Alice, now the captain of her father’s ship, returning triumphant to England.

But there’s no cheering crowd and congratulations for young Captain Kingsleigh. On the contrary, there’s trouble from every corner.  In the interval, old Lord Ascot, Alice’s father’s friend, has died and has been succeeded by the unpleasant Hamish who is out to exact vengeance on Alice for refusing him. Hamish has extorted Alice’s company shares from her mother, Helen Kingsleigh (Lindsay Duncan), and is now threatening to take the Kingsleigh family home unless Helen and Alice sign over her father’s ship.

Alice also receives a summons back to Wonderland where the Hatter’s wits seem to have finally turned: he insists that his family, the Hightop clan, is still alive despite them having all perished in the Red Queen’s coup. To save him, Alice must confront Time Himself (Sacha Baron Cohen) and travel back into the past. In doing so, we learn more about both the Hatter’s family and the relationship between the sister queens, Mirana and Iracebeth.

Through the Looking Glass also has a feminist thread running throughout its storyline. Again and again, Alice must assert herself against the obstacles both English and Wonderland society put in her way in order to do the right thing and to live her life freely. Alice, closer to her idealistic, unconventional father, has always clashed with her more traditional mother, Helen. Without giving too much away, it’s a pleasure to see these two start to learn from and respect other.

 

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