#6

So Say We All: An Unauthorized Collection of Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica (Smart Pop series) edited by Richard Hatch

I’m not sure if this really counts, since I read only a handful of the essays, but the book is overdue and I know I won’t get to the rest anytime soon.

I’ve written here about my ambivalent feelings regarding Battlestar Galactica. On the one hand, I’m fascinated with it, but on the other, it freaks me out. Aside from the miniseries and episode one of the first season, I’ve caught several shows here and there, mainly after hearing fans raving about them. One of these days I’m going to sit down with the DVDs and catch up, but for now, most of my knowledge of the show is second-hand.

This isn’t a bad thing. What drew me to the show was the ideas presented, and not so much the action or visual effects. Hearing or reading about what happens and why has been good enough so far. I wanted to read some of the essays in this book because they were written by a few of the fans who were responsible for my interest in the show in the first place. The deep geeking is well-written, and I highly recommend this book for BSG fans.

not so unusual

This is a solid collection of modern pop tunes that are worth giving a chance.


by Stacy Clark

Stacy Clark is a young singer/songwriter originally from Buffalo, New York, and now residing in Orange County, California. In the past two years, she has won several regional music awards and received attention from MTV and the Vans Warped Tour. What's surprising is that most of this attention has come from her four song EP, Unusual. Although she has a full album on the way, and her first recording from 2002, she seems to be doing quite well with such a small representation of her potential.

Frankly, I'm not surprised. Unusual is on par with the synth pop that has been generating underground hits in recent years (think Rachael Yamagata or The Postal Service). The title track, with its shimmery electronics and crystal clear vocals, lays the groundwork for the three that follow. The slower and more introspective "You Make It Worse" is a sudden shift from the danceable "Unusual," but it contains the lush arrangements that bring these four songs together. "Never" starts off like the preceding track, but it has a much harder element in the chorus, and the lyrics are of the "dammit, that weasel left me for another woman" variety. "Say What You Want" goes back to the shimmery electronics of "Unusual," but without the dance beat element.

Unusual is a fine collection of modern pop tunes. It doesn't stand out with any particular uniqueness, or make any dramatic statements, but it's a solid choice for something good to listen to. I expect that with time and experience, Clark will have more to say in her lyrics, but even if she doesn't, I'll be happy to continue to listen to the tunes.

originally published on Blogcritics

pruning?

One of the big projects I’ve been working on at MPOW is preparing to shift the bound journal collection, which also includes some systematic deselection. I don’t mean cancelling subscriptions. I’m talking about weeding the journals.

We’re about to run out of space in the building with no prospects of anything new on the horizon, so for the first time in forty years, the books are being weeded. The same thing has to happen to the journals, or we’ll be out of room for them, too. As it is, some areas are so tight that several sections of a range need to be shifted in order to add a new bound volume.

We started by pulling everything that is in JSTOR. This has freed up some significant space, but there is still a bit of dead wood in the collection. With online access, we’ve noticed a precipitous drop in print usage. Whereas we use to have an entire range of shelving for reshelve-prep, we now use a single book truck, which is rarely filled. Sure, we still need the journals that are not online in some fashion, but our students would prefer to use the electronic journals with free printing than get up from the computer, find the volume, and make a not-free photocopy of an article.

Sometimes I wonder why we continue to buy print journals at all, and the answer usually is that the publisher doesn’t have a good platform for their ejournals (if they have them), or for whatever reason, they seem kind of sketchy. Still, we’ve made a lot of transitions to online only in the past couple of years, and I think that will pan out well for slowing the collection growth to maximum capacity.

my fellow country-men and women…

I’ve been elected to the executive board of NASIG, which is both thrilling and terrifying. NASIG has rocked my professional world from early on, and I’m very excited about being able to continue to contribute to the organization through the leadership structure. I will admit to also being slightly worried about the volume of work that this might entail. In the past year, I’ve managed to push myself rather close to the edge of burnout, but for now I think I can keep from going over that edge.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me. If you’ll be in Louisville for the conference, be sure to say hello. I’ll be the woman wearing this. Well, at least for one day. I’ll probably be wearing this on one of the other days, and I’d like to point out that as a regular QC reader, I knew about it before it became popular with all the cool kids.

getting behind and catching up

I seem to be perpetually behind on reading liblogs. I transferred all my liblog subscriptions over to Google Reader, which works well for keeping everything threaded nicely by date posted, rather than separated by source as Bloglines does it. This won’t work for everything I read, but it suits the liblogs perfectly. I set aside some time this afternoon to work on getting caught up with the 100+ entries since the beginning of the month. After an hour and a half, I made it to April 5th. I’ll continue on with the rest some other time, but I needed to stop and give my brain a rest, as well as take some time myself to write something other than a review.

My work for Blogcritics and BC Goodie Bag has taken over most of my writing time, and Twitter has fed my need for telling someone, anyone, what I am doing. This leaves me with the question of what to do about eclectic librarian. The answer is to get back to it! I have things to contribute to library land, so I’d better get off my duff and contribute them.

by ebb & by flow

The long awaited return of a fantastic Pacific Northwest singer/songwriter.

Years ago, I had a show called the Estrogen Nation that was broadcasted from a college radio station. I played all sorts of music from all over, with the only criteria being that it had to feature women as the lead musicians. In 2000, I attended the Folk Alliance conference in Cleveland, hoping to discover new artists to play on the radio, and that was where I first heard Alice Di Micele. I wandered into her showcase room by accident early on, and the music made me come back as often as I could throughout the rest of the weekend. I have been a fan ever since.

Di Micele has a voice that can command any room with the power and presence of it. She mainly sings in the lower registers, but her voice can soar high as well without losing any of its strength. She writes acoustic music with a jazz/rock/funk/blues soul to it that is seductively addictive. For the past five years, fans have had to make do with her seven album catalog while she took a break from writing, recording, and performing. Thankfully, the wait is over. by ebb & by flow was released recently, and it is evident that the intervening years have not diminished her musical prowess one bit.

photo of Alice Di Micele by David ShermanOne of my favorite tracks is the first one, entitled "Mexico." The music and lyrics are uplifting with a hint of calypso. In contrast, the track the follows ("Conjuring") is a slow waltz, and the lyrics are introspective. It contains this gem of a line, "time with a lover is time well worth spending when two hearts are feeling the same." These two songs are different in style and intent, and like the rest of the album, they hold the listener's attention with their unique strengths. It could be the hook, it could be the groove, or it could be the lyrics. Regardless, every tune on this album has something that says, "Listen. Absorb. Enjoy."

As one might expect from an album entitled by ebb & by flow, most of the songs reference water in some way or another. "Made Out of Water" is a toe-tapping gospel for naturalists that features some spine-tingling harmonies. Be sure to listen to the end of that one on headphones sometime. The titular line appears in "Made Out of Water," as well as the groovalicious tune "The Way Your Heart Pounds."

Even the old hymn "Wayfaring Stranger" includes a water reference in the chorus (the Jordan River). Unfortunately, it's also my least favorite song on the album. I first learned "Wayfaring Stranger" from singing The Sacred Harp version, and I prefer the more traditional arrangement. Di Micele sounds amazing in her jazzy/bluesy arrangement of the song, and it will probably appeal more to those who aren't as fond of old hymn singing as I am.

Normally, album fatigue sets in towards the final few tracks, but not on by ebb & by flow. The final song is "The Cottonwoods," and while it is mellower and sparser than the other songs, it maintains the energy and intensity that the album began with. In a way, it acts as a hook that causes the listener to unconsciously hit the play button again in a feeble attempt to make the album continue on. It's only a mild disappointment to realize that the music has ended, because it takes just a few easy clicks to start it back up again from the beginning.

Alice Di Micele is back on the scene, and music fans should sit up and listen if they know what's good for them.

also published at Blogcritics.org

Continue reading “by ebb & by flow”