Thursday, July 19, 2007

Kid Stuff

Nothing big to annoy me this week, so I thought I would share with all of you a couple of small annoyances. I notice I've got some new readers who wonder why we don't all just get along, and who seem to think the AL should just confirm their prejudices and not present any alternative points of view. I've been shocking people by writing stuff about hipsters or transsexuals that some people think is just mean. "How can anyone say something I don't completely agree with?" they ask. It's what I do, baby. If you want peppy, you go to the Librarian in Black. If you want annoyed, you come to me.

Nevertheless, I thought I would calm everyone down with some less controversial topics. Here's a couple of minor annoyances for the pollyannas who think we should all play nice. We can call it kid stuff I'm tired of.

First -- emoticons. What is it with people and these emoticons? Are we all in the 3rd grade or something where we're supposed to feel warm glows of satisfaction if somebody sends us a smiley face. The winky ones are even worse. They just look lewd to me. If some guy winked at me, I'd think he was a creep, and yet some people "wink" at me as a blog reader all the time. And librarians seem to love these things. I frequently see them in blogs and comments. Emoticons are childish. They're also a way for people who can't write well enough to convey their emotions through prose. If you write something funny, I'll laugh. If you write something not funny, putting in a stupid smiley face isn't going to make it funny. And if you write something clever or smarmy but fail to convey such, winking at me isn't going to make it clever or smarmy. See this paragraph? Do I need to put in an emoticon to make my attitude clear? I didn't think so.

Second -- this Harry Potter nonsense. I've yet to understand the appeal of children's fantasy books, and this obsession so many have for Harry Potter is creepier than winky emoticons. And we're not talking just kids here, but grownups obsessed with these children's novels. I heard some woman on the radio say she and her husband had argued for hours over some obscure point in one of the Harry Potter novels. What kind of losers are you, I wanted to shout, but I was afraid my colleagues down the hall would call the police again. If I worked in a children's library, it'd be one thing, but I work at a university. I shouldn't have to avoid people in the break room because I don't want to hear any more meaningless speculation about what will happen to some fictional character I care nothing about. I'll be glad when the final book has been out for a long time, so everybody will just shut up already. And no, I don't care how it ends, since I haven't read any of the books. I barely made it through the first movie without falling asleep, and I hadn't even had any martinis. And before anyone tries to tell me how great Harry Potter has been for literacy, let me just say I don't care. Adults reading children's fantasy novels is barely a step above illiteracy.

Ok, I'm glad that's out of my system. Everyone have a nice weekend reading Harry Potter and sending smiley faces to each other.

51 comments:

Anonymous said...

Concerning Harry Potter, it's never been the same since the Great Brain series ended.

(smiling face)

soren faust

Anonymous said...

Why emoticons in e-mail?

We correspond with individuals in almost 20 countries via a medical listserv. Many of the respondents have English as their second (or third?) language.

Sometimes gallows humor or even rational exchanges can be misconstrued. That's where an occasional emoticon can be useful.

Ever attempt to carry on a three-way exchange about cancer with a German and a denizen of Paris?

Dances With Books said...

"Adults reading children's fantasy novels is barely a step above illiteracy."

Thank the powers you finally said it. I am another one sick and tired of the hype. While I do read a good bunch of genre stuff, this hype over the Potter brat is just too much.

Besides, if I do want to know how it ends, I can just google it and find it. You know somebody out there has it. If I wanted to be really mean, I would find out the end, the go do a "drive by yell" at the next midnight party at B&N.

Anonymous said...

Good Post! Emoticons, Harry Potter and people "pleasuring" themselves in the library are all things I would prefer to live without. As for Emoticons and Harry Potter there seems to be a strange trend in our culture that grown-ups want to act like children. I noticed kids into emoticons and Harry Potter first, then adults sort of jumped on the bandwagon. I've also noticed more adults wearing the same clothes as teenagers and enjoying the same entertainment (the whole 'grups' phenomenon). Then, of course, you have the strange subculture of reconstructive surgery where the recipient usually comes out looking like alien. Maybe the next move will be a pill that you from growing emotionally and mentally at the age of twelve. I hate to say it, but if you made the cut-off age 18 about half the population would take that pill.

--Chris

Anonymous said...

>-| = martini emoticon

Anonymous said...

What bothers me is media hype in general. Whatever the story of the week is, all the media outlets have to beat it to death. It's doubly annoying when those stories are just fluff (Paris Hilton, the reality tv show of the moment, etc.)

Why do they think we want to hear about all this junk? Or, maybe I should ask, Who are the mindless idiots watching this crap?

AL said...

Hey, everyone is supposed to tell me how mean and unhip I am for making fun of Harry Potter reading emoticoners!

Nice martini emoticon, btw. I might have to add that to my email signature.

Anonymous said...

Muggles Leak "Deathly Hallows" Online, Magical World Resisting
(the-leaky-cauldron.org, July 18, 2007, 12:16 PM)
- beats hanging with those precious hipsters, is why.

Bunny Watson said...

Speaking of the infantilization of America (and the world, for that matter), how about Will Ferrell movies? My colleagues have learned not to bring him up in my presence, because I can then rail for hours about the lack of humor in "men" acting like boys well into their 40s.

Brian (Beer:30 Chair For Life) said...

;)

Anonymous said...

>--|

I think a longer stem works better.

Brent said...

There is a book that recently came out on email etiquette. In it, they discuss the use of emoticons. It seems you have to know the person well before using them.

I never use emoticons first, because I am anti-social. AL never uses them because she has no heart.

AL said...

I'm anti-social AND I have no heart! I'm just like that Tin Man.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with adults reading children's or teen books - Rowling's writing is easily as complex as, say, John Grisham.

(And yes, I know Grisham's not intellectually challenging, but he's the sort of author adults read when they want a fun beach read. I don't like Grisham myself, but I don't need him - I pick up children's or teen lit when I want a light read).

That said, I spent my lunch hour re-reading Harry Potter, so I'll be prepared tomorrow at midnight. I'm a children's librarian, but I would read it anyway, just to find out what happened. This week, I've been reminded of the people waiting on the docks to find out whether Little Nell lived.

Anonymous said...

wait a sec...i think this one is is the jump the shark moment.

William said...

What was AL doing watching a Chris Columbus movie in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Emoticons are somewhat childish, but so is most slang or "inside joke" material. Emoticons are rooted in the earliest days of electronic communication, when you could just send a short line of text over a network. Because (b/c) of the limitations in technology, it became habit to create abbreviations, concatenations and, yes, emoticons. The nature of short burst, ungrammatical text created a need to quickly punctuate a sentence fragment to avoid offending the recipient. Recall also this is a creation of academia and came to the fore about the time of PC.

Sadly, twenty-thirty odd years later, this all begat IM/Text Speak. *lol*

Thus, we have the perfect regressive defense: Emoticoner userz iz jus productz of r environment. Ain't that right?

;p (How's that for creepy--wink & wagging tongue!)

--Taupey

WDL said...

oh my dear Lord. *yawn*

Bring the bitch back. How am I supposed to engage in witty repartee via blog comments when you write about kids books and smiley faces?

What next? Puppies, lace curatains, and ice cream sundaes?

And I don't really think you're a bitch. You just play one on TV.

xo,
WDL

Elizabeth said...

*slow clap*

IL Library Student said...

I don't have any problem with adults reading kid or teen lit. Heck, I still pick up my favorites from time to time and reread them (The Chocolate War, Bridge to Terabithia and The Westing Game to name a few).

It's the adults that get totally into it, dressing up as a character (and not because of a "job") to go hang out in line to get the latest book at the stroke of midnight, throwing elbows and trampling kids in front of them because if they don't get the latest Harry Potter OMG THEY WILL JUST DIE!

Same goes for any other craze (see: Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch dolls, newest video game systems).

shade said...

Heh heh - I always know where to go to get the crabby view. Keep griping, AL! Power to the Panner!

btw - Dances with Books? You seriously need some enjoyment in your life. Crushing the excitement of children is a bitter, bitter act. They'll grow up too soon.

contrarian said...

And to hell with all the hype over David Beckman too!

AL said...

"What was AL doing watching a Chris Columbus movie in the first place?"

I'm not sure I have seen one. Did I somehow allude to one?

Anonymous said...

Harry Potter, the phenomenon.
Do a google search on Harry Potter Harold Bloom, and you'll find Bloom's controversial essay on Rowling's popular series. He's spot on; the books are devoid of original thought, cliche driven, dull, an on and on. In short, they do nothing to enliven the imagination of children or adults. Don't agree? Read the first twenty pages of Alice in Wonderland, then the first twenty pages of a Potter book.

Librarians throughout my consortia are all atwitter regarding the last Potter release, and all are lamenting the end of this series that has done so much for reading and so much for literacy. In fact, the books have harmed literacy; reading Rowling is no better than watching television.

Bloom says it so well, I’m paraphrasing, reading Rowling prepares young readers to read Stephen King as adults.

And librarians, keepers of the flame of literacy and enlightenment, beacons of culture in a world devoid of it, so important to keeping reading alive, are leading purveyors of this pulp.

Will intelligent people please wake up? Reading is important, vitally so. At its best it can open the most closed mind. So will librarians, especially public librarians, with a chance to actually do something about this problem leave the Potter costumes at home and make a tangible and meaningful contribution to books and reading?

William said...

"I barely made it through the first movie without falling asleep..."

Although you may have worked in a Mrs. Doubtfire reference that went over my head.

AL said...

I see. Sorry. I didn't know who directed the movie. I saw it on video at a friend's place. I IMDb'd him, and apparently I'm a big fan, because I have also seen Mrs. Doubtfire, though if I referenced that it was subconscious, because the only thing I remember about it is Pierce Brosnan in swimming trunks, which of course was the best part of the movie.

William said...

Perhaps you should rent The Long Good Friday this weekend.

(A much younger, if somewhat sullen) Pierce in his trunks + a slightly more interesting story.

Of course, it also includes a shower scene with Bob Hoskins.

Dances With Books said...

Hi Shade: Actually, watching the crushed little excitement IS part of the (my) enjoyment, hehe. Anyhow, I will be the one in the speedy car tomorrow night hollering the ending and driving off, hahaha.

Anonymous said...

anon 1:40 - thanks very much for the Harold Bloom reference! There are two articles, separated by three years, that work well read together:

Harold Bloom, Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong? Yes.
Wall Street Journal, 7/11/2000.

Harold Bloom, Dumbing down American readers.
Boston Globe, 9/24/2003.

If you take Bloom to heart, then your work's pretty much cut out for you, isn't it? I don't think the academic librarians are off the hook, either (AL!)...

DWB: Silencio!

Robert M. Lindsey said...

My kids read The Hobbit. And Treasure Island.

shade said...

Oh, gotcha DWB. Schadenfreude is so hip these days. How could I forget?

Privateer6 said...

Ok I admit I'm one of the dorks,as well as my in-laws, who have dressed up. I was Gandalf the White and a Nazgul when the Lord of the Rings trilogy came out. Wife went as Rosie Cotton Gamgee, and my oldest at age 1 (it was his birthday) went as Frodo Gamgee, Samwise's boy. Tolkien is excellent. My wife has read The Hobbit aloud during her two pregnancies.

As someone else has mentioned, it is good to go back and read you childhood favorites. From time to time I've done it, and I am especially looking forward to sharing those works with my boys.

Robert, don't forget to share C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia with your kids. Also I suggest The Screwtape Letters for you.

tomeboy said...

Me a Potterhead? I'm still confusing this character with the genial colonel from MASH.

I truly don't get it.

janitorx said...

And to hell with all the hype over David Beckman [sic] too!

Hey! At least Becks is sex-ay!

Anonymous said...

I like the animated barfing emoticon. It can be quite descriptive at times.

I use it often in correspondence with ALA.

Anonymous said...

I read Harry Potter.

I also read Tolstoy.

Anonymous said...

An adult patron surprised me a few nights ago by combining Harry Potter speculation with Sartre - she thinks the whole series has been written with Sartre in mind. I didn't agree, but it's good to know that at least some adults are thinking as they read the series.

theotherwaldo said...

I don't believe in the existance of children's books. Children rarely create, sell, or buy books. Adults do. They also label books, usually to a ridiculous degree. "Where's the second grade, second 9-weeks, advanced -learner books?" I think that all books should be judged on their individual merits, not their intended markets. Incidentally, I dislike the Harry Potter series, primarily because of its heavy, "paid-by-the-word" pacing. Whether or not it's a kid's book is irrelevant.

theotherwaldo said...

By the way, emoticons are another Japanese import, much like sushi. I like my food cooked and my words complete.

Greg said...

First, Bloom is mistaken to think there is such a thing as original thought. In the end its all Shakespeare, and even Shakespeare isn't Shakespeare, he just put existing thougt into a nice package.

Second, Harry Potter books are the greatest books ever because they are a direct market refutation of all the 'award winning' teen books that seem to do nothing but paint teens as angst-ridden victims of a cruel world that just doesn't 'get' them.

Brent said...

AL can sleep a little easier knowing that the NY Times will not allow it on the bestseller list, again!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-giltz/why-harry-potter_b_57099.html

AL said...

And we know how highly I regard the NYT.

Pete said...

Hahaha. Alice in Wonderland as a touchstone of imagination. Oh dear. The clunkiest piece of Victoriana. Spare me.

As to Rowling harming literacy well, in what way? In that people don't read what you do?

I haven't read any of the HP books and don't intend too. I have read children's fantasy (The Edge Chronicles) as my son enjoys them and it means that I can talk about them with him. He's also read all of the HP books.And he's an avid reader with a pretty good imagination.
I'm no fan of Rowling but this precious 'defence of literacy' party talk crap just annoys me. What passes for 'literature' these days holds no interest for me, which is why I return to Manzoni and Rabelais.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read nonfiction as a child? My fondest memories of childhood reading were books about animals (not animal stories, but nature guides, habits and habitats, history of fossil digging, caring for pets, etc.), also history, biography.

Pete said...

I read a lot of non-fiction as a child. Indeed, it's only relatively recently I've read fiction in any great quantity.

Cokesnorting Librarian said...

The first (as in, not the last) emoticon I ever detected in a freshman comp student's research paper helped grease the rails towards a career in librarianship, rather than teaching.

As for HP, I've never read the books, and might very well enjoy them if I did. But I can't separate the product from the hype. Nor can I tell how tens of millions reading what essentially amounts to an 800-page movie treatment aids literacy.

tanner said...

Thank you for voicing what I have been thinking about this Harry Potter phenomenon for years. I do find it kind of interesting that a book can generate so much devotion and hysteria, but I too cannot understand the appeal of reading about schoolboys, sorcerers and wizards. I'll take a nice old-fashioned Harold Robbins or Jacqueline Susann novel any day!

Anonymous said...

rofl ;P
much luv,
hermione

Anonymous said...

Next up, Harry Potter and the Destruction of Literacy. Lighten up, folks! Do Danielle Steel novels contribute to literacy? Nope. How about Stephen King? Sorry. Harold Bloom, in all his curmudgency, can say all he wants. The average person does not even know his name, much less who he is. And they care even less. Face it, folks, we are simply victims of hype. Without the hype, there would be nothing to annoy you. So, Harry Potter novels are not, in your opinion, worth reading. So what? The above mentioned authors are, in my opinion, not worth reading, along with just about every other author who's name frequents the fiction best-seller lists. You say tomato, I say tomahto, let's call the whole thing off.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to be rude, but am I right in assuming you have Asperg'ers Syndrome? plenty of red flags in your blogs

AL said...

I don't want to be rude, but am I right in assuming you have no idea what an apostrophe is for?