Thursday, December 13, 2018

Portrait of Librarian

This morning, one of the first grade students presented me with a picture she drew of me:

The front shows my face

And on the back, I am shown reading a book

What a wonderful way to begin my day!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Hold Your Man

*******SPOILERS INCLUDED***********

I finally got sit down and watch Hold Your Man. I've been wanting to see this movie since I first heard of it, in highschool! I remember asking to inter-library loan it at our local library, and they weren't able to find a VHS copy of it. It was difficult to find on DVD for a long time too, because there's not much demand for little-known pre-code films to be transferred onto various types of media, each time a new format becomes popular. 

I am guessing that streaming video is making these types of old movies easier to find and view, and I hope that it is also giving them a renaissance by allowing more viewers to discover them, but maybe that's too optimistic of me.

Anyways, Hold Your Man is another film that pairs the King of Hollywood with Jean Harlow. I've always liked their on screen chemistry. Clark Gable (pre-mustache) and Harlow always seemed like two puzzle pieces that fit together. He usually played a gangster or conman, and she was never duped by his crooked smile and smooth words, playing more than a few tricks of her own. Harlow oozed sensuality, with her bedroom eyes and her filmy dresses and satin robes, and she often played a character who is well-known to more than a few men, but because of her cherubic face, viewers know there's more heart to her than she lets on. Despite her bleached blonde hair and her pencil-thin eyebrows, she still managed to look innocent and vulnerable, that is, when she wasn't a wise-cracking tough cookie.

The first moment she appears on screen, she's in the bathtub.  Conman Eddie Hall (Gable) busts into her apartment as he's evading some policemen. 

She screams and covers herself, emerging a moment later in a black satin robe. In just that introduction, the pre-code characteristics of the film are evident: the audience catches a glimpse of her bare body, and afterwards she allows him to change clothes in her apartment, after they've only known each other for five minutes. She hands him a robe from her closet and he remarks "Hey, this a man's robe!" In 1933, an unmarried lady would not have had a man's robe in her home.  .  .unless she was more like a Lady of the Night.  .  .and she also would not have had numerous photos of other men hung up in her bedroom.

She also would not be chatting casually with a shirtless criminal, as she wears nothing but a satin bathrobe, in her bathroom.

One of my favorite things about watching classic films is how I am able to interpret history through the story's lens.

For example, in the beginning of the film,  conman Eddie is lamenting a scam that wasn't as lucrative as he'd hoped, and his buddy says "What a waste of a Depression- you can't tell a banker from a bum", which isn't difficult to figure out, given the 1933 setting.

Furthermore, after Ruby (Harlow) is sent to a women's reformatory, one of her roommates begins ranting about the brokenness of a social class system, saying "We don't do anything that debutantes don't do, but you don't see them in here", and one of them women calmly explains "She's a communist."

Communists were kind of a self-contained group, but the Great Depression led to an increase in enrollment for this political party, as many people wondered how an economy that was so prosperous in the previous decade was now failing them. Later, when this woman's sewing machine breaks down, she rants again that "all machines are broken", and declares that machines are responsible for the Great Depression.

While in the reformatory, Ruby discovers that she's pregnant. This is a HUGE pre-code indicator, because Ruby is not married yet. 

The film takes its title from a song that's played throughout the story. Here's a clip of Jean Harlow singing it:

Something I particularly enjoyed about the story is that the preacher who marries Eddie and Ruby is black, and Eddie expresses his gratitude and appreciation for the man's kindness. Clark Gable never understood the division of people based on skin color. As a child growing up in Ohio, he was known to play baseball with any boy. When I visited the Clark Gable birthplace and museum a couple years ago, the guide told a story that he and some friends hitchhiked on a train to play a game with another group of boys in a neighboring town. When they arrived, the boys they met said they wouldn't play ball with blacks, so they just got right back on the train and headed home again, rather than leave out anyone.

Gable also made his disgust known over the Academy's rules, when Hattie McDaniel, the first black woman to receive an Academy Award, was not allowed to sit at the table with her co-stars, but had to sit alone at a table in the back of the room. Even that had been a compromise, since the nightclub had a strict no-blacks policy. Gable had wanted to boycott the ceremony and not attend, but McDaniel asked him to go, for her.

The story moves along quickly, and it has a happy ending. I would watch it again

Sunday, December 2, 2018

No Place like Rochester for the Holidays

I haven't had much time to write lately, which is why my posts are so few and far between. I am finally getting around to writing about a couple things from Thanksgiving break.

We usually stay in NH for Thanksgiving,  and travel for Christmas, but this year we swapped our plans, and spent Turkey Day in my home city.

I had school the day before Thanksgiving, so that night we just drove to Albany, and then arrived at my family's on Thursday.

We were able to try some new things while we were there, including ther now-famous Dill Pickle Pizza. The little pizzeria Rhino's had been in operation for over a decade, when they were inspired to create it. The crust is covered in a garlic cream sauce, and cheese, and then topped with slices of dill pickle. They're not out of a grocery store jar either- the ones that top the pizza, and delicious, old-fashioned style ones, and of course the pizza is sprinkled with dill seasoning.

In August of 2018, the Dill Pickle Pizza went viral. I saw it all over Facebook before I even realized it was from Rochester, NY. I am glad to report that it IS worthy of all the attention, and I plan to make it a regular tradition now on my trips (just like Garbage Plates).

One night, I actually went out on a date! (It's OK, it was with my husband.) We went to a couple places for drinks, including Fifth Frame Brewing. I tried the Thrift Store Recliner (chocolatey with peanut butter flavor).

On our drive back home, we made a little stop in Seneca Falls. Seneca Falls is believed to be the basis for Bedford Falls, in It's a Wonderful Life. 

There's a museum dedicated to the film there which we visited, and of course we took a walk on the bridge, too.

Being in the museum reawakened my drive to watch more classic films. It's a great feeling when you can reclaim some little part of yourself that felt like it was slipping away.

I've been so busy with my new job and all the new responsibilities that come with it, and now all the stresses of the holiday season, that I hadn't been able to indulge in some of my favorite activities, like working on dollhouses or finding a classic movie to sit down and watch and analyze.  .  .

In my next post, I'll discuss one of the movies I watched.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Christa McAuliffe Conference 2018

For the second year in a row, I volunteered in the collaboratory makerspace at the annual Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference. Last year, my art journals were featured as one of the projects.

This year, I decided to try something a tiny bit more technology related. I have been reading the non-fiction book Zombie Makers with the 3rd grade classes, and we've been discussing scientific terms like host, parasite, mutate, spore, etc. The book is about real life 'zombies'; bugs that get infected by parasites, and stop acting naturally, because the parasite gains control over their nervous systems.

As a STEM tie in, they are going to create cardboard mazes for my 'zombie' hex bug. He was a special order from Amazon; he comes with his own coffin.

I named him Hector Salamanca!

Not only do I have a zombie hex bug, I made my own hex bug! I removed the head of a (new) toothbrush, bought a micro motor from Amazon, and attached a small battery to it. It's my first attempt with any kind of robotic, and it's very temperamental, but when it started moving I was like:

I also brought some art journals along, since so many people liked them last year.

The keynote speaker this year was great, and I attended his session on Digital Citizenship at every grade and got some great ideas and resources.

I also attended a session on Cyberbullying and Teaching Kindness, led by Carol Todd. Carol is the mother of Amanda Todd, whose video on YouTube went viral after she died by suicide in 2012. The story of how this teenage girl was targeted, sexploited, and bullied is pretty infamous now, and her mother uses the story to educate students, parents and teachers. If you're not familiar with Amanda's video, here's a link to a reputable copy of her original, sponsored by Suicide Prevention LLC. The video can be upsetting to some people, which is why I did not embed it into my post.

The makerspace had alot to offer, as well. Upcycling t-shirts, weaving with branches, using toilet paper tubes to make funny characters, and a Cricut machine were some highlights.

The best part about this year? My husband got to come, too!

His school had some tickets for the conference, and since there was a whole session on using digital history resources in AP classes, he decided to check it out.

It wasn't really a day 'off' but the change of scenery was great for letting me recharge my battery a little.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

First Snow Day of the Year

I haven't updated in weeks, so here's one in honor of an important annual holiday:

My first snow day of the year!

 It's always exciting. I was up and ready to go, putting together an outfit for the day, when the phone rang. I'm really glad that I don't have to drive to/from school in all the snow, worrying the whole time, but I'm a tiny bit disappointed because I had some good plans for the day that I've been thinking about for a while.

The 4th grade has been doing a whole unit on Native Americans: first they got divided into different tribes (ones that were native to our state) and they had to claim a territory ( a part of the library) and design their flag. The next week, they had to set up trade lines with other tribes, using stickers that represent resources like corn, fish, medicinal plants/berries, animals, and goods brought over by European settlers. They are really enjoying it. Today was supposed to be the first marriage, to create an alliance between 2 tribes. The kids have been asking about the marriage part for weeks, giggling every time. I had the whole thing worked out, using dice to determine which tribes would be united.

I was also supposed to go observe another class, because the teacher has been coding with her students.

Speaking of observations, I had my first official teacher observation last Thursday. I didn't realize what was happening at first, but when I did I started to get pretty nervous. The students in the library at that time were working on a STEM assignment. They had requested the week before to try something new, and making cardboard mazes is not costly or too complicated for a first try.

I had my post-observation conference yesterday, and it was pretty good. I know there are some things I will do differently next time, but the students were so engaged and working well together, that my supervisor and I were both satisfied. It's a huge load off my mind, and now I can use the Thanksgiving break to re-charge.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Happy Halloween!

****I forgot to post this yesterday******

It's my favorite day of the year! It's a holiday devoted to eating candy and not being yourself!

This year, I decided to be Practically Perfect in Every Way (definitely not me!).

In case you don't get the reference, I decided to channel the most famous British nanny ever.

This costume came together so easily and naturally. My friend gifted me a bunch of leftover fabric a few months ago, and in the bag was this navy blue skirt with black velvet trim. It turns out she used to do traditional German dancing, and this was part of her costume. I didn't know that traditional German dancing was a thing, but I knew it reminded me of Mary Poppins!

From there, I looked for a white blouse at thrift stores, and I think I paid $1.50 for it. I already had the stockings, the shoes, the black blazer and my husband loaned me the red tie. I got the carpetbag suitcase from a local antique store (with a gift certificate) and I bought the hat on Amazon for less than $10.

So this costume cost less than $12!

I wore it to school on our designated Dress Up Day, and I was impressed with the number of students who guessed it. I also wore it to Ghosts on the Banke, and as soon as I walked in the door, a little girl came up to me tell me how much she liked it.

Now I am making it a point to read the stories by PL Travers.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Biography Project Complete!

I went back to YMS yesterday afternoon. It was a little strange to be back in the building, but I was really glad to make the trip. I had to return a library book that I had for four months (yikes- how embarrassing!) and there were a couple odds and ends I left behind. I received warm welcomes and hugs from the teachers and administrators and students. I miss some parts of that job, mostly the people, but I know I am doing some good work at my new school.

I recently accomplished one of my goals; I rearranged the biographies. Instead of just one big shelf that says 920 Biography, I organized them into smaller sections and gave them all their own space on some shorter shelves. I hope this will make them more accessible, and also look more appealing. Here are a few of the labels I made for the different categories:

As for other projects, I continue to weed the collection, and the other day, the Tech. Recycling Company came to take away all the old TV's and overhead projectors that were taking up space. 

Sometimes I wish I had taken the steps for Alt 4 certification sooner, rather than waiting five years to start, but I don't know if I would have been ready before then. I learned alot at YMS about what libraries should be, and how they should adapt to best serve the school community. I also learned what my own preconceptions about libraries and literacy were, and how I can be more flexible.