Little Free Library: Sin Bins


Little Free Libraries was blowing up on twitter the other morning. Like any good blogger, I followed the trend, albeit hesitantly. I thought to myself, Oh good gahwd, what are the lefties up to? Why do you believe it’s the lefties and aren’t you a lefty, what would your friends say? Well, because only lefties could find the faults with and complain about Little Free Libraries. It’s probably that they are only in “well off” neighborhoods or have uncurated collections. And yes, I am on the left side of things, but I’m not a silly goose and I think my friends would agree. Even the more conservative ones. They may think I’m destined for hell, but at least I’m not a silly goose.

It turns out I was right, about everything. I clicked Little Free Libraries and was mystically whisked away to a land* of buzzkills. “They are only in affluent neighborhoods where there is no shortage of books,” and “they are just random piles of books,” some people with presumably nasally voices and a penchant for 1950’s British Comedy said. There were others that basically said the same thing. Then, I found patient zero. A blog post from a librarian in cahoots with another librarian.

They had more arguments that seemed to get stuck on the words, “free” and “library.” That a Little Free Library isn’t “free” and costs at least $130, if not just south of $1000 – for the true narcissistic philanthropist – to build. In fact, the author of the post said she spent $600 on her own Little Free Library, so she could conduct her study. As for “library,” well, libraries offer many services and have more books. Which is actually where the word free should come into play, but it was well spent on the dollar amount of the construction price. Perhaps if we called Little Free Libraries, Little Non-Taxpayer Funded, Subsidized, or Affiliated with the Government In Any Way and Therefore Non-Curated Pile of Random Books, it would clear up most of the argument. Put them in “less well-to-do” communities and book deserts and we’re done.

I’ve seen the Little Free Libraries near me thrive. Just because it’s in a good neighborhood doesn’t mean people have money to buy books or have the energy and schedules that facilitate trips to the two libraries that are within three kilometers. People of the community rally and continually trade books back and forth. One’s used Dan Brown is another’s Margaret Atwood.

Let’s take a page from The Politicians Hand Book for Arguing Good: A Table Flippers Guide to Appearing to Win Any Argument By Having The Whoops and Chortles of Your Lemming Followers Drown Out Your Opponent – I picked it up at my local Little Free Library. “If one isn’t in favor of Little Free Libraries, then that person wants people to simply throw away old, unwanted books. Mountains of outdated and ancient** texts will appear at landfills. As these books break down, the pulp and ink will strangle sea turtles. (Allows for gasping and bleats of fear.) And if they don’t want you to throw them away, I don’t know, maybe they want you to burn them, like Nazi’s. (Give’s time for cheering to subside.)”




**From the eighties.

Go Set A Watchman: There and Should We Really Have Gone Back Again?

For months now Go Set A Watchman is all it seems readers can talk about. Although, with the juggernaut of marketing behind it, it isn’t too hard to believe. Part of me really wants to read it. I am all caught up in the hoopla and want to be part of the herd. The more purist and respectful side of me keeps those actions at bay though. I mean, there is an overwhelming situation. She wrote this book before To Kill a Mockingbird, she never published it or any other book. Do you think at eighty-nine she was like, “Shit I need more money, I should publish that first draft of my classic and only published book that has sat somewhere for the last fifty plus years?” There was even a court case where her mental capacity was scrutinized, in order to see if she did possess the mental faculties to actually put this whole publishing whirlwind in order.

I really want to read it, but I don’t think I can. I remember when I was little watching the Wizard of Oz. As a resident Kansasan who lived thirty minutes away from one of the Wizard of Oz museums, I was a big fan. Then Return to Oz came out and fucked my shit right up. I have only seen that movie once in my life and that was probably enough.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have known the movie was screwed from the beginning when usually angry and creepy Fairuza Balk was cast as Dorothy. The story itself was a mash-up of the some of the books and overall much, much darker than the original.

Everything is destroyed, from the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. Instead of flying monkeys, there are Wheelers, humanoids with wheels instead of hands and feet. In the place of the Wicked Witch of the West, there is Princess Mombi. Who, not even a minute, after meeting Dorothy is like Hey you wanna go check my hallway full of female heads? followed by Check out my cool trick, I just swap my head out like some women change shoes! Not to mention that all the characters I loved from the first movie are either no shows or too different from the original. I was five or six at the time. Maybe if I had had a double of Jack with my popcorn I could have processed the whole thing better.

Even though I can have a drink now, I don’t want the same thing to happen to me again. She didn’t publish that book for some reason. Mostly because her editor apparently asked for a re-write that would become To Kill A Mockingbird. Basically, Go Set A Watch is a first draft that was almost completely rewritten. It isn’t canonical, it is a time travelling paradoxical mishap. A subtitle could be To Kill A Mockingbird: The Darkest Timeline. Characters are completely different, things that happen in To Kill A Mockingbird haven’t necessarily happened in Go Set A Watchman.

Why she never picked it back up and wrote it as a true sequel, we may never know. Whether it be that she wanted to avoid the sophomore slump or because it just wasn’t as good as the first, it doesn’t matter. Our perspectives of Atticus and Scout are about to change. Something seems fishy, but with the amount of money being thrown into the marketing of this book none of us seem to smell it or can at least tolerate it.

Another Article, Another Print Books Are Dead Headline. Part Three: YOLO! Unless You Are J.R. Ewing or Books.

(Continued From) 

  Look e-readers and tablets are great. I have one and I love reading on it, but there are still books I buy in physical format. I still go the library and check out print books. Why? Because they are cool! Print is here to stay, people like it. The smell, the feel, the look. All those covers and the way books on shelves make you look smarter than you really are. The pile by the couch and the one on your nightstand. Books will get you laid, yes even Dragonlance if you enjoy a challenge.

  Books are freaking books they are the ultimate form of the written word. We started out on cave walls and moved onto stone tablets, then papyrus. Huge freaking tomes that were all handwritten by monks who never had sex because they had to spend all their time writing. Then we got the printing presses and yes, the books were still big and only rich people had them. Then movable type came along and books started getting smaller and more accessible. Already by that point, more than just rich and privileged were learning how to read.

  This isn’t unlike home video that leapt from its own stone tablet like reels of the movie theatres and into VHS cassettes. Which was sort of similar the smaller and more portable books. Then of course there were DVD’s followed by Blu-Ray. They weren’t really any more portable, just better than the first version. Like getting better print, better bindings, moveable freaking type. Plus, all that happened in under fifty years. Humans as a whole didn’t have time to get thoroughly attached to them. Books have been around a lot longer. They are entrenched in our blood.

  Now both books and film are both on digital format. Which is great because I can go on a three hour flight and have one hundred and thirty books and seventy movies with me in one spot. I don’t have to make the decisions like the rich people did before their journey to the new world and limit my luggage to only one hundred books. Isn’t technology grand? No decisions, no regrets, YOLO!

  Rollerblades didn’t kill bicycles. Calzones didn’t kill pizza. CSI: Miami didn’t kill CSI. However good taste and the war on drugs killed disco. And a cataclysm infected meteor killed the dinosaur. Look, the best you doomsayers are going to get – if you get anything at all – is a situation like the shooting of J.R. Ewing, print books being J.R. and epubs being the shooting sister-in-law. Where killing the best thing about your world turns out to be a terrible idea and sets off some boring and bizarre events. Ultimately, it will turn out to be just a horrible dream. All will be corrected in about eight months, book time.

Another Article, Another Print Books Are Dead Headline. Part Two: Elf Boobs and Bastard Swords.

(Continued From)

  When you woke up, you were older and more sentient. You knew everything, particularly what you liked. Elf boobs and bastard swords! You had started reading Choose Your Own Adventures and Goosebumps. Started hanging out with the twins, maybe the Majeres, could have been Sweet Valley High. Damnit if both sets of twins didn’t have a lot of books. All of which looked great on your shelves. The Majeres were all about big muscles and bad attitudes. Regardless if you were the suavest wearer of braces and Z. Cavaricci’s on the planet, the minute the ladies saw those books, you were stonewalled. Something your parents knew all along. Which is why they kept buying you all those Dragonlance books. They were nothing if not the last line of defence in protecting your perpetual virginity.

  You moved out. Maybe you went to college, maybe your parents were crushing your rock n’roll dreams, maybe you just moved out. Either way, there was probably a box of books you took with you. A box that taught you to lift the legs and not with the back. In that new place, your first place away from your parents, nothing felt right. There was too much empty space. Then you unloaded the box onto your shelf and you felt better. Heck, you were home.

  You had roommates who also brought their heavy boxes of books. The weird kid who brought Pratchett, the gothyish kid who brought all the Ann Rice, the english major who brought a lot of shit you had never heard of. You all started trading and swapping. Learning about other works and worlds you had never heard of.

  Maybe you met the one and started to cohabitate. You started getting more money and a burning desire to live with less roommates. Either way, you got more books. Now you had more than one box, but you had it under control because you knew to lift with your legs. “Fahkenbok!” You breathlessly grunt through clenched teeth as you try desperately to not have your spine unravel as you carry the final and heaviest box up the stairs.

  Years pass. You had to downsize or had so many books you were running out of space. Reading is a hard thing to give up, so you get an e-reader. Maybe you held onto your books, at least some of them. You could still always pick up the rare print book. The one that completes your collection. There is always the library, which is like the best bookstore on earth. It’s like shop lifting, but with a return policy. Besides, how many of those damn Dragonlance books do you really need to own? Are you quoting from them? Referencing them in relation to dealing with issues in your own life?  Unless you have a sword, the ability to cast fireball, or know a real life hill dwarf, you may have issues practically applying such problem solving methods.


Another Article, Another Print Books Are Dead Headline. Part One: The Cynic and The Fox.

 Oh fuck me, here we go again, for the umpteenth time. I am sorry for the opening, but there is just no other way around it. Another article by somebody forcing someone to write something they don’t want to. Quota is quota. Got mouths to feed! What better way to kick start an article than to become an authority and declare something near death. Like vinyl, painting, or trans fat and the people that eat it. However, this article was about print books.

  I am sure we have all seen articles like this. The ones that are waving goodbye to print books while adjusting the e-reader’s settings to look more like paper. In my opinion, Jane Austen is more sepia than umber and Clancy is soul sucking black against pupil nuking white. I am not some hermetical luddite who doesn’t own a few e-books. I have many and I enjoy reading on my tablet. I am just really tired of reading about the impending doom of print books by death dealing epubs. Yes, I know I don’t have to read the articles, but sometimes I just can’t help myself. I thrive on frustration and disappointment. And this isn’t about me, this is about books. Real, honest to google books made of paper.

  “Children’s books on a tablet?” I ask while I wipe down my whiskey soaked bar with what appears to be an old grimey rag. “Well that sounds like fun.” I answer as I ring out my whiskey drenched rag, revealing that it is magical and turns whiskey into sarcasm. Punctuating my sentence. Allowing my bar to be thoroughly soaked once more. Albeit this time in sarcasm.

  I can see how some children’s books could use the tablet and amp up the interactive experience. Going places books couldn’t go before. A few traditional kid’s books on the old tablet couldn’t hurt either I guess. It could be fun and I sincerely mean that, but there is something important we are missing, something vital.

  Don’t you remember being a kid? You had books on your bookshelf, they were big and small. Some fat, some tall. You got a lot from your grandmother and some from the bookstore in the mall. You loved them equally though, one, two, three and all.

  They looked great on your shelf. You would get excited just by looking at them and thinking about all the wonderful worlds and characters they contained. You’d grab a book that was half your size, hugging it in both arms and drag it to your designated adult reader. Drop it on the ground, pitch it up on the couch. They would give in and let you pick one more book from your pile before bed. Remember that paper smell? Remember the feeling of the paper as you would turn the pages? Crackle crackle, oh the sound. Remember drifting off to sleep?


Embarrassment As A Weapon

 I went to my local comic book store today to pick up Southern Bastards #5 and Rasputin #1. Both of these books are fantastic, but not what I want to talk about. After grabbing both books, I strolled around the store. Allowing Deadpool the chance to seduce me into buying another book. That didn’t happen, but something just as humourous as Deadpool did.

 There was a boy, around fourteen, studiously crouched by collectible card games case. His mom was keeping herself occupied by The Walking Dead section.

  She saw some of The Walking Dead figures, they must have been Kubrick’s. “Oh, look! Lego Walking Dead!” she exclaimed with genuine enthusiasm. Little did she know the shot she just sent over her son’s bow.

  “Those aren’t Legos mom!” Said the kid in an I-shit-you-not stereotypical paradoxical tone that only teenage boys can achieve. Windy long notes with staccatos. Emitted from the chest, through the neck and out the nasal passages.

  “Well they look like Legos.” She replied with a hint of who gives a shit, mixed with the realization that the likelihood of marriage and grandchildren from her child were slim unless we, as humans make really, really good robots.

 “Well they aren’t.”

 “Well they look like the ones we used to buy you.” A mother’s nostalgic plea for acceptance and love.

 “You never bought us legos!” Refusal! Years of Repression. Not cognisant of the fact that his mom has brought him to a comic book store and will bank roll his purchase.

  There was a long pause. My beard hidden grin, began to sulk. She took stock of the situation and used it to her advantage, in an all-out loose the canons, filled with shot and silverware volley. Ship to ship combat. No prisoners were taken.

 I have no idea what metallic click-clackering-thingy-ma-jig she knocked over as she assumedly glared at her son with a coldness that would turn Manco’s[1] testes into a bow tie. Whatever it was, it hit everything on the way down. Two boxes fell off the shelf and hit the floor with thumps that could be heard throughout the store.

  “Oops, oh my,” feigning clumsiness with a shit eating reptilian smirk. Here in the nerd haven. Here in front of an older nerd holding two Image published books[2]. Here in front of a female employee. She had destroyed her son with embarrassment. Leaving nothing but blackened capsized hull.

  I wanted to grab Batman #497[3] and wave it in his face as I danced around him screaming “Boom! Roll a saving throw against that shit!”

 “Hurry up and pick out what you want.” She said with humble victory and love for the defeated.

[1] Clint Eastwood’s character from a Few Dollars More.

[2] Which mean as far as nerds go, he is one of the cooler ones.

[3] Yes I had to google it.

By Odin’s Beard, Thor Is A Girl!

  Who hasn’t heard the news. Thor is getting a sex change. I don’t know why. I don’t care how. I’ve never really cared about Thor. And I believe there-in lies the reason.

  Don’t get me wrong. I think it is great that Marvel is seemingly brazen enough to change a character’s gender or swap out the actual character itself as the case may be. Especially with the internet and rampant fanboyism so eager to collectively express its butt-hurt. It just doesn’t seem like enough though.

  I just have three questions for Marvel. Why not a bigger character? You know who I am talking about. Iron Man and Spider Man are both easy to switch.  An additional suit, another radioactive spider. My second question is, why not promote an already established character?  There are so many woman in the Marvel Universe that are just waiting for a full set of looser fitting, fully encompassing clothing and the chance to be taken for more than sexy ass kickers. Finally, why not a Black Widow movie? The Guardians of the Galaxy got movies. I had no idea who those Eh-holes were two years ago. Ant Man is getting a movie. I can’t believe I live in a world where that phrase can be muttered and people care.

  I think they whole idea is cool and current. I just think that women deserve more. I hope that this switch kick starts something bigger. I hope the writers at Marvel really do something fantastic with opportunity. I am fairly certain that they will. Honestly though, this was announced on The View. Why wasn’t the Black Widow movie announced instead? Demographics much?