Saturday, August 06, 2011

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Texas has had record hot temperature this summer, and we've been in a drought too, so I guess it's one for the record books. At least I hope this doesn't become the norm. I did my yard work early in the week, and to tell you the truth felt a bit of a sunstroke afterward, just sort of a headache. So the next day, I kept it pretty light and decided to go to the library. I found some pretty cool stuff there to, which I'll get to in a minute. The Tyler library is fine, but having lived in Odessa, I compare the two in my head at times. Both towns are comparatively the same size, around 95,000 people, and the libraries are similar in a lot of ways too. I think the Odessa library offered a little more. Both have public computers available, and for this day and age seems almost a necessity. Both have magazines that one can peruse, but I think the Odessa library had a far better selection. You'd think the Tyler library is hurting for funding in comparison. The Odessa library had Rolling Stone magazine, Consumer Reports, all sorts of art magazines, and the assorted newspapers too. Both have a pretty ample supply of DVDs and CDs to pick from, though I think Odessa's might overshadow Tyler's selection there too. What I found sort of interesting was that Odessa still offered quite a few video titles on VHS, whereas I'd think most libraries might have dumped this format. For whatever reason, I still have a VHS, so can still use that media, if I run across something that interest me. I even think Odessa had a bit bigger selection of books to choose from, but one of the bigger errors, I think, is that Odessa even had graphic novels, and Tyler doesn't have any (at least that I could find).

Some might not think graphic novels should not even be in a library, I'm sure some librarians still feel that comics, graphic novels and the like are juvenile, trashy items, and they should focus youngsters, teens, and children on prose. Although I don't get that snobbery. Heck if that's the basis, why have CDs, DVDs, magazines, or newspapers? No, I think if you have a child that's sort of adverse to reading in the first place, if you're going to hook him into the world of literature or reading, comics might be a good way to do that. Yes, they have artwork, but the stories are just as imaginative as any novel. I was amazed at some of the graphic novels that the Odessa library had. They had some Batman and Superman novels, Maus, some Sandman stuff, some Justice League, Conan, Fables, and so forth. But I have to give them top honors for handling The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman. The librarians there are either very progressive thinking, have read the books themselves, or read good criticism on the books. I'd think most librarians would dismiss the very idea of having a zombie book available, no less for children. I understand the attitude, I guess--rotting flesh, and zombies lumbering around wanting to devour the living, who have to blow their brains out just to survive in this nightmare-like world. Sounds grotesque for sure, but heck if you want to hook a young male (and probably a few females) give them something that they'll want to read. And believe me these books were always checked out.

Anyway, enough soapbox, while I was at the Tyler library as I said I ran across a few things. I checked out a book called Draw by James Reasoner. It's a book on the gunfighters of the American West, some of which I've heard of, but there's many here that I haven't. There was a western that came out not long ago, which I wondered if there was any truth in it, called The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. It was a pretty good western, sort of atmospheric in the way it was directed, but I wondered if the events in the film were similar to the history of what we knew about that gunfighter and his gang.

I also found some True West magazine to buy for a quarter, which I'd seen before, but honestly never really picked up or looked at. I thought I'd buy a few just to see what they were about. I also found a rock biography on Grace Slick, who was one of the lead singers of the Jefferson Airplane, which mutated into the Jefferson Starship later on. I never thought she had much of a vocal range (though she could belt out a song, and added nice harmonies sometimes), and I've read even she agrees on the matters of range as well. But I was more interested in reading about the time period, and about some of the other events surrounding the band, etc.

I also found a book on Isaac Asimov titled, Yours, Isaac Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters, edited by Stanley Asimov (his brother). The letters I wish had been longer, granted probably some editing probably would be needed, but as they are, they're scatter-shot on several subjects, and not very in depth. Still as a whole you do get a perspective on Asimov. For example, he talks about his most famous series, the Foundation trilogy, which were written in the 1940's, and then a gap of 30 years before he returned to them (expanding it into a series). In 1964 he stated that he would probably not return to the series as he was a more mature writer at the time in one of his letters, and presently enjoyed writing nonfiction. At the time he was writing a huge work on Shakespeare. However in 1982 due to his publishers insistence (being sort of forced) he returned to the series with Foundation's Edge (the fourth book of a tetralogy). It was his 262nd book, he was pretty darn prolific, and it became his first bestseller.

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Oddly enough, I hadn't thought about the movie, Fantastic Voyage, in some time. Asimov was approached to write the novel adaptation of the movie, which came out before the movie, but he didn't write the original story or screenplay. That said though, there's a letter where he describes some flawed logic, which he had inserted into the novelization, he inserted a half page of gobbledygook to make up for flaw in logic. It had something to do with the climax of the book/film where the miniaturized sub runs out of air. He got the idea to plug up a snorkel into the man's lung (as I remember from the film, he was a famous congressman). He realizes his logic is flawed: How much air can a submarine the size of a bacterium hold? The tiny micro sub would be smaller than an individual oxygen molecule. Basically he figures out that he would have to miniaturize the air as well, before it could be used. Ha, the problems with writing fiction.

Asimov also comments on other SF writers, like which SF writers are a few of his favorite ones, religion, politics, his parents, youth, and memories, traveling, fans, the business side of writing, and many other topics. So it looks like a fun read as well. It appears we won't be getting any break in the scorching temperatures in the immediate future. I guess the best thing to do is to grin and bear with it.

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