Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I should not be awake...


Sleep seems to be a popular subject in recent library conversations, especially the lack of sleep, for both patrons and staff. Why is this? One theory: barometric oddness. One day the weather may be glorious - warm, sunny, springlike - followed by a day of fog and gloom. Perhaps our bodies and minds are having a hard time adjusting to this. We're more used to the comfortable boredom of rain, rain, rain. All this unpredictability is wearing us out.

There are also germy things getting passed around. It's hard to sleep when your body is waging war with unfriendly bacteria. I went to the doctor yesterday after dueling with a head cold for the last two months. It would recede just enough to make a doctor visit sort of pointless, then come roaring back for a couple of days only to recede once again. It was starting to feel like the cold was giving me a snarky nyah nyah nyah; I finally gave in and asked a doctor to take a look. Yes, indeedy, a mild bacterial infection. Antibiotics are my friends.

Except when they make me queasy, just unsettling enough to interfere with sleep, waking me up every hour or so. I was once again drifting along on sleep's surface (just after 3:00 a.m.) when Ken suddenly said "Everybody out of the cabins!", spoken like a lively activities director (as opposed to Swat Team member.) Since my brain would not let go of it, here I am at 4:30. Just me, a cup of tea, and the blog.

I did something adventurous the other day. I surfed the library catalog in the same way I surf Youtube. I had never just browsed around like that before. Usually I'm on the hunt for something specific, looking for a recommended title or searching for an author, but this time I typed in 'humor' and hit the Subject button. 1,466 hits. Whoa nelly. I decided to do this same hunt in the staff side of the catalog, a nice project for lunchtime, and had a better result. Rather than individual titles, the list was truly subject-based: Humor-American, Humor-astrology, etc. Scrolling down, I came to Humor-books (aha) and went on a mild Holds frenzy.

The first one came yesterday afternoon, The McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes. McSweeney's is a publisher of up-and-coming literature, a mixed-bag of modern essayists, poets, and short-story writers (very mixed, sometimes. Why are so many youthful writers enamored with the F-word? Get a grip, folks.)

Anyway, the book came and it is wonderful, a genre that is self-described as "extremely bookish, verging on terminally nerdy, literary humor." The writing is...funny. I'm having a hard time describing it, so I'll resort to samples:

"The Recruitment of Harry Potter"- a memo from a college coach to his scouting team, planning ways to convince Harry to accept a sports scholarship (for Quidditch.)

"The Earlier Epic Battles of Grendel's Mother" including Grendel's Mother vs. the Manager at ShopRite.

"Ikea Product or Lord of the Rings Character?" - a list of fourteen names. Pick which ones are which.

"Submission Guidelines For Our Refrigerator Door" - this is especially funny if your refrigerator was ever, or is currently, a place to display your child's work (doubly so if you've ever submitted something of your own to a publisher.)

"Possible Titles for Future Sue Grafton Novels After She Runs Out of Letters" - another list. One of my favorites on that list: "/" Is For Slash.

I'd better stop. But...but...there's a letter to Gregor Samsa stating the reasons for the denial of his SSI disability application. There's a transcript from a documentary about Goofus and Gallant, and there's feedback from James Joyce's submission of Ulysses to his creative-writing workshop.

It's a great book.

Overheard on Twitter: Today we paint. Tomorrow, the world!

Next time: something written at a more reasonable time of day. Stay tuned.