Monday, August 31, 2009

Thoughts on the ALA Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights

I recently visited the ALA Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights webpage for one of my library classes and it got me thinking about a lot of aspects of library procedure that I've seen in the news recently. "Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials" included this paragraph:

"[P]arents—and only parents—have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children—and only their children—to library resources. Parents who do not want their children to have access to certain library services, materials, or facilities should so advise their children. Librarians and library governing bodies cannot assume the role of parents or the functions of parental authority in the private relationship between parent and child."'

This got me thinking about the And Tango Makes Three controversy that's been going on for the past couple of years. And Tango Makes Three has topped the ALA's most challenged books list for a third year in a row(1) and there continues to be controversy about this title. Recently a parent in Maryland has even tried to get her school board to mark this book with a red dot to warn parents of its controversial nature(2). This, of course, brings up the "Restricted Access to Library Materials" policy as well. The stance of the ALA on these subjects makes me proud to be a librarian in training.

The section "Evaluating Library Collections" reminded me of a rather amsuing blog that I've been following called "Awful Library Books." I think that it's important that libraries do not attempt to censor any material, but there are a lot of books out there that are just plain out of date and need to be replaced. I think it's important that libraries provide access not just to information, but to up-to-date and accurate information. At the very least I think a lot of the books on the website should be moved to the humour section!

I think that the section "Privacy" will play a crucial role in how libraries potentially use the Google books project. Several groups, including the ALA, have voiced concerns over the current privacy policy (or lack thereof) of the project(3). Based on the sentiment of library workers that I've talked to I think this could be a deciding factor in whether some libraries use this technology or not.

Overall I think this is a great resource from the ALA. It's good to be reminded of how ALA policy relates to all of these issues.

1. American Library Association (2009, April 16). Attempts to remove children’s book on male penguin couple parenting chick continue.

2. Bloom, D. P. (2009, November 22). It takes two to vilify ‘Tango’ -- book ban brouhahas picking up speed.

3. Helft, M. (2009, July 23). Advocates ask google for privacy guarantees in online library. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review of Glut

Glut by Alex Wright is basically about how people have categorized information throughout the ages, with an emphasis on how libraries have traditionally organized information. Overall while there were a few interesting bits of information that I gleaned from it, the book was too broad for me to really find interesting or useful. Except for a few passing references the book was also largely biased towards western Europe, and once the timeline got around to the birth of the United States, it was largely biased towards America.

One part that I did find interesting, however, was the part discussing the monastic art of memory and specifically the difference between memorizing facts and actual wisdom. To me it seems like this is one major way that the internet has changed learning. I'm too young to know what the education system was like before computers firsthand, but based on books that I've read written in previous decades or the past century it seems like the modern education system puts a lot less emphasis on memorizing by rote and more emphasis on analyzing information. Maybe this is partly due to the fact that we're in the "information age" so that it would be impossible to memorize everything that a person needs to know just to get along today. It's probably also partly due to the fact that it's so easy to look up information now that there's no need to memorize it. Recently when I've been hanging out with my friends and one of us can't remember something someone will just whip out their i phone and look up the answer immediately. Tools like Wolfram Alpha are making it even easier to look up basic facts. I know I've had teachers who have said something to the effect of "Don't bother memorizing the dates--you can look those up on wikipedia. I want you to be able to tell me the event's significance instead."

I think one of the most beneficial aspects of the internet is that it puts a whole lot of facts at your fingertips so that you don't have to memorize information. Now you can spend the time that you previously had to spend in memorizing something or looking something up drawing connections and thinking critically about the information instead. I think that libraries play an important role in this. I almost never see people use encyclopedias or dictionaries anymore because it's easier to look up basic facts online. Where the internet can often be lacking, however, is in intelligent analysis of those basic facts, and with more information available every day I think people need more help to make sense of all of it. This is where I think libraries can really help by providing books and articles that have gone through some sort of publishing or peer-review process to ensure its accuracy. What I've noticed in student presentations is that students have more information readily available, but they often have difficulty distinguishing the good information from the bad. (In one of my theatre history classes I remember a student got in an argument with my teacher when the teacher objected to her claim that there were cars in the Elizabethan period. She kept on pointing to some pages printed from the internet saying--"it's written right here!")

Overall I'd give this book a 3 out of 5 stars. If you know almost nothing about the subject, it might be a good introduction, but it was much too general for me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summary of "Academic libraries: 'social' or 'communal?'" for LIBR 200

In his article "Academic libraries: 'social' or communal?'" Jeffrey Gayton explores the use of academic libraries as a communal space and how the recent trend of converting libraries into a social space is detrimental to the communal environment.  Gayton defines communal space in libraries as a place where students and faculty can go to quietly study next to others engaged in similar activity.  He argues that introducing noisy, non-library related areas is detrimental to this type of activity not only in the sense that it uses up finite resources in terms of funds and space, but also in that it is difficult to properly separate these spaces and they are, by nature, incompatible.

To support his claims Gayton uses data that show that among libraries that have recently undergone renovation, libraries that devoted more space to traditional library use experienced higher increases in gate counts when compared to libraries that devoted more space to social areas such as cafes.  Gayton also cites surveys that show the appreciation of students and younger faculty for communal library space.

I chose this article because in the academic library that I currently work at they recently announced plans to add a cafe to increase gate count. As it turns out the cafe is not going in after all because the announcement was made previous to approval by the health and safety people, which fell through.  I was opposed to the idea from the beginning (but nobody listens to a lowly student assistant).  Space concerns on campus have lead to several departments moving into the library and taking over space that was previously study space for the students.  The cafe would have gone up in an area that is currently one of the few remaining designated "quiet study areas."

As a student assistant with access services I spend a lot of time in the stacks shelving or paging books and based on what I see on a daily basis what Gayton is saying makes sense.  I have often been asked by students where the best place in the library is for quiet study and I always see a lot of students making use of the study carrels when in the stacks. There are complaints if someone makes noise in areas designated for quiet study.  During finals week there is never enough study space, so I'm concerned over how much it has diminished over the past couple of years.

Gayton, J. (2008). Academic Libraries: "Social" or "Communal?" The Nature and Future of Academic Libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 34(1), 60-6. Retrieved August 25, 2009, from Library Lit & Inf Full Text database.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nil: A World Beyond Belief

At comic con I went to the SLG booth looking for more of the Rex Libris comics by James Turner that I bought there last year. Unfortunately they didn't have any loose-leaf comics, they only had a second bound collection. I would have bought this, but I had already bought over 2/3 of the comics in this collection in loose-leaf form at comic con the previous year, so I couldn't justify it to myself. Thankfully this lead me to buying another graphic novel by James Turner, Nil: A World Beyond Belief.

As much as I love Rex Libris (come on, what's not to love about a librarian who travels to other planets and dimensions in search of overdue library books?) I loved Nil even more. From the moment I checked the back and saw that it was a satire I was excited because nothing makes me happier than a good satire. When I bought the book and the cashier asked if I was an English major, I knew it was another good sign (My English major roommate testified that I was an honorary English major even if I got my degree in Theatre). By the time I started reading the book and a character responded to someone asking how he was with "We are surrounded by fools and incompetents! They are everywhere. Considering their ubiquitous nature it is a wonder society has not already collapsed." I was in love. Oh James Turner, you know how I like it!

Nil is about a man living in a society of nihilists who becomes a fugitive and ends up on the front lines in the war against optimists. It's ridiculous and fantastical and that's why I love it. My favorite part is Turner's attention to detail. He populates the land with political posters and the like that lends an amusing sense of reality to this shamelessly unrealistic land. My favorite was a poster that read:

"The Way of Nature: Nature evolves through extermination, but our modern technological society, with its tradition of tolerance, liberty, and diversity helps keep millions of stupid, incompetent people alive. Help us restore the balance of nature and kill a stupid person. Return to nature. Eat your neighbor."

It had a giant smiley face on it. Delightful! If you found that poster as hilarious as I do, then this is certainly the book for you.

Summary of "The Family That Facebooks Together" for LIBR 203

For this assignment I read the article "The Family That Facebooks Together" by Douglas MacMillan. The article talks about online networking sites like Facebook that include special applications and features for families to connect with each other as well as sites like cozi that are specifially designed for such interactions. The group calendar and to do lists that are available at sites like these are apparently particularly popular. On Cozi it is even possible to drag items directly from ads on the site into a family shopping list. I thought that this was a particularly clever move on their part. Sites like these seemed interesting and I can see how the shared shopping list and calendar would be useful for a family that lives together.

MacMillan, D. (August 6, 2009). The Family That Facebooks Together...(INTERNET). Business Week Online, p.NA. Retrieved August 15, 2009, from General OneFile via Gale:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

LIBR 203:Personal Skills Assessment

Based on the assessments that I took (Is Online Right for You?, San Diego Community College, and eLearners Advisor) I am definitely ready to begin class work in an online environment. The SDCC survey concluded that I am "ready for online learning" and I scored a 97% e-Learning compatibility factor at the eLearners Advisor website. I use computers often at work and in my personal life. I bought a new laptop last year so that I've had time to get used to all its functions and I am very comfortable with it. I've also taken several online courses in my undergraduate career and have done well in all of them. I think this is because I am very good at setting deadlines for myself and sticking to them and I have excellent reading comprehension skills.

I think Ken Haycock made some good points in his colliquia about team work. I was a theatre major in undergrad, so I gained a lot of experience in working in teams. Putting on a play is a huge collaborative effort, but that's one of the reasons it's so rewarding. A lot of excellent ideas will come up in production meetings that individual designers or directors would never have thought of on their own. I think Haycock's discussion of the five dysfunctions of team was very interesting. Based on my experience trust can be especially important in team work, especially in theatre where so many things can go wrong in a live performance. That's why so many troupes take time to do specific trust-building exercises.

Enid Irwin also had a good point when she talked about how important attitude can be when working on teams. I've definitely had encounters with people who exemplified all of the "disastrous behaviors," but I've noticed that positive attitudes in teams can be just as infectious as these negative outlooks, so rather than letting these "disastrous behaviors" pull me down I try to lift the persons displaying these traits with encouraging words. I hope I'll be able to apply some of what I've learned working on a production team to my online classes to help create successful teams.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fahrenheit 451

The Ray Bradbury panel got me thinking about Fahrenheit 451, which I read about a month ago. I read it in a day, it was actually the same day as my last day working at The Book Shop before the owner sold it and retired.

I miss The Book Shop, I had some good customers there and I certainly miss the employee discount, but what I miss most is hanging out with the owner, Hank, gossiping all weekend. What more could I ask for than good books, good company, and good gossip!

My last day there was particularly odd. About an hour before the shop was supposed to close the lights turned off and Hank couldn't get the landlord on the phone to turn them back on so we just closed early. It was the last Sunday in June and it was sweltering hot. I started the book at work, then finished it after going out for ice cream while I was lying on my bed with an ice pack on my head because we don't have air conditioning and I was trying desperately to cool down. All together, I think it was a pretty good setting for reading this book.

Despite the number of 'classics' that I've read and loved I'm still surprised when I read one that truly engages me and keeps me turning the pages. I guess society's prejudice that classics have to be time consuming works that require serious concentration and thought to appreciate is just too prevalent to be avoided. I immediately fell in love with Clarisse, and I soon began to be absorbed by this story of a dystopian society in which people who owned books were outlaws. I think it was Bradbury's biographer who pointed out in the panel that with ipods and blue tooth the idea of people being constantly bombarded with noise and distracted by 'seashells' seems more relevant than ever.

I'm not going to bother with a full review of the book because I'm pretty sure that everyone out there knows it well enough. I would, however, like to briefly talk about a few passages that stood out to me. The first is one of the best arguments that I've found about why printed books will survive the kindle:

"Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You’d find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more ‘literary’ you are. That’s my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies. "

I think that more than anything else this is why books will survive. Because there is a physical quality and weight and smell and feel to books that can never be replicated by the pristine slickness of electronics. The kindle will never replace the books I have from my grandmother with her hand-written notes in the margin and yellowing pages and creased spines. They will never replace the books we got at The Book Shop with old pictures shoved in as book marks or inscriptions like in my copy of Time Traveler's Wife: "Passion & Obsession. The one thing you cannot live without is love. Never stop believing." dated February 14th, 2006. I bought the book in June of 2007. If that's not a perfect reminder of reality to accompany a romance novel I don't know what is! I'm not naive, I know that e-readers are becoming more and more popular and that they won't disappear any more than physical books, but new technology rarely entirely replaces the old. Some bands still come out with vynil versions of their albums for goodness' sake!

The second quote seems particularly apt to me considering the times that we are in.

We are living in a time when flowers are trying to live on flowers, instead of growing on good rain and black loam. Even fireworks, for all their prettiness, come from the chemistry of the earth. Yet somehow we think we can grow, feeding on flowers and fireworks, without completing the cycle back to reality. Do you know the legend of Hercules and Antaeus, the giant wrestler, whose strength was incredible so long as he stood firmly on the earth? But when he was held, rootless, in midair, by Hercules, he perished easily. If there isn’t something in that legend for us today, in this city, in our time, then I am completely insane."

I work as a Student Assistant at a CSU library, and we just had our first furlough day today. Of course the library couldn't close if classes were in session so we opened with half staff and no other offices open to refer students to. We've also been closing an hour earlier every day than we did last summer, and it will only get worse before it's over. I just graduated from there in fall, so I'll have to find a new job soon. The job hunt hasn't been particularly encouraging so far because most libraries, as state-funded institutions, simply can't afford to hire any new people right now even if other people leave. I know we'll survive this economic down turn because, well, what choice do we have? But it makes me wonder how much damage we'll be doing in the meantime by cutting the funding and services at our schools and libraries.

The last quote is a bit more optimistic:

The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching…The lawn cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime."

I'm starting grad school for my Masters of Library and Information Sciene soon and it's quotes like this that make me glad that I am, even though tuition is killing me! I truly believe that as a librarian I will be able to touch people's lives and make them better. We all have a responsibility to help in the way that we are best equipped for, and the more I work in libraries the more I feel that it is where I belong. I know that a lot of the patrons may just be looking for a book to finish their report that they waited until the last minute to start, or even just looking for the restroom, but even if I touch just one person's life in my whole carreer I'll feel like my time at library school was well spent.

P.S.If you want a tangentially-related laugh, check out this comic.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

LIBR 203 Assignment

Originally I wrote a post about Good Reads for my LIBR 203 assignment and why I find it to be superior to Library Thing and Shelfari. I spent quite some time writing this post...apparently too much time. When I clicked the button to preview my post I got a message saying that the connection had timed out and I had to log back in. When I did so, the post was lost. That's what I get for cheating on google. I had been spoiled by blogger automatically saving my posts every few seconds. Like most of google's products Blogger has a an easy interface and is user-friendly with ridiculous amounts of storage space so that you don't have to delete items that you later need and you never lose more than a few seconds of your work. I use gmail, google reader, blogger, google docs, and the calendar among others. They all work together so that when my boss e-mails an event from his computer using outlook to my gmail account it automatically updates my google calendar. I can also check all of these easily on my google homepage, which also has useful tools like weather forecasts. I like to have the forecast for both my hometown and the town that I currently live in because I like to torture myself over why I moved away from a place with such idyllic weather.

Well google, I've learned my lesson, and I promise it won't happen again! I'm currently writing this on my blogger account: I suggest that you write your posts somewhere that saves automatically as well, such as a word document, and then copy and paste it to the SLIS life blog when it's done. Please, learn from my mistakes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Comic Con '09 Saturday

Saturday we got at the convention center a little before nine. The convention center hadn't opened yet, so we were sent up an escalator where we were told we could find a line to get in to the exhibit hall. We then narrowly avoided being sent into a line for the Masquerade, and were then directed back down some stairs to outside the convention center, where we were told to wait until the exhibit hall opened. Yes, this was only a spot a few yards away from where we were originally instructed to head up the stairs. When we found someone with a fancy-schmancy walkie-talkie who seemed to know what she was doing she received several garbled and confused responses and told us that we were sent back down in error, but by that time the exhibit hall was so close to opening we might as well just wait where we were. I think it was, in reality, about another half hour before we were let in, but at least we weren't technically spending a third morning in line--technically we were waiting in a blob.

When we got in we high-tailed it to the WB booth where we obtained one of the coveted WB bags that are about as big as I am with a fancy extra hole for posters. They were actually the least exciting WB bags of the whole week, but my sister seemed excited just to possess one of these badges of honor.

We wandered the exhibit hall for a bit longer collecting freebies and checking out the merch. I went to David Malki's booth, where I got him to do a free sketch for me and bought copies of his Wondermark Manor books, which he signed for me. I will review them when I finish, but I have already read a some snippets and love it so far. After all, my love of victorian literature is only surpassed by my love of parodies. I had already bought a steam-powered heart shirt from him on preview night for the guy I got to cat-sit for me while I was in SD. It was well-recieved when I returned.

After wandering the exhibit hall Laura and I showed up early for the James Jean panel. Apparetly we were too used to waiting in line for Hall H because there was no line and we ended up getting there a panel and a quarter early. So we sat through the end of a panel on the latest Dune book during which we discussed how authors who don't actually come up with any ideas of their own and merely piggy back on the works of others are the parasites of the writer community. Unfortunately they are also among the better paid of the writer community because people love the familiar and are reluctant to leave their favorite worlds even when they go downhill faster than a Jamacian bobsled team.

Next was a panel on cartoon syndication that was atually pretty interesting. Stephen Pastis was one of the panelists, and I love him because he is punny. Someone asked him about his occasional use of characters from other strips during the panel, to which he was able to respond that during the time he spent as a lawyer before becoming a cartoonist he learned a little something about fair use. Although the panel was interesting and funny at times I still don't see why more cartoonists don't just go the online route, especially considering the statics they cited during the panel with syndication companies getting thousands of applicants a year and only one or two being picked up a year. One or two a year! Then again, I've probably just been listening to webcomics weekly for too long. I don't actually read newspapers any more anyway.

The panel on James Jean was wonderful. He showed us a power point presentation of over 200 slides includin pictures of him as a little kid and works in progress, etc. He was very frank and open, but he still seemed a bit shy. Someone asked him about how he balances a social life with his painting and he replied that his house is known as a productive place among his friends and they'll come over and hang out and paint etc. He said that this works pretty well, although he said that he certainly doesn't spend his time clubbing.

Next up was the Ray Bradbury panel. We go there early, of course, and ended up sitting through a panel on Green Lantern: Blackest Night. I'm not even going to try to talk about it here because I know if I do somehow one of the people who waited in line to ask ridiculously detailed questions about the DC cannon will find my blog somehow and correct anything I write. While the panel was a bit interesting it was not altogether enjoyable as a couple that was fond of pdas and eating smelly tuna in crowded spaces with poor ventilation was sitting next to me.

The Ray Bradbury panel started off a bit slow as Bradbury's friend and I assume PR person took over and made a bunch of annoucements about things that Bradbury is supporting right now while Bradbury sat there mute. Luckily that didn't last forever and Bradbury had brought a tape of him being interveiwed by Walter Cronkite on the night of the moon landing. He was apparently scheduled to be on another show that evening, but he felt that the host wasn't honoring how important the night was and was filling it with cheap entertainment and jokes instead. When he finally heard the host introduce the next guest as one of America's cultural treasures (or something to that effect) he thought he was being called up, but the host finished with Englebert Humperdinck. Bradbury had enough at this point and walked right out of the studio and apparently defected to Cronkite. After the interview he was so excited that he just walked back to his hotel all the way across London looking up at the sky, an activity that took most of the night. When he saw the tabloid that morning it read: Man walks on moon at dawn Bradbury walks at midnight.

The panel continued with questions and answers which resulted in more wonderful anecdotes, that weren't always entirely on topic. However, Bradbury's official biographer was there and was sure to step in with precise answers to questions when this happened. My favorite anecdote was one towards the end when someone asked Bradbury for advice for writers. Bradbury replied that you should only write what you want to write. He then told a story about when he wrote the screenplay for his first movie. The studio wanted him to take the story in a direction different than the one he wanted to go. Bradbury replied that in one week he would give them two scripts, one the way he wanted it and the other the way they wanted it and they could choose the one they wanted. He told them that if they chose the wrong one they could go to hell. A week later they chose the right script and as Bradbury says it wasn't a great movie, but it was a good movie, and it was the story that he wanted to tell.

We stayed in the room because Myth Busters was going to be there that evening, and we wanted to have good seats for it. We saw the Human Target panel and the Vampire Diaries panel as we waited. Both consisted of the first episode and a Q & A. Human Target looked good, but I'm not a big action fan, so it wasn't my thing. The Vampire Diaries panel spent most of the time emphasizing the fact that it is based on a book series that came out before Twilight, which I can understand because there were certainly a lot of similarities. We were sitting in a group of people waiting for the Watchmen screening after Myth Busters, so we mostly just laughed at the capmy lines and made snide remarks. It turned out to be fairly entertaining making fun of it with these strangers. My sister told me that there were actual fans of it in the back, though. Then again, the show does seem to be aimed at pre-teens, so it's not surprising we found it a bit immature.

The Myth Busters panel was a lot of fun, and the crowd response was amazing. I was excited to see everyone else so excited about a skeptical show like that with at least some basis in science. Then again the crowd at Comic Con isn't exactly representative of all of America. The people who asked a question got a signed roll of duct tape. This wasn't announced, but I was sitting next to the question-asking mike. I don't remember much else about the panel because I was pretty tired by that point. I need to find a quiet corner somewhere where I can take a power nap midday during a lull in panels to maximize my Comic Con endurance. It's not my fault...I blame genetics!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Comic Con '09 Friday

Friday we showed up at around the same time we had the previous day to wait in the line, but we were able to get in easily despite the fact that the first panel on Friday started one hour earlier than it did on Thursday. It's amazing what a difference a lack of a Twilight panel made! This meant much less sun-burning from waiting in line, which is always a plus.

The first panel was Warner Brothers, which included a wide variety of films. The first one was Where the Wild Things Are. The clips that they showed us looked pretty good, and the kid that plays Max showed up. He was adorable! It was his first time at comic con, and the kid did pretty well-6500 people can be intimidating for Hollywood actors that aren't actually used to a live audience. Actually he handled it much better than many of the adult actors I saw. He read notes off his hand and told a couple of cute anecdotes. The first was about a phone conversation he had with Maurice Sendak on his birthday where Sendak told him that he thinks the movie turned out pretty well and that he hopes everyone likes it and if they don't they can "go to hell." The way this kid said it was pretty cute. The second was about how the director likes to try to get actors to show "real" emotion instead of acting (cough because Hollywood actors are spoiled and hired for their looks rather than acting abilities cough) and I guess in one of the scenes this kids was supposed to be surprised. So, without warning the kid the director arranged for a giant flame to shoot up during the shot to get a genuine reaction out of the kid. I'm not sure how I feel about these methods, but the story was amusing regardless.

The next movie was The Book of Eli. The movie didn't particularly interest me because I'm not a huge fan of the action genre, but Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman showed up for the panel and they were hilarious! At one point they made a joke involving role playing with each other, I'm just going to leave it at that. You could tell that they were both fairly intelligent and really believed in the movie and had fun working on it with each other. It was a huge contrast from the New Moon panel.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was next and the guy who played Rorschach is playing Freddy in this new version. The old Nightmare is actually one of my favorite horror movies along with Scream because I love the sense of humor that Wes Craven brings to these movies. They have enough scary points to make it fun to watch at a sleep over and scream with your friends, but there's comic relief in there as well and it creates a nice balance. Freddy scares you, but he can also make you laugh, and that's why I love him. Plus, the original has Johnny Depp, which can only be a plus as far as I'm concerned. I was disappointed to hear that this new movie is going to take out the comedy element, according to the panel, and make it more of a straight horror movie, although at least they said that there weren't going to make it another gore fest.

The Box was next, and it looks pretty good. It's directed by Richard Kelly, who directed Donnie Darko, and it stars Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. All three of them were there for the panel. The plot of it is what really piqued my interest. It's based on a short story by Richard Matheson and basically what happens is that a couple is presented with a box with a button on top. They are told that if they push the button, two things will happen: they will get a million dollars and someone, somewhere, who they don't know, will die. It's the simplicity of the premise that I love. There's so many ways to justify something like that, I mean there are billions of people on Earth and at any moment a lot of them will be dying anyway, you could easily convince yourself that one more won't matter and that you'll give part of the money to charity so that some good comes out of it to justify it. But in the end, you are responsible for a person's death and it seems to me that it would almost be worse if you didn't know who it was because then whenever you hear about a person dying that day you won't know if that was the one you were to blame for. I would imagine that a million dollars can disappear surprisingly quickly as well and with that button still there, would you do it again? All of this is just speculation based on the simple premise they gave us, but I love the fact that even without seeing the movie I already have this much to think of and debate!

Jonah Hex was next. I was not very impressed with it mostly due to the presence of Megan Fox. She broke the trend of most the actresses who had shown up to panels of not wearing much make up and dressing fairly casual. I almost felt sorry for her because some of the guys who asked her questions were pretty obnoxious, but she seemed to be eating it up. I guess it could have been an act, but she kept rubbing her arm and fixing her hair and stayed for photos longer than the rest of the cast, so if she was acting it was the best performance I've seen her give. I took this opportunity to use the restroom.

The last movie in the Warner Brothers panel was Sherlock Holmes. As much as I feel reticent about the amount of action this movie seems to have versus the amount of logical deduction based on the trailers let's face it: with Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr. I'm going to see it anyway. Robert Downey Jr. actually showed up to the panel and he was wonderful! Rather than having some one from the studio come out and introduce the clips at the beginning and then bring the actors on one at a time afterwards Downey just walked onstage at the beginning of the panel without any introduction and set up the clips himself. Afterwards during the Q & A he seemed to take on the role of moderator and he definitely stole the show. He was able to turn even the most inane question and comments into something entertaining. His wife is one of the producers, and you could tell that they both really believed in the project and did a fair amount of research on it. Rachel McAdams showed up as well and I enjoyed her on the wonderful Canadian TV series "Slings and Arrows" (which you should watch if you haven't already) and I'm also excited about her upcoming role in Time Traveler's Wife because I loved that book. Overall I felt pretty jazzed about this movie by the end of the panel.

Next was the Disney Animation Panel. They showed us a teaser for Toy Story 3 and announced that they'll be coming out with Toy Story 1 &2 as a double feature in 3d and that sounds pretty good. I am a Toy Story fan. I was even more excited that they'll be coming out with Beauty in the Beast in 3D on valentine's day 2010. I realize that they're milking the 3D craze for all it's worth, but I don't care. Even though 3D doesn't do much for me because I am so not a visual person I'm excited just to get to see it in theatres again. The first time I was pretty young and inconsolable after the Beast turned into the Prince. To me the prince was a spoiled brat and at that age I didn't understand why Belle might prefer someone a bit more her species. I saw it at a mall with my family and my Aunt and Uncle from out of town and they tried everything to get me to calm down, even bringing me into the toy shop and I just could not be mollified. They showed us the entire first song at the panel in 3D and I was excited, although a bit sad that this wasn't a sing along panel as well.

The new movie announcement was for The Princess and the Frog. I wasn't excited about this movie before the panel, but I am now. Apparently this movie marks Disney's return to hand-drawn animation as opposed to computer as well as the return of the Disney musical! I love musicals! They showed us some clips from the movie including a song and it really did have an old Disney vibe and I'm very excited about that.

I have a lot of friends who hate Disney because it "ruined" whatever treasured fairy tale from their childhood, but these are often the same people who love Gregory Maguire. Hypocrites the lot of them. Robin McKinley or Maguire will put their own twist on a fairy tale and everyone says how wonderful and there's even a fairy tale retold genre out there, but for some reason Disney can't put their own style on it. These are fairy tales people even among the written versions there are huge differences between say Perrault and the Grimm brothers telling of a story, and thousand of more versions that weren't written down. They are fluid. There is no one "correct" version. That's why I love them so much, and I think that's why a lot of people love them, including the ones who hate Disney for "ruining" them. Let me tell you these stories have been used by so many authors they don't have any virtue left to protect. Yes, they do put happy endings on the end and cut out the part where Sleeping Beauty is raped, but these are made for kids, and kids should be able to believe in happy endings-they have plenty of time for cynicism when they grow up--trust me. In my opinion the mark of any great artist is that they do have their own distinctive style. You can say that you don't like that particular style and that's fine-it's personal preference, but Disney did not "ruin" these stories. If you want to hate Disney there are far better excuses that you can come up with.

The last movie on the Disney panel was Ponyo, which I am the most excited about because I love Miyazaki--and he was actually there! He spoke through a translator, so it took a bit of time to do the Q & A with him, but he made it worth the wait. My two favorite answers he gave were to the girl who asked him why he has so many female leads in his movies, to which he responded "Because women are strong and beautiful" Oh you silver-tongued devil! The other was his response to the obligatory "where do you get your inspiration from?" question to which he responded: "I'd tell you, but after each time I forget" He won the inkpot and was presented with it at the panel, and that was nice to be able to see. He asked if he could actually use the ink in it.

The next panel in Hall H was for the movie 9. Tim Burton showed up because he's producing it. Elijah Wood and Jennifer Connelly are doing voices for the movie, and they were there as well. During the con this movie had a cute promotional gimmick where they had girls (and one guy that I saw) pass out post cards containing pictures and bios of all 9 characters. Each girl only had cards for one character, and they had that number on their back, and they wandered the con passing them out so there was a bit of the collector's vibe to it, which is a smart way to go at comic con. The movie itself looked really good based on the clips because everyone loves a post-apocalyptic flick, and I love the idea of "stitch punk."

After the 9 panel we wandered the floor a bit, picked up the goodie bags that we got tickets for at the WB panel from their booth, and went home. We were pretty tired already and knew we had more long days ahead of us, and none of the remaining panels particularly interested us.