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Librarian Blog

Heroes vs. Action Heroes

Have SuperHero action movies killed the comic spirit that spawned them in the first place?
Yes, according to the writer of a piece on the subject in a weekend edition of The New York Times.
The movie versions are chliches, trite embodiments of the same super powers over and over again, all designed to make money not, well, cultural significance.
Maybe action comics from the '50s and '60s were more authentic, more purely incandescent than today's movie of a similar genre. Maybe not. Ask my mother and father. (Only you can't; they died long ago.)
They were not impressed with my all-too-abiding interest in Superman and Batman, et al. They wanted me reading Jack London and the Hardy Boys.
The issue was not action heroes. The issue was the medium: the comic book.
I paid them no nevermind.
Just like I pay no nevermind to reviewers of today who think the Super World is going to heck in a handbasket because of the movies.
Probably not.

They're still reading

Forecasts about the death of books are pretty much just wrong.
The Association of American Publishers just released data from last year. Sales of books for consumers were up about 1 percent in dollar volume. Overall, though, revenue was down about 3 percent.
Ebook sales were down a lot in children and young adult categories. Growth continued in audiobooks.
Paperback sales were strong.
Here at the library, we see fewer and fewer people who want to learn to download ebooks or audiobooks. Maybe that process has gotten easier or people are more adept at trying those tasks by themselves.
Still, it looks as if the doomsayers are nowhere near right. Yet.

I'm stumped

My wife and I used to go quite often to New York City, and one of our first stops was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We would sprint up to the floor with the Impressionists and start where we left off on the previous visit.
We never tired of the exhibits, both permanent and temporary, at the Met.
I can remember only one time that we also made it to the Museum of Modern Art. I guess I'm just not a big fan. And I guess that's because I don't own a modern art vocabulary. I don't understand the context.
So, I'm a little stumped by the front-page article in today's New York Times that says that MoMA is far outpacing the Met in funding, audience reach, etc.
The NYT doesn't say why that is the case.
And I wonder. Is mainstream art just passe? What makes modern art more digestible, interesting and fund-worthy?
I honestly don't have a clue.
Do you?

Maybe no bias

I wrote last week about the financial difficiulties faced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one of the great art institutions in the world.
Seems that the Met is having troubles; the Museum of Modern Art, also a great institiution, is having no such problems.
Why would the Met be facing money issues while MoMA is not? Is there some bias in the art world against more traditional art and toward modern or contemporary art, I wondered.
So, I asked my daughter, Julia, who is a professor of art history at the University of California at Berkeley, about this.
She replied over the weekend: The problem is more mismanagement at the Met. That, plus the Met doesn't charge a large fee to enter, which MoMA does.
So, in alignment with Occam's Razor, the simplest answer prevails: No cultural bias in favor of modernism.

Libraries? In Honduras?

I just returned from a six-day trip to Honduras as part of a medical mission sponsored by Central Texas Medical Center of San Marcos.
Twenty of us went to Pene Blanca, a town in the northern part of the country.
Before I went, I thought I might have time to see if there was a public library in Pene Blanca.
I didn't. We were busy day in and day out providing medical care to residents of tiny villages in the highlands far away from Pene Blanca or any other bigger city.
I didn't see any books at all, much less a library.
What I did notice: Even in the villages, a lot of mud houses had satellite dishes.
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