Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Squinting in Anger, Not Poor Eyesight

I saw something yesterday on The Ellen Degeneres Show, and just had to comment. She had Darryl Hannah on, who was promoting a board game she "created" called Liebrary. I put created in quotes because the game's premise is pretty old, and Hannah and her friend just formalized the rules and packaged the game.

Liebrary is basically like Balderdash, except Liebrary focuses strictly on books instead of weird words, people, laws, movies and initials. The liebrarian reads the title and a brief plot synopsis of a real book, and the players write fake first lines for the book. The scoring and object to the game is the same as Balderdash. You try to lie as believably as possible.

I think the game would've been better if the players simply wrote fake summaries. The first lines of books are so different and often memorable. It could be one word, a paragraph long sentence or anything. The first lines are supposed to be special. Here's a few first lines with titles to show what I mean, all were gathered from First Lines: A Sort of Literacy Test.

"Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
--Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Once on a dark winter's day, when the yellow fog hung so thick and heavy in the streets of London that the lamps were lighted and the shop windows blazed with gas as they do at night, an odd-looking little girl sat in a cab with her father and was driven rather slowly through the big thoroughfares.
--A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson

Burnett Isaac McCaslin, 'Uncle Ike', past seventy and nearer eighty than he ever corroborated any more, a widower now and uncle to half a county and father to no one ---- this was not something participated in or even seen by himself, but by his elder cousin, McCaslin Edmonds, grandson of Isaac's father's sister and so descended by the distaff, yet not withstanding the inheritor, and in his time the bequestor, of that which some had thought then and some still thought should have been Isaac's, since his was the name in which the title to the land had first been granted from the Indian patent and which some of the descendants of his father's slave still bore in the land.
--Go down, Moses by William Faulkner

--The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

So you see, first lines vary a lot. I don't think the classics are heavily covered in the game, but it's still going to be an odd game to play. I wonder what criteria was used for choosing the books for this game. If they were marketing whizes, the developers would've invited publishers to send in their titles and summaries with a small fee for inclusion, but I doubt that happened.

What made me sit up and squawk was what Hannah said on Ellen. She came out with an eyeglass case, and Ellen commented on it. She asked if it were a purse. Hannah said, "No, they're my nerd librarian glasses."

Nerd librarian glasses.

Oh no, she didn't.

As a glasses wearing library worker, I take exception to this.

Why are they librarian glasses? Is there an ALA stamp on them? Why must they be nerdy? Are glasses inherently nerdy? And if glasses are inherently nerdy, does that mean librarian glasses have to the nerdiest of the nerdy?

The game doesn't have any major distribution deal. You can't pick it up at Target or Walmart. You've got to order it directly from the website, and at $48 (+S&H) that's a pretty steep purchase. The most likely people to seek out this game and purchase it are, you guessed it, librarians. Alienating us by attributing her failing eyesight and ugly choice in eyewear to some disliked antiquated stereotype is a swift way to get her precious game scratched off our X-mas wish list.

She didn't get to put her 'nerd librarian' glasses on, though she tried. Ellen cut her off before Hannah could demonstrate the game and threw it to commercial. I'm hoping Ellen did this because she was as appalled as I was by Hannah's gaffe, but probably they just ran long talking about Hannah's recent trip to Africa.

To even the score, henceforth I'm going to refer to my crap one lens tinted red, the other tinted blue, can't break with a sledgehammer, can't lose no matter how hard I try, three prescriptions too old, coke bottle bottom, spare glasses as my Darryl Hannah specks. So there. Actually now, it'll be much easier to refer to them, previously that other bit had been quite a mouthful.

I guess since I went to the trouble, here's some other things I learned. It seems this is Hannah's 2nd game she has developed. Her first was "Love it or Hate it". You can find a summary here. Frankly, I don't really see how much fun that one could be unless it was changed into a drinking game.

Also the company SimplyFun is one of those companies that throws in home parties like Home Interiors or Southern Living, so I'd be leery of purchasing something from them because they may decide to try and recruit you, but it looks like you could possibly simply purchase the game, unlike those other companies.

*Disclaimer, I think this should be obvious to regular readers, but I like to make mountains out of mole hills. Yes, I know Hannah isn't the spawn of the devil but instead is probably a very lovely woman. I was surprised by how varied her career has been, and I wish her nothing but good will. Her comment was probably just an unfortunate mistake, but it still doesn't change the fact that I don't want her game and what she said just reinforced my choice. Wait, is this still a disclaimer?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding your disclaimer...I'm fairly certain she is, indeed, devil spawn. Just sayin'.

1:21 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Spike said...

The beast! At least she coulda said geeky. Geeky is good, geeky is highly paid and alluring.

7:14 PM, December 06, 2005  
Blogger Katya said...

spike is right -- she could have at least said geeky. I'm going to call my quite nice looking expensive glasses my geeky librarian glasses as I like "highly paid and alluring." :)

10:30 PM, December 07, 2005  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

I suppose geeky is better than nerdy.

Question: Do library people find they like wearing their glasses better than contacts b/c otherwise they get chronic eye infections?

I was constantly having to go to the doc when I wore contacts and started working in library.

1:02 AM, December 09, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See I like being a nerd. I often describe myself, my life choices and certain behaviours in the context of "I'm a librarian, we are nerdy" simply because the attributes of librarianship are so well matched with nerdiness - level of respect for knowledge, levels of obscure knowledge, love of minutiae and above all respect for knowledge.

I embrace my inner (well, not so inner) nerd. I proudly shush those who cannot understand the point of the library and respect it.

7:11 AM, December 09, 2005  
Blogger Spike said...

Interesting thingy about the eye infections and contacts. Seems likely. All that airconditioning and the presence of unwashed students.

the attributes of librarianship are so well matched with nerdines

Yeah but there's also all those dorky, bepimpled, 35-year-old-virgin vibes that go with 'nerd'. All those spotty guys in their parents' basements with computer guts everywhere and questionable persona hygiene.

10:34 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger Spike said...

Make that questionable personal hygiene. I need more sleep.

12:45 AM, December 12, 2005  
Blogger Angel, librarian and educator said...

Hmm, I have always favored wearing glasses, does that make me a nerd now? What is it with celebrities that they open their mouth and there goes their foot? Nerdy librarians? I think there is a fair number of us out there who work diligently and shatter that stereotype on a daily basis. My guess is Ms. Hannah has not seen a librarian or been to a library recently. Then again, given the type of games she designs, I am having questions about some of her literacy skills. And that does not include the questions about her acting skills, as in, does she have any. Anyways, best.

10:09 AM, December 13, 2005  
Anonymous Jessica said...

About Ms. Hannah, did you ever think that maybe she was simply expressing her own insecurities about needing glasses for reading? Another question, if you say that Ellen shushed her before she ever got to put her glasses on, then why was she fiddling with the glasses in one scene, and a split second later they were neatly folded in the case on her lap. Ever heard of TV? I happen to know that the audience did get to play the game using Ellen's own book, and they all also received a free copy of LIEbrary to take home...and were THRILLED! If they hadn't taken so long trying to show Melia's "tie a shoe with my toes" trick you probably would've seen more of what really went on at the studio.

12:13 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

Angel, thanks for checking out my blog! I think Hannah has done some good movies. I liked "Splash" and the "Kill Bill" movies, but no, I don't think she's a master thespian. Hmm, I wonder too if Hannah has a library card.

Jessica, I agree. Ms.Hannah probably does have some insecurities about getting older. She could've just called them her 'old fogey reading glasses'.

As to your second question, I don't recall what you're referring to or what it would imply.

Yes, every person in the studio audience got a copy of the game. I don't know how 'thrilled' they were. They did applaud.

Yes, the lady tieing shoes with her toes did take a long time. I don't know if that 'ran long'. I did say they may have just not had time to demonstrate the game.

Did something I write offend you?

2:30 AM, December 15, 2005  
Anonymous Jessica said...

I wouldn't say your post offended me; I'm simply trying to give you and your readers another perspective. You know there are two sides to every story, and celebrities are just people too. Angel wonders why celebrities always end up with their foot in their mouth. How many "normal" people do you know that can't get a sentence out without offending someone? They're everywhere!

As far as your judgment on LIEbrary, I don't see how you can have an opinion of a game you have never actually played. You said, "I think the game would've been better if..." and then went on to call it an "odd game." Am I wrong? Did you play it at a friend's house and then decide? You also said you don't think the classics are heavily covered, and yet, one of the five categories of books in the game is...CLASSICS. I agree it wasn't the best comment she could've made about her "nerd librarian glasses," but is it really fair to go on and on about why her game must suck? Later, you ask "why are they librarian glasses?" Did you miss the title of her game?!

Continuing on, I don't see why you think the most likely people to purchase the game are librarians. Don't other people like to play games; don't other people read?

My earlier implication about the magic of television referred to this statement: "She didn't get to put her 'nerd librarian' glasses on, though she tried. Ellen cut her off before Hannah could demonstrate the game and threw it to commercial." As I said, the audience did get to PLAY the game, and they (we) were very excited about it. The final cut that you saw on TV did not show this portion.

Your comment about the company that markets her game: "Also the company SimplyFun is one of those companies that throws in home parties like Home Interiors or Southern Living, so I'd be leery of purchasing something from them because they may decide to try and recruit you..." How fair is that?! to pre-judge a company that you've had NO experience with; one that is in its first year as a Direct Sales Party Plan company, and suggest to your readers that they be leery of purchasing from them for fear of a recruit call! Can't your readers decide for themselves? Yes, you can actually buy the game without the SimplyFun mob showing up at your door to sign you up. And anyway, their job sounds like a lot more fun than most out there, so what’s wrong with inviting people to play for a living?

My final point: what makes the game playable is the fact that first lines vary so much. You don't have to be well read to play this game. You only need to be creative.

4:48 PM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Vampire Librarian said...

Woah, Jessica. I take it you were in the studio audience. Congrats. You would be more in the know on how the audience reacted to the game, especially if stuffed happened off screen. I'll take your word that it was received well. I know that the audiences get a lot of free stuff, especially right now with Ellen doing that 12 days of Christmas thing. You must have gotten a nice haul. Cool.

As to why librarians would be the more likely people to buy/receive this game is simly due to the fact the game is called Liebrary. It would appeal to librarians more as a novelty gift or some such like the Librarian action figure, espeically because the game is rather expensive and difficult to purchase as in you can only go to their website or a party to purchase. I'm not saying other people wouldn't want it or be excited about it, only that it would likely be very easy to sell this game to librarians.

What I said about in home party companies is due to my experience with other party companies. Southern Living is very persistent.

No, I haven't played the game. What I wrote was based on what I gleaned from the website and program. If the classics are covered, great. You seem to like the game for the reasons I don't. That's fine.

3:07 PM, December 16, 2005  
Blogger Nike said...

As someone who A) works in a large library, B)wears glasses(very expensive very fashionable glasses too) and C) is studying quite hard to add those lovely 3 letters(MLS) after my name, I take offense at being grouped as a 'nerd librarian'.
Damn sterotypes. Most of the people I work with and for are as far from nerds as can be supposed. Just because we have lots of knowledge doesn't mean we are nerds. Just superior.

5:45 PM, December 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there a reason you all think you're extra smart just because you work in libraries?

10:18 PM, December 18, 2005  

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