Ken Burns’ Baseball, AV archives, and grief

Can I tell you how much this course is blowing my mind? It’s made me revisit so much of my previous scholarship, casting it in a much more positive light – I didn’t realize how much of my nervousness about my landscape research came out of being unsure how to position visual evidence – of course, everyone needs 18 months off their major research project to feel good about it. My first short report in the class, on Ken Burns’ Baseball, was the first thing I enjoyed writing in this program, and confirmed that baseball should continue all year round, so bad things don’t happen in the off-season…

p.s. I have kittens. As all of my previous cats have been named after streets in Los Angeles, I now have a cat named Vin Scully. Her sister’s name is Hope.

I spent an unexpected week off work watching the 18+ hours of Ken Burns’ Baseball, at first keeping it on in the background to temper the psychological shock of a sudden loss. I requested the DVDs from Toronto Public Library two weeks before, which arrived at my local branch out of order, so I watched them as such – moving from TV and couch cocoon to laptop in bed, its chronology folding in on itself as episodes doubled as distraction and sleep aid, with occasional notes tapped out on my phone in the dark. By the time I was able to watch the series in order, I had developed an understanding of Baseball as an archival assemblage, but entirely underestimated its power as a manifestation of American national myth, finding myself periodically moved to tears by its reverent reflections, and with my heart full of longing for the upcoming season. Continue Reading →

Starting the year off right

2016 will be better than 2015. My year ended with a busted foot, bedbugs, losing a good chunk of my possessions, and the sudden and unexpected death of my beloved cat, Wilshire Boulevard. Here she is in a photo I call “Capitalism”. A black-and-white cat draped over the back of an ugly couch. The drapes are hung backwards.Maybe I should properly eulogize her on this blog.

2016 began with a squirrel falling through our skylight. Soon after, a new school year started in the concrete turkey, and it’s kicked off well for me. I’m working on a big web redesign project, exercising the best parts of my brain, in order to make the awesomeness of where I work more visible and discoverable. I’m also working up an article on the violence that Library of Congress cartographic classification & cataloguing rules obscure for a presentation at a Toronto staff library conference this summer.

On the school front, I’ve only got four!more!years! in the MI program as a part-time student, and am happy to be enrolled in Managing Audiovisual Material with Brock Silversides of UTL’s Media Commons, who is letting me write a dream assignment on Ken Burns’ Baseball. I’m taking a data analytics course too, in which I hope to create some geographically-enabled visualizations of American political sentiment with textual data mined from Republican campaign transcripts (sigh).

I am also continuing a research collaboration with Jane Schmidt into the recent rise of Little Free Libraries® in Toronto, a “community-building” project that has raised some eyebrows with us. Stay tuned for more, and keep your fingers crossed that I never see a bedbug ever again in my life.

If I was actually a decent blogger

I’d hope to be half as good as my buddy Netanel Ganin, a cataloguer whose compassionate critical politics shone through in his postings to typically pedantic and argumentative professional listservs I subscribe to. I stumbled across him on Twitter a few months after his name caught my eye, and was happy to see he is also a tuxedo cat parent. Anyways, his blog I Never Metadata I Didn’t Like documents his explorations and critiques of cataloguing and metadata standards, with a wonderful sense of humour. Note that he created an authority record for his cat.