1. National Treasure: Nicolas Cage

    July 1, 2016 by lindsay

    IMG_6138In October 2015 my first book came out. The book is about Nicolas Cage and it was published by ECW Press’ Pop Classics series. National Treasure: Nicolas Cage is my investigation into why people like me think Nicolas Cage is the best actor of our time while others think he’s the worst, or that the only way to appreciate him is ironically. I examine his acting style, his choice of roles and his memedom to come to the conclusion that he is an experimental actor in the shape of a Hollywood star.

    Since the release of the book I’ve been honoured to be included in the National Post‘s 2015 top 99 books of the year list (I’m number 86), and to be awarded the gold medal in the Pop Culture category at the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards.

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    When the book was coming out I was contacted by VICE.com deputy editor Chris Bilton and we met up to talk about our mutual obsession with Nicolas Cage. The result was a short segment for Daily VICE and an interview for VICE.com in which Bilton called me a “Nicolas Cage expert”:

     I was stoked to find out that the latest edition to ECW’s “Pop Classics” series (which already features the impressively argued It Doesn’t Suck: Showgirls) was a book about Cage called National Treasure: Nicolas Cage. In the book-length essay, fellow traveller (and fellow Torontonian) Lindsay Gibb endured around 70 of his films to lay out an extended defence of Cage’s brilliance, explaining that he’s essentially an experimental actor, who treats all of his roles—even ones in generic Hollywood failures—as opportunities to push the boundaries of the art of acting.

    I also spoke with Open Book and Metro book columnist Sue Carter about the making of the book and why I think critics are largely wrong about Nic Cage. From the Metro article:

    In the introduction to the book, Gibb writes, “Having to constantly defend something you like can make you love it more fiercely.” She dismisses critics who have an unwavering bias against Cage and his on-screen antics.

    “There are definitely writers who have a certain take on him — he’s a second-rate actor that’s always going to chew the scenery,” she says. “People have their set opinions, and don’t let his performance influence their opinion. They’ve just decided he’s the worst. And then there are people like me. I’ll always find at least a nugget in his not-so-great films, and see something interesting.”

    Thanks to these articles — as well as inclusions in gift guides on TIFF.net, on Canada AM and Digital JournalI’ve heard from Nicolas Cage fans from other parts of the world. NicCagepedia (a zine from Madrid) contacted me and conducted an interview for their second issue, and American podcasters Joey Lewandowski and Mike Manzi asked me to join them on a couple of episodes of their show #CageClub, which chronologically went through one Cage movie per episode. (I’m now guesting on their new podcast #KeanuClub which does the same with Keanu Reeves’ films.) 

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    If you’re ever in need a Cage expert, you know where to find me.


  2. Writerly Blog Tour

    August 28, 2014 by lindsay

    Relevant to my interests.

    Relevant to my interests.

    A lot has happened since the last time I posted. I started working full time at OCAD University, heading up a new e-reserves system integration and cataloguing zines(!!). I left my long-held position at Broken Pencil magazine, which I thought would be a very painful process but was actually quite freeing, creatively. I did a number of other fun projects and events, but the biggest thing has been my book deal with ECW Press. I’ve never written a book before, but this October I’ll be completing the first draft of a book about Nicolas Cage.

    I’m back at the blog because I’ve been asked to take part in a “blog tour” where writers share their projects and process with each others’ audiences. Thanks to Suzanne Alyssa Andrew — who I recently reconnected with after working with her at Broken Pencil many years ago — for asking me to join this tour. We recently met up to celebrate and commiserate over the writing process, so it’s fitting that we should share the experience of this blog tour now.

    So here it is, my answers on the Writerly Blog Tour:

    What I’m working on.

    I’m writing my first book; a non-fiction book about the duality of Nicolas Cage. Cage is a divisive actor who audiences seem to love and loathe in almost equal amounts. My book is part of ECW Press’ Pop Classics series which is dedicated to looking closely at elements of pop culture. Other books in the series have and will include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Twin Peaks and the film Showgirls. My book will examine the ways we look at Cage.

    It is at once strange and fitting that I’m now writing a book about Nicolas Cage. I come from a background in writing about film and filmmaking, but I have spent most of my writing career writing about independent arts and culture. So writing about a famous and very mainstream actor like Nicolas Cage is somewhat out of character for me. However, I’ve also been (very publicly) fascinated with Nicolas Cage for years. Since April 2012 (after TIFF’s retrospective of Nicolas Cage’s work ended) I have been running a film club with friends where we watch one Nicolas Cage film each month. Through curating and running this film club I have developed a bit of an obsession with Cage which is reflected online, where my friends have taken to sharing every Nicolas Cage thing they see with me (thank you, it’s helping with my research now!).

    I’m still in the process of completing the first draft, but I’m looking forward to working with my editors Jen Knoch and Crissy Calhoun and seeing what it’s like dissecting Nicolas Cage with editors.

    How does my work differ from others in the genre?

    It depends on what genre you think of. If you think of the recent genre of snarky articles about Nicolas Cage, it will differ by not being snarky. I will still be critical, but I’m not going to take easy (and not particularly thoughtful) stabs at the actor for his choice of roles (though I may make fun of his clothes a bit).

    My contribution to Static Zine.

    My contribution to Static Zine.

    Why do I write what I do?

    I’ve never been able to bring myself to write about things that aren’t my passions. So I’m always carving out ways to write about my interests. That usually leads to very narrow choices of places to publish, but I’m much happier writing about zines and Nicolas Cage than I would be writing about finance or fashion. (See a combination of my key interests pictured to the right.)

    How does my writing process work?

    I usually make a schedule and then end up doing the same thing, which is struggling to focus all day and then writing all night. I can’t write during the day, particularly when there are other people around who I could potentially be talking to rather than writing. I’m a night writer. I get my best work done when the world seems to be asleep, my brain has calmed down for the day and I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

    I’ve also learned that I’m good at writing on planes. I’ve done this once (last year, on my way to China) and the result was this article (which I think turned out pretty good). This worked because there’s really nothing to do other than sleep, read or watch movies (wait, those are all my favourite things to do…). So I guess I was motivated to write by the reward of sleeping, reading or watching a movie when I was done. And it was nice not to just do one of those things for the whole 17 hours on board.

    Next up I’m tagging my awesome, prolific friend Natalie Zina Walschots and the conversation starter, Anna Fitzpatrick. I love and admire their work, so I’m really looking forward to visiting their legs of the “tour.”

    Visit previous tour mates: Rebecca Rosenblum * Julia Zarankin * Maria Meindl * Ayelet Tsabari * Angie Abdou * Kathy ParaTheodora Armstrong * Eufemia Fanetti * Janie Chang * Lorna Suzuki Barbara Lambert * Matilda Magtree * Alice Zorn * Anita Lahey * Pearl Pirie * Julie Paul *Sarah Mian * Steve McOrmond * Susan Gillis * Jason Heroux * Heidi Reimer * Suzanne Alyssa Andrew


  3. Buzzfeed Loves Libraries

    July 24, 2013 by lindsay

    550602_288191337948709_275075010_nBuzzfeed Books always seems to pull out something that makes all the librarians I know share the same list, but this month the site has really been showing libraries, and librarians, a lot of love. Here are three recent lists published in honour of libraries:

    49 Breathtaking Libraries from All Over the World

    30 Things Librarians Love (I have a weakness for numbers two, six, eight and 16)

    19 Vintage Photographs of Stylin’ Librarians

     

     


  4. TPL’s Alternate Reality Game

    April 7, 2013 by lindsay

    I love independent creators, libraries and integrating alternative media into library collections and programs, so when I heard about the Toronto Public Library’s new game created to accompany Keep Toronto Reading and themed around TPL’s “One Book” — Fahrenheit 451 — I was excited.

    I was most excited when I heard it was created by Jim Munroe. I know Jim through my work at Broken Pencil magazine, and his many endeavours including No Media Kings, video game arts group The Hand Eye Society and his various books, films and video games. Given Jim’s interests and activities, it wasn’t surprising to hear that he was behind KTR 451, a game that asks library patrons to call a number and follow instructions to take part in an alternate reality game (ARG) — which Jim describes as “part scavenger hunt, part audio drama.” The voice on the other end asks you to find books in the library and participate in a science fiction story that will continue until it culminates in a live event on April 22.

    I talked to Jim about how he got involved with TPL, why he thinks games are an important addition to the library and how other systems might attempt a similar project.

    How did you get involved with the Toronto Public Library on this project?

    Jim Munroe: I was chatting with them about a potential partnership with the Hand Eye around International Games in Libraries Day. There wasn’t enough time to get that together for last year (this year looks likely though), but at the end of the meeting they mentioned they were thinking about something interactive, maybe even a game, for Keep Toronto Reading. When I heard what book it was — Fahrenheit 451, probably the biggest reason why I write sci-fi novels myself — then I begged to pitch something to them. So I showed them two possibilities, an interactive ebook prototype and an ARG, and we decided to go with the latter.

    Why do you think media such as this is an appropriate undertaking for a public library?

    JM: From the library’s perspective, it’s a different method of engagement. I hope that it’ll explore the books themes in an interesting way and get people into the library (physically and otherwise).

    How did you go about putting this together?

    JM: I’ve designed about a dozen games, and one that also integrated audio drama, so the basics were pretty straightforward. I had to learn some new PHP and internet telephony tricks. I had weekly check-ins for a few months with the TPL so they could [give] feedback, and at the end I had several playtest sessions with strangers in libraries.

    What advice do you have for people who want to get their home libraries working on projects like this?

    JM: As far as advice, I would say that you kind of have to start with an open minded library system. If they’re looking to expand their programming and believe interactive has cultural value, then that’s a good starting point. The TPL has been amazing to work with in this regard.

    *     *     *

    KTR 451′s first mission is available until the end of the day and then the second mission begins on Monday, April 8th. For more information about Jim’s other projects, or to put him in touch with your local library, you can find him over at No Media Kings.


  5. Freedom to Read Week at Dorothy H. Hoover Library

    February 27, 2013 by lindsay

    In solidarity with this week’s Freedom to Read activities, I helped to create a banned book display at the Ontario College of Art and Design University’s Dorothy H. Hoover Library.

    Inspired by the popular “Blind Date with a Book” concept, we wrapped banned or censored titles in craft paper and wrote the reason it was challenged on the outside. Students can check out a mystery book based on keywords such as “foul language,” “sexually explicit” and “insulting to humans.”

    Students who don’t have time to read a book can still participate through our Censorship in Conversation wall. Along with the books, we also wrapped the pillar behind the display with craft paper so that students can contribute by drawing and writing their thoughts and feelings on Intellectual Freedom.

    Click the images below for a better look at the Banned Book display and the accompanying Censorship and Intellectual Freedom book collection.


  6. The Home Libraries of Librarians: Darrell Joyce

    February 23, 2013 by lindsay

    My second home libraries of librarians profile subject is Darrell Joyce. Darrell is a an aspiring public librarian who is currently working on a multicultural collection development project for Oakville Public Library. The project, which is part of his practicum with the OPL, involves researching the city’s multilingual demographics and making recommendations for future multilingual collection development strategies. Due to graduate from the University of Toronto’s iSchool this spring, Joyce is also a virtual reference intern with AskON and a Co-chair of the Faculty of Information Student Council’s Social Committee.

    Darrell’s home library organization may be visually chaotic, but it is well considered. Using the deep Ikea Expedit shelving (pictured below), his books are shelved two rows deep to conserve space. While Darrell calls this organization scheme “hectic/eclectic,” he has the entire collection catalogued using LibraryThing, a $15 CueCat scanner purchased from the LibraryThing website and his iPad.

    “I group my books mostly by subject or interest area in my own little schema,” says Darrell. “So, all cookbooks are together (whether published or handwritten), books for copy editing/writing and librarianship are together, English literature, medical, religion, history/culture, [and] a growing pile of random books ‘to be read,’” he explains.

    The latest addition to Darrell’s arrangement is a cabinet that houses his “Buddhist/Zen/Eastern spiritual book collection.” Pictured at the top of the page, the cupboard on the upper right is the home of his Buddhist and meditation book collection. The rest of the shelving unit serves as storage for his craft and art supplies, but Darrell was inspired to create a separate space for his Buddhist and Zen books. “On the top is my Buddha statue, some original prints from a new children’s book that I fell in love with (The Wildwood Chronicles) and some altar trinkets and representations of various elements of nature,” he says.

    “I really want to minimize my stuff so I’ll be weeding my book collection over the next six months as I read more of the books on my shelf and donate them, keeping my cookbooks, editing and library reference books, and getting rid of fiction books as I read them.”


  7. South Carolina Library’s Graphic Novel Banning Controversy

    January 4, 2013 by lindsay

    Last month the director of Greenville County Library in South Carolina made the decision to ban Alan Moore and Jacen Burrow’s graphic novel Neonomicon from the library system. The book, which was released in 2011, was challenged in June by library patron Carrie Gaske after her 14-year-old daughter borrowed the book from the adult section of the Hughes Main Library.

    Neonomicon is a horror comic about FBI agents investigating cult murders that are connected to writing of HP Lovecraft. The comic, which was the first recipient of the graphic novel prize within the Bram Stoker Awards, contains violent sexual imagery, including a women being raped by a fish-man.

    In a letter of support written by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the organizations defend the position of the book in a library collection stating “Removing it because of sexual content not only fails to consider the indisputable value of the book as a whole, but also ignores the library’s obligation to serve all readers, without regards to individual tastes and sensibilities.” The groups defended the disturbing sexual content as a commentary on how such subject matter is handled in the horror genre. They also caution that the removal of books based on violent sexual content could potentially see the loss of books such as Aeschylus’ Oresteia or Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

    Many libraries solve the problem of questionable content by keeping challenged books in specific parts of the library that will keep them out of the hands of children. A classic example is Herge’s Tintin in the Congo which is often kept in adult or special collections because of its stereotyped depictions of the Congolese. However, in the case of Neonomicon in Greenville, the book was already kept in the adult collection.

    What compounds free speech groups’ frustration with this decision is that the committee who reviewed the book for the challenge decided it should be kept in the collection.  It was library director, Beverly James, who overruled the decision and removed the book, calling it “disgusting.”

    Moore is an award-winning graphic novel author (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Batman: The Killing Joke) and a vocal defender of libraries. During the 2011 campaign to save the St. James Library in Northampton, England, Moore spoke at rallies and made a video about the value of libraries. “I am very concerned about the kids today who may grow up without this access [to libraries]. I am very against taking literacy away from people,” he said during a rally for the library.

    “If my work means anything to anybody out there then they shouldn’t thank me for it, they should thank the institution of the libraries that created me.”

     


  8. Gorilla Librarian

    December 8, 2012 by lindsay

    Monty Python’s take on the library job interview.


  9. The Home Libraries of Librarians: Heather Buchansky

    November 27, 2012 by lindsay

     

    This summer I spent a few weeks rearranging the furniture in our apartment. A big part of that effort included reorganizing our bookshelves. My methods for organizing my collection had changed since studying librarianship and, in particular, cataloguing. I’ve always enjoyed organizing, but now I wanted to make sure there was meaning behind the way I arranged the titles. Did I want them fully alphabetized or did it make more sense to arrange them by subject, colour or size?

    All this thought around how to organize my bookshelves made me wonder: how do other librarians organize their own collections?

    First on the bill is Heather Buchansky. Heather is currently working in the Reference and Research Services Department at Robarts Library at the University of Toronto. Her title is Online Project Librarian, which entails working on projects such as creating online training support for library staff and students.

    Heather's Library

    Heather is a graduate of U of T’s iSchool whose previous library experience includes working as a student library assistant in the reference department at Robarts and in the Dentistry Library at U of T. Before entering the world of libraries, she worked in sales for a large educational publisher. “Working there put me in contact with a lot of librarians, and getting to know more about what their positions involved made me realize I’d rather be on the other side of the table,” says Heather.

    Heather’s personal library is quite small and she blames this on the convenience of the public library. “Growing up, I was a 10 minute walk from a public library, which I would visit on a weekly basis. So my love of libraries, and realizing I could take items out instead of buying them, began early,” she says. “I lived overseas for a couple of years as well, and knowing that I would eventually have to ship a bunch of books back to Canada, or just give them away, made me learn to live with less stuff…including books.”

    She is patient about getting new books to read, and doesn’t mind sitting on a waiting list to read the newest titles. The deadlines that come with reading books from the library rather than off her own shelf are useful because they push Heather to finish a book. “I have the odd fiction title I’ve purchase that can sit on my shelf for years until I decide to read it.”

    To keep her collection so small, Heather has specific criteria for the titles that do get to sit on her shelves: “To be a book in my library, you must fit into one of the following categories: short stories, travel guides, cook book (although I stopped buying those and get recipes online) or non-fiction/reference titles. These are books I will re-read sections of over and over again – (nerd alert!) I can spend a good hour leafing through an atlas.”

    Now that she works at one of the largest libraries in the country, Heather borrows most of her books Robarts. “And since I’m here every day, there is no excuse for having overdue books. It can happen from time to time…at least the money goes to a good cause.”


  10. The Zine Fair: A Librarian’s Guide to Independent Press

    October 21, 2012 by lindsay

    Canzine is a large zine fair put on every year by Broken Pencil magazine. This Sunday marks the 17th Canzine in Toronto and the seventh Canzine I have co-programmed.

    In order for librarians to get a first-hand view of what is happening in alternative media and what their users are creating local zine fairs, independent book fairs and comic festivals are great opportunities.

    Tomorrow’s Canzine will feature over 170 zine makers and small presses selling their literary and artistic works. Makers come from across Ontario and up from the States to sell their wares and meet other creators.

    Two recent articles on zines, collecting written ephemera and Canzine were in Metro and Xtra.

    Other upcoming zine and small press fairs include Expozine (November 17 & 18, Montreal), Canzine West (November 17, Vancouver), Buffalo Small Press Book Fair (March, Buffalo) and the Toronto Comic Arts Festival (May, Toronto).