Friday, February 11, 2005

A conversation I wish I were making up

Student worker (looking at my copy of Don Quixote): What's this about?

Me (assuming she's not serious—she's a smart girl, I know--and thus being VERY melodramatic): You mean you don't know? What are they teaching you kids these days?

Student worker to student walking up to the desk: Do you know who Don Quixote is?

Student: Donna Who? Does she go to school here?

(Student worker holds up Grossman's Don Quixote)

Student: Is he, like, a Mexican conquistador?

Me (serious): What ARE they teaching you kids these days?

Though, now that I think about it, I'm not sure I was taught anything about Don Quixote. It was just there—illustrated children's versions in the school library which I'm sure most of us must have picked up. Tilting at windmills was a phrase people used. People saw "Man from La Mancha," though I never did. I knew all the words to "The Impossible Dream" without having to.

Was knowing about Don Quixote something we just picked up via osmosis? Why is he no longer a cultural reference? Do we need a Will Smith and a Tommy Lee Jones to make a blockbuster about him to bring him back?

Maybe the exchange signifies nothing. R. did say she wanted to read DQ a few years back—why would she know or care about it if she hadn't heard it mentioned somewhere? S. brought books home about DQ from the library; and heaven knows he isn't one to choose a book at random.

Anyway, here are some interesting links I came across last night when I should have been reading Don Quixote:

The Little Professor explains why she thinks the Citizens for Literary Standards in Schools lists are a mistake.

Katharine Weber provides the "backstory" for her The Little Women at M.J. Rose's site: Weber didn't read Alcott until she was in her 40s.

Librarian Kathie Coblentz employs a cataloging system in her home that no library would use: "Your system doesn't have to be logical, it just has to work for you." That's what I keep saying about my system!

Shooflypie talks about the fabulous short-lived series Firefly. I've been boycotting Fox since the show was cancelled. We're all anxious to see the movie in September.

Did you know that all the transcripts from Buffy the Vampire Slayer are now available at Buffyology?

And, turning serious here, Jane Mayer writes about the secret history of America’s “extraordinary rendition” program in The New Yorker.

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