Rhapsodizing Librarians

Shoalhaven Libraries

After such a serious post about osseointegration, I needed to lighten things up and find a way to thank my followers.  So get comfortable, click on the link below, and enjoy the YouTube music video from the Shoalhaven Library staff.

Librarian Rhapsody

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How Did It Go

Pre-Audition

“I was told an hour ago that forty-four extras were coming to audition for 5 parts.” Suzanne Massingill of Barefoot Models and Talent tells the thirty five guys in the room, most of them standing.

A small white board on the wall read:

USS INDY SAG-AFTRA Auditions

Shoot Date Starts June 19

Have your Head Shot

Hearing a song playing softly in the background, I felt the “Radioactive” testosterone in the room. Hell I was radioactive. Nervous Excited. Explosive! Despite all the stress, I could have proudly worn my nephew Zach’s “I pooped today” T-shirt. We were all, well, they were all a handsome well-groomed group of guys, but we were cramped in our own flatulent filled higgledy piggledy office scene bubble. Even the military guys, both active and retired, were tense. So tense, one guy said, to no one in particular and everyone who arrived after him, “If you’re on time, you’re late.”

All the tension was an indication of how badly we wanted to be a part of the first big screen movie to honor the men and the memories of those who served on the USS Indianapolis.

Shut the front door! That’s what I would have told you if I didn’t see Hannibal Pictures producer Richard Rionda Del Castro and director Mario Van Peebles walk in through the same door I did. Van Peebles, a little shorter than I expected, was the Lenny Kravitz of LA Law or was he the Ice-T of Law and Order? I’ve seen him and that captivating smile on a couple of episodes of Nashville recently. Yeah, men of color get gigs on a show about country music. And I don’t think he’s even related to Darius Rucker.

The producer came out of the room, not to make a curtain call but to welcome us. He said, “I’ve been trying to make this picture for 10 years.” He went back through the door, or as I like to call it the portal to Hollywood fame.

Suzanne called the first name on the list.

“He left,” someone said. Great, I thought, one less person to contend with.

I looked around and saw five guys wearing shorts. Limbs intact.

I watched how people were walking around the room. No amputee I’ve ever met walks perfectly. There’s usually a hitch, a leg whip, or a limp. Nothing obvious, but some can hide it pretty well. Still, nothing as glaring as me in my cargo shorts. The carbon fiber and titanium catches the eyes of Suzanne, several hopeful extras, and most importantly, the producer.

The guy to my left was called and came out smiling after being in the room less than thirty seconds.

The guy to my right was in there for like an hour, but it was really just minutes. After a couple muffled rounds of laughter he sat back down next to me with two pages from the “shooting script.”

Audition: (more than 15 seconds but less than 120)

It happened so fast I couldn’t even describe the room I walked into. I only wanted to answer their questions without puking or farting from my mind’s gastrointestinal excitement.

I walk in and shake the hands of four people including “Rick” and “Mario.” The producer asked questions like Rambo going all M-60 on Hope, Washington.

Producer: How old are you?

Alan: 47, but no Military experience, I’m a born amputee. (Cool! I wanted to work that in)

Producer: That’s alright, can you swim?

Alan: Lifelong swimmer, taught by a lifeguard (True story)

Producer: We’ll be shooting lots of scenes in a large water tank, any problems with prolonged periods of time in standing water (My Dances with Wolves name is Stands without a Leg…in Water)

Alan: No I’m a floater too. (Did I really just say that? Yep, me and the Baby Ruth in Caddyshack and oh, BTW happy 30th anniversary to The Goonies)

Producer: Any problems being in the water with actors around you?

Alan: No (Really? Is this a question someone wanting a part as an extra would say yes to? Says the guy who is two degrees from Nicolas Cage and Kevin Bacon)

Mario: (pointing at my prosthesis) How far down does your real leg go? (Stump: The Librarian knows this one)

Alan: About six inches below the knee.

Producer: Okay we’ll be shooting with actors behind you, in the tank.

Alan: I know the story, I read In Harms Way. (I didn’t have time to say I was a librarian or that I never would have known about this story  or been so fascinated by history without the movie JAWS)

Producer: (to assistant) Take a headshot

Mario: (to iPhone holding assistant) Get his leg! (You had me at hello, Mario)

Producer: Em, yeah, a full body shot.

Mario: Thanks for coming in.

Alan: (with a half smile to Mario) Thanks for the opportunity.

Alan: (eye contact with producer) I really hope to hear back from you. (No one will cooperate more fully with the animatronic sharks than me)

Producer: (eye to eye with me) You will.

Post-Audition

I still haven’t heard anything from the casting director of USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, but it’s only been three days. No matter the outcome, the experience has been amazing. While I wait, another opportunity to be cast as an extra showed up on my radar, but it wasn’t quite right for me because I actually have a leg to stand on. If you’re interested, there is a horror film being made in Alabama by Legless Corpse Films.

 

Do You Want to be an Extra?

Extras

Two weeks ago my brother posted a link to an article from the Press Register on my Facebook page about a movie being shot in Mobile, Alabama. They put out a call for extras and for amputees for USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage starring Nicholas Cage, directed by Mario Van Peebles, and produced by Richard Rionda Del Castro.

Immediately after reading the article, I sent an email with head shot and full body shot of me reading Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel with my prosthesis planter.

Audition

Yesterday, I received an email from the casting director for an “audition request.” The local casting director wrote, “You have been specifically selected to meet with and speak to the producer and director about the scenes in which they may want to use you.”

I’m familiar with the history of the USS Indianapolis. I remember reading a great book about it called, In Harm’s Way, by Doug Stanton. As an aside, our Fairhope Library Nonfiction Book Club voted to the read book. We will be reading it early next year, just a few months before the movie is scheduled to premiere.

I’m nervous about the audition and excited about the opportunity. Whatever comes of it, I’m heading over to Mobile tomorrow afternoon. In the meantime wish me luck, maybe I’ll get a leg up and catch a break.

Are You Wasting Time? Or Learning?

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Here’s my alter Leg-O. The website (+) has many pirate-themed parts to build your Picture Yourself in Plastic Mini-Mizer but unfortunately, no one-legged options. It should be included in the book I’m reading right now. My wife Susan bought it for me at her school’s Scholastic Book Fair. 100 Ways to Waste Time is actually a project-based learning tool kit for middle school students. I’m discovering that it is suitable for all ages, and especially for anyone who has been hanging on to their imagination/daydreaming gifts. The book is written by Tim Bugbird, according to Amazon, but his name could also be an answer to a time-wasting exercise in the book. The trifold book includes a flick-able plastic frog, a small book of googly eye stickers, a booklet of time-wasting things to do, and a list of ideas on how to waste time.

Examples you want? (Follow the symbols to see some of my answers.)

  • Think of the weirdest combination of animals ever. (*)
  • Think of five things you would do if you were a ferret.
  • Think of three favorite TV shows you would combine to make the most awesome show ever. (#)
  • Take out all of your underwear and decide which will be your lucky pair.
  • Write the name of the best computer game ever. And, think of three ways to make it even better.

The book even comes with certificates for “Outstanding Time-Wasting.” If any of my readers feel they are outstanding time-wasters I’d love to hear from you. Answer one of my examples or tell me one of your own time-wasting ways.  Please leave me a comment and I’ll post a certificate for you.

Time-wasting is actually great for independent and group learning. Don’t believe me, watch “Build a School in the Cloud,” the best Ted Talk of 2013 by Sugata Mitra. It turns out that what looks like time-wasting to adults can be problem-solving sessions for students, using what he calls Self Organized Learning Environments. Susan learned about the Lego avatar site from a  Simplek12 webinar she watched during school vacation on “15 Free Web Tools for Elementary Student Projects.”

The limited choices meant that my avatar would not look like Metal Beard from the The Lego Movie. However, Susan and I learned  how to improve our avatars by working together. The future of learning, creativity, and real and virtual world problem-solving, will involve computers and the cloud. Like any good game, time-waster, or life lesson, learning will always need two or more players.

+ Click here to create your own Lego Avatar.

* Half Mosquito Eater/Half Anteater

# Scooby Doo, Boardwalk Empire, and House of Cards

What Can You Learn From Steinbeck’s Classic?

Our book club, “Drinkers With a Reading Problem” met at Fairhope Brewing on Sunday evening. Thirteen of us, a large turnout for our group, came to discuss John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Grapes Cover

We agreed to let Betty take the lead for this book. She immediately suggested we go around the table and air our impressions.

Irene talked about Steinbeck’s “marvelous descriptions.”

I mentioned that I had read the book in high school. It’s been thirty years since I read the book, and I explained to the group that the movie “clouded my memories of the book, especially the end.” I praised Steinbeck, as most did, and compared him to Hemingway and Sinclair.

While I could not recollect any memories, feelings, or reactions when Rose of Sharon lets a dying stranger suckle from her breast, many book clubbers commented on the scene.

Bob mentioned that the title of the book was a verse from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and The Bible. He offered some Midwestern sensibility by suggesting that Rosasharn, if you are from the Midwest sounds an awful lot like rose is sharing, demonstrating the epitome of the word in that final scene.

Bob also felt that the Joads “lost a human scale,” once the tractors arrived.

A newcomer to the area and the club, who had not finished the book, used the opportunity to network. She’s in need of a job teaching High School English.

Judy talked about the significance of the turtle in Chapter 3 and it’s larger meaning for the Joad’s and humanity. She pulled out some notes about the shrub, rose of Sharon, and it’s horticultural properties, many of which aligned superbly with the character traits she was given by Steinbeck.

Betty quoted the scene with Casy the preacher and the roadside burial of Grampa.

This here ol’ man jus’ lived a life an’ jus’ died   out of it. I don’ know whether he was               good or bad, but that don’t matter much. He was alive, an’ that’s what matters. An               now he’s dead, an’ that don’t matter. Heard a fella tell a poem one time, an’ he says             ‘all that lives is holy.’ (144)

Wilson had started to read the book for a second time but got derailed by “the dialect.” He wound up listening, then playing his guitar and singing some Woody Guthrie tunes.

Robert called the book the “consciousness of America during the Depression and the labor movement.” He recommended another book by Steinbeck, Travels with Charley.

Donna praised the novelist for his, “use of description and for the evolution of the characters.”

Suzanne, and a few other, noted how depressing the book was, but empathized with the characters, and so continued to read. Despite these tests or perhaps because of them we read because we all endure.

After we all had a chance to comment we listened to Guthrie’s “Tom Joad, Part One and Two.” I think it was our second Bob, from Kentucky and a fan of Guthrie, who called the song another form of “Cliff Notes.”

I mentioned how the book was banned and how literature transcends the arts as The Grapes of Wrath is told in music, first through Guthrie, then Springsteen’s “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” which was covered by Rage Against the Machine, a song I carry with me on my phone.

Elliott, the club’s founding member, selected this month’s book. He arrived late, but quickly dove into the music conversation.

When I left the meeting, I didn’t know what to write about. It was my own fault that I was stumped. I didn’t bring one of my favorite scenes for consideration. In this scene Tom Joad and his brother Al meet a slovenly man with one eye. Tom doesn’t give a crap about his disability. Fix yourself up, get clean, put a patch over that eye Tom says. Then he tells the junk yard man a story.

Why, I knowed a one-legged whore one time. Think she was takin’ two bits in a           alley? No, by God! She’s gettin’ half a dollar extra. She says, ‘How many one-legged           women you slep’ with? None!’ she says. (179)

My regret was not hearing from others about this scene, given that I’m an amputee. After some reflection and distance from our wonderful discussion on a literary classic, I found my notes, and stuck my nose back in the book.

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It turns out that Tom needed to learn that all living things, the turtle, the one-eyed man, and the one-legged whore are all holy.

Then I reread this oft quoted passage where Tom Joad, who is hiding out in his own wilderness, is telling his Ma what he learned from Casy.

Says one time he went out in the wilderness to find his own soul an’ he foun’ he                 didn’ have no soul that was his’n. Says he foun’ he just got a little piece of a great big           soul. Says a wilderness ain’t no good, cause his little piece of a soul wasn’t no good           less it was with the rest and was whole. Funny how I remember. Didn’ think I was               even listenin’. But I now know a fella ain’t no good alone. (418)

The wilderness is where we do our thinking, if we are lucky to have the inclination, freedom, and time to do so. You can’t spend your whole life in the wilderness.

I can’t say for sure whether I’ve got a soul when I’m alone, thinking, and wandering around in my writing wilderness. I know I need that time, but I know I can’t stay there forever. I’ve been going to the “Drinkers” book club off and on for more than five years because I enjoy the fellowship.

We need time to be alone and together. Solitude for thinking and public areas for conversation are the fuel for community.

As we were leaving book club, I mentioned that I work at Fairhope Public Library.

A woman said, “I’m in the library four times a week and I’ve never seen you.”

I didn’t say anything, but later on I thought about how the rest of the conversation between Tom and his Ma went.

Next time you come in, look for me, I’ll be there.

Grapes Back

Have Amputees Gone Mad or Mainstream?

It seems like amputees, and their legs were coming at me fairly regularly, at home and at the library this week. I wondered how much and how often amputees are in the media. So, I put them to a test. How many new amputee references can I catalog in a week?

Friday

I was at lunch at the picnic table on what I call the back forty, the property behind the library that doubles as a parking lot most days. I was flipping through my Flipboard, an app that brings me headlines, stories, and book recommendations. A headline from Huffington Post:

“Leo Bonten has his leg amputated, turns it into a lamp and tries to sell it on Ebay.”

The Dutchman’s story was cataloged under “Weird News.”

After having the leg amputated, the man had help from a pathologist and a lamp maker. He said Bonten could not “say goodbye,” to his leg, so he preserved it.

Mr. Bonten put the leg lamp up for sale on Ebay for $127,500. Ebay took it down the same day saying it does not sell body parts.

Bonten claims he had to sell it because he’s broke.

“Soon I won’t even have a home where I can put the lamp,” Bonten said.

I guess an amputee can’t even cash in when he’s able to upcycle his own leg from medical waste to a practical home furnishing project. I just want to know what bulb fits in the socket. LED, compact fluorescent, or incandescent?

Lampleg

Saturday

I was thumbing through a new book, On Paper: The Everything of its Two-Thousand-Year History, by Nicholas Basbanes when I came across a quote from a former POTUS. John Quincy Adams wrote in a journal every day from age twelve until two days before his death. He even wrote on leap year days. In one entry, Adams writes about the futile and occasionally frustrating writing habit. It had become, “Like the race of a man with a wooden leg after a horse,” and resulted in, “a multiplication of books to no end and without end.”

On Saturday night, I was using Amazon Prime Music, an app that lets subscribers stream from millions of songs in about 15 different genres and from other Prime member playlists.

I flicked across the Dropkick Murphys, an American Celtic punk band. You’ve got to hear their song, “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” The main character is a sailor without a leg, and he’s “shipping” up to Boston to get his peg.

Sunday

As I sorted the Press-Register on Sunday morning, a pair of brown eyes glanced up at me from the cover of Parade magazine. I was greeted by a German Shephard mix dog missing a left front leg. Mama Lucca was an IED detecting dog who saved the lives of 14 men, and was awarded an honorary Purple Heart for her actions. Her record of keeping our service members safe and without casualties still stands, but it came at a price. She’s now retired and living in sunny southern California.

Monday

I was talking to a co-worker during lunch. Gwen asked if I’d seen the woman on crutches this morning.

“I thought she might be coming in to talk to you,” Gwen said. I have met many amputees in the library and often go and introduce myself and let them know I’m an amputee too. The woman was was an above knee amputee. She was not wearing a prosthesis.

“No,” I told Gwen, “I was helping another patron, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to her.” I saw her only briefly when she was checking something out at the circulation desk.

After lunch, Cheryl told me she saw the movie Dolphin Tale 2 with her granddaughter. The movie features Winter, the prosthesis wearing dolphin, and the sequel features Bethany Hamilton. Hamilton, who plays herself, lost her arm in a shark attack while surfing her home waters of Hawaii. Cheryl said the movie was good, but Hamilton didn’t have a lot of dialogue. The first movie is based on the children’s book, Winter’s Tail. I enjoyed the movie Dolphin Tale so much, my wife Susan and I went to Clearwater, Florida to see Winter. The picture of me with Winter’s prosthesis number 17 sits on Susan’s desk at Daphne East Elementary School. Her kids don’t even notice my prosthesis because they are so excited about seeing Winter’s prosthesis.

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Tuesday

I always straighten  the new books when I walk past them on the way to my desk. I spotted Stronger, a book by Jeff Bauman and Bret Witter. Bauman survived the Boston Marathon bombing, losing both his legs, but was an FBI witness in the search for the bombers.

Killing Jesus: A History by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. Julius Caesar, after conquering a town along the Dordogne River, cut off the hands of every man who fought against him.

I watched the tail end of Utopia on Fox, and a little bit of New Girl. I saw a commercial for Red Band Society, a hospital ward of teens facing long term stays for various illnesses, which now includes leg amputees Jordi and Leo.

Wednesday

Susan and I were watching Survivor when we saw a commericial for Criminal Minds. The preview showed a human leg in a box. Presumably, the rest of the show was about finding the rest of body.

Thursday

Looking for movies to borrow, I spotted The Fault in our Stars DVD while scaning the online catalog crawl. I’ve already seen it. Good thing, since it already had 35 hold requests for patrons wanting to borrow it.

Leg-End

Yesterday, I saw the future of legs in libraries, which indicates to me that media coverage of amputees and their prostheses will continue to expand.

I read in the Wall Street Journal that the Westport, Connecticut Public Library will have a couple of humanoid robots roaming around. Vincent  and Nancy are quite sophisticated. They are able to be programmed and also learn with Artificial Intelligence (AI) through human interaction. They have already been programmed to speak 19 languages, to kick a ball, dance, and do Tai Chi. Robots and their artificial intelligence can think on their feet just like humans. Nancy, Vincent, and I do this on our artificial legs.

robots