‘War Reporter’: Most of the time, blue forms work out great

Dan O’Brien is an Amerikanski poet and playwright. Those are his real professions, because O’Brien’s shit gets published and produced. He has a symbiotic relationship with longtime Canadian war correspondent Paul Watson, who has been through enough already yet suffers ongoing indignities. (He also has only one hand.)

I have no idea where I ran across any kind of description of O’Brien’s War Reporter. Whatever I read was convincing enough for me to fill out a blue form, very much not accompanied by a review. (They’ll use that as an excuse to ixnay your request.) An eternity passed, but, to the credit of the ladies at Collections Development, they bought it.


War Reporter was put out by an artisanal British publisher, which should have been another strike against it as far as those ladies are concerned. (Sometimes they buy British books immediately, as with Morrissey’s Autobiography. Other times they peevishly wait for a year [Unchosen] or roll the dice that the Americans will publish a book [Chapter and Verse].) I am making the blue-form system seem peevish and arbitrary because it is. Still, I’ve got 330-odd successes to my name.

And it is titles like this one that make it worth the intentional humiliation of CDD’s intentionally unusable forms and the ladies’ intentional pettiness. Because this book is almost one of a kind. I have read nonfiction typeset in poetic lines before; it can be done and it is done. I have never quite encountered lightly fictionalized near-verbatim transcripts typeset like poetry. War Reporter, then, is a nonfiction poetry novella. (The Dewey classification is 811.6, American poetry.)

Watson is a war reporter and we are dealing his direct recollections. I had to skip a lot of it. If this kind of treatment is disturbing, imagine being there.

Double-page sample: The War Reporter Paul Watson Goes to Hollywood; The War Reporter Paul Watson’s Cold Open

TPL has four copies of War Reporter. Mine is the only one that has moved. But that may change, especially for the Northern District copy I have, because that branch has a well-used set of new-book shelves with face-front display. (And I unfucked the barcode so you can read the cover.) Somebody’s gonna notice it.

I’ve complained before that the library never boasts about one of its strengths – a great breadth and depth of special-interest or intellectual or artistique titles. While I like to chide the library for not having RoboCop until I blue-formed it (!), my main purpose is to introduce unusual and indeed valuable items to the library’s collection. I do that so other people can enjoy them. The largest public library in the country should also be a place where serious people can read, watch, and listen to serious works (plus RoboCop).

(What about Jack Donovan? That’s going to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Or a system that processes 835,000 pieces a year can buy 30 more. Up to them, really.)


Library union complains about adding full-time jobs

On the library-union homepage that doesn’t have permanent links or even defined postings, Mo et al. carefully read the library budget. (It passed. TPL got its 2.1% increase. So I don’t know why we’re complaining, but that is a union’s purpose, I guess; see below.) Excerpts:

  • The budget as submitted from the Library Board included a reduction of 6.9 FTEs in the page classification as an “efficiency expenditure reduction.” The budget also included the creation of five permanent FTEs in E‑Services (previously grant-funded).

  • Youth Hub expansion (2 FTEs new)

  • Malvern Digital Innovation Hub (1 FTE new)

Overall, this netted out to a 1.1 FTE increase to the compl[e]ment.

Stated more accurately, the library eliminated 6.9 low-skill, precarious, underpaid page jobs in favour of eight proper full-time career positions. This is a win, not a loss. (The same posting critiques budgetary “sleight-of-hand” by “the Tory administration.” Calling eight new jobs “1.1” jobs is just as bad.)

Then we have this gem:

This will put an enormous pressure on the library to fund future Sunday service and pressure at the bargaining table to find a solution.

How, exactly? The library submits budgets one year at a time and saw its budget increased the last two years. Adding new Sunday hours amounted to a fraction of this year’s 2.1% increase. So where’s the “enormous pressure”? Could it be a figment of Mo’s imagination, i.e., fearmongering?

The library’s labour force is too small for the amount of work involved. Let’s hire more people full-time and pay them well. Let’s! But, while I expect any union to exaggerate, why does the union feel the need to fudge numbers? Its position is already strong.

I told you John Tory was not a library supporter

Local 4948 (sic):


Yeah, I told you that already.

I don’t suppose Mo realizes her union homepage has been hijacked

If one links from Mo’s Local 4948 page to Our Public Library, JavaScript on that latter page hijacks your browser. (Links elided here for obvious reasons.) Actually, it pretends to be “[c]hecking your browser.”

Then you’re hijacked completely and you, the “Chrome” user operating Safari, are induced to fill out a short survey that is actually a scam.

Dear Chrome user, You are today’s lucky visitor

(You lucky vistor, you!)

These are the same people who run a blog without permalinks, still claim in their RSS feed that the library is under threat of privatization (it isn’t), and publish YouTube videos with semi-secret URLs. Also, a pro tip that 4948 should have learned 15 years ago: Don’t make links open in new windows.