University of Central Oklahoma

Chambers Library Multimedia

University of Central Oklahoma

You Put in Good Work, Now Read Some Good Work

Finals are officially winding down and this blogger couldn’t be happier. Looking around the library the past two weeks it’s been hard not to draw certain parallels. For instance, a lot of people (myself included) looked like extras from the Walking Dead. More disturbing still, I haven’t seen anyone work so hard to keep a place clean since my mom the summer between 7th and 8th grade year. (Thanks, custodial team, you’re the real MVPs.) But all that aside, things could have been much worse; we could have been cooped up in Northeastern State’s library–the horror!!

Yes, I concede, finals are awful; but Max Chambers has some pretty good stuff going for it, not least of which its collections. Speaking of which, I’ve got a great find for you guys this month: John W. Work’s book/score collection, American Negro Songs. Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t some pseudo-racist collection of black stereotypes. Dr. Work was actually “a noted musicologist affiliated with Fisk University and the celebrated Fisk Jubilee Singers.” For those of you who aren’t familiar, Fisk is a well-respected historically black college located in Nashville, Tennessee. Some notable alumni are W. E. B. DuBois and Ida B. Wells.

Dr. Work’s book covers everything from the origins of African-American “folk songs and spirituals, [both] religious and secular” to the different sub-genres associated with this kind of music. Plus, the book includes music and lyrics to 230 different songs. Published first in 1940 and again in 1998, this is definitely a piece of history. If any of you are interested, it’s housed with the scores on the south side of the fourth floor. Come see us at the service desk and we’ll help you find it!

And just for the fun of it, here’s a video of the aforementioned Jubilee Singers performing one of the pieces found in the book: YouTube Preview Image

Waste Deep Waters

I’ve never been one for objective blogging, but there are occasions worthy of exception. This is one of those occasions. October is, undeniably and irrevocably, the best month of the entire year.* Hands down. Bar none. That being said, expect some serious posting this month. I’m talking about a genuine onslaught of pure kitsch, camp, fright, and foliage. And, in true frightful fashion, I’m going to kick us off with a doozy of suggestion: John Waters.

I know what some of you are thinking: “There’s nothing scary about Hairspray!” And you would be correct. But let’s not forget Waters’ illustrious career in shock. He is, after all, the undisputed King of Filth. We can only surmise Hairspray happened during an off year for Waters’, otherwise indie film buffs everywhere would be out one tall, gangly, potentially criminal hero.

I know what the rest of you are thinking, too: “If this guy is about to suggest I watch that awful, disgusting film Pink Flamingos…” And one could argue you’re correct in your outrage. Therefore, rest assured there will be no ingesting of that most foul of excrement on this blog. There will, however, be plenty of bad taste. What’s life without a little satire?

Waters’ career can be traced back to humble beginnings in the remarkably classy (see: working class) city of Baltimore, Maryland. As a young man, Waters befriended neighbor and fellow outcast Glenn Milstead (also known as the rattling roller coaster of a drag queen Divine); and the rest is history. Starting with Mondo Trasho (1969)–a surreal glimpse into the lives of a crazed hit-and-run driver and her soon-to-be chicken-footed victim–the pair offered up a slew of warped perceptions of Baltimore and, by extension, the suburban middle class. This skewed and arguably artful perception is further showcased in Desperate Livng (1977). As a film, Desperate Living offers little in the way of production; but what it lacks in technical panache it more than makes up for in storytelling finesse. This delightful train wreck follows the lives of Peggy Gravel, a crackpot suburban housewife, and her murderous maid, Grizelda Brown, as they are exiled to live in the filthiest part of Baltimore. So, if you have a strong backbone and the idea of an Evil Trash Queen intrigues you, come check out a copy from the library.**

While Waters’ has continued working under the same thematic arch well into the 21st century, it’s clear that there is a pivotal moment in his career, at which point he switches gears and begins producing films more palatable for the general public (i.e. Hairspray). Lucky for us, Max Chambers is home to a copy of that turning point, the film which bridged the gap between pure shock value and quasi-permissible cultural critique: Ployester (1981). In relation to Waters’ other works, Polyester is equatorial in the sense that it exists at dead center yet doesn’t disappoint in making mild-mannered audiences sweat. This is a film which makes an earnest attempt to welcome the fringe of the mainstream community. The production is glossier, the acting is more professional (evident from the casting of former heartthrob Tab Hunter), and the plot is at least somewhat believable. I won’t spoil it for you, but if anyone’s unfazed by pornographer husbands and discontented, cross-dressing wives I suggest you come pick up a copy immediately. After all, it’s nearly Halloween and we should all know nothing’s scarier (or more strangely realistic) than a dysfunctional family.

With all that said, don’t expect anything tame from the Pope of Trash. Thankfully, that’s what October and Halloween are for, movies you’d otherwise never take home to Mama. If you haven’t been scared off yet, you’re exactly the type of person who could glean from a Waters’ film what’s intended to be gleaned. I think Roger Ebert put it best when he spoke about Waters’ magnum opus (and decidedly grossest film), Pink Flamingos: “It should be considered not as a film but as a fact, or as an object.”

*There’s really no use arguing this point with me.
**All John Waters films currently in the collection are only available on VHS

L’Elisir d’Amore to be Performed at UCO

Is there anything more powerful than love? Obviously. The seductive scent of fresh pizza. Also, love potions. Duh. Just ask Nemorino, the protagonist of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore–about the potion, I mean, not the pizza. Well, maybe the pizza. I hear Italians know a thing or two about that, but I digress. The point is, love potions are crazy and you should know as much about them as possible.

What’s the best way to brush up on your 19th century love potion statistics? Watching the aforementioned Opera, of course! Lucky for you, UCO has just the place–Mitchell Hall. That’s right, the UCO School of Music is poised to present this enduring classic April 24-27. And it’s shaping up to be quite the performance.

In fact, Kevin Eckard, D.M.A., the production’s director, says the department “chose to present this opera because [their] current students have the talent to pull off this production.”

I don’t know about you; but I’m more than okay with talented students doing cool things, especially when one of those students is a former library employee. More specifically, a Multimedia employee. We’re practically famous up here. Well, at least by association, anyway.  Right? Whatever. In any case, our very own Tookah Sapper is preparing for a leading role in this classic piece of comedic gold. Don’t believe me? Here’s the picture:

Cast Members from L'Elisir d'Amore

See, told you she was in it.

Sounds fun, right? There’s nothing better than feeling cultured. And because for most of us it will be just that–a feeling–UCO has been gracious enough to provide English surtitles for the performances. For those of you who like to really know your stuff, however, Max Chambers Library has a few audio copies of the production. So, come up to the fourth floor and give the opera listen or two before you head on out to the live production. We have both LP and CD versions, by the way!

Don’t forget! This Thursday through Sunday (April 24-27) at Mitchell Hall! It’s the place to be, I promise. Show starts at 7:00PM Thursday-Saturday and 2:00PM Sunday afternoon.