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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Squeezing Some Mind Grapes

The pleasant shock of yesterday was that I won a little contest.  Not long ago I entered the Literary Safari’s six word Valentine contest.  The idea was to come up with my love story in a six word memoir, and by doing so I’d win Six Word Memoirs of Love and Heartbreak. But the story of my husband and myself is actually a pretty good how-we-met tale in and of itself.  When I entered Earlham College as a dinky freshman, my future husband was a big man on campus.  Matt Bird started the Earlham Socialist Alliance, wrote political comics for the newspaper, contributed movie reviews, ran the college film society (and maybe also TOFS a.k.a. The Other Film Society), and made movies.  Now ours wasn’t a college with a film department.  Truth be told, Matt had to borrow a camera from the football team for his movie (always returning it just in the nick of time before their big games).  The movie was called Majestic (this all happened before that dreadful Jim Carrey film of the same name) and it was about a projectionist who, in the midst of other very noir happenings, fell in love with a librarian.  Imagine library-based chase sequences, where hands burst out of stacks trying to grab at people.  Imagine closed stacks being used in the way we librarians always secretly fear.  But best of all, there was a sequence in the film where the young lovers start complaining about how librarians are portrayed in movies.  They discuss It’s a Wonderful Life and the fact that in that movie Jimmy Stewart sees what could have happened without him, but the straw that breaks the camel’s back is when Clarence says of Jimmy’s wife, "You’re not going to like it.  She’s . . . she’s a librarian!"  At which point the young heroes in Matt’s film scream in unison, "Take me back, Clarence!  Take me back!"  Needless to say, Matt’s movie made an impression on me.  Such an impression, in fact, that when I moved to Minneapolis years later post-graduation and met Matt Bird officially for the first time I was able to quote back lines to him from that film.  He was impressed.  So my six word memoir?

His librarian movie?  He married one.

I meant it literally but judge Anita Jain has a much headier and more interesting interpretation of the line.  A big thank you, to her, for selecting my sentence then.

  • Artist Bill Zeman has a three-year-old.  Three-year-olds are difficult customers.  Particularly when they commission you to create certain scenes and images.  The result?  A blog called Tiny Art Director that has already won my Favorite Discovery of the Week Award.  Systematically Bill shows the art, the reactions, and the final picture.  Here, without the pic (you’ll just have to see them yourself), is an example:

The Brief: A Scary Baby Dinosaur

The Critique: No! You color him some more! Can I put makeup on him?

Job Status: Rejected

Additional Comments: Stop Drawing! Stop Drawing!

Thanks to Don Citarella for the link.

  • Through the grapevine I have heard that English fantasy author Frances Hardinge, author of Fly By Night and Well Witched, has a new novel out in Britain called Gullstruck Island.  I will now bat my pretty little eyelashes in the direction of Harper Collins with the hope that they will, perhaps, bring it to the States someday.  *bat bat*  *bat bat*

  • There are terrible televisions shows I’ve forgotten.  There are terrible television shows I remember.  I remember Small WonderSo does Adam Rex.

  • Manga is getting some academic cred.  The Japanese comic art form is getting its own museum over at Meiji University.  Can you say, hello instant tourist destination?  I know quite a few teens that are in love with Japan, and they all want to take trips there because of their love of manga.  To have an actual destination as well would make them all kinds of thrilled.  Thanks to Jenny Schwartzberg (who should really have her own blog due to all the cool stuff she finds) for the link.

  • I’m moving up in the world, maw!  The Real Estate section of the New York Times spoke with me the other day about, of all things, children’s books.  The result is the article My First Book of Urban Planning.  And I’m not kidding when I say that New York kids need Robert Moses books.  Heck, some kids in Greenwich Village are even well and truly familiar with the history of Stanford White!  Fun piece.

  • New Yorkers, I’m spending an inordinate amount of time telling you what to do today.  However, Gary Schmidt’s going to be in town soon.  He’ll be at Symphony Space discussing The Wednesday Wars.  How often do we get to see Newbery Honorists (Honorees?  Honorarians?) speaking about their works?  And Mr. Schmidt is a particularly eloquent individual.  Someone who, unlike myself, doesn’t satisfy his speaking engagements at the last minute with the assistance of a napkin and a pen for scribbling. 

  • Daily Image:

And the number one threat on the threatdown?

Sleeping bags.  Bear shaped sleeping bags. Thanks to BB-Blog for the link.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Awww! I love a good love story. Congrats!

  2. I was there. Medium-sized man on campus.

    (I can quote lines from his movie too. Perhaps Matt and I should’ve gotten hitched.)

  3. I can top that. I can quote YOUR lines from his movie. Besides, you were the next big man on campus. No need for modesty.

  4. Diana Peterfreund says:

    That’s such a sweet story.

    Is it bad I kinda covet a bear sleeping bag?

  5. My big dramatic line was “Damn.” So it’s not so hard to remember. But I added that certain McCoy “I’m a stage, not film, actor so I have not yet learned not to make big faces when I talk” flair.

    And congrats on the big win.

  6. Karen Ruelle says:

    Great librarian/love story! And congrats! I’m a former librarian (well–once a librarian, always a librarian) and my friends and I always quote that bit of It’s a Wonderful Life, and scream in that horror-movie-I’ve-just-seen-a-monster way.
    Speaking of monsters, check out today’s issue of Shelf Awareness for another piece on monster lit (a la Jane Austen zombies). Ha!

  7. Molly O'Neill says:

    Betsy, you (and hopefully your readers, too) will be thrilled to know that publishing is well underway for Frances Hardinge’s next book. On this side of the pond, it will be called THE LOST CONSPIRACY, and it will be published in early Fall 2009. Which means ARCs quite soon(ish), actually. Stay tuned! (Continued eyelash batting optional.)

  8. Jenny Schwartzberg says:

    Betsy, thanks for the compliment on the cool stuff I find! I do have a sporadic blog, Jenny’s Wonderland of Books, which you can find by Googling it.

    Molly, can I ask why the title change from Gullstruck Island to The Lost Conspiracy? Frankly I think the British title is more tantalizing and likely to catch a book buyer’s eye and curiosity! I’m often baffled by title changes and for that matter by illustration and cover changes!

  9. Ryan Wilson says:

    Ooh, good meetin’ story! Congrats on the win. I was in film school and no girls ever remembered any lines from my lame films (which is for the best).

    I REALLY love that Tiny Art Director blog! Thank you for the introduction. If you don’t mind I will be mentioning it on my new(art director, illustrator) blog tomorrow I will of course give you deserved props.

  10. says:

    Great college love story!

  11. what a sweet, meant-to-be love story! congrats on the win.

    i found the nyt article interesting, as i am a urban planning grad school drop-out who is now a librarian (albeit a newbie, untrained one). i’m always lecturing my son about planning and community.

    and why am i not surprised the bear sleeping bag is japanese? (i’m japanese and wonder why i don’t come up with this kind of craziness …)

  12. there’s also a manga museum in kyoto:

  13. Ooh! I keep hoping Frances Hardinge will write a sequel to FLY BY NIGHT. I really love that book.

    And your meeting story! So cute! And the interpretation of the judge amuses me muchly.

  14. I think I’m kinda liking The Lost Conspiracy more, actually. Gullstruck Island . . . brings to mind gulls. I have nothing against gulls personally. Gulls are cute. But when I hear that title I think of gulls repeatedly divebombing (so to speak) an island, and it’s not particularly enticing. Conspiracies are enticing to adults, but I’ve never been able to determine if kids feel the same way. I’ll take a poll from amongst my Friday bookclub to see if the kids like one title more than the other.

  15. Oh thank goodness you’ll be getting Gullstruck Island soon! It’s so lonely raving about a book almost alone. I’m very interested to see what the cover looks like when it’s out – I like our title a bit better, I think, but the cover seems very young and straight-adventurish for such a complex book.