I’m that librarian your parents warned you about.

The one with the comic books, and video games. The one who thinks reading fan fiction is A-OK, and the one who counts two episodes of subtitled anime as one hour of reading during summer reading time. I’m willing to do teen programming that celebrates Hawkeye as The Best Avenger Ever, and another explaining why Santa Claus is actually a vampire.

It’s perfectly plausible that I have never read a book in my life, and that I stay up late every night playing video games, and that is why I work evenings at the library. The second one is only partially true; I’m not sure if Bejeweled counts as a video game and I only play Pokemon on Sundays, when I have four to six straight hours to dedicate to my Pokemon Journey.

Somehow, I managed to get through a theater conservatory, a writing program and library school. So I assume my ability to read remains in-tact (but it’s far less thrilling without Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizzas as a prize. Oh my 80’s youth.) I thought about doing a PhD in history, but a bunch of history professors keep trying to talk me out of it because the field is filled with drama and squabbling over dead people and wars that only they care about. Sounds like my kind of gig, actually. I want to argue with white-haired academics about whether anything at all should be named after General McClellan, since he was obviously The Worst general of the entire Civil War.

I say this because I want you to know your kids will be alright. My mom was worried for a while; I spent several years in high school only reading Batman comic books, and speaking solely in Star Wars quotes. But I think I turned out ok. There’s no shame in being interested, nay, consumed with popular culture. It is our culture, after all.

While I love classical music and took bel canto voice lessons for fifteen years, I actually have more in common with The Faceless Old Woman Who Lives In Your House, from Welcome to Night Vale, than I do Puccini. At least The Faceless Old Woman and I like the same TV shows. Puccini is a dead white guy from a musical dynasty in late 19th century Italy. My Italian knowledge begins and ends with the words on the menu at Ruffino’s.

Star Wars and comic books were my mythology growing up. I didn’t have an oral history of tales remembered in the stars, nor did my grandmother fill me with fairy tales meant to scare children straight while teaching them the hard lessons of the world. My mythology, and in some ways, heritage, is owned entirely by large corporations. That’s why fan fiction exists. It’s a way for people to take charge of their mythology, and to own it and evolve it. Pop culture has begat still more pop culture, in that sense. And that’s OK.

Master Chief from the Halo franchise is apparently going mercenary, and Iron Man and Captain America are about to go head to head on the big screen over the issue of superhero registration (the complete Civil War graphic novel set will soon be released, and available for your reading pleasure at a library near you–namely, ours). Mr Holmes, a sleeper Indy hit starring Ian McKellen focuses on the later years of the great pop culture icon Sherlock Holmes, and is based on the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin (also available for checkout at Your Friendly Neighborhood Library), reminds us that our cultural heroes do get old. Memory fades and friends die, even for The Great Detective.

Right now I’m enjoying Batman: Arkham Knight, a game that came with our new PS4. The art and graphics get better and better with each new game in the series, and the story line is growing increasingly complex. Batman begins to hallucinate his dead arch-nemesis, the Joker, at one point. Which is a clever story-telling way to make the hero, and the player confront our own complicated relationships with the nature of evil. And I love watching the afternoon kids play Madden 2016, which has evolved into a game requiring teamwork, strategy planning, and quicker hand-eye coordination than I can manage.

I think those kids are turning out alright, too. They problem-solve levels of games together, they create strategies, and they share. They actually pass the controller over when their turn is over. Which isn’t too bad for boys and girls who are learning all kinds of creative and technical skills through video games.

I’m glad I get to share that time with them, and my love for popular culture. And if I can sneak in some history or science, I will do that too. Did you know that O Mio Babbino Caro, a standard of the classical music genre, is about an overly emotional teenage girl threatening to throw herself into River Arno if her dad doesn’t let her marry her boyfriend, and also she wants dad to pay for the ring? And let’s talk about Batman villains and the Epic of Gilgamesh. There’s always a little something for everybody at the library.

Until next time–see you at our Friday Movie Day on Friday, Anime and Doctor Who clubs on Saturday, and our Family Halloween Party on the 31st! I expect to see you all in plenty of pop culture-oriented costumes!

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