Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Notes on humour

How many library workers does it take to change a lightbulb?
None; one chooses the bulb;
one contacts a vendor and orders the bulb;
one receives it;
one places the bulb on the bulb self;
one charges the bulb out;
but the users must change the bulb themselves.

Defining humour
Provide definitions for the following terms:
Absurd Strange; something seeming unusual; outrageous; totally out of the ordinary; doesn't make sense 
Comic Someone who tries to make other people laugh; intentionally humorous
Farce Make fun of a political situation; light-hearted humour
Hyperole Exaggerated statement not to be taken serious
Incongruous Match with opposite
Irony Unexpected outcome

You can be sure the student who has the most overdue books reads the least.

More definitions
Parody Comic imitation of something well known 
Puns Play on words 
Ridiculous Overdone; not worthy of consideration 
Sarcasm Negative comment making fun of someone
Satire Using humour to make fun of politics
Understatement Restraint

More lightbulb jokes
How many academic librarians does it take to change a light bulb?
Just five. One changes the bulb while the other four form a committee and write a letter of protest to the Dean, because after all, changing light bulbs is NOT professional work!

How many cataloguers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Just one, but they have to wait to see how LC does it first.

How many cataloguers does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one provided it is AACR2.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Humour: points to ponder

The one time of the month you take five minutes to read MAD magazine is when your supervisor walks in.
What is humour?

Why do we laugh?

What do we find funny?

What purposes does laughter serve in our culture?

Describe someone you know who has a good sense of humour.

Do you have a sense of humour?

Describe what you find funny.

How do you react when someone says you don’t have a sense of humour?

Describe the characteristics of the class clown.

Does our sense of humour change as we age?
(Babies begin to develop a sense of humour between three and six months. They laugh and smile in response to being tickled. This behaviour in turn encourages their caregiver to stimulate them more. Research has shown that more responsive babies encourage more interaction and caregivers find them easier to look after.)

Why is humour often repressed in authoritarian regimes?

How is laughter related to free thinking?

What have been the effects of “political correctness” on humour in our culture?

What does the term, “I’m laughing with you, not at you” mean?

Are there any new jokes?

How do you feel when you are the only person in the group who’s a) laughing or b) not laughing?

Do jokes translate well into other cultures?

Can you laugh at yourself and your chosen profession?

Canadian Association for Therapeutic Humour. Your sense of humour evaluation from “Humour for your health” by Dan Gascon

Your sense of humour evaluation scores http://web.archive.org/web/20041224112050/http://www.members.shaw.ca/canadahumour/humourscores.html

Monday, April 15, 2013

Introduction to humour

Students always require a 400 word article for a 500 word essay.
Some ancient history

  • Latin
    • Formulated by Hippocrates
      • c.460-370B.C.
    • Further developed by Galen
      • 129-199 AD
    • Based on four elements
      • Four humors or fluids
      • Earth, fire, water, wind
      • Related to colours
    • Disease resulted from imbalance
Yellow bile
  • Choleric
  • Element: fire
  • Attributes: warm, dry
  • Too much:
    • Hot-tempered, easily upset
Black bile
  • Melancholy
  • Element: earth
  • Attributes: cold, dry
  • Too much:
    • Gloomy, depressed, dejected
  • Sanguine
    • Person who always has rosy natural cheeks
  • Element: air
  • Attributes: warm, moist
  • Too much
    • Cheerful, over-confident
  • Phlegmatic
  • Element: water
  • Attributes: cold, moist
  • Too much
    • Apathetic, sluggish
  • Fluids determined
    • Disposition, character, morality
  • Humour = mood/state of mind
  • Correct balance = good humour
  • Imbalance = out of humour
  • Humorists
    • Possessed too much of one humour
  • Became objects of ridicule
  • Extended to anyone
    • Skilled at producing ideas, stories
    • Make others laugh
If you have a system that's working you must be doing something wrong. 

What happens when you cross a librarian and a lawyer? 
You can get all the information you want, but you can’t understand it.
How humour works 
  • Are there any new jokes?
    • Structure remains the same
      • But content varies
  • Element of surprise
    • Compare
      • What you expect with what you actually encounter
  • Freud
    • Part of pleasure: result of exercising intellect to understand a joke
    • o “higher” level thinking
      • E.g. puns
Functions of humour
  • Coping
    • Deal with problems/conflicts
    • Step back from seriousness of situation
    • “look on the light side”
    • Release pent-up emotions/tensions
    • Eases social situations
  • Outlet for (otherwise) repressed behaviour
  • Freud:
    • Unconscious level
      • Strong impulses
  • Not allowed direct expression
    • But can “joke” about it
      • Helps control/regulate those feelings
  • Revert to childhood feelings of play
    • Freud
      • Adults tire of society’s demands for rigorous, logical thinking and rational thinking
  • Need an escape mechanism
  • Bond to others in our social group
  • Reinforces group identity
    • Laugh with others
      • Not laughing?
  • Control “straying” members
  • Enhances teaching and learning
  • Has strong recuperative powers
    • Anatomy of an illness by Norman Cousins
Conditions necessary for joke appreciation
  • Adequate intelligence
  • Adequate/appropriate language skills
    • Verbal humour
  • Sufficient life experience to know what is “normal”
Lightbulb jokes!
How many library system managers does it take to change a light bulb?
All of them as the manual was lost in the last move (or flood).

How many reference librarians does it take to change a light bulb? 

(With a perky smile) “Well, I don’t know right off-hand, but I know where we can look it up!”
Techniques used in literature
  • Humorous characterizations
  • Elements of surprise
  • Language
  • Dialect
  • Puns
  • Understatement
  • Departure from logic
  • Compare and contrast
  • Satire
  • Incongruity
Stephen Leacock Award
Leacock medal for humour http://www.leacock.ca/

More humour
Warrior librarian http://www.warriorlibrarian.com/
The Lipstick librarian! http://www.lipsticklibrarian.com/

An annotated bibliography: suggested readings in Canadian Native Literature

Acoose, Janice (Red Sky Woman.) Neither Indian Princess nor Easy Squaw. Toronto: Woman’s Press, 1995.
One woman’s journey from pain to understanding, but not total acceptance.

Campbell, Maria, trans. Stories of the Road Allowance People. Ill. By Sherry Farrell Racette. Penticton: Theytus Books, 1995.
In this beautifully illustrated book, Campbell retells Metis stories that sing the way the original versions must have.

Grant, Agnes, ed. Our Bit of Truth. Winnipeg: Pemmican Publications Inc., 1990.
Comprehensive anthology prepared for use in schools. Criticized since some material included is not from “authentic sources”. Dr. Grant is the Director of the Brandon University Teacher Education Program.

Hoy, Helen. How Should I Read This? Native Woman Writes in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.
Perceptive essays about the problems involved in reading and teaching a variety of works by Native women authors from the viewpoint of a cultural outsider.

Johnston, Basil. Ill. by Maxine Noel (Ioyan Maue). Mermaids and Medicine Women. Native Myths and Legends. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1998.

An acknowledged expert on Ojibway culture, Basil Johnston was born on the Parry Island Reserve in 1929. He is an ethnologist, nonfiction writer, essayist, short story writer, autobiographer and educator. He recently retired from the ethnology department of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
A beautifully illustrated collection of native tales.

Johnston, Basil. Ill. by Shirley Cheechoo. Tales the Elders told. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1981.
The first collection of tales Johnston collected as part of his job at the museum.

Johnston, Basil. Moose Meat and Wild Rice. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1993.
A very funny collection of stories about life on a modern Indian reserve called Moose Meat Point.

King, Thomas, ed. All my relations. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1990.
Excellent introduction to Canadian native writers of fiction from a leading native writer. Contains a wide range of writing styles.

King, Thomas, ill. by Johnny Wales. Coyote sings to the moon. Toronto: Key Porter Kids, 1998.
A delightful picture book about why Coyote “sings” to moon every night. Watercolour illustrations suit the mood of the story very well. Suitable for ages 3 and up.
(See also – A Coyote Columbus Story and King’s adult novels Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water)

King, Thomas. One Good Story That One. Toronto: HarperPerennial, 1993.
Very humorous collection short stories. Several stories feature Coyote, that eternal trickster figure.

King, Thomas and Catherine Mattes, guest editors. Prairie Fire. First Voices, First Words. Vol. 22, No. 3. October, 2001.
An excellent collection includes five commentaries from Joe of Winnipeg (Ian Ross) and reproductions of native fine art.

King, Thomas. The Truth About Stories A Native Narrative. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2003.
These essays were broadcast as the 2003 Massey Lectures, on the CBC radio program, Ideas.

King, Thomas, Cheryl Calver and Helen Hoy, eds. The Native in Literature. Toronto: ECW Press, 1987.
Papers presented at the Native in Literature conference held at the University of Lethbridge, 1984. Includes papers about images in literature of indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada; religious images of Indians in the writing of Charles Gordon and Rudy Wiebe; and the imposition of western literary standards on native writing.

Lutz, Hartmut. Contemporary Challenges Conversations with CANADIAN NATIVE AUTHORS. SK: Fifth House Publishers, 1991.
Interesting conversations with major Canadian native authors. Very useful for background information as authors discuss the issues they deal with in their writing.

Maki, Joel T., ed. Steal My Rage New Native Voices. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1995.
Maki, Joel T., ed. Let the Drums Be Your Heart New Native Voices. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1996.
Steal My Rage grew out of a project sponsored in 1993 by Na-Me-Res, an aboriginal organization in Toronto. A national call for submissions resulted in hundreds of responses: 34 native writers were chosen for this book.
Let the Drums Be Your Heart was sponsored by The Native Writers Development Project and presents 40 new and emerging Canadian native writers.
The quality of writing in these anthologies tends to be uneven, but they serve as good introductions to new/emerging native writers.

Moses, Daniel David and Terry Goldie, eds. An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English. 2nd edition. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1998.
An excellent overview of native Canadian writing. First edition was published in 1992. Should be in every library in Canada.

New, W. H., ed. Native Writers Canadian Writing. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1990.
Special double issue of Canadian Literature, bound as a book. Contains thoughtful criticism interwoven with native poetry. One article of note: Margaret Atwood writes about two of Thomas King’s short stories.

Petrone, Penny. Native Literature in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1990.
Comprehensive overview of the growth of native literature in Canada.

Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach. Toronto: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000.
Finalist for the 2000 Giller Prize. Robinson creates strong characters and uses humor to draw us into her world of the Northern Pacific coast.
(see also – Traplines – her first novel)

Taylor, Drew Hayden. Funny, you don’t look like one. Observations from a blue-eyed Ojibway. Penticton: Theytus Books Ltd., 1996.
Collected essays and articles that originally appeared in a number of publications including The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, and This Magazine. A very perceptive writer, Drew Taylor makes us laugh while pointing out the many foibles of everyday life – from the perspective of a young Ojibway.

Taylor, Drew Hayden. Futile observations of a blue-eyed Ojibway. Penticton: Theytus Books Ltd., 2004.
The final book in the series. Note the change in the title. Taylor turned 40 while writing the pieces in this collection.

Taylor has also written several plays and has traveled widely speaking about his unique point of view.
Trout, Lawana. Native American Literature: An Anthology. Illinois: NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group, 1999.

Prepared as a school text for use in American schools. Includes discussion questions and suggested activities. Good reference.

Waubageshig (Harvey McCue) ed. The Only Good Indian. Don Mills: New Press, 1974.
Waubageshig is an Ojibway from Snake Island of the Georgina Island Reserve in Lake Simcoe, Ontario. He helped to found the Department of Native Studies at Trent University where he taught for 14 years. He has served as the Director of Education, Cree School Board in northern Quebec, the Director General of Indian Education at Indian Affairs, and the founding CEO of the Mikmaq Education Authority in Nova Scotia. He now works as an consultant in Ottawa.

The first book published in Canada that was commissioned, planned and written entirely by natives. Includes essays, excerpts from treaties, a play and a beautiful series of poems by Duke Redbird. Chief Dan George’s piece is especially moving.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Throwing my headband into the ring

On July 16, somewhere deep in the bowels of Edmonton, the future of Canada’s status Aboriginal people will be decided. The election of the Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nation (AFN), Canada’s leading first Nations political and advocacy group, is proving to be one of the most contentious in recent history. Facing each other across the election floor will be incumbent Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come, former Grand Chief Phil Fontaine, and challenger Six Nations Chief Roberta Jamieson (one of the few women to run for the office but the first to be a real contender for this position).

Several provocative issues make this election a most pivotal one in recent Aboriginal history. The controversy surrounding the universal opposition to First Nations Governance Act (FNGA’s) Bill C-7, and the best way for the AFN to deal with the Federal Government, to negotiate, litigate or demonstrate, or all three. The grassroots issue of exploring the possibility that all Status Indians have a vote in the election, not only the Chiefs of the 633 bands which AFN represents. All these issues have made the 24th Annual AGA one to watch. 
I feel it is in my duty as a proud, card-carrying Native person interested in doing my bit for the people to officially declare my candidacy for the office of Grand Chief. Granted, the deadline for nominations ended on June 11, but I am counting on a strong write-in campaign to bring my message to people in all four directions. I have no political background, never went to University, never held any type of office and have voted only one in my life (because my girlfriend of the time made it quite clear the NDP ruled her ethics, heart, and other parts of her body). It’s hard to counterpoint an argument like that. I am going to plan my whole campaign upon my election slogan. Imagine a picture of yours truly and underneath it, printed in bright red letters, “You Could Do Worse.”

That being said, if I am going to succeed in nailing this $125,000 a year job, I will need more than just a pithy catch phrase. I will also need a platform, and to take a position on the relevant issues. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that FNGA is universally disliked. Most candidates believe it is fundamentally flawed because it is built upon the Indian act and introduces even more legislation, rules and regulations to First Nations. The FNGA strengthens the Ministers power and gives him new powers over the First Nations, thus giving the Federal government yet more control over Aboriginal lives. 
Politically aware First Nations people think the Indian Act should be put aside and any legislation if required, should build on Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act which recognizes inherent Aboriginal and Treaty rights. This would call for a Treaty-making and implementation process dealing with lands and re source issues and real self-government at the national level. As an official candidate, I say that FNGA should stand for “For Now, Go Away.”

There is criticism of how the AFN’s profile in Ottawa has lapsed in recent years . Mr. Fontaine thinks it has been reduced to “a protest organization.” Ovide Mercredi, the former Grand Chief, had a highly publicized confrontational and antagonistic relationship Minister of Indian Affairs, Ron Irwin. Rumour is, it got to the point where the Minister refused to take the Mercredi’s phone calls. As a result, communication between the two organizations aimed at improving the lives of Canada’s Native people suffered an all time low.

I blame it on suits. Throughout history, wars have been started, lands swindled, Residential schools planned, and other atrocities in history (Aboriginal or not) have been orchestrated by people wearing suits in one form or another. I think the monochromatic colour scheme of suits, tight collar buttons and ties restrict blood to the brain and encourages aggression and confrontation. I’ll bet David Ahenekew was wearing a suit when he said those anti-Semitic remarks.

Yes, I know the argument. Suits don’t hurt people, people hurt people. Still, it does seem awfully suspicious. Anytime a Native person goes to jail, and raises the already incredibly high Aboriginal incarceration rate, there’s always a couple of suits nearby. People who took our kids away for adoption, in suits. Government officials saying our tax free status is questionable, in suits. Oil executive that were harassing the Lubicon Lake people for their natural resources, in suits. People at the Canada Council who denied me my last grant, in suits. There is a definite theme here. I do own a couple of suits myself; but I only wear them for self-defence.

Upon my election, the first thing I would do is ban the wearing of suits at any organizational function, meeting or conference of the AFN. Historically, I feel suits promote a confrontational attitude. So, I would hold all official gatherings, meetings and sessions in a hot tub. It is my experience that it can be quite difficult to get adversarial while in a hot tub. Everybody is laid back, comfortable, enjoying the hot water, and much more agreeable in nature. I definitely feel more could be accomplished through hot tub negotiations than by wearing a tie. It’s a radical alternative to present First Nations and government relations, and would make all those official discussions and dialogues a little more interesting. The practice might even catch on. Imagine a First Ministers Conference with John Chretien, Ralph Klein and Ernie Eves in a hot tub...then again, maybe you shouldn’t.

There is so much more to the job, but a candidate needs to start somewhere. Every journey starts with a first step. If the Liberals can have a Red Book, so can the Aboriginal Nation, except ours will be white... just for irony’s sake. What’s politics without some form of irony.
Drew Hayden Taylor