Monday, July 6, 2009

Man in the Mirror

Well, the recent death of the king of pop got me thinking a lot about the world he left behind, as well as my own life and what I've accomplished so far. Without getting too long winded, let's just say I listened to the song "Man in the Mirror" a few times, and decided that, rather then whine and complain about the lack of remaining culture/unique individuals/good music/etc. in our society, I should invite others to relate to me by revealing a bit of my own talents and thoughts. Yes, this blog is called "bibliowhining," but that's only because "bibliotechie" was already taken, not because I plan to be consistently negative. I'm a library science student, and I like puns.

So perhaps it's time to share my artwork with you. And until I get a digital camera, I'll start off with some old favorites.

"Librarians Are Stacked With Knowledge," Christina Spallone, 2009

The above is what I believe to be my most well-known drawing, a t-shirt design for the library science program I attend. If you look closely, you can see some suggested puns in the bottom left hand quarter: "Fully Stacked," and "Abridge to Success". One of my colleagues (I'm not sure who, or I would give him/her credit) cleverly, and to my delight, enhanced the original pun to read, "Librarians are Stacked with Knowledge!" as you can see in the finished products below. This image has popped up in other librarians' blogs, but none so far have detailed it's storied background. Allow me to fill in the gaps:

I am a kind and gentle person, but I am also very quiet and solitary, which unfortunately makes others afraid to approach me. One day, I was on Facebook, and I received a message in my inbox inviting any and all to participate in a t-shirt designing contest for the Library and Information Science program at Syracuse University. It was clearly bait; my colleagues knew I could draw because of my work on a past project. The thing is, in addition to my three classes, I worked 40 hours a week at a fast-food restaurant, and had a second, part-time job assisting my advisor/boss with various proofreading tasks. Drawing is fun, but there was no time for fun time. I didn't bite.

The next day I sensed something fishy was going on. I had class with these two girls Leslie and Katy, and they brought me some cupcakes they had merrily prepared before class, while I was finishing up my 8.5-hour shift scouring dried-up meat sauce from a dirty cambro. After eating the cupcakes, I became very sleepy. I just blamed the sleepiness on my nonstop schedule of work and school, and thought nothing of it. "Thank you."

After class, I felt a gust of wind behind me. Someone threw a garbage bag over my head and dragged me to the corner! Ordinarily, I would have been able to overpower this fiend, but I was feeling sluggish. I don't know why! Immediately, I felt a sting in my side as two sets of soap-in-a-sock began to pound me, all over my body, most painfully on my hipbones. I looked around (the garbage bag was thin enough that I could see through it) for a camera crew from PETA so that maybe someone could learn something from this gratuitous and senseless display of violence. But I saw nothing, only cruel and laughing faces all around me. I agreed to find the time to draw the t-shirt design they wanted so desperately from me.

That day, after class/the bludgeoning, I went home and spent an hour or two sketching my design in pencil. I had to work quickly so that I could wake up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready for my 7:30 AM shift at the fast-food restaurant. After completion I sent Leslie, one of the girls I mentioned earlier, a text message saying she could meet me in the restaurant to preview the design draft. I was in charge that day, so I thought it would be okay if she met with me for a brief cavort.

At 5:30 PM, there she was, standing there waiting for me. After finishing the sandwich I was working on and ringing the customer up (the foreign employees I was working with didn't know how to work the cash register yet, or the English names for any of the meats and vegetables), I brought out my design to show Leslie. She thought some of the proportions were a bit wonky, but overall gave me a thumbs-up. After Leslie left, the boss, who had been watching the live surveillance cameras, called and said she saw me goofing off talking to a friend. I would receive a writeup and a decrease in pay. Then she told me my chores for the night: I had to clean out the oven and the toaster with a scouring pad, then prep 3 tubs of jalapeno peppers, in that order. Yeow!

That night, after arriving home at 11:30PM, I worked quickly to ink the design so I could get a decent nights sleep before my 8AM shift was to begin the next morning. When morning came (a Saturday), I called Leslie to ask if she would like to see the finished product. She was unavailable that day, but penciled me in for two weeks later.

When the t-shirts were made, many kids in class took pictures of each other in their matching SU wear. Of course I was too bashful to take part in any of it.

Okay, so that's the history... or should I say HERstory? It seems that I have unfortunately offended some feminists with my t-shirt design. While most think it puts the dandy in Dan DeCarlo, others believe that this shirt is disrespectful towards librarians. Actually, I have never heard a harsh word said against the librarian profession, except the stereotype that they are plain (in appearance) and cranky. But I don't think the shirt perpetuates that. And -- those stories about being beat up and everything were just silly and made up, but this is the honest truth -- I'm sorry to put this image in your mind, but, as one person already figured out, I was the model for the design (not the face, though; I invented that). Going back to the "Man in the Mirror" theme, I drew everything at home by myself, so the only way to get the pose right was to put on the outfit in the picture, pick up some books, and pose in front of the mirror. I don't usually look like that in public due to my bad posture and conservative dress, but that's how it went down.  It's not perfect, but I'm sure no one will disrespect the profession of librarianship as a result of this t-shirt. It shows that librarians can draw, model, and lift heavy stacks of books.


  1. It wasn't a garbage bag, it was a large recyclable Wegman's bag. And we put kitten sedatives in the cupcakes. Mwahahahaha! P.S. I love your blog already!

  2. Good stuff, between the two of us we should have this blogging business on lockdown in a few weeks.

    Must say, the MJ business really didn't shake me as much as everyone else...maybe because I never liked him as much as everyone else. Sad story obviously and the guy was a monster entertainer, but hey, so it goes.

  3. Chrissy, nice post!

    The stereotype "thing" may reflect on when we all became librarians or what we think librarian should be, etc. Personally, I like the T-Shirt and bag, and think the image (and puns) are great!

    BTW one of the T-shirts was purchased by Ruth Kneale, who has written a book entitled "You Don't Look Like a Librarian!" She liked the shirt!

  4. Yeah, I remember you telling me about Ruth Kneale! I flipped through that book in class, which is why I wore a "Bloodhag" shirt on crazy t-shirt day, but I don't think anyone got the joke. They probably just thought I was a punk.

  5. Love the blogs, Chrissy! Great work, as always!! :D