They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

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Are Booksellers Trying to Tell Us Something?

As Seen On National Public Radio

Weekend Edition Saturday on NPR had a piece about a new book Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality by Pauline W. Chen. It sounded interesting -- a discussion of the role that death and handling of death has in the making of doctors, and the author's attempts to resist becoming dehumanized to death. Plus I am always looking for good things for my science literacy booklist I subject all my students to.

I was already destined to be off to Schuler's Books on Alpine Avenue anyway. After dropping a couple of hundred there for Christmas presents, we ended up with some 10% off coupons which expire at the end of January. What a shame -- forced to go back to Schuler's to buy books. (grin)

As a newly reviewed book, I figured Final Exam might be in the New Books shelf. Alas, no. So I checked the customer available PC to get the full title and author, then checked with the Customer Service desk. The Goth Lite woman who helped me instantly recognized the title, especially as I said it was on NPR that morning -- don't know if she listens to WESat or I wasn't the first query.

As she led me through the aisles, I commented that I wasn't quite sure where the Medicine books were in the Alpine store, since it is laid out differently than the 28th Street store. That's when she told me, "Oh, it's not under Medicine, it's filed under Death." "You have a Death section?" "Yeah, right next to the Dying section."

Oh, but it's better than that. Because the wooden signs on top of the bookcase sections as we approached had Self Help and Relationships. Whoa -- symbolism alert. Death is filed between Self Help and Relationships.

But Wait, There's More

When I told this to Mrs. Dr. Phil, she had a story of her own like this. Someone looking for books on Creativity -- which turns out to be indexed between Self-Help and Depression. Huh. Now there's an amazing accident of design. Freudian shelving anyone?

Third Time's The Charm

Not to be ungrateful, but as long as our families insist on "greed lists" for present requests for things like the Summer Birthday Bash and Christmas, then I can hardly be blamed for listing things which would be nifty to have. Twice in 2006 I requested the Widescreen version of the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Twice I got the Full Screen DVD. Twice I handed them off to people happy to have an HP movie they'd not seen, and weren't trying to match the Special Edition sets of the previous three. I'm not blaming the gift givers here -- come on, Hollywood, couldn't you come up with two terms which better describe the difference between the letterboxed theatrical aspect ratio and the pan-and-scan to fit the TV screen aspect ratio? Gee, how about Letterbox and TV formats? But no, we get "full" and "wide" which can mean the same thing to someone who isn't a format dilettante.

So while I was at Schuler's and had my 10% off coupon, I checked out the DVDs. There was nothing in the SF/Fantasy section, but the Action section yielded only the one disk Full Screen version. On a hunch, I rounded the last corner where Children's DVDs had only horrible pastel colored animated stuff. But at the end of the aisle, the Family section had -- YAY -- the two-disk Widescreen Special Edition.

The set is again complete until the next movie comes out. (grin)


Dr. Phil
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