I LOGGED INTO my library account and in the Search field typed “alias.” I wanted to place a hold on the fourth and fifth seasons of the ABC television series Alias from earlier in this century, starring Jennifer Garner. Aside from the five DVDs for the series and perhaps a few books about the show, I wasn’t expecting a large number of entries under that word. Hah! There were more than 250 entries for ‘alias.’
But before I continue, first there is Alias the series.
Berni and I are Jennifer Garner fans—we’ve actually seen Butter (twice!) and rave about it to anyone who will listen! Or at least thought we were Jennifer Garner fans.
Then someone made Berni and me aware that had not seen Alias, an ABC television series in which Garner played a CIA agent for five seasons (2001-2006).
The series had been a hit, and she had won a Golden Globe and a SAG Award and received four Emmy Award nominations. But as we didn’t “watch teevee” and only recently began binge-watching old series on DVD, we weren’t hip to this show.
One of the best comic book movies
With the role of double-agent Sydney Bristow in Alias, Garner established herself as an action star. She followed with more action-oriented movies: in 2003, she played Marvel comic book anti-heroine and assassin Elektra in Daredevil (fortunately forgotten by most since).
In 2005, she reprised the role in Elektra, one of the very best comic book-based movies. Unfortunately, the critics and the ticket-buyers disagreed with me: the film was generally panned and lost a small fortune.
She also played other types of roles in other types of movies; several were big hits and made her a fave with romantic-comedy fans and chick-flick aficionados (of which I am a card-carrying member). These included:
Marriage to Ben Affleck happened in there somewhere.
With the marriage and the hits came countless magazine covers and Jennifer Garner became a fixture at grocery store check-out lines, where countless unsuspecting men fell in love with her while waiting to pay for their beer and barbeque potato chips (among which I count myself). 1
Superstardom also happened in there somewhere,
But this article isn’t really about Ms. Garner or Alias the television series. It’s about inputting unnecessary information into computer programs!
An alias by any other name
So a few months ago, we picked up on Alias and enjoyed the first three seasons. Jennifer plays the part with aplomb, she trained for the fight scenes, the scripts are reasonably well-written and entertaining, and she has an able supporting cast.
As for the title of the show, it fits: although many of us think of an alias as just another name that someone goes by, the definition of an alias is “a false or assumed identity.” In Alias, Agent Bristow has many aliases, and of course, she is often drop-dead gorgeous and sexy as hell in those guises.
So I just went to the King County Library System’s website to order the final two seasons of Alias. I typed in “alias” and there 252 listings! This seemed like a helluvalot of listings of books and movies for that one word, so I scrolled down a page or two and to see what gives.
Lo and behold, I found that anything and everything to do with Bob Dylan was listed there! If you’re a Dylanaddict, you should know by now where I am heading with this article . . .
It’s getting dark, too dark to see
This brief article is a notice on how (probably) poorly thought out parameters for a library cataloging system and (probably) one contributor to the listings in that catalog approached his work with a zeal whose excessiveness might be admired and rewarded in a game of Trivial Pursuit, but lends to redundancy and confusion to countless library users.
But not me.
Nossirreebob, I knew why Alias the television series and Alias the novel (Brian Michael Bendis) were followed by Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and 200+ other albums and books relating in some way shape or form to the former Robert Zimmerman’s most famous alias.
It was because of another Dylan alias that really ain’t no alias at all, and should not have been there except for the aforementioned zeal of the Dylan fanatic, who added just a wee bit too much information into the KCLS database.
That long black cloud is comin’ down
In 1973, then hot-as-a-smoking-pistol Sam Peckinpah directed Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid, another “great Western” that wasn’t so great. Starring veteran James Coburn as Garrett and newcomer Kris Kristofferson as Billy, it was also the film début of Bob Dylan. 2
In retirement from making meaningful music, Dylan tried his hand at acting. His performance as an actor in this movie was on par with his performance as a songwriter, musician, and singer on his recent albums: lackluster. 3
Dylan based his character on his ‘new,’ post-rock & roll Bob Dylan persona: countrified, reserved, blurry around the edges.
And his character didn’t have a real name, just an alias.
And that alias was . . .
And that’s why there are more than 200 listings about Bob Dylan in the KCLS catalog under alias. 4
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page was cropped from the first photo within the text of the article (above).
1 Ben Affleck is one of those actors that critics and movie buffs who think they’re rilly cool love to put down—like one of my all-time personal faveraves, Tom Cruise. And other personal faverave Mel Gibson. And personal faveravest Kevin Costner. It must be tough being rilly cool and having to dislike all the remarkable moves made by these men.
2 Looking this movie up in Wikipedia allowed me to find one of the countless factoids—and by countless I mean too many for any mere human to count in a lifetime or ten—that are so often included in Wikipedia. These factoids are often statements of “fact” of a personal nature that can never be verified and seem intended to make the subject look stupid.
Here’s what Wikipedia says in Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid: “Kristofferson also brought Bob Dylan into the film, initially hired to write the title song. Dylan eventually wrote the score and played the small role of Alias. Peckinpah had never heard of Dylan before.”
For those readers who did not grow up in the ’60s and ’70s, the likelihood that ANYONE in ANY artistic field ANYWHERE in the Westernized world could have lived through the second half of the ’60s and the first few years of the ’70s and NOT have heard of Bob Dylan is nigh on impossible to conceive. Except on websites where credulous contributors continually create confusion with their useless and pointless knowledge (and my advice is to not let the boys in).
3 I am referring to the music in general that Bob made in his interlude between being the Voice of His Generation (1963-1968) and the Second Greatest Comeback in Rock & Roll History (1974-1979). These include the albums Nashville Skyline (1969), Self-Portrait and New Morning (1970), Greatest Hits Vol. II (1971), and Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid and Dylan (1973).
4 Bob Dylan was a professional alias for Robert Zimmerman until August 1962, when the latter legally became the former. Dylan used aliases throughout his career to take gigs or do favors and not get into trouble with Columbia Records. Three Dylan recordings credited to Blind Boy Grunt appeared on the 1963 album Broadside Ballads Volume 1 for Broadside magazine (Broadside/Folkway Records). Using the pseudonym Bob Landy, Dylan sat in as a piano player on the 1964 album The Blues Project for Elektra. Dylan played harmonica as Tedham Porterhouse on Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s self-titled album on Vanguard in 1964.