Watha T. Daniel/Shaw
Neighborhood Library

Published on Monday, December 14, 2009

Kung Fu Jazz


In Bruce Lee movies the fighting is so perfectly choreographed it almost looks real. Well, not REAL real, of course, but the way we'd imagine real might look in Hollywood. It would only make sense on screen. Imagine the scene in Fist of Fury where Lee takes on an entire school of assassins-in-training if it were real and not painstakingly planned out. It wouldn't make for a very interesting (or long) film. But we accept that such blatant posturing is the nature of the High Arts when they become commercialized.

Imagine if, at a concert at Carnegie Hall of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, all the highly-trained instrumentalists walked onto the stage and started improvising on Bach themes. Unacceptable! Surgically-orchestrated art, free improvisation, structured improvisation—all these forms are valid and have found homes in the music world. I'd like to examine a piece from that second category, an expressionist jazz record made in 1977: Streams of Consciousness by Max Roach and Abdullah Ibrahim. We’ll get to that, but first a little background.

Published on Saturday, December 12, 2009

cover art for A Thousand Hills by Stephen KinzerIt seems to me that people cannot look such terrible events as genocide in the face. They have to approach traumatic events from a more humanitarian angle that makes the harsh reality more palatable. The recent popular film Hotel Rwanda focused on the inspirational story of the rescue of a Tutsi population and foreigners residing in a Luxury Hotel from the marauding gangs of killers during the genocide. In this particular Rwanda is fortunate for having an inspirational story in the current President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame.

Published on Saturday, November 28, 2009
Under the Dome cover image

Under the Dome

by Stephen King
New York : Scribner, 2009

Stephen King's newest novel, Under the Dome, is probably the best thing he's written this decade. In the very near future, the town of Chester's Mill is suddenly and inexplicably cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible, impenetrable dome. There is

Makers, by Cory Doctorow

Published on Saturday, November 7, 2009
Book Cover, Makers, by Cory DoctorowMakers
by Cory Doctorow
New York : Tor, 2009.

I have been hearing Cory Doctorow's name in various contexts for a few years, now. As a fan of cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk, how could I not have? Yet I never read his work until now. With no clue what to look for, I was happily surprised by Makers.

Published on Thursday, November 5, 2009

do androids dream of electric sheep cover art I just finished reading the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It seems like half the staff were reading it all at the same time, and a couple of us watched Blade Runner, the film inspired by the book. It's been sitting on my bookshelf at home for years now, and I've been wanting to read it for a while.

Published on Friday, October 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo logoIt's my favorite time of year! Well, after Poetry Month, Earth Day, Pride, Halloween, Christmas, New Year and Easter.... Okay, it's an awesome time of the year!

November is National Novel Writing Month. Just like last year, we'll be having NaNoWriMo support groups on Saturday afternoons all throughout November to help you crank through your novel.

Published on Friday, October 30, 2009

Bookcart cityscape at nightBookcart stars and stripes and chainsBookcart blue tree with red leaves

Pimp My Bookcart
is a national project run by the web comic Unshelved. I've been wanting to do this project for years, and finally, this last Saturday, I had the great opportunity to work with some of the neighborhood kids and Liz from the Capitol Letters Writing Center and together we all designed this awesome bookcart. Each of us came up with a plan and we brought all our ideas together into one sweet design.

Published on Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I bought a nice pair of Bose headphones and they changed my
life. The sound quality was so good that I decided it was finally time to jump back
into listening to classical music. Classical recordings, even the smaller label
records, are almost always of extreme audiophile quality. Soon I was hovering
over my favorite orchestras again, hearing every nuance and harmonic that
distinguishes one version of the Eroica,
for example, from the next. In high school I was obsessed with Beethoven, and through
the master was introduced to several other early romance composers including one
of my favorites—Hector Berlioz.


Published on Monday, October 19, 2009

Mad Men PosterIf you haven't been watching Mad Men on AMC you are missing out on one of the best written, best acted shows on television today. You can get up to speed with Don, Betty, Joan, Peggy, Pete and the crew by checking out seasons 1 and 2 from your local DC Public Library.

But we've got way more than just the videos. Being an avid fan of the show I've compiled a list of books that are mentioned throughout the course of the show that we have here in the collection, along with some other period pieces and contextual works that I'm sure you'll find enjoyable, if not amusing.

Check it out.

Books Mentioned in Mad Men

Published on Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bats at the libraryAt today's story time we read Bats at the Library by Brian Lies. Afterward we made little felt bats to hang around the children's room and to take home.

If you want to make a felt bat of your very own it's super simple to do. All you need is

    * A piece of felt
    * A pipe cleaner
    * A pair of scissors &
    * A piece of string

First cut your felt into a rectangle.

Then clip out the triangles shown in the illustration below.

Bat Shape