Monday, December 05, 2016

This week at the library...

MONDAY
Central Library, 7:00 p.m.


Live & Learn Documentary Series presents...
EIGHT DAYS A WEEK: The Touring Years

Academy Award-winner Ron Howard’s authorized and highly anticipated documentary feature film about The Beatles’ phenomenal early career. Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years is based on the first part of The Beatles’ career (1962-1966) – the period in which they toured and captured the world’s acclaim. This film explores their inner workings – how they made decisions, created their music, and built their collective career together – all the while exploring their extraordinary and unique musical gifts and remarkable, complementary personalities.
106 minutes / not rated


TUESDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m.

BPL and the Burbank Recycling Center present...
JUST EAT IT
A Documentary about food waste and food rescue

Filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant dive into the issue of waste from farm through retail all the way to the back of their own fridge. Just Eat It brings farmers, retailers, inspiring organizations, and consumers to the table in a cinematic story that is equal parts education and delicious entertainment. Following the documentary (which runs 74 minutes), there will be a discussion with Luis Yepiz, wholesale manager for Food Forward, a local food recovery and donation organization.



Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

DRAWING 101 FOR ADULTS:
THE HUMAN HEAD
Possibly one of the most difficult subjects to draw, the human head can be a daunting subject to tackle. This class will offer help drawing males and females of all ages, from infants to seniors. Suitable for beginning artists or those already familiar with these methods, this class will make sketching an appealing face a lot simpler and more enjoyable!

Noah Fontana works as a story artist, animator, illustrator, and visual development artist.




Please note:
10-12 BOOK CLUB
has been moved to NEXT Tuesday, December 13.

6+7 BOOK CLUB
has been moved to Tuesday, December 20, @ Buena Vista

Please contact melliott@burbankca.gov with questions.



WEDNESDAY
Central Library, 4:00 p.m.

Family Films presents...
FINDING DORY
When Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), the forgetful blue tang, suddenly remembers she has a family who may be looking for her, she, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) take off on a life-changing quest to find them.
97 minutes / rated PG

Second screening at Buena Vista Branch Library on December 13.





WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY
Central Library, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Buena Vista Branch, 6:30 p.m. Thursday

MOON WATCH
Members of Sidewalk Astronomers will set up telescopes to view the moon and any visible planets. (Program may be cancelled if extremely cloudy or raining.)








CHILDREN'S HOLIDAY PROGRAMMING
THIS WEEK

HOLIDAY STORYTIME
Come for stories, songs, a craft... and a very special guest (ho! ho! ho!)
Tuesday, 10:00 a.m., Buena Vista Branch: UNDER age 3
Wednesday, 10:00 a.m., Northwest Branch: For ages 5 and UNDER
Friday, 1:00 p.m., Buena Vista Branch: For ages 3-5








Franklin Haynes Marionettes presents...
FROSTY'S MAGIC HAT
What happened to Frosty's Magic Hat? What to do? What to do? Frieda, the Good Christmas Fairy, has been packed off to sunny Florida by her old bully sister, Smarmy, the Bad Christmas Fairy! There will be no more snow, no fun, and no more Christmas if Smarmy has anything to do with it!

Fun for the whole family on
Saturday, 11:00 a.m., at Buena Vista Branch.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

REMINDER!

ALL BURBANK LIBRARIES will be CLOSED TOMORROW, Friday, December 2.


All branches of Burbank Public Library will be closed on Friday, December 2

for a Library Staff In-Service Day. We will reopen for regular hours on Saturday, December 3.

With OverDrive you can download a free eBook.


With InstantFlix you can watch a PBS documentary, a short film, or a classic cartoon.


FREE with your library card.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What we're reading: The wonderful (and verbose) Tana French

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6), by Tana French

When a pretty young woman winds up dead in her living room, detectives Conway and Moran from the Dublin Murder Squad catch the case, right at the end of their graveyard shift. Being on the Murder Squad hasn't panned out as well as Antoinette Conway had hoped; with the exception of her baby-faced newbie partner, Stephen Moran, with whom she is tentatively beginning to bond, the rest of the squad has been distinctly cold to her--except for the ones who have been slyly abusive. Their harassment is beginning to get to Conway, and it doesn't help that there's no pay-off when it comes to good cases--she and Moran always pull the predictable "domestics" with little challenge involved.

This one is no exception--the new boyfriend looks like the more-than-obvious choice as the murderer...although the victim's best friend seems to be hinting that she was in danger from another quarter. What's really puzzling, though, is why their boss and the more experienced detective he has assigned to oversee their work are rushing them into booking the guy. Conway has this eerie feeling that she's met the victim before, but can't quite dredge up the memory. When she does, the case shifts into something more sinister and complex than a simple dispute gone wrong between lovers, and Conway and Moran realize that to solve it will put them in more hot water than ever...maybe even out of a job.

You could call Tana French's books a series, since they all take place in the same approximate location with the same group of people, but although your experience will be deepened by reading them in order, it's not strictly necessary. With each book, a different person takes the lead as protagonist, and although each person has also appeared as a minor character (or maybe only as a passing mention) in the others, the level of continuity is much lower than in a series in which you are following one lead detective. You instead get to see people from both the inside (when they are the main character) and from the outside (when you are receiving others' impressions of them), which adds a layer of interest to the whole group of novels. For instance, in book #3 (Faithful Place), Detective Frank Mackey's entire life ends up on public display, while in book #5 (The Secret Place), he is a minor, though important, character.

With every novel, I am more in awe of Tana French. It's not just one thing, it's the whole package: It's that her books are smart and literary on a par with such writers as Donna Tartt (and, admittedly, almost as long--if you aren't a fan of minute detail, you may not love these like I do); but their psychological intensity is alleviated by profane humor and wit, and the mystery itself is always intriguingly complex and "wallow-able." It's that her characters are so spot-on and so fully realized that you would recognize them instantly if you ran into them in your corner café (and invite them for a cuppa or a pint, if you weren't too intimidated by them), and her scene-setting and description puts you right in the moment, in the room, in the town, in the weather and on the cobblestones of the damp streets of Dublin. Every time I read one, I can't put it down, but I also purposely delay finishing by an afternoon or a day by distracting myself with other things, because I know when I'm done I'll have a while to wait before I have another pleasure this good. Thank you, Tana French, for not taking 10 years to write a book like Donna Tartt does!


Monday, November 28, 2016

This week at the library...




TUESDAY
Central Library, 6:30 p.m.

POETRY WORKSHOP FOR ADULTS
Call 818-238-5580 to sign up for this no-pressure poetry workshop for beginners with Marlaya Charleston. It's an easy, playful, fun class. Participants can illustrate their poetry with collage materials, pictures, or with their own drawings.

Marlaya Charleston holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The School of Visual Arts in New York, and has had a career as a visual artist since the 1970s. She is a published poet and has performed stand-up comedy and worked as an actor. Marlaya also holds a teaching credential from the State of California.




WEDNESDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 12:00 noon

SENSORY STORYTIME


Who: Any child who has difficulty sitting through a traditional storytime.

What: This is a small inclusive program of stories, songs, and activities that provides freedom to children with special needs, within a structured space.

Pre-registration is required: Limited to 10 children. (A small group is what makes Sensory Storytime engaging for the participants.)

Please call 818-238-5630.




4:00 and 7:00 p.m. (two sessions)

LOST BURBANK AUTHOR EVENT!
Meet authors Wes Clark & Mike McDaniel as they discuss the history and lore of Burbank and present an entertaining and educational slide show. The authors guarantee that you will learn something new - or they will eat a Martino's teacake! Books will be available for purchase and signing. We anticipate a large turn-out, so we have scheduled two sessions--pick the one most convenient for you!









FRIDAY
ALL BURBANK LIBRARIES CLOSED!
9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


All branches of Burbank Public Library will be closed on Friday, December 2 for a Library Staff In-Service Day. We will reopen for regular hours on Saturday, December 3.


With OverDrive you can download a free eBook.


With InstantFlix you can watch a PBS documentary, a short film, or a classic cartoon.

FREE with your library card.


SATURDAY
Buena Vista Branch, 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.



DEWEY'S DRAGON TALES!
Teens read to tots! Stop by the Children's Room with your toddlers and listen to a great selection of dragon picture books shared by our Burbank teens. Dewey the Dragon, our library mascot, will also pay a visit. Drop in and listen to one story, or stay for them all!









Saturday, November 26, 2016

What we're reading: Jack the Ripper

Readers of this blog know that a lot of my posts revolve around mystery series that I get stuck into and pursue for many volumes. And so those same readers have had to put up with my disgruntled reaction when one of those volumes doesn't live up to the rest. I'm sorry to say that this is the case with Lost and Gone Forever, the latest Murder Squad mystery by Alex Grecian.

I have enjoyed most of these books that explore the beginnings of modern detection and forensics in Victorian England with the formation of a special squad at Scotland Yard. And I can't say that I did not enjoy this one at all; but I have a particular beef that I'm hoping Grecian resolves in his next novel for this series.

This book takes up about a year after The Harvest Man left off. Walter Day has now been missing for more than a year, and although the search for him has been mostly put on the back burner by the Murder Squad, the presumption is that he may still be alive, and that "Saucy Jack" (Jack the Ripper) was his kidnapper and may still be his keeper. Nevil Hammersmith, who lost his job at the Yard due to some of his rash actions in his past two cases, has set up on his own as a private detective; but his one and only priority is to find Walter Day (and he is being paid by Day's wife to do so), indulging his obsession with the Ripper in the process, so the two women who work for him (one of whom we met in a previous volume as a victim of the Harvest Man) have to pursue other cases to keep the business afloat. Day's wife, Clare, has published her book of children's poems and is now trying her hand at a short story, which serves as a plot device and metaphor. And Clare's father, one of the members of a secret society responsible for the inadvertent release of Jack back into society, has hired a couple of notorious bounty hunters to search for and kill Jack before Jack kills him.

The problem I have with this book is that the focus is still, tediously, on Jack the Ripper. While I did wish to know what happened to Walter Day, we don't really find out much except in an extremely oblique manner--the focus is much more on Jack's effect on Walter than it is on Walter himself. There are elements of the story that are interesting, especially the use of Plumm's Department Store as the setting for much of the action, but I'm really hoping that this is Mr. Grecian's last obsessive hurrah regarding Jack, because apart from that story, there isn't much here. I didn't understand the incorporation of the thoroughly nasty and opaquely mysterious Parkers (unless there is some historical theory of which I am unaware but which their presence in the story fulfills); I didn't care for the children's story plot device (it was just weird); and Nevil Hammersmith's continued cluelessness about Fiona Kingsley's feelings for him makes me want to kill him myself, instead of waiting for Jack to do so!

I have greatly enjoyed the writing, the characters, and the plotting of previous books, and am really hoping that the next outing with the Murder Squad has absolutely nothing to do with "that guy"!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What We're Reading: Pilgrims, Puritans, and Slavery


New England Bound: Slavery and Colonization in Early America, by Wendy Warren

The recent direction in American colonial studies and the study of the American Revolution, led by historians such as Alan Taylor, has been to cast a wider eye on the American continent, to look beyond just the 13 original English colonies, and to examine as central to American history the interaction between the colonies and the people and territories that surrounded them, and their role in the larger regional and international economic and trade systems in which they were enmeshed. The trend in historical research on American slavery has been to examine it as an institution that was not just an isolated 19th-century American Southern phenomenon, but one that had significant continental and international antecedents as part of the Atlantic world, tangled in highly dependent and supportive ways with the economic system of the nation as a whole. Edward Baptist’s recent book on American slavery, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, is representative of this approach, one that places slavery as much economically as politically central to America’s early development. New England Bound uses both of these contemporary perspectives, while making an even more fundamental argument about European slavery in the New World. Warren argues that slavery and colonization were inextricably tied together; they were two sides of the same coin. The viability of early colonization attempts invariably depended on slave labor, either directly in the colony or through some critical mercantile relationship.




A 17th-century map of the English plantations on Barbados in the West Indies.
New England supplied much of the food for its slave population.
The subject of this book is discrete: the institution of slavery in the 17th- and 18th-century New England colonies. Most of us don’t think of New England as a place of slavery, but the Pilgrim and Puritan seekers of religious freedom endorsed it without question. We think of American slavery as defined by that of the 19th-century American South. Historical scholarship has made some inquiry into slavery in the early colonial period, but hardly any at all concerning slavery in New England during that time. This is not a very long book, but the research, one suspects, was prodigious. Most of it is from primary sources: letters, wills, probate records, legal cases, and other public records. Warren combed them for any mention of slave owning or transactions involving slaves. Slave holding was never as pervasive in New England as it later became in the South, but it was extensive enough for most colonists in the New England to know about and to see in their daily lives the slaves that were held by wealthier colonists, an ownership that was a visible sign of social status. Those wealthier colonists would usually own one or two slaves, often as household servants or for working at artisan tasks. Some slaves were employed in cultivation, but never in the huge numbers that were involved in the cash crop agricultural industries of the West Indies and later in the American South.


The burning of a village of Pequot Indians at Mistick Fort during the Pequot War.
Captured Indians were often sold by settlers as slaves to planters in the West Indies.


There are a number of things about slavery in New England that Warren wants us to understand. New England was part of a far-flung Atlantic world of trade and colonization, and the trade in slaves was a common and accepted part of commerce in that world, from the early days of the Portuguese and Spanish in the New World to the later employment of slaves in the colonization of the English and French in North America and the Caribbean. The English were involved in the Spanish and Portuguese slave trade even before they had themselves had colonies with slaves. New England merchants and ship masters continued to be involved in that trade in the Atlantic world, but the major contribution of New England shipping to the establishment and exploitation of slaves was their role as the vital transportation link in commerce with the British West Indies. Planters in the West Indies put almost all their arable land into the extremely profitable cultivation of sugar cane. The food for slaves was imported from the farms and fisheries of New England, a trade that in turn sustained the New England economy.



Portrait of Judge Samuel Sewall by John Smibert,
1728. Sewall was one of the few voices to

speak against slavery in New England. In 1700,

he wrote  a largely ignored anti-slavery tract,

The Selling of  Joseph.

Readers of New England Bound may be surprised to learn about the extent of Native American slavery in the colonies. This is a subject that is also receiving growing historical interest in recent years (see for example, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, by Andrés Reséndez). Warren explains the differences between Native American slavery and African slavery, and the dynamic between the two in the colonies and in the Atlantic slave economy. The acceptance of slavery in New England was not just an acceptance of African slavery, but an acceptance of the enslavement of other races and of gradations of indenture. The Squanto of Thanksgiving mythology was able to communicate with the Pilgrims because he had been abducted by a British captain and sold into slavery in Spain in 1614. Somehow making an escape to England, he learned the rudiments of English and eventually found passage back to America, where he found that most of his family and tribe had died of smallpox.


Readers of New England Bound may be surprised to learn about the extent of Native American slavery in the colonies. This is a subject too, receiving growing historical interest in recent years (see for example, The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez). Warren explains the differences between Native American slavery and African slavery, and explains the dynamic between the two in the colonies and in the Atlantic slave economy. The acceptance of slavery in New England was not just an acceptance of African slavery, but an acceptance of the enslavement of other races and of gradations of indenture as well. The Squanto of Thanksgiving mythology was able to communicate with the Pilgrims because he had been abducted by a British captain and sold into slavery in Spain in 1614. Somehow making an escape to England, he learned the rudiments of English and eventually found passage back to America where he found that most of his family and tribe had died of smallpox.

Warren examines the work of New England divines and documents how religion in New England was accepting of the institution of slavery. It would be hard to locate a nascent abolitionism in New England Protestantism, although she notes the early anti-slavery tract, The Selling of Joseph, by Samuel Sewall. New England was part of a 17th-century Atlantic world that accepted slavery, and thought little of it as a moral evil. The existence of slaves, and the need to settle legal issues involving slaves as they arose, resulted in an accrual of laws and judicial rulings that, over time, served to establish slavery in the New England colonies. On the matter of slavery, Warren dispels the myth that New England was a better or more enlightened group of colonies than colonies anywhere else in the Atlantic world. Things might have been harsher elsewhere, but that was more a matter of exigencies than scruples. New England was not very different from the rest of the world it knew, in either racial attitudes or complacency about the slavery of others. Slavery and racism in America Warren shows us had early and broad national origins.

What makes New England Bound unsettling, however, is not that it traces a long history of racism and slavery, but rather the existential argument it makes. Warren’s argues that there was a symbiosis-- one that was dependent and determinant--between successful colonization and slavery throughout the Atlantic world during this period; that is the major argument of this book. The colonies survived and we became a nation because of enslaving others. That forces a profound and paradigmatic shift in how we view slavery, our wealth, and even our national existence.





Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What we're reading: Crossover sci fi

I was so happy to see that there was a new book available by that much-awarded science fiction writer, Connie Willis! (more Hugo and Nebula Awards than any other writer)

Crosstalk, a "cross" between romantic comedy and social satire, is a departure from her time travel books, although it shares the quality of a French farce with one of my favorites from that group, To Say Nothing of the Dog, in that the sheer quantity of crossed purposes and missed opportunities vastly complicate a situation already fraught with major pitfalls.

In the not-too-distant future, a doctor has come up with a "simple outpatient procedure" (yes, it's brain surgery, but don't worry) to increase empathy between romantic partners. After a six-week whirlwind romance with Trent Worth (one of her co-workers at the mobile phone company that employs them to stay one step ahead of their competitor, Apple), Briddey Flannigan is pleased when her boyfriend suggests they undergo the EED procedure together. She is anticipating that a closer emotional connection and enhanced understanding will be the result.

Complicating these plans are her large, needy, and completely boundary-less family members, most of whom disapprove of her intention to get the EED (and some of whom disapprove of Trent as well), and her co-worker, C.B. Schwartz, who is amazingly technophobic for a guy who works for a competitor of Apple, and is worried that Briddey's EED will cause UICs (unintended consequences). Despite all their advice, 
Briddey takes the step and makes a connection--but it's with someone else, and it's definitely not what she expected. Willis takes on our over-connected world of TMI (too much information) and multiplies its perils exponentially in this crazy comedy of errors.

This book was so much fun. Although Willis was a
little self-indulgent with what a reviewer on Goodreads called "a superfluity of interrupted communications" (what a perfect phrase), the concept, the characters, the internal dialogue, and the situations were all fabulously witty, and before the (somewhat) anticipated ending, the plot follows several unexpectedly delightful red herrings.

In a weird way, this book reminded me of Rainbow Rowell's first book, Attachments: Both have a technology connection; in both, some people are aware of what other people are saying without those people's knowledge; and there's the unlikely romance....

Regardless, all hail the great Connie Willis, and read the book! It's perfect escapism for a long holiday weekend....