Friday, September 19, 2014

It's "Talk Like A Pirate" Day!

All dressed up but don't know HOW to talk like a pirate? Burbank Public Library can HELP YOU! You need a library card for this, so if you have one, get it ready, and if you don't…WHY? When having one would help you talk like a PIRATE! (or a Frenchman…) It's easy to get one…bring a picture I.D. to any Circulation Desk at any library, and then…and THEN...

Go here to find out everything you need to know!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What We're Reading: New Poetry

The Moon Before Morning, by W.S. Merwin.

You come to a time in your life when the poet heroes of your youth all seem to be saying their farewells. The elegiac nature of Charles Wright’s latest book of poems (previously reviewed here) has that feel, and a major section of the poems in the octogenarian W. S. Merwin’s latest collection may at first seem to share something of that spirit as he takes a look back over the formative experiences of his life as a poet. And yet these poems, however much they may look back, do not have the sound of someone speaking with a voice concerned about a life passing. They are not wistful, an old man’s nostalgia or regret. They feel, on the contrary, wholly consistent with what has always been Merwin’s poetic project, one in which he has tried to capture thought and experience in a poem that has presence and immediacy. Here the ethereal ghosts of the past, be they people or places, have a constancy of meaning that can be summoned, held in hand, and unfolded in the present moment. What we might call recollections are, for Merwin, experiences that live outside of time, and Merwin’s poetic expression of them indeed seems to dismiss the very notion of memory as something sequential, temporal and historical. Memory is not a troublesome or dubious excursion, as it is for so many modern writers. It is a state of re-contemplation and equanimity. For Merwin, nothing is imperfectly recollected or felt. This remarkable surety, this continuity of being, is something we want to believe in. It is the source of much of the power in Merwin’s verse.
The individual poems in In the Moon Before Morning are not poems occasioned by moments of inspiration expressed in some self-conscious craft of poem making. They are, rather, the habiliments for a way of apprehending the world that have become second nature to the poet. You wonder if Merwin has not reached some point in the practice where he could have a thought that was not a poem. The poems here are shorter than those in most of Merwin’s previous work. A few poems in The Moon Before Morning are more like his earlier work with their ingenious manipulation of imagery and a bit of an edge. "No Flag" and "The Prow of the Ark" are two favorites here.

I remember talking to a friend not too long ago about what his infant son might “remember” from these days in his young life, wondering about why our earliest years are a blank in conscious memory and if yet on some level there are things we “remember” from those days deep down, things that were formative and important and that have something to do with who we each become. This poem from The Moon Before Morning considers the same questions. It is, I think, also representative of the character of this collection:


As though it had always been forbidden to remember
each of us grew up
knowing nothing about the beginning
but in time there came from that forgetting
names representing a truth of their own
and we went on repeating them
until they too began not to be remembered
they became part of the forgetting
later came stories like the days themselves
there seemed to be no end to them
and we told what we could remember of them
though we always forgot where they came from
and forgot that it was forbidden
and whether it had been forbidden
but from forgotten pain we recognize
sometimes the truth when it is told to us
and from forgotten happiness we know
that the day we wake to is our own.

Monday, September 15, 2014

This week at the library...

All Toddler Times and Preschool Story Times continue at all three libraries,
per last week's schedule…

Buena Vista branch, 7:00 p.m.

Bill Yenne, author and military historian, will present an illustrated talk on his book, Area 51: Black Jets, about Lockheed and Area 51. The author will sign, and refreshments will be served.

Also on Tuesday…

Buena Vista branch (story time room), 7:00 p.m.
Please note change of venue!

This club is for members only. We will discuss
Pendragon: The Merchant of Death, by D. J. MacHale.

Buena Vista branch, 7:00 p.m.

This club is for members only. We will discuss Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

Central Library, 2:00 p.m.

146 minutes / Rated PG13

Join us for one in a series of films commemorating the Great War.

Central Library, 2:00 p.m.

Le Petit Cinema presents

124 minutes / Rated R

A comedy about love and time travel.

Also on Saturday…

Buena Vista branch, 4:00 p.m.

Join us for an evening of Shakespeare, outdoors at the Buena Vista Branch Library. Bring a blanket or chair. In the event of inclement weather, the program will move indoors.

4:00 PM -- Pre-Show entertainment featuring E M Cirque
4:45 PM -- An Introduction to The Big Read
5:00 PM -- Performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Friday, September 12, 2014

Author Event: AREA 51 BLACK JETS


AREA 51 Black Jets: A History of the Aircraft Developed at Groom Lake, America’s Secret Aviation Base,
by Bill Yenne

The noted aviation historian Bill Yenne has just published an impressive overview of the history of the planes developed in the mysterious region of Nevada known as AREA least a history of all that we know or has been declassified about a region whose shroud of secrecy has given rise to some of the wildest speculations of conspiracy theorists and alien hunters. Yenne’s book is about some of the real aircraft that have been tested in AREA 51 during the past 60 years. The color “black” refers both to the actual color of some of the high-flying surveillance aircraft and fighters that were tested in AREA 51 but also gives a nod to the origin of these planes as secret high-security projects that were kept in the “black.” His book is a story that should be of particular interest to residents here in Burbank, because AREA 51 in the Nevada Test Range was developed by Lockheed with the U.S. Air Force and the CIA beginning in 1955, and many of the major aircraft designed by Lockheed and its famous Advanced Development Division--“Skunk Works”--were tested there, including the U-2, the “Archangel” or “Oxcart” A-12 (the fastest air-breathing airplane in the world at that time, the progenitor of the famous SR-71) the “Stealth” F-117 Nighthawk fighter, and the “Darkstar” and “Polecat” drones, which led to the RQ-170 spy drone.

SR-71 “Blackbirds” being assembled at the famous Lockheed B-6 plant in Burbank

After more than 60 years in Burbank, Lockheed left the city in the early 1990s. The company was a major part of the history of Burbank. This book and Yenne’s upcoming talk are chances for many of the residents who worked for Lockheed in the time after World War II to recollect an important part of their own lives and that of the City of Burbank. It is also a chance to introduce a new generation to the important history of their city and its relationship to the defense of the nation during the Cold War.

Yenne’s book reviews all of the major projects of AREA 51--those of Lockheed's as well as those of other aircraft companies. The book gives a meticulous account of the complicated strategic origins and developmental stages of the projects, both those projects that reached full development and testing and those that were cancelled. Yenne includes a chapter that speculates on the types of projects that may be currently under development in AREA 51. Understanding and decoding the numbers assigned by the Air Force to various planes is an arcane science (especially since some of the numbers assigned were deliberately misleading), but Yenne provides assistance regarding the various craft names and program acronyms in a glossary at the back of the book (it’s about 100 entries long, and believe me, unless you are very familiar with aircraft history you’re going to need this). The book has a good bibliography and index. Certainly the glory of this book is the wealth of beautiful maps, photographs, and illustrations. They are not only outstanding (from company and private collections) but they are superbly integrated with the text, and their captions supplement the text and add to our understanding.

The M-21 was a variant of the A-12 Archangel (“Oxcart”) that carried the D-21 drone.
It is too often the case that in well designed and spectacularly illustrated books, the writing takes a back seat and is frequently perfunctory, inaccurate, or even borrowed wholesale from some other published source. That is not the case here. Yenne is a fine writer, something demonstrated by both his structuring of the narrative and his prose. In the sections of the book in which technical matters are explained, the writing is reserved. Clarity has been his priority. But in both his introduction, and especially in his epilogue, he is more expansive and writes in a prose style that frames the more workmanlike parts of the survey beautifully. The description of his visit to AREA 51 is particularly evocative, and helps us understand our own fascination with the subject. Mystery, mixed with wonder at what we have come to learn of the amazing technology that has been developed in this area, make for a combination that has an irresistible draw. AREA 51 is a place where the envelope is broken, where technological achievements that we may not have imagined, much less thought possible, are made a reality. It is a place where the great creativity and problem-solving ability of human beings is, paradoxically, on display behind a veil of secrecy. Yes, we place a trust that it is a place where work is being done to protect our freedom and security. But more than that, the place has come to represent a belief and a hope in our own abilities. That is what makes AREA 51 Black Jets both an enjoyable and compelling story. What next will fly out of there? Keep an eye to the open skies...rare birds are on the wing.

Please join us for this event. We’re offering AREA 51 Black Jets to those who attend this event at a significantly lower price than you would find at a bookstore or online, not to mention the added fillip of the author's autograph!

The cockpit of the SR-71 "Blackbird"

Sunday, September 07, 2014

This week at the library...


Buena Vista branch, 6:45 p.m.

SAT Essay Writing Seminar,
hosted by Kaplan Test Prep

This seminar is for teens in grades 11 and 12 only. You must sign up by emailing with your name, grade, email address, and telephone number. Seats are limited. Participants please arrive by 6:45, as we will start promptly at 7:00!

Buena Vista branch, 10:00 a.m. or 11:00 a.m.

Toddler Time is for children 1-3 years of age. The Fall Session runs from September 9 - November 4. Toddler Time sign-up at Buena Vista is FULL.

Also on Tuesday...

Central Library, 4:00 p.m.

A craft program for children in grades 2-6. Make glass gem magnets, fun mobiles, and foam bulletin boards for your room! Space is limited -- call 818-238-5610 to reserve your spot.

Buena Vista library, 7:00 p.m. (story time room)

This book club is for members only. We will discuss Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A. S. King.

Buena Vista branch, 10:00 a.m.

For ages 3-5. Enjoy stories, songs, crafts, and films. The Fall Session runs from September 10-November 12. PLEASE NOTE THE NEW DAY!

Also on Wednesday…

Northwest branch, 10:00 a.m.

For ages 5 & under. Enjoy stories, songs, crafts, and films. the Fall Session runs from September 10 - November 12.

Central Library, 7:00 p.m.

Panel Discussion on Cozy Mysteries
Moderated by Ellen Byron, with Tammy Kaehler, Marilyn Meredith, Lisa Seidman, and Holly West.

Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

For ages 3-5. Enjoy stories, songs, crafts, and films. The Fall Session runs from September 11 - November 13.

Central Library, 10:00 a.m.

For children 1-3 years. The Fall Session runs from September 12 - November 14 with storytimes at 10:00 AM Fridays. NO SIGNUPS NECESSARY at Central.

Also on Friday…

A new day for
For children 1-3 years. The Fall Session runs from September 12 - November 14 with storytimes at 10:00 AM OR 11:00 AM, on Fridays.

Buena Vista Library, 8:45 a.m.

Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions will present this FREE Practice Test. Mock exam under timed conditions gives students a chance to practice before they take the real test this fall. Two weeks after the test, students will receive a score report via email, with detailed feedback on their performance, including an analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.

Limited to 65 students, grades 11-12 only (due to upcoming Common Core changes). Email to reserve your spot (include name, email address, telephone number, please). Bring two #2 pencils and a calculator! Finishes at 1:30.

Also on Saturday…

Central Library, 11:00 a.m.

Open to kids from 2-14 and their families! Specially sized larger blocks will be available for toddlers. Children under the age of 9 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

What we're reading: New series by a popular author

Most people in the world know Charlaine Harris best as the author of the Southern Vampire novels, starting with Dead Until Dark, that were the basis for the HBO series True Blood. But she wrote a bunch of books before those, including two mystery series--the Aurora Teagarden cozies about the adventures of a Georgia librarian, and the Lily Bard books set in Shakespeare, Arkansas. I have read one each from those series, but neither really spoke to me. And although I loved the first four or five of the Sookie Stackhouse novels starring the wide-eyed Louisiana mindreader and her new friends, the vampires, after about book six I felt like the series jumped the shark. I did read to the bitter end (because I'm stubborn like that), but I was sad about the direction of the final few, feeling like Harris had lost her way.

Not so with Harris's four books about Harper Connelly, who developed her odd ability to find corpses (and can tell how they died, too) after being struck by lightning. They were as fascinating and strange as their protagonist, and with each one I wanted to rush to the next about Harper and her hunky step-brother, Tolliver. So I was disappointed she stopped with four books, although I loved what Harris did with them, and how nicely she tied up the story arc. Sometimes it's good to know when to stop, and with these she definitely ended on a high note.

Last week, I was simultaneously tidying up and checking out the shelves of New Books at the Central Library when I came upon Harris's latest offering, called Midnight Crossroad, and subtitled "Midnight Texas #1." A new location, a new batch of people…or are they? There was one familiar name, and I was delighted to discover it was my favorite subsidiary character from the Connelly series, the young psychic, Manfred Bernardo. In the Harper Connelly books he appears as the grandson of the psychic with whom Harper occasionally collaborates, and his tender care for his more than slightly crazy grandmother, along with his insouciance (and his multiple facial piercings) intrigued me as much as they did Harper. Now he has moved to a derelict town populated by just a few inhabitants, all of them potentially weirder than Manfred, and their shady pasts will keep him sufficiently entertained while he pursues his lucrative online psychic business.

The book was a winner--fun, quirky, and a good set-up for a new trilogy. I have one problem with it, though: I do deplore how easily her characters seem to decide that killing people is the only solution to their problems. Yes, I know it's fiction. Yes, I know they are some of them vampires and shape shifters, etc., and don't know their own strength or something. But wouldn't you think such long-lived creatures would have more respect for life, not less? Still, a fun mystery, and I look forward to seeing where she takes things next time.

Thursday, September 04, 2014


People! THIS is why you need to spend $25 on a fun evening out to support
Burbank Public Library LITERACY Services!

No, it's not on December 8, it's TONIGHT!

Thursday, September 4, 2014
Ritz Banquet Hall
St. Leon's Cathedral
3325 N. Glenoaks Blvd.

6:00 p.m.: Silent Auction, buffet, no-host bar, door prizes

Will we see you there???