Friday, December 18, 2009

New Watha T. Construction Video

Building is moving swiftly at the new Watha T. Daniel Library construction site. Check out this little video to see how far we've come!

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.

In high school I went dozens of times to see the Hank Roberts Trio, a cello-centric jazz/folk/fusion/experimental music group. As a young musician, it was by watching and listening to the Trio that I observed an improvisation that went several levels deeper than the fun jam-bands we teens also flocked toward (not for completely musical reasons). It is often the interplay of all the players, the back-and-forth, and not just one person's domination that makes jazz that much more complex. For some reason I think of sports with their finite number of players but infinite possible outcomes. This attribute is especially evident in a record I stumbled upon in our collection: a rare 1977 duet by drummer Max Roach and pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand) entitled Streams of Consciousness. The credits say it was produced by Max Roach, but saying it was produced by anyone is laughable—all they needed to do was get the guys in the same room and hit the record button.

At the beginning of their interplay, the piano sets off in a gospel direction, only to collide with the deepest swung funk beat. Experimental jazz meets stride, and complete discord meets pop. At times you can almost hear Carole King singing, but that is interrupted by ideas a bit too interesting for seventies pop (not that there's anything wrong with it!). Ibrahim slams down a Vince Guaraldi-like left hand line that is deliberately off-time, enough so to throw Roach off balance. This transforms the next series of movements into a fun sparring match. This interaction never turns into a train wreck. My guess is that the pianist was trying to stir things up. We travel through some blues, some stride piano, a drum solo that sounds like a machine-gun battle, but always return to Roach's funk. Every once in a while you have to remind yourself that you're only listening to two people. When one drops out for a moment you can't help thinking, Hey, where did everyone go? Ibrahim throws in an upbeat progression and a bunch of flowery chords here and there to help knit everything together and a bit more Guaraldi for good measure.

There is proof on track two that melodies and chords can be played on a drum kit. Roach seemingly uses every piece of drum hardware as percussion. The second track soon takes a turn for the conventional. For some reason the second bit of this cut feels like walking home.

On the third track I hear people at a party, dishes and silverware clinking, laughter. Roach shows the listener the possibilities of the high-hat cymbal, using the metallic concussion as well as the inner resonance to create a hollow vocal sound. I'd hate to have to transcribe this monologue, though.
The last track allows the space between chords and drum hits to become the melody. I know that's a strange concept. Picture a Béla Bartók percussion ensemble at a speakeasy. Max gets the most out of that snare drum—it kind of makes you rethink what you thought you knew about drums.

The liner notes bend over backwards to stress there was no preparation for this recording. Simply put, these two jazz giants sat down and started playing. In the realm of jazz (traditional jazz, free jazz and bebop, as opposed to smooth jazz, which I like to call jass or Quiet Storm Jazz) this less structured approach is not uncommon and in free jazz is a prerequisite. Of course, when you consider the deep musical background of Roach and Ibrahim and the status of each as virtuoso instrumentalist, composer, band leader and cohort of the biggest names in jazz, it is not surprising that we're still operating within the world of seventies jazz music. In current popular music parlance I would have trouble placing Streams into a category, to use with iTunes for instance. Yes, it is free jazz, but being played by two musicians with supreme understanding of composition and form. Yes, the first song is over twenty minutes long, yet it is exceedingly listenable. Yes, this is one in a relatively long list of Roach studio duets, but there is a reason Roach named this his favorite of all his famous duets. This was a non-commercial record. This condition is practically built into it by nature of it being free jazz. It may have been free in its creation, but Streams of Consciousness has ultimately proved priceless. Put on your good headphones and close your eyes!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What Happend to "This Week at Watha T"?


Hey there loyal readers.

I'm sure you're probably all wondering what happened to our weekly calendar of events we used to do entitled "This Week at Watha T."

Well, we've started to migrate our content over to the hot new library webpage! Just go to http://www.dclibrary.org/watha and you can see the entire list of events for Watha T. Daniel right there online. You can even subscribe to our RSS feed from the new library webpage by clicking on the RSS icon in the blue bar with our name and picture.


Check it out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Check Out Northwest One

Remember when I posted the picture from the installation of Northwest One? Well, we opened to the public on December 7th and people took notice. Check out this video from ABC 7 about the amount of videos, audio books and technology in the new facility in Ward 6.



I'll still be floating back and forth between locations, but it's super fun opening a new branch!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Prepare to Meet Your Dome!














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 no warning, and several people (and one unfortunate woodchuck) suffer the consequences immediately. For everyone else, the horror escalates rapidly as one thing after another goes wrong; the town's propane supply is mysteriously short, the most powerful politician in town becomes increasingly despotic, and the sky begins to darken, slowly but inexorably.

In the tradition of Needful Things and Tommyknockers, Under the Dome features King's signature style of ensemble casts. Though the story closely follows a handful of characters, the whole town is placed, as it were, under the microscope. Also, like most of King's writing, the horror and tragedy stem from basic human emotions and responses more than on any supernatural malevolence. Though the Dome has created a terrible situation, it is ultimately the actions of the townsfolk which drive the hellish pace of the story; and it is hellish.

Though bulky and somewhat recycled (is there any small town in Maine safe from annihilation?), the story is paced beautifully. There are no lulls in the action, and there are several scenes, including the climactic ending, which truly filled me with dread. One of the best things about this particular story is its horrible inevitability, and while there are some surprises, it is even worse knowing what's going to happen, and watching it still happen anyway.

The best part of this story is its thorough modernity. Under the Dome does not ignore the changing nature of communications technology, and in fact relies on it in several places to advance the plot. The media and military know about what's happening; in fact, the whole world knows, and must watch as the reader watches with sick fascination as calamities descend on Chester's Mill. They helplessly watch as the town shows signs of climate-change in miniature, rape becomes an epidemic, and the drug-culture literally blows up in their faces. If the dome is a trap, it is also a funhouse mirror, reflecting the times in stark relief.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Recent Books on Rwanda


It 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. Paul Kagame’s biography is the story of Rwanda and its neighbors through the past twenty years through the Hutu domination of Rwanda and the exile and persecution of the Tutsi population. Kagame started life as a Tutsi exile in Uganda who prepared himself for leadership and eventually led an army into Rwanda to take control during the political chaos of the genocide of 1994. He also led the early government in Rwanda that sought to reconcile the ethnic groups in one government that could pick up the pieces.
Nevertheless, the lasting effects of the genocide have to be dealt with. In 1994, nearly a million Tutsi were slaughtered by their Rwandan friends, neighbors and, in some cases, relatives who were members of the Hutu tribe. European leaders quietly observed the slaughter and may have even contributed to it. Most notably, the U.N. failed to intervene on any level to save lives and the U.S. simply ignored the slaughter.
The Author of “A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man who Dreamed It”, Stephen Kinzer, tries to tell the entire story of Rwanda from the beginning with Paul Kagame as its hero. It's a difficult story of the slow build up to hatred and mass murder and one that deserves the attention of a world that looked the other way while it was happening. Many of our international leaders have used the word "genocide" often without looking into its real meaning. However, the details of the events of that year in Rwanda show all the horrible aspects of this kind of event. The use of that word can only take on its full meaning when one looks at the realities of a civil war and an internal policy of systematic hatred of an ethnic enemy intended to unify a fraying central government. Kinzer effectively uses the words of Rwandan President Paul Kagame to tie together this half-century history of the nation. In this bestselling book author and journalist, Stephen Kinzer, not only recounts this shameful event in vivid detail but he also provides the valuable back story. Most significantly, he outlines the startlingly inspirational recovery that Rwanda has begun during the decade or so since the genocide.

Kinzer’s main focus is Paul Kagame, the current president of Rwanda who led the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in its war against the Rwandan government beginning in 1990 which both sparked and eventually put an end to the genocide. Any book about the last quarter-century of Rwandan history could not help but focus on Kagame. He has dominated the picture with his leadership. It is clear Kinzer is taken by Kagame’s disciplined and business-like manner, his sharp focus on problems, and his ability to get things done despite the odds. In his estimation, Kagame is an outstanding leader who has brought possibility out of chaos and horror.


“Paul Kagame and Rwanda: Power, Genocide and the Rwandan Patriotic Front” by Colin M. Waugh is another very thorough examination of the career of Paul Kagame and the devastation of the genocide. In this book we get a very clear view of the difficulties of life as an exile and the growing hopes for a revival of his country. We learn about the very clear headed and cautious style of leadership of Kagame and reasons why he was so successful. By bringing discipline and reason into Rwandan government Paul Kagame was able to bring the country into the light. It is an inspirational read about what is possible with vision and just leadership even in the most difficult circumstances. This book adds many details to the story of the major decisions of President Kagame and how these wise decisions reconciled communities in conflict and gave hope to the people. This is the kind of inspirational story that people want to read and that adds to their lives. Darkness alone doesn’t sell. But that is for a good reason.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dystopia Schmystopia



If you’re anything like me and many Generation-X pseudo-nerds, then you have a love/hate relationship with future dystopian sci-fi novels. Don't get me wrong—I've read and love a lot of these books. I think they resonate especially with we jaded Gen-X'ers who grew up in the shadow of the last decade of the Cold War. Remember the movie 'Red Dawn'? Enough said.

Although we're no longer terrified of the Soviets lobbing a city-killer sized nuke over Canada, we've experienced a scary last eight years. Partly because of the newly rekindled fire feeding the spread of terrorism (“Bring it on!”), I think we're feeling a slight return of that distant sense of doom. The other day I saw a guy walking around DC wearing a t-shirt that read One Nation Under Surveillance. That's what I’m talking about. Way to distill it to four words, shirt company! Maybe I'm imagining this mood on the street, maybe I'm projecting, but I'm not imagining the hundreds of underground anti-establishment podcasts with themes of mistrust, anarchy, and disdain for our ruling authorities. I listen to them on my lunch break and they make me A) glad to have the freedom of speech B) want to reach for a future dystopian novel.

One problem is the immense number of these novels that are out there—it’s impossible to keep up. If you look to the past you have to go all the way back to Mary Shelley in the 1820s to see this genre first taking shape. In the mid 1900s come the most crucial post-industrial dystopian novels: A Brave New World, Animal Farm, Nineteen-Eighty-Four, Fahrenheit 451. There were also many other lesser-known masterpieces like Naked Lunch, A Canticle for Leibowitz, The Postman, and it’s really never stopped since then. Okay, end of sermon. But I would like, O’ my brothers, to talk partially about a novel published in 1962, and what is in part the target of this malenky report, my merry droogs, this being the audio book presentation of a novel of future London, that is, A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess.

In high school and in college, people kept telling me I had to read this book. “Dude, you've read Nineteen-Eighy-Four, now you need to try something harder.” But I’d pick up a paperback edition of Clockwork with tiny type on gray paper and end up putting it down shortly thereafter and start making up excuses: I just can't get into the lingo. It's immediately too dark to get into, it just doesn't click. That all changed two months ago when a library patron returned a 6-disc audio book version of it and suggested, no demanded, that I rip it to my iPod. (BTW, recommendations of patrons, by the way, are how I’ve come across most of my favorite books. Bog bless Washington’s enthusiastic readers and well-stocked libraries!)

Anthony Burgess wrote dozens of novels from 1956 to 1995, but to his chagrin it was Clockwork that won him superstar status. Burgess expressed regret over this any chance he was given. The small tome was just one of many books he'd written over the decades, and not his favorite by any means. Nevertheless, for better or worse, it is for this quirky chronicle of teenage depravity, and largely due to the hit film based on it, that people remember this author and vision of the future.

When I think of the sixties, I picture people sitting around on shag rugs listening to the first Pink Floyd record, often in altered states of mind. But this book was published in 1962, before the hippie thing had exploded. It was in this silence before the coming social hurricane that Burgess gives us his terrifying vision of a bleak, sprawling future full of unrestrained crime carried out by poorly parented teens, all living in fearful concrete suburbs. The only reason I know this is because of Tom Hollander, and Recorded Books.

From the first line, What’s it going to be, then, eh? The character of poor Alex is vividly and effortlessly imagined thanks to Hollander’s perfect cockney accent, urbanized and infused with Russian slang. This isn’t a book report and I don’t want to color anyone’s opinion of the work. I'm not addicted to audio books like some people—I still prefer hard copies. All the same, I do want to throw this out there: I’ve been through A Clockwork Orange three times (!!!) now on my iPod, after having picked up and put down the paper version at least twice as many times. Put it on hold—it’s painless and well worth the minimal trouble, even if you’re a lazy reader like me. You will get pulled in and, if you're anything like me, you'll like it so much you'll laugh out loud on the train and embarrass yourself.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where's Eric?

I know the kids at story time have probably been asking, "Where's Mr. Eric?"

Well you can tell them that I'm helping to install the new Northwest One library at New Jersey Ave. and L St NW! I've been working with a great team of staff members to put together a brand new library, and it's coming along just fine. We're having a grand old time unpacking box loads of books, CDs and DVDs.

I'll be out here for the next few weeks, but I plan to return to my normal story time duties the second week of December.

The new Northwest One Library opens to the public on December 7. Stop by and see how much DC Public is changing.

Check it out!

Friday, November 13, 2009

National Gaming Day: Saturday Nov. 14

Are you a gamer?

I am.

I had an Atari when I was 6, started building D&D characters when I was 12, played Yahtzee with my family when I was in my teens, played Euchre when I was in high school, got into Vampire: The Masquerade in college... Yeah, I've been playing games for a LONG time now.

So, come and join us here at Watha T. on Saturday the 14th of November for National Gaming Day, and get into some hot new games. We've got Letter Jam, Wits and Wagers, Say Anything, Pictureka, Set, and Wii Sports. It's going to be an AWESOME day.

And this is open to all ages. Don't think that games are just for kids. No, no. Everyone of every age is welcome to play.

So, come on over and check it out!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thelonious Monk, Beethoven, etc.

As an experimental/rock musician and songwriter, I don’t claim to always be able to understand jazz. We appreciators of music tend to find that our tastes and aptitudes travel in cycles. For a month at a time we get obsessed with garage rock, then Beethoven, then bebop, never paying much attention to why (And who really cares anyway.) After buying a really nice pair of headphones, I automatically got back into the richness of acoustic instruments, namely classical and jazz, because of the high standards of sound quality demanded by unrelenting jazz and classical fanatics. My favorites tend to be the crazier of the composer/performers, like Beethoven and Thelonious Monk.

The first Monk I ever heard was not Monk at all, but rather an original vinyl LP of Chick Corea and his phenomenal combo doing a very admirable job at impersonating the often puzzling and always brilliant style of Mr. Thelonious, playing all covers of Monk tunes. I was walking home listening to a song called ‘Brilliant Mississippi’, track three on Thelonious Monk Live at the Monterrey Jazz festival 1964, and discovered a brilliant gem -- the perfect solo.
It’s like listening to Bach improvising a folksy musical joke, channeling the muse flawlessly—some lusty teenage giddiness that is helplessly contagious.

As usual he morphs all his mistakes expertly into gorgeous eccentric statements, like he’s proving beyond a shadow of a doubt the non-existence of mistakes. At least if you’re in the mood for bebop. It’s musical aikido, redirecting purposely unbalanced artistic thrusts into oddly fitting harmonic motion. It’s feeling the flow and following it, and all the while creating it. Even to a non-musician Monk's phrases on 'Brilliant Mississippi' can be heard line after line obscuring and then decoding themselves, creating a sort of exaggerated wonky musical expressionism similar to Van Gogh’s blossoming, fantastically colorful flowers, which only someone half-crazy could pull off so perfectly.

It’s easy to tell when it’s a composer who is improvising, Like Hendrix or Miles Davis or, from what I’ve read, Beethoven and especially J.S. Bach. Both Bach and Beethoven were unmatched at simply sitting down at a piano (L.V.B.) or church organ (J.S.B.) and improvising for hours, playing around with themes they’d heard on the street that day (L.V.B.), a bird’s song (L.V.B.), the never-repeating melodic patterns of clanging church bells, etc. Listening to Bright Mississippi I picture city traffic and car horns and people hollering between apartment buildings changing, like with Beethoven, into secret representations. Same difference.

Following this topic, allow me to share some recommendations, (all owned by WTD Library):

Beethoven, the Universal Composer by Edmund Morris [Book]
Cannonball Adderley Live In '63 [DVD]
Jazz Anecdotes by Bill Crow [Book]
Oscar Peterson Live in '63, '63 & '65 [DVD]
Lionel Hampton Live in '58 [DVD]


I'd like to suggest even more vehemently for any jazz enthusiast to track down a film called Straight, No Chaser, directed by Charlotte Zwerin. I've never seen a better peek into the world of the mad genius himself, Thelonious Sphere Monk.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The New New Post Post Cyberpunk Bonanza

Makers
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.

The book, which was serialized by Tor before its actual publication, bears the cute tag-line, "a Novel of the Whirlwind Changes to Come", and so it seems to be. beginning in a future so near you actually don't know it's not right now, the story follows an economic, technological and social trajectory into a future which wouldn't make half as much sense if you weren't right there to see it. The genius of the story is that, if you have any working knowledge of recent history, that's exactly how the last hundred-and-change years have gone. In some ways, Doctorow's future is more believable because of its retrospective qualities. Another side effect of the story's modern origin is the giddy hilarity that accompanies its creations; good satire hurts so good because of its dreadful familiarity. Makers achieves this with the same flair and foresighted hilarity of Bruce Sterling's Distraction, or William Gibson's Pattern Recognition.

Reading this book caused a litany of vocabulary words to create themselves in my head, a cluster of blog tags waiting to be born. Postmodern came up a lot, but then post-postmodern could equally apply. Ana-Randian, anarcho-libertarian, post-post-postfeminist, neorealist, techno-comedy, none of them necessarily apply, but all of them came from my instinctive need to create some simple descriptors for this literary equivalent of the portmanteau. Try it - you'll find yourself bathing in the salty waters of Doctorow's compelling ambiguity.

That said, I couldn't help but wonder about the suspiciously familiar main characters, and (perhaps not so strangely) self-referential philosophies of the "makers" whose lives are the center of the book. Many of the themes in Makers, including the use of Disney as a foil and example of dizzyingly vast corporate monstrocity, are reminiscent of Doctorow's other projects. Not that I mind. Neal Stephenson is my favorite author, and he does it all the time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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. Apparently the time was right and it made its way into my backpack and today I finished it.

It was a really great novel. Nobody plays mindgames with the reader, or with his characters, like Philip K. Dick does. The world exists in a state of post-nuclear destruction. The sky is obliterated by radioactive dust, most all life on earth is dead, mutated, or on the verge of extinction. Most of humanity has zoomed off to settle other, non-nuclear worlds with the help of android slaves to build settlements and take care of the major labor. Well, the android models keep getting smarter and smarter, and it becomes more and more difficult to tell androids from humans. So, in order to detect whether or not someone is human or android human police have to administer a test to prove the essential humanity of the individual based on empathetic responses. Rick Deckard works for the San Francisco police department as a bounty hunter who takes down rogue androids. He's been assigned to take out the remaining 6 androids who escaped from their captivity on Mars.

Due to the near extinction of most all animal life humans on Earth have mostly become followers of this empathy cult, whose leader, Wilber Mercer, was a lover of animals. People strive to own and care for living creatures, even though the cost of purchasing, much less caring for, a pet are exorbitantly high given their rarity. Not only do they strive to become pet owners and caretakers, they also spend time "fusing" with the others in the cult through the empathy box, where they share each others emotions as they climb the hill of sacrifice with Mercer.

This becomes the lynch pin in determining whether or not someone is an android. How do they react to animal death? How do they feel about the products that were derived from killing something extraordinarily rare? My own brain goes to thinking about sociopaths like Dexter who have no regard for life, animal or human, because they lack empathetic response. The Voigt-Kampff test they use in the book (and the film) measures how they respond to certain triggering words or situations related to animal cruelty and the death of humans. Interestingly enough, The Wave Magazine in San Francisco used the Voigt-Kampff questions when they spoke with candidates for Mayor of the city. The results were incredibly interesting.

Friday, October 30, 2009

National Novel Writing Month Begins Sunday

It'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.

So swing by, grab a computer, pop in your flash drive full of your awesome book and write write write! Just drop in and we'll do everything we can to help you along. We've got copies of Chris Baty's book No Plot, No Problem and Victoria Schmidt's Book in a Month. Make sure you put one on hold if you want to get one in time.

Here's the schedule:

NaNoWriMo Meetups at Watha T. Daniel Library
Saturdays

11/7: 1:00 p.m.
11/14: 1:00 p.m.
11/21: 1:00 p.m.
11/28: 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pimp My Bookcart: Opposing Viewpoints

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.

As you can see above, One of the side panels is a city scape at night. We did it with a three layer effect of the night sky (with a little bit of sunlight there), a series of high rise buildings in purple, fronted by some lower buildings in blue. All with glowing yellow windows and doors.

The other side was originally just a tree, but since one of us did a flame design we decided to make a kind of Dr. Seussian tree in blue bark with orange and red leaves on a yellow background.

The shelf panels are two different designs, one from each of the students who worked on the design part of the project. Deondre came up with the stars and stripes pattern in green and blue, and James was really into a chain link pattern in black and red. So Deondre got the upright part of the shelf and James got the flat part of the shelf. For the chains we actually draped the chains that we used in our Banned Books Week display to form a pattern on the shelf and we painted directly onto and through the chain. It was a stroke of genius on James's part.

All of the designs (except the chain) were patterned in poster board stencils, and the color is all from indoor/outdoor spray paint. Let me tell you how many kids we had wanting work on the project once we started spray painting the cart! Everyone was rushing up to paint on it.

I don't think we were really looking at all the implications behind the piece as we were putting it together, but I think there are some great metaphors in here about nature vs the city and freedom vs slavery. Hence why I decided to name this bookcart "Opposing Viewpoints." I'm really proud of our kids for coming up with something so awesome.

I'm submitting our bookcart to the contest today!

What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Screaming Out Loud - Halloween Edition

Cross-posted from Spooky Books for Strange Children.

"The Tell-Tale Heart"
by Edgar Allan Poe
read by Nicholas Hirsch



"The Tell-Tale Heart" was one of the first horror stories I ever read. I was in sixth grade, perusing the shelves of my school's library, and there it was - a thick, dusty book, bound all in black, with a picture of a raven on the cover. Inside the cover was a picture of the man himself, Edgar Allan Poe, right out of a Tim Burton movie! (causality and linear time would come later in my education...) I opened to the table of contents, and started flipping through the book to find myself dazzled and thrilled by the illustrations; it was a dark, morbid affair, full of thunderclouds and autumn leaves whipped around by a cold wind. Someday, I will find the edition that had those illustrations, or I will discover that it was all in my mind...

In any case, the stories gripped me - "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The Masque of the Red Death". The whole collection spoke to me; whispers of dread delight that appealed to my inner, laughing monster. These were stories to be read under a blanket with a flashlight (or behind your textbooks in class), they spoke a new language, full of brooding, steeple-fingered madmen and bouncing alliteration. They jangled the senses; they carried you into the shadows, just behind the narrator's bloodshot eyes, and pulled your mind into an unfathomable abyss. It was magic. I was in love.

It is with this memory in mind that I present here the first installment of Screaming Out Loud, a series of classic horror tales, read aloud for your enjoyment (and, let's be honest, for mine). To celebrate this, my favorite holiday, my Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving, all rolled into one, here is my own rendition of that mad old story, "The Tell-Tale Heart", by Edgar Allan Poe:


Download the MP3 here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

Today's storytime included singing Dem Bones. Afterward, we made skeletons for some pre-Halloween fun. This craft is very simple and inexpensive--here's what you'll need:
  • About 18 Q-tips
  • Black cardstock or construction paper
  • White paper (any kind)
  • Black marker
  • Scissors
  • White glue
The only prep you'll need to do is cutting shorter Q-tips for the finger and toe bones. I also recommend squeezing a blob of glue onto a paper plate for dunking the ends of the Q-tips.

1. Glue six whole Q-tips on the bla
ck paper for the skeleton’s ribs.

2. Glue one Q-tip perpendicular over the ribs to act as the backbone. Have the Q-tip lie flush with the last rib, but poke up longer than the top rib, to act as the neck bone.

3. Draw a skull on the white paper with a black marker, and cut it out.

4. Glue the skull on the paper above and touching the neck bone.

5. Glue 4 whole Q-tips for the arm joints and leg joints

6. Cut six whole Q-tips in half, or make them even shorter if you like. These are smaller bones that can be used as the 10 fingers, and two to be the feet. Glue them in place.

Everyone had their own fantastic interpretation (see our skeleton
parade above), no worries about sticking to the directions exactly. Don't forget to hang your masterpiece on your front door for the Trick-or-Treaters!

The skeletons are out tonight,
They march about the street,
With bony bodies, bony heads,
And bony hands and feet.

Bony bony bony bones
with nothing in between,
Up and down and all around
They march on Hallowe'en!

Craft from http://www.crafts-for-all-seasons.com/Q-tip-skeleton.html

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mad Men at DC Public Library

If 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

Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Exodus by Leon Uris

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara
Call Number: 811 O36M

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Call Number: 937 G439H


The 1960s

The 1960s: Examining Pop Culture ed. by David M. Haugen and Matthew J. Box
Call Number: 973.923 N714A

The 1960's: American Popular Culture Through History by Edward J. Rielly
Call Number: 973.923 R555

One minute to midnight : Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the brink of nuclear war by Michael Dobbs. Call Number: 973.922 D632

We Shall Overcome by Herb Boyd, Narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
Call Number: 323.1196 B7896

I Have A Dream: writings and speeches that changed the world. by Martin Luther King, Jr. ed. by James M. Washington
Call Number: 332.092 K53I

On the Road to Freedom: a guided tour of the civil rights trail. by Charles E. Cobb, Jr.
Call Number: 323.1196 C653


Kennedy v. Nixon

The making of a Catholic president : Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960 by Shaun A. Casey.
Call Number: 322.1097 C338

1960 : LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon : the epic campaign that forged three presidencies by David Pietrusza.
Call Number: 324.973 P626N


Camelot

John F. Kennedy: A Biography by Michael O'Brien
Call Number: 92 K348OB

Brothers: the hidden history of the Kennedy years by David Talbot
Call Number: 973.922 T138

The Kennedys : portrait of a family by Richard Avedon ; Shannon Thomas Perich ; foreword by Robert Dallek.
Call Number: 973.922 A961

The secret life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Call Number: 92 M7534T


Advertising

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Copywriter's Words and Phrases by Kathy Kleidermacher.
Call Number: 659.132 K63

Brand Failures: the truth about the 100 biggest branding mistakes of all time by Matt Haig
Call Number: 658.827 H149

Don't Think Pink: What really makes women buy--and how to increase your share of this crucial market by Lisa Johnson
Call Number: 658.834 J67

Adland: Searching for the meaning of life on a branded planet by James P. Othmer
Call Number: 659.1 O87

Consuming Kids: Protecting our children from the onslaught of marketing and advertising by Susan Linn
Call Number: 658.8342 L758


Socializing

Mr. Boston official bartender's guide by edited by Anthony Giglio with Jim Meehan ; photography by Ben Fink.
Call Number: 641.874 M679A

The Perfect Buzz: the essential guide to boozing, bars and bad behavior by David Bramwell.
Call Number: 394.13 P438

The appetizers and canapés cookbook by Lillian Langseth-Christensen and Carol Sturm Smith. Illus. by Lillian Langseth-Christensen. (1968)
Call Number: 641.81 L285

Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin.
Call Number: 395 M381A

Friday, October 16, 2009

Harlem Renaissance: Recommended Reading

In my recent lecture on the literature of the Harlem Renaissance I presented an outline of the particular aesthetic and style of several representative works of this genre. Doing my research for the talk, I discovered two very interesting books that challenged my view of the scope and meaning of the Harlem Renaissance. These two books showed how the Harlem Renaissance was an American phenomenon that reflected life of African Americans as part of the larger movements of thought in American life at that time.

In his new book, "The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White," George Hutchinson explores the connection between artistic modernism in America and the various racial movements of self-expression that flourished in the new cultural environment of modernism. Hutchinson places the Harlem Renaissance in the context of the larger movements of American intellectual life demonstrating that the Harlem Renaissance was a very American cultural current even as it looked back to Africa. The author traces the intellectual genealogy of the major Harlem Renaissance back to the founders of modern thought in different fields such as the Anthropology of the primitive in the work of Boas, the philosophy of experience in John Dewey, and the social thought of the American Pragmatists. He demonstrates through his argument that the Harlem Renaissance was a reflection on African American identity set within a larger cultural landscape of a diverse America.

Another study that illuminates the Harlem Renaissance is "Voices from the Harlem Renaissance" by Nathan Huggins. This book is an anthology of the best poetry, fiction, essays of the Harlem Renaissance. The best feature of this collection is how the authors and artists of the Renaissance comment on their own purposes and motivations in composing their work. For example, Langston Hughes in his essay “The Negro Artists and the Racial Mountain” examines what role the African- American writer and artists should take with regard to his own history and his obligation to contribute to the life of his people. The topics covered in this book include: “negro racialism”, the “Afro-American past”, “art or propaganda”, and “reflections on the Harlem Renaissance for a new day.” This book gives one the full scope of the work of the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance through giving a rapid tour of the different forms of expression.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Naked Lunch at 50

While checking my facebook this morning I ran across this NPR story about the 50th anniversary edition of Naked Lunch being released by Grove Press next month.

I first encountered Naked Lunch and the wild eccentricities of the beat generation while I was in high school. I found some of the kids giggling over a book of poems by Allen Ginsberg (it was the red book of Collected Poems 1947-1980). Later on I found out they were giggling at the sexy poems, but unlike my peers I read through the rest of the book and it made me dizzy with ecstasy. The barrage of images, the flow of the language, the yearning and striving for more, more more... It was breathtaking, and I wanted to read more. My local library back in Ohio had a copy of Big Sur by Jack Kerouac. It too was filled with the awe and wonder of living and the stark beauty of the California coastline. I still wanted more. So I looked into the beats, and the people who were in the movement and I stumbled on Burroughs.

Naked Lunch was completely different from all the rest of them. It was surreal, like looking at the world through a drug induced haze and finding the world around you to be filled with aliens, prostitutes, junk and lies. It was the strangest thing I'd ever read. Around the time that I read the book a film adaptation had come out starring Peter Weller (of RoboCop fame) and Julian Sands (of Warlock infamy). Around 1992 it was on cable and I snuck into the living room and watched it late at night while my parents were sleeping (yeah, I was 16, and it was one of those late night Cinemax movies). Bizarre is not even the beginning of how to describe it.

After that Burroughs was embedded in my brain. I heard him singing "Star Me Kitten" with R.E.M. on the X-Files album. I found all the books he had written at the local library. I kept buying beat books looking for more.

It actually worked in my favor later on in high school as well. I was on the academic team (think quiz bowl) and we got served the following question in the third round and I have never forgotten it.

"What William S. Burroughs novel did the author describe as being about 'drugs and sex and sex and sex'?"

I rang that buzzer and leapt in there, "NAKED LUNCH!"

Everyone around on my team and the team we were playing against looked at me with shock. I don't know if it was the fact that I knew the answer, that I got it so quickly or that I was so full of glee for having heard that question at the quiz. I was literally vibrating with joy. I turned to everyone's looks of stupor and said, "That is my favorite book!"

And it remains one today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This Week at Watha T. Daniel Library!

Mon. 10/05/09
Adult Lecture: "The Arts and the Harlem Renaissance" 6:00PM

Tue. 10/06/09
Story Time 10:00AM
Book Talk: 4:00PM "Travel Literature"

Wed. 10/07/09
Wii Sports 5:00PM
Movie Series: "The Seventh Sense" (Really? Not quite:)

Thu. 10/08/09
Mother Goose on the Loose - reading "The Angry Caterpillar"

Fri. 10/09/09
Rockalong with Casey 10:00AM
Anime film series 4:00PM

Sat. 10/10/09

Story Time 10:00AM
Kids' Crafts 2:00PM

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bats at the Library!

At 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.


Then cut four small holes where the straight lines are in the middle of the wings and on each side of the bat body.

Next, take your pipe cleaner and thread it through the holes in and out of the wings and the body of the bat.

Fold the loose ends of the pipe cleaner into the middle of your bat and clip the loose ends onto the center support of the bat body.

Now bend your pipe cleaner to shape the bat wings like your bat is flying.

Finally, put a string onto the pipe cleaner in the middle of the body so your bat can fly.

And there you have it. Bats at the library!

Monday, September 28, 2009

This Week at Watha T. - Sept. 28-Oct. 4

Good Morning Neighbors!
Happy Banned Books Week to all of you. Come and check out Jamilla's awesome display and check out one of our mystery banned books. You never know what you're going to find in there!

And make sure you join us for our final Sunday movie before we close on Sundays. All we'll say is that it's a very "Banned Books Week" kind of movie that involves a unit of measurement...

Here's what's happening this week at Watha T.

Monday, Sept. 28

6:00: The Harlem Renaissance

Tuesday, Sept. 29

10:00: Preschool Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, Sept. 30

4:00: Wii Sports

Thursday, Oct. 1

10:00: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, Oct. 2

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
4:00: Anime Club

Saturday, Oct. 3

10:00: Story Time

Sunday, Oct. 4

2:00: Sunday Matinee

Monday, Oct. 5

6:00: Social Justice Lecture Series: Kosovo pt. 1

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Books on Disc




Check out these great new books-on-disc @ Watha T. Daniel:


That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo; read by Arthur Morey

My Sister's Ex, by Cydney Rax; read by Bahni Turpin and Adenrele Ojo

Cemetery Dance, by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child; read by Scott Brick

Fatal Secrets, by Allison Brennan; read by Ann Marie Lee

Cutting Edge, by Allison Brennan; read by Ann Marie Lee

Satchel: the Life and Times of an American Legend, by Larry Tye; read by Dominic Hoffman

The Angel's Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; read by Dan Stevens

Daniel X: Watch the Skies, by James Patterson and Ned Rust; read by Milo Ventimiglia

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

This Week at Watha T. Sep. 22 - Sep. 28

Good Morning Neighbors!

Welcome to Fall at Watha T. Daniel. We've got our autumn leaves up on the walls of the children's room, and we've got all the movies lined up for our October Fright Fest! Be on the lookout for all sorts of cool programs coming up over the next three months.

Here's what we've got going on this week at Watha T.

Tuesday, Sep. 22

10:00: Preschool Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, Sep. 23

5:00: Wii Sports
7:00: Knitting Group

Thursday, Sep. 24

10:00: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, Sep. 25

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
4:00: Anime Club

Saturday, Sep. 26

10:00: Family Story Time
2:00: Get Crafty Teens

Sunday, Sep. 27

2:00: Sunday Matinee

Monday, Sep. 28

6:00: Social Justice Lecture Series: The Harlem Renaissance

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Scalinata in Literature

I had the weirdest coincidence this last weekend, in that I was reading two separate books that take place in two totally different time periods and both of them mentioned the exact same architectural feature in Rome.

The Spanish Stairs (Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti) were built in the 1720's to connect the Piazza di Spagna to the church of Trinità dei Monti. The picture on the left shows the fountain in the Piazza, the church above and on the right is the Keats-Shelley house. That's right, John Keats and Percy Shelley. John Keats lived his last days on earth looking out the window over the Spanish Stairs.

And that's where the story gets interesting.

I started reading Tim Powers's novel "The Stress of Her Regard" a while ago, and still haven't quite finished it. The book is set in the heyday of the English romantic poets, and Keats, Byron and Shelley are main players in the story. The novel follows their lives, and explores what truly was the muse that inspired these greatest of poets to craft their works. Powers's explanation is that the muse was actually a vampiric creature known to the Greeks as a Lamia (note: link contains nude artwork). As the creature slowly drains the life from the poets she alternately inspires them to greater heights of artistry. But over time the poets begin to show the strain on their lives, and eventually they crave to be released from this burden. The scene with Keats plays out with the fantasy creature begging to be let in to keep her lover alive as he dies while gazing over the Scalinata. I totally have not given away even a fraction of this epic fantasy drama by revealing this information. Just know that the rest of it is just as weird and exciting. It took me about 17 years to get around to reading this book, but it was worth the wait.

Halfway through reading "The Stress of Her Regard" I got one of those *sigh* moments and just couldn't be bothered to continue reading it. SO I put down "stress" and picked up something completely different. For no particular reason I was drawn to Alfred Bester's "The Stars My Destination." I had no idea what it was about, it had just been sitting on my bookshelf at home for too long.

It's the twenty-sixth century and Gulliver Foyle is a space marine of sorts who gets stranded out in deep space with no way home. One day while waiting for who knows how long he spies the passing starship "Vorga" and signals for a ride. Vorga ignores his plea and Gully begins to plot his revenge against the ship. While Foyle is tracking down the crew of the ship to find out who gave the order he finds himself in Italy, looking ot meet up with one of the former crew members, where else, but on the Scalinata!

I can't tell you how weird it was for me to just accidentally read two totally different books, by two totally different authors, set about 700 years apart, where they shared the exact same location at a midway point through the story. Just absolutely bizarre.

Both of the books are extremely interesting, but both for different reasons. "The Stress of Her Regard" is great for people who have a penchant for the romantic poets and a taste for the gothic. There are moments that are positively gruesome, and the language is witty and florid. "The Stars My Destination" is more of a sci-fi vendetta adventure story. The story jumps from place to place quickly, and the ending is completely surreal. It's an absolute page turner.

Check it out!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This Week at Watha T. Sept. 15-Sept. 21

Good morning neighbors!

It's the last week of summer. I know, it hasn't felt like summer for a while now, but it's still summer for 7 more days! To celebrate we'll have a booth at the Heart of DC Picnic on Saturday Sept. 19th. Come down and see Eric do a story time singalong with the kids at the picnic and bring your friends to sign up for library cards.

Here's what's happening this week at Watha T.

Tuesday, Sept. 15

10:00: Preschool Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, Sept. 16

4:00: Urban Fiction Book Talk
5:00: Wii Sports
6:30: Capitol Letters Writing Center New Volunteer Orientation

Thursday, Sept. 17

10:00: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, Sept. 18

10:00: Rock Along
4:00: Anime Club

Saturday, Sept. 19

10:00: Family Story Time
11:00: Heart of DC Picnic @ Mt. Vernon Place

Sunday, Sept. 20

2:00: Sunday Matinee

Monday, Sept. 21

6:00: History Book Club discusses Sun Tzu's The Art of War

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Politics of the Harlem Renaissance


There will be a discussion group meeting on the Harlem Renaissance
Monday, September 14, 2009

The Harlem Renaissance is the name of a well celebrated artistic resurgence of African America art and literature in the 1920s. However, the Harlem Renaissance also involved the flourishing of a new political consciousness among African Americans. This political/cultural consciousness was organized around the new sense of identity identified by Alain Locke, one of the theoreticians of the movement, as the concept of the “New Negro.” The term “New Negro” expressed the growing awareness by black Americans of their own powers and abilities.
One of other exponents of this new black consciousness was Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, Black Nationalist, Pan-Africanist, and orator. Marcus Garvey was founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) that organized millions of African Americans.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

This Week at Watha T. Sept. 8-14

Good Morning Neighbors!

Did you have as lovely a weekend as I did? Oh the joy of having a three day weekend. But we're back to business today and ready and raring to go! Here's what's happening this week at Watha T.

Tuesday, Sept. 8

10:00: Preschool Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, Sept. 9

5:00: Wii Sports
7:00: Knitting Circle

Thursday, Sept. 10

10:00: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, Sept. 11

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
4:00: Anime Club

Saturday, Sept. 12

10:00: Family Story Time
2:00: Get Crafty Kids Time

Sunday, Sept. 13

2:00: Sunday Matinee

Monday, Sept. 14

6:00: Social Justice Lecture Series: The Harlem Renaissance Part 1

Monday, August 31, 2009

This Week at Watha T. - August 31-September 7

Good Morning Neighbors!

As you can probably tell from this awesome promotional image, we've got a Wii! Starting this Wednesday we'll be playing Wii Sports on the TV in the Teen room at 5:00. It's going to be beyond awesome.

Also, please know that we will be closed on Monday September 7th in observance of Labor Day.

Here's the lineup of what we've got going on this week at Watha T.

Monday, August 31

7:00: Meeting of the Watha T. Daniel Library Friends

Tueseday, September 1

10:00: Preschool Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, September 2

5:00: Wii Sports
6:00: Comic Book Discussion Group

Thursday, September 3

10:00: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, September 4

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
4:00: Anime Club

Saturday, September 5

10:00: Family Story Time

Sunday, September 6

2:00: Random Awesome Movie Matinee

Monday, September 7

Closed in observance of Labor Day Holiday

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Few Old Favorites, Rediscovered...


I grew up in Buffalo, NY, right on the Niagara River. When you're a kid, you don't always realize the most obvious facts of your circumstances; after all, you've had no experiences to tell you what is extraordinary (or not) about the place you're growing up in. For instance: I would never have guessed how formative it could be to grow up on the border of another country.

Canada was this vague notion, at best, or maybe just those nice people across the water who really aren't all that different from us. This elephant in the room of my childhood, though, presented itself in a really subtle way - all my favorite programs, the ones from which I derive my very first memories, were Canadian. I went through my whole life without realizing that; until this morning, when a friend of mine became a fan of Mr. Dressup on Facebook. Can of worms!



Mr. Dressup was a kindly gentleman with a pair of puppet friends, Casey and Finnegan, and a magical trunk full of costumes which he would occasionally have to coax open with a song and some tickling. He always had some craft or other, making any number of accessories for his costumes out of cardboard, markers and the like - always something you could do at home if you had the materials on hand. I've always carried fond memories of that program, but never realized he was based in Toronto.

Naturally, this set me off on a Google frenzy, and suddenly I'm recalling the wonderful songs of Fred Penner (who lived in a log) and Sharon, Lois and Bram (before their Skinnamarink fame): all got their start on the CBC, and I got to see them because I lived right on the edge of another nation.

All this nostalgia was really great, and reminded me of what it was like to be a child, in love with the magic that comes with stories and songs. So, this morning, story time was dedicated to the memory of Ernie Coombs, aka Mr. Dressup, who taught me (and probably many thousands of other children in Canada and Western New York) how to pretend I was someone else, make accessories out of just about anything, and always wake up with a smile.

Friday, August 28, 2009

In The News: Farewell To Reading Rainbow

You know it's an end of an era when something that you cherished as a child finally ends. Today is the final day of Reading Rainbow on PBS. The show ran for 26 years, and due to financial problems and a change in the philosophy behind PBS children's programming Reading Rainbow will fade into history.

I grew up a PBS kid. I remember watching Sesame Street, Mister Rogers Neighborhood and Reading Rainbow, probably in its very first years on television. One of the episodes I remember vividly was where they read "Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People's Ears." The distinctive African cover art from that book was emblazoned in my mind and I've never forgotten it.

One of the things that I loved about Reading Rainbow, and part of the reason why Rainbow has fallen out of favor with PBS is because it instills kids (and adults alike) with something that no other show can, the joy and love of reading. Recently I attended a training workshop on early childhood literacy and one of the primary categories relevant to early literacy skill building is "print motivation." When we read stories to children that they love it increases the likelihood that they'll want to read more and more. That's why children love to read the same book over and over, and why they crave series with characters that they recognize. Reading Rainbow took that extra step by including book reviews by children for children sharing the titles of books that they loved. I can't tell you how many times I picked up a book because someone else told me it was good (I still do that). And when it comes from someone your own age, even better.

But don't take my word for it... We have a huge selection of the Reading Rainbow video series here at Watha T. Daniel Library. Get the video that goes along with one of the books you're reading with your child and read along with the show. Or get a copy of one that you may remember from your younger days and relive your childhood.

Now to find LeVar Burton and ask him where he found the fountain of youth.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This Week at Watha T. - August 24 - 31

Good Afternoon Neighbors!

Sorry I couldn't get my act together and put up the weekly calendar on time this week, but better late than never. We're finally finished with all of our Summer Reading Programs and back on target with our regular weekly programming. I hope to see you around!

Here's what's happening this week at Watha T.

Monday, August 24

2:00: American Sign Language
6:00: Social Justice Lecture Series - The Works Progress Administration and the Art of the Depression

Tuesday, August 25

10:00: Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, August 26

6:00: Knitting Circle

Thursday, August 27

9:50: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, August 28

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
4:00: Anime Club

Saturday, August 29

10:00: Story Time

Sunday, August 30

2:00: Sunday Matinee: Heroes

Monday, August 31

7:00: Open Meeting: Watha T. Daniel Library Friends

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Book Talk: Evil Genius

It's week three of our in house weekly book talks. Make sure you join us every Tuesday at 4:00 at Watha T. to hear about the latest crazy thing we're reading. This weeks topic was the "Evil Genius." Here's what I picked.

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Doctor Impossible is the classic definition of the evil genius. Here's just a taste of his cliche, but unique brand of villainy "When life gives you lemons you squeeze them, hard. Make invisible ink. Make an acid poison. Fling it in their eyes." Just great stuff here, super heroes vs. super villain. And the fight scenes are awesome.

MW by Osamu Tezuka

From a book with comic-book-like villainy, to a comic with novelesque villainy. MW is the story of Michio Yuki, he seems like the perfect guy, a handsome actor with everything going for him. But his beautiful exterior is the perfect disguise for the twisted soul underneath. Only Father Garai know Michio's secret and Michio pushes Garai to confront his own twisted soul. But Michio's plans are bigger and more deadly than Garai could have ever imagined.

Loop by Koji Suzuki

This is the sequel to Ring, the novel that inspired an entire series of films in both Japan and America. But the sequel to the novel goes to an entirely different place than the films, a much weirder and scarier place than any of the films could have gone in my opinion. Sadako, the girl from the well has escaped thanks to the unwitting help of a journalist has been unleashed upon the world. And her plans are so much more horrific than you can ever imagine.

Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Fans of the Dexter series on Showtime will love the books. This is the second in the Dexter series and unlike the show, the novels take us on a joyride of horror and terror that is completely out of control. Someone is mutilating people from Sargeant Dokes's past, and Dokes's sins are coming back to haunt him with a vengeance. Perhaps one of the sickest things I've ever read. The evil genius at the heart of this one is not Dexter, but someone far more sick than you will ever find.

Swallowing Darkness by Laurell K. Hamilton

In the most recent installment of the Meredith Gentry series, Meredith finds herself mother-to-be, and expecting twins as well. But the plots to destroy her life and her bid for the throne of the Unseelie Court of the Fae are no less than they ever were. And first among them is Cel, her cousin, son of Queen Andais, the reigning monarch of the Unseelie. Cel may be mad, but he is born of the Sidhe and he has had centuries to hone his wits and wickedness. Can he take the throne from Meredith?

The Widows of Eastwick by John Updike

Alex, Jane and Sukie find themselves older, much older, and feeling the pull of time. None of them can quite make out what to do with their lives so they decide to return to the scene of their previous maleficia, Eastwick. But someone in Eastwick has not forgotten the slight that the witches did to their family.

Monday, August 17, 2009

This Week at Watha T. Aug. 17-Aug. 24

Good Morning Neighbors!

We've passed the halfway point this month. Can you believe it? I know I can't believe it. This is the last week before DC Public Schools start up again. Make sure you get your kids in here to claim the final summer reading prizes this year.

Here's what we've got in store for you this week at Watha T.

Monday, August 17

2:00: American Sign Language Class
6:00: History Book Club: Plato's Republic, chapters 6-7

Tuesday, August 18

10:00: Preschool Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, August 19

4:00: Urban Fiction Book Talk

Thursday, August 20

9:50: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, August 21

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
12:00: Anime Club presents: Naruto

Saturday, August 22

10:00: Family Story Time

Sunday, August 23

2:00: Heroes

Monday, August 24

2:00: American Sign Language
6:00: Social Justice Lecture Series: The Works Progress Administration and the Art of the New Deal

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The WPA, the Arts and The New Deal


The WPA , Works Progress Administration, was an agency created by the New Deal in the thirties to promote the arts as well as build public works. It was responsible for hiring out of work artists to create posters, paint murals, and put on plays. The WPA made possible the creation of a set of works of art that reflected a sense of community and social responsibility that made these works unique. It is useful to look back on this less individualistic time when the collective destiny of society was more in focus.

There will be a lecture discussion on the Depression and the Arts that will cover this topic at Watha Daneil Shaw Library. The event will be held on August 24th at 6:00 pm. The location: 945 Rhode Island Ave., NW two blocks from the Shaw metro at 10th and Rhode Island.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Week at Watha T. August 10-17

Good Morning Neighbors!

Just two more weeks until DC Public Schools start up again, so make sure to get your kids in here to get any last minute summer reading done. And it's still not too late to turn in your summer reading pages for you or your children get your last minute prizes either. Come on teens! We've still got a good number of mp3 players to give away. Get those reading lists in!

Here's what we've got going on this week at Watha T.

Monday, August 10

2:00: American Sign Language
6:00: Social Justice Lecture Series: Labor Leaders and the Great Depression

Tuesday, August 11

10:00: Preschool Story Time
4:00: Book Talk

Wednesday, August 12

6:00: Open Knitting Group

Thursday, August 13

9:50: Mother Goose on the Loose

Friday, August 14

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
12:00: Anime Club presents Naruto Nation

Saturday, August 15

10:00: Family Story Time
2:00: Be Creative Kids Activity

Sunday, August 16

2:00: Heroes

Monday, August 17

2:00: American Sign Language
6:00: History Book Club discusses Plato's Republic chapters 6 & 7

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spooky Books for Strange Children


Are your children a little....strange...?

Do you find that strangeness refreshing?

Did they get it from you in the first place?

If you and your kids enjoy the thrill of a good scare, or share a sense of humor that makes other people a little nervous, then we've created the perfect place for you. At Spooky Books for Strange Children, we share our love of horror and the bizarre, review books for kids and young adults on those themes, and encourage your feedback and dialogue.

We are also on Facebook.

Check us out!