Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tech Tuesday: Blog Your Life

Here at Watha T. Daniel we've been giving presentations on tech topics every Tuesday. In order to make things a little more accessible we're going to experiment with recording our tech tuesday presentations on our iMac.

Below is the first presentation in our Tech Tuesday video tutorials series, and it's called "Blog Your Life." It's a basic introduction to the concept of blogging, what it is, how it works, some of the major companies in the blogosphere, how you can get started blogging your life, and some tips and tricks to make your blog awesomely cool.

I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

This Week at Watha T. March 30-April 6

Good Afternoon Neighbors!

Spring may not be in the air (it's so cold!), but we've got some easter oriented programming coming up this week. Check it out.

Monday, March 30

3:30: Homework Help from Capitol Letters Writing Center

Tuesday, March 31

10:00: Story Time for 3-5 year olds with Eric
4:00: Tech Tuesday

Wednesday, April 1

6:00: Chess Club
6:00: Comic Book Discussion Group

Thursday, April 2

9:50: Mother Goose on the Loose
3:30: Games for Teens

Friday, April 3

10:00: Rock Along with Casey
4:00: Anime club presents: Neon Genesis Evangelion

Saturday, April 4

10:00: Story Time for Families with Nick
12:00: Opera: Madama Butterfly
1:00: Pysanki: The Ukrainian Art of the Egg

Sunday, April 5

3:00: Folktales with Nick

Monday, April 6

3:30: Homework Help with Capitol Letters Writing Center
6:00: Easter Crafts for Kids

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Splash of Color

Check out the new mobile in our Children's corner!

The butterflies, dragonflies, flowers and frogs you see here were all made in the past month by our Saturday morning story-time kids. Yesterday, we decorated Noh Masks, and next week we will be making paper fans to celebrate the Sakura festival here in the District.

This new weekly program was started back in January, and as the weather has improved, so has our attendance. Feel free to join us every Saturday morning at 10:00 am for a selection of stories, songs and crafts for kids age two to five.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Horrific Nostalgia

Paperback horror novels, especially those of Stephen King and Anne Rice, were a vital part of my introduction to independent literacy. Tommyknockers was the first Stephen King book I read, after finding a weather-beaten copy of it on a grandmother's shelf, nestled between her cookbooks and Danielle Steel romances. I read it in three days, hiding it behind my textbooks in class at school while pretending to study. Then I read it again. I was in seventh grade, and it changed my life. I followed that up with The Shining, then The Stand. Simultaneously, I found The Vampire Lestat on a different grandmother's shelf, and became hooked on Vampire Chronicles series.

Over the next few years, I found every book by Stephen King and Anne Rice that my local library owned, then moved on to Clive Barker (who is my favorite author to this day). I read voraciously: in fact, I learned words like "voracious" and "insatiable" from the very books I was consuming. As a child, then a young man, I had no interest in literary fiction, but if it was science fiction, fantasy or horror, I was hooked. Later, I read more traditional literature and mainstream popular fiction by way of the classic gothic works of Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker. These days, my reading tastes are much more varied, but my roots will always be in 20th Century horror.

Imagine my happy surprise, then, when I discovered that we've been receiving a lot of new paperback editions of some of my old childhood favorites:

By Stephen King; Misery, It, The Stand and Skeleton Crew
By Anne Rice; Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and Queen of the Damned

I invite you to share my horror-heydey nostalgia, and to that end I've created a special shelf in our New Arrivals section for paperback books of all genres, horror or otherwise. Other titles on the shelf so far include Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee and The Source, by James Michener (incidentally, my great-grandmother's favorite novel). New additions to that collection will make their way to that shelf.

So what are your favorite paperbacks?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Have you been wondering what in the world is going on with Lost?

Do you not have cable television and haven't seen all those shows on HBO or ShowTime like Dexter or The Sopranos?

Bummed out about the fact that you missed your favorite BBC miniseries?

Are you still wild about Sex in the City and want to know every little juicy detail?

Then you should swing by Watha T. Daniel and go through our extensive collection of TV DVD's. We've got complete runs of 24, Flight of the Conchords, Freaks and Geeks, Heroes, Inspector Linley Mysteries, Prime Suspect, Smallville, Sex in the City, Ugly Betty, Twin Peaks, Veronica Mars, The Wire and MORE!

Check it out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

This Week at Watha T. March 23-March 31

Good Afternoon Neighbors!

March is nearly over, but our Opera series is only halfway done! Come and check out the final work of Wagner's ring cycle this saturday at noon for the last of our German opera month. But there's more than singing going on here. Check out the list of this week's events.

Monday, March 23

6:00: Lecture: Gandhi's Philosophy of nonviolence

Tuesday, March 24

10:00: Story Time for 3-5 year olds
4:00: Tech Tuesday

Wednesday, March 25

6:00: Chess Club
6:00: Knitting Group

Thursday, March 26

9:50: Mother Goose on the Loose
3:30: Open Game time for Teens

Friday, March 27

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

Saturday, March 28

10:00: Story Time for Families
12:00: Opera Series presents: Götterdämmerung

Sunday, March 29

3:00: Folk Tales with Nick

Monday, March 30

3:30: Homework Help with Capitol Letter's Writing Center

Tuesday, March 31

10:00: Story Time for 3-5 year olds
4:00: Tech Tuesday

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thank You Neil Gaiman

Dear Neil Gaiman,

I'm writing this open letter to thank you. More than any other author I have ever read, you have had the greatest impact on my life. Let me tell you why.
Until I was about 16 years old (in 1992), I never really read comic books. I read a lot of horror stories by Stephen King and Clive Barker and Anne Rice. And they were great. They helped shape my wonderful warped teenage brain and gave me a good scare when I wanted it. Around that time I joined the Science Fiction Book Club, a little mail order service that's still around. I got six books for a dollar, and then the monthly catalogs started coming. In the pages of the book club catalog I found a section of comics, and after reading the blurb about "Season of Mists" I had to buy it.

Lucifer quitting hell?
Someone else being put in charge?

That was too awesome a story to pass up. So I bought it.

I loved it.

I bought all of the rest of The Sandman hardback editions through the SFBC and went wild over the rest of the series. I went to my local bookshop and found the first three volumes in paperback editions and read through all the rest of it.

From that moment on, I was hooked on comics.

Fast forward to 2002. I had just graduated from library school and was desperately looking for a job. I went to Atlanta for the American Library Association annual conference and interviewed with every library in the country who had recruiters. I didn't care if I wound up in Kansas or New York as long as it was a library.

Guess what. You were there. I was dumbstruck. For a moment I had no idea what to say. I'd never met anyone famous before. What do you say to someone who wrote one of your favorite books of all time? I walked by the DC Vertigo booth and you were standing there in your leather jacket and I came up and said, "Are you Neil Gaiman?"

"Yes," you said.

"How do you pronounce your last name?"


"Oh, thanks."

"Do you want an autograph?"

I about melted away. "YES!"

And you gave me a Sandman poster and wrote "Sweet Dreams, Neil" at the top. For the longest time I never put it up, because I didn't want to damage it. No tape, no sticky tabs, no nothing. I kept it in a folder hidden away in my files.

A couple months later I got a job in Washington DC. Let's just say it wasn't my ideal position, but I held it for four years, and eventually moved on to the DC Public Library. When I started working there, I was blown away by the fact that they had comics. Not just a few, but a LOT. And I started asking around about who buys the comics? How do we organize them? How can I get involved with this?

A few weeks in I found out the answers to all those questions. And shortly thereafter I became a part of the team of people who buy comics for the library. I started putting together an adult graphic novel collection. I helped beef up the Japanese manga, get caught up on superheroes and of course buy copies of the complete Sandman for every library in the city.

Now I work in libraries, a job that I love, and I buy comics for libraries and spread the joy that I had as a young reader.

And for that I thank you. Thank you for making a difference in my life. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for doing a great job at what you do. And also congratulations on winning the Newbery Medal for the Graveyard Book.

You rock.

Oh, and that poster. It's hanging in a frame in my bedroom now.

Eric Riley
Washington, DC

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This Week at Watha T. March 17-24

Happy Saint Patrick's Day Neighbors!

As per usual we've got a lot of things going on at Watha this week. Swing by and check it out.

Tuesday, March 17

10:00: Story Time with Eric
4:00: Tech Tuesday

Wednesday, March 18

4:00: Urban Fiction Book Club
6:00: Chess Club
6:30: Tax help from H&R Block

Thursday, March 19

10:00: Mother Goose on the Loose
3:30: Open games for teens

Friday, March 20

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

Saturday, March 21

10:00: Story Time for Families
12:00: Weekly Opera Program: Siegfried

Sunday, March 22

3:00: Folktales with Nick

Monday, March 23

3:30: Homework Help with Capitol Letters Writing Center
6:00: Lecture: Gandhi and Nonviolence

Tuesday, March 24

10:00: Story Time
4:00: Tech Tuesday

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dr. Seuss & Aaron McGruder

Yesterday was Read Across America day, and around the country people were reading the works of Dr. Seuss. I went to visit the afterschool program at Martha's Table and we read "Horton Hears A Who" and "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins." The kids loved it, but as Dr. Seuss books go those two alone took a while to read. I also had in my bag "Bartholomew and the Oobleck" and "The Lorax."

If you haven't read The Lorax you should totally read it. In today's world of corporate fatcats and environmental problems this book is even more important. I hadn't read this book for a long time, and reading it as an adult I was really impressed with the story. However, what struck me the most was the name of the evil creature at the heart of the book:

The Once-Ler.

In The Lorax, the Once-Ler moves into the beautiful forest and uses the trees to make this unusual product called a "thneed." The Lorax is the voice of reason who tries to tell the Once-Ler that what he's doing has an impact on the animals who live in the forest. But the Once-Ler is greedy and he keeps making his Thneeds and just keeps chopping and chopping down the forest until he has completely destroyed the environment and the Lorax has moved all the animals to some other place where they could live a safe and happy life.

Being an adult who's into comics and cartoons I read The Boondocks and have watched the show on Adult Swim (not to mention that we have the DVD's for rental as well). If you've never watched the show or read the comics you may not be familiar with one of the main villains in the show: Ed Wuncler (pronounced "Once-Ler").

Ed Wuncler is the embodiment of corporate greed, with complete disregard for any of the consequences for people, the environment, the city. None of it matters as long as he gets his money. There is one episode in particular that almost completely mirrors The Lorax.

In "The Itis" Grandad Freeman makes a terrible sandwich that is so loaded with grease and fat that it becomes unbelivably addictive. Ed Wuncler invests in grandad's idea and puts his restaurant with the terrible sandwich directly across from a beautiful park. Over time the neighborhood starts falling apart, crime starts to rise and the park turns into a terrible unsafe place to be. Ed Wuncler shuts down the restaurant and buys the rundown, dangerous park from the city, which is what he planned all along.

I never knew there was this connection between these two characters, but kudos to Aaron McGruder for being inspired by one of the greatest villains in all of Seussdom.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

This Week (and a half) at Watha T. March 4-March 16

Good Afternoon Neighbors!

We've got lots of news and lots of events going on here at Watha T. My apologies for not keeping everyone up to date on the blog, but unfortunately my appendix was not happy with me and it took me out of commission for a week. But that's all over now, and I'm back in action. So, here's the scoop on what's happening at your neighborhood library.

New Hours

Starting this week on March 2nd the DC Public Library implemented a new set of public hours in order to accommodate estimated budget shortfalls. Here's the new schedule for Watha T.

Monday: 1:00-9:00 *New
Tuesday: 9:30-5:30
Wednesday: 1:00-9:00 * New
Thursday: 9:30-5:30
Friday: 9:30-5:30
Saturday: 9:30-5:30
Sunday: 1:00-5:00

Impact of New Hours

What this means is that we had to switch around a bunch of our morning programming. This mostly has impact on children's programs, specifically Mother Goose on the Loose and Rock Along. So, Mother Goose has moved back to Thursdays (where it began) and Rock Along has moved to Fridays.


Wednesday, March 4

6:00 - Chess Club
6:00 - Comic Book Club

Thursday, March 5

10:00 - Mother Goose on the Loose
3:30 - Open Games for Teens

Friday, March 6

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

Saturday, March 7

10:00 - Story Time for Families
12:00 - Opera Film Series: Das Rheingold

During the entire month of March we will screen one of the four operas in Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle. April will be Puccini and Mozart

Sunday, March 8

3:00 - Folktales with Nick

Monday, March 9

3:30 - Homework Help with Capitol Letters Writing Center
6:30 - Tax Help from H&R Block

Tuesday, March 10

10:00 - Story Time with Eric
4:00 - Tech Tuesday: Intro to Blogging

Wednesday, March 11

6:00 - Chess Club
6:00 - Knitting Group
6:30 - Tax Help from H&R Block

Thursday, March 12

10:00 - Mother Goose on the Loose
3:30 - Open Games for Teens

Friday, March 13

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

Saturday, March 14

10:00 - Story Time
12:00 - Opera Film Series: Die Walkure

Sunday, March 15

3:00 - Folktales with Nick

Monday, March 16

3:30 - Homework Help with Capitol Letters Writing Center
6:00 - History Book Club with Paul
6:30 - Tax Help from H&R Block