Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Could be Better Than a Shelf Full of Books?

A shelf full of dancing books, of course! Enjoy...

and then, allow yourself to be amazed by the virtuoso guitarists, Rodrigo y Gabriela, playing Tamacun without the distraction of the dancing books. This is what mastery looks like, friends:

Note: there is an absolutely incredible six minute live version of the song on YouTube. It contains the "f" word at the beginning, so I chose this one. But if you aren't scared off - or are willing to cover your ears for the first few seconds -I recommend that one.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mantor Monday - Tuesday edition.

Happy Birthday, George!
I'm feeling pretty warm and fuzzy towards dead presidents today, since I had a long weekend in their honor. So thanks, Mr. Washington & Company: I appreciated the extra day to Get Stuff Done.
Speaking of getting stuff done, it's February break week, and we're taking advantage of the quiet to get some more books shifted. It's our goal to get all the books that are currently housed on the Mezzanine down to the Book Basement.
Also related to February break - hours this week are 8:00 to 4:30, and we'll be closed on Saturday.

Washington image from

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book Review: The Warded Man

The Warded Man (Demon Trilogy, #1)The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'd been hearing a lot about The Warded Man for the past few months, and I've finally had the chance to give it a read. I'm really glad I did--the book was absolutely fantastic. Fast-paced, great world building, intriguing characters and good mysteries to drive the story on.

The setup is simple: the book takes place in a world where demons come out at night to terrorize humanity. Centuries ago, humans knew ways to fight the demons, but today, all they have is the knowledge of some basic runes that will repel the evil. If the runes fail--if they're not drawn correctly, or if they're obstructed somehow--then the demons win. Each night, they lie in wait outside, constantly testing the runes, always looking for weakness and easy prey.

One boy on the fringes of society sees humanity cowering and is infuriated. He loses his mother to the demons (corelings), and vows to fight back any way he can. There are rumors of ancient runes--runes that give better defense or actually allow humans to go on the offensive. Arlen dreams of finding those and taking back the night for humanity.

In the meantime, there are two other plots going on--one focused on a girl learning to become a wisewoman, and the other on a boy who aspires to be a jongleur. I found all three plots captivating, and I breezed through the 416 pages in no time. Really, I think that's the best gauge of a great book. If a book is good, I'll finish it eventually. If it's great, I'll finish it as fast as humanly possible.

The Warded Man is a great book.

Look for it in the Discoveries Collection starting next month!

View all my reviews

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursday Mash Up

I've got a mixed bag of items for you today, readers!
First: a follow up to last Thursday's post about Google Art Project. It seems that the makers of the energy drink Red Bull, in partnership with a Brazilian ad agency, are takin' it to the streets - street art, that is. Accusing the Google Art Project with being too "highbrow" , Red Bull Street Art view is using crowd sourced images of graffiti and street art from around the world. It's pretty cool, so grab a Red Bull and a bag of Cheetos and check it out here. ARTINFO has the background scoop here.
(Image from Red Bull Street Art View - Brooklyn)

Next up is a round-up of links from Time's EcoCentric Blog. They all relate to our On Our Minds theme - Food For Thought, and all are worth visiting. Did you happen to catch our screening last semester of the movie King Corn? The EcoCentric link collection includes this trailer from the latest project of King Corn film maker Ian Cheney:

I can't wait to see what Cheney does with his Dodge Farm.

And last but not least is this one minute documentary, which won The Room to Read video contest. Room to Read is a non-profit organization working to bring education to children and adults around the world by opening schools and libraries, and publishing and distributing local language books. Yay, Room to Read!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

eROCKIT: The Bicycle of the Future

I'm going to take a bit of a departure from your typical library tech update today, because I found something that's just too cool, and I wanted to share. You've probably heard of the Segway, that people mover thing that rich people and mall cops use to get around places. It's kind of cool in a gee-whiz sort of way, but even when I first saw it, I wasn't blown away by the possibilities. It's a device that costs a lot of money to do something I can do for free anyway--walk. And even then, it doesn't do it as well. Faster, yes--as long as you don't have to navigate stairs. So it was cool, but so what? And I think you've seen that 'so what' factor in action in the years since the Segway's release. It hasn't exactly changed the world we lived in, as the creator claimed it would.

Enter the eROCKIT (warning: link is in German). What is it? It's an electronic bike that can go from 0 to 50 faster than a car. It's not a motorcycle--you have to pedal to make it go. And it's got a range of about 45 miles before it has to be plugged in again. You wouldn't use this bad boy on the freeway, but getting around town? Commuting to work on side streets? Why wouldn't you? (Well, as long as you have $16,000 burning a hole in your pocket.) Even then--this thing needs no gas, it is arguably better at getting you short distances than a car, and it costs less than a car. One thing seems certain--the scooter better watch out, because the eROCKIT has its eye on it.

For more info, check out this article. If they can get the price down and figure out their manufacturing hiccups, I could see this getting some traction in the US. I couldn't use it here in a Maine winter, but a Maine spring, fall and summer? The higher gas prices get, the more attractive this is going to look.

What do you think?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Mantor Monday

Congratulations to our February On Our Minds Raffle winner! The student who won The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky attended every single one of our fall semester programming events! Yay! Thanks for participating. See? That's how it's done, people. You've got to play to win. So check the OOM programming guide for upcoming events and mark your calendar. Come to an event and put your name in - we still have two great books to give away!

Library hours for 1st Spring Break:

Friday, 2/18 - closing at 4:30
Saturday, Sunday, Monday 2/19 -2/21 Closed
Tuesday - Friday, 2/22-2/25 8:00am - 4:30pm
Saturday, 2/26 - Closed
Sunday, 2/27 - 11am - 11pm

Friday, February 11, 2011

Movie Review: The Philadelphia Story

I thought I’d take the time to tell you why Philadelphia Story is a movie you owe it to yourself to watch. It stars Katherine Hepburn, Carey Grant and Jimmy Stewart, and it was directed by George Cukor, based on a play by Philip Bary.

The story takes place in--you guessed it--Philadelphia. Not the city, really. More of a rich country estate near by. Tracy Lord (Hepburn) and C.K. Dexter Haven (Grant) were married but divorced some years ago. Now Tracy’s about to marry again, this time to George Kittredge, an up and coming politician. Haven pops up at the Lord estate the day before the wedding, accompanied by two “friends” (Spy magazine reporters hoping to get a scoop on the wedding), Mike Connor (Stewart) and Liz Imbrie.

I think what I like most about the movie is the dialogue and the way the characters interact. Anyone looking for an excellent example of a character-driven plot need look no further. Hepburn and Grant are spot on as a feuding divorced couple, and their interactions are fantastic, and Stewart is tremendous (and hilarious as a drunk). Better still, the plot never forces its characters to do things they wouldn’t naturally do. Everything--including the finale--fits and makes sense, something Hollywood isn’t always able to do. The film was nominated for six Oscars in 1941 (including best actress, supporting actress, director and picture) and won two (including a best actor statue for Stewart).

Too often these days, people are willing to overlook a movie just because it’s old. I have friends who see the latest pop culture efforts, but they’re missing out on so many movies that have proven their lasting worth. Sure, this is in black and white. So what? The characters and plot and dialogue are better than most of the films that come out today. It’s funny and intriguing and appealing to men and women alike. Or it should be, at least. I challenge you to watch this and then not like it.

As an interesting note, the play this movie was based on (by the same name) was also made into a fairly well-known musical: High Society, with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Grace Kelly and music by Cole Porter. It's a decent movie, but not even Bing's crooning and make it rise above Hepburn, Grant and Stewart. Sorry, Bing.

Four stars (out of four)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Google Art Project

Have you heard about Google Art Project? Using it's Street View Technology, Google allows you to tour 17 museums on your computer screen. Using Google's cameras, you navigate your way through rooms and galleries, clicking on paintings marked with a (+) for a closer look. I've tried it out, and though it's a bit of a wobbly, woozy, uneven experience at times, it's impressive - and as close to most of these places as I will ever get.
Ben Davis did an editorial piece on the project over at ARTINFO, And I found Roberta Smith's piece in the NY Times to be a fascinating look at some of the museums and artworks featured -especially the images Google has made available in super-high resolution - which allows you a nose-to-canvas view of some of the world's great masterpieces, such as Chris Ofili's No Woman No Cry in the Tate. Clicking on "View in the Dark" will allow you to see the glow-in-the-dark message hidden in the painting. (Not to mention the balls of elephant dung that serve as the painting's "feet".)
Google has a couple of tutorials to get you started - here's one of them. Or, just jump in and start exploring. You may be gone awhile.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Grooveshark and Picasa: Two Free Programs to Brighten Your Life

So I'm here today to let you know about two free programs you might not already be aware of. Programs that let you do things you want to do--things you might be paying good money to do right now, but which (thanks to the wonders of the internet) you can now do for free.

First up is Grooveshark.What is it, and what does it do? It's on online music player, and it lets you listen to just about any song you can think of, free of charge. And did I mention it's legal? Users upload their songs to Grooveshark, which allows you to search for songs and then cue them up and play them through your internet browser. It earns money through ads and subscription plans (which let you remove the ads and listen to Grooveshark on a mobile device, should you feel so inclined). So many times, I don't really want to buy a whole CD or even a song--I just want to listen to it and get it out of my system. Or maybe I want to check out the latest CD by a favorite group to see if I want to buy it. Grooveshark is perfect for that kind of thing. I love it.

Second is Picasa. If you'd like a photo retoucher and organizer, but you don't want to shell out the money for an Adobe product, then Google's Picasa is for you. It lets you edit photos, keep track of them, has facial recognition, lets you make movies--it's way cool, and it's completely free. You can upload to your blog or Facebook, make a collage, make a YouTube video--pretty much anything you can think of that's not too advanced, and some stuff that is.

Anyway--it's not like I'm getting money to shill these products, but they're things I've used myself and found to be particularly worthwhile. Check 'em out. And if you use something else and would like to recommend it to others, speak up!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mantor Monday

7:00pm Tuesday, February 8th, Lincoln Auditorium

On Our Minds reading program presents:

Discussion period following film. Can't make it Tuesday night? Encore prefomances in the Mantor Library Browsing Room Wednesday the 9th at 2:00pm and 6:00pm.

Don't forget to enter the raffle for a free book at the Tuesday evening screening!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Story Time with Bookjones - One

I love this book.
I love it on soooo many levels.
How do I love One, by Kathryn Otoshi? Let me count the ways.
I love the cover art: the pool of blue watercolor surrounded by an "O" reminiscent of the Zen Buddhist Enso . I love the first page, when we are introduced to Blue, the quiet color who enjoys looking up at the sky.

I love the way Otoshi has crafted a seemingly simple story about colors and numbers, which, like a Zen koan, is ever so much more than it appears. One is a story about being bullied. It's also about courage, belonging, honoring diversity, and ultimately, about compassion.
Blue and his friends Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple have a problem. The problem is Red. Red is a bully who teases Blue, taunting "Red is HOT, Blue is NOT".
Although his friends sympathize, they are too afraid of Red to speak up in Blue's defense. And "Every time Red said something mean and no one spoke up, he got bigger...and bigger...and Bigger...."

Until 1
came. 1 is not afraid of Red. He stands up to Red's bullying, and gives the colors the courage to stand up and be counted. Red, now small and outnumbered, begins to roll away - until Blue calls out "Can Red be hot ....AND Blue be cool?" With grace and compassion, Blue invites Red to be counted, too.
I love the final page, with it's message: "Sometimes it just takes One."

This book belongs in every preschool and elementary school classroom. Profound without being preachy, One will generate lots of conversation for children who have first hand experience with the Reds of the world - and perhaps give the Reds some insight into their own behavior, as well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Food Revolution

I want to share a couple of food related items with you today, because they dovetail nicely with our On Our Minds programming - and because I just really love food. I especially love healthy, sustainable, planet-friendly foods and food production.

The first item is an essay published in the NY Times a couple of days ago, A Food Manifesto for the Future , by Mark Bittman. The essay contains ideas so sensible, it's a frightening testament to the sickness of our food culture that they aren't already in place. For instance: "Mandate truth in labeling. Nearly everything labeled “healthy” or “natural” is not. It’s probably too much to ask that “vitamin water” be called “sugar water with vitamins,” but that’s precisely what real truth in labeling would mean." See what I mean?

The second item is this super short documentary about Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution, which is one of the titles we will be raffling off this semester.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Make Facebook Safer

A helpful tidbit has been circulating the interwebs the past week or so. Facebook has finally made it possible for you to browse their page using an https connection, as opposed to an http connection. What's the difference? Thanks for asking. Your basic run of the mill web page sends information back and forth between your computer and it using what's called hypertext transfer protocol. That's what the "http://" at the beginning of a web address means. And while it's great for transmitting information, it's not really secure. Anyone who knows how can "listen in" on the information fairly easily.

https is secure http. Think of it as an encoded way of transferring that same information. Now, people can't listen in on you as easily.

Why do you care? Well, think for a minute about all the things that go through Facebook. If you're using just the regular http to log on, then someone could find your username and password fairly easily. Once they've got that, then they're into your facebook account, full of juicy tidbits like your name, address, phone number, other email accounts (Do you have the same password for those? They've got your email now, too. Do you use Google Docs? They've got that now.) Basically, it can be a nightmare.

Will it happen to you? Hopefully not. But wouldn't you want to do something simple to try and prevent it from happening at all? Head on over to Lifehacker to find out how to make the switch. I've done it. It took a minute. I encourage you to do it, too.