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Spades Park Poetry Program!

March 18, 2014 by Reader's Connection

A new poetry-reading program began at the Spades Park Library last month. They read and discussed a poem by Lord Byron.

Next week, on Tuesday, March 25th, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., they plan to read and discuss a couple of poems by E. E. Cummings. (Okay, e. e. cummings.)

Click on the picture of Cummings to see the schedule for the next few months–the group plans to meet on the last Tuesday of each month at 6:00 p.m.

THE PARTICIPANTS NEED NOT COME PREPARED. Important that you understand that. No need to read ahead of time, but if you want to read aloud with the group, you may get your chance.


The Empty Chair

March 17, 2014 by Reader's Connection

The ExorcistAn acquaintance of my father’s was consulted during the exorcism which inspired William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist. If my father hadn’t told me about that, and explained that the book’s horrific happenings were based on fact, I might not have read it, and it wouldn’t have scared me. I thought it was badly written.

I mention this in connection with Bruce Wagner’s new book The Empty Chair: Two Novellas not because I think Wagner’s book is for crap–the two voices here are very engaging– but because the reader is consistently given the impression that these “novellas” are in fact “true stories,” even if Queenie, one of the narrators, “freely admitted she had no qualms extemporizing, if it helped her cause, i.e., advancing the story or to more accurately convey a mood or a message.” And the degree to which I think the stories are factual has a big effect on how I react to them.

The Empty ChairIn a preface, Wagner says that he has “spent a good part of the last fifteen years traveling around the country listening to people tell stories,” and a page later, he says that “If it were possible to hold all of the people’s stories all of the time in one’s head, heart and hands, there is no doubt that in the end each would be unvanquishably linked by a single religious detail.”

The detail that links these two stories–told by a man and woman who are from different parts of the country and who’ve never met–is an atrocious concoction if it’s fiction. I assume that it’s for real and I still don’t know what to make of it.

The narratives are concerned with individuals engaged on spiritual quests, and at the end of his brief preface, Wagner writes, “Not incidentally, I want to give thanks to the unknowable Mystery that made us. I don’t wish to offend anyone this early on, but I call that force God.”

You should be warned that you might not approve of the mores, sexual and otherwise, of our two “guru” narrators (one of them tells the story of a spiritual seeker who’s a criminal and multiple murderer) and, if you reach the book’s end, you might be scratching your head about the God that Wagner mentions.

That’s an okay thing to be doing, though, and having given you that warning, I’ll say again that I was caught up with the stories, sat there reading as though I were listening by a campfire to a wanderer’s tale.

The Empty Chair is also available as a downloadable e-book, and since National Poetry Month is almost upon us, I’ll also share a link to Jane Hirshfield’s poem A Chair in Snow.  It has nothing to do with Wagner’s novellas, and perhaps the emotional pull of it runs counter to something Wagner is trying to instill; but I think he would like it.


Manhattan Nocturne

March 14, 2014 by Reader's Connection

Manhattan NocturneThere’s a moment in the movie Argo when the film producer (played by Alan Arkin) says that his family life is a wreck because the movie business is like coal mining, you can’t shake the dirt off of you when you go home.

Porter Wren, who narrates Colin Harrison’s 1996 deep-noir novel Manhattan Nocturne, may have a similar problem. He earns a living by writing a gritty column for a tabloid newspaper in New York, and his profession seems to be soaking into him, affecting his behavior, to the extent that his family is physically threatened.

Porter begins to behave badly early in the tale, and you might not like him or his new woman friend, Caroline. Even so, you might be drawn into their dark world–there’s a murder mystery and a blackmail mystery, and there’s the mystery of why Caroline behaves the way she does. (Sexy & scary.) And even if Porter ticks you off, you might like the way he digs down into Manhattan, sometimes literally.

I’m planning a group of posts that celebrate the Year of the Horse, and I’m including this post, because there’s a dark horse story at the center of Manhattan Nocturne, and it has stayed with me for almost twenty years.

I’ll promote more upbeat horse literature in the months to come. 


Ansel Adams at the Eiteljorg

March 12, 2014 by Reader's Connection

Eiteljorg Museum

Our own Eiteljorg Museum is currently hosting a rare exhibit of photographs by Ansel Adams, a true pioneer in the field of nature photography. Adams had an unconventional early life; his unique experiences eventually came together to allow him the ability to photograph the American West in a whole new light.



Moon and Half Dome, Yosemite

Born in San Francisco, Adams was four years old at the time of the great earthquake of 1906. He suffered a broken nose as a permanent mark of history. Prone to sickness and unable to pay attention in school, Ansel spent his days outside with easy access to the coast of California. Upon visiting Yosemite National Park with his family, his life changed forever as he set his goal of capturing the beauty of nature. Good for us that he did.

The exhibit at the Eiteljorg, which runs through August 3rd, is comprised of 75 photographs personally selected by Adams. The following samples from our library’s collection of books and DVDs might enhance your appreciation of his impressive body of work.


Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America's Wild Places


Ansel Adams in the National Parks: Photographs from America’s Wild Places edited by Andrea G. Stillman.





Ansel Adams in Color


Ansel Adams in Color by Ansel Adams, edited by Harry M. Calahan






Ansel Adams : 400 Photographs


Ansel Adams : 400 Photographs edited by Andrea G. Stillman





The Camera



The Camera by Ansel Adams; with the collaboration of Robert Baker







Ansel Adams [a videorecording]





Ansel Adams [a videorecording] written and directed by Ric Burns





Ansel Adams: An Autobiography
Ansel Adams: An Autobiography by Ansel Adams with Mary Street Alinder


Thanks to Susanne for this post, and thanks to the Eiteljorg for permission to use their logo.


Celebrate National Craft Month!

March 9, 2014 by Reader's Connection


Crafts and hobbies provide a creative outlet, a way to relax and an opportunity to learn something new. If you want a go-to resource about hobbies and crafts , explore the Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center database. It includes how-to instructions and creative ideas for more than 160 crafts, including knitting, camping, homebrewing and photography.
With full text articles from craft magazines, instructional videos and recipes, you’ll find many ways to express your creativity.



On our homepage, go to the section called The Resources, and click on Articles & Databases.




alpha2When the iLibrary Databases page opens up, choose the alphabetical arrangement . . .

. . .and scroll down to Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center. Click there.

. . .

To search, type your term into the search box and click the Search button.guitar_search2




Search results are listed by relevance.

















But over to the right, you’ll see a Relevance button.





If you  click there, you can rearrange your results. We’ll pick Date Newest . . .





. . . so the most recent results are brought to the top.


Click the Full Text link . . .






. . . to see the article as it appears in the magazine.









Click on the article’s title . . .title_link
. . . to see details about the article.





You can print the article, email it, bookmark it or save the article to computer. Articles can be saved to a folder once you’ve created an account.



If available, related videos will appear on the right hand section of the screen marked “Related Hobbies and Craft Videos”.




Return to the database’s homepage anytime by clicking the Hobbies & Crafts Reference Center logo in the upper left hand corner of the screen.




This homepage features a Crafts Spotlight. This month is St. Patrick’s Day Crafts, with ideas for recipes and crafts to celebrate the day.








Also on the homepage is the Featured Video, which shows how to complete a simple project.






vid_link2Want to search the 720 how-to videos? Click the Video/Images link in the bar across the top of the screen.





Enter your subject in the search box, and click Search.








If some videos are available, click on a video link to view the video.












pubs2Wondering if your favorite craft magazine is included in the database? Click the Publications link at the top the screen to see the titles of the 1500 magazines and books.

Celebrate National Craft Month and make something today. Let the Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center spark your imagination!

–Selector Beth Baker Schoch