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Friday, February 27, 2015

Our in house artist, Melissa, took on the task of drawing a poster sized rendition of our latest tonnage numbers - the numbers that illustrate how much we've kept out of the landfill. I spoke with her a little about her methods and the tools she uses. After sketching out the drawing with a pencil, she starts in with woodless colored pencils and markers. As far as the type of markers and colored pencils, she uses Sharpies, Bic markers, even the odd Crayola marker to achieve these eye-popping illustrations. She admits shading with markers is tricky, and advises layering with different shades of the same color. Next, she applies watercolor to bring the design into a cohesive whole.

Inspired yet? We are! Melissa says she's only taken one drawing class in high school, depending mostly on practice and observation. "Observation is very important," she emphasizes, especially for those wishing to take their skill to the next level. Want to take a closer look at her masterpiece? Come see it in person at Recycled Reads!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Stephen King is the official chronicler of American nightmares. Yet, after 40-plus years of King stories, we take him for granted. The author has reached the point where his writing is so universally known, so influential, that it can appear simple and derivative. As adults living in 2015, we don’t realize just how shocking and incendiary King’s writing is. I would dismiss King more easily were it not for my love affair with the author’s work as a girl in the sixth grade.

I discovered Stephen King entirely by accident, which is the best way to discover an author, while browsing the shelves of my middle school library. King introduced me to an adult world I’d never known before. I read his work with voracity, fascination and disgust. Yes, his thrillers were full of suspense and gore. But I also peered into the twisted psychology of adults (both psychotic and sane) for the very first time. I learned about spousal abuse, violent obsession, Münchausen syndrome by proxy, serial killing, sadomasochism, necrophilia, rape, misogyny, sociopaths, and more.

To my sixth grade self, the major theme that united King’s books was control, or lack thereof. Even back then, I could relate to how terrifyingly out of control King’s characters were.

Today try picking up a Stephen King book (or audiobook, eBook, downloadable audiobook, graphic novel, or film) and reading it with fresh eyes. Pretend you aren’t an adult inundated with sexual violence in our media every day. And enjoy the twisted mind of the original gangster of terror. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Let us take for granted the fact that The Walking Dead, one of the most popular TV shows in America right now, is about a lot more than zombies. Taking this for granted means we can watch each episode (and I have watched every one) in thrall to the struggles facing the show’s characters. Among them are a sheriff's deputy, a drifter, a housewife, a civil rights lawyer, a veterinarian-farmer, and a pizza delivery guy – in every case a life walking through a broken-down world made perilous by the primal need to survive.

I consider it a masterstroke on the part of the storytellers to portray the zombies as compulsive survivalists, just like the living who evade them. The "walkers" must eat fresh flesh, and they follow sound to find it. Their sensitivity to noise occasions many scenes acted out in silence by the living, who band together and retreat to deserted stores, houses, churches, forests and even a prison.

Moving through the quiet of their forsaken surroundings leads inevitably to introspection, and many characters ponder their past amid the choices they face on any given day. The one they all face is simple: whether to get on with life or with death. And making that choice is the ultimate test.

Chief among those tested is Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln), the bearded, poker-faced sheriff's deputy who becomes the group's fallible father and a Southern gentleman of cutthroat gentility. Of potential newcomers to the group he asks three questions: how many walkers have you killed, how many people have you killed, and why? Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), the beady-eyed, bow-wielding drifter, becomes Rick's lieutenant and trusted friend after a lifetime of neglect and abuse at the hands of his family.

But to me it's Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), the housewife, who embodies the series' most poignant character: her porcelain, middle-aged beauty is hardened by a history of marital abuse and a mercilessly tested maternal will. She becomes Rick's counterpoint, not exactly his rival but a mother figure who resorts to murder as a preemptive strike against perceived threats to the tribe. In fact, over time Rick and Carol emerge as contrasting emblems of survival, of all the miles walked and all the miles still to go.

As of this blog post, The Walking Dead is in its fifth season on AMC. The show’s main characters (the three named above plus a handful of others) have travelled from Atlanta, Georgia (seasons 1 and 2) to the rural outskirts (seasons 2 and 3) to a prison in West Georgia (seasons 3 and 4) to a train station and rural church and then back to Atlanta (seasons 4 and 5). In season 5 Rick makes a spellbinding speech about how they survive moving forward. “We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead,” he says to his demoralized crew and to we at home watching. His point hits home because we inhabit the world of the living that Rick and company are striving for.

If you aren’t already a walker fan, you could be. APL has seasons 1 through 4 on DVD. We also have the TV show’s source material in the graphic novels by Robert Kirkman. And more, below.


(Top Image: Detail of the season 2 DVD cover. All GIFs are sourced from

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Febrero, mes dedicado a los Afroamericanos en los Estados Unidos y la lucha por sus derechos civiles. Como parte de esta lucha hay una parte de la población de origen mexicano, que vive en los Estados Unidos, que sufrió y todavía sufre de discriminación. Algunas veces, se identifican como Chicanos. Otras veces como Mexico-Americanos, Latinos, cholos, pachucos, etc. En este contexto me encontré explorando los anaqueles de libros en español de la sucursal Cepeda, donde me encontré unos libros en la sección de poesía, que consideré muy interesantes. Algunos de estos libros fueron publicados en ediciones limitadas, que seguramente ya no se consiguen. Además tenían, en algunos casos,  títulos en inglés, y tenían que ver con el tratamiento desigual de personas de origen mexicano, cuyos derechos civiles no eran respetados, y vivían marginados. Abriendo uno de éstos, leí estas estrofas:

Chicano Art bridge

Alma pocha

Alma pocha
la sufrida,
la olvidada.
En tu propio terruño serás extranjero por la ley del   fusil y la ley del acero. 

Del libro titulado Between two Worlds, "Entre dos mundos" escrito por el ilustre autor, Américo Paredes,  y publicado en 1991. Para aclarar, la palabra pocha significa una persona de origen mexicano que vive en los Estados Unidos, que por lo general no es muy fluido en el idioma español.

La poesía chicana, muchas veces utiliza palabras en inglés mezcladas con vocablos en español. El título,  Entre dos mundos, efectivamente expresa el lugar que se encuentra parte de la población de origen mexicano, que no se ha asimilado al sistema Norteamericano. Generalmente provienen de tradiciones culturalmente distintas y tratan de establecerse en los Estados Unidos, sin perder sus raíces. Un ejemplo:

Mamá's Tortillas

Hechas a mano,

hechas de harina, 

hechas con cariño,

the mainstay,

bringing family together -(se congrega la familia)

like manna the holy food. -(como el manná, el alimento sagrado)

El poeta, José Montoya, expresa las humillaciones sufridas por sus antepasados así, en estas estrofas.

El Sol y los de Abajo

Y como él I have dragged -(como -mi padre- me he arrastrado)

Myself and soul in some - (arrastrando mi cuerpo y alma)

Unconscious, instinctive -(Inconciente e instintivamente)

Search for the splendor -(en búsqueda del esplendor antepasado)

De los templos del Sol. 

La poesía de Ricardo Medina, habla del Quinto Sol, la era actual, que terminará en terremotos, según la creencias de los Mexicas.

El Quinto Sol

Yo soy,

       El Olmeca

"La Madre Cultura."

Yo soy,

       Los Gritos,

Yo soy,

"! Viva Villa!"

"! Viva Zapata!"

"! Viva Juárez!"

"!Tierra Y Libertad!"

"! Que Viva La Revolución!"

Yo soy,

 Las Canciones

  Las Lágrimas

La Sangre

Y el Sudor

Del Indio!

Yo soy,

El Indio

El Mestizo!

    "El Quinto Sol."

Si le gusta la poesía, le invitamos a que venga y lleve estos libros para su disfrute.

Related Books:
Cover of the book JalapenÌo blues
By by Trinidad Sánchez, Jr. C/S.
Cover of the book El Coro a chorus of Latino and Latina poetry
By edited by Martín Espada.
Cover of the book The dictionary of Chicano Spanish = El diccionario del espanÌol chicano
By originally compiled by Roberto A. Galván, Richard V. Teschner.
Cover of the book Dictionary of Chicano folklore
By Rafaela G. Castro.
Articles on the folklore and culture of Chicanos and Mexican Americans describe terms and concepts that represent folk speech and narrative, cultural tradition, and rituals practiced in the United States.
Cover of the book Lluvia de oro
By Víctor Villaseñor.
Victor Villaseñor entrelaza las historias paralelas de dos familias in dos países.trayendonos el romance eterno entre el explosivo contrabandista el cual sería su padre y la bella Lupe, su madre.
Cover of the book Tan lejos de Dios
By Ana Castillo ; traducido del inglés por La Compañía Flavia.
Sofia and her daughters--Fe, Esperanza, Caridad, and la Loca--endure hardship and enjoy love in the sleepy New Mexico hamlet of Tomé, where the comic and the horrific, the real and the supernatural, reside.
Cover of the book Between two worlds
By Américo Paredes.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Teen Tech Week is just around the corner! This year’s celebration of teens and technology takes place from March 8th to March 14th. The theme this year is “Libraries are for making…”

The library is a great place to learn about cool new technology-related apps that will help you make new things, both at the libraries and at home. Today, I wanted to highlight some of these awesome resources.

Animoto Video Maker lets you create 30-second video clips that you can share with your friends. You’ll be well on your way to becoming an amateur film-maker!

Adventure Time Game Wizard is a super cool app that not only lets you play an Adventure Time video game, but it also lets you create your own levels. Using the game’s “Doodle Wizard,” you can sketch out your game with the loot and enemies of your choice.

Code Kingdoms combines puzzle solving and Javascript. The adorable game design doesn’t hurt, either. Play this one on your computer or on a teen center computer in the library. 

Made With Code has all kinds of neat elements. There are games that involve music and coding, interviews with full-time women in code, and projects from teen girls who are using code to make their lives better. Want to learn how to sew a light-up bookmark? Made With Code can show you how.

Want to go old school? The Internet Archive released a bunch of 90s video games that you can play online. Now you, too, can die of dysentery in Oregon Trail  and do battle in Street Fighter II. These old MS-DOS games are easy to learn, yet also surprisingly easy to get hooked on.

Monument Valley exists at the intersection of compelling game design and just plain gorgeous art. You have to use spatial awareness and a bit of tricky thinking. Fans of Portal will appreciate this game.

Have you heard of any interesting new games that we’re leaving out? Also, talk to your youth librarian today to see how you can get involved in Teen Tech Week.


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The APL Blog promotes Austin Public Library's resources and services through thematic item lists from our collection; topics related to today's events and news; research tips; programs and events; and databases.

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