Last Saturday afternoon I spent three hours behind a table in tent #3 in the middle of Colorado Street on the west side of the Texas Capitol telling book festival attendees about Austin Public Library. Right up until 5 o'clock, when we packed up, a constant stream of people laden with bags of books and souvenirs walked by, the stream swelling to a torrent when an event ended and the audience cleared out and came through.
Have you noticed the desert landscapes going in all over town in response to the drought? We put desert in our front yard last year. We landscaped with Indian fig (prickly pear without the prickles), feather grass, and crushed granite. Our yard looks like an unkempt Taco Cabana. And when I saw the weeds coming up through the gravel, I realized that putting the Arizona desert in my yard is almost as strange as installing the rolling lawn of an English country estate. Neither is right for Central Texas.
I’m getting to the end of Stephen King’s latest, Doctor Sleep, which takes up with Danny Torrance long after the ashes of the Overlook have cooled, and I thought for the blog today I’d make a timeline of the settings of King’s books; you know, Carrie takes place in the early 1970s, so let’s draw a red line from, say, 1972-3, the time during which the story is set. After Carrie, let’s jump ahead to 11/22/63 because that’s really jumping back: most of that book takes place in the 50s, so a red line (all the lines just have to be red, don’t you think?) from 1954 to near the present, skipping over the Carrie years… It’s already starting to get complicated.
If you’ve come to the main library downtown recently you might have noticed a tad bit of construction (read that last clause to yourself sarcastically). The whole block on which the library and the History Center sit, from 8th to 9th streets south and north, and from Guadalupe to San Antonio east and west, is surrounded by a moat of yanked up street and sidewalk, water pipes (coming out or going in), tractors, and workers in neon vests.
We had quite the event here last Sunday. About 400 people showed up to see chickens. In the library. Maybe you saw the story on the evening news. The Austin and Central Texas Backyard Poultry Meetup Group brought their birds, some of them champion prize winners, and set them in cages over wood shavings on library tables, and apparently, people want to see that kind of thing because we had a bigger crowd lined up to look at chickens than we’ve had for any event at Central since I’ve worked here, and that is no inconsiderable time.
I just mentioned to my young coworkers that Julie Harris died and they said, “Who?” *Sigh.* Abra in East of Eden, coming to realize that Cal (James Dean) is the more interesting brother; Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera (a movie I’ve not been able to get my hands on), pre-Cabaret; Frankie in The Member of the Wedding (not my favorite; a little histrionic); and, for my money, the best Julie Harris role: Nell in The Haunting. Nothing happens; you never see a ghost; or does it and do you?
Your Austin Public librarians are being volunteered as the people to see for information about the Affordable Care Act, more catchily known as Obamacare.
A year or so ago, to economize, we canceled cable TV. We've since re-upped (pay TV has the monopoly on sports), but unplugging was very enlightening. Looking for free entertainment led us to a lot of good stuff lost in the klieg lights of pay TV, especially the BBC through PBS. You don't need any special equipment to get PBS; it still comes through the ether, although rabbit ears will improve your reception. And yes, ok, it has commercials now, but they bracket the shows; you can easily avoid them.