Fun at Foster's blog

Local author at Foster 5/15

 

 

Craig Carey Hiking and Backpacking the Southern Los Padres 7:00 p.m. in the Topping Room on Wednesday, 5/15.

Meet the author, hear the tales, and start your own adventure.

THE PHYSICS AND SOCIAL CONSCIENCE OF SCIENCE FICTION cont.

Fahrenheit 451: Ray Bradbury

  

451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which books burn. This is the physics of heat and entropy. And this is a tale of censorship and defiance. “The system was simple”, Bradbury begins his story.  “Books were for burning along with the houses in which they were hidden.”

     Burning books is the central premise upon which the story unfolds. Guy Montag is a firefighter. However, in this day and age, firefighting has taken on a whole different meaning. Guy is charged with the socio-political responsibility of burning books wherever they may be found. There are still all the lights and sirens that we associate with being a firefighter — they even have a pole to slide down on — but now, when the fire engine pulls up outside your door, it is met with trepidation not relief. Whereas water used to be the fluid of salvation, kerosene has become the liquid of suppression. Guy goes about his duties with the typical verve that a firefighter must have and he never thinks twice about lighting a match to save people from themselves. That is, until a new neighbor moves in next door to him.

      “Have you ever read any of the books that you burn?” The neighbor asks him. “Of course not,” he returns. “Books are illegal.” But such begins a change in the man. One that causes him to question what he is doing. It infuriates his boss and worries his wife who persists that he watch “the people in the wall” referring to huge television screens placed into the wall. Of course, the shows on television are antiseptic and shallow. They are meant to be, because keeping the flock ignorant means that you can control their minds and behavior. It is quite Orwellian.

     Media consumption is an underlying theme and it smacks of the silly mindlessness of so many TV programs today. What better way to control information than by not allowing it to disseminate freely. Instead, give the people what they want, harmless, shallow mindlessness. Part of what makes this story seem real is that Bradbury has connected his story with our current media trends.  

        Nothing is ever mentioned about the totalitarian government that has decreed these laws about books. It is simply “understood”. This is because Bradbury doesn’t want his characters striking back at the Regime politically. He wants them making self discovery choices that transcend the socio-political turmoil that this society reflects. Choices that cause Guy Montag to find a secret society of people who choose a book and then memorize it, taking on the name of the title as their own to preserve the book from the fiery Gates of Hell.

     This is the way you fight the Unseen Monster, with defiance. The Regime IS the true “monster from the Id” in Bradbury’s book. And like the creature in Forbidden Planet, it is illusory and unnatural. It can be defeated, but not in any conventional way. Both situations in these books are confrontational. They must supply a moral paradigm. And they became that way because of the misuse of science.

This weekend at Foster

In the Topping Room:

May 11 - Dr. Frank Barajas 6:00-7:00 "Early Farm Worker Housing on the Oxnard Plain"

May 12 - Lucky Break 2:00-4:00 Come celebrate Mother's Day with a free afternoon concert!

Maus

I must admit I already knew much of what I wanted to say before I read this book. It’s no stranger to me for I have read it twice before. Reading these books again is like visiting an old friend, but “friend” seems the wrong term to use, for there is nothing friendly in the tale it has to tell.

Maus, written by Art Spiegelman, is actually not one book, but two. It is comprised of two volumes. My Father Bleeds History tells of Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, and his life a few years before the start of World War II, from the time he met his first wife, to living in the Jewish ghettoes as the Nazis took control, to his arrival at the gates of Auschwitz. And Here My Troubles Began is the account of Vladek’s life in the concentration camps and also of Spiegelman’s own life after the successful publication of the first volume.

These books also detail the difficult relationship between the author and his father. What I like about these graphic novels is that the author, in depicting his father, does not shy away from the more unpleasant qualities of his personality. He does not set out to make his father a saint, but to portray him as honestly as possible. His father can be stingy, suspicious, and critical, but when you read his story, you see where much of those feelings come from.

This book has been both praised and criticized for how the characters are drawn (Jews are portrayed as mice, Germans are portrayed as cats), but that characterization in no way lessens the impact of the story. To see characters beaten, shot, and even hung is just as disturbing, whether they look like mice or people. This is definitely not a book for young children.

That said, I still feel this book is worth reading, and it should be read. Maus does for literature (and yes, to those snooty-nosed purists, this is literature) what Schindler’s List does for movies. Some things you just have to see and some things you just have to read. (Incidentally, a good follow-up read is MetaMaus, which is the story behind the story of Maus.) For its harsh, yet honest, portrayal of life for the Jews under Nazi rule, there has been nothing to equal Maus in graphic novels before or since.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Ventura Surf

One of the benefits of living in a California coastal city is the ability to enjoy time at the beach.  Whether you want to stroll along the promenade, surf, kiteboard or just people watch, Surfers Point at Seaside Park is a great place to go.  If you want to get a little further out of the city, try the Rincon, just up the coast a few miles. Surfers come from all over the world because of the great waves along our coast.  If you are interested in learning to surf or just want to find out more information about the sport and its variations, Foster Library has the materials you're looking for!

New bookdrop!

Ventura County Libraries now have a new bookdrop at Kimball Park! Drop your materials off at this convenient spot right across from the aquatic center. Make sure it is a library book from the Ventura County Libraries before dropping it in the box!

Libraries inside out!

“Ventura Libraries Inside Out” happening at Ventura Community Park May 4, 11am-2 pm

Community members are invited to attend the first-ever fresh-air library outdoor event – Ventura Libraries Inside Out -- Saturday, May 4, from 11 am to 2 pm, at the Ventura Community Park, 901 South Kimball Road. Ventura’s libraries and their friends go “inside out” to share all things new and exciting happening inside and outside our city’s libraries.

Enjoy live music by the Jill Martini Soiree, storytelling and face painting for kids, a food truck and used book sale, and many other fun recreational family activities at this free event.

And the winner is....

Haiku winners have been announced!! Thank you to everyone that participated. You blew us away with your beautiful poetry.

1st place

The dry leaves whisper
Telling stories to themselves
In a gust of wind

-John Gentry

2nd place

the puddle’s surface
each raindrop falls from one sky
into another
 
-Stephen Colgan 

3rd place

In the morning light
Sits a damp, lonely flower,
Thankful for the dawn.
 
-Hunter Coch 

Molten chocolate babycake

How to be a domestic goddess: baking and the art of comfort cooking, by Nigella Lawson, is an authentic comfort food cookbook, and what I mean by that is the recipes call for lots of butter and high calorie  stuff, the “Dish” loves that. Nigella from her writing comes off as a strong and brassy women, ah the quintessential domestic goddess! With this cookbook you are in for a treat, in fact, as many treats as time permits.  The book oozes with deliciousness; chocolate, butter and sugar, all the things we are to stay away from to have a long non-yummy life. The challenge with this cookbook is which taste of comfort food heaven  I want to experience.  Before the preparation of the recipe began, I heard someone mutter from the back part of the “Dish” residence,  “no street food, just chocolate”, immediately I understood, and the recipe I prepared would be molten chocolate babycakes with vanilla ice cream, tranquility reined again in the ”Dish” residence. The recipe called for the use of six custard cups which I procured at a local thrift shop, frugality is part of the “Dish’s” DNA. At the local thrift shop I had a chance meeting with LM, she caught me looking at the gorgeous collection of teapots for sale, but alas, all of this is for later folly, back to the recipe.

The molten chocolate babycake recipe is simple, the ingredients are readily available and only basic kitchen utensils are required.  One thing the “Dish” must implore you to do is buy the best chocolate possible for this recipe, you’ll thank me latter.  Another small issue is putting the parchment paper in the custard cups, it’s a bit fiddly, but vital for removal of the molten chocolate babycakes from the custard cups. Prep and cook time is about 45 minutes, not much time for the best chocolate dessert  I have ever  created in my life. I know this sounds like boasting, but it is 100%  true. For chocolate lovers and dessert lovers, this cookbook is a must!! The Goddess rocks!

*****David’s dish

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it - we will send it to you!

If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking.

L. A. CONFIDENTIAL

CLASSIC GUMSHOE DETECTIVE NOVELS continued (part 1):

L. A. CONFIDENTIAL : James Ellroy

   Confidential Magazine was a 1950s rag that snooped on celebrities. It was based on the belief that there were a million stories in L.A., all of them enough to raise eyebrows and curl hair. And so this story revolves around that idea with a plot that intertwines itself around the Mob, police brutality, corruption and vigilantism, sex and drugs. Yet the narrative never veers far from its core theme of cops competing with crooks to see who can be more corrupt and violent. Ellroy weaves a labyrinthine plot, but the twists are always clear because the characters are so sharply drawn; we don't know who's guilty or innocent, but we know who should be.

    A magazine called “Hush Hush” is run by a sleazy editor who pays one cop to make celebrity arrests catching them while involved in embarrassing situations. Vincennse is the cop who can be bribed. He is an advisor on the hit TV program “Badge of Honor”. His ability to move between two worlds and betray both is almost exemplary. But he winds up knowing too much about the local police corruption, accidentally, and pays for it with his life.

   There’s the millionaire pornographer named Pierce Padgett who runs a high class call girl service, dressing up aspiring young actresses (even under the knife) to look like famous movie stars. One who gets tangled in this web of corruption is Lynn Bracken, cut to look like Veronica Lake. Padgett winds up dead as well as the plot thickens.

  Then there is the ambitious but straight laced cop, Ed Exley, trying to run up the ladder and best his dead father’s reputation as a good cop, while another detective, Bud White, is aggressive and willing to accommodate the department’s relaxed ethics. They wind up as unlikely allies as things progress.

   The plot involves a series of crimes that take place in the early days of the New Year, 1953. Associates of Mickey Cohen, the L.A. mob boss, become victims of gangland-style executions. There's a massacre at an all-night coffee shop victimizing one of Padgett’s hookers while one of the victims is a crooked cop, and three black youths are immediately collared as suspects, although there's suspicion that someone else is behind the crime.

   Bud White thinks that the Veronica Lake look-alike may know something about the coffee shop massacre as clues slowly begin to make sense about these gangland murders; clues that could implicate the L.A. Police Captain and the local drug turf wars. He winds up falling for Bracken as does Exley which complicates the plot later when these two men (who have come to hate each other for other reasons as well) must unite to survive and bring justice to a corrupt vigilante style police force bent on taking over the underworld drug and porno business.

    There are more twists and turns here than a contortionist with a pipe cleaner, and Ellroy knows just how far to bend his story in order to break the plot wide open. This is gumshoe entertainment at its classic best. James Chandler would be proud !

Doug Taylor

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