Fun at Foster's blog
April 9th -16th
While visiting E.P Foster Library indulge yourself in the tranquility of writing original haiku for our “Haiku wall”.
Share your creative talent and enjoy the talent of others. Haiku poetry is a great way to slow down and savor the moment, so please join us for E.P. Foster library’s haiku contest to celebrate National Haiku Day April 17th.
A prize will be awarded to the best haiku! See the rules for more information.
Livre Noir, Pulp Fiction, Gumshoe Journals; these are the classic mystery novels that still fill the bookstores and libraries around the world. From Popular Fiction, like James Chandler’s THE BIG SLEEP and THE MALTESE FALCON to Robert Tine’s MULLHOLLAND FALLS, come the stories of mystery, intrigue, murder, police corruption, sex and drugs. Often, the lines are blurred between good guy-bad guy in these stories and more often than not, there is a strong presence of dark vigilantism among the hero characters who go off script to catch a bad guy.
Some of the best stories around take place during a time frame between the 1940s and 50s, when Hollywood and Broadway were at their zeniths and when high fashion and high society were things to be envied by those whose work a day habits brought in small paychecks and little esteem. Cops, Private Eyes and Newspaper Reporters were the privileged proletariat, who got to mingle with these elite types, and with an added rush of getting in their face, when the Law was broken. Los Angeles and New York were often the playgrounds and backdrops for these crime thrillers, for those very reasons.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, by James Ellroy is one example of this, even though it was published in the 1990s. It has that feel of 1950s writing with its short sentences and terse language. Another is Mickey Spillane’s anti hero, Mike Hammer, Private Eye. In THE BIG KILL, He doesn’t mind mixing it up with crooks, even enjoying a good smack down and pounding of a dame or dude, no matter what their station in life. He has his own brand of justice and a few bones to pick! This is hard boiled melodrama wrapped up in one liners and craftily woven plots. It’s the kind of writing that is edgy, profane and hard hitting. I will begin with a review of THE BIG KILL, and then later in the month, review L.A. CONFIDENTIAL one of my all time favorites.
THE BIG KILL, by Mickey Spillane.
Drinking at a seedy bar in the crime ridden East Village on a rainy night, Hammer notices a man come in with an infant. The man, named Decker, cries as he kisses the infant goodbye, then walks out in the rain to be shot to death. Hammer shoots the assailant as he searches Decker's body. The driver of the getaway car runs over the man Hammer shot to ensure that he won't talk. Hammer takes care of the infant and vows revenge on the person behind such a deed.
Hammer's trail of vengeance leads him to hostile encounters with his police friend Pat Chambers, the DA and his stooges as well as beatings, assassination attempts and torture from gangsters that Hammer reciprocates in an eye for an eye fashion.
Hammer also has loving encounters with two women he meets on his quest. Marsha is a former Hollywood Actress who was beaten by Decker when he robbed her flat. Ellen is the rich daughter of a horse breeder who works for the D.A.
The plot is convoluted and littered with odd characters , “Dames with curves they know how to use and lips that work on a man like a drug”, so says Hammer. He gives and receives many severe beatings, and when he's on the receiving end his brutal and ghastly injuries respond remarkably well to the medicinal properties of good scotch, hot black coffee, a plate of steak and eggs, and a few smokes.
He learns that the dead man was an ex-con trying to go straight when he was tricked into consorting with racketeers. Mike battles with low lifes and high-living hoodlums in the course of seeking his own kind of justice…vengeance for the man and his child. But he gets caught up in the intrigue that becomes almost too much for him. As the investigation heats up, Hammer is almost killed for knowing too much and arrested by the D.A. for butting into police business. But the Private Eye avenges himself and the police by bringing all of the bookies and racketeers down and then finding out the real reason Decker was murdered. It just doesn’t get any better than this for Pulp Fiction.
Resident Philosopher Doug Taylor
No matter how far removed I get from my high school years, I still remember them. They may not always be fond memories, but they’re still mine. Yet, as much as I’d like to think I’m the only one who suffered through those trying years of high school (and really, don’t we all think like that?), I’ve found that I’m not alone.
In Tina’s Mouth: An existential comic diary, you’ll find all the teen angst you grew up with hasn’t changed. Over the course of her sophomore year, Tina deals with losing friends, making friends, boy crushes, cliques, school plays, parties, and Jean-Paul Sartre, all while trying to figure out who she is for her existentialism project. Just your average teenage experience (except maybe for the Jean-Paul Sartre part). I found myself in some familiar territory while reading this book, and although it wasn’t a trip down memory lane, it certainly put me in the near vicinity.
Named by YALSA as one of the great graphic novels for teens in 2013, Tina’s Mouth is well written, funny, and the closest I’ll ever come to understanding existentialism. No superheroes or zombies here, folks. What you have is an enjoyable look at the joys and pains of being a teenager. I found it to be an engrossing read (I read it in almost one sitting), and I think it will be relatable for both teens and adults. Who can’t relate to losing your best friend or being in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way? As written by first-time author Keshni Kashyap, it’s a very down-to-earth and approachable book, one worth reading.
During this time of year, the roadsides of Ventura County begin to show numerous wildflowers, California Poppies, Lupine, Bush Monkeyflower, and California Buckwheat, just to name a few. Not only are they beautiful to look at, but many of them can be grown in our own gardens. While imported ornamental plants can be lovely to look at, there is something uniquely satisfying in growing California native plants. The next time you take a drive, or a hike, pay attention to the purple, orange and yellow flowers growing along the trails. These attract beautiful California butterflies, as well as bees which are important to an agricultural economy. Imagine these in your own backyard!
Foster Library has many books on growing California native plants and is currently featuring gardening books in our pop-out section.
College Planning Workshop
E. P. Foster Library on April 10th, 2013
This is a college planning series of 6 workshops designed to help parents and students develop a workable plan for submitting college applications. The workshop is presented by E. P. Foster Library & Linda Kapala.
Linda Kapala has 20 years of experience in the high school setting, a B.A., a Secondary teaching credential, and an MEd in Administration. She is currently the Career/Media Specialist at Foothill Technology High School.
This first workshop will focus on college selections, college visits (virtual and real), college fairs, strategies for college selection, enrichment programs (why and why not), college essays and preparation for college applications.
The workshop will be held in the Topping Room from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Hope to see you there!
“The New Tea Book: A Guide to Black, Green, Herbal, and Chai Tea” by Sara Perry is a book any tea lover should visit at least once in their culinary life. The book gives a nice background into the history of tea without getting too heavy. The photography in this book is another highlight, absolutely fabulous! Many lovely teas and snacks are discussed in the book, and we all know that the “Dish” loves his snacks! The book tells of unusual tea customs other cultures have, one I found interesting was the fact that at one time in Russia tea was served with a dollop of raspberry jam, double yum! With an eye for something different and somewhat exotic, I chose to prepare some Chinese tea eggs, according to the book they are street food in China, sounds good enough for me. Chinese tea eggs are essentially hard boiled eggs, with tea leafs, Chinese five-spice powder and salt for flavoring. The eggs steep in the spices and tea after their shell has been slightly cracked with a spoon, it’s a very simple recipe. The aroma of the Chinese five-spice and tea is simply to die for! Besides being a tasty snack the eggs are beautiful they have a raku-crackled glaze look to them. I will visit this treasure of book again in the future. Happy year of the snake!
***** 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.
IDYLLIC SATIRE, continued ( 1607 to 1778)
CANDIDE by Voltaire:
Voltaire’s words attacked the Church and the State with equal fervor, landing him in prison on more than one occasion. He was also appalled by the specters of injustice and inexplicable disasters that he saw around him. These events influenced his composition of Candide. It was also the age of Enlightenment which promoted a naive perception of optimism, which Voltaire dispatched with his character, Pangloss (The Instructor to Candide) and his mantra that “This is the best of all possible worlds”, right before all goes askew.
Candide is the illegitimate nephew of a German Baron; Thunder Ten Trunk, where he grows up in the Baron’s castle under the tutelage of the scholar, Pangloss. He falls in love with the Baron’s beautiful daughter, Cunegonde. When the Baron catches the two kissing, he expels Candide from his home. Out on his own, Candide becomes the object of a cruel fate where he is soon conscripted into the Army of the Bulgars. He wanders away from camp for a brief walk one evening and is later flogged as a deserter. Then, after witnessing a horrific battle, he escapes to Holland.
While in Holland, he meets a kindly Anabaptist who takes him in. He runs into a deformed beggar who turns out to be Pangloss. The Scholar tells him that he has contracted syphilis and that Cunegonde’s family has all been brutally murdered by the Bulgars. Nonetheless, Pangloss maintains his positive outlook. The three travel to Lisbon together where their ship is sunk in a storm, killing the Anabaptist. The two have arrived there during the Inquisition. It is here where Pangloss is hanged as a heretic for his optimism.
Candide is flogged for his approval of Pangloss philosophy and his wounds are then dressed by an old woman who eventually takes him to Cunegonde. She survived to escape the Bulgars but was sold as a sex slave to the Grand Inquisitor. Candide kills the Grand Inquisitor when he comes to rape Cunegonde and the two must now escape from Lisbon with the old lady to South America where the Portugese authorities are in hot pursuit.
They arrive in a place called Eldorado where the streets are littered with gold and jewels. This utopian country has advanced scientific knowledge, no religious conflicts, no courts and no perception upon the value of its riches, a smug assault on his own time. However, through a long hilarious but brutal series of untoward accidents, Candide loses Cunegonde again for a while, only to find her later, deformed and ugly, along with Pangloss, the old lady and his Uncle who have all escaped brutal death several times.
They all wind up in prison until Candide is able to spare them by purchasing their freedom. At the end, they purchase a farm and settle down, taking to cultivating a garden in earnest. When Pangloss begins to pontificate about how this is now the best of all possible worlds, Candide dismisses him with, “Perhaps, but we must tend our garden”.
It is a rejection of Pangloss’s philosophies for an ethic of hard practical work. And, it is one of the most glaring indictments of Pangloss’s optimism in that it is based on abstract philosophical argument rather than real-world experience. (This was also the theme of Don Quixote in his quest for chivalrous glory.) Thus, with no time or leisure for idle speculation, the characters find the happiness that has eluded them throughout the novel. This is classic Voltaire. He dismisses the whole of the Enlightenment and its optimism for a little pragmatism with BITE…or what we might call…cynicism.
Resident Philosopher Doug Taylor
CSU Channel Islands and Foster library are proud to present a new lecture series. Professors from the university will visit the library during the semester to share with the community. Talks will range over a wide variety of topics and will be held in the Topping Room.
The events are as follows:
On November 21, 1999, after a major renovation, the E. P. Foster Library reopened to the public. The showpiece of the opening was the glass art installation in the front entrance entitled "Matrix", by artist Sally Weber. The piece was commissioned by the City of San Buenaventura Public Art Program. This unique piece is constructed of digital images laminated within glass panels. Embedded within the panels are lines of poetry and quotations along with visual patterns reflecting the evolution of written language. In a sense, digital art and coding has as much in common with pictographs as any other form of communication. Much like stained glass windows in churches, the colors of Matrix are enhanced by solar illumination. There are times when the light shining through Foster's front entrance is reminiscent of sacred spaces, reminding us that this is truly a place where one can enhance the intellect through education or entertainment.
If you are inspired by Matrix, Foster Library has books available on glass painting and stained glass art.
While perusing the many graphic novels available in our children’s collection, I happened upon a nice surprise. Called Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, it is a collection of seven short stories all centered around the theme of a box and the various mysteries that lie therein. Some boxes contain mysterious dolls of wax, some can take you into outer space, and some can lead you to those you’ve loved and lost. Each is told and drawn by a different author, ranging from funny and cute to serious and even sad. The drawing styles are as different as the stories they convey, but all made for a good read.
My particular favorite was Whatzit, written by Johane Matte, a contributor to the Flight series as well as a storyboard artist for the Dreamworks studio. Whatzit tells the tale of a young fellow responsible for shipping a replica of our solar system to a special exhibition. There’s a box for every item in the universe, right down to every creature on every planet. However, there’s one box with a question mark. Now, curiosity being the rule rather than the exception, you can guess something’s going to go wrong, and it has something to do with that box. It’s a funny little story, the best of the bunch I would say.
The book itself is small by graphic novel standards, less than 130 pages, so the stories have to really jump in to get the ball rolling. I easily finished it in one sitting, but the stories contained here could easily be expanded into full length graphic novels on their own. That would be worth reading. In the meantime, enjoy this delightful little read.