Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Willie

Considering I’ve lived in Austin most of my life, it would be quite a feat if I hadn’t learned all of the lyrics to songs like “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” or “Time of the Preacher”. My mother must have played the album Red Headed Stranger twelve million times throughout my childhood and adolescent years. But even if my mother had never played Willie Nelson’s music until my ears bled, I would have certainly heard his music on bar jukeboxes, heard his name in association with countless live music events, and seen his face on T-shirts around town. In other words, Willie is everywhere.

I never truly acknowledged my affection for Willie Nelson until I
recently spent 2 ½ years in North Carolina attending library school. Local radio stations did not play Willie’s songs on the radio, Willie never came to town to perform a live show, and I never found any of his albums on the jukeboxes at the local bars. I didn’t really notice this, though, until my second visit back to Austin. I flew into ABI, hopped in my rental car, turned on the radio, and there was Willie singing “Whiskey River”. And it didn’t stop there; the station I was listening to decided to play three more of his songs back-to-back. I found myself on I35, gazing at the capital, tears in my eyes, thinking to myself, “Man, I am such a sap!” But what I realized is that, to me, Willie Nelson’s music is as integral a part of Austin as the capital building. Willie is home.

So a big happy 75th birthday to Willie Nelson, an Austin treasure! As you can imagine, many Austin organizations are doing much to celebrate. Check out Austin 360’s birthday celebration site complete with places for fans to send Willie birthday wishes and share their Willie stories and/or pictures. Tonight KGSR will be broadcasting several hours of all things Willie Nelson including a 3 hour live set by various local artists covering Willie Nelson songs. Finally, you can download and listen to an awesome feature about Willie’s rise to fame on the KUT website. But really the best way to celebrate is to come down to the Austin Public Library and check out our awesome collection of all things Willie, only some of which is listed below.

Heart Worn Memories: A Daughter’s Personal Biography of Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson: An Epic Life

Willie Nelson Family Album

Waylon and Willie: The Full Story in Words and Picture of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson

Willie writing about Willie
The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes

Willie Nelson: An Autobiography

The Electric Horseman

Honeysuckle Rose

Phases and Stages

Poncho and Lefty

Red Headed Stranger


Monday, April 28, 2008

Laissez Fairytale?

I no longer think of the United States and World economies as abstractly as I once did. Although I’ve been thinking about these two inseparable organisms for quite a while, the current alarmingly high price of gasoline, food, and energy coupled with the sub-prime mortgage debacle has made the consequences of disastrous economic policies and practices as bracing to me as a cold shower. The Austin Public Library has a number of resources available that help to explain the prevailing economic theory at play as well as stinging criticism of it.


The Chicago School : how the University of Chicago assembled the thinkers who revolutionized economics and business

Milton Friedman : a biography

Free to choose : a personal statement

The age of turbulence : adventures in a new world

Bubble man : Alan Greenspan & the missing 7 trillion dollars

Greenspan's fraud : how two decades of his policies have undermined the global economy

The squandering of America : how the failure of our politics undermines our prosperity

NPR: Fresh Air Interview

Our Confusing Economy, Explained

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mayor's Book Club Finale!

Ishmael Beah, author of the Mayor's Book Club selection A Long Way Gone : Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier, visited McCallum High School this morning. Four hundred students listened attentively and asked thoughtful questions about his experiences as a child soldier and subsequent rehabilitation. In the end, the students wanted to know how they could help in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the world. He urged the students to approach everyday life with patience and understanding rather than to give in to anger and violence. He also encouraged everyone to learn about other cultures, even before tragedy attracts the world's attention. He believes it is ultimately up to each of us to discover how to best use our talents to improve these situations around the world.

The Mayor's Book Club finale continues this evening at City Hall beginning at 6:00 p.m. Please join us for food, music, and a discussion with the author. Books will be available for sale and signing after the program. Also don't miss our list of related books and films!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Shakespeare's birthday...and deathday

***disclaimer: I couldn’t stand Shakespeare in high school***

Today is Shakespeare’s birthday. It also happens to be the day he died. Today, we celebrate the Bard: most significant writer in the English language and bane of high school students around the world. Like many Americans, you might have limped through high school English readings of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, or Twelfth Night, but don’t let those potentially rough memories keep you from the most impressive individual literary output. From harrowing analysis of death to ribald comedies, he covered it all.

Central Texas benefits from great Shakespeare performances. Shakespeare at Winedale hosts performances throughout the spring and summer in Roundtop, Texas, while Austin Shakespeare hosts frequent performances throughout Austin.

Shakespeare wrote his plays for performance, but reading them is a pleasure too. Four-hundred years later and the conflicts, loves, and laughs are as relevant as ever.

The Complete Works (every play he wrote)

Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard

Shakespeare: The Biography

Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction

Monday, April 21, 2008

Check Out Foo Fighters

At the Brit Awards (the British music industry's most prestigious prizes) this past February, the Foo Fighters won the Best International Group award. The band is also confirmed for this year’s ACL Festival.

APL currently has five Foo Fighters albums:

The Colour and The Shape
Foo Fighters
In Your Honor
One by One
There is Nothing Left to Lose
Listen to Statues by Foo Fighters on NPR.

Check the catalog for your favorite music. We might just have it. If not, click Suggest a Title on the FindIt catalog page and tell us what you'd like us to order.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Meet a Science Fiction Writer

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America was founded in 1965. Today, SFWA's 1500 members include most professional writers of science fiction and fantasy in North America, and many from elsewhere in the universe.

At its annual awards banquet, SFWA presents the Nebula Awards® for best fiction in several categories. This year Austin is hosting the awards ceremony.

There will be a group signing open to the public, hosted by BookPeople, at the Omni Hotel, Friday, April 25, 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm.

Some of the confirmed participants for the Mass Autographing are:

Neal Barrett, Jr.
Steven Gould
Joe Haldeman
Candace Havens
Kij Johnson
Ellen Kushner
Joe R. Lansdale
Ardath Mayhar
Jack McDevitt
Laura Mixon
Elizabeth Moon
Michael Moorcock
Christine Rose
Stanley Schmidt
Delia Sherman

The final ballot for the 2007 Nebula Awards for best novel:

Ragamuffin by Tobias Bucknell

Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon

The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman

New Moon’s Arms by Nalo Hopkins

Odyssey by Jack McDevitt

For more recommended science fiction and fantasy titles please look at APL’s
Best Recent Science Fiction and Fantasy book list.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Those famous wills

In the history of humankind, wills have a special place mainly because of their peculiarities. Some wills are famous for their length. Nelson Rockefeller's will was 64 pages long. Some wills are famously short. Bimla Rishi’s will, of Dehli, India was only three words long: “all to son.”

Other wills are famous because of what or how people inherit their property as in the case of Napoleon Bonaparte, who left his articles of personal hygiene to his family. Last year, Leona Helmsley left 12 million dollars to her dogs but nothing to her grandchildren. Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da C├ómara was a Portuguese noble who in 1988, in the presence of a notary, grabbed the Lisboa’s telephone directory and gave away his fortune to 70 people he called randomly.

One of the oldest wills was found in an Egyptian tomb and was written around the year 17 B.C. In this will, a man named Uah, divided his property among his family and slaves and asked to be buried with his wife. Romans were the first ones writing wills as legal documents, but it was not until the Middle Ages that wills gained relevance.

According to Consumer Reports, 66% of Americans don’t have a will. If after reading this blog entry you want to start to write one, here are some books that might help you with that:

AARP crash course in estate planning : the essential guide to wills, trusts, and your personal legacy

The handbook to wills, funerals, and probate : how to protect yourself and your survivors

Why wills won't work (if you want to protect your assets) : safeguard your estate for the ones you really love

Nolo's simple will book

Understanding your living will : what you need to know before a medical emergency

Monday, April 14, 2008

National Libray Week is 50 Years Old!

This week America is celebrating National Library Week. In 1958, the country started celebrating Libraries and Librarians and their contributions to promote Libraries. Fifty years later, we are still celebrating.

The Austin Public Library is celebrating by debuting a new READ poster featuring local celebrity, Jesse Sublett. Writer and musician, Sublett tells us to “Beat the Blues: Read a Book” as his motto on the new poster. Check out the new poster at all of the Austin Public Library locations and check out a book while you’re in.

Libraries – schools, public, academic and special – are all celebrating National Library Week. For example, Harford Community College in Baltimore, MD is celebrating by offering amnesty on fines for all cardholders all week. East Central Public Library in Mississippi is inviting students to design a Library bookmark, with the winners bookmark to be reproduced and distributed at the Library. The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota is sponsoring a daily online trivia contest with a grand prize going to the winner. Other Libraries across the country will have authors speak, children will draw and design, adults will join book groups, and teens will join in Manga fun.

What will YOU do to support the Library this week?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Plan ahead!

With tax season almost over, take the time now to get organized and reduce the stress for next year. First, download the IRS publication Recordkeeping for Individuals for guidance on which records to keep and for how long. After you've cleaned out your files, bring up to five boxes of paper to the City of Austin's free shred day on Saturday, April 19, 2008 in the Austin High School parking lot, 1715 W. Cesar Chavez from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Also, visit the Solid Waste Services site for ways to dispose of other materials safely. Then, check out one of the following titles for some helpful organization and time management tips:

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week-By-Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good by Regina Leeds

Time Management: Set Priorities to Get the Right Things Done by John Hoover

Thinking Organized for Parents and Children: Helping Kids Get Organized for Home, School & Play by Rhona Gordon

How Did I Get So Busy? The 28-Day Plan to Free Your Time, Reclaim Your Schedule, and Reconnect with What Matters Most by Valorie Burton

The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life's Scarcest Commodity by Stefan Klein

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Pulitzers!

The 2008 Pulitzers have been announced. Awarded annually since 1917 by Columbia University, the Pulitzer Prize is widely considered to be our nation’s highest achievement in print journalism and literature. This year’s recipients continue a strong tradition of excellence.

The inimitable Robert Haas adds to his 2007 National Book Award in Poetry. Junot Diaz collects another award to share shelf-space with his 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)

What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Daniel Walker Howe)

Eden’s Outcasts: the Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father (John Matteson)

Time and Materials (Robert Haas)
Failure (Philip Schultz)

The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 (Saul Friedlander)

The Austin Public Library owns all these titles. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was the Faulk Central Library Book Club’s January selection. Give it a whirl and let us know what you think. If there is enough interest, we will add it to the summer book club schedule for a second go-round.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Lady Day's Diamond Eyes

Billie Holiday was born on this day back in 1915. I’ve heard it said that a candle which burns twice as bright lasts half as long. This is a befitting analogy to apply when trying to reconcile her tremendous talent and the impact she had on the course of American Jazz with her rather short life. The Austin Public Library has a multitude of resources readily available in trying to decipher the mystery of perhaps this country’s greatest Jazz singer and the personal demons that led to her premature demise.


If you can't be free, be a mystery : in search of Billie Holiday

Wishing on the moon : the life and times of Billie Holiday

Lady day : the many faces of Billie Holiday

Billie's blues : Billie Holiday's story 1933-1959


Billie Holiday, the ultimate collection

Lady Day [sound recording] : the complete Billie Holiday on Columbia 1933-1944

Mystery lady [sound recording] : songs of Billie Holiday

Motion Pictures:

Lady sings the blues [videorecording]

Billie Holiday [videorecording] : the ultimate collection

Lady day [videorecording] : the many faces of Billie Holiday

Friday, April 04, 2008

Who Was Noel Coward?

Noel Coward, the archetype of urbane elegance, began his long and successful career in the theater as a child actor. By the time he died in 1973, Coward was world-famous, not only as an actor, but also as a playwright, director, producer, composer, lyricist, screenwriter, nightclub entertainer, novelist, memoirist, and poet.

He traveled extensively, including battlefields during World War II. His favorite place to visit was Jamaica, where he died and was buried.

An example of his wit from the 1961 play, Sail Away:

Why do the wrong people travel, travel, travel,
When the right people stay back at home?
What explains this mass mania
To leave Pennsylvania
And cluck around like flocks of geese,
Demanding dry martinis on the isles of Greece?

He was a master of the sophisticated, drawing room comedy. Coward wrote his stage language with luminous and larger-than-life personalities in mind. He often based his characters on friends, especially those who were actors.

Last year his letters to these friends were published in
The Letters of Noel Coward. The letters reveal his sense of humor, his loyalty to friends, and his very sane personality. Even when he or his works are criticized, the letters are free of any back-biting.

Other Titles at Austin Public Library:

Noel Coward: the Complete Lyrics

Three Plays
Cowards most famous plays - Blithe Spirit, Hay Fever, Private Lives

The Songs of Noel Coward

Bunny Lake is Missing
Film cast includes Laurence Olivier, Carol Linley and Noel Coward

Brief Encounter
Film based on the play Private Lives and written by Coward and David Lean

Private Lives
Humorous play about four mismatched lovers on the French Riviera

Noel Coward Audio Collection
War-time encounters, short stories, scenes from Blithe Spirit

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Writers Undercover

Pen names or pseudonyms have been used by writers for many years and various reasons.
Some authors, like Voltaire, had to use a fictitious name because of his polemic writings about the politics in France. Other writers use pen names because they write both fiction and non fiction works and want to avoid confusing readers. There are some writers that feel like their real names wouldn’t sell as well as a pen name, and authors sometimes use more than one pen name, like Edward Alexander Crowley, who used 150 pseudonyms during his prolific life.

Women writers are well known for the use of pseudonyms. Since female authors were not well received or viewed in society in the past, women kept on writing but signed their books using a masculine name. Doris Lessing, famous writer and contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature, wrote a couple of works using a pen name. In this case, she did it as an experiment to show the world the difficulties a new unknown writer faces.

In other countries, like Japan and Persian cultures, pen names come with the genera used by the author. For example, if the author writes poetry or haiku, it is normal for them to use a pseudonym to sign their works.

Next, a list of some famous writer’s pen names:

J.K Rowling: Joanne Kathleen Rowling
Mark Twain: Samuel Clemens
George Sand: Aurore Dudevant
George Eliot: Mary Ann Evans
“a lady”: Jane Austen
Agatha Christie: Mary Westmacott
Dean Koontz: David Axton, Leonard Chris, Brian Coffey, Deanna Dwyer, K.R. Dwyer, Leigh Nichols, Arthur North, Richard Page, Owen West.
Danielle Steel: Danielle Fernande Dominique Schuelein-Steel
Michael Crichton: Michael Douglas, Jeffrey Hudson, John Lange
Nora Roberts: J. D. Robb
Stephen King: Richard Bachman, John Swithen

Do you know any other pen names?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Design Better

We are surrounded by graphic design from the moment we awake to the time we shut our eyes each day. We know what billboards, web sites, and business cards appeal to us, but we may not understand why. The Austin Public Library has a large selection of books for business owners, designers, engineers, architects, and students who seek to broaden and improve their design knowledge and skills. The titles listed below can help you enhance usability, influence perception, increase appeal, and make better design decisions.

Designing with Type: the Essential Guide to Typography

Elements of Graphic Design: Space, Unity, Page Architecture and Type

Exploring Web Technologies for Designers

Making and Breaking the Grid: a Graphic Design Layout Workshop

New Vintage Type Classic Fonts for the Digital Age

Universal Principles of Design