Monday, June 29, 2009

Writers of Short Sentences

Do you remember a time when being the art director of an advertising agency was akin to being a rock star? Me either. However, like rock stars, advertisers have a huge influence over our lives (for a time anyway). Advertising, or its byproducts, are just as much a part of popular culture as are hit television series, clothing styles, and even political viewpoints. Take the time and familiarize yourself with some of the more ground-breaking slogans and images this industry has produced over the years as well as the psychology behind them. Below are some resources collected by the Austin Public Library for your benefit and use.


Adland : a global history of advertising

Advertising in society: classic and contemporary readings on advertising's role in society

Advertising, the uneasy persuasion : its dubious impact on American society

Buyways: billboards, automobiles, and the American landscape

Captains of consciousness : advertising and the social roots of the consumer culture

The conquest of cool: business culture, counterculture, and the rise of hip consumerism

Culture and the ad : exploring otherness in the world of advertising

Encyclopedia of major marketing campaigns

The king of Madison Avenue: David Ogilvy and the making of modern advertising

The mirror makers : a history of American advertising and its creators

What a character!: 20th century American advertising icons


Mad men. Season one [videorecording]

Friday, June 26, 2009

“Play is the work of children. It is very serious stuff.” - Bob Keeshan

The more I learn about Bob Keeshan, the more I like him. Bob Keeshan, of course, is better known as Captain Kangaroo. He would be celebrating his birthday tomorrow, and I thought it would be a fine time to write about him.

We all remember the image of Captain Kangaroo and the Treasure House from television from the 50s through the 80s. Grey haired, mustached older man putting around with Mr. Green Jeans, Lumpy, and the puppets, Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Moose. But, did you know that he did not permit a studio audience as it interfered with his relationship with the viewer? He truly wanted the child at home to feel he or she was important and he performed for them. Keeshan was a staunch supporter of quality children programming and despised violence portrayed to children. During the Captain Kangaroo years he denied many sponsors if they supported or showed violence in their advertising. I wish more programming today followed his ways and understood that violence is not necessary, more so showing kindness and love. Mr. Keeshan was once quoted as saying, “Violence is part of life, and there is no getting away from it. But there is also gentleness in life, and this is what we have tried to stress on our shows.”

To read more about Mr. Keeshan and children’s television programming, check these items out:

Good morning, Captain : fifty wonderful years with Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo by Keeshan, Robert.

Family fun activity book by Robert Keeshan

Growing up happy : Captain Kangaroo tells yesterday's children how to nurture their own by Robert Keeshan

Into the minds of babes : how screen time affects children from birth to age five
by Lisa Guernsey

The elephant in the living room : make television work for your kids by Alexander Christakis

Television by Jamuna Carroll

Sesame Street and the reform of children's television
by Robert Morrow

Of course, you can check out our databases, I read about Mr. Keeshan in Biography Resource Center + The Complete Marquis Who's Who, one of our fabulous databases

(image from the Life archives)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The creativity of music covers

Some people think that music covers are an inferior copy of a song and there is nothing better than the original song. In some cases, that could be true, but cover versions can also be equally or more popular than the first version of the song, for example the song “Me and Bobby McGee” interpreted by Janis Joplin but originally performed by Roger Miller. Usually, the most famous a song or band is, the more others will make covers of them.

Some well known artists once in a while get adventurous and record a cover of a famous song and adapt it to their personal style and rhythm. For instance, many of Led Zeppelin and the Beatles greatest hits were covers; they were especially inspired by African American music. There are other artists, however, that specialize in playing cover versions of individual songs or recording tribute albums of famous bands.

Cover recordings appear during the beginning of the 1900's when recording labels hired various singers to interpret hit songs and get some of the original tune’s profits. Radio stations could only transmit to a reduced geographic area; therefore, different stations will play different versions of a song. In a way, the covers of one song were considered originals.

In some cases, teenagers or young adults don’t even know that their favorite song is a cover from the 80’s. Thanks to tools like the Covers Project it is easy to find which song is a cover and which an original and also to find other versions of the song by other artists.

Austin Public library owns several music CD’s of cover bands, or artist that just wanted to record covers of their favorite music like for example:

Someone to watch over me Pavão Quartet

Songs I heard by Harry Connick

The very best of Diana Krall, for a very good version of "Fly me to the moon"

Rock swings by Paul Anka

Tribute to the Beatles by 101 Strings

Rhythms del mundo, Various artists

Apocalyptica plays Metallica by four cellos

Strange little girls by Tori Amos

A hillbilly tribute to mountain love by Hayseed Dixie

*Picture taken from MIT.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Post-Father's Day Memoir

William F. Buckley, the conservative author and commentator, died just 10 months after his wife Patricia. More than anything, Buckley drew his fame from "Firing Line," the hour-long political talk show where he verbally battled liberals from Noam Chomsky to Gore Vidal. Patricia Buckley was a fundraiser and socialite. Their son Christopher has written a memoir of that difficult year titled Losing Mum and Pup. Both Buckleys had enormous personalities and appetites, which caused them to behave in ways that seem godlike and childlike at the same time. Their son is devoted to their care at the end, but he locked horns with both parents many times. He told his conservative, Catholic father that he was an agnostic and that he had voted for Obama. He would stop speaking to his mother when she told lies that hurt others. This memoir is best read as a wake in words, where his larger-than-life parents are remembered by someone who sincerely loved them, warts and all.

Christopher Buckley is the author of 14 satirical books including
Thank You for Smoking which was made into a movie. His mother was a life-long smoker, so you can see where the inspiration for Thank You for Smoking originated. The memoir, even though it has an awful subject: the terrible, painful deaths, within a year's time, of his parents, can be funny.

Today, all copies are checked out. Place a hold, if you would like to get in line, or read an excerpt from the New York Times’ Magazine.

For more memoirs, please see APL’s Good Reads' Contemporary Memoirs.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I heard on KAZI this morning that people wanting a good spot for today's Juneteenth parade began camping out on Tuesday. The Library is also celebrating Juneteenth at the Carver Libary today until 4 pm. If you miss the parade and Carver's activities, celebrate tomorrow with a Texas-style barbecue, featuring a smoky flavored grilled dish, some spicy beans, corn on the cob, and Blue Bell ice cream for desert. See the recipe for County Line’s pinto beans from a Library cookbook below.

Juneteenth was a Texas celebration for 115 years, becoming an official state holiday in 1980 as a result of legislation sponsored by state representative Al Edwards of Houston. Its popularity spread nationwide after a 1991 Smithsonian exhibit showcased the history of black Texans' Emancipation Day. Last May, Kansas became the 31st state to recognize Juneteeth as a state holiday oberservance. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the date when the Union general, Gordon Granger, stepped ashore in Galveston to inform the last slaves in the Confederacy that they were finally free. Texas was the last state to learn that the South had surrendered two months earlier, more than two years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, and months after the Civil War had ended. The National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council is pushing to establish Juneteenth as a national holiday.

Source: Texas Barbecue by Paris Permenter

County Line’s Beans

1 pound dry pinto beans
½ cup diced onions
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon celery salt
½ cup chopped bacon

Rinse beans thoroughly. Place all ingredients in a large stockpot. Add enough water to cover beans with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce flame and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally and adding water when needed. Cook until beans are tender.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iran: Election and Protests

The response to perceived election fraud in Iran has gripped the world. Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won last week’s presidential election with a questionable 67 percent of the vote, which seems difficult to imagine considering the massive numbers of urban voters who voted for the reform leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. Granted, with President Ahmadinejad’s strong popularity throughout rural Iran, perhaps he did legitimately achieve such an overwhelming victory. Either way, hundreds of thousands throughout Iran have engaged in protests over the past few days. Interestingly, the protests have been organized through a proliferation of social networking communication; cell phones, twitter, YouTube, and Facebook have all played a vital role in the protest body’s ability to mobilize. Iranian leaders are now attempting to stifle mobilization by blocking websites, intentionally slowing down the internet, and jamming cell phone signals. Now more traditional means of message spreading are being used: word of mouth on the street, in traffic jams, and in public spaces.

At the moment, protesters are calling for a new presidential election, while the electoral authority has conceded to a limited recount of challenged voting sites. Protests will continue. Hopefully a peaceful and just resolution will come from this largest of protests since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The Austin Public Library owns numerous works about modern Iran.

A History of Modern Iran

Culture and Customs of Iran

Voices from Iran: the Changing Lives of Iranian Women

The New Iranian Leadership: Ahmadinejad, Terrorism, Nuclear Ambition, and the Middle East

Iran Awakening

Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution

Sunday, June 14, 2009

When in Rio...

I recently watched the film Black Orpheus. The movie itself is based on the Greek tragedy involving the star-crossed and therefore doomed lovers, Orpheus and Eurydice, and was shot in Brazil. The story unfolds during the time of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. One of the film’s aspects that struck me as particularly comical was how the inhabitants of the city and its surrounding slums would spontaneously begin to samba for no apparent reason. There is a scene involving a packed ferry boat where work a day Brazilians are all doing the samba in unison as the vessel makes its way into port. One is given the impression that the boat runs on samba power alone and were it not for the passengers’ movements, the boat could never have left shore

All this aside, the film did get me thinking about the actual dance itself. Sure enough, a couple of quick key strokes later, I was able to locate a number of helpful resources to get me moving. I’ve listed a few below.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro [sound recording]
Brazil, roots, samba sound recording
Brasil samba [sound recording]: best of carnival in Rio
Samba [sound recording]
Samba de carneval de Brasil sound recording

Video Instruction:
Steppin' out. Latin dancing [videorecording]

Brazilian sound : samba, bossa nova, and the popular music of Brazil
Samba : resistance in motion

Friday, June 12, 2009

Foreign Films at APL - cont'd

Wednesday’s blog was about Mexican new wave cinema, and today’s continues the promotion of APL’s foreign dvd collection with an Iranian film.

In Iran, women are banned from attending men’s sporting events because they might hear the men swear. An Iranian film director, Jafar Panahi, was inspired by the real-life instance of his daughter’s exclusion from a soccer stadium to make Offside , a smart, enjoyable comedy which follows a number of young women as they attempt to gain entry to an Iran v Bahrain international qualifier for the 2006 World Cup. Several girls disguise themselves as boys in the hope they can sneak into the stadium. As the women are found out, they’re captured by guards their own age and rounded up in a remote holding area until the game is finished. Offisde was listed by many movie critics as a top film of 2007.

To find more Iranian films in our collection, use the varied search strategies listed below. To look for other foreign films, use the same strategy, just substitute the country’s name for Iran. Unfortunately, the subject terms assigned to foreign films will vary, so no one method will find all the titles in the collection, so try them all.

3 Methods

Type foreign films and iran and select subject from the drop-down menu.

Type feature films and iran and select subject from the drop down menu.

Type iran and drama and select subject from the drop down menu.

Then choose Videorecording on DVD (or VHS) from the material format drop-down menu.
Click the Search button.

For more cataloging search tips, please see the Catalog FAQs.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Mexican New Wave

“Amores Perros” (Love’s a Bitch) directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu is one of those movies that a lot of people remember or that is in their “movies to watch” list. This is not coincidental, because this is one of the most remarkable Mexican movies of the last decade. “Amores Perros” along with “Y tu mamá también” and “The Crime of Padre Amaro” are films that belong to what is called the “buena onda", or new wave of Mexican cinema.

Mexican film in the last decade has changed enormously. Before the 1990’s, Mexican films were mostly romantic comedies or action movies. During that time, government controlled the movie industry, including the content of the films. When the country’s administration changed, the new era of Mexican cinema started to flourish little by little.

Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro are some of the directors identified as part of this new wave. Lately, Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, stars of “Y tu mamá también”, have recently begun directing and join this new wave as well. Even though the content of the movies in some cases has been challenged, this new generation of directors has insisted on showing Mexico’s reality or human nature in general as real as possible with all its cruelty, pain and beauty.

Some of the movies from this new wave that Austin Public Library offers are:

Japón by Carlos Reygadas

Mirada de Mujer by Antonio Serrano

Bella by Alejandro Monteverde

21 Grams by Alejandro González Iñárritu

The crime of Padre Amaro by Alfredo Ripstein

The violin by Francisco Vargas

Amores Perros (Love’s a Bitch) by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Y tu mamá también by Alfonso Cuarón

Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro

Monday, June 08, 2009

Summer Gardening in Texas

Lucky for us Central Texans, we can begin a garden just about anytime of year we choose. After recently moving into a new house and acquiring a huge yard, I knew I wanted to get my hands dirty and do some gardening. What to plant, when to plant, and where to plant were all mysteries to this novice. But, with the aid of the resources here at Austin Public Library and an Internet connection, I’m off to a great start.

In anticipation of our move, I first started checking out gardening books from the library that were geared toward beginners. After reading these, I was armed with a good working knowledge of gardening practices and was finally able to pinpoint my first step: choosing native plants that would thrive in my garden with minimal effort. All of the books I read advised beginners to start with the easy stuff first before tackling all of those lovely non-native plants you might want to attempt once you have honed your gardening skills.

I read up on plants that are ideally suited for our location in the Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity published by the Travis County Master Gardeners Association and then began scouring the Internet. To my delight, I found a wealth of Austin-specific gardening websites where I could find everything from planting schedules for Travis County to listings of free local classes. One of my initial fears that there would be nothing to plant in summer was completely unfounded and I am gearing up for a busy summer planting season where I intend to get a number of vegetables and herbs going as well as a mini-forest of tall, huge sunflowers. To get your garden started, check out what the library and these immensely useful websites have to offer.

Soil Sampling/Testing

How to Collect a Soil Sample
The soil is what it’s all about. Having your soil tested and making the proper amendments is crucial. Before you spend anything on seeds or plants, pay the small fee to have your soil tested, study the results, and make any needed adjustments.

Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory – Texas A&M
Send your soil to the A&M lab for testing.

Soils & Composting
More info about types of Austin soil, soil sampling and testing, and composting.

Gardening Information for Austin and Travis County

Austin Organic Gardeners
Go to one of the monthly meetings to meet like-minded gardeners and check out the info they provide including a planting calendar, organic techniques, and links to useful gardening sites.

Central Texas Horticulture
This is a great website for information on gardening in Central Texas. I particularly appreciated the vegetable planting and vegetable varieties for Travis County lists.

City of Austin Grow Green
Landscaping information specific to Austin designed with water quality protection in mind.

Travis County Master Gardeners Association
Check out their educational seminars and demonstration garden.

Local Nurseries

Great Outdoors
It’s always a great idea to visit local nurseries and ask loads of questions. This is a fantastic nursery that every gardener and gardener wannabe should check out.

Natural Gardener
“Austin’s organic gardening headquarters” – this is a great nursery for soil and soil solutions. This website also includes useful gardening info.


Doug Welsh’s Texas Garden Almanac by Doug Welsh

Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity published by Travis County Master Gardener Association
This is an excellent guide to gardening in Travis County including lists of native plants, planting times, and tons of other local info.

Gardening 101 by Martha Stewart Living
Love her or hate her, Martha and her team compile amazing, information packed guides such as this one. An excellent introduction to gardening.

Month-by-Month Gardening in Texas by Dan Gill

You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail
This was the first gardening book I read and it made gardening seem accessible to anyone. It is an enthusiastic, fresh introduction to the world of gardening. Check out her blog where you can also share your own gardening stories and seek out assistance via the forums:

Friday, June 05, 2009

Orange Prize for Fiction

On Wednesday, Marilynne Robinson was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction for her novel Home. The U.K. prize, which was established in 1996, is awarded to the best novel written in English by a female author. The novel is a companion piece to her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead.

Home by Marilynne Robinson
“Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain. Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton’s most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.”

The following authors were among the finalists:

Scottsboro: A Novel by Ellen Feldman
“Alabama, 1931. A posse stops a freight train and arrests nine black youths. Their crime: fighting with white boys. Then two white girls emerge from another freight car, and fast as anyone can say Jim Crow, the cry of rape goes up. One of the girls sticks to her story. The other changes her tune, time and time again. A young journalist, whose only connection to the incident is her overheated social conscience, fights to save the nine youths from the electric chair, redeem the girl who repents her lie, and make amends for her own past.“

The Wilderness: A Novel by Samantha Harvey
“It’s Jake’s birthday. He is sitting in a small plane, being flown over the landscape that has been the backdrop to his life – his childhood, his marriage, his work, his passions. Now he is in his mid-sixties, and he isn’t quite the man he used to be. He has lost his wife, his son is in prison, and he is about to lose his past. Jake has Alzheimer’s.”

The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt
"From the moment Louisa first catches sight of the strange man who occupies a forbidden room on the thirty-third floor, she is determined to befriend him.Unbeknownst to Louisa, he is Nikola Tesla—inventor of AC electricity and wireless communication—and he is living out his last days at the Hotel New Yorker.Winning his attention through a shared love of pigeons, she eventually uncovers the story of Tesla’s life as a Serbian immigrant and a visionary genius: as a boy he built engines powered by June bugs, as a man he dreamed of pulling electricity from the sky.The mystery deepens when Louisa reunites with an enigmatic former classmate and faces the loss of her father as he attempts to travel to the past to meet up with his beloved late wife. Before the week is out, Louisa must come to terms with her own understanding of love, death, and the power of invention."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Paris. Germany. The Occupation

Paris was spared the massive bombing campaigns that gutted so many European cities throughout World War II. Hitler prized Paris as a pretty feather in his cap. He directed the city to be taken without destruction in order to maintain its artistic and architectural merits. Hence, Paris only saw a few bombs. The Luftwaffe dropped bombs on June 3, 1940 and France surrendered June 22, 1940. While Paris did not suffer physical destruction, Jean-Paul Sartre—in Paris Under the Occupation—describes the latent stress that enveloped Paris under German occupation.

Parisians strolled among pleasant Nazis who smiled and remained courteous, yet each Parisian knew of someone who had been disappeared during the night by those same smiling soldiers. Sartre reveals how every Parisian constantly wrestled with condemnation of the German soldiers and guilt for condemning a fellow human. He further elaborates the emotional conflict by telling of several Parisians who rushed to the assistance of a German officer pinned beneath his vehicle after a traffic accident. The Parisians were proud of their humanity-affirming deed, yet engaged in self-disgust for assisting a Nazi. How does a Parisian preserve his dignity and respect for humanity under the occupation of a regime that respects neither his nor his neighbors’? The torture resulting from this struggle was the true sin of the occupation according to Sartre.

The Aftermath of War

Not all of the essays deal directly with World War II, but they all explore the world that crept forth from its rubble. The aspects discussed in this post come from Paris Under the Occupation.

The Austin Public Library owns several notable works about Paris under German occupation:

Résistance: a Woman's Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France

Paris Under the Occupation

Paris in the Third Reich: a History of the German Occupation, 1940-1944

Monday, June 01, 2009


I noticed that I needed new shoes last week. The shoes I was walking around in were looking pretty worn. As comfortable as they were to wear, they were utterly lacking in style. The eventuality of having to buy myself a new pair of shoes for work got me thinking about how I typically dress. From time to time, I am guilty of dressing far too casually. As a result, I’ve decided to introduce a consistent level of formality (again) into my daily work attire. I’ve decided to try and dress in a manner that pays respect to my chosen profession and that is more distinguished. Wish me luck. Thankfully, the Austin Public Library has collected some resources to point me in the right direction.


GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly)


Clothes and the man: the principles of fine men's dress
Dressing the man: mastering the art of permanent fashion
Elegant man: how to construct the ideal wardrobe
Esquire's things a man should know about style
Indispensable guide to classic men's clothing
Jocks and nerds: men's style in the twentieth century
Man about town: [the changing image of the modern male]
Maximum style: look sharp and feel confident in every situation
Men's fashion: the complete sourcebook
Men's wardrobe
Off the cuff: the essential style guide for men and the women who love them
Paisley goes with nothing: a man's guide to style
Sex and suits: the evolution of modern dress
Style and the man