Fun at Foster's blog

The Cathedral

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.

Explorer: The Mystery Boxes

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.

Foster library partners up with CSU Channel Islands

CSU Channel Islands (CI) and the Ventura County Library are pleased to announce the 2013 CSU Channel Islands Lecture Series, a free, regular event featuring speakers from the CI faculty at the E.P. Foster Library in downtown Ventura.  The series is a new initiative inviting the public to learn more about the research and work of CI professors and to engage in discussions on a variety of timely, thought-provoking and regionally relevant topics. 

All lectures will be held at 6 p.m. in the Topping Room at E.P. Foster Library, 651 East Main Street, Ventura.  At the conclusion of their hour-long presentations, the speakers will engage in Q&A with the audience.

 Following are currently scheduled speakers, topics, dates, times and brief bios: 

"Early Farm Worker Housing on the Oxnard Plain”

Monday, April 1, at 6 p.m., with Dr. Frank Barajas, Professor of U.S. History

Dr. Barajas specializes in the history of Southern California.  He has published peer-reviewed essays on agricultural labor in Ventura County, the Sleepy Lagoon Trial, the Oxnard schools, and the 2004 implementation of a civil gang injunction in the City of Oxnard.  In addition to his book, Curious Unions: Mexican American Workers and Resistance in Oxnard, California, 1898-1961, Professor Barajas has published opinion essays in Amigos805, The History News Service, The Bakersfield Californian, and the Ventura County Star.

“Evolution of Surfing and the Culture Surrounding It”

Wednesday, April 24, with Professor of Art Jack Reilly

Professor Jack Reilly attributes his career as an artist largely to surfing.  He began surfing in the mid-1960s at the age of 14.  Later, as a surf shop owner and board painter, he discovered his love for art, prompting him to leave the beach to study painting in Paris and earn his M.F.A. at Florida State University.  Reilly is an internationally renowned artist, widely recognized as one of the key players in the Los Angeles art scene and the “Abstract Illusionism” movement.  He has continued surfing as an important aspect of his life, while maintaining his art and teaching careers.  In addition to chairing CI’s Art Program, Reilly also teaches a course called "Zen of Surfing.”  Throughout Reilly’s 47 years of surfing, he has observed many cultural shifts, from the surfer as “outlaw” to the worldwide acceptance and professionalism of the sport.  Reilly will also discuss how innovative technologies are involved in the production of surfing equipment, along with the extensive use of the Internet in long-range wave prediction and the observation of surf local conditions.

“Tearing the Fabric: Exploring and Predicting Elevated Vertebrate Road Kill from Ventura County to Louisiana to the Middle East”

Wednesday, May 22, with Dr. Sean Anderson, Professor of Environmental Science & Resource Management

Sean Anderson is a broadly trained ecologist who has tackled environmental questions from Alaska to the South Pole.  His energetic and innovative teaching efforts have garnered local and national recognition and spawned the eponymous “Sean Anderson” character (played by Josh Hutcherson) in Warner Brother’s Journey to the Center of the Earth film franchise.  He will share results from his ongoing 7-year survey to document the location and diversity of road-associated mortality across coastal Southern California.  The roadkill study focuses on hard-to-detect species of concern and small vertebrates, as well as enabling successful crossings and reducing vertebrate mortality events.

All lectures are free and open to the public, with complimentary parking behind the E.P. Foster Library.

Nursery Rhymes

Hey Diddle Diddle:

Hey diddle diddle,
The Cat and the fiddle,
The Cow jumped over the moon,
The little Dog laughed to see such sport,
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon

Hickory Dickory Dock:

Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!
Hickory Dickory Dock

Little Miss Muffet:
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her Tuffet
Eating her curds and whey
Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away

The term nursery rhyme is used for "traditional" poems and songs for young children in Britain  and many other countries, but in North America the term "Mother Goose Rhymes" is often used.

It has been argued that nursery rhymes set to music aid in a child's development, which leads to greater success in school in the subjects of mathematics and science (R. Bayley, Foundations of Literacy: A Balanced Approach to Language, Listening and Literacy Skills in the Early Years, 2004).

Isn’t it great when something that is just fun to do turns out to be an early literacy benefit?

 

Binky the Space Cat

I would be remiss in my duties as a graphic novel reviewer if I didn’t include some titles suitable for children. To be honest, it gives me a legitimate reason for reading them (like I really need an excuse). So, for my first foray into children’s GN’s (graphic novels), I chose a darling book called Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires.
 
Binky, the reader will discover, is no ordinary cat. He is a Space Cat, certified by F.U.R.S.T. (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel), and it his mission to patrol his space station (home) and watch for aliens (bugs) in outer space (outside), all with his trusty toy mouse, Ted, by his side. He trains everyday to be on guard against the aliens, outsmarting and eating any that dare to invade his space station. When his humans have to leave the space station, Binky realizes he will need to build a rocket ship in order to protect them. Building his rocket from parts found throughout the house, he is ready to leave when he realizes he’s forgotten something. What could it be?

Binky the Space Cat is just plain adorable and you’ll find yourself laughing at his comic adventures, whether he is training on the flight simulator (also known as a ceiling fan) or building a rocket ship in his cat box. He’s a sweetly drawn fat cat that anyone would love, whether you’re a cat person or not. Even my husband found this book amusing. Kids will get a kick out of his vivid imagination as he continues in his quest to defeat bugs everywhere. It’s a fun read for all ages.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

 

Book Club Packs

Book Club Packs are now available at E.P. Foster library.

What is a Book Club Pack? A bag with 8 titles of a single book. Some supplemental items are included, like a reading guide or discussion questions.

How do I check the books out? One person uses a Ventura County Library card to check out all 8 books.

How long can I have the 8 books? You can check out the bag for one month at a time. In order to prepare for the next group, we will set your due date to the next-to-last day of the month. Late fines are $2.00 a day!

Can I have it sent to another library? In order to keep to our schedule, and so you don't lose days with the pack, we prefer you pick the bag up at Foster.

What titles do you have? Currently we have:

Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
In the Woods
Maybe this Time
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore
Of Mice and Men
UnBroken 

How do I sign up? Call Sara at 641-4414 and she will put you on the list for a month!

See our guide for more information. Sponsored by San Buenaventura Friends of the Library.

Giant Coreopsis

The Giant Coreopsis is a woody perennial plant native to California and Baja California. The stem is a trunk that can grow up to 8 feet tall and up to 5 inches in diameter.  Bright green leaves and flowers are on the top of the trunk, the rest of the trunk is bare. The flowers are yellow and daisy-like, which isn't too surprising since it is in the same family as sunflowers and daisies.  The flowers are usually about 3 inches in diameter and bloom from mid to late February through the beginning of May, depending on weather conditions.  In full bloom the plant looks very much like a bouquet of flowers growing on the coastal hillsides.

It has a bare trunk in summer and can be found on the north and central Southern California coast, the California Channel Islands, and further south on Guadalupe Island, Mexico. It thrives in frost-free areas because its stem is succulent.  Storing water in this way makes the plants tolerant to drought but especially susceptible to frost. The name, Coreopsis, comes from the Greek word, koris, which means “bug”, and refers to the tick-like shape of its fruit.  Individual leaves can be up to 10 inches long, are stringy and form shaggy clusters at the end of the branches.  When their blooming season is over, the plants form ugly, alien-looking stalks.  Once you've seen these unique plants in bloom, you'll never look at them the same way again.

You don't have to travel along the coast to see these amazing plants, which grow only in a limited corridor of our coastline.  The Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center in the Ventura Harbor has a botanical garden which features plants native to the Channel Islands, which includes the Giant Coreopsis.  If you would like to find out more about these fascinating specimens, and other wildflowers native to California, you can check out these books at E. P. Foster Library.

IDYLLIC SATIRE: The Role of Cervantes and Voltaire. (1607 to 1778)

 

     Though born more than a hundred years apart, these two authors shared a common ideological passion for life. The Reformation shaped the life of Miguel Cervantes, while it was the Enlightenment that gave Voltaire his perspective. Both periods shared a common theme of Church and State criticism and ridicule. The vehicle used by both to dispatch these institutions was satirical fiction. It was effective, often cruel, pointed and biting. And it got both writers into trouble on occasion.

      The Reformation was a volatile time for Europeans. It was precipitated by earlier events, like the Western Schism, the expansion of the Moors into Spain and The Black Death, all of which eroded people’s faith in the Catholic Church. That along with the printing press and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire led Martin Luther to posting his “95 theses” condemning Catholicism . The Spanish Inquisition was also significant during this period, reaching its pinnacle before the taking of Grenada, ending the Muslim presence in Iberia in 1492.

      The Age of Enlightenment was a cultural revolution, prompted by science and logic. Its purpose was to reform society with reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith and advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted science, skepticism and intellectual interchange, opposing superstition, intolerance and abuses by Church and State. Gone was the age of chivalry, to be replaced later by a naive optimism, the two main themes in the works of Cervantes and Voltaire.

 

DON QUIXOTE De La Mancha  By Miguel Cervantes

     Chivalry had died out during the Reformation, although the cornerstone of it (Might makes Right) was alive and well in Spanish Christendom. It was in the guise of the powerful Inquisition . (Interesting too, that the narrator calls himself, Cide Hamette Benengeli, an Arab of Moorish Spain. Its as if Cervantes wants to introduce the 1st great European novel to be written by a Muslim.)

     Thus we find Alonso Quijano, a land owner from La Mancha . He is obsessed with his library of chivalrous books . Driven mad by the inconsistencies he perceives in his own time, he sets out to restore dignity to the lost profession of knight-errantry (as if to reform the Reformation).

    He assembles a rudimentary sword, tarnished and dented suit of armor and a bowed plough horse named Rocinante, falsely perceiving himself to be a dashing Knight on his stallion steed in glimmering silver armor ; and then heads out into Spain in his quest for glory, calling himself, Don Quixote. Accompanied by his faithful , bloated and longsuffering squire, Sancho Panza, the two chase his dream through the contemporary countryside. The discussions between them along the way are endless and bizarre, in which Quixote’s heightened insane view of life come crashing down to earth with Sancho’s sly pragmatism. They are locked into mutually exclusive views of the world, even though one cannot do without the other. The reader faces in the same moment, an ideal world and the brutal facts of the real world.

     Quixote tilts with windmills, thinking they are giants and fights with innkeepers he envisions to be ogres, causing heavy damage to their premises while also attempting to rescue a maiden in the form of a statue of the Virgin Mary from her captors only to get beaten up by priests. He acquaints himself with a scullery whore and names her Dulcinea, a noblewoman of refined qualities . We then wonder if he will ever see the world for what it is, laughing at every episodic adventure. But in the end, it is he who has the last laugh.

     Yet we continue to read page after page, year after year, century after century of his adventures and faux conquests feeling quite sorry for the moribund hero. It is only when Quixote is confronted by the Knight of the Mirrors (a disguise by his neighbor ) in which The man from La Mancha recognizes his reflection for what it is, does the adventure cease. But with that, Cervantes craftily leads us to the recognition that even though the man was mad, his world view held more sanity than the real world about which he lived.

 The Resident Scholar - Doug Taylor

Baby's in Black

 

The Beatles were the One Direction of their day, or to put it correctly, One Direction are The Beatles of today. Few bands have been so loved for so long as the boys from Liverpool. My mother spent her teenage years listening to The Beatles. It’s a love that hasn’t faded, and it’s a love she passed on to me. I remember playing her albums (in the days before CDs and downloads to your IPod), singing along to the songs.
 
So, what’s the point of my reminiscing, you ask? Well, I’ve just finished a new graphic novel called Baby’s in Black. It’s about the early days of The Beatles, when the Fab Four was the Fab Five and they were playing small clubs in Germany, and had yet to make their big debut in America. At its core is the blossoming relationship between Stuart Sutcliffe (the fifth Beatle) and Astrid Kirchherr, a German photographer. It tells of their first meeting and their instant attraction for one another. It details the early struggles the group had trying to make a living in Germany; of Sutcliffe’s renewed interest in painting; and his eventual departure from the group. It also tells of his growing headaches and fatigue, followed by his untimely death at age 21. Subtly alluded to at first, his condition is always acknowledged, but downplayed as merely working too hard.
 
The book is drawn in lovely black and white, and while the artwork may be simple by design, it is no less effective in the story it tells. Arne Bellstorf, who wrote and illustrated the book, does a fine job conveying a sweet love story between Stuart and Astrid, which is the real heart of the book. It’s actually a rather nice surprise to see it from Astrid’s point of view. John, Paul, George, Stuart and Pete (Ringo Starr was not a part of the group at this time) are just teens who really want to play music. There is only a hint of the fame that is to come.

The characters are distinct enough to know who’s who, and the drawing is charming. At 196 pages, it certainly can’t go into massive detail about the events but it does a nice job of giving you enough of the story to know what’s going on. It’s a pleasant, nostalgic look at The Beatles before they were The Beatles.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Vegan Cooking

 

How It All Vegan! : Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet by Tanya Barnard and Sara Kramer is a fun, kind and just plain wonderful cookbook. There is a lot of interest in Veganism right now, folks have many questions and concerns whether their nutritional needs will be met with a Vegan diet, well this book does a great job of addressing these valid concerns and is a heck of a cookbook to boot! Step into this book with an open mind and one will come out preparing some of the most scrumptious, healthiest meals a non-meat eater can experience!

I know many of you are thinking the Dish has jumped into the deep end of the casserole pan, but I tell you these vegan recipes are delicious. With the recipe’s wholesome qualities glaring me in the face I knew there was only one choice in this Vegan cookbook for me: the “Garden Medley Vegetable Stew”! The recipe suggests that one throw in whatever vegetables one has in the fridge, and I did. The recipe also called for a butternut squash repeating a butternut squash, don’t get me wrong I love butternut squash, it’s just that they are very difficult to cut. After the squash cutting the concocting of the stew went well, and after about 55 minutes of simmering  I turned the heat off and let the stew rest for about 15 minutes, then chowed down on  very, very good stew This is a great cookbook even for the non-vegans, just cook something from this book and enjoy life!

*****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.

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