Fun at Foster's blog

Boys & Girls Club Art Exhibit @ Foster

The City of Ventura Boys & Girls Club has set up a fine arts exhibit at E.P. Foster Library. Entries are divided into a variety of categories based on medium and the age of the artist.

This display will be featured on the second floor of the library for one week between January 12 and January 18.

On Thursday, January 15, judging of the exhibits will take place at 4 p.m., followed by a reception at 5 p.m. Drop by the library to check out the entries!

Bookbinding @ Foster

Stop by E.P. Foster Library on Saturday, January 10, for a special talk on the Craft of Bookbinding!

This presentation will include information on the history of books and on the tools and techniques necessary to maintain modern volumes. If you’re passionate about the preservation of important works—or if you’re just curious about how it’s done—this is the event for you!

This free talk begins at 10 a.m. in Foster Library’s Topping Room. Call or visit the library for more information!

Fruits Basket

While perusing some DVDs that were new to the library’s collection, I happened upon a well-known anime that has been around for quite some time now, but one that I, curiously enough, had never seen. That anime is Fruits Basket.

Based on the manga written by Natsuki Takaya, Fruits Basket is about a young girl, named Tohru Honda, who befriends the Sohma family, whose members are cursed to turn into characters of the Chinese zodiac when hugged by someone of the opposite sex. Now, admittedly, this was not a title that I was particularly interested in. The whole idea of turning into animals sounded rather contrived to me. I can already visualize fans of this series pulling their hair out and screaming, “Noooooo!” Before you do that, let me just say that I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem of an anime. What could have been a hokey premise was actually very touching and funny.

The girl, Tohru, is taken in by the Sohma family after the death of her mother. When she discovers their secret, it’s funny, embarrassing, and a bit awkward for her. Yet there is no judgment on her part. If anything, she embraces and accepts them, something the Sohma family has not really encountered. Their curse has made intimate relationships with others almost impossible, and many family members keep to themselves.

For her part, Tohru is no stranger to hard luck. Her relatives treat her with indifference and downright nastiness. Only her grandfather shows any real concern, but he is powerless to do anything. As a child in school, she was often made to feel unwanted by her classmates, left out of games and normal play. Yet, she has found friends in Saki and Arisa, who are very protective of her. She has felt like an outsider both with classmates and her own family, yet she continues to be positive and happy, even in the face of her own sorrow. It is that determined spirit that brings hope and happiness to the Sohma clan, even to those who may not yet trust her.

Fruits Basket was certainly not what I expected. It was much better, and worth watching.


Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

"Dies the Fire," by S.M. Stirling

Suddenly everything stops: lights turn off, engines cool, planes fall from the sky, and police officers drawing guns in an effort to keep the peace pull triggers to no response. The year is 1998 when the “fire” dies and the world enters a new era of the “Change.”

S.M. Stirling creates a world where every modern convenience and necessity fails and humanity must struggle to relearn knowledge now hundreds of years obsolete and mostly forgotten. Within weeks, countless millions starve in cities without access to food, and desperate survivors revert to brutal and savage methods of survivaleven cannibalism. Amidst the chaos, people gather around those who remember the old ways and possess the strength to offer protection.

Stirling’s story of the Change begins as a trilogy but spins off into further stories centered on the regions of Oregon and Washington, eventually spanning across the (former) United States and elsewhere. The author draws further connections with an earlier series Island in the Seas of Time, and fans of his other works will appreciate the direct line he draws here.

Fans of science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and medieval themed stories alike will love this series. Stirling is a master of creating an exciting and fast-paced yet thoroughly developed world with rich characters.

Dies the Fire, the first book in his most recent series, is available for free as an eAudiobook on Hoopla, which you can access through our website. Just create an account and sign in to listen to it today!

Audio versions of Stirling’s other booksincluding the original Change novels, starting with Island in the Sea of Timecan be found on Hoopla as well.

Dies the Fire and the original trilogy for Islands in the Sea of Time are only available in audio through Hoopla, but the others are available for checkout or request at our various branches.


Alan Martin, Your Friendly Reader

Ventura County Library LAB @ Foster

The wait is over! On January 7, 2015, the Ventura County Library LAB will open its doors at E.P. Foster Library for the first of its weekly 3D printing and laser engraving workshop sessions.

For two hours every Wednesday, library staff will be available to teach you how to use the hardware and software involved with these pieces of equipment, and will work with you to find out how you can use them for projects you may be working on.

These free sessions will take place on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Appointments can also be made for other times during the week; call or drop by the library for more information!

Library LAB: Makeshop @ Foster

On Tuesday, January 6, the Ventura County Library LAB will host a Makeshop event at E.P. Foster Library!

Participants in this activity will be using a simple chemical reaction to create a bouncing ball. Come see how science can be exciting and fun for everyone!

This free event begins at 5 p.m. and will take place on the second floor of the library. We hope to see you there, and stay tuned for information on additional Makeshop events through February and March!

OCLC Downtime

All OCLC services will be unavailable from 9:01 p.m. on January 2, 2015, to 12 p.m. (noon) on January 3, 2015 (approximately 15 hours). During this time, OCLC will be applying technology upgrades to their services to increase performance and reliability.

While this down time will not affect most Ventura County Library eResources, WorldShare—the system used for placing interlibrary loan requests—will not be available during this time. We apologize for the inconvenience, and thank you for your patience!

Font to Film: “L.A. Confidential”

Atmosphere is a tricky element to work with in fiction; it can be tough for an author to convey the proper mix of setting and tone that will put the reader in the right frame of mind for a story. One might think that filmmakers have it easier, being able to use audio and visual themes to communicate more directly to a viewer’s senses. In neither case, however, is creating a compelling atmosphere an easy task, and when adapting a story from one medium to another there is the added challenge of making sure that whatever atmosphere existed in the original survives the transition. Success in this endeavor can mean the difference between a faithful adaptation and one that is merely a pale imitation of the source material.

Fans of crime fiction tend to agree that James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential (1990) is a staple of the genre. The third installment of Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet series, this noir-inspired novel has a sprawling and epic feel even as a standalone, with a maze of plots spanning nearly a decade and three protagonists heading up alternating chapters as the story unfolds. Beginning with a police brutality scandal that sets up the relationship between LAPD officers Edmund Exley, Bud White, and Jack Vincennes, the focus soon shifts to an event that proves central to everything that follows: a multiple homicide at the Nite Owl coffee shop. The personalities of the officers are masterfully developed as the novel progresses; Exley, White, and Vincennes possess mixtures of ambition, calculation, and aggression that manifest themselves differently as each works the case according to his own style. As the investigation into the Nite Owl proceeds it reveals to each of them a piece of a greater puzzle: a grand conspiracy involving pornography, prostitution, drugs, organized crime, and brutally sadistic murder. During the novel’s initial reception Ellroy was highly praised for his stripped-down style and his ability to manage so many plot lines while maintaining a coherent and compelling storyline.
For those who saw director Curtis Hanson’s film version of L.A. Confidential (1997) before reading the book, the scope of the novel is quite a surprise. While the central plot elements are maintained a great deal of side action—including entire subplots relating to other characters and at least one significant bit of backstory—is removed. The timeline is condensed as well; no longer are we dealing with an eight-year marathon but a fast-paced drama that culminates in a series of quick—and startling—reveals. The personal and professional differences between Exley, White, and Vincennes (played by Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, and Kevin Spacey) are still crucial to the story, but all of them are portrayed as much simpler characters; their compromises and moral failings are nowhere near as dark as in Ellroy’s original. As a result, the film’s protagonists are ones you can cheer for without reservation, something which was definitely not the case—no doubt by design—in the novel. While several key events play out differently in the book, Hanson makes good use of those parts he has selected to tell a stunning and engrossing tale that captures the neo-noir feel of the book almost perfectly. Overall the film was incredibly well-received; L.A. Confidential was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won two: Best Supporting Actress (Kim Basinger) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

James Ellroy’s L.A. Confidential is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library as part of the adult mystery collection on the first floor; the library also carries a number of his other titles in the mystery and general fiction sections. Hanson’s film adaptation is housed at the Ventura County Library’s central services location and can be requested through our online catalog. If the copy that you’re after isn’t available at your local branch, you can call the library or go online to place a hold and have the item sent to you at the branch of your choosing.


Investigated by Ronald Martin.

The Poinsettia City by the Sea

Poinsettias have become a popular symbol of the holiday season, but did you know that Ventura was once known as the “Poinsettia City”? At one time, poinsettias were such an important local crop that the city once known as “Palm City” changed its nickname to “Poinsettia City by the Sea.”
The poinsettia is a plant native to Mexico. The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as a medicine to reduce fevers. In the Aztec language—Nahuatl—the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl (from cuetlatl, residue, and xochitl, flower), meaning “flower that grows in residue or soil.” Its current popular English name derives from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825.

While there are few poinsettia growers left in the area, there are still place names in the city that are a reminder of this once blooming industry. Poinsettia Pavilion sits on Foothill Road overlooking the city that gave it its name, there is Poinsettia Elementary School, and the Chamber of Commerce gives out its Poinsettia Awards annually to recognize the deeds and good actions of businesses, organizations, and individuals in Ventura.

If you would like to find our more, E.P. Foster Library has information about poinsettias, as well as historical information about the City of Ventura.

Resident Photographer Aleta A. Rodriguez

“Meet Me in St. Louis”

It's difficult to think of a more perfect film for the holidays than MGM's 1944 Technicolor musical, Meet Me in St. Louis. Indeed the film, which chronicles a year in the life of an upper middle class family in turn of the century St. Louis, includes vivid evocations of two major American holidays.

The film was a breakthrough for the young Judy Garland, and though she balked at playing another ingénue role her portrayal of middle daughter Esther Smith turned out to be the performance that launched her into a variety of romantic adult roles. The film was also a landmark for the amazingly precocious performance of little Margaret O'Brien as the rowdy youngest daughter, Tootie.

The film is relatively plotless and is based on a series of episodic New Yorker short stories by Sally Benson. What makes it work is director Vincente Minnelli's obvious affection for the characters and his striking visual sense which evokes the period in all its Technicolor splendor.

Judy Garland dances with the boy next door (Tom Drake).

MGM constructed its famous St. Louis street for this film. The elaborate back lot set would appear in many later films but was demolished at the end of the studio era and is now a housing development down in Culver City.

Newcomer Lucille Bremer plays the humorously affected older sister, Rose, and Tom Drake is Esther's love interest, "The Boy Next Store," the object of one of the film's most durable new songs.

The score also includes several other classics, including one of the most elegiac holiday ballads ever written (but bear in mind the film was being made during the dark middle years of World War II).

Margaret O'Brien and Judy Garland.

The two-disc special edition DVD set includes a number of great extras, including a detailed "Making Of" documentary, a collection of Minnelli trailers, and an episode of the TV series adapted from the film.

Retro Ross

Syndicate content