Friday, June 29, 2007

Cortelyou #87, 6/29/07

Well, this is quite a momentous post. There are 60 branch libraries in the Brooklyn Public Library system, and this is my 30th! Halfway this rate I'll visited all the libraries early in 2008. But probably not because two are closed for renovations. Not really sure how long that'll be for, but I can only imagine it would be hard to find out, given my past experiences with asking for information from them.

Anyway, Tigana. A great book, if anyone is looking for a fantasy story that's one novel instead of a trilogy or a dozen book cycle or some such thing, I'd recommend checking it out. Kay (the author) definitely takes himself a little too seriously, but I think in this particular genre that's necessary. (Tolkien springs to mind.) The characters are much more fleshed out than in the typical fantasy novel, which keeps the story that much more engrossing, and the idea behind it (a land conquered by sorcerers to the point where no one who isn't from there can remember or even hear its name when it is spoken) is excellent, though maybe not as fleshed out as it could be. Bottom line, the book was long but while reading the last hundred pages I couldn't have stopped if I wanted to.

I was looking for more stuff to read and I came across a book about what it's actually like to experience battle, why some people behave "heroically" and others "cowardly." It seems interesting, although in the first few pages the author admits that he's never been anywhere near a battle. Still, I'm sure there'll be some interesting insights. But just as importantly, the book was only in two branches...Central, and the Cortelyou Branch.

Branch: Cortelyou
Location: 1305 Cortelyou Rd. at Argyle Rd.
Transport: bicycle
Book: The Face of Battle by John Keegan
Date: Friday, June 29, 2007

This library is in the Flatbush neighborhood, a bit southeast of Prospect Park, and it is apparently the last built branch in the Brooklyn system (completed in 1983, but the cornerstone says 1982.) It's nice, spacious, but it does have a bit of the '80s building soullessness (from the outside anyway.) The inside mostly actually reminded me of the Bay Ridge Branch (I know, hard to remember now.)

I had an interesting experience there: using the internet in a Brooklyn library for the first time. In some you have to write your name down on a waiting list (which I object to on confidentiality grounds), but here, probably since I arrived just after opening, I was able to use a computer. The woman next to me needed help using her portable USB drive, which I gave her, but she wanted to run .exe files from the drive and the computer wouldn't let her. She wasn't a native English speaker, so I wasn't able to explain to her that public computers rarely let people run programs. Oh well.

Anything else cool happen? Let's see...oh, I got my bike fixed up on the way home. Thanks, Coney Island Avenue. Pics!

frontal area

This is the back, there was a school (in the background) and for some reason the top of the library is lined with barbed wire.


This structure was just to the left of the entrance, I'm not really sure what it designates or who made it but, well, there it is.

See you all soon, though maybe not next week - I'm going to upstate NY for a few days, and there's Independence Day, and the Twins are in town, and who knows what else. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Williamsburgh #60, 6/19/07

I just finished my last assignment for my first library school course! Woohoo! Congrats, me. But in a time long before, when I hadn't finished yet, a day as far back as yesterday...

Oh right, well I finished the fairy tale comic, it was really good but incomplete. The second volume is coming out in serial form right now, but I'll probably wait for the next collection. The feminist leanings did get more pronounced as the story went on, but they didn't get in the way of the excellent story (or art).

So I knew I needed a book for my two-day jaunt to Minnesota, but I picked one I bought a month or two ago: the already excellent The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks by Donald Harington. It's so great, in fact, that I decided to hit the amazon lists for books like it. Finding little, I turned to another author I enjoyed a great deal recently, Lucius Shepard. He led me to the sci fi/fantasy realm, so I figured why not, it's been a while. And I found a book that was only at one library, and that was the Williamsburgh Branch.

Branch: Williamsburgh
Location: 240 Division Ave. at Marcy Ave.
Transport: bicycle
Book: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This branch was the first Carnegie branch, so I figured it would be exactly like all the others (Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, etc.) I was totally wrong. The design is similar, but it's so much bigger! The wings in particular extend out further than in the others that I've been to. It really is a beautiful branch with an excellent selection. I recommend it highly!

When I first got there it was a bit before 1 (the opening time) and there were people waiting. And then more came. And more. By the time it opened (5 minutes late by my watch) there were at least 20 people waiting. By the time I got inside, there wasn't a single free computer. Luckily, I was there for a book. The patrons were a mix of kids, older people, and women with strollers.

I don't really have much more to say so I'll let the pictures say the rest. If you live around here and like awesome comics (who doesn't!), you should go to the MOCCA festival this weekend. Fun actually guaranteed. I'll be there on Sunday, but it's both days. Of the weekend. It's Saturday and Sunday. Both days.

left side

right side.

The ever popular angled shot.

Awe inspiring, no?

Here's all the people, anxiously awaiting their books and internet.

The library is actually built right over the highway (though I'd imagine the library was there first.)

It isn't in the hipster part of Williamsburg, but right near the Williamsburg Bridge, and the JMZ train lines.

Cop hassling some guy.

And that's all. I'll be away for a couple days, so I wont be back till next week. But I'm totally back to a regular schedule now! See! Keep reading please!

Friday, June 15, 2007

McKinley Park #67, 6/15/07

Well, Dave's away this weekend so I'm all alone...I guess I'll just putter around and await the inevitable - wait, what was I talking about? Libraries? All right, I guess so...I went to another one today, that's the scoop. Yeah that's the hot ticket. The snazz. The big one. Ok.

So, I've been into comics lately, like way into them, more than usual. I got this sweet Jack Kirby Omnibus and I've been looking for books on the history of comics, as well as anything good I might not have heard from. I've even resorted to amazon lists, one of which turned up this trip's selection. In a surprising twist of events, nearly every library had a copy, so I found one that was a decent bike trip, but not too much of one, and came up with the McKinley Park Branch.

Branch: McKinley Park
Location: 6802 Fort Hamilton Pkwy. (at 68th St.)
Transport: bicycle
Book: Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Date: Friday, June 15, 2007

Now this book is basically a different take on some classic fairy tales, or at least that's how it starts, but then it branches off on a story all its own. A lot of reviews for it discuss its feminist perspective, and it is noticeable, but the story is so well-written and enjoyable that it ends up feeling more like Bone (albeit much shorter) than anything else. Of course I've only read the first third so far's definitely very good.

The library itself, I can honestly say (write) is one of the best branches I've been to. The neighborhood is sorta near Sunset Park, Bay Ridge, and Dyker Heights, but I guess it's technically part of Borough Park. Anyway, though I didn't go to the titular park, the library was nice enough on its own. It was renovated in the 90s, and is apparently one of the bigger branches in the system. Obviously those circulation numbers gave it more funding, because it is very well stocked, and the staff was extremely polite and helpful (guy found my book, I didn't even ask him to.)

The area - what I saw of it anyway - was very nice too. I came through Brooklyn's Chinatown to get to the library, there was a nice little strip of a park a block away from it (Leif Ericson Park and Square), and best of all a 24-hour stone diner to eat breakfast and read at. Fear not, loyal readers! The diner is in the pictures below.

Braving the street crossing

I don't know, the corner I guess?

I couldn't take a picture straight on today...

The excellent diner (at 65th St. and 7th Ave. by the way)

I love signs where there's two parts rotating at different speeds.

That's it, come back next week.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Windsor Terrace #77, 6/7/07

Ok, it's been a month. Geez. Sorry about that. I can't imagine that anyone still checks this, but what the hey. No need for long explanations, suffice it to say I've started my first course at library school and it's a lotta work. But enough about me. I returned the other books some time ago; you may not remember what they were, I hardly do, but I will say that Alias the Cat may be my favorite of all of Kim Deitch's books that I've read. It's certainly the best at blurring fantasy (living demon cartoon cat) and reality (Deitch is a main character, has a nervous breakdown, ok I guess this stuff didn't actually happen, but it was cool.)

Last Thursday I was supposed to be doing work for my class, but I felt a strange emptiness inside. Whether it was just too nice out to be doing work, or it had just been far too long since I'd been to a new library, I decided it was the time. Instead of my usual ways, I didn't look up any books, I just hopped on my bike and headed to the closest branch I hadn't been to: the Windsor Terrace Branch.

Branch: Windsor Terrace
Location: 160 E. 5th St. at Ft. Hamilton Pkwy.
Transport: bicycle
Book: Adverbs by Daniel Handler
Date: Thursday, June 7, 2007

It really was a gorgeous day, temperatures right around 70, but there was one black mark on the whole experience: my bike chain was so rusted that I could barely pedal the stupid thing. Not to worry, everyone, I have since used plenty of WD-40 on it (which I am informed will dry out, and that I need bike grease. What I really need is a new bike.)

Moving on, I almost got another Maakies book out, along with some other book that I have since forgotten, but ended up going for Adverbs. The cover says it's a novel, but it's really a series of overlapping stories with recurring characters. Some of it is in San Francisco, some in New York, some in Washington state. The author, Daniel Hnadler, is also Lemony Snicket who wrote the Series of Unfortunate Events series. I haven't read those, but I've heard great things, and I may actually have to try them now after reading this book. Sad, funny, packed with action, sex, and alcohol, but basically just a very well written book about how great and depressing love is, with some very interesting and believable characters who are all basically crazy. Worth reading for sure.

I got to the library at about 10:30 am, and the vast majority of people there were mothers or nannies with their bestrollered children. I don't want to say it was annoying, but I didn't spend any extra time there. The library was very spacious and well laid out, and the outside light lit the place nicely. The selection of books was excellent, and...I'm sorry, I can't remember anything else, the screaming babies drove it all out. Maybe go in the afternoon or something. Oh yeah, nice trees all around too. Windsor Terrace is a really beautiful neighborhood. Which I will now show you!




and, a nice sentiment at the school across the street.

So I'm back, really, I'm gonna do this often again. So if you haven't given up yet, now is not the time to not start stopping reading this site. Seeya soon.