Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rugby #54, 9/26/07

Forget that thing I said about the Yankees last time. Also, I've been remiss in my duties as a library blogger. I went to a library on Wednesday, and you're just now hearing about it! Totally unacceptable, right? I can make up for it honest. Here I go!

The Eddie Campbell comic (Black Diamond Detective Agency) was quite good. I love his art, and the story was appropriately twisty-turny as far as what you'd expect from the title. It got a little confusing at times but definitely worth reading. I mean, if you like comics, and your library also has comics.

Now a friend of mine just moved here from Minnesota, and she works at a Barnes and Noble, so I went there to see her in action. There's a book of essays I was interested in by an author named Steve Almond (who writes some excellent short stories) and I bugged her co-workers to help me find it there, but they couldn't, so I skulked around until I found it myself. Then I put it back and decided to get it from the library, and they had it, at the Rugby Branch.

Branch: Rugby
Location: 1000 Utica Ave. (Near Tilden Ave.)
Transport: bicycle
Book: (Not that You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions by Steve Almond
Date: Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Rugby Branch is in Rugby, which is just north of East Flatbush. Or south? It's confusing. That general area, anyway. The neighborhood was kinda weird; even though it isn't that close to the water, it kinda seemed like if I kept going down Utica Avenue, I would fall off the earth. Also the library looks very uninviting from the outside, because all the windows are covered in cages. My first impression turned into pleasant surprise, though, when I went inside. There was nothing special about the design, but everyone there seemed happy, it was quiet and pleasant, and the books were laid out well. And it was nice and cool, which was especially nice since it was so hot and humid on Wednesday, and I was extremely sweaty by the time I got to the library.

The book? Yeah, I read it. It's great. I may want to read it again sometime so I might actually have to buy it. Almond discusses his hilarious sexual exploits, his life being under attack by crazy right-wingers, and maybe best of all, how much he hates the Red Sox (he's an Athletics fan). Oh and having a baby, that one was good too. And Kurt Vonnegut. So lotsa stuff really. It's great, read it!

Now babble and poorly constructed sentences must give way!

The windows.

Windows AND door.

Just the door? You got it.

Here is where I parked my bike.

Doesn't it just look like if you kept going you'd fall off the world? No? I guess it's just me then.

Seeya soon!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sunset Park #55, 9/19/07

Hey everyone. So the Yankees are totally back in the AL East race! That's pretty exciting for everyone who is a good American. And also me. Bah, now Dave is watching Beauty and the Geek. It's so distracting. Oh right, libraries. Yesterday I noticed that I book I'd wanted to read for a while was available at a branch I hadn't been to yet. Better yet, it was close by. So I biked over to the Sunset Park Branch.

Branch: Sunset Park
Location: 5108 4th Ave. at 51st St.
Transport: bicycle
Books: Amulet by Roberto Bolaño; The Black Diamond Detective Agency by Eddie Campbell
Date: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

So, Amulet. You may remember Roberto Bolaño from a prior entry, where I discussed his book By Night In Chile. I really loved it, and this one was excellent as well. It seemed semi-autobiographical, but told from the point of view of a less prominent character in his life. This made a lot more sense when discovered that Amulet is actually the full story of a minor character from another Bolaño novel, The Savage Detectives, which I will definitely read as soon as it's back in the one library in Brooklyn that has it and that I haven't already been to.

As for the other book, it's a comic, and it's written and illustrated by the artist of From Hell, the amazing graphic novel about Jack the Ripper (read the comic, don't watch the movie). I haven't read it yet, but the art looks typically excellent.

The library is in Sunset Park, which is the neighborhood so named for its proximity to the actual park, Sunset Park. Long story short it's south of here. Apparently it used to be a Carnegie branch until it was knocked down and "modernized." It's definitely no-frills, but they layout is very streamlined and easy to use, and I found something I wasn't looking for, so that always says something about the selection (that is, it's well geared to me). Hopefully I'll be out at another library soon, sorry for the semi-truncated post, but this "Beauty and the Geek" nonsense is fairly hypnotic. Picture time!

Here I am in the street!

Still! But looking at more trees this time!

I don't know WHAT I was thinking here.

Oh, yeah, haha, there's a funny story about this one. I was about to go into the library, but then, I took out my camera, well no, it was actually out already from taking the other pictures, and then I looked at the door, and pointed my camera, and I took a picture of it.

That's it for now, see you soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Marcy #59, 9/12/07

Wow, it's really hard to believe how prolific I've been lately, isn't it? That is, it would be hard, if anyone still read this. But enough about that! I went to another library today, and if you're here, you just might have a desire to read about it. This is what happens when my classes start and I don't have any serious homework yet, but am still only working a couple days a week. Massive amounts of reading! I finished reading Assorted Fire Events, and while I did like it, the author (who is in fact a professor of creative writing) comes off more as the perfect technical short story writer who will never really be interesting enough to drag you back. I'm sure he's a great teacher, you can tell that from reading his work, but I wouldn't recommend this particular book too highly.

What I can recommend, though, is George Saunders' excellent new book of essays, The Braindead Megaphone. I bought it and read it all in one day (Monday, I believe) and one of the essays, "The United States of Huck," which started life as an introduction to one of the eight million editions of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was so good (all of the essays were really good) that it made me want to reread Huck Finn as soon as possible. I figured I could pick a library at random and they'd have it, and I picked the Marcy Branch, and I was right.

Branch: Marcy
Location: 617 DeKalb Ave. at Nostrand Ave.
Transport: bicycle
Book: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It was a gorgeous day, so I decided to bike up to scenic Bed-Stuy, through Fort Greene so I could go to Fort Greene Park on the way back. Which may actually be my favorite park in Brooklyn. But don't check it out, cause I like how quiet it is. Right, the library. Well, once you get into Bed-Stuy, the neighborhood stops being as nice, and the branch itself didn't have much to offer either. There was space enough, bat as seems to be typical of underfunded branches, most of the shelf space was empty. I know they base funding on circulation, but it can really be a self-perpetuating cycle when fewer people want to come to a library because it doesn't have all that many books, and the people there (in some cases) just seem like they don't want to be there, and you can't blame them really. It wasn't some kind of hole, don't get me wrong, it was just sad to see how much more could've been done with it if it had some more money for more books, more staff, etc.

I've already reread Huck Finn. I started, and I just couldn't stop. It's all so wonderful, except maybe the ending, but when I got in there I might've read even faster just so it could all be over. That said, if you don't remember every little detail of it, or haven't ever read it at all, go to the library and get it, you'll be glad you did.

The book being done, I guess you can expect to see another post soon! And I use "you" in the most abstract sense, since I'm fairly sure I'm the only one reading this anymore. Have a good weekend if I don't see all of "you"! Take care of "your" families and work and stuff! Happy Rosh Hashanah! Apples and honey yeah! Pics...

Good tree shade action.

These things were pretty cool.

If it came to life, these would be the front legs.'s a wall! Yeah!

And...the entrance again. Ok, sorry for the pictures, I probably didn't need to post them all. But I did it anyway! Ha! Also, if you felt like it, you could maybe donate a couple bucks to support me in the NYC MS Bike Ride? Or not, it's entirely up to you.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fort Hamilton #40, 9/8/07

So, I'm back already. I need to get my biking prowess back up to speed for the MS Bike Ride I'm doing next month (shameless plug), and I finally got the books which I had taken out of the library and the lent to someone else back (I recommend against doing this, ever, for any reason) so I decided to take advantage of one of Brooklyn's prettier bike paths and cycle down to the Fort Hamilton Branch.

Branch: Fort Hamilton
Location: 9424 Fourth Ave.
Transport: bicycle
Books: Assorted Fire Events by David Means; Let Us Be Perfectly Clear by Paul Hornschemeier
Date: Saturday, September 8, 2007

The results were not spectacular. Despite the fact that I couldn't have been riding more than 7 miles, I was completely exhausted by the end of it. Still, there were multiple factors at play here, most of which will (hopefully) not be repeated anytime soon. Namely, it was a lot hotter and humid than I thought it would be (85 degrees), I was dumb enough not to bring water, and with five books and a bike lock, I was probably carrying in the neighborhood of 30-40 pounds. Still, it's clear that working so much has cut into my biking, and I'll have to work on that. Which will mean more libraries! Yea! Anyway, I took the subway home.

Back to the matter at hand: books and things. I was gonna see the new remake of 3.10 to Yuma this weekend (and did), and since it was literally the first Western I'd ever seen, I thought I might prepare with some fine Western literature. Of course, the libraries that had some were either further than I was prepared to go or I'd already been to them, so I picked Fort Hamilton basically at random.

The books are both random titles that caught my eye. The first, Assorted Fire Events, was an interesting looking short story collection that has since (in the first few stories, anyhow) become an interesting short story collection. Means isn't in danger of becoming my new favorite author or anything, but he understands how short stories work and really creates some beautiful ones. Let Us Be Perfectly Clear is a comic anthology that contained one story I had already read. It's very good artistically, but the content is a bit repetitive, and wants too much to be like Chris Ware without actually being that good. Definite potential but in my opinion nothing staggering or must-read.

The library itself is down in Bay Ridge right by the Verrazano Bridge. It's small, but the space is used well and the layout was very conducive to browsing. I didn't have any questions for the staff, but I'd imagine if I had, they would've been nice about it. I have little to say here, partially because I was exhausted at this point and partially because I waited too long to write. So the lesson is, don't do that (the bike thing or the other thing). I can assure you all the next entry will be meatier. Perhaps more delicious. Pictures:




Ok, that's it.

But yeah, I'm done with one of the books and half through the other so I'll be back soon. Classes just started (yay!) but the serious work won't kick in for a bit. So keep watching this space!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Highlawn #42, 9/4/07

So, I went to another one. On Tuesday. But I haven't updated until now. Why? Well, school's starting wait, that's on Monday. Well, wait, I just switched to part-time. Let's just say I was getting over the crazy weekend I had? So, basically, there is no good reason. But I would like to add that Dave and I tried to go to the Sunset Park Branch on Saturday, only to find that all the libraries were closed Saturday-Monday for the holiday. Meh. Anyway...Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was devastating, I recommend it but it really was emotionally difficult to read. The Finder comic was excellent as well, so much so that I decided to get the next volume, and in fact ended up with the next 3. They had the next one at the Highlawn Branch, which is sort of in New Utrecht near Bensonhurst. Since Tuesday is now a class day, it was a day off, so I got on the ol' bike and headed over there soon after waking up. Well, probably not all that soon.

Branch: Highlawn
Location: 1664 W. 13th St. at Kings Highway
Transport: bicycle
Books: Finder: Sin-Eater, vol. 2, Finder, King of the Cats (Vol.3), and Talisman (Finder) by Carla Speed McNeil
Date: Tuesday, September 4, 2007

This was a really nice bike ride. I took McDonald Ave. to Bay Parkway on the way there, ending up under the elevated F tracks for a bit of the way, and then Bay Ridge Parkway to New Utrecht Ave. on the way back, which is under the elevated D line. Yeah! Dodging steel beams and double parked trucks rules. Anyway, the library itself was really nice. It had a completely different setup from any I'd seen, with the building design basically being a circle overlapping with a rectangle (see pictures). The inside had a very new feel, and was well laid out and pleasant. There were many people siting around reading and relaxing, but it was a bit odd that all the children were gone. This was the first library visit I'd done since school started, and it was nice to have it be quiet, but I think I prefer the craziness and life that kids bring to the atmosphere.

I knew I wanted the next volume of the Finder series, but they had the next three so I grabbed 'em all. I wandered around for a good while looking for a novel or non-fiction title that I might be interested in, but eventually just stuck with the comics. I have since read all three volumes and ave to recommend them to anyone with a passing (or greater) interest in comics. The stories definitely have a fantasy bent, but if you can deal with that, you'll see one of the more interesting alternate worlds I've ever read about.

This was the first branch I've been to that had self check-out, which is almost exactly the same as self check-out at the supermarket. Insert your library card, scan the books, tell it you're done, receipt, bam. There's also one employee monitoring four terminals. It's kinda funny, but they had this at the St. Paul Public Library over a year ago (longer, for all I know) and I've been wondering when I would start seeing it here. I'm sure other branches have it as well and I just haven't seen it, but now I've got a confirmed sighting.

I've finally gotten all my errant library books back (long story) so I'll have to be at another library to return them either today or Monday. Won't be long till there's another update, I hope you're here! Now for pictures.

The circle is the big part. The rectangle is the small part.

A closer view. Am I somewhere in this picture? Am I a vampire? You decide.

This guy wanted to know where some cafe was. I was all like, I don't know.


and angled. That's it for me, I'll be back, maybe even later today. That's right, this is what I do with my Saturdays. Seeya!