DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

July 2010

Jul 8 2010

Magical Wizardry Tour

by Fran W

The Decatur Library auditorium will be host to five touring wizard rock bands on Monday, July 19th.  The free concert starts at 5:30pm and is appropriate for ages 13 and up.  Click here for the event listing in the library’s online calendar.

What is wizard rock?  Wizard rock, or “wrock,” is music based on or inspired by the Harry Potter books, and there’s more of it than you might think.  Wizrocklopedia, a site devoted to all things related to wizard rock, lists hundreds of Potter-themed bands.  Nearly every character (as well as many inanimate objects) in the Harry Potter universe has a band named in their honor, and many bands sing their songs from the perspective of their chosen character.

Wizard rock bands demonstrate their passion for reading through their songs, and they inspire others to think about books  in new and exciting ways.

We love what wizard rock has done to promote reading and literacy, and we’re proud to host the ROFLCOPTOUR, featuring  5 of the wrockingest bands in the movement:

ALL CAPS

Kristina Horner and Luke Conard met each other through their respective wizard rock bands three years ago. After a while, they decided to take one step outside the Harry Potter genre and expanded their music repertoire to include a myriad of other nerdy topics.  They have released two full length albums and a handful of successful music videos on YouTube.

The Whomping Willows

The Whomping Willows is the solo project of singer/songwriter Matt Maggiacomo. Combining an offbeat sense of humor with light political commentary and catchy melodies, Matt has written five full-length albums and two EPs (loosely) from the perspective of the violent tree at Hogwarts.

The Moaning Myrtles

Lauren Fairweather and Nina Jankowicz, also known as The Moaning Myrtles, have been having the time of their afterlives writing and performing music from everyone’s favorite whiny bathroom ghost’s perspective since 2005. They are known for their piano-heavy songs with catchy harmonies, but the Myrtles occasionally take the form of a solo guitarist.

Justin Finch-Fletchley

Justin Finch-Fletchley performs music from the perspective of a classmate who witnessed most of the events Harry, Ron, and Hermione experienced. Justin combines wit and insight along with an unbridled amount of passion and energy to bring eager wizard rock fans their dose of catchy sing-along acoustic rock music.

The Parselmouths

Kristina Horner and Eia Waltzer are The Parselmouths, a wizard rock band that take the Hogwarts
experience from the perspective of spoiled, popular rich girls. Their girlband has been writing and performing folky, upbeat, slightly ‘evil’ songs since 2004 and have played shows in a plethora of venues all over the country.

For more about the history and creation of Harry Potter fandom, check out Melissa Anelli’s Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon.  You’ll find a few of the touring bands mentioned in the “Rocking at Hogwarts” chapter!

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Jul 7 2010

The Story Behind The Slice

by Joseph M

July 7th, 1928: Sliced bread is sold for the first time by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri.  It is described as “the greatest forward step in the baking industry since bread was wrapped”. Since that fateful day, sliced bread has transcended the baking industry to become the preponderant yardstick of comparison against which exciting new things are measured, by way of the idiom “the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

The English language is full of such commonplace expressions, each phrase possessing its own origin story largely unknown to the public engaging in its everyday usage.  Interested in more?  The library has a number of books on the subject, including reference and circulating materials for kids and adults.

Still thinking about bread? DCPL has got you covered on that front, too.  Check it out!

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Jul 5 2010

Putt Putt Golf and Shetland Ponies

by Veronica W

Is it possible  that everyone has a hidden fascination with miniature things? For some reason little replicas of common, everyday items charm us. In childhood, boys (and some girls) varoom varoom with race cars, march with toy soldiers and shriek along with small versions of fire engines and ambulances.  Girls (and some boys) spend hours with dolls (mini me?) and dollhouses and have tea parties with miniature tea sets.  As we get older and our tastes become more sophisticated, we are no longer as excited by what we see, but who hasn’t looked at a Shetland pony and smiled? Atlanta’s Grant Park is the home of the Cyclorama, a miniature re-enactment of the “War Between the States” and it is popular with locals as well as tourists.

Although I don’t read alot of magazines, on occasion I have thumbed through Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping and Atlanta.   Never, in my most bored state, have I been interested in reading American Woodworker.  However, I live with someone who sleeps  in his tool belt  and of course has a subscription to this handyman’s magazine. As I picked it up one day to put it away, I saw that it was turned to the most beautifully detailed wooden replica of an old car that I have ever seen.  It turns out that this car was built by William Jackson, an artisan woodworker from Indiana. As I continued to read, I learned that the amazing Mr. Jackson was also commissioned by UPS to build a replica of their first delivery truck, a 1913 Model T Ford.  They were so pleased with it that they asked him to build 365,000 more-one for each of their employees. Since it took him 400 hours to make just one, he understandably declined.  I visited his website at www.woodenclassicwheels.com and spent a good bit of time marveling over his many, amazingly intricate creations.

Mr. Jackson and his incredible work ignited an investigative spark in me and I started hunting. I discovered a treasure trove of  delightful resources and information. While I don’t intend to make this a hobby (I don’t think), it was fun just to visit with those who have. Did you know that there is an organization devoted to miniatures? NAME is the National Association of Miniatures Enthusiasts and their website is a colorful, fun place to gawk in amazement.  There are other places that you can visit, in your car or online, which will further educate and amaze you.  The Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City and The Mini -Time Machine in Tucson provide a delightful introduction to the world of small.

Here’s a “Stumped You!”—In Oliver Twist, Mr. Bumble, in order to get rid of the “Please sir, I want more” little glutton, got him a job outside of the orphanage. What was it?  (Remember our topic.)

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Jul 2 2010

Share Reads: Slightly Strange

by Lesley B

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

For this week’s Share Reads, I’m going to try sharing a kind of book I love to read and hate to describe.

They’re not fantasies, at least not the kind with magic rings and elves. Events in the book  may be fantastical, but the characters don’t experience them that way. They are sometimes mixed in with science fiction but there’s no sense that you are reading about the future or an alternate universe. These are books that make me feel strange while I’m reading them. When I’ve finished them, the real world seems a little strange too.

The most recent book I’ve read with this quality is The City & The City, by China Miéville. A murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, which seems to be somewhere in eastern Europe. Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad is assigned the case and his investigation leads him across the border into the neighboring city of Ul Qoma. There he teams up with Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt and the two men discover that the murdered woman is only the beginning of a larger conspiracy. Sounds like a fairly typical thriller, yes? It’s the border between the cities that’s unusual. One house on a street is in Beszel, its neighbor is in Ul Qoma. Streets that lie in both cities are described as “crosshatched” and people in one city are required to “unsee” people in the other. Inspector Borlu must solve the murder under the watchful eyes of Breach, a mysterious and powerful border patrol. No explanation is provided as to why the cities are this way and no one outside of the cities regards them as supernatural or magical. It’s unsettling to a reader, like one of those dreams where you find yourself living in a city that you’ve never seen before.

Colson Whitehead’s The Intuitionist is set in an unnamed city like (but not like) New York.  Lila Mae Watson is the only black woman in the mostly all-white, all-male union of elevator inspectors. When an elevator she’s inspected has a suspicious accident, she must struggle against the union, the government and the mob to clear her name and uncover the mystery of her past.  She’s an Intuitionist,  which means she fixes elevators by intuiting the problem as she rides; unlike the Empiricists, who examine the machinery directly. Like the Miéville book,  this weirdness is presented to the reader with no explanation or attempt to fit it into our reality; yet Lila Mae Watson and Tyador Borlu are real to me in ways that Hermione Granger and Harry Potter are not.

I think it’s that dreamy weirdness that draws me to books like this and it’s that mood that brings them together for me – can a mood be a genre? I’d have trouble explaining what else writers like Stephen Millhauser, Aimee Bender and Haruki Murakami have in common.

I poked around the Web before starting this piece in a desperate attempt to find someone more articulate to describe these books. The people at Cafe Irreal come closer than anyone else, so if you are at all intrigued by the titles I’ve mentioned you should definitely look at their site. If you’ve read a book with this peculiar, dream-like quality, please share it with me. I’m always looking for another one.

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