In like a lion…

We’re still waiting to see how March comes in – with wild weather or not – but I can say for sure that this year has started with a bang. Things have been as busy as ever at the Blackstone Library.

We got brand new public use computers, and also installed a new computer time management system. This means no more paper sign ups – you simply walk up to an available computer, enter your library card number and you’re good to go! We think this is a great system – it makes using the computer easy and fair for everyone. But, the installation has taken its mental toll on me (I’ve suddenly become an itinerant IT person around the library) – by the time I get home from work, I am not in the mood for reading. I’m tired and I just want to laugh… so instead of books, I’ve sunk myself into some good old-fashioned TV-watching.

I’ve been watching the series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. I’ve been taking the DVDs out from the library and am up to season 5. The show is silly and raunchy and completely absurd and it makes me laugh out loud (and sometimes snort a little). The characters are arrogant and self-absorbed and not very smart, but they manage to have a good time.. usually. It’s like Bizarro-Friends – these people are not successful, not nice, use a lot of colorful language, and usually try to undercut each other to get their own upper hand. It’s quite refreshing. The show is in its 7th season on FX.

The other show I got into was “Portlandia“. It’s a really funny show parodying people who live in Portland, Oregon. It’s done by two people, Fred Armisen (of Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein, and they do series of skits featuring new and recurring characters living in and around Portland. The first season is available on DVD from the library  and the second season is currently running on IFC.

Some books I have read recently include The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, and The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan.

They are listed in the order that I remember them, in the order that the most impact was made on me. The Diary is great – maybe more so for adults than the teens it’s classified for. It’s a painful account of a poor Native American kid going through school. It was challenged in at least one school system, which then made me want to read it.

It was really well-written and seemed to speak to teens without condescension. The story was as if the author had a LOT to get off his chest – you felt that most of the book was written from personal experience. And in that raw honesty, you feel a connection. It doesn’t matter if you’ve grown up as a Native American – most people have felt like an outsider at some point – this book speaks to those feelings.

On the Beach is a post-apocalyptic novel that was written in the 50’s. Set in Australia, the book explores how people act when faced with the certain death that a slowly approaching nuclear cloud brings. It’s an exploration of humans and their feelings, coming to terms with approaching death, forgiving themselves and finding hope in a truly hopeless situation.

Jennifer Egan (author of A Visit from The Goon Squad) wrote The Invisible Circus. It was her first novel, and had premonitions of The Goon Squad in it. It was not as much of a page-turner as her later works – she’s definitely honing her writing over time, but it was still good. And I found out they actually made a movie of it in 1999, starring a young Cameron Diaz. The title refers to the Invisible Circus, a co-opish group of ‘multi-skilled’ street performers in England.

At the moment, I am sluggishly slugging through The God Particle by Leon Lederman. It’s really interesting, and talks about quantum physics in simple, layman’s terms, as much as such a thing can exist.

The author is funny, and clever, and compares the subject to a library full of books – it’s great…

..except, that even in layman’s terms, physics is really, really hard to wrap our heads around. At one point, Lederman even says that some have theorized that the human brain has not evolved enough to even begin to understand quantum physics. But, he soldiers on, and gives us a history of physics, in a casual way, complete with jokes and asides. I am determined to finish the book… I just seem to find plenty of excuses to do other stuff first.

Maybe next month..


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