Friday, 18 September 2015

Comic Book Month, Baby!

It's my favourite month of the Auckland Libraries year - September! This means...

Comic Book Month!

Every year we in the Libraries host a whole bunch of comic/fandom themed events, and generally go crazy about one of my most favourite formats for reading. At first, September was all about celebrating comics and graphic novels, but slowly, this month has also been expanded to include things like movies, cartoons, zines and other geekery and pop culture.

Already underway, Auckland Libraries has had some awesome events such as LibraryCon, a fantastic Panel of comic artists/cartoonists, and other community library based events (I myself ran a small cartooning workshop in one of my fave libraries, ho ho ho).

Displays are up, people are buzzing, and as always we have our comic book card comp - where you get a stamp for each comic you read, open to all ages (not staff, unfortunately ): before I was staff, I went crazy for this!) to get awesome prizes.

If you've ever read any of my posts, you'll know that I am crazy for comics. I go wild for graphic novels, I fangirl over fanart and cry over cartoons. So you can expect, with the amount of buzz about them this month, that I'll be preparing some awesome graphic novel-related posts soon.

But for now, I'll share with you the place to check if you wanna see if there are any events near you - and remind you (or share for the first time, if you don't already know!) about our cosplay workshops! Although they start at the end of this month, I'm still gonna pop the info here so you can check it out.

And remember to have a gander at our new titles page, where you can see all the new graphics we've gotten our mitts on for adults, as well as teens and kids, so you can pass your geekery on to the next generation (and always take some time to scroll through our non-fiction lists for some hidden gems, like this or this).

If that isn't even for you, also check out the popular culture nextreads eNewsletter. Not just for comics, this newsletter puts the light on some new releases, actor/screen related biographies and general popculture-y awesomeness.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

I Wanna Try On Your Clothes


Everyone looks great in What We Wore A People's History of British Style. The book is a collection of photos contributed by Brits of their former selves in their teens and early twenties. You may recognise some of the contributors like artist Tracey Emin. But most are fairly anonymous, people who after the golden glow of youth have settled into lives as machinists, youth workers, company directors and so on.

The photos cover a broad time period from the 1950s through to the late 90s. Some of the kids equate with a particular time and culture - 90s riot grrls, 80s new romantics and 70s soul fans with 'fros and flares. 

Others have cobbled together their own style from disparate sources. As in one photo from 1983, a bleached blond guy in his late teens or early 20s is dressed in school trousers, frayed Victorian undertaker's coat, old winker picker shoes and a cowboy hat. He looks cool and slightly smug. In the accompanying text he says, "Walking the streets of East Anglia dressed like this was a potentially life threatening pursuit." But I bet he preferred attention, good or bad, rather than indifference.

Elsewhere, others are less brave, engaging in smaller acts of rebellion, modifying their appearances with makeup or iffy haircuts and band t-shirts.

Although, I'm not sure this book really is a history. Photos are grouped into chapters, shaped around a particular activity such as shopping or going out. Other chapters are organised according to where the photo was taken - at home, or on the street. And within each chapter, the photos jump about from decade to decade, not following in chronological order, or tracing a particular style narrative. It's more a book to flick through.

And it's a great book to browse. You may identify with the people in the photos. You too may have affected the same style and listened to the same music. Or the photos may date back to a time before you were born and you may wish you were a teenage punk, Goth,  shoe gazer or whatever. Either way the book is testament to the golden years of youth.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Beautiful tiny things

Particle acceleration has never been as super cool as it is right now. Literally. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has recently been rebooted and its magnets have been cooled to a temperature of minus 271.3 degrees Celsius. The thought of that sort of cold puts a New Zealand winter into perspective. I wonder if one of the Collider curators had to call the LHC helpdesk to say the that the quarks had stopped, and a bored operator suggested a reboot. Who knows? In any case, the results of the restart have been impressive.

I've often thought that physicists have a gentle literary humour. Check out the elegant overtones in the LHC Beauty Detector or ALICE through the looking glass. Beauty scientists have identified up quarks, down quarks, strange quarks, charm quarks, top quarks and bottom quarks. All of this from the decaying bottom lambda particle, which actually doesn't sound very beautiful at all.

A theoretical physicist with a unique but not always gentle sense of humour is Dr Sheldon Cooper. Theoretical in both senses of the word. Who can forget the episode of The big bang theory where Penny asks him to teach her physics?

Other fictional characters have attempted to come to grips with the sciences, with varying degrees of success. Catherine Tate's Lauren reciting the Periodic Table of Elements is always guaranteed to generate a laugh.

Fictional scientists tend to be portrayed as having no style. As Lauren says, they commit terrible fashion crimes. In real life however, scientists are often chic, rich and single. Tatler magazine devoted recent coverage to Britain's top 30 geeks who are, apparently,"genuinely hot, successful and single." So if you are interested, you'd better get in quick, because singleness is not a steady state and these men and women may not stay that way for much longer.