New Zealand Sign Language Week

New Zealand Sign Language WeekNew Zealand Sign Language Week takes place from 4 to 10 May 2015. Deaf Aotearoa organises this celebration of one of the country’s official languages, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL).

NZSL Week helps promote the language and aims to raise awareness about New Zealand’s Deaf community. It also provides the Deaf Community a chance to put their hands up and be heard, and to stand proud as Deaf as well as promoting their language and culture.

NZSL events at the library

NZSL Week 2015 posterStories in NZ Sign Language, South Library, Thursday 7 May, 10:00am
Come along and celebrate NZSL week with a storytime with a difference! Stories, rhymes and songs will be spoken and signed.
NZ Sign Language Taster Class, South Library, Thursday 7 May, 11:00am
Join this free taster class to learn some basic NZ Sign Language.

Library resources

Other resources

Kiwa Media has produced an iPad and iPhone app for Hairy Maclary which uses NZSL. The app can be purchased through iTunes.

How Haruki Murakami taught me bridge building

Me and Haruki have an affair going on. That sort of an affair that nobody really knows about. This is how it started.

You would not think that librarians have their own favourite librarians, but we do. At least I do. Nina is my friend and she works at the public library in my hometown. I can still vividly remember how and when she introduced me to Haruki Murakami. It was that year’s first snowfall that tempted us to visit one of the old medieval towns not far from ours. (Those of you who had a pleasure of rambling in the snowy night through old towns in Europe will well know the magic of it. Distances seem to disappear among the dancing snowflakes and the silence is so deep and dense that it feels like a soft blanket of slumber.) There wasn’t much opened at that time of the night, except one bookshop. Its windows radiated warm glow and attracted us like the light lures half-blinded moths.

1Q84 What I Talk About When I Talk About Running Kafka on the Shore Norwegian Wood

The book was just there, on the right, not far from the entrance. Nina noticed it immediately and her hand, as if called by silent force, wondered to the shelf and pulled it off. Norwegian wood. The covers were made out of rough but neat plain whiteness. At the bottom, out of the edge, the leaves of grass were growing and bending into the page. There was something earthly in the touch. Later on, while reading about Naoko’s battle with depression, the touch of the covers made the hair on my back stuck up. It was probably one of the best covers I have ever seen.

I must admit the first half of the book was a struggle to read. Not because of the style, nor the structure, nor the narrator. It was the characters that were so hard to follow, hard to keep up with. The weight of their life experience, of their pain and unsettledness was unbearable. Being lost in the midst of Toru’s thoughts, meandering through his feelings of uncertainty, loss and grief was painful. Searching for meaning and hope in the maze of obscure everydayness. All the big questions of growing up revealed and opened with cruel honesty. But it wasn’t just the almost palpable harshness of coming of age experience that was hard to digest. It was the fact that Haruki managed to capture the spirit of my own youth, of my own student years with great sensitivity. Reading this book felt like I was thrown in the amphitheatre of questions about life, love and death, that I have been silently confronting with in my own reality for a while. If I could write, I would write about exactly the same themes. Same problems, same questions, doubts and fears. While living them myself, I felt they were so important and common to everyone. An integral part of human existence.

But a part of human existence is joy as well and Haruki’s story did not lack the sunny side either. It was Midori – restless, witty, playful, nonconformist wild child, who turned reading into a pure pleasure halfway through the book. Following her encounters and flirty conversations with Toru again felt like reading about my own life. Not that the stories were alike, but the indescribable sense of liveliness, hope, utter happiness. The excitement of life itself. Of things to come. I started to realize this was probably one of the most convincing reading experiences, when books build bridges among people. When strong parallels can be drawn between two totally different eras and places (end of 1960s in Japan and beginning of new millennium in Slovenia in my case) by story alone. When a book can knit individual experiences of total strangers, when it can build bridges.

After the Quake Underground      Sputnik Sweetheart The Elephant Vanishes

So we started dating (at least that’s how I imagined my time of reading Norwegian wood). Me and Haruki met on a bridge that we’ve built across half of the world, just so we could encounter in the middle and I could listen to his story. And tell him how much I can relate to it and – not how different – but how similar we are.

If you haven’t tried author-dating and bridge building, give it a go. You might not get far, or you might become a master builder in a few hours. Even if the passion takes over and you’ll be in haste, there is nothing to worry about – you will not run out of good dates. Christchurch City Libraries holds many Murakami’s masterpieces and he can talk to you in many languages, not just in English, but also in Chinese, German, Korean, Spanish, Thai, Polish, Portuguese, Vietnamese and of course Japanese.

If you’ re not sure, who you are dating, you can read a bit more about him on his homepage, watch a documentary or get a useful tip on writing from a first class writing hand.

Haruki Murakami, one of the best storytellers of our time, is coming to Auckland Writers Festival in May. I am pretty sure I will not be the only one, waiting for him eagerly on this side of the bridge.

How Marvel-lous

Cover of Avengers the ultimate guideThe Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU as it’s known in the geeksphere, continues to grow with the recent release of blockbuster action movie The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And it won’t stop there. We’re currently in Phase Two, with further films and spin-offs due for release from next year.

What makes the MCU so interesting is that rather than simply being a disparate series of films (and television shows) featuring different super heroes who happen to originate from the same comic book company, there are multiple character crossovers between the films (both starring and supporting), and tantalising hints in post-credit sequences of future instalments. There is a master plan at work and it’s increasingly hard to keep a track of.

For those of you feeling a little overwhelmed by all the superheroes (and who wouldn’t?), I’ve prepared a crib sheet so you can navigate your way around the MCU with confidence.

Phase One

Phase One of the MCU officially began back in 2008 with the first Iron Man movie.

Cover of Iron Man the ultimate guide to the armoured super heroCover of The invincible Iron ManCover of Ultimate Iron Man II

Cover of The Incredible Hulk, Planet HulkThe Incredible Hulk film followed (the one with Ed Norton). Norton was supposed to continue playing the Hulk through The Avengers movies but “talks broke down” and he was replaced in later outings by Mark Ruffalo. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For those of you who like your Hulk more “bodybuilder in green paint” than “CGI motion capture”, we have four seasons of the TV series on DVD.

The next films in the series were Iron Man 2 in 2010 and Thor in 2011.
Thor introduced fan-favourite, Loki.

Cover of Thor God of ThunderCover of Thor the mighty avengerCover of New ultimates Thor rebornCover of Thor the trials of Loki

2011 also brought us the first Captain America film (curious “Cap” fans may want to check out the 1970s TV series).

Cover of Captain America the tomorrow soldierCover of Captain America volume 4Cover of  Marvel masterworks presents Captain America volume 2Cover of Captain America volume 3

Phase One ended in 2012 with the first Avengers film which brought Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Captain America together and added Black Widow and Hawkeye in for good measure. We also got our first look at villian, Thanos.

Cover of The Avengers 1Cover of Avengers 1 Avengers worldCover of The Avengers time runs out volume 2

Phase Two

Cover of Thor: the dark world preludePhase Two kicked off in 2013 with Iron Man 3 and was quickly followed by Thor sequel, Thor: The Dark World.

Also in 2013, the first series of Marvel’s Agents of Shield aired which followed on from events in The Avengers movie and features recurring film character, Agent Coulson.

In 2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released as was box office smash Guardians of the Galaxy (which included more screentime for Thanos). The retro vibe of the movie soundtrack album meant it was just as popular as the film.

Cover of Guardians of the galaxy volume 1Cover of Guardians of the galaxy cosmic avengers volume 1Cover of Guardians of the galaxy volume 3 guardians disassembledCover of Guardians of the galaxy

On television Marvel’s Agents of Shield returned in 2014 and events that took place during The Winter Soldier continued to have repercussions in the show’s second season. Though it stands on its own the series contains ideas and story arcs that are likely to make an appearance in the Marvel films. Recent episodes of the show (as yet unscreened in New Zealand) have been coordinated to set up the opening of The Avengers sequel.

A further television series, Marvel’s Agent Carter, features Peggy Carter from the first Captain America movie who has also appeared in Marvel’s Agents of Shield episodes in flashback. There’s a lot of “interweaving” in the MCU.

Meanwhile, Netflix series Marvel’s Daredevil has also recently been released.

Cover of Daredevil volume 2Cover of Daredevil the man without fear volume 9 King of hell's kitchenCover of Daredevil volume 6Cover of Daredevil end of days

Cover of Avengers Rage of UltronCover of Avengers battle against UltronSo far this year on the movie front we’ve had The Avengers: Age of Ultron but Ant-man is expected in a few months’ time.

Phase Three

Looking forward to Phase Three which roughly spans 2016-2019, there is a third Captain America instalment planned, a second Guardians of the Galaxy, and a third Thor film.

A Marvel’s Agents of Shield spin-off TV series has just been announced, and there will be an Avengers “Infinity War” two-parter which may or may not involve The Avengers and Guardians gangs crossing paths.

Cover of Thanso the infinity revelationCover of Avengers Infinity 4Cover of Avengers assemble

Cover of Captain Marvel volume 2 downOn the schedule are also a highly anticipated female super hero film, Captain Marvel, as well as Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Inhumans.

Phew.

And if you’re all “Marvel-ed out” now, I don’t blame you. Though if you’re keen for more hot comic action, it’s Free Comic Book Day tomorrow so get amongst, either at your local comic book store or at our Papanui Library event.
Otherwise, why not just sit back and enjoy Jeremy Clint Barton/Hawkeye Renner singing about being the least super of the super heroes?

New Zealand’s national anthems. Yes, anthems!

So how many people in New Zealand realise that we have two national anthems? I bet not a lot.

Everyone knows God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa. Well, at least the first verse anyway.

There are actually five verses in total. You may have heard part of the third verse in the Royal New Zealand Navy ad.

The words to God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa were written by Thomas Bracken back in the 1870s. These were then used in a competition to compose a national air (tune or song) for New Zealand, with John Joseph Woods, a teacher from Otago, winning with his now familiar composition.

Cover of Hear our voices, we entreatThe song’s popularity grew throughout the the 19th century and became one of the most popular songs in the 20th century.

It became our national song in 1940, but wasn’t adopted as one of our official national anthems until 1977! This was as a result of a petition to parliament the previous year.

Hinewehi Mohi sang God defend New Zealand/Aotearoa in te reo Māori only before the All Blacks versus England match at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, causing a huge public debate in New Zealand. Wow, I remember that. Some people were outraged and others said “about time”.

It just shows you how one person’s brave act can change history. Everyone now expects both languages to be sung. As it should be.

Our other national anthem is God Save the Queen. Yes, the British national anthem. I’m sure most New Zealanders wouldn’t know the words to this, but as a proud dual citizen – the child of a British parent, and with strong Loyalist Grandparents – I can belt this out. Well, verses 1 & 3, haha.

It is usually only used when Her Majesty The Queen, a member of the Royal Family, or the Governor-General is officially present, or when loyalty to the Crown is emphasised.

The Ministry for Culture & Heritage/Manatū Taonga website has lyrics to both God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa and God Save the Queen if you’re feeling inspired to learn all the verses.

Or you could check out the following: