3D craftsCheck our the Learning Centre holiday programme – starting after Easter. Digital storytelling, Lego animation, Minecraft craft in combination with the awesome MakerCrate crew – lots of fun and learning for kids.

Take a look at what the kids did in the January holidays.

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Film School 2nd Prize Winner

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Have you ever wondered what librarians do when they’re in the back room?  If you’d been a fly on the wall in the returns area the other day, you would have heard a glorious rendition of the theme from the Brady Bunch, followed by melodious strains of

There’s a voice, keeps on calling me, down the road, that’s where I’ll always be.  Every stop I make, I’ll make a new friend…

Remember that one? No?? It must be 30 years since I saw The Littlest Hobo, but I can still remember the words to the song. This all started when a Roger Ramjet DVD came through the slot, and Sue said she could still clearly remember the theme song, and we all chimed in with other songs we could remember. Another one that sticks in my head is Hong Kong Phooey, and I was amazed to find that we have it – on tape, no less!

goodiesThis got me to thinking about TV shows that I loved to watch as a kid, and it turns out that we have loads of them on DVD. Like The Smurfs and Sooty. Children of Fire Mountain and Hunter’s Gold. George and Mildred and the Good Life.

So if the weather packs up again these holidays, and you need an answer to “I’m bored, what can I do-oo??” or you’d just like to take a trip down memory lane, I’ve put together a list of TV shows that I used to watch when I was a kid, and there’s a couple of theme song compilations in there too. I even included Little House on the Prairie, which I couldn’t stand — I much preferred the books!  

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Cover of Bones of the lostWith a capacity crowd at the aptly-named Legends Lounge on Monday night, the amazingly over-talented Kathy Reichs kept the audience at The Press Christchurch Writers Festival event  well entertained. Missy T and I arrived early, and it was just as well, as the room filled rapidly with adoring fans both young and old.

Most of what she said should have come as no surprise to fans. The questions from both QC Chris McVeigh and the audience were good and she graciously took every lead and followed it well. I’d not heard her speak before, and she looks like one of those frighteningly well-put-together women who manages everything and everyone into submission.  She is, however, warm and witty, charming and very easy to listen to.

She told stories of life both real and fictional, and I have to say sometimes I forgot whether it was Kathy Reichs or Tempe Brennan we were talking about, which was a bit disconcerting. For those who aren’t as familiar with her work, Dr Reichs is as fully qualified in real life as her main character is in the books, and she always uses a real-life case as the basis for each one of her books (albeit changing all details on the way). She explained that in real life her job is always about answering the same two questions – identity (who is this person?); and cause of death; and for both of these questions, it’s always about the bones.

So what can we tell you that might be new?

  • Contracted to write 19 Tempe Brennan and 5 Virals books, she is currently working on numbers 17 and 5 respectively.
  • The Bones TV series is now in its 9th season, with no sign of slowing down, but as with all TV there are no guarantees.
  • There’s an episode coming up called The Dude and the Dam, which will contain easter eggs – 5 clues from the book Bones of the Lost. Those who watch the episode and read the book will be able to enter an online competition to win stuff.
  • She knows the TV series has a different feel from the books, and gracefully accepted criticism from the audience suggesting that sometimes the show can seem a little flippant and Hollywood-y. She said everyone can see that the two storylines (book and TV) are different, and for those who are worried by this, it might help to see TV Tempe as being a younger, less polished version of Book Tempe – like a prequel.
  • She really loves working with her kids. She co-authors the Virals series with her son (who has been known to proclaim after a particularly brutal editing by Kathy “Mom, you’re murdering my art!”; and works on the TV series with one of her daughters.
  • Kathy often finds character names by reading local obituaries – if the book is set in a specific town or city, she will read past newspapers from that town and gather names from there.
  • The idea to do the Virals series came about after a conversation with one of her children, who suggested that teens would also love to read about forensics. The more unusual aspects of the books (what Kathy calls ‘elements of grounded fantasy’) were added because her publisher noted that teens nowadays seem to be obsessed with the supernatural, and she really didn’t want to do vampires. Or werewolves.

So a good night all round, really, with dozens lined up afterwards for what looked like it might be a long wait for book signing. And as always, a great big thank you to the The Press Christchurch Writers Festival team for another sterling event!

Get more Kathy Reichs in your life

In our household we like a good TV series. In fact, we like to totally immerse ourselves . In the winter of 2010 it was The Wire that captured our lives. Jimmy, Omar, Kima, Lester and the city of Baltimore were beamed into our living room every night for weeks on end. We watched Season 1, 2, 3, and 4, we were addicted. We were drawn in by the complex storylines, well-developed characters and gritty social and political realism. It was a wonderful distraction during a difficult time.

We followed this with more series, a couple being Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire both compulsive and thrilling watches. More recently it has been Enlightened. This was recommended by a couple of colleagues, independent of each other. Librarians can be counted on for their recommendations.

DVDs at South LibraryDVDs at South Library

We watched the ten half-hour episodes in one night and were well satisfied with our viewing. I did say we immersed ourselves. We talked about Enlightened after watching it, we talked about it the next morning, and I continued talking about it when I got to work. It was enlightening.

The series begins with forty year old Amy, played by Laura Dern, returning home to live with her mother after spending the last couple of months at the Open Air Retreat following a self-destructive breakdown. Amy now intends to change herself, she is determined to make the world a better place, and begins each episode with some new age insight. Her good intentions are thwarted by her self obsessed personality and she goes on to create havoc at home and work. This sets the scene for some memorable interactions with her mother, ex-husband and co-workers.

Enlightened is full of irony, very funny and yet is an unsettling watch. In fact, it can be cringe making and compelling at the same time. It is an intriguing watch as Amy’s philosophical awakening gradually uncovers a dark side to corporate America. If you need a good thought provoking television series then look no further. You will not be disappointed.

What television series would you recommend for these last winter days?

Dust off your Daleks and polish up your Pokemon – Armageddon is early this year (9 and 10 March 2013). Our household is full of very earnest discussions about what shade of grey is acceptable for which character, and whether international shipping can be relied upon to deliver the necessary in time for the big weekend. The girl-child is attempting two different cosplay costumes, one from the insanely popular Homestuck online comic series, and the other from something that I am not even beginning to understand. There’s body-paint involved, and horns made out of papier-mache, and that’s all I care to know, frankly.

If you or your dear ones want to join the madness this year, fear not – the library has a range of resources to help sort out those pesky costume issues, study up on pop culture and comics, or just embrace your inner fanboy/girl.
Armageddon Expo 2010Armageddon Expo 2012

And if all else fails, and inspiration is still lacking, travel back in time and read our reports from previous years’ Armageddon visits.

I already have two front teeth, so next on my list of Christmas requests has got to be a whole bunch of book and movie treats.  Admittedly a lot of these are wishful thinking, but hey, you never know …

  • The Twelve – the sequel to Justin Cronin’s giant 2011 bestseller The Passage. I’ve made it all the way to Number 1 on the holds list, but it’s such a huge book, I still think that maybe it won’t arrive in time for the post-Christmas lie-down reading session I have planned.
  • Homeland season 1 – managed to miss this on TV somehow, and I just KNOW I’m going to love it.
  • John Dies at the End – the movie. The book was one of my top picks last year, (and the sequel is very close to the top of this year’s Best Of list). Seems like I’ve been watching movie trailers for this one for aaages, but apparently a DVD release isn’t too far off, even if we miss out on a theatre release.
  • The final of Dean Koontz’s Christopher Snow series. This one is but a distant dream, I think, but I live in hope. Fear Nothing and Seize the Night are my two favourite Koontz books, but it seems I am alone over here – everyone else loves Odd Thomas, and it’s Odd who keeps getting the sequels. Sigh.
  • Tickets to see The Hobbit.  Hmm. Should I be afraid?
  • The latest books by Jim Butcher, Simon Green (either the Nightside or the Drood series, I’m not fussy), and Preston & Child.
  • Anything new by Neil, China, Nick, Lee or Tom

And finally,

  • A surprise!  You know, one of those books that you somehow stumble across and pick up with no expectations at all, and then end up absolutely besotted with.  These are, of course, the hardest ones to find, because you have to have a) no expectations, b) no plan, and c) no helpful pre-loaded recommendations from friends.  I reckon this would be the best Christmas present ever.  (Just so you know …)

August the sixth is Andy Warhol’s birthday, so happy birthday, Andy. If only you were still around to enjoy a world where everyone Cover: "Andy Warhol"truly is famous for 15 minutes.

You could have appeared on Hoarders, done even more celebrity endorsements than you did in the ’60s, ’70s and early ’80s, been a guest judge on Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model  and walked in New York Fashion Week.

In fact you could have had your own reality TV show; after all you pioneered the idea with Andy Warhol’s TV.  You could have had the best Facebook page (not made by you of course) and millions of followers on Twitter.

You said “I never read, I just looked at pictures”.  For those of us who do both, there’s a lot on you to choose from. Here’s a small selection:

And my particular favourite:  Andy Warhol, the biography by Wayne Koestenbaum, who gets past the contradictions and reveals the enigma Warhol was.  Do you have a favourite book/memory of Warhol?

Card-gaming was just one of many diversions on offer to Expo attendees

Noting the proximity of this year’s Armageddon Expo to the ‘Star Home Show’, I couldn’t help but imagine the comic mis-steps required to necessitate the utter bamboozlement of your average denim and polyester-clad ‘Home Show’ couple. Literally one wrong turn, and their hotly-anticipated, yet coolly-considered morning of soft furnishings perusal and contemplation of the latest innovations in bench-tops would be irreparably ruined. I say irreparably, because confusing the two venues would necessarily result in said pair’s forced exposure to a largely impenetrable and perplexing display of pop-culture expression.

Quite apart from their inability to distinguish an Otaku from a Whovian, “denim-and-polyester’s” sense of social equilibrium would be assailed by any number of groups of maddeningly-specific sub-cultural devotees, not to mention those rogue niche enthusiasts whose alignment to the most arcane and obscure back-alleys of fandom manage to baffle even the initiated.

As it happens, I can’t verify that any such fish-out-of-water scenario actually occurred, but that may just be because I spent the majority of my time taking in the spectacle of several thousand people, predominantly young, but not exclusively so, having a fantastic (albeit uncomfortably physically intimate) collective time. It was both fascinating and inspiring to witness so many formerly marginalised enthusiasts, be they wargamers or cosplayers, participating in an event attended by a demographically-diverse crowd.

The ever-improving accuracy of Star Wars costuming on display by the Expo’s default maitre-d’s, the NZ Outpost 42 garrison leads me to suspect that it’s only a matter of time before the Empire calls these clearly capable troops into active service. although perhaps something will have to be done about their enthusiasm for posing for photos, which somewhat undermines the regime’s cruel totalitarian agenda.

But of course, for many Armageddon attendees, posing for photos is largely what it’s all about. It would be an unusual cosplayer, many of whom have clearly spent weeks or months planning and refining their often freakishly elaborate costumes, who would greet a photo request with coy refusal. Not that all costumers are equally invested in the hobby. For every painstakingly executed Naruto or creatively exemplary TARDIS/Woman, there’s someone who wants to show their geek-love, but can’t quite make that final leap of faith.

For once, the TARDIS fails to unassumingly blend in with its surroundings

Fortunately, pledging commercial allegiance to one’s chosen obsession/s is an attractive option for those costumed or otherwise. Armageddon regulars will be familiar with the companies which routinely set up shop at the Expo, offering everything from manga books, anime dvds, and merchandise from an exhaustingly broad range of licensed properties. They were there in force again this year, shilling everything from novelty button badges, to Death Note plush toys to pricey top-shelf anime statues.

I myself was fiscally obliged to make a decision between a thirty-dollar Sylvester McCoy autograph, and a slightly more expensive, though considerably less articulated six-inch simulacrum of the man himself, outfitted in one of the least offensive of the generally offensive 1980s Doctor Who costumes. In the end I plumped for the autograph, but I’ve since had buyer’s regret. Not just because face-to-face encounters with my childhood heroes, despite my high expectations, are unfailingly disappointing, but the little Sylvester also came with his TARDIS.

Victor Rodger’s first published play

Then why not become a scriptwriter for a show like Shortland Street?

Victor Rodger did just that and had his young adult audience and one lone age-challenged library assistant convinced that this was not only possible but something we should get onto straight away.

I’ve never watched Shortland Street – but I grew up on its big sister Coro Street which Victor admits to loving as well. Here’s what he said we’d need to do to get a position as a scriptwriter on this iconic New Zealand TV show:

  • Love your life and be prepared to share it – the good, the bad and the ugly (muted murmuring at that)
  • It’s OK to have failed Maths every year at school (much cheering here) but you do need to have an ear for dialogue and a love of English (back to murmuring)
  • Submit an application with a complete script attached (Oh No!)
  • While you’re waiting for the big bucks to come flowing in, go on your OE and get a job licking stamps or working for three months for the French Embassy when you can’t speak a word of French (that’s more like it!)
  • Try not to ruffle any feathers in the industry – the New Zealand TV world is tiny and you can’t afford to make enemies. No swearing when things don’t go your way (Boooooo!)
  • Be prepared to work from anywhere in the world. (WooHoo!)

Victor RodgerVictor gave good, positive advice which can be summed up as:

Never Give Up!

Three giant Samoan students in front of me high-fived throughout. They so wanted his life. After the event I saw them gathered at the stage door waiting for him. I loved him for the glimpse of another life that he gave us. Then I trudged my weary posterior back to the hotel and blogged this for you. Scriptwriting might need to wait for another life!

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