David Cherry's blog

Family Curses: When Writers Beget Writers

I am the luckiest of fathers and have been since the beginning. If any newborn can be said to be calm, it would have been our daughter. Even factoring in a big honkin' dollop of paternal bias, she was pretty much perfect. She didn’t even cry much, and the crying she did seemed almost perfunctory, as if she only wanted to assure us she had a superior set of lungs. Her personality hasn’t changed much since those first moments of life. She has grown up to be a remarkably poised and intelligent young woman. It seems like all my wife and I had to do was remind her of the basics: 1). Treat everyone with respect and kindness, and if, for whatever reason that proves impossible, then at least be polite, 2). Don’t cheat or lie, 3). Boredom is for losers, 4). Be open to new experiences, and 5). Don’t put things up your nose.  That’s about it.

Have Book - Will Travel! Summer Reading Fun @ HCPL

SRP posters
Ah, summer! The kids are out of school, the mosquitoes are out in force, and before you know it, you’ll be out of ideas for things to do that don’t involve long hours sitting on car seats you could fry bacon on, getting sand in your bathing suit, and/or adding more negative numbers to your bank statement.

Harris County Public Library’s Summer Reading Fun is your answer.

This year’s theme is Have Book – Will Travel, and HCPL wants to encourage everyone—from infants to seniors--to explore the worlds that reading open up. Starting Monday, June 3, register online at www.hcpl.net and join your friends and neighbors in traveling the world through the pages of a book.

Kingwood Library Expands Hours of Operation Starting June 1

Exterior: Kingwood Branch LibraryEffective June 1, 2013, Harris County Public Library’s Kingwood Branch will expand its hours of operation from five to six days a week offering you more opportunities to browse the library’s continually refreshed collection of books, movies, music and journals, in addition to making it easier for you to take advantage of a wide range of library services.

The new hours reflect the needs of the community and will give you greater access to free Wi-Fi and internet, as well as to facilities including meeting, conference and study rooms. What’s more, the expanded hours mean the Kingwood Branch’s expert staff will be available seventeen additional hours every week to assist you with research, provide entertaining educational programming for all ages, or to just suggest the perfect book.

LightsOutHouston 2013 @ HCPL

lights out houston 2013In observance of the 6th Annual LightsOutHouston initiative, Harris County Commissioners Court has authorized Facilities and Property Management to lead a countywide effort, in conjunction with the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership and Central Houston Inc. to turn off all non-essential lights at the end of the day.

Turning out unnecessary lights when you leave a room is one of the easiest ways you can help the environment, conserve valuable resources and save money. Remember--unlike humans and other living things, furniture does not need light to survive. Your sofa, ottoman and coffee table, as well as your work station and file cabinets are not afraid of the dark.

Harris County Public Library encourages you to make turning off unnecessary lights a year-round habit. If a light is not needed for safety or some other necessity, turn it off!

Join WITS and HCPL in Celebrating National Poetry Month with A Poem A Day

WITS Poem a Day logoWriters in the Schools (WITS), is a local nonprofit organization that sends professional poets, fiction writers and playwrights into over 350 area schools to help children, K - 12,  discover the "pleasure and power of reading and writing." Each year in April, WITS celebrates National Poetry Month by sharing the poems of some of its many talented students through its A Poem A Day project.

 We at Harris County Public Library are excited to once again participate in this year’s event. Starting this Monday, April 1 and running through the month, fans of HCPL’s Facebook page will get to read these amazing poems.

Don’t miss a single one. ‘Like’ us on Facebook now (and as an added bonus you’ll get library news, information on upcoming library events, new title announcements, and other fun and interesting stuff with a bookish bent.

Relax! You Have Time. Starting April 15, DVD loan periods will be extended.

Woman eating popcorn and enjoying a DVD from HCPLIt has happened to all of us. You check out DVDs planning to catch up on that TV series everyone is talking about. Then life happens: the kids remember their science project is due; your mother shows up unannounced; your secret crush finally calls to ask you out. Harris County Public Library can’t do anything about life’s little surprises, but we can give you more time to watch those videos. Starting April 15, 2013, HCPL will extend the checkout period for all DVDs, including new releases, from one week to two.

With more and more classic and current TV series coming out on video, and with PBS’s Downton Abbey and Showtime’s Homeland among our most requested DVD sets, it makes sense to extend the checkout period so that you can have the time to enjoy them. No one should have to cram a season’s worth of viewing into a single weekend.

Spring Break @ HCPL

Spring Break @ HCPL graphicSpring Break is coming up soon and if you're looking for fun, free ways to keep your kids and teens engaged and entertained, Harris County Public Library is just the ticket. In addition to their regular slate of programs, many HCPL branches will host special events the week of March 11 - 16. There will be music, puppet shows, giant bubbles, everyone's favorite big red dog, and much more. Below are just some of the highlights. For a full schedule of programs, visit our Events Calendar.

Marsha’s Petting Zoo
Marsha Smiley will bring a llama, goat, bunnies, piglets, ducks, chicks, deer, and a mini-donkey for you to see and pet.
Clear Lake City-County Freeman Branch Library
Monday, Mar. 11
2:30 – 4:30 PM
Children’s program

Spring Break Spectacular
Camel rides, bounce house obstacle course and make-your-own ice cream.
Northwest Branch Library
Monday, Mar. 11
3:00 – 5:00 PM
Children’s program

Everyone's a Critic (But Only Some Get Paid to Be): Nat'l Book Critics Circle Award Winners

Cover art: Bilyy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain

Critics get a bad rap. It's the accepted wisdom that 'if you can't do, then teach, and if you can't do or teach, then tell people who can what they're doing wrong,' which is unfair to teachers (who--in my not particularly humble opinion--get a worse and infinitely more undeserved rap) and critics, both.

I would argue that besides acting as a convenient whipping boy for artists who are seldom the best judges of their own work, critics provide the valuable service of drowning out a lot of the inane Cover art: Stranger Magic by Marina Warnerpalaver in the cultural conversation. Do they miss some very worthy work? Yes, oodles of it. Do they misjudge great works? Yes, certainly. Do they have personal biases and blind spots? Yep. Do they fall prey to fads and fashions that will ultimately be looked on only with derision and regret? Yes, just like you and me--how do you feel about those pea green jeggings you bought in a fit of hubris and reckless disregard for your credit score last month?

Poetry in Motion (Pictures): Movies Based on Poems

For Colored Girls audiobook coverAm I the only one who thinks it’s a bit sad that Beowulf—one of the oldest surviving poems in English (albeit of the Ye Olde kind)—has made the jump to the silver screen with more youthful vigor and a far larger budget than…say…I dunno…something…anything...written in the intervening 1300 years? Granted Beowulf has somewhat more of the kind of stuff that both mead-drinking, horns-on-the-helmet-types, and popcorn-munching 21st century cineastes alike tend to prize in their entertainments, namely: monsters “gorged and bloodied” and “gloating over the raw corpses” of several buff but faceless actor/waiters in gore harvests of cameronian  proportions, and the requisite buxomly bewitching servant girl whose only real function in the story is to be buxomly bewitching so as to test our noble hero’s proto-democratic leanings and to make sure that no one takes all the male-bonding the *ahem* wrong way. Granted, too, that unless you’re French and/or a Comp Lit major, the vague existential dread engendered by finding a dead curlew while on a walk in the sun-dappled silence of a suburban forest that is the essential plotline of every poem written since 1950, does not make for edge-of-the-seat cinema.

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