Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Barbeque, Barbecue, Bar-B-Q or BBQ?

barbecue sign photo
Photo David Reber
No matter how you like to spell it, barbecue is a summer staple and May is National Barbecue Month.

In the US, the word barbecue can refer to the slow cooking of meat, often pork, by smoking, roasting or braising. Barbecue is also the end product of this cooking process. Barbecue can be used in a sentence like “Come over for a barbecue!” which means a gathering centered around the grill, the picnic table, and—possibly—cold beer.

Barbecue comes out of the South, and the styles of cooking, the spices, rubs and sauces are famously regional. Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, Kentucky, North Carolina—all places that claim distinctive styles of cooking and flavoring the meat. I’m not going to open up the discussion about which is best—they’re all good!

But say you'd like to make your own decision about which kind of barbecue is best. You could take The Ultimate Barbecue Road Trip: 60 BBQ joints over 5,000 miles. If that seems a bit overwhelming, you could pare the trip down by two thirds and try The South's 20 Best BBQ Joints from Southern Living magazine.

Even better, you could attend the 28th Annual National Championship Barbecue Cookoff to be held this October in Meridian, Texas. In 2014, there were over 190 teams competing for the top prizes, and, if you win a qualifying event, you could be there too!. They even have a 5K fun run as part of the celebration, which probably helps to work off some of the BBQ calories consumed on site.

Not everyone has the time for barbecue pilgrimages though, and so MCPL once again can come to the rescue with suggestions from our collection!

Virgil's cookbook
Virgil's Cookbook
Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook: the best barbecue from around the country, without ever leaving your backyard by Neal Corman provides the home barbecue chef with 98 recipes that take the best from North Carolina, Texas, Memphis, and Kansas City. Also included are the side dishes like coleslaw, and the desserts like banana pudding that round out your BBQ dinner. And I understand some grilled veggie recipes are also in there somewhere.

Legends of Texas BBQ
Barbecue pit bosses, equivalent to the chef de cuisine in a fancy French restaurant, stamp their operations with their own personality. The Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook: recipes and recollections from the pit bosses" by Robb Walsh, is both a practical cookbook and a guided tour of Texas barbecue lore. Readers get straightforward advice right from the pit masters themselves. Archival photography looks back over more than 100 years of barbecue history, from the first turn of the century squirrel roasts to candid shots of Lyndon Johnson chowing down on a plate of ribs.

Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue
Paul Kirk's
Maybe you have a hankering to try your culinary chops at a BBQ competition. For some recipes and advice on how to take the blue ribbon, you could take a look at Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue: bbq your way to greatness with 575 lip-smackin' recipes from the baron of barbecue by Paul Kirk. Mr. Kirk is a 7 time World BBQ Champion, and teaches Pit Master classes around the US, so his advice is well worth heeding.

To be sure that you haven't left out some corner of the US BBQ scene, you'll want to review the chapter list of Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA : 425 fiery recipes from all across America by Steven Raichlen. The author promises recipes from every state, Puerto Rico and Canada. Even California gets a nod with recipes for grilled dates, Caesar salad, lamb shanks, and mussels.

Man Alive
Man Alive!
Once you've cooked and eaten yourself into a BBQ fueled stupor, relax with the humorous and warmhearted Man Alive! by Mary Kay Zuravleff. When pediatric psychologist Owen Lerner is struck by lightning, he survives—except that now the only thing he wants to do is devote himself to is the art of the barbecue, following the call of food and fire. His family and his patients are thrown into turmoil, but Owen believes he is better off.

So get on that barbecue trail, or cook up some pulled pork this summer! And save some for me.



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Can the Public Library Serve Those who Watch TV?

Can you identify the following people and say why they are famous? Danielle Fishel. Mindy Kaling.  Lena Dunham. Matt Groening. If you can readily identify these personalities, then you have more than a passing interest in the world of television. Can the public library help people like you?

I will hereby admit to the world that, in addition to being an avid reader, I am also an avid TV watcher. Have been all my life, from my first memories of The Blue Fairy and Romper Room. In the 60’s, I moved on to Bullwinkle, The Flintstones, and The Jetsons every Saturday morning, and to the sitcoms of the early 60’s like Leave it to Beaver and The Dick Van Dyke Show. I watched the sprawling dramas of the 70s and 80s, like Dynasty and Dallas. I laughed along with Mary Tyler Moore and Murphy Brown.

There are now a dizzying array of choices presented to me on broadcast television, cable, and services like Netflix, Hulu, and Vudu. And I not only appreciate all the choices, but enjoy an assortment of programs, necessitating a great deal of time planning and programming my DVR so I don’t miss a thing.

The question is… how can the public library serve not only my needs but the needs of all the millions of dedicated TV watchers out there? There are a number of ways, as it turns out. First, there are an increasing number of TV series available on DVD in the library. MCPL owns the DVD’s of such renowned PBS series as I Claudius and Upstairs Downstairs, along with more recent series like Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife.

From cable TV and Netflix, MCPL owns the DVDs of the recent blockbusters like The Americans, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Masters of Sex, Mad Men, Homeland, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Nurse Jackie. You can also find older cable series with lasting popularity, such as Entourage, True Blood, Dexter, The Wire, Six Feet Under, and The Sopranos.

From the world of broadcast TV, MCPL owns some oldies but goodies like Star Trek and Freaks and Geeks, along with more recent shows that are off the air but enjoyed wide popularity, like Arrested Development, Friday Night Lights, The Office, West Wing, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There are also DVDs of shows that are still showing, like Scandal, The Good Wife, and Modern Family. And, if you are missing one of your favorite TV shows that just went off the air this or last year, you can check out The Big Bang Theory, Parks and Recreation, or How I Met Your Mother.

What else do we have for the TV watcher? How about books? These come in three categories: books that TV series are based on; books about particular TV shows; and biographies of famous television personalities.

In the first category, MCPL owns the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, which is the basis of Game of Thrones. We also own the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, which Call the Midwife is based on, the book Orange is the New Black, and the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris—the basis of the TV series True Blood. The recent PBS series Wolf Hall is based on the novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel, and the PBS series Grantchester is based on a series of books by James Runcie called the "Grantchester Mysteries."

The very popular Outlander TV mini-series is based on the book Outlander and its sequels, by Diana Gabaldon. The Dexter series is based on a series of books by Jeff Lindsay, starting with Darkly Dreaming Dexter. Speaking of serial killers, Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal have been turned into the Hannibal TV show on NBC. The FX series Justified is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. The TV show Resurrection, about dead people who return from the grave, is based on a book by Jason Mott called The Returned. For teens, both the Gossip Girl (by Cecily Von Ziegesar) and Pretty Little Liars books (by Sara Shepard) have been made into TV series.

There are also many books about the making of and history behind individual TV shows, like Making Masterpiece, about the making of Masterpiece Theater and Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey. Other books about shows that are currently airing include Live from New York, about Saturday Night Live and American Idol: The Untold Story. For the watchers of Mad Men, we have the books The Real Mad Men: the Renegades of Madison Avenue and Mad Women; the Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the 60's.

For those TV watchers who are nostalgic about their favorite shows from the past, MCPL offers Inside StarTrek: The Real Story for trekkies; I Love Lucy: Celebrating 50 Years of Love and Laughter; The Moose that Roared, about the making of Rocky and Bullwinkle; Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, about the development of the Mary Tyler Moore Show; The Sopranos: The Book; Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell; Inside Inside, about the making of the celebrity interview show Inside the Actor’s Studio, and True Stories of Law and Order: the Real Crime Behind the Best Episodes of the Hit TV show.

For fans of The Simpsons, there are several books of cartoons based on these characters. For those who would like an overview of the best TV shows of the past, the library has Top of the Rock: the Rise and Fall of Must-See TV, about NBC’s shows of the 1990’s; TV Guide: 50 Years of Television; Sitcom: A History in 24 Episodes from I Love Lucy to Community; and The Columbia History of American Television. And finally, even though it has been cancelled, viewers who miss Honey Boo Boo can read about her in How to Honey Boo Boo: the Complete Guide on How to Redneckognize the Honey Boo Boo in You.

If all of this isn’t enough, avid TV watchers can also read biographies and autobiographies of some of their favorite TV personalities.  MCPL currently offers biographies/autobiographies of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Norman Lear, Candice Bergen, Lena Dunham, Matt Groening, Barbara Walters, Ellen DeGeneres, Cloris Leachman, Rosie O'Donnell, Melissa Gilbert, Betty White, and Danielle Fishel. And, if you can identify, the shows that each of the aforementioned personalities are associated with, you are even more of an avid TV watcher than I am.

So, I will say this to TV fans who wonder if the library has anything for them: It does!

Heather W.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Enjoying Audiobooks—with Authors and Actors

I had an eye surgery recently, and I was told to sit with my head down for 3 whole days. I prepared myself for this ordeal by downloading a few audiobooks and checking out more titles on CD.

I love Simon Winchester. I like his writing style. I like his topics. And I like the way he reads his own book. You can feel his passion in his voice. And he has a nice reading voice, too, which is a big bonus.

The Map That Changed the World is a great lesson on the birth of geology as an academic field. Winchester then takes off on a journey across the American continent. When he reaches San Francisco, he launches into the cultural history of the city around the time of its 1906 earthquake. When I finished listening, I passed my copy on to a geologist friend who told me he doesn't listen to books. He is now an audiobook convert.

Over the years, I've tried quite a few great author-read audiobooks. Barack Obama was great reading his own memoir, Dreams from My Father. Not surprisingly book-writing funny people, like David Sedaris reading Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls and Amy Poehler reading Yes Please, left me in stitches in public places.

Big name authors can have big name actors to do the reading for them.

If you're interested in the process of book recording, this video series from Openbook Recording shows you how these books are recorded and edited.

Have you tried audiobooks? Are there specific genres or authors you prefer as audiobooks?

    Megumi L

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lifelong Learning at MCPL

ipad, chalkboard, apple
Did you know that MCPL can help you prepare for tests, advance your career, and increase your knowledge?

The Testing and Education Reference Center provides free practice tests and study materials for over 300 tests and courses including the GED, SAT, ACT, AP, CLEP, TOEFL, GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT, SSAT, NCLEX, civil service, nursing, military exams, the citizenship examination, and others.  Thinking about college or grad school? Check out their college or graduate school searches as well as nursestheir scholarship searches. If you are looking for a job help, try their career tools such as Building a Resume and Career Assessment. They also have a Virtual Career Library that offers tips and advice on the career-seeking process, from searching for jobs to preparing resumes and cover letters to negotiating job conditions.

business meeting
Gale Courses offers high-quality, interactive, instructor led free courses and career training programs you can take entirely online. There is a variety of classes to choose from including accounting, grant and creative writing, computer software, graphic and web design, health care, digital photography, GRE, SAT/ACT, resume writing, database management, and many more.  Courses run for six weeks and new sessions begin every month.  Don't forget to browse their most popular courses to find even more classes of interest.

Looking for books to increase your information technology, computer, or business skills?  Read our e-books from Safari Books Online.  They have computer and IT e-books on many topics such as Apple, Java, mobile, and web development just to name a few. Want to design the next biggest game? They got books on game programming too! Interested in personal or professional development? There are many e-books on topics like health, hobbies, personal finance,stress management, time management, work relationships, networking, and retirement planning. Small business owners and dreamers will find help in the e-books geared to small business and entrepreneurship. There are also many exciting math and science e-books from algebra to physics and even includes ones on nanotechnology.

teens sitting on bumper of car Want to practice taking the Maryland Driver's Permit test before the real exam?  Try The site provides permit practice tests for the State of Maryland for cars, motorcycles, and CDL. While the results cannot be used as proof of DMV course completion it does help you prepare for the permit test. It also includes the Maryland Driver's, Motorcycle, and CDL Handbooks for study purposes or to just brush up on the rules of the road.

Looking to learn more about a specific subject that has always been of interest to you? Try the Great Courses series! They have CD books and DVDs on everything from Algebra I to Zero to Infinity: A History of Numbers—and everything in between. They have course on specific subjects in math, history, science, religion, music, public speaking, and many more!

All of  the online resources you can access with a library card from inside our branches or wherever else you study best. We're committed to your lifelong learning at MCPL!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LEGOS & Libraries

Kids at LEGO table at Marilyn Praisner
LEGO Table at Marilyn Praisner

Kid building LEGO tornado at Davis
LEGO Builder at Davis
While it might seem that little blocks of plastic and a place to borrow books don't have a lot in common, LEGOS are popping up at many libraries these days.  Several MCPL branches have LEGO tables, where children (or adults!) can create structures whenever the library is open. They may work with other children and adults who are nearby, or happily build their own individual masterpieces.  Libraries with LEGO tables are Aspen Hill, Little Falls, Marilyn Praisner, Twinbrook, and White Oak.

Kid LEGO building at Davis
LEGO Builder at Davis
There are also libraries that sponsor LEGO clubs.  These programs give children a chance to work in a group, and to learn from teen or adult volunteers.  The library might have hundreds of assorted pieces of LEGO or there might be boxed sets with specific instructions included.  In either case, the children will have a chance to explore in a new environment with new people.

Kids LEGO building at Poolesville
LEGO Builders at Poolesville
Why are so many libraries encouraging children to play with LEGOS?  Studies have found that play is a crucial component of childhood development.  Playing with construction toys like LEGOS has particular advantages.  According to the Association of Library Service to Children it provides open-ended play and free expression while increasing the use of fine and large motor dexterity, social skills, and problem solving techniques.  In addition, LEGO building stimulates imagination, creativity, math, science,language and vocabulary development.  And libraries certainly support growth in all of these areas.

LEGO homes and airplane built at Chevy Chase
LEGO Structures built at Chevy Chase

In addition to providing the actual building blocks for fun at the library, there are also books that can be taken home to continue the inspiration.

The Lego Adventure book coverThe LEGO Play Book cover

So start playing!  Find LEGO events or a LEGO table for open play at a library branch near you.  And don't forget to check out some new LEGO books.  Be creative and be constructive!

Kids building LEGOS at Silver Spring library
LEGO Builders at Silver Spring
Barbara S.