Wednesday, June 25, 2014

World Cup Football - Or Should I Say Soccer?

soccer ball and goal

My favorite memory of the FIFA World Cup is from 1966 when England hosted the event and beat West Germany in the final to win their first and only World Cup title.  My family and friends were watching on our tiny black and white TV. When the match ended one of my friends jumped up and cried “Let’s pretend we’re really there!” She made us all stand huddled together cheering as though we were in the stadium with all the other delirious England fans.  I had never shown much interest in football, as soccer is called in England, but even I got caught up in the exuberant celebration.  My father and little brothers were ecstatic.  When I first came to the U.S. nobody played soccer and the World Cup went entirely unnoticed.  I could never get interested in the strange sports of the New World.  American football seemed so nonsensical after the “football” I was used to. “You mean they can pick up the ball and run with it? Isn't that cheating?” But times have changed.  My own children played youth soccer, now my grandsons do, and the World Cup, if not quite as big a deal as the Super Bowl, is still a major event with plenty of American fans. 

Whether you yourself are a soccer fan, or just surrounded by fans among your family and friends, here are a few books to give you some interesting background on the world’s most popular sport (with an estimated 3.5 billion fans worldwide):

book cover of Pele
In case you are wondering what all the fuss is about, soccer’s most famous player tells you why you should care about “the beautiful game.”

Soccer for Dummies by Michael Lewis
A publication of the United States Soccer Federation.  This is the place to start if you want to appear knowledgeable when watching the World Cup surrounded by die-hard soccer fans.

This history emphasizes the political, social, and cultural context of the game around the world.

Many cultures claim soccer as their own. This book explores how the Spanish tradition became predominant.
book cover of La Roja

You can’t get very far reading about soccer before finding that it has a magnetic attraction for cultural theorists and philosophers. This writer argues that “soccer is a perfect window into the crosscurrents of today’s world.”

Not interested in reading about soccer but enjoy a good thriller? Here's one set on the eve of the World Cup in Brazil. A star player’s mother is kidnapped. Is Brazil’s bitter rival Argentina trying to gain an advantage? Chief Inspector Silva races to solve the crime before the final match. This book reflects how seriously soccer is taken in Latin America. In 1969 a disputed soccer game even sparked a war between El Salvador and Honduras.

Now you are an armchair expert, you can follow all things soccer at the Soccer Blog, through this year’s World Cup and beyond. For a list of perfect places in the local area to watch World Cup matches with fans from all over the world, check out this guide from The Washington Post. Happy viewing, and in the interest of good sportsmanship, may the best team win!

Rita T.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Juneteenth Celebrations!

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865, and more generally, the emancipation of African Americans throughout the United States.

Come to these great celebrations!

BlackRock Center for the Arts, June 17, 6 PM
This year’s celebration will include Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger reading the Emancipation Proclamation, the Montgomery County NAACP’s ACT-SO (Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics) award-winning student performing artists and the music of New Orleans musician Alan Green.  Admission is free and traditional Juneteenth refreshments will be served.

MCPL will host, "Community Cornerstones," a film produced by Heritage Montgomery about African American Settlements and Churches in Montgomery County.  Between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, forty African American churches were founded in Montgomery County.  In these cornerstones of their communities, generations of black families created their own spiritual, social and educational opportunities.  This one-hour documentary of memories by elders from a select group of historic African American churches explains how these communities evolved through segregation and conveys their pride in the accomplishments of their ancestors.

Germantown Library, June 19, 7 PM
This film will be followed by a panel discussion with Peggy Erickson, past president of Heritage Montgomery, the film's producer, Barbara Grunbaum, and Gwen Reese, a community member in the film. Pre-register online or call the library at 240-777-0110.

Poolesville Library, June 25, 7 PM
This film will be followed by a panel discussion with Peggy Erickson, past president of Heritage Montgomery, the film's producer, Barbara Grunbaum, and Gwen Reese, a community member in the film.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


The classic illustrators from the 19th century such as Kay Nielsen, Edmund Dulac, Arthur Rackham and John Tenniel have inspired the imaginations of generations. They continue to influence the work of artists, illustrators, and storytellers to this day.  You can see some examples of their work in the Montgomery County Public Library (MCPL) collection. A Treasury of the Great Children's Book Illustrators by Susan E. Meyer contains examples of the work of Nielsen and Dulac.

There are a number of books in the MCPL collection illustrated by Arthur Rackham. One of the most popular is The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

The illustrations done by John Tenniel for Lewis Carroll's  Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass continue to spread their influence around the globe.  You can see the echos of Tenniel in the sets, costumes, and characters of a number of movies.

There are vast varieties and styles of illustration.  During the time of the of the LP record, album art was a critical part of the concept and marketing of music.  Working out the story and iconography of the album cover art was sometimes an important aspect of appreciating the content.  You can view a selection of album cover art in the Album Cover Album introduced by Dominy Hamilton and edited by Storm Thorgerson and Roger Dean.

Illustration is used currently and historically to sell products, to entice people into theatrical productions and various places of entertainment and to illustrate and spread political ideas.  You can see all of these functions at work in the collection  The Poster in History by Max Gallo with essays by Carlo Arturo Quintavalle and Charles Flowers.  Posters provide enormous insight as to the styles, tastes, preferences, and viewpoints of people from all the times and places where the posters originate.

These selections barely skim the surface, and there is lots more to be found in MCPL.  Look around in the children's picture books, in the illustrated DIY books, in photography, art, and almost every subject you will find good (and sometimes bad) examples of the illustrator's art.

Nell M.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Are you a Maker?

Maybe you are and don’t know it.

Let me explain. When I first encountered the term Maker, it was surrounded by 3-D printers, computerized Robots, and ‘hacked’ this-n-that. But it turns out that being a Maker is a very wide-ranging concept, inclusive of us who spin, knit, weave, bake bread and brew beer, and generally derive pleasure (or satisfaction) from the work of our own hands.

It’s DIY, self-sufficiency and creativity, with or without computers. It’s an acknowledgement that the textile artists, picklers, hackers, carpenters and blacksmiths (and gardeners, dumpster divers and hot-rod mechanics) have something in common.

I’ve never NOT had a project or ten in progress but now I can use a new vocabulary to communicate to others who make stuff to relax and create their own pleasure.

MAKE: magazine is one of the leading lights in the Maker movement. While their content is by subscription, many articles and projects are available online for free. That’s how I found the project that I spent last weekend making. 

Below is a picture of ‘the two-hour table it took two people six hours to make’, but I’m pretty proud of it.

Where else (you ask) can I find inspiration and instruction to satisfy my DIY urgings? Why, at MCPL, of course.

Many of our computer-oriented friends are well acquainted with Safari Books Online, but did you know that in addition to the latest software, they have lots of eBooks concerning all kinds of creative endeavors?
  • The Textile Artist’s Studio Handbook     
  • Expressive Photography 
  • Creative thinking         
  • The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers 
  • Androids: Build Your Own Lifelike Robots
And for those like me, who derive so much joy from the bending of threads, let us not forget Ravelry,
 the online community of over 4 million souls. Free (in every sense of the word) and fermenting. Check out the library feature. you can import books from Library Thing and have access to the patterns in them!

Also be sure to check out our new Studio i website, all about Making at MCPL.

Happy Making!

Jan D.