Archive for August, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ray Bradbury!

Ray Bradbury at Dark Carnival, 1993

Tomorrow (August 22) will be Mr. Ray Bradbury’s 91st birthday. We had the great good fortune to meet Mr. Bradbury at the Dark Carnival Bookstore of the Imagination in Berkeley, California, in 1993 (indeed, the bookstore’s name is taken from Bradbury’s famous short story collection: here’s their websitehttp://www.darkcarnival.com/).  Also, Mr. Bradbury appeared at the late Forrest J Ackerman’s Famous Monsters Convention in Arlington, Virginia in 1993 and Son of Famous Monsters Convention at Universal City, California, in 1995 where we got to see him both times.  Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Ackerman’s friendship (along with special effects legend Ray Harryhausen)  goes way back to the 1930’s, as all three of them shared a love for all things science fiction and what Forry always called “imagi-movies,” a term which encompasses  science fiction, fantasy , and “horror” films.

 Mr. Bradbury has another great love, and that is of the institution called the library. It is well-know that in his younger years Ray Bradbury used the rental typewriters in UCLA’s Lawrence Clark Powell Library’s basement to type his work, including Fahrenheit 451. He also spent many hours in the public library, which is where he says he got his education, “not the college” and in June, 2009 spoke in behalf of the H.P. Wright Library in Ventura, California, which was on the chopping block (and unfortunately closed November 2009.)

 We wish Mr. Bradbury the best birthday ever, thank him for all of the wonderful books he’s written that grace the library’s shelves, and salute him for his support of libraries everywhere.


Read Full Post »

What happens when you put a character similar to Pogo in the middle of an adventure Tolkien would have written?  Why you get BONE of course!  Bone is the award winning graphic novel created by Jeff Smith.  The books are full of action, adventure, comic relief and strange characters on a quest.   I picked up the first volume of Bone and finished off all nine volumes before I knew it.  If you’ve never read a graphic novel but like the possibilities in the story, give it a try.  Don’t be embarrassed to have someone catch you reading a “comic”, believe me, if you’ve ever been to a comic book convention you’ll know that plenty of adults read them.  Head to your local branch and check out the first volume and before you know it you’ll be looking for the rest .

By the way, if you’re not familiar with Pogo, think of a cute yet philosophical possum living in Okefenokee Swamp.  This creation of cartoonist Walt Kelly ran as a newspaper comic strip for many years.  Jeff Smith credits Walt Kelly as one of his inspirations.

Read Full Post »

Bay Area wanderings

I recently took a day trip to the coast, where we stopped in Half Moon Bay for an afternoon. It’s a beautiful place to see the ocean and the California coastline, although admittedly, the water is never warm. There are many beaches along the coast, as well as a few hiking trails. If you love water sports, there are plenty to be found in the Half Moon Bay area. There are windsurfers galore, parasurfers out taking advantage of the strong gusts, and surfers catching waves as the tide comes in.

If you like microbreweries, Half Moon Bay has it’s own, Half Moon Bay Brewing Company (http://www.hmbbrewingco.com/). The restaurant has a very lovely patio out front with heaters and a fire pit for the cooler evenings. Our favorite restaurant, however, now resides in downtown Half Moon Bay, on Main Street. It’s Italia (http://www.itsitaliarestaurant.com/) has long been a favorite restaurant, with delicious pastas and the best pizza I’ve ever had. We have taken quite a few trips out to Half Moon Bay, just to have dinner at this restaurant. If you are looking for a night out, I would highly recommend taking a trip over to the coast. There are many small stores along Main Street, including a book store, art gallery and a couple of local bakeries.

If you are interested in visiting Half Moon Bay or other locations here in Northern California, check out one of our many travel books. Here are just a few suggestions:

Half Moon Bay memories : the coastside’s colorful past / by June Morrall El Granada, Calif. : Moonbeam Press, c1978


Fodor’s 2011 Northern California New York : Fodors Travel Publications, c2011


Weekend adventures in San Francisco & northern California by Carole Terwilliger Meyers Berkeley, Calif. : Carousel Press, c2009


(photos by Mary Ayers)


Read Full Post »

Edinburgh International Festival

Summer is not quite over yet.  If you are still up for some traveling, the world-class Edinburgh International Festival may be worth consideration.The Edinburgh International Festival takes place in the city of EdinburghScotland every year and lasts over three weeks from around the middle of August.  It is a festival of performing arts.  They invite top artists in classical music, theater, opera or dance from around the world to showcase their talents. 
This year’s theme, “To the Far West,” features cultural performances by artists from Asia, such as China, India, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.  Its goal is to show the diverse cultures of the Orient.For more information, visit



Read Full Post »

The Traveling Vietnam Memorial includes 58.129 names of fallen and missing servicemen and women. The frames on the ground contain names added to the Wall in Washington, DC.

One day soon I will visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.  I had a preview of this trip last week, when DeVry University in Fremont hosted “Bringing Home the Wall” August 10-13.  The traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is smaller than the one in Washington and shows more than 58,000 names of servicemen and women who died or are missing in action from the Vietnam War. This replica evokes emotions that I imagine will only be more pronounced when one is seeing and touching the actual memorial.

An image of "The Three Soldiers" is incorporated in the replica Wall.

The Wall is one of three elements that make up the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  The first part of the memorial to be erected, the Wall was dedicated November 13, 1982 and today bears 58,226 names.  Maya Ying Lin, a 21-year-old senior Yale student from Athens, Ohio, designed the Wall.  Following a debate on whether the Wall appropriately honored Vietnam War veterans, a sculpture designed by Frederick Hart was dedicated on Veterans Day 1984 and placed near the Wall.  The statue, a grouping of three men carrying infantry weapons, has been called both The Three Soldiers and The Three Servicemen. The men are wearing Vietnam War era uniforms and could be from any branch of the U.S. military at that time. Interpretations of the work vary with some saying the troops have the “thousand yard stare” of combat soldiers. Others say the troops are on patrol and begin looking for their own names as they come upon the Memorial.

The Vietnam Women's Memorial is part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The Vietnam Women’s Memorial rounds out the memorial. Designed by Glenna Goodacre, the statue of three women, one of whom is tending to a wounded serviceman, honors all women who served in Vietnam. The Women’s Memorial was dedicated on Veterans Day 1993.  Of her sculpture, Goodacre has said:  “The photos from Vietnam often included stacks of sandbags. It seemed natural for a nurse – in a moment of crisis – to be supported by sandbags as she serves as the life support for a wounded soldier lying across her lap. The standing woman looks up, in search of a med-i-vac helicopter or, perhaps, in search of help from God.  The kneeling figure has been called ‘the heart and soul’ of the piece because so many vets see themselves in her. She stares at any empty helmet, her posture reflecting her despair, frustrations, and all the horrors of war. ”

The traveling Vietnam Memorial that was in Fremont incorporated an image of The Three Soldiers in the Wall, but I did not see the Vietnam Women’s Memorial represented.

For the missing in action, a prepared dinner table awaits at the Fremont installation.

A tribute to California's Fallen Heroes in the Afghanistan-Iraq war accompanies the traveling Vietnam Memorial in Fremont.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commemorative Plaque, also known as the In Memory Plaque, was dedicated in November 2004.  The simple plaque of granite stone in the northeast corner of the Three Servicemen Statue Plaza is intended to honor Vietnam veterans who died after service in Vietnam, but as a direct result of that service, and whose names are not eligible for placement on the Memorial because of Department of Defense policies. The inscription reads: “In memory of the men and women who served in the Vietnam War and later died as a result of their service. We honor and remember their sacrifice.”

One day soon I will be in Washington, D.C., to pay my respects at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  Then I can cross that one off my “bucket list”.  In the meantime, I can read up on the Vietnam War.

(Text adapted from http://www.vvmf.org, http://bit.ly/qyo9r9.)

Read Full Post »

Lists are fun to read and to check. Here’s a good one for sci-fi and fantasy lovers: “Your picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books,” courtesy of National Public Radio. I was pleased to see that one of my all time favorites was number #1. No surprise — it was the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Although I’ve been reading sci-fi since high school, I have also discovered new titles to explore.  For many titles, excerpts are included.

Does the Fremont Main Library have copies of these gems? I checked the first 10 titles and we have copies  in the system.

Happy reading!

Read Full Post »

science and inventions

When I worked part-time,  I tried to time my car trips so I could listen to Science Friday. I don’t get to listen to it as often anymore – in fact, I have to go to the website to listen to what I  have  missed. So much is going on in the world, we haven’t found everything yet. Or invented everything. watch what the teens did .

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »