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  • 03/11/15--10:25: Ask the Author: Frank Bruni
  • Born Round Cover

    Frank Bruni comes to Books at Noon next Wednesday, March 18 to discuss his latest work, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania. We asked him six questions about what he likes to read.

    When and where do you like to read?

    Almost anytime, almost anyplace, provided that there is time, and provided that there's a measure of quiet. It's easier for me to say where I don't like to read. The beach, for one. Books and iPads don't benefit much from sand, the lighting isn't controllable and there are too many distractions. And the subway can be a bit too crowded and chaotic, plus I like it for music listening and people watching. But planes and trains: I love the excuse they give one to disappear into a book or magazine. And of course bed at night: there's nothing better than being under the covers, savoring the embers of the day and devouring great prose.

    What were your favorite books as a child?

    I remember loving two books in particular, The Island of the Blue Dolphins and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

    What books had the greatest impact on you? 

    Different books had huge impacts at different times. In college, I remember two books that I read outside of class and that probably wouldn't have risen to the level of being taught in any of the classes I took as an English major. One was Andrew Holleran's Dancer from the Dance. The other, not a book but a series, was Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. For a young gay man in the mid-1980s, they were crucial confirmations that there was a world out there in which many people felt as I did, in which there would be company and courtship, and in which there could and would be plenty of joy. And what literature does at its very best is to make life less lonely, to forge and point the way toward connections.

    Would you like to name a few writers out there you think deserve greater readership?

    I'd love to single out one: Joe Keenan, a comic writer and satirist who has written a serial trio of novels, the most recent of which was My Lucky Star. He's hilarious. These books are pure pleasure, written by someone with a wicked command of the language.

    What was the last book you recommended?

    It isn't a new book, but I'm a movie lover with many movie-loving friends, and I've been telling many of them to read something I found my way to only six years after it was published, Pictures at a Revolution, by Mark Harris. It's a terrific look at the change in American moviemaking in the 1960s and it tells behind-the-scenes stories of the makings of Bonnie and Clyde and The Graduate, among other movies.

    What do you plan to read next?

    I just downloaded a collection of short stories (We Live in Water) by Jess Walter that he published after Beautiful Ruins, which I loved, as I did his previous novel, The Financial Lives of the Poets.

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    It is March and we are again celebrating Women’s History Month. One of our bravest and most beautiful writers (who is also a woman) once wrote: “You may write me down in history / With your bitter, twisted lies, / You may trod me in the very dirt / But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” Here are the titles of biographies of brave warriors (who are also women.)

    I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
    A Pakistani student advocates for women's rights and education in a Taliban-controlled region. She survives an assassination attempt and becomes the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

    The Lady and the Peacock: The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi by Peter Popham
    The story of Nobel Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, a leader for democracy and practitioner of non-violent protest in Burma.

    The Favored Daughter: One Woman's Fight to Lead Afghanistan Into the Future by Fawzia Koofi
    Surviving abuse in her family, Russian and Taliban regimes, the murders of her father, brother, and husband, and numerous attempts on her life, Koofi rises to become the first Afghani woman Parliament speaker.

    Between Two Worlds: Escape From Tyranny: Growing up in the Shadow of Saddam by Zainab Salbi
    The daughter of Saddam Hussein's personal pilot describes her experiences growing up as a palace insider, her escape from Iraq through an abusive arranged marriage, and her efforts at the head of a non-profit organization to benefit oppressed women and female war victims.

    Uprising: A New Age Is Dawning for Every Mother's Daughter by Sally Armstrong
    The stories of women around the world fighting for control over their own bodies --from conflict zones to rural villages to college campuses.

    Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed A Nation at War: A Memoir by Leymah Gbowee
    Gbowee organized and led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia's ruthless president and rebel warlords.

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    Frank Sinatra, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Image ID: ps_the_cd13_186

    This post is not about your favorite Sinatra's song, but if you needed to know how Emmy-winning writer, director, producer, and MLB announcer Kevin Levine ranks them, see here. Let me just mention that he most cherishes “One For My Baby” which he described as the greatest torch song EVER, sung with such underplayed emotion it rips your heart out every time. Not surprisingly there are other Sinatra lists like for example his best albums, where his 1955 LP "In The Wee Small Hours" sits in first place. And of course Sinatra appears on lists of all time best songs/albums like for example Rolling Stones’ Best Christmas albums list where his  "A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra" (1957) occupies no 13.

    All of that success brought in good pay, but the beginnings of someone who eventually became a visionary when it comes to the business side of the music were tough. Michael Frontani (The Journal of American Culture, June 2005) stated that Sinatra sang in the Rustic Cabin, a roadhouse in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., where he also waited tables and ‘‘practically swept the floor,’’ for $15 a week, but in 1939 he caught a break. Bandleader Harry James hired him as a featured vocalist. It was apparently a one-year contract for $75 a week. Six months later Tommy Dorsey bought Sinatra away from Harry at the price of $110 a week. Sinatra was sought after but was not making much as his contract with Dorsey allegedly was very bad. John William Tuohy claims that Dorsey took an incredible 33% of all of Sinatra's earnings. Dorsey's manager, Lenny Vannerson, took an additional 10%, and Sinatra's own agent took another 10%. Union memberships took another 30% so that 83% of money was going elsewhere. It was apparently so bad for Sinatra financially that he was forced to borrow money to buy a suit to make his stage appearances.

    When Sinatra’s popularity grew he first turned to artist unions for help to get out of this contract. It did not work. Sinatra later turned to Jules Stein who had founded MCA, the world's biggest theatrical agency. The official story has it that Stein was able to secure Sinatra's release for $60,000 in cash. However, according to John William Tuohy there is a different version of these events, now part of popular lore, which has New Jersey's Mafia boss, Guarino Moretti, better known as Willie Moretti“involved” in the buyout. Needless to say it includes Moretti placing a gun in Dorsey's mouth to get the deal done, an event that no one ever was able to confirm, although Dorsey apparently told American Mercury Magazine in 1951 (after Moretti was killed) that he had signed the contract releasing Sinatra because he was paid and told "Sign it or else!"  

    No matter how it happened in December of 1943 Newsweek wrote:

    "(...) the Music Corp. of America bought out Tommy Dorsey and Dorsey’s manager, Leonard Vannerson, two of the biggest mortgage-holders, for $60,000, so Frankie at last got to eat some of what certainly isn’t hay. His new radio show started in January over CBS, will bring him between $5,000 and $6,000 a week. Movies for the coming year should come to around $250,000 and record royalties to about $150,000. Best of all, though, is the current personal-appearance tour he now is making in Eastern key cities. For seven shows a day he is getting a $15,000 guarantee against 50 per cent of the gross—the biggest contract of its kind in the history of the business. In one week in Boston alone he made $30,000."

    Only a year later New Republic noted again that Sinatra’s income was more than $20,000 a week and that in some busy weeks he earned as much as $30,000 which was about $4,300 per day! The sky was (not) the limit.  It was more like "Fly me to the moon. Let me play among the stars." By the way, did you know that Sinatra has an asteroid named after him? The rock, called 7934 Sinatra, was discovered on September 26, 1989 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory.

    Frank Sinatra surrounded by audience (American Theatre Wing). Image ID: 1711809

    What does it mean in today’s money to make $4,300 a day back in 1944? It is a complicated question but there is an excellent online tool that helps with answer(s). It's called When calculated as income or wealth $4,300 from 1944 could be as little as $56,900 or as much as $321,000 in 2013. Shocking?   

    So what has Sinatra done with all the money? Well, what hasn’t he done?

    He bought a $250,000 home in Holmsby Hills and a place in Palm Springs, for $162,000. He threw legendary champagne parties. He allegedly once said: “Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.” 

    He also gave away gold Dunhill lighters ($250 apiece). At some point he sent $100,000 to a Los Angeles college with the strict instructions that the gift not be made public (Ben Cosgrove, TIME, 12/9/2014). In the 1980 presidential election, Sinatra supported Ronald Reagan and donated $4 million to Reagan's campaign.

    The only thing left to do was to issue his own money, which he did not.

    In addition to be generous he also wished everybody well: “May you live to be a hundred and may the last voice you hear be mine.”

    Frank Sinatra did not live to be a hundred years old. He died May 14, 1998 at the age of 82 but most certainly he nonomnis mortuus est. His multifaceted achievements still pay financial dividends. Are they comparable to those of other dead celebrities? Well, Sinatra is not on Forbes list of the Top Earning Dead Celebrities. He actually might not have liked to be in the company of Elvis Presley (second on the list just behind Michael Jackson). Sinatra allegedly once said: “Rock 'n Roll: The most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear.”

    On November 28, 2007 Warner Music Group Corp (NYSE:WMG) and the family of Frank Sinatra announced that they have established a worldwide partnership to integrate content, rights management and the preservation of the legendary entertainer's inspirational personality and prodigious body of work under a single entity. The partnership operates under the name Frank Sinatra Enterprises (FSE) and manages all aspects of Sinatra's artistic contribution to music, film and stage. FSE also administers all licenses for the use of Sinatra's name and likeness and is one of several institutions behind a new exhibition at The New York Public Library for the Performing ArtsSinatra: An American Icon which showcases 100 years of the Sinatra legacy.



         "To be is to do" —Socrates
         "To do is to be" —Jean-Paul Sartre
         "Do be do be do" —Frank Sinatra




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    King Teleservices will present a recruitment for Customer Service Rep. (50 openings, Temp-to-Perm) on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, 10 am - 2pm at the New York State Department of Labor, 9 Bond Street, 4th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    Domino's will present a recruitment for Delivery Driver (100 openings  P/T) and Delivery (Bicycle) (100 openings P/T) on Friday, March 20, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm at the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. , 851 Grand Concourse, 1st Floor Rotunda (near elevator), Bronx, NY 10451.

    Shleppers Moving & Storage will present a recruitment for Driver (10 openings), Mover (Helper) (10 openings), Dispatcher (4 openings) on Friday, March 20, 2015, 10 am - 2 pm, at the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., 851 Grand Concourse, 1st Floor Rotunda (near elevator) Bronx, NY 10451.

    Sid Wainer & Son will present a recruitment for Delivery Driver (4 openings) on Friday, March 20,  2015, 10 am - 2 pm, at the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., 851 Grand Concourse, 1st Floor Rotunda (near elevator), Bronx, NY 10451.

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job, Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT).  Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center.  For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development, 790 Broadway, 2nd Fl., Brooklyn, NY 11206, 718-302-2057 ext. 202. 

    affiche le pour

    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement.  Currently BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.  BWI is at 621 Degraw Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. 718-237-5366. 

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks,  Basic Accounting, and Excel.   This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Class runs for 8 weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer.  CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Training runs Mondays through Fridays for 6 weeks, and includes test prep then taking the HHA certification exam.  Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition.   For more information for the above two training programs, please Email:, call 212-571-1690 or visit 70 Mulberry Street, 3rd Floor, NY, NY 10013. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings for free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.  Please call CMP for information.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future.  For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different background.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this blog post will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of March 15 are available.

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    Subscribe on iTunes.

    Is failure what keeps us going? This is the question Sarah Lewis's The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search of Mastery centers around. The author, curator, and historian offers a tantalizing view of near-greatness in her book, which tells the stories of how some of the greatest talents in history grappled with the pursuit of perfection. This week, we're thrilled so share her conversation with Anna Deavere Smith at LIVE from the NYPL. The two discuss failed dreams, loss, and inspiration.

    Sarah Lewis and Anna Deavere Smith LIVE

    A New Yorker, Lewis spoke about the New York Public Library as an ecosystem for dreams:

    "I grew up about ten blocks away from the New York Public Library’s main stage here, and I would come really to dream. Not always to check out books, I would come to the Rose Reading Room to dream, and what I never would have expected is that I was dreaming about a book that would seem to be to do with the very opposite of what often dreams are about—adversity, failure, and the gift of those things. As I worked in the arts, I really wanted to write about what I saw happening in artists’ studios that wasn’t public oftentimes. These back-turned paintings that artists weren’t going to burn or kind of throw out, but were important for what they did want to show me. So the book is really looking at—as an atlas of the stories of the lives of so many different entrepreneurs and inventors and artists and athletes, to understand what it is that led to their rise."

    This atlas of stories includes some about the role of surrender in the grieving process. Lewis recalled the way that she has personally dealt with loss:

    "Over the course of a year and a half, I lost friends in quick succession. This was when I was in my young twenties after college and due to 9/11, but others were accidents and I hadn’t fully let myself process it... And I wrote about surrender in this chapter as it relates to grief and this need to finally let go of what’s sort of holding you and in that moment for me at least that release that came when I saw that I was still here, you know, and that I wanted to live my life in a way that really showed that consciousness and appreciation that I was still here and I in that moment felt that I would need to be free enough to do things and possibly fail in order to become my fullest self, you know. "

    In some ways, the self, as Lewis imagines it, is developed and tested through a quest. She spoke about this striving as the engine behind creative work:

    "The quest is about that internal landscape, you know, that gap. What’s making someone like William Faulkner publish The Sound and the Fury and still not be happy with it so he rewrites it five times and then republished an appendix, even though it’s acclaimed and it’s a success. I think I see Will Smith in that vein because I think his pursuit is about a kind of a mastery, not a kind of success, not being happy just with box-office acclaim, but by trying to actually push himself to be another kind of a character again and again."

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!

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    Canoe racing Niger Delta 1969
    Canoe racing, Niger Delta, Nigeria, 1969
    Richard Saunders Collection
    Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

    In today's Exhibition Feature of the Week, Mary Yearwood , our in-house Curator of the Photographs and Prints Division, discusses the brilliance of renowned shutterbug Richard Saunders, and how he inspired her contribution to our newest exhibition, Curators' Choice: Black Life Matters:

    “What matters to me are people and their feelings; above all it is the unconquerable dignity of man, of whatever color, creed or persuasion that must come through in my photographs.” —Richard Saunders

    "This exhibition presents a mere introduction to photographer Richard Saundersʼs body of work. Although he photographed Africa for 20 years and Africana subjects for almost 50 years, his assignments and subjects were racially and ethnically diverse. This show focuses on his coverage of Africa and the African-American community, and offers a glimpse of some of the economic conditions, personalities, and social, political, and cultural happenings in portions of urban communities in Chicago, New York City, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. from the 1940s to 1960s. We also see a sample of Saundersʼs more than 20-year coverage of new and developing African nations. Saunders portrayed his subjects with dignity and hope, regardless of their circumstances. His longtime editor at Topic magazine, Andrew Bardagjy, once stated, “If there is a Saunders style, it is to emphasize people, especially children. He often goes out of his way to include them in his photographs. His sensitivity to people is clearly evident in his photographs.”

    The majority of the images on view here are being shown in the United States for the first time, while other images have never before been published. Our Richard Saunders Collection primarily consists of the United States Information Agencyʼs Topic magazine files—which were released to the Schomburg Center in 1991 by an act of the United States Congress—as well as Saundersʼs earlier work, with the exception of Our World magazine, Standard Oil, and Pittsburgh files. The total collection numbers several hundred thousand items and is the largest collection of Saundersʼs work extant. On the heels of the 175th anniversary of the announcement of the invention of photography and in conjunction with the Schomburg Collectionʼs 90th birthday, we salute photojournalist Richard Saunders."

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     The Season That Changed Baseball -- and America -- Forever

    On the whole, 1968 was not a year of compassion. It was a year that saw both Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. gunned down by assassins. Riots broke out in many of the country's major cities, the Zodiac Killer was at large, and the Vietnam War wasn't doing anybody any favors. Unfortunately, the year 1968 will forever go down in world history as a year full of unrest and turmoil.

    On a lighter note, the year 1968 is also known amongst baseball circles as "The Year of the Pitcher." See, after Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle treated America to a summer of excitement in 1961 with their chase for Babe Ruth's single season home run record (which Maris would eventually claim with 61 long balls), Major League Baseball decided something had to be done to tame this kind of offensive productivity. Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ended up widening the strike zone, and though this did have the effect on the sport that he aimed for, all in all the ramifications of the move were harmful to the sport. Offense went way down for a number of years, and attendance ended up shrinking thanks to that as well.

    This all came to a head in 1968, where the numbers pitchers posted were so off-the-charts ridiculous, the League had to do away with the changes it made to the strike zone the following season. In addition to shrinking the strike zone, the pitchers mound was also lowered from 15 inches down to 10 inches. Baseball has thus never again seen such a statistical disparity between pitching and hitting since that year. It was a year like no other, for reasons both good and bad. But let's stick with the good, and highlight some of the incredible feats that were accomplished in baseball during the 1968 campaign.

    1. Bob Gibson's 1968 Season - If we had to designate a poster child for the Year of the Pitcher, it would be have to be the Cardinals pitcher nicknamed "Hoot," Bob Gibson. He was at his best all season long, and in a career full of accolades and achievements, Gibson's 1968 season may be his magnum opus. The numbers simply speak for themselves. Gibson finished second in the National League wins with 22 (Juan Marichal led the Senior Circuit with 26), but led the league in shutouts, WHIP, hits per nine innings, and strikeouts. However none of those numbers have become as heralded as the 1.12 ERA Gibson posted that season, which set the live-ball era record, and is the fourth lowest of all-time. He also had a 47 and two-thirds scoreless inning streak that season. Gibson's utter dominance during the regular season netted him not only the National League Cy Young, but the NL MVP Award as well. Gibson's powerful pitching continued on in the World Series, where his St. Louis squad took on the Detroit Tigers. In Game 1, Gibson tossed a complete game shutout, with 17 strikeouts, another record that still stands today. Game 4 was another complete game victory for Gibson, and everyone figured the Cardinals had the Series in the bag when Hoot toed the rubber for the deciding Game 7. However, despite tossing his third complete game of that World Series, a famous misplay by centerfielder Curt Flood helped bring about the Cardinals' downfall in that game, and the Tigers wound up winning it all. Regardless, Gibson put on an absolute clinic all year long whenever he took the 15 inch-high mound,  and his 1968 season is one we'll probably never see replicated ever again. 

    2. Denny McLain's 1968 Season - While Denny McLain's (then of the Detroit Tigers) 1968 season wasn't quite on par with the sheer dominance Bob Gibson had, his year is not to be forgotten either. McLain's 1968 is best remembered for his Major league-leading 31 victories. He was the first pitcher since Dizzy Dean in 1934 to eclipse the 30-win marker, and is the last pitcher to achieve the feat. In addition to his 31 wins, McLain also led of all of baseball in innings pitched (336) and starts (41). McLain was always prone to the long ball all throughout his career, and ended up leading baseball in home runs allowed too, serving up 31. Nonetheless, McLain's regular season was still something to behold (he was 16-2 at the All Star break!) and he ended up taking home both the American League Cy Young and MVP awards, just like his National League counterpart Gibson did. This marked the only season ever where a pitcher won the MVP award in both leagues. McLain's World Series performance however left a lot to be desired, and it was up to a teammate of his to bail the Tigers out.

    3. Mickey Lolich's World Series - Detroit Tiger Mickey Lolich had a nice season in 1968. He went 17-9 and with a respectable 3.19 ERA. However, pitching  in the same rotation as Denny McLain, it's easy to get overshadowed. McLain would anchor the 1968 Tigers staff, winning Cy Young and MVP hardware along the way, while Lolich would be a complementary piece of the Detroit rotation. This goes without mentioning how contrasting the personalities of the two men were. McLain was the type of guy who would command the limelight and the attention no matter where he went. Lolich on the other hand was easily lost in the crowd with his quiet demeanor. However, Lolich made sure his name was not to be forgotten once the '68 World Series ended, a Fall Classic which etched his name into the history books. Down 1 game to none, Lolich tossed a complete game victory in Game 2. Down 3 games to 1, Lolich tossed another complete game victory. Then arrived Game 7. On 2 days rest, Detroit manager Mayo Smith handed the ball to Lolich for the Series finale, and he did not disappoint. Lolich matched zeroes with Cards starter Bob Gibson through 6 frames before the Tigers finally were able to break through in the 7th, taking a lead they would never relinquish en route to the title. Lolich became the 12th pitcher to win 3 games in a single World Series, (Randy Johnson made 13 in 2001), and his heroics ended up earning him the World Series MVP award. 

    4. Catfish Hunter's Perfect Game - Prior to May 8, 1968, you had to go back to Game 5 of the 1956 World Series to find the last perfect game pitched in the American League, that one authored by Don Larsen. As for the regular season, you'd have to go back even further to 1922 when Charlie Roberston of the White Sox sat down 27 consecutive batters one afternoon against the Tigers. The National League had a pair of perfectos in that span by Jim Bunning and Sandy Koufax, but the AL went without. That all changed one Wednesday evening in 1968. Jim "Catfish" Hunter of the Oakland Athletics opposed Dave Boswell of the Minnesota Twins, and the end result was all Hunter. Catfish had himself quite the day not only on the mound but with the bat as well, driving in 3 of the 4 Athletic runs en route to his 4-0 perfect game. With this perfecto, the 9th in baseball history, Hunter also became—and remains—the youngest pitcher to toss a modern-era perfect game at 22 years and 30 days old.

    5. Don Drysdale's Scoreless Innings Streak - Though this has since been broken by another (Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers during the 1988 campaign), that should not take away from what Don Drysdale accomplished during the Year of the Pitcher. He threw up 58 and 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing a run, a stretch that included six straight shutouts, a record that does still stand today. The streak lasted from May 14 to June 8 of '68. There were some quirky side stories that came about as the streak was alive. One, the man who snapped the streak with a sacrifice fly, a Philadelphia Phillie outfielder named Howie Bedell, had only 3 runs batted in his career. Now you all know which ribby is the one that everyone ought to know. Another interesting moment happened during the fifth start of the scoreless innings streak. Drysdale was facing the San Francisco Giants, and in a bases loaded situation, Giants catcher Dick Dietz strode to the plate. Dietz ends up getting hit by a pitch, which should have forced in a run breaking the streak right? Wrong! Umpire Harry Wendelstadt made the gutsiest of calls, and declared Dietz made no effort to get out of the way of Drysdale's pitch, and thus the at-bat would continue. Drysdale wound up escaping the jam with the streak still alive. Drysdale may have done all of the heavy lifting, but Wendelstadt at least deserves an assist during the remarkable scoreless sequence.

    To read more about the Year of the Pitcher and its great hurlers, like "Sudden" Sam McDowell, Luis Tiant, and Dave McNally, check out Tim Wendel's book!

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    Pi. Image ID: 818828

    What is Pi? It is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter and a number that has fascinated many for thousands of years  because the ratio stays the same whether you are measuring very tiny circles or very large.

    Pi is 3.141592653… ad infinitum, which is why it boggles the mind and continues to intrigue. Pi’s decimals go on forever and they never repeat!

    This year the date corresponds to the first five digits of Pi, 3.14.15—a very special Pi Day! Join in the Pi Day fun. Check out some great books on both kinds of Pi/e.

    [Mince pie: cards shaped like pie slices with excerpts from Shakespeare; depicting fruit, meat, flowers, cooking utensils, pie, cows and landscapes.] Image ID: 486349

    For kids, I love Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi and Sir Cumference and the First Round Table both by Cindy Neuschwander.  Pi in the Sky and Bed Time Math are fun too. 

    For adults, Pi: A Biography of the World’s Most Mysterious Number is sure to fascinate if you're really interested in Math. If  that's a bit too intense try the wonderfully clever Pi vs Pie Quiz by Brandon Echter on

    Using our electronic database, JSTOR,  I found a great article in the magazineTeaching Children Mathematics called "Special Pi Day Ahead." It includes an excellent history of both Pi and Pi Day. 

    After reading up on Pi Day head out to celebrate Pi Day of the Century at the Museum of Mathematics here in NYC. Can you guess why they are opening at 9:26 am instead of the usual time?

    All that intellectual stimulation making you hungry? Try Pies: Sweet and SavoryPie Love or American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza.

    After a busy day of Pi celebrations you can tuck the kids into bed with the very sweet, (no pun intended!) How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the USA or How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, both by Marjorie Priceman. 

    Happy Pie Day!

    "Like mother use to make" - Women preparing pies. Image ID: 1711805


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    There are many readers who love to read biographies. Luckily for them, there are a lot of choices. Literally hundreds of biographies are published every month. But for the reader who is interested in the history of specific books—“book biographies” if you will—the pickings are very slim. Luckily, there has been a mini-boomlet in book biographies recently. Perhaps this is a harbinger of a new trend in publishing. If that is the case, let us hope the future crop will be as good as these recent examples:

    NPR’s Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan has written a fascinating book about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, Corrigan examines the history of the book from its creation, to near-obscurity, to its eventual climb to the top of the literary canon. She claims to have read the novel about 50 times and it shows in the close reading of the text.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh is considered to be the first great work of world literature, so one would think that that there would be a book written about its history, and as it so happens, there is! David Damrosch's The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgameshtraces the book's composition, modification, the loss of the text and its ultimate rediscovery in 1872. He divides his work into the history of it discovery and an analysis of the importance of the epic story in the development of world literature.

    Although Kevin Birmingham does touch on the creation of James Joyce's Ulysses in The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses, the focus of his text is an examination of its publishing history, particularly the legal battle that was waged when attempts were made to ban (and even burn extant copies of) the book. That may lead you to think that the book will be a dry read, but it is actually a smart, superbly written cultural history wrapped on the guise of a legal thriller.

    Another example of a banned book is Boris Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, although in this instance it was banned in the Soviet Union. Peter Finn and Petra Couvee's The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle over a Forbidden Bookis a Cold War political thriller that recounts the CIA's efforts to help print and disseminate copies of the book to Russian citizens after it was smuggled out of the USSR to Italy and became a best seller in Europe.

    In Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller's Odyssey From Atlanta to Hollywood, Ellen Firsching Brown takes on perhaps the most famous popular book ever written. Besides writing about Mitchell's creation process and the history of its publication, Brown also examines the book's adaptation into a Oscar-winning film, as well as the Mitchell estate's battle to protect its copyright (which is set to expire in 2031).

    Alberto Manguel is probably the closest thing we have to a "reading historian." He's written a number of books about reading, libraries and the culture of books, but only one book about one book. Actually, that isn't quite accurate, because the book in question, Homer's the Iliad and the Odyssey: A Biography, is about two books. In this historical survey of Homer's epic poems, Manguel examines the history of the texts, the various translations of the works, as well as the impact they have had throughout history. The fact that he was able to do all of that—successfully—in a book of fewer than 300 pages demonstrates how good of a writer he is.

    And finally, although it is not strictly a "book biography," Nathaniel Philbrick's Why Read Moby-Dick?is one Melville groupie's love song to the brilliance and importance of—in his words—"the genetic code of America." In this concise, yet incisive book, Philbrick tells us why Moby-Dick was important in the past and why it remains so today.

    Of course, in order to obtain maximal pleasure from reading any of these books, you should read (or re-read) the books they are about. Yes, that’s a lot of reading, but honestly, what else were you going to do? Watch TV?

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    March 19, 2015 will be a special day for Bronx Library Center teens! Jason Reynolds, Brooklyn-based author will honor us with a visit to talk about his latest bookThe Boy In The Black Suit, and his work as a writer and poet.

    Jason is the recent winner of the John Steptoe award for When I Was The Greatest.

    Books written by Jason Reynolds:

     When I Was the Greatest
    The Boy in the Black Suit
    My Name Is Jason. Mine Too

    Winner of the John Steptoe New Talent Award

    Get to know Jason:

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    Eulinda is a 13-year-old girl searching for freedom during the Civil War. That didn't happen for her younger brother Zeke, who was recently sold to another master.

    Eulinda is also perpetually in search of her older brother, Neddy, who joined the Northern war effort. Some African Americans are fighting with guns while others get flogged as slaves. It's a double-edged world.

    Eulinda has many adventures aboard her horse, Tippo. She is atypical for an African American girl of her time in her situation: she can read. Eulinda is ecstatic to join Clara Barton in her work to create hospitals for wounded soldiers. She wants to do what she can to help.

    Skeletons and daily death tolls numbering in the hundreds haunt soldiers of the Civil War.

    Numbering All the Bones by Ann Rinaldi, 2002

    I love the earth-tones of the cover; the girl's head divides the corn fields and plantations of the South from the gravestones in the cemetery and the deaths caused by the war. The dialects in the book also gives the reader a feel of what the slang of the time was like.

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    Elizabeth Catlett's "New Generation" Elizabeth Catlett, 1991 PR. 09.004
    "New Generation;" Elizabeth Catlett, 1991 PR. 09.004
    Art © Catlett Mora Family Trust/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

    Today's Exhibition Feature of the Week comes from Tammi Lawson, our in-house Curator of the Art and Artifacts Division. Below she shares what inspired her to include the impactful artwork you see in our latest exhibition, Curators' Choice: Black Life Matters

    "In keeping with Arturo Schomburg’s tradition of collecting, identifying and acquiring material about black people throughout the Diaspora, I scoured through  our vast holdings of fine art and material culture items looking for works that represent diverse cultures that will enlighten black people so that they will have a positive sense of themselves and connection to a confirmed, accomplished and diverse history. I chose works from different time periods, formats, and media. One new acquisition of note on exhibit for the first time ever is Jacob Lawrenceʼs untitled tempera on board executed in 1941, the same year of his famed Migration Series that is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C.

    This selection also includes lithographs by widely respected artist Elizabeth Catlett and paintings by younger and lesser-known artists, including Jules Arthur. The works range from the 19th century to Adinkra symbols from West Africa, little-known collections of African brass bells, and everything in between, including a bevy of woodcuts, lithographs, and etchings from the Bob Blackburn Printmaking Workshop collection. I also chose sculpture in different mediums: Pride, Otto Nealsʼs marble sculpture of a strong black woman; Sana Musasamaʼs ceramic Soweto; and Tree of Life, a Makonde wood carving tradition from Tanzania made out of African blackwood (mpingo), which shows people climbing up and supporting one another.
    Finally, I considered the recent murders of young black men in this country and what their mothers go through and the universality of pain and suffering that families deal with, whether they are in Soweto, South Africa, or in the United States."

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     the hidden killer
    Superman and Wonder Woman: The Hidden Killer
    Government Comics Collection, UNL

    This week, let's take a look at the cultural impact and uses of Wonder Woman through these resources for further reading.

    Comics @ CUNY panel recommended these works:

    Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge
    This comic biography illustrates Sanger's life and times.

    NYU Margaret Sangers papers project

    Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection by Debora L. Spar
    Although this book is not about the character of Wonder Woman at all, it shows how pervasive the idea  of a Wonder Woman is in our society, and how some may perceive what being a "Wonder Woman" means in today's world.

    On occasion, Wonder Woman has moonlighted as a nurse. This Smithsonian slideshow shows the evolution of the nurse stereotype.

    Letter to Army Nurses from Alice Marble
    Alice Marble was a tennis pro who was asked to add a "Wonder Women of History" feature to celebrate the lives of heroic women and explain the importance of women's history. "As you have probably found in your own experience," Marble wrote, "even in this emancipated world, women still have many problems and have not yet reached their fullest growth and development. 'WONDER WOMAN' marks the first time that daring, strength and ingenuity have been featured as womanly qualities. This cannot help but have its lasting effect upon the minds of those who are now boys and girls." (p.222)

    Smithsonian's surprising origin story of Wonder Woman

    Gal Gadot, former athletic trainer, model and actress has been slated to portray Wonder Woman in three upcoming films: Batman vs. Superman, Justice League and a stand-alone Wonder Woman film. The announcement met with mixed reviews, many which centered around the released photo of the new, darker uniform in the Zach Snyder directed Batman vs. Superman.  Lynda Carter expressed that she hopes the film version of Wonder Woman "has heart." Michelle MacLaren is the director tapped to film Wonder Woman.

    Cultural impact of Wonder Woman

    Wonder Woman in literature

    Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines documentary

    Wonder Woman Unbound: The Curious History of the World's Most Famous Heroine by Tim Hanley

    Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics by Mike Madrid
    "Wonder Woman, Mary Marvel, and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle ruled the pages of comic books in the 1940s, but many other heroines of the WWII era have been forgotten. Through twenty-eight full reproductions of vintage Golden Age comics, Divas, Dames & Daredevils reintroduces their ingenious abilities to mete out justice to Nazis, aliens, and evildoers of all kinds."

    Comics from both Marvel and DC have occasionally lent out their heroes to bring awareness to various issues. In this one, the Amazing Spider-Man fights the villan of misleading sex education for Planned Parenthood, and in this government comic, Superman and Wonder Woman fight together for land mine awareness.

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    There is no way to accurately describe the impact Terry Pratchett and his works have made on the world. It is difficult enough to explain what they meant to me. I read my first Discworld book two years ago (Going Postal). Pretty late in the game considering, the first Discworld book, The Color of Magic, was written in 1983. As of this March, I have read 29 out the 40 books in the series and they have become an integral part of me.

    Sir Terry Pratchett taken by Silverlutra
    Sir Terry Pratchett, photo by Silverlutra

    Trying to explain Discworld to someone is incredibly difficult. You try to start out with the basics. You say, “It’s a fantasy series.” Most of the time, that is enough for whoever you’re talking to start looking disinterested. You notice this and quickly push forward, “It takes place on this flat world that is held up by four elephants that are standing on the back of a giant turtle, flying through space! And the people who inhabit it are living in Victorian-esque era with wizards and trolls and dwarves in it!" By this point, your listener inevitably raises their eyebrows and starts walking away.

    But wait! That’s not really what Discworld is! Yes, it’s a wildly outlandish fantasy world but it is the reality within the fantasy that makes it so approachable and addicting. It is not only the way that Pratchett uses the Discworld universe to discuss real world issues like prejudice (Equal Rites, Monstrous Regiment, Snuff), the influence of new technology (The Truth, Moving Pictures, Raising Steam) or religious belief (Small Gods, Pyramids, The Fifth Elephant) but the honesty and thought he conveys when talking about life itself. Pratchett’s book may take place in a world of magic, but life is still just as difficult and unfair. I know that doesn’t sound like a bunch of laughs but truth is the essential burning core of any good joke and truth is often unpleasant. This is how I know Terry Pratchett is a master humorist. He can take the solemn, the serious, the truth and make me chuckle about it.

    Here are just a few gems:

    "The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it." —from Monstrous Regiment

    "The problem with an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to putt things in it" —from Diggers

    "Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry." —from Thief of Time

    "If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star, you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy." —from The Wee Free Men

    "It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life." —from The Last Continent

    Shelf of Discworld Books
    discworld books - via flickr/starsandspirals

    Pratchett even made Death a funny and relatable character. Death appears as an “anthropomorphic personification” in 38 of the 40 (soon to be 41) Discworld novels, his constant presence reminding us that everything ends. When Terry Pratchett’s passing was announced last Thursday, Death, was there to lead him away “across the black desert” and to bring his life story to an end. But as Pratchett himself, said, "No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away." So, I encourage everyone to make some ripples. Pratchett fans keep splashing around! Curious new readers dip your toes in! I know I will continue doing the same.

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    I taught a "Searching Beyond Google" class on the database Academic Search Premier in February this year, and I am excited about all of the capabilities that it has to offer college students and those who simply want scholarly information on a subject of their choice. 

    Academic Search Premier

    Merits of Academic Search Premier

    Academic Search Premier is terrific resource for college and high school students who need articles about certain subject matter in order to write papers. It offers full-text articles from peer-reviewed journals that students can print, save to a flash drive, or email to themselves as PDF attachments. The database is easy to use, it is updated on a daily basis, and it contains a multitude of articles about many different topics. Oftentimes, when patrons are unable to find information in a print book about a subject, they can find it in this database. It contains information about esoteric and unusual topics that do not have entire books written about them. It is especially useful for current topics that may not have been around long enough to inspire people to write books about. I always point college students to this quite valuable resource, and it is usually exactly what they need.

    Beyond Academic Search Premier

    For more specialized research, other more specific databases will be more helpful. For example, for legal case law, Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw would be a better choice, which are not available at The New York Public Library. Career Cruising, which NYPL subscribes to, is useful for individuals wishing to explore career options. Searching for databases by subject area at will be more helpful for graduate students and beyond.

    Search Techniques

    Searching is an art form, and users of this database will have to learn how to use search terms appropriately. The database is indexed by certain specific words. Using too many search terms can result in a search that is too narrow, while using too few search terms can result in thousands of articles that users may find difficult to sift through. Using terms that the computer does not recognize will not produce many, if any, results. Users need to play around and experiment with using different search terms. Thinking of the most common words to describe what users are looking for is helpful.

    Users can also search for specific articles by using the title of the article or by searching the author field in the Advanced Search mode. People can order results by relevance or date, language, type of publication (such as periodical, newspaper, or book), ticker symbol (financial marker), ISBN (international book standard number), keyword, subject or other features. When users understand how the database utilizes these terms and how they are searched, they are more able to effectively search the database.

    Unexpected Surprises

    You can also see related images on the right hand side of the search results. For example, I did a search on horses, and I came up with images of Cavalia, a Canadian horse show that includes vaulting, dressage, and other terrific equine feats.  

    Enjoy This Database!

    Academic Search Premier is available to be used remotely from our web site, Go to our web site, click on Research, choose Articles & Databases, and scroll down to Academic Search Premier. Since it has a house icon to the left of the title of the database, it can be used from home. You simply need a valid library card with PIN (personal identification number - four numbers) to access the database outside of the library. Enjoy learning!


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    Abyssinian Development Corporation provides resources and services that empower Harlem residents to realize their goals and dreams.

    ADC's Mission

    For over 25 years the Abyssinian Development Corporation (ADC) has accomplished a great deal through its mission to " rebuild Harlem, brick by brick, block by block."  As we continue our commitment to uplifting the Harlem company through comprehensive programs and services, fortifying  the family unit from early childhood to seniors is crucial to completely fulfilling this charge.

    ADC's Goals

    • Increase the availability of quality housing to people of diverse incomes. 
    • Enhance the delivery of social services particularly to the homeless, elderly, families, and children.
    • Foster economic revitalization.
    • Enhance educational and developmental opportunities for youth.
    • Build community capacity through civic engagement.

    ADC's YouthBuild Program

    Abyssinian Development Corporation YouthBuild is a program designed  to serve the needs of Harlem youth ages 17–24.  Through YouthBuild services, young people work toward their GED, learn job skills and serve their communities by building affordable housing  and becoming community leaders.

    The ADC YouthBuild program model intergrates education, leadership development, counseling, and vocational training skills (construction, healthcare, hospitality), along with resources for graduates.  Students are provided with comprehensive  services and  support to develop knowledge skills, and enthusiasm for post secondary success.

    Target Population

    ADC recruits 40 low-income high school drop outs, ages 17–24, for a 10 month YouthBuild program cycle.

    Services Provided

    The YouthBuild Program has five main components:

    1. GED instruction
    2. Construction Training
    3. Leadership Development
    4. Counseling
    5. Graduate Services

     Program Duration 

    The program operates for 38 weeks (10 month period) from September to June.

    Eligibility Criteria

    Participants must be between the ages of 17 and 24, without a high school diploma or GED Certification  AND  one or more of the following:

    • A  member of a low-income family
    • A youth in foster care (including youth aging out of foster care)
    • A youth offender
    • The child of an incarcerated parent
    • A migrant youth

    Enrollment Process

    1. Open House
    2. TABE (Testing Aptitude Basic Education) Testing
    3. Interview
    4. Intake
    5. Orientation

    Hours of Operation

    Monday–Friday, 8 am–4 pm


    669 Lenox Avenue, New York, NY 10037

    Contact Information

    General Information Desk 646-230-0579

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    Planter's Peanut Oil Stutchkoff
    Planter’s High Hat Peanut Oil sponsored Stutchkoff’s radio comedy “In a Yidisher groseri” (In a Jewish Grocery), broadcast on Sunday afternoons in the late 1930s on WEVD radio. Ad from “Teater un radio velt”, no. 3 (November 1935).

    Nahum Stutchkoff (1893-1965) was a beloved Yiddish radio personality, playwright, lyricist and linguist who created dramas and commercials for WEVD radio and compiled a Yiddish rhyming dictionary and thesaurus. Once a household name among New York Yiddish speakers, he even appeared in ads for Beech-Nut Gum, Seagram’s Whiskey, and Planter’s High Hat Peanut Oil.

    Before his radio days, Stutchkoff worked as a translator, actor, playwright and lyricist. He began by translating plays from various European languages into Yiddish, and later wrote his own. More than 20 of his (unpublished) plays were performed in America, including titles like “Oy, Amerike!” (Oy, America!), “Di ganevte” (The Lady Thief) and “Ven Blinde Libn” (When Blind People Love). Many of these playscripts survive in his extensive archives in the Dorot Jewish Division, New York Public Library, and in the Library of Congress.

    In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Stutchkoff’s lyrics were published in sheet music composed by Sholom Secunda, Joseph Rumshinsky, Abe Ellstein, and Phillip Laskowsky. The lyrics appeared in transliteration in the music, with a separate Yiddish text of the original. A far cry from today’s standard Yiddish, the transliterations were, like many of their day, frequently riddled with typos and inconsistencies. These texts provide a fascinating look at Yiddish dialect and pronunciation, the use of English in Yiddish, and creative rhymes.

    One of his biggest hits was “In mayne oygen biztu shehn” (In my eyes you are beautiful), with lyrics co-written by Molly Picon and music by Joseph Rumshinsky. Picon (as “Sadie”) and Leon Gold (as “Michail”) sang this duet in “Ganeyvishe libe”, (“The Love Thief”), Rumshinsky and Jacob Kalich’s “underground operetta” by Benjamin Ressler, performed at Molly Picon’s Folks Theatre, 12th Street and 2nd Avenue in 1931.

    Picon and Ellstein
    Actress/Singer/Lyricist Molly Picon and Composer Abe Ellstein; both wrote songs with Stutchkoff. Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library of the Performing Arts. Image ID: nypl_the_4102

    The New York Times reviewed the show on January 19, 1931, noting that the “sprightly” Picon “would blithely sing with the utmost seriousness the most absurd lyrics.”

    The chorus included phrases like:

    In mayne oygn bistu sheyn, sheyn vi di velt / In my eyes you are as beautiful as the world

    Ikh ze in dir nit keyn khesorn, ales mir gefelt / I see no flaw in you, I like everything

    Meg farrisn zayn bay dir dos neyzele / You may have a dirty nose

    Megstu hobn seykhl vi an eyzele / You may have the sense of a donkey

    In mayne oygn bistu sheyn, sheyn vi di velt / In my eyes you are as beautiful as the world

    The song’s melody was later used for the WEVD radio theme song - you can hear a parody of it in this documentary from the Yiddish Radio Project.

    Another popular song with lyrics by Stutchkoff and music by Abe Ellstein came from Stutchkoff’s 1929 operetta with the same name, “Az der rebe vil” (If the rabbi wants to). Ludwig Satz, a well-known Yiddish actor, recorded this comical title track on “Ludwig Satz at the Yiddish Theatre, Volume 2,” describing a wonder rabbi who performs ridiculous miracles, such as turning a duck into a tomcat.

    Ludwig Satz
    Ludwig Satz. Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library of the Performing Arts. Image  ID: TH-49330

    NYPL has the original play script for “Az der rebe vil” (without music) and Jane Peppler recently published sheet music and recorded the song based on her research with the Itzik Zhelonek collection.

    Jennie Goldstein
    Jennie Goldstein, Yiddish Tragedienne. Billy Rose Theatre Collection, New York Public Library of the Performing Arts. Image ID: TH-16553

    “Brivelekh” (Letters) was another song featuring Stutchkoff’s lyrics, with music by Sholom Secunda, from the play “Shtief Shvester” (Stepsisters) by Louis Freiman, performed at the Rolland Theatre in Brooklyn in 1931. Here, Yiddish tragedienne Jennie Goldstein sang of a heartbroken, abandoned lover who finds comfort in her old love letters. Stutchkoff honed his talent for melodrama with creations like “Bay tate-mames tish” (“Around the family table”), a stage play and long-running radio show sponsored by the B. Manischewitz Matzo Co. NYPL’s Performing Arts Library even has a few surviving recordings of the show.

    Speaking of Manischewitz, who could forget Stutchkoff’s famous Manischewitz Matzo jingle, where the matzah is “always fresh and always crunchy and snaps on your teeth”?  This popular song was composed by Sholom Secunda, Stutchkoff’s predecessor on the Jewish Children’s Hour, and sung by the talented young participants on WLTH radio.  According to Henry Sapoznik of the Yiddish Radio Project, Stutchkoff was famous for his amazingly descriptive commercials for matzo, among other products, and you can find some on their website.

    Jewish Children's Hour
    Nahum Stutchkoff center, with child on lap, with participants in the Jewish Children’s Hour, WEVD radio. The picture is signed by "Feter Nukhem" Uncle Nahum.

    In recent years, Stutchkoff’s work has found a new audience through the award-winning Yiddish Radio Project, and through adaptations presented at The New York Public Library, National Yiddish Theater-Folksbiene and the New Yiddish Rep Theatre.

    In 2014, the Forward Association (former owner of WEVD radio) published a collection of linguistic radio episodes, “Mame-Loshn” (mother tongue) edited by Leyzer Burko, based on NYPL’s Stutchkoff archives. It quickly became a Yiddish bestseller.

    Want to experience Stutchkoff “live”? On Wednesday, March 18, 2015, at 7 pm, the Congress for Jewish Culture will present a program of readings and music at the National Opera Center, 330 7th Avenue (near 29th St.), 7th floor.

    Research Links:

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    With such a premium on science programs in schools, I thought it would be useful (and also a lot of fun) to bring that kind of programming to Chatham Square Library. I also know that there are a lot of caregivers, parents, friends and fellow librarians out there who could use a resource for how to plan and execute science projects with children,  and I'm going to try my best to use what I've learned (and am learning) to provide that. So, here's what I came up with, presented using the 'scientific method' to get us into the spirit of things:​

    The epitome of scientific discovery... silly putty


    Kids will enjoy learning about science concepts and related library materials if a program is fun and engaging, and especially if they get to a) get their hands dirty, b) take something home, c) make something light up, bubble over, or otherwise surprise them. 


    I created a bi-weekly program that's structured around an interactive science experiment. So far I've taken on Silly Putty, Salt Crystals, and Lemon Batteries (more on those later). 

    Usually I start with the lesson portion, as it gets more and more difficult to keep the group attentive and focused once they have something in their hands to 'experiment' with.  This lesson starts off with some useful vocab, and then a breakdown of the scientific concepts that are important to our experiment and how those concepts can relate to their daily lives.  I usually have a rough lesson plan written up, and then I cater the lesson to the group of kids depending on age, interest, etc.

    • For example, when making Silly Putty, I defined Chemical Property, Physical Property, Mixture, and Compound. Then we talked about the different properties of the materials we were working with (glue, water, borax soap) and how we thought they might change. 

    Then we perform the experiment together. I try to let everyone have something that's 'theirs', and have a sample up front they can follow along with. If there's anything too messy or complicated I do some preliminary steps, but it’s important to them that they do the final touches. We talk through each step and what’s happening and how we should NOT eat what we’re making, and so on.

    To finish off the experiment we usually recap what just happened scientifically and how it related to what we learned earlier. Then I let the kids ask questions. To get them more interested (and also to give our non-fiction section a little more love), I usually pull books on the subject we're studying and have them displayed at the front of the room for borrowing.  


    Yet to be determined! I'm still working out the kinks on so many levels, and having a lot of fun doing so. So far I've gotten up to 12 kids per program, and already have pre-k and kindergarten classes asking about how they can participate. 

    This blog will hopefully serve as a platform for anyone who's interested in similar programming and a place to exchange ideas. I'll be here to chronicle what worked for me, and what could be improved. So please, let me know in the comments anything that's worked for you, what you want to see, and stop by Chatham Square to get in on this new project!

    Next up:

    Volcanoes! Another old standby that was actually requested by one of my regular participants in this program. Each child is going to make their own clay volcano and make it 'explode', as it were, with baking soda and vinegar.  But instead of doing a lesson on chemical reactions, which they've already gotten with the silly putty, I'm making this an earth-science focused lesson, maybe even throwing in a little knowledge about tectonic plate movements. It’s set for TODAY at 3:30 and I'll be back to report how it goes. 

    Some resources:

    If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own science experiments, I’ve had the most luck with these websites:

    If you're looking for nonfiction books on Science Experiments, here’s a few great ones to get you started:

    Science Experiments That Surprise and Delight
    365 Simple Science Experiments With Everyday Materials
    Janice VanCleave's Guide to More of the Best Science Fair Projects


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    This Green Jobs Training Program is  a FREE program that prepares workers for careers in Green Cleaning and Waste Management and Building Operations and Maintenance.

    The program helps participants develop job readiness skills, prepares them to apply for green jobs, and connects them with employers and companies that have or want to develop a green focus.

    The Green Jobs Training Program is a program of LaGuardia Community  College offered in collaboration with Queens Botanical Garden.

    Schedule OSHA

    Week 1:  Learn about the key Concepts of Sustainability; hone your resume, interview, and computer skills; and participate in a Customer Service Training and an OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration) 10 - hour Construction training.

    Week 2:  Gain an in-depth understanding of 1 of the 2 specified green sectors with classroom and hands - on training.

    Week 3:  Participate in intensive resume and interview skills workshops, and meet with our workforce development team to clarify interests, skills, and employment goals.

    After the training:  work with our workforce development team to start connecting with potential employers.


    There are 2 training modules offered throughout the year in the following green sectors:

    • Green Cleaning and Waste Management
    • Building Operations and Maintenance

    Skills Workshops 

    Each module includes the following credentials as part of the training:

    • OSHA 10 - hour Construction
    • Customer Service
    • Asbestos and Lead Awareness

    Trainings are 13 days long and take place Monday - Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

    Green Cleaning and Waste Management:

    • Info sessions: March  19,  24, 26 
    • Training:  April 6 - April 22,  2015

    Building Operations and Maintenance:

    • Info sessions: June 23, 25, 30, July 2
    • Training: July 13 - July 29,  2015.

    How to Apply 

    • Step 1:  Register for an information session by filling out our application.
    • Step 2:  Attend a two-hour info session for your module of choice.
    • Step  3:  Return for an interview.
    • Step 4 :  find out if you have been accepted into the training.

     Program requirements 

    • Be unemployed or underemployed; career changers are encouraged to apply.
    • Be able to attend classses regularly and on time.
    • Be 18 years old or older at the time of application.
    • Have a high sechool diploma or GED.
    • Speak English.

    For information, please call 718-663-8407.


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    You can find the Harry Potter book series by acclaimed author J.K. Rowling at the library.

    Harry’s story begins in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Harry is rescued from the home of his relatives, the Dursley family by Hagrid. Harry is then sent to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he learns how to use magic and fulfills his destiny.

    1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
    2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
    6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
    7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

    You can find the Harry Potter film series on DVD at the library.

    The Harry Potter Movie series star Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson.

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

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