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  • April 2011
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Free Stuff Friday: WIN WIN WIN…it’s easy

Friday means Free Stuff at CLPTeensburgh–all you have to do is be the first teen to post a comment on any CLPTeesnburgh blog post. The winner gets their choice of  a $10 gift card from either Target, Barnes & Noble, or Eat n’ Park. Better act now!

Last Typewriter Factory Closes: Ode to an Old Machine With a Lesson on Research

I’m the Digital Learning Librarian for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, so maybe you wouldn’t expect it, but I’ve always been fond of typewriters. I admit, it’s more aesthetic than functional–computers are faster and there’s always the “<–Backspace” key and spellchecker for mistakes–but, as a teenager, I still collected them.

That’s why I was quite sad this week to hear that the last remaining typewriter factory has closed! India’s Godrej and Boyce typewriter factory has been diligently churning out typewriters even though demand has dwindled:

“We are not getting many orders now,” Milind Dukle, Godrej and Boyce’s general manager, told the paper. “From the early 2000s onwards, computers started dominating. All the manufacturers of office typewriters stopped production, except us. ‘Till 2009, we used to produce 10,000 to 12,000 machines a year. But this might be the last chance for typewriter lovers. Now, our primary market is among the defence agencies, courts and government offices.” (“Last Typewriter Factory in the World Shuts Its Doors”)

I saw it coming. So much so that, at first, I didn’t even think to double-check the source. 2011, with iPads taking over, made sense as the year typewriters would finally bite the dust. Good thing I checked to see what old reliable National Public Radio had to say about the story:

Well, we certainly should have known. The Daily Mail focused on the end of typewriter production by India’s Godrej and Boyce. But as this Two-Way post from July 2009 shows, New Jersey’s Swintec has been doing a very good business in typewriters for quite a few years now. Convicts and cops are among their best customers.

And you don’t have to look too far on the Web to find other typewriters, from companies such as Brother International.

Where the Daily Mail may be right, though we haven’t been able to confirm as of yet, is that Godrej and Boyce was producing manual typewriters… (“Has The Last Typewriter Factory Closed? Not Really”)

So, it’s manual typewriters then. Alas! The best ones! I still maintain that, in nature, there exist few sounds more comforting than the CLACK CLACK of a typebar striking a page. Something about analog mechanics just comforts me: typewriters, pneumatic tubes, Polaroid cameras, and record players; all of these lovely inventions marry form and function in a superb way.

London’s Daily Mail now has the proverbial egg on its face. That could have been helped by better research. I feel a shameless library plug coming on. If you need help with research or just want to peruse some very cool tools like our databases, language help, and  library subject guide, you can–online even! Discover more HERE.

Do you have a typewriter? Would you like the get one? Well, since they’re harder  and harder to buy new, you might want to check out the books the library has on typewriter maintenance and repair. Or, if I’ve piqued your interest, try these books on typewriter history. And if you’ve never seen Atonement (based on Ian McEwan’s novel) you should–it features some awesome typewriter-as-percussion in the soundtrack.

Of course, I’ve embraced smart phones, laptops, and iPods like everyone else, but I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for the decorative heavy elegance of the manual typewriter. Adios, amigo–if you’re truly gone, you will be missed! I’ll see you in my dreams…and in my apartment, because I still have a few. : )

Corey, CLP-Main

Games of Thrones

I just started reading the George R.R. Martin series A Song of Fire and IceThis is the series upon which HBO based their Game of Thrones miniseries.  I haven’t read a whole lot of ‘fantasy‘ books because I always thought they were filled with elves and fairies and things like that.  But I thought I’d give this a try since I’ve been hearing so much about it, and now I’m totally hooked.  The political intrigue is fascinating and the dynamic between the characters is riveting.  I just finished the second book and am waiting to start the third.  Has anyone else read the series?  What do you think of it?  Are there any other series or books that you would recommend to readers of the Game of Thrones series?

Jim, CLP-West End

Spring Eating

I don’t know about you, but this warm Spring-ish weather has me thinking about food.   Like most people I look forward to each new season for lots of reasons, but this year the one thing that has me most excited is all the new ingredients that will be popping up soon in the grocery store and farmers’ markets.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the heavy soups, stews and casseroles we eat to keep us going through the tough Pittsburgh winters; but I for one am ready for the fresh vegetables and fruits that’ll be coming our way soon.

As a kid I spent a lot of time in my Grandma’s kitchen.  I watched her make the most memorable dishes of my life, and together we made many, many cookies.  But after I hit about 14 my idea of a fun time changed and I spent less time cooking and soon forgot most of the cooking skills I did have.  For years I didn’t cook more than a box of Macaroni and Cheese.  Now I regret all the time and practice I lost.

These days I’m trying to make up for lost time by cooking as much as I can.   Cook books are obviously a terrific resource… see some highlighted by Kim a few weeks ago here.

Plus a few of my favorites…

But I must say, my biggest cooking inspiration comes from the amazing community of food bloggers out there.   You can find exotic, ethnic dishes to experiment with or simple American classics.  The variety is almost endless, most food bloggers have no professional training, and many are teens!  Food blogs put great recipes and a really fun and rewarding hobby within everyone’s reach.

Check out a few of my favorite food blogs in no particular order…bonus points for post your favorite food blog in the comments!

17 and Baking

The Sophisticated Gormet

Matt Bites

The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Smitten Kitchen


Celiac Teen: Let go of the gluten

Happy eating!


Teen review: Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell

My name is Jenna. I go to a high school where I’m part of the marching band and the cheerleading squad. I’m pretty busy, but I always find time to read. I’m also very creative and I like doing little crafts out of random things I find.

Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell

This book is amazing. Terrell takes the point of view of Ellie, whose real name is Ellspeth. For the first fifteen years of her life, she was just a normal girl who traveled a ton with her parents. She had a best friend named Ruth who she shared EVERYTHING with, and she never had a serious boyfriend.

But now, she’s sixteen years old, and her whole life is changing. She has dreams every night of her flying, but she never thought much of them. A new boy comes to town and he instantly takes interest in Ellie. His name is Michael. Ellie and Michael become really close and as they are becoming closer, they learn more about each other.

Michael made Ellie realize that the flying wasn’t just a dream, that she truly CAN fly, and so can he. He admitted to having powers just like her and told Ellie that they are different from everyone else.

He was right. The two teenagers uncover a story that they would have never imagined, and everything that they thought they knew about their life previously, is wrong.

This book also ties in with Bible stories and the novel is so good that it makes you almost believe that the story of Michael and Ellie is true. I was interested in this book from the very first page and it was really easy to understand. I definitely recommend this novel!

Bring Obama to Pittsburgh CAPA

It’s your turn to weigh in on the six Commencement Challenge finalists! Watch the three-minute video and read the short essay from each of the six high school finalists, then give each school a rating of 1-5 (a rating of 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest). Learn more about the rating system and criteria.

That’s right, President Obama is going to speak at a High School commencement next month. But where? Well, Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12, School For Creative and Performing Arts is one of the six finalists–and you can help them win! Just VOTE HERE!

Read all about the program and CAPA’s story in this article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

But be quick–there are only two days left to vote in the Race to the Top High School Commencement Challenge.

Corey, CLP-Main

Teaser Tuesday

It’s time again for Teaser Tuesday.  What’s Teaser Tuesday?  It’s a game.  (Based on pageturnsblog.)  How do we play?  I try to convince you to pick up and read the book I’m currently reading by posting two “teaser” sentences.  You in turn try to convince me to pick up the book you are reading by posting two teaser sentences from your book.  Here are the rules:

  • Pick up what you’re reading.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Post two sentences from somewhere on the page.  (Don’t choose sentences that will give away too much, you don’t want to ruin it for others.)
  • Include the Title and Author so that others can start reading it.

My teaser this month is:

  Need by Carrie Jones

Everybody has fears, right?  I collect fears like other people collect stamps, which makes me sound like more of a freak than I actually am.

Now, it’s your turn.  Post two sentences along with the Title and Author of the book.


Teen review: Angles by The Strokes

My name is Isaiah. I go to CAPA for theater, and I guess that’s okay. I do a lot of music stuff outside of school. I play bass and do some rapping too. Also, I’m always up for any review recommendations, so if there’s anything you want me to review, just let me know and I’ll check it out.

Angles by The Strokes

Today I will be reviewing another Strokes album, their brand new one, Angles. Although I have reviewed The Strokes before, I hadn’t gotten into them until right before this album came out, so this sort of was what got me into The Strokes. Today, I think I’ll go track by track because this album has so many different sounds that I couldn’t do it justice by only doing a few.

The first track is called Machu Picchu. I’m really digging the sound of this one, it’s very light-hearted and cool. As I’ve said before I look for the opening track to draw me in and make me want to continue listening to the album which is what this one does.

The next one we hear is the single, Under Cover of Darkness. When reviewing The Strokes in the past I said that they always choose the greatest singles, this still applies here. This is one of my favorites on the album and one of my favorite Strokes song in general. It opens with a very cool and unique sound and as it goes on it just gets better.

The next one is a track called Two Kinds of Happiness. This isn’t my favorite track on the album but it features some of Julian Casablancas best singing I’ve ever heard. And it is far from bad, just not my favorite, still fun to listen to.

The next track is called You’re So Right. This opens with a cool bass line that really adds to the song. One thing that I like is how there are some parts where the bass line (which is really cool in itself) is playing while the guitar is doing some crazy stuff.

The next song is called, Taken For a Fool. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album, I’m not sure, there’s just something about it that is really fun to listen to. The chorus is also really good in my opinion, very fun to groove to.

The next track is called Games. It starts off really simple, but then this bass line comes in that really draws the listener in. It then goes to an amplified version of the simple part for the chorus, which is really cool.

The next song is called Call me Back. I’m really digging the tone of this story. It’s a little softer (although The Strokes are far from heavy) and it adds something new the album. It’s also has a good bit of structure, and each piece is really cool, so this is a good one to me.

The next song is called Gratisfaction. Now if you were to ask around this is almost undoubtedly the best song on the album. It’s extremely fun to jam to and if you listen to one song on the album, I say either listen to this, or the single, Under Cover of Darkness.

The next track s called Metabolism, I’m really diggin this one too, the instruments are doing some really cool stuff and the singing goes extremely well and is fun to listen to.

The last song is called, Life is Simple in the Moonlight. This song also has a little bit of a softer tone at first, it doesn’t take away from the song at all though. It leads up to an extremely cool chorus, it’s really fun to listen to.

So all in all I believe this was a really good album, maybe not The Strokes best but still really good. It’s definitely worth checking out and you can of course get it here at the library. So I’ll give Angles a strong 8.5/10.

Teen review: First Impressions of Earth by The Strokes

My name is Isaiah. I go to CAPA for theater, and I guess that’s okay. I do a lot of music stuff outside of school. I play bass and do some rapping too. Also, I’m always up for any review recommendations, so if there’s anything you want me to review, just let me know and I’ll check it out.

First Impressions of Earth by The Strokes

As promised, this time I will be reviewing the CD, First Impressions of Earth by The Strokes. The Strokes have a really unique sound and they’re really worth checking out. Today I’m not gonna review all of the tracks on the album, not for lack of appreciation but because I think you’ll get a better feel for the CD if I give a little more of a broad review. I’m still gonna individually review some of the tracks, just not all this time.

So, we open up with a track called, “You only live once.” Now with any album, in the first track I’m looking for something to draw me in and make me wanna listen to the rest of the album. This track does just that, it opens up with a cool riff and the singing in this is absolutely flawless. I believe this song is one that shows Julian Casablancas at his best.

The next song is the single, “Juicebox.” It opens up with just a really cool bass line and drums. The guitars then come in and really just combine with the bass to make a really cool sound. Then it settles a little bit and we hear the chorus which I think is pretty cool. When Julian practically screams “Won’t ya come over here!” It’s almost impossible not to jam a little.

One of the things I think is pretty cool about The Strokes is how well they choose their singles. After this one we have a track called “Heart in a Cage.” This one is a little different sounding from the ones that we’ve heard so far but in an extremely good way. It has a really groovy beginning that I enjoy too. One of the main reasons why I dig The Strokes is their versatility; this song is a perfect example of that.

The next one I’ll review is called, “On the Other Side.” I’m not sure if this is just a theme of this album but it starts off with a really cool and groovy bass line. To me this song isn’t the best of the album but it’s extremely hard to determine the worse. They’re all fun to listen to and this one just adds to the album.

After this we have one called, “Vision of Division.” This is personally one of my favorite songs on the album. It starts off with a really cool guitar riff, then the bass and drums come in which makes a really cool sound to jam to.

That’s all the specific tracks I’ll talk about his time. Like I said earlier, The Strokes have a really unique sound. For me, some of their songs take a little getting used to, but they’re all great. If you’re interested in picking this up you can get it here at the library. I’m really digging First Impressions of Earth.  It’s worth checking out so if you get a chance please do. I’ll give this one an 8.9/10 for originality, really cool sound, a consistency.

Tomorrow: a review of the new Strokes album, Angles.

Nursing a New Found Love…

So, I’m a little nervous to tell you this, but… here it goes.  Ever since this winter, I’ve been nursing a new found love of classical music.  Call me a nerd, a dork, whatever.  I embrace my nerdiness and I love classical music!  I mean, c’mon, how could you not love this?!?

Vivaldi’s Spring. The violins sound like bubbling streams!  The violas!  The flutes twitter along like little birds back from warmer climes! The cellos!  It just gives me chills thinking about it!  So, so good.

You’re probably thinking….yeah RIGHT!  Classical music is for loooosers.  Well, like I said, don’t care!  However, I would like to share with you some of the websites that I’ve used to nurse this classical music habit I’ve developed, sites you can use to research and explore your own musical tastes.

After you search for an artist and find them on Allmusic.com it gives you biographical information (I’ll admit – not so interesting for Vivaldi, but Lady Gaga?  Much more of a fun read), discography, and awards and charts.  The best part is the section down below titled, Similar Artists, this is where you’ll find some more music in whatever genre you’re into.

Tune Glue will create an “audio map” based on the artist you search for.  When I put in “Lady Gaga,” and choose “expand”  it will create a web of similar artists, including Katy Perry, Rihanna, and Ke$ha.

Tune Glue gets it’s information from Amazon and Lastfm, a streaming music site that allows you to personalize your own radio stations.    Pandora is another customizable streaming music site that I’ve found pretty great to use as background music in my office, or while I’m cooking dinner.

When I’m listening to one of these streaming sites, and love a track, I’ll mark it with a heart, or jot down the artist, head over to the library catalog and do a quick author search (Last Name, First Name) and place a hold on the CD!

If you want more recommendations, there’s always a friendly librarian just waiting to help you out, or you could browse your library’s collection when you’re there, or visit the Music Department at CLP – Main!

Have fun jammin’, friends!


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