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East Liberty’s Teen Book Club: What will we read next??

Once a month, since the fall, a small group of teens has been meeting at East Liberty to discuss books.  As the book discussion facilitator, I think you should think about joining us.

You never know what will come up in a book discussion.  So far we’ve read Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi, Panther Baby by Jamal Joseph, and a smattering of  poetry, including some of Anne Sexton’s takes on Grimm’s Fairy Tales in her Transformations.  

miceandmen  shipbreaker  pantherbaby

We’ve talked about whether the American Dream is essentially depressing, how the world might look in 10-20 years time, the politics of the late 60s in America and why there’s not a Black Panther Party today, community service, and the difference between “bird sitting on a branch” poetry and poetry you might want to read.

Books are a great place to start from if you want to end up talking about anything and everything.

readyplayerone

Next month we will be reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  This is a story of a puzzle quest in an immersive online world, called OASIS, coded and put together by a reclusive computer genius obsessed with the culture of the 1980s.  Whoever solves his puzzle – by successfully collecting 3 keys– will inherit a giant fortune.  Five years after the announcement of the puzzle, and the genius’s death, the first key is found by a teenager in Oklahoma City.  And the race is on.

So put your copy on hold today and discuss with us on Saturday, March 16th at 2 pm.  80s music and snacks provided.

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty.

Home Sweet Home at CLP-Lawrenceville

CLP-Lawrenceville is now re-open for business!  After a six-week closure, all staff is back from our temporary homes and we are ready to show off our newly spruced- (and still sprucing-) up branch.  While work is not entirely complete, the changes look promising and fabulous.

Instead of waiting for the dust to settle, we are rushing right back into programming.  What better way to check out this freshened up branch than by joining us for one of our great teen programs scheduled this month?  Stop by for:

Teen Time – Video Games
Saturday, 12/1
2pm

Teen Time: Holiday Party with Gingerbread Houses
Saturday, 12/15
2pm

Teen Time: Epic Movie Adventure and Pizza Taste Test
Saturday, 12/29
2pm
**registration required

Instead of placing a photo of the structurally-sound branch here,
I am placing a photo of an architecturally challenged gingerbread house
I made several years ago.
Join us for the Holiday Party and make your own house!

See you there!

Amy, CLP-Lawrenceville

Indie Games – lovingly crafted video games for the discerning gamer

Recently, while scanning through Netflix Instant’s “New Releases,” I found a documentary that piqued my interest called “Indie Game: The Movie.” Indie Game is about the burgeoning independent video game biz and it follows the development of two games: Super Meat Boy and Fez.

These aren’t your typical multi-million-dollar-budgeted blockbuster games like Halo or Call of Duty, they’re personal projects painstakingly designed and coded (often by just a couple of people), where ingenuity in gameplay takes precedent over flashy graphics. The budgets for these games are small, too, and most of them don’t have big publishers like SquareSoft or Bethesda to promote them after the game is finally complete.

The movie does a great job of communicating the passions and frustrations of these game designers. And though I consider myself a life-long gamer (chronologically from Rogue on my first PC in the 80s, to the NES, Sega Genesis, N64, PlayStation 2, and, now, Playstation 3, with plenty of other PC upgrades and games along the way) I never really knew how games like these were made. Indie Game gives you a peak inside that process through interviews with journalists and such indie game luminaries as Phil Fish (Fez), Jonathan Blow (Braid), and Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes (Super Meat Boy). If the creators of Fez and Super Meat Boy are anything like other indie game designers (and I think they are), the process seems to include a lot of late nights, coding, poor nutrition, legal battles, and stress. But they make really cool games.

Watch the trailer to get a feel for the film:

This documentary is about more than the steps it takes to create a independent video game, it’s about gaming as an art form and a way of life. These guys grew up on classic games like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the Castlevania series; they want to contribute to the artform that captured their attention as kids. As they attempt to, you can see them struggle with creating just as a writer or painter might. They’re fighting to make their dreams tangible, and then, struggling to accept the opinions of the critics and gamers who suddenly have access to a part of them.

If you’re into gaming as a hobby or a possible career choice, or you just want to watch an interesting documentary, I suggest clicking over to Netflix and giving Indie Game a shot.

Beyond the story that Indie Game tells, there are indie video games themselves–they’re really worth checking out. Most are available as downloadable titles through X-Box Live Arcade, the Playstation Network, and the Wii Shop. X-Box currently has the best lineup of indie titles, but the Playstation Network is offering more all the time.

Indie Game picks:

The Unfinished Swan (platform: PS3)The Unfinished Swan is a videogame about exploring the unknown. The player assumes the role of a young boy chasing after a swan who has wandered off into a surreal, unfinished kingdom. The game begins in a completely white space where players can throw paint to splatter their surroundings and reveal the world around them. [Metacritic]


Journey (platform: PS3) Enter the world of Journey, the third game from indie developers thatgamecompany (creators of “flOw” and “Flower”). Journey is an interactive parable, an anonymous online adventure to experience a person’s life passage and their intersections with others’. You wake alone and surrounded by miles of burning, sprawling desert, and soon discover the looming mountaintop which is your goal. Faced with rolling sand dunes, age-old ruins, caves and howling winds, your passage will not be an easy one. The goal is to get to the mountaintop, but the experience is discovering who you are, what this place is, and what is your purpose. Travel and explore this ancient, mysterious world alone, or with a stranger you meet along the way. Soar above ruins and glide across sands as you discover the secrets of a forgotten civilization. [thatgamecompany]


Limbo (platform: PS3, XBox 360, PC) LIMBO, a black and white puzzle-platforming adventure, puts players in the role of a young boy traveling through an eerie and treacherous world in an attempt to discover the fate of his sister.


Braid (platform: PS3, XBox 360, PC) Braid is a puzzle-platformer, drawn in a painterly style, where the player manipulates the flow of time in strange and unusual ways. From a house in the city, journey to a series of worlds and solve puzzles to rescue an abducted princess. In each world, you have a different power to affect the way time behaves, and it is time’s strangeness that creates the puzzles. The time behaviors include: the ability to rewind, objects that are immune to being rewound, time that is tied to space, parallel realities, time dilation, and perhaps more. Braid treats your time and attention as precious; there is no filler in this game. Every puzzle shows you something new and interesting about the game world. Braid is a 2-D platform game where you can never die and never lose. Despite this, Braid is challenging, but the challenge is about solving puzzles, rather than forcing you to replay tricky jumps. Travel through a series of worlds searching for puzzle pieces, then solving puzzles by manipulating time: rewinding, creating parallel universes, setting up pockets of dilated time. The gameplay feels fresh and new; the puzzles are meant to inspire new ways of thinking. [Microsoft]


Super Meat Boy (platform: Wii, XBox 360, PC, iOS) – Super Meat Boy is a tough as nails platformer where you play as an animated cube of meat who’s trying to save his girlfriend (who happens to be made of bandages) from an evil fetus in a jar wearing a tux. [Metacritic]


Fez (platform: XBox 360, PC) This quirky platformer stars a little white creature with a bright red fez. Gomez is a 2D being living in a 2D world. Or is he? When the existence of a mysterious 3rd dimension is unveiled, Gomez embarks on a journey that will usher him to the very end of time and space. Utilize your ability to navigate 3D structures from 4 distinct 2D perspectives. Explore an open-ended world full of secrets, puzzles and hidden treasures. Re-open the mysteries of the past and discover the truth about reality and perception. Alter your perspective and see the world in a different way. [Metacritic]


Happy gaming,

Corey, The Labs @ CLP

Assassin’s Creed!!! 3!!!

I have a confession to make. I am a video game addict. I actually had to disconnect my Playstation because I was staying up til 3 or 4 in the morning playing Madden. It’s been over 5 years since I touched a video game system, but I think my streak will end in one week when Assassin’s Creed 3 is released.  I feel like this game was created just for me as it combines some of my favorite interests: early American history and first-person shooters.

I bet you didn’t even know that you can use your library card to get video games! The library has hundreds of video games available. Some of my favorites are Medal of Honor Airborne, Madden NFL ’12, and NHL ’12.

The historical setting of Assassin’s Creed 3 has always been one of my favorite topics to read about, too, so that makes it especially exciting for me. The revolutionary war period was turbulent, violent, and a lot of it happened right around Pittsburgh. There are a lot of great books about this era; some of my favorites are: Wilderness Empire by Allan Eckert, Patriots: the Men Who Started the American Revolution by AJ Langguth, and  1776 by David McCullough.

We are also lucky to have the Fort Pitt Museum right here in Pittsburgh!  This is a great spot where you can learn about the French and Indian War and other aspects of colonial history.

– Jim, CLP-Sheraden

End of Summer- BOO! End of Summer Party- YAY!

When I was a teenager, I couldn’t stand those back-to-school advertising campaigns that seem to kick in while summer is still in full swing.  And how about the stores that start selling fall jackets when it is still 90 degrees outside?  For me personally, the count down to the new school year was such a drag that even a full scale-gratuitous-shopping-binge didn’t prove therapeutic.  So now that the Teen Department at CLP Main is hosting an End of the Summer Celebration on Friday 8/24 from 2 pm to 5 pm, I feel like such a traitor.

But really- we’re on YOUR side.  We’re not trying to pour salt in the wound, we simply want to reward you all for your participation in this year’s Teen Summer Reading program (which, by the way, it’s not too late to sign up for….).  And the truth is, we’ll use any excuse to throw a party here in the Main Teen Department.  So, come- despite yourself- and just try to enjoy the last sliver of summer….

Friday, August 24

2pm to 5pm

CLP Main- Teens

4400 Forbes Ave.

Pittsburgh, PA

All teens in middle or high school welcome.  For more information, contact teensmain @ carnegielibrary.org or 412.622.3121.

Teen Review: The Legend of Zelda™: Symphony of the Goddesses at Heinz Hall

Hi, I’m Henry. Since I was born 16 years ago, my biggest claim to fame has been winning the state geography bee in 2009. I run cross country and track for Seton-La Salle High School. I play trombone in the school’s marching band and am a member of the Mock Trial and Academic Games teams. I like to read the Greeks and Romans, and I love opera.

Heinz Hall: Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

As I arrived at Heinz Hall Friday evening, I couldn’t help noticing a number of things I normally do not see here. One of the most conspicuous of these was the select number of the audience who arrived dressed for the occasion in green caps that made them look like as if they were decorations in the spirit of the music we were to hear. All in all, the crowd generally seemed to have been drawn more by the “Zelda” in the title than the “symphony.”

The stage was dominated by a very large screen suspended over the orchestra’s chairs. When the conductor, a Ms. Eí mear Noone began the music, the screen showed screenshots from different games of the Zelda franchise. The images on the screen evoked laughter from time to time among the audience in general, but I, having never played a game in the franchise, was not sure when and why to laugh.

At the beginning of the symphony, I resented the screen as an unnecessary distraction; by intermission, I was curiously mesmerized by it. It was a very different experience from when I’ve been there for more conventional works. I think it would be detrimental to some works whose music is attractive enough to sustain interest (in my case, music of Mozart and his generation); for others which I do not care for as much (e.g., Bruckner, Debussy, Wagner, etc.) it would almost certainly hold my attention better.

The music itself presented, I think, did not need such sideshows. It was, as is much video game music, catchy and facile (in the best sense of that word). The main theme was repeated innumerable times, but not ad nauseam. The style of the music defied categorization, but I would call it modern if I had to call it anything. My personal favorites were the first two movements, which were respectively descriptive of a dungeon and a pastoral village in the universe of Link and Zelda.

In its entirety, I thought the show was better than average, and not merely for the novelty of the staging or the unusual music (or, perhaps, in spite of them). The quality of the music was overall very good, and, as usual, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra showed us the reasons why it is so highly acclaimed.

Scratch Day @ CLP Main- Teen: Saturday 5/19 from 1 to 4

IMAGINE + PROGRAM + SHARE

Are you interested in creating digital videos, games, and animation?  Do you have a vision and passion for digital art, but lack the technical skills?  If you answered yes, then  Scratch is the perfect programming language for you.  Scratch is a visual programming language that was developed by MIT students in order to offer beginner programmers a simple way to create their own interactive stories, games, animations, music, and art.  Scratch is free to download, easy to learn, and offers a safe and supportive community of Scratchers to share your creations with.

Scratch DaySaturday, May 19, 2012– is a worldwide network of gatherings, where people come together to meet fellow Scratchers, share projects and experiences and learn more about Scratch. Last year, more than 125 Scratch Day events were held in 36 countries around the globe.  Scratch Day @ CLP Main- Teen will feature tutorials for newbies, games to help you hone your Scratch abilities, skill sharing for advanced Scratchers, a project showcase, Scratch the Cat button making, peer Scratch tutors, fun, community, and more!

Pittsburgh teenagers (grade 6-12), mentors and educators are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop to the event.  But don’t despair if you can’t bring your own equipment- you will NOT be left out.  A limited number of laptops will be provided for use during the program.

Scratch Day in Pittsburgh is presented by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Chevron Center for STEM Education and career Development at Carnegie Science Center, The Ellis School and Girls, Math & Science Partnership (a program of Carnegie Science Center). This event is sponsored by The Ellis School and Spark, Supporting the Kids+Creativity Network.

Event web site: http://day.scratch.mit.edu/event/554

Presented by: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Chevron Center for STEM Education and career Development at Carnegie Science Center, The Ellis School and Girls, Math & Science Partnership a program of Carnegie Science Center

Event fee: FREE

Sponsor: The Ellis School and Spark, Supporting the Kids+Creativity Network

Some refreshments will be provided.

Saturday, May 19, 2012
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Teens- Main
4400 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA   15213

For more information, contact:
412.622.3121
teensmain@carnegielibrary.org

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