Posted by emather on 07.01.15

Have you ever gotten your earbuds tangled in your bag or pocket? It's literally the worst thing ever. Well, we've got you covered! During the month of June, we made DIY No-Tangle Earbuds in the HUB. All you need is some thin thread called embroidery floss, a pair of scissors, a piece or two of tape, and some earbuds that always get tangled. (We provided some earbuds to everyone who made the kit in June, but feel free to bring in your own and use our embroidery floss to make them No-Tangle. We have almost every color ever.)
 
Completing a DIY craft is also one of the four challenges for our Read to the Rhythm teen summer challenge, where you can win awesome prizes like iTunes gift cards, instruments from GuitarCenter, and even a pair of wireless Beats headphones! (If those get tangled on you, then I don't know what to tell you. You're on your own there.)
 
In addition to not tangling and driving you totally, personalizing your earbuds makes sure you never mix them up with someone else's and get their earwax in your ears, which may be the only thing worse than tangled earbuds. After following the really simple instructions below, you'll end up with something looking a bit like this:
 
 
Here are the basic steps you'll need to follow:
 
  1. Secure one end of your earbuds down with a piece of tape. Take a long piece of embroidery floss and tie it to one end of your earbuds with a double or triple knot.
  2. Wind the other end of the floss up loosely. (This way, you won't need to pull the entire length through for every loop you make.)
  3. Loop the floss over and around the earbud cable, and pull it up through the loop you just made. (Look at it like a single knot.)
  4. Pull the loop tight around the cable and push it up against the rest of the thread.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 until you've covered your earbuds. If you want to move on to a different colored floss, just tie the new color on to the end of the old and keep it going.
 
Check out the video below to see how it works in action.
 
 
 
Depending on the length of your earbuds, it can take a while, so you may need to finish it up at home after leaving the HUB. If you want to give it a try, swing by the HUB desk with your tangled earbuds and we'll get you the supplies!
 
 




Posted by emather on 05.04.15

 
Inklings is the HUB's creative writing club, where once a month, teens get together and explore some facet of writing and storytelling. (We meet the first Tuesday of every month, from 4-6. You should join us!)
 
At our March meeting, we talked about Choose Your Own Adventure stories, where the reader can choose different paths for the story to take. It's almost like playing a video game, in that your character will inevitably die over and over and over and over... There was a series of incredibly popular Choose Your Own Adventure books in the 1980s and 90s, with hilaroiusly cheesy and dated covers. Just recently, one popped up online to see if you could survive The Battle of Hogwarts!
 
 
Inklings decided to write their own Choose Your Own Adventure stories, and you can all read/play along! We used a free online software called Twine. (You can write your own stories there, too!) For each story, Inklingers paired up and chose an opening passage, setting up a scenario and a few choices. (One is a pirate adventure, the other a murder mystery.) Teams would then venture off of one of those choices, creating their own crazy branches for the story to go into. Most end in hilarious death, but a few lead your character to victory! Try them both out, and see how well you can survive!
 
A Pirate's Life for You! by Anna, Daniella, Izzy, Katja, and Tyler
 
 
Murder at the Library by Alice, Claire, Emma, Evan, Grace, and Jack




Posted by emather on 03.17.15

Last Thursday, the AHML Studio was a hotbed of creativity. A bunch of aspiring musicians and producers showed up for our Become a Remix Master program, and took what was originally a pretty simple, unoriginal, and dumb song (we literally titled it DUMB SONG) and used the Studio's tools to alter and adjust different parts of the song into some really exciting and original remixes.
 
(All of this practice as producers and remixers gave teens the skills they need for our Battle of the Recorded Bands, where teen musicians record and submit songs to win awesome prizes like TicketMaster gift cards, raffles from Guitar Center, and chances to perform at HUB programs. If you're interested in participating, check out the site or send us an email.)
 
We first went over how the song was created in Garage Band. Give the original DUMB SONG a listen:
 
 
 
We learned how to change instruments, adjust the tempo, and overlay filters using GarageBand. Then the teens each got a copy of the original DUMB SONG file and took over the Studio.
 

 
 
Using some of the awesome Studio tools like our vocal booth and instruments, they each made their own remixes. Teens only had about an hour and a half to remix. Some remixes ended up being more different or similar to the originals, or that much more complex, depending on what directions and tools teens decided to go with. Teens changed up the instruments, wrote new musical parts, and even did some super creative things with sound effects. 
 
 

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So here they are, some awesome teen remixes. Despite their titles, these songs are notably NOT dumb. 
 
 




Posted by emather on 01.09.15

 
 
 
 
 
We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.
 
 
 
We Were Liars by e. lockhart is narrated by Cadence, the oldest Sinclair grandchild, and the latest in a line of old-money wealth. Each summer, the Sinclairs vacation on their own private island, Beechwood, off the coast of Massachusetts. Cady, her cousins Johnny and Mirren, and friend (and sometimes more) Gat – the four “Liars” – have been attached at the hip since their eighth summer on the island. During the fifteenth summer, though, Cadence suffers a calamity she cannot remember. Even more mysterious is that her family refuses to tell her about it. She spends the next several years in a fog of debilitating migraines, pills, and partial amnesia. As she returns to Beechwood for her seventeenth summer, she attempts to piece together the mystery of what happened and why her relatives are behaving so peculiarly.
 
Cady is an incredibly unreliable narrator, and the both emotional and mental toll her injuries have taken are evident in the novel’s jumbled, nonlinear plot and beautiful impressionistic language. Cadence and the Liars take a long hard look at the Sinclair’s wealth, privilege, and concealed racism. With allusions as varied as King LearWuthering Heights, and classic fairy tales, it’s a familiar story of family squabbles amid decadent wealth, and star-crossed love. (Cady and Gat share some of the steamiest hand holding scenes this side of Eleanor & Park.) The mystery and emotions boil over in a twist thatmight have you hurling the book across the room before rushing to pick it up and race to finish.
 
 
 
(We Were Liars is an option in our poll for Favorite YA Book of 2014. Go vote for your pick!)
 




Posted by emather on 11.18.14

Fight the slipperiness, press the valves firmly,
play the love, the hate,
the misery, the hope,
the freedom that I wanted, never wanted, can’t have;
that doesn’t exist.
 
 
In The Sound of Letting Go, seventeen-year-old Daisy, an exceptional trumpet player, often feels like a “third parent” for her autistic younger brother, Steven. She and her parents feel trapped by their responsibilities towards Steven, and the burden has put definite strains on her parents’ marriage. The family is growing more fearful of Steven’s increasingly violent outbursts. These have become worse since he “has morphed from challenging autistic boy/ to dangerous, nonverbal near-man." After her parents decide to move Steven to a residential facility, Daisy is upset. The usually-responsible Daisy tries to work through her complex and conflicting emotions by rebelling. Some of these are mild, like wearing edgier outfits involving more black and an increase in eyeliner. Some are more out-of-character, like getting steamy in parked cars with the local “bad boy,” and ditching band class.
 
Author Stasia Ward Kehoe wrote the novel in verse from Daisy’s first-person point of view. The poetic style serves the tone and character well, instead of becoming another cliché or gimmick. The irregular asymmetrical rhythm of the writing reflects both Daisy’s love of jazz and her conflicted emotions. It’s through music that she best expresses and understands the world, where her muddled emotions find more solid ground. (It’s also nice to find a character so involved in school band, something that’s so common in real life but rarely seen in YA books.) The novel doesn’t offer any grand statements or easy answers. Still, like all good jazz, the strands of melody converge and build a complex harmony.
 




Posted by emather on 11.05.14

We had an awesome time last Thursday at the HORRORible Movie Roast. We watched the hilariously awful movie Troll 2. (Just to show you how bad it is: It's not even about Trolls. It's about goblins.)
 
Teens rotated as roasters, using an app called MuVChat to type their jokes and mockery on screen with the movie. Here's just a taste of some of the best jokes teens made while laughing at this cheese-tastic horror flick. 
 
#NoFilter
 
#NoFilter
 
 
Seems Legit
 
Free warm milk from a total stranger? Seems legit...
 
 
 
Groot
 
I...am...GROOOOOT?!?!?!?
 
 
And this scene? This scene is so amazingly terrible that we were left speechless by convulsive giggles. (Warning: People in terrible goblin costumes pretend to eat a puddle of green goo that I guess used to be a person? So kind of gross maybe? But also hilarious.)
 
 
 
 
Hope you'll join us for our next Movie Roast, whenever that may be!
 




Posted by emather on 10.01.14

 
 
 
Last week was Banned Books Week, where we celebrate our right to read and intellectual freedom. In the Hub on Tuesday, September 23rd, we played Dangerous Knowledge: Banned Books Trivia, where we ate pizza and learned tons of weird and hilarious/depressing trivia about books that have been banned or challenged.
 
Some examples of questions:
 
Q: What personal account of a girl's life from 1942 - 1944 was banned for "being too depressing"?
 
 
Q: What author of an often-banned fantasy series had trouble boarding a plane with the only manuscript of her upcoming book?
A: J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series)
 
The winning team members each won a gift card to Amazon (hopefully to buy a banned book.) Then everyone took some mugshots with their favorite banned books. Check 'em out:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




Posted by emather on 08.21.14

This book review is by Max B. All summer, we had teens submit book, music, and movie reviews for a Left Brain challenge. Max's was chosen as the best submission all summer, and in addition to winning a tablet, we're posting his awesome review here. He's got a great book to recommend!
 
Ashfall, an apocalypse novel by Mike Mullin, surpassed all of my expectations, yet fell short of being a truly great read.
 
Alex Halprin is an introvert living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Alex’s family goes to visit his uncle in Warren, Illinois, leaving Alex behind. Everything is going fine until a super volcano underneath Yellowstone National Park erupts.
 
Alex leaves Cedar Falls to find his family, and along the way he meets Target, an ex-convict that is taking advantage of a lawless land. He also meets the Edmunds family, most notably Darla, who soon bonds greatly with Alex. Alex and Darla set off together to find Alex's family and chaos ensues.
 
There are two broad ways to describe the book: Ashfall the apocalypse novel and Ashfall the stand-alone novel. Mullin did an amazing job writing Ashfall as an apocalypse novel. The words are well thought out, the tone is consistent, and though the overall plot is good (if a tad cliché,) it’s the plot arcs themselves that are unique and well done.
 
On the other hand, Mullin didn't do nearly as good of a job writing Ashfall as a stand-alone novel. It is poorly written, and most of the dialogue follows the same pattern with excessive amounts of arguing and thanking. The relationship between Alex and Darla turned from a promising friendship with hints of a relationship in the future into a sappy, poorly written and unnecessary romantic subplot.
 
Although Mullin didn't spend too much time on the romance, the time he did spend on it simply wasn't well done. It wasn’t so much the romance that bothered me, but rather the deviation and lack of consistency. The novel was presented as an apocalypse story, but with how often it deviates from that format it stops being so.
 
Most parts of Ashfall are unique, interesting and most of all genuine. When apocalypse stories are made, there is a factor of irrationality that turns it into a joke. However the threat within Ashfall is realistic and could be viewed as a valid concern.
 
As far as apocalypse novels go, Ashfall is one of the best; as far as novels in general go, it falls as hard as the ash within the novel.
 
 




Posted by emather on 07.12.14

Teen filmmakers put their skills to the test on Friday at Let's Make a Movie. This past Tuesday, members of the Inklings creative writing summer volunteer squad wrote some short film scripts. (You can read their awesome work here.) Teens split into groups, and each one got one of those screenplays and had only three hours to plan, film, and edit the whole thing. On top of that, each group had a different FILMMAKER CHALLENGE, like every shot had to be from a character's point of view, or the whole movie had to be in black and white and silent. Everyone got down to work, using the whole library as their movie studio. We ended up with a bunch of potential submissions to the 8th Annual Teen Film Fest (I'm certain we'll be seeing a few of them there)! Below, you can see behind-the-scenes photos from filmming and editing, as well as some tantalizing stills from some of the movies.
 
 




Posted by emather on 05.29.14

This past Saturday, teens met in the Training Center at the library to use video editing and effects tools to add Star Wars special effects to some videos. We started with footage of some Star Wars finger puppets (made as part of the DIY craft in the HUB this month) in front of a green screen, like this:
 
 
 
 
Then we used a new tool on library computers called SaberFX that let us draw different visual effects over the footage, like light sabers, blasters, explosions, and lightning. Then we rendered those videos and used iMovie to edit them, add backgrounds over the green screen, and add music and sound effects. We ended up with some pretty great quick videos with really creative ideas. (I don't know if Jabba the Hutt will be able to shoot lightning out of his eyeballs in the new movies, but he really should.) Check some out below, and be sure to come by and try out the software yourself. Maybe for your submission to the 8th Annual Teen Film Fest?