Dark Night: Bromance, 3 – “I’m Taking A Ride With My Best Friend”

This is my final piece looking at bromance in the context of Auckland Libraries’ Dark Night festival exploring sex and sexuality on page, stage, and screen.

The first time we hung out together, he pissed me off and I threw my bike at a tree.

The last time I saw him, we went out for my birthday, overindulged, and I ended up passing out at some godawful steampunk gig in Oxford.

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Dark Night: Bromance, 2 – Jules

Julio Iglesias, I started writing about that awful word “bromance” after the launch of Auckland Libraries’ Dark Night festival exploring sex and sexuality on page, stage, and screen. Our guest speaker, Dr. Pani Farvid, introduced the movie Shame by pointing out that it many ways it wasn’t about sex at all. Its topic was addiction, and more broadly than that, the ways in which society disciplines all of our feelings, not just our sexuality; telling us that these are the permissible ways in which to have and express emotions.

In the pub afterwards, we talked about how heterosexual men define themselves as much through their relationships with other men as those with women. And after that, I knew I would spend this week of Dark Nights writing about Mike, and Jules, and J. That, if I could write about sexual relationships of varying intensity and duration, I could do the same for three varieties of “bromance”.
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Dark Night: Bromance, 1 – “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley”

Ted and Elaine from AIRPLANE/FLYING HIGH

You know Ted and Elaine from Airplane* are the most romantic couple of all time, right?

*(“Flying High” to some of you Antipodeans out there)

You’ve probably forgotten. That’s okay. I’ll give you a quick reminder.

Last Friday I was at the launch for Dark Night, Auckland Libraries’ festival exploring sex and sexuality on page, stage, and screen. Afterwards, in the pub, the conversation got pretty deep as we considered the ways in which society influences the way we show our gender and sexuality to the world.
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On A Dark Night, You Can See Forever, part 3: That Mad Daffodil Summer

As we finally reach the opening of Dark Night, Auckland Libraries’ guerrilla season of events exploring sex and sexuality, I’m blogging on the way that films and literature shape the way we think about relationships.

It’s a different take on the arguments I’ve been making in recent weeks, that libraries offer a place for us to immerse ourselves in culture and participate in a way unique from any other space.

Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, still

The books we read and the movies we watch can have drastic effects on the lives we lead: in this third Dark Night post, I look at the way films skewed my take on romance and led to me poisoning myself for love at a London railway station.
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On a Dark Night, You Can See For Ever: Library Burlesque hits Auckland

Dark Night at Auckland Libraries
Image by Dylan Horrocks

21st June sees the launch of Auckland Libraries’ Dark Night, a guerrilla festival of burlesque, literary, and cinematic events that question, celebrate, and challenge sex and sexuality on page, stage, and screen.

Opening with a screening of Steve McQueen’s Shame, a harrowing portrait of sex addiction starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, the season includes library services in Auckland bars, author talks, and a cabaret evening including the sultry, saucy stars of Auckland Fringe Festival, Oh! Is For Opera. Read more

Zombies at Tupu Library, South Auckland

Auckland Libraries' Anne Dickson in zombie makeup
Auckland Libraries’ Anne Dickson led teen zombie hordes against a group of survivors in Tupu Youth Library

Last Friday in Tupu Youth Library, South Auckland, I ran an interactive live-action zombie event for teens on their school holidays.

The ‘survivors’, aged from 12 to 18, found themselves besieged in a meeting room while zombies feasted on hapless victims outside. Teens made barricades from furniture, used library resources to plan their escape from South Auckland, and faced special challenges including detecting potential zombie victims and even wrestling with a zombified police officer!

See the Tupu Zombies on New Zealand’s TV3 News and find more coverage at New Zealand’s Stuff.co.nz website.

Respect, innovation, and cheeky pancakes: thoughts on the future of bookstores and libraries

Central City Library, Auckland
Central City Library, Auckland

So, a big announcement has been in the works for some time: from 25th February I begin a six-month contract as adviser to Auckland Libraries, the largest public library network in the southern hemisphere. The mission is to extend and enhance Auckland’s already superlative library offerings for children and young people with creative, challenging, and sustainable activities for the future.

I feel confident that we’re entering an era of swashbuckling literacy adventure Down Under. Auckland is the city where kids play a Kiwi-themed version of Angry Birds in their libraries; the city whose librarians already talked Bryan Lee O’Malley into letting them use Scott Pilgrim as the face of their comic book events and wooed Amanda Palmer into giving an impromptu Get Loud In Libraries-style guerilla gig.

Before Auckland beckons, I’ve been looking at the latest developments in the UK and US. The Future Foyles workshop held on Monday of this week brought together publishing, retail, and literacy professionals seeking a vision for London’s next great flagship bookstore – you’ll see me quoted in The Bookseller’s report of the event –  and finding much food for thought from a wider community outreach perspective.

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Guest post: Steve Saville on comics and creativity, part 2

In the second part of his guest post for Books and Adventures, Steve Saville of Alfriston College in Auckland, New Zealand, discusses the lessons to be learned from his pioneering comics in the classroom workshops.

Most educators currently involved in secondary schools in New Zealand would agree that creativity is a good thing and that it needs to be encouraged; that we need to nurture and encourage the creative young people who will solve the problems posed by our ever changing world.

We can all look to our own school environments and proudly detail how creativity is nurtured, encouraged, and celebrated in our schools. We provide ample opportunities for writing, artistic expression, the creative use of digital technologies, dance, and drama. Our schools have bands, singers, sculptors. We offer classes in creative writing and philosophy. It can be argued that we have countless opportunities for young people to express and develop their creative skills.

We can also think of numerous teachers that we would classify as creative in their approaches, talented educators who find new and exciting ways to get their learners thinking. Teachers who challenge thinking by making learners ask questions and by asking learners to seek the relevance and authenticity of material studied.

All of this is totally correct – but is it enough?

It may be creative to enable a learner to write a story, to perform in a play or to design a web page but who chose the play and who decided the topic and who wrote the brief?

There is a difference between asking a learner to produce a creative response to something on a particular day, as part of a particular programme of work, and allowing an individual to be creative.

More profoundly, how can creativity flourish in schools, which are essentially non-creative environments?

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Guest post: Steve Saville of Alfriston College, Auckland, on comics in the classroom

Today, we’re joined by Steve Saville, deputy principal at Alfriston College in South Auckland. For four years, Steve has championed the use of comics in the classroom through a series of innovative workshops which have allowed students to develop and publish their own high quality comic books. In the first of a two-part guest post, Steve tells the story of Alfriston’s unique comic book education project.

See more on comics in the classroom via the “comicsedu” tag on this site.

Like most teachers, I can think of numerous times that I have attempted to encourage or develop creativity with students, both in and out of the classroom. Like most teachers, my in-class efforts have fallen firmly in the realm of teacher-directed, and therefore dictated, creativity.

Comic book learning in action at Alfriston College
Comic book learning in action at Auckland’s Alfriston College

More recently, I’ve spent a few years encouraging learners to genuinely take control of the creative process, exploring creativity through the medium of comics. The aim has been to produce original comics that are of a publishable and professional standard. I have done this within a single school environment, Alfriston College. A potted history of our programme follows.

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New Zealand Libraries: Quiet Innovation

Over on my Tumblr page there’s a new post with a brief interview.

Corin Haines of Auckland Libraries – whose Central Library recently hosted an impromptu gig by alternative cabaret act The Dresden Dolls – took the time for a quick chat about notions of what libraries, and literacy, can be.

See the post here: http://matthewfinch.tumblr.com/post/16633129913/new-zealand-has-a-reputation-as-a-remote