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Mad Max

In Patton Oswalt's new book, Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, the literate comedian divides his friends from childhood into three categories: worshippers of zombie-flick sire George Romero; Star Wars geeks; and Mad Max maniacs. This is the month for that last group – teenage "Wastelands" – at the Library, with a film series including the post-apocalyptic epic that introduced leather-clad Mel Gibson to the American teen psyche.

For those seeking gentler fare, there's a series highlighting the early film career of the great American actress Natalie Wood.

Oswalt's right. An imagined worldwide holocaust can make for a good story (also in agreement: Pulitzer Prize-winner Cormac McCarthy). Post-apocalytptic films offer unforgettable images of scarred and broken worlds as well as the unforgettable struggles of survivors. The Badlands film series complements Altered States, the Kansas City Public Library’s 2011 Adult Winter Reading Program, which concludes on March 13.

The Kansas City Public Library screens Badlands on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. throughout March 2011 in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.

Westminster College President Franc L. McCluer (far right) leads Harry S. Truman (far left) and Winston Churchill (center) on a tour of campus.

On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill delivered one of the most significant speeches of the 20th century on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. The famous “Sinews of Peace” speech, with its reference to Europe’s “iron curtain,” is still remembered 65 years later. But the trip proved costly for the former British prime minister – on the eve of his speech, Churchill nearly lost his shirt to President Harry S. Truman in a poker game.

Is your e-reader running on empty? You may love your new Nook or Kindle, but building an e-book library can be costly. The good news is there’s plenty of free e-reading online, but you have to know where to look. Though libraries are becoming the best sources of free, newer e-books from major publishers (learn more), you can also find lots of new, classic, and unusual titles for the taking at a variety of sites.

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