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|Monday, September 22nd, 2008|
|Library flood update
Back in June, I promised to let people know about after-the-flood. Everything on the first floor of the library was destroyed, either by the five feet of water or the toxic conditions of the flood. This included the entire adult collection, some 150,000 items. We're starting over at a mall on the other side of town with the things which were checked out at the time of the flood, about 30,000 items. The downtown building has been gutted and is currently sealed, awaiting its turn in the queue of city buildings which were damaged. FEMA does not supply funds for interim expenses as libraries are not considered vital facilities.
If you're interested, more information can be found here:http://www.crlibrary.org/flood/index.html
|Thursday, June 12th, 2008|
|Thursday, May 29th, 2008|
|Thursday, January 31st, 2008|
|Tuesday, January 29th, 2008|
|Sunday, January 27th, 2008|
|Fun with Harry Potter
I called dibs on Harry Potter here as soon as our library was finished with its DH promotion this summer, and he's been good entertainment ever since. For a while it was fun to set him up outside the closed door of a room where somebody was taking a nap to startle them when they came out, or to have him peeking out the front window of our house, and he was always fun at parties. Now he's become a family wedding tradition. We attached a picture of the happy couple to his hand and put "Congratulations Jill and Shane" in Harry Potter font down around his release date parts and voila!
|Saturday, July 21st, 2007|
|Saturday, July 7th, 2007|
|Wednesday, June 27th, 2007|
|This was fun. Do it if you'd like to.
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4-7 sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest (unless it's too troublesome to reach and is really heavy. Then go back to step 1).
6. Tag five people.
"There's an endless supply of first-time free-lancers who are so happy to see their names in print that they don't care if they ever get paid. But you can't fill a magazine with the work of eager volunteers." -letter from David Owen to Tom Philips, August 26, 1988
Oh, can't we now?
from Spy: The Funny Years, by Kurt Anderson, Graydon Carter, George Kalogerakis. (excellent, but check out from the library rather than buy--$40)
|Monday, February 5th, 2007|
|Unconventional Love Stories: A Pop Quiz
1. A boy and his rose: reading this is the sweetest Valentine you can give yourself
2. A teenager and his sentient, murderous, self-regenerating car: a cautionary tale for people who name their vehicles
3. An author and his creations: author annihilates the fourth wall, enters his own book, and interacts with his alter ego--postmodernism at its most intriguing
4. A boy and his little brother: even though your book is sometimes pretentious and irritating, your heart's in the right place and your story is heartwarming
5. A girl, a priest, and The Church: the eternal triangle, plus afascinating look at life in the Australian outback
6. An ardent young girl and a cruel traitorous world: she puts us all
7. A man and a figment of his imagination: green light at the end of the pier, you know--although it's been relegated to cliche status by years of overanalysis, still a great read with great characters and a great
story. (Note the absence of overanalysis here)
8. A woman and her profession: a Norman Rockwell-style Valentine to teachers and small town America
9. A man and his house: My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.
10. A boy and his athletic, studly, super-nice roommate: award winner for Most Cleverly Disguised Gay Love Story Regularly Assigned in High School English Classes From the Sixties Up to the Present Day
a. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
b. Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
c. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
d. The Big Orange Splot by D. Manus Pinkwater
e. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
f. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
g. Good Morning, Miss Dove by Frances Gray Patton
h. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
i. Christine by Stephen King
j. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
|Thursday, December 14th, 2006|
|Read some Dickens, it's good!
It is impossible to live in our society and be unfamiliar with the story of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Scrooge has been played by Reginald Owen, Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Mr. Magoo, and Bill Murray, among countless others. It is an unwritten rule that every television show ever made must have a "Christmas Carol" episode. I have fond memories of my brother playing Marley's Ghost in a junior high production, shrieking, "MANKIND WAS MY BUSINESS!" and rattling his chains and generally chewing up the scenery. The story of The Christmas Carol is more often portrayed than that of the Nativity. Yet many people have never read the original version, Dickens' 1843 classic, written to pay off a debt and arguably the source of today's family-oriented Christmas tradition in the Western world.
Aside from being a huge historical icon, A Christmas Carol is a wonderfully enjoyable read. Scrooge is a peerless protagonist, the epitome of callousness and stinginess at the beginning of the tale ("Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!") who still retains the remnants of a sense of humor ("There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"), suffers through his ghostly visitations in a surprisingly receptive way and obligingly is redeemed ("I don't know what to do!...I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!") to spend the rest of his life celebrating Christmas every minute in the most philanthropic of ways. It is a partially sad ending for those readers who preferred him crabby and misanthropic.
Aside from Scrooge, the story is filled with vivid characters who have all become Christmastime icons: Bob Cratchit, patron saint of all overworked, underpaid employees, who yet gets a paid holiday on Christmas even before Scrooge's reformation; Scrooge's benevolent nephew, who speaks one of the most oft-quoted peons to the Christmas season ("There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,... Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"); the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, who might be even scarier than Marley's Ghost (is it more scary to have a deceased friend threaten you with a horrific afterlife, or to have a faceless, silent specter point out your tombstone to you? Discuss among yourselves); and, of course, Tiny Tim ("God Bless Us, Every One!").
It is easy to become jaded and cynical about the Christmas season in the (materialistic, hypocritical, troubled) world of today. Reading this Victorian classic is an easy way to receive an infusion of Christmas spirit direct from 1843.
|Friday, October 27th, 2006|
|These are the scariest stories I know
The Girl in a Swing by Richard Adams--If you've read Watership Down, you might expect this novel
about a slightly psychic but otherwise commonplace young man who falls in love with a mysterious
woman to be, well, benign? NO. This is a reading experience of ever-mounting, unrelieved tension,
and suspense, and terror, which will haunt you for a long time after you read it.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub--This story of four young men grown old, tied together inexorably by
a tragedy and haunted by regrets and other things, is filled with eerie moments. As always, I enjoy
the spooky buildup to the gory denouement, but the spooky here is very well done. This book was
made into a movie which is also very good.
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker--Harvey Swick is a very bored young man until he meets a helpful
guy named Rictus, who whisks him away to Holiday House. There it is spring in the morning, summer in
the afternoon, Halloween in the evening and Christmas before bedtime, every day. Barker is a master
in the field of horror, usually writing for adults, but I think this understated book for all ages is his most
The Sneetches and other stories by Dr. Seuss--This innocuous-sounding children's book contains a story titled
"What Was I Scared Of?" featuring one of the most terrifying literary creations ever: the pale green pants
with nobody inside 'em. I was frightened of this book as a child, and my children after me. If you are not
yet familiar with it, beware. I'm not joking here. SCARY.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson--a surprisingly little-known classic by the author
of The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House. The story is narrated in a matter-of-fact voice by the
younger sister in a family which had earlier been partially wiped out by a notorious poisoning incident.
The remnants of the family live isolated and shunned by the residents of the neighboring village, and
as they attempt to carry on their everyday lives, we slowly become aware of the reticence between
the surviving members. As always, the understated is far scarier than the elaborately described monster.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King--Okay, can't do this without having Stephen King. Pet Sematary is not
by any means my favorite King book, but that is partly because it's just too scary for me. The zombiefied
creatures are scary, yes, but even more frightening is the depiction of just how far around the bend
grief can send a person, and what horrible acts it can inspire a usually rational sane person to do in
|Sunday, July 17th, 2005|
|Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory will be most successful with members of the audience who have not known and loved the 1971 version starring Gene Wilder for most of their lives. Burton offers a winningly grotesque adaptation of Roald Dahl's book, filled with visual oomph and dark humor, but he's fighting a losing battle with people who can't help remembering the wacky genius of the earlier movie and the far superior vocal numbers of the 1971 Oompa Loompas. Johnny Depp is often funny but his characterization is uncomfortably reminiscent of Michael Jackson, and the most successful parts of the movie are those outside the chocolate factory, featuring Charlie's family and Willie Wonka's childhood. I enjoyed watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but didn't find it exceptional, and I gave it eight out of ten.
|Tuesday, April 13th, 2004|
|Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet and another genius script from Charlie Kaufman, brilliantly directed by Michel Gondry. The plot involves Carrey and Winslet breaking off their relationship and utilizing the services of a surrealistic agency which erases all memories of the former loved one from the client's brain; but describing the plot of this movie misses the point. Mentioning the superb performances, the striking visual impact, the excellence of the minor characters, and the perfection of the smallest details, also kind of misses the point. To me, the point is how Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells its story and makes its points in such a wildly original way. Originality in today's world can't be celebrated enough. I gave it ten out of ten.
|The Butterfly Effect
The Butterfly Effect features Ashton Kutcher as a young man who discovers that he can mentally travel back to certain events in his life and alter his behavior, thus changing his present-day circumstances. The first part of the movie is heavy going as it's all just about his grim, horrible life as it originally happened, and some of it is quite disturbing. Once he starts tampering with events, the ride becomes more exciting. If you can ignore how silly the premise is, The Butterfly Effect is an intriguing sci-fi drama done with an unusual respect for continuity and some wonderful off-beat details. The disturbing parts include a child molestation subplot, the threat of a prison rape, and cold-blooded murder of a pet, so be aware that it's not a lighthearted romp. I gave it eight out of ten.
|Friday, February 27th, 2004|
Calendar Girls is a 2003 movie from the U.K. based on the real-life story of the middle-aged members of a Yorkshire Women's Institute who published a calendar featuring nude pictures of themselves to benefit a local hospital. Helen Mirren and Julie Walters are both funny and touching as the main instigators of the plan, but all of the ladies are very cute and Calendar Girls does an even better job than Something's Gotta Give of celebrating the beauty of the middle-aged woman. Although Calendar Girls falters when it ventures into heavy drama, it's successful as a pleasant comedy and a showcase for a number of terrific actresses. I gave it eight out of ten.
|50 First Dates
50 First Dates features Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, trying to recapture the romantic cuteness of The Wedding Singer. This time out Sandler plays a marine veterinarian in Hawaii who specializes in one night stands with tourists, and Barrymore plays a woman with short-term memory loss, like the guy in Memento. Every day she wakes up thinking it's the day of the car crash which caused her brain damage. This condition makes a continuing relationship with Sandler difficult but he keeps trying, because he was cured of the one-night-stand thing as soon as he saw her. 50 First Dates is very sweet at times and often funny as well, but it suffers from frequent outbursts of incongruous gross-out humor and dirty jokes. I gave it six out of ten.
|Monday, February 9th, 2004|
|Catch That Kid
Catch That Kid is a truly horrible children's movie about three eighth graders robbing a bank because the little girl's father suddenly falls down and needs an experimental operation in Denmark which will cost $250,000. Both boys have a crush on the girl and she strings them along to get them to help her in a way that is supposed to be cute but comes off as calculating and horrifyingly inappropriate. Meanwhile, every minute contains nonsensical plot points, witless dialogue and offensive situations. Lastly, the bank the kids rob resembles a futuristic spaceship full of holograms and the safe is conveniently located at the top of a 100-foot-high room. Catch That Kid should be destroyed and never spoken of again. I gave it two out of ten.
Miracle tells the story of the U.S. ice hockey team who won the 1980 Olympic gold medal in a huge upset. Kurt Russell, wearing the ugliest possible haircut and a stunning array of plaid pants, plays Herb Brooks, the dour Minnesota coach who hand-picked the team and bullied and coerced them to victory. Hockey fans will like all the training and game footage, and the young hockey players are very pretty, but the story is fairly straightforward. Herb picks the team, they get over some initial rivalries, work hard, and go to the Olympics at Lake Placid, end of story. Miracle is pleasant but not so inspiring or thought-provoking as it seems meant to be. I gave it seven out of ten.