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Movies

May 25 2016

Are You a Die Hard Fan Like Me?

by Jencey G

How many of you were excited last December when the new Star StarWars 1Wars film The Force Awakens opened in theaters?  Are you feeling the blues now waiting for the next Star Wars film to be released?  Did you know that we have much to offer at DCPL with Star Wars movies, books, and more?

Star Wars Allegiance by Timothy Zahn

Star Wars Art: Visions by George Lucas and JW Rinzler

Star Wars, Attack of the Clones: Incredible Cross Sections by Curtis Saxton

Star Wars, Attack of the Clones: Visual Dictionary by David West Reynolds

Star Wars, Blast Off A Doring Kindersley Reader

Star Wars, Cloak of Deception by James Luceno

Star Wars, Complete Cross Sections by David West Reynolds

StarWarsAftermathThese books cover information about all of the movies except The Force Awakens.  With these titles, you have a chance to explore other possibilities and go on further adventures with your favorite characters.  I remember after seeing the The Force Awakens feeling withdrawal because I wanted to see more and learn more about these characters.  I, like everyone else, will be marking my calendar until the next film is released.

I first learned about Star Wars when I was a little kid and my father took me to see the original movies.  For me, they were like fairy tales with a handsome prince or scoundrel, if you like Han Solo.  The princess of course is Leia.  Then you have the Queen Amidala who is rescued by the Jedi warrior Anakin Skywalker.

So happy reading! And may the Force be with you!

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Apr 19 2016

Monkey Town, U.S.A.

by Hope L

Smiths

While reading the latest issue of my favorite DCPL mag, Smithsonian, I learned that one can still visit Monkey Town, U.S.A. ( actually Dayton, Tennessee), where they celebrate annually one of the most controversial trials in our nation’s history.

“Pretty much every summer since 1988, this tiny Appalachian town (pop. 7,200) has roused itself to celebrate that publicity stunt gone viral.  The Scopes Trial Festival, held over two weekends in July, features live bluegrass, tractor and craft shows, and a fried-Oreo food truck.  A storyteller spins his tales like a barker at a sideshow.  The centerpiece of the festival is a town-commissioned musical, Front Page News, which re-enacts the trial in the vast courtroom where it was held.

The play, performed by members of the nearby Cumberland County Playhouse, is essentially a rebuttal to Inherit the Wind ( both the DVD of the film starring Spencer Tracy and the book by the same name are available at DCPL).  The Hollywood version of the trial is widely loathed in Dayton, and the Front Page News does hew much more closely to the court transcript.”

Both the book and the DVD are available at DCPL.

 

inherit

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Oct 9 2015

Meru vs. The Holiday Inn

by Hope L

meruI have written previously here about adventurous sports like mountain climbing, ultra-marathons and cross-canyon treks.

But when I saw the film Meru (which won the Audience Award at Sundance) over a weekend at the Midtown Art Cinema, I thought, “Oh, come on now!”

Narrated by one of my favorite authors, Jon Krakauer (who knows a few things about mountain climbing), the film follows the pursuit of three climbers to summit the thus far unattainable Himalayan peak Meru. (Click here to see the movie trailer featured at The Guardian.)

Now, when I read and blogged about Krakauer’s and other climbs of Mount Everest, I thought surely that must be the ultimate challenge. Hardly. Meru sort of makes Everest look like the Holiday Inn.

I’m exaggerating, per usual, but watching these guys in their ledge bivouac, dangling precariously and waving in the sheer winds of an ice storm, having first lugged their equipment up the straight vertical cliffs (no sherpas in their right minds would work here), fighting frostbite and avalanches in a quest to perch atop a single “shark fin” protruding from this massive rock–well, let’s just say they wrote the book on crazy.

But almost running out of food and fuel has to be the last straw. It’s not like they have Papa John’s on speed dial up there.  I mean, even at the bottom of the Grand Canyon you can get a meal in a restaurant!

No, although the views are breathtaking at the top of the world, I fear my only involvement in extreme sports will have to continue to be outlasting the green-haired Generation X-er on the Stairmaster next to me at the gym.

And oh, does that make me happy!

Mammoth Book of Eyewitness EverestBut undoubtedly I will be reading more about Everest soon, inspired by the new movie with Jake Gyllenhaal.  There’s nothing better on a chilly day (or a hot one) than reading inside in a comfy chair (or sitting in a climate-controlled theater) while the crazy people in freezing, life-or-death adventure-dramas do their thing.

Use this link to find more books at DCPL about mountaineering and Everest, including The Mammoth Book of Eyewitness Everest edited by Jon E. Lewis, with 32 firsthand accounts.

Note to self: Stock up on hot chocolate and popcorn!  It’s going to be a COLD winter!

If you want to view the trailer for Gyllenhaal’s film, see: Everest – Official Trailer (HD) – YouTube.

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There is so much available on our library website. I’d like to discuss the RSS feeds with you today. They are listed on the right side of the DCPL homepage. One recommendation I make to patrons all the time is to check out these feeds, which are updated every Wednesday, to find out about new items at the Library. There are also feeds for popular reads currently available in the system–with no waiting. We have a feed for everyone!

Below are some examples of what DeKalb County Public Library offers when following RSS feeds.

New Adult Fiction

New Adult Nonfiction

Great Reads, No Waiting

Great DVDs, No Waiting

New Adult DVDs

New Young Adult Fiction Titles

New Juvenile Fiction Books

If you have a book club or want to have a movie night, the feeds for Great Reads, No Waiting or Great DVDs, No Waiting can provide the perfect option! If you see items of interest, but all of the copies are already checked out, you can make a request for a Hold to receive the next available copy. (See the information about Holds on Materials on this page.)

I hope you have a chance to check our RSS feeds out and let us know what you think!

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Jun 19 2015

Art or Life?

by Rebekah B

Hello readers,

I love watching movies–the kind of movies which explore the dilemmas and dramas of human passions and desires. Cinema is an art form that, when well done, can fully engage our hearts and minds. When we get down to what brings meaning to our everyday lives, I think most of us would like to feel that by being in the world we have somehow served our families, friends, and co-workers by sharing some essential aspects of our own being. For the artist, the need to create meaning through art is more often than not a compulsion–a need more important than building family or career. We may ask ourselves the question: Which is more important–to live one’s life in a compassionate manner, adding value to the relationships we nurture at home and at work, or to isolate oneself to a certain degree from society in order to produce work that will allow future generations to continue to relate to the workings of our heart and mind, long after our personal death?

HumblingBirdmanA few recent (2014), somewhat literary films in our DCPL collection, I feel, illustrate this theme well. Birdman, written and directed by  Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Michael Keaton, and The Humbling, directed by Barry Levinson, starring Al Pacino and based on the next to the last novel written by Philip Roth, both feature aging screen and stage actors struggling to remain relevant, to prove to themselves and to the world that they still possess the magical power that grabs the viewer by the emotions and reels them in. Both protagonists are terrified by a progressively tenuous relationship with reality, with friends and family. Yet their desires remain powerful, and they fight the demons of death and chaos as vigorously as they engage the remains of their personal genius in their art.

WhiplashWhiplash, written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons, is, I feel, the most powerful of the three films. Teller plays a young and ambitious drummer enrolled in a New York City conservatory. In a telling moment, he squashes a budding relationship with a young woman to whom he is obviously attracted, feeling that his overriding desire to become a famous drummer will cause him to inevitably dissatisfy her–and that she, as an ordinary young woman, will never understand or be fulfilled by him. In his youthful arrogance, he somehow knows that his need to excel as a musician dominates any other desires. As we watch the scene, the painful question, “art or life?” is illustrated. In Whiplash, the relationship between Andrew, the young drummer, and his mentor, the verbally abusive and manipulative Fletcher, is intense and fascinating. Fletcher uses any means he deems necessary to bring to fruition the talent he sees in his young charges, and Andrew’s vulnerability and passion stir in the viewer an ambiguous desire to see him succeed.

In all of these films, the viewer experiences the angst-ridden desire of the artist to remain relevant as he ages, as well as our own fears about the loss of vitality. We share the struggle of the artist to straddle the fine line between his own vivid imagination and the demands of conventional reality. We observe the dedication and work required to develop and maintain the necessary craft which is the armature of any successful and compelling art form. Watching these films, we can experience with emotion the conflicts and difficulties caused in the artist’s personal life by his or her focus on an art form to the near exclusion of all other responsibilities and relationships. You could say that the artist is egocentric, a narcissist. And it is true to a certain degree. Art is an unforgiving mistress or master, requiring uncompromising devotion. As a mere human being, the artist is nearly always at the mercy of art itself.

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juneauI love Jon Krakauer’s books. For some reason I assumed that I had read them all, but then I stumbled upon Into the Wild, Krakauer’s book that tells the story of Christopher McCandless. And it turns out this is probably the author’s most famous one (especially after the 2007 movie of the same name, directed and produced by Sean Penn, which is also available at DCPL).

It’s eerie that I should discover and read this book right before my vacation to the very state where the real-life McCandless journey takes place: Alaska. No, I will not be going out “into the wild,” foraging for berries and sleeping on the ground, trying to eke out precious protein by catching small rodents, or wearing crampons and climbing with an ice ax along mountainous crevices. I will be cruising on an ocean liner in luxurious comfort, receiving massages and eating an abundance of tasty food–being waited on hand and foot like the naive and lazy adventurer that I am–for I am not really an adventurer but a shameless tourist. No doubt I will purchase souvenirs in Alaska that were actually made in China.

glacbayAs of writing this paragraph, I have now returned from my 9-day trip. It was beautiful, as you can see by the photos taken by yours truly, a wanna-be photographer with an iPhone. I can totally understand McCandless yearning to spend time in Alaska. But I would never be willing to “rough it” as he did. I did consider it quite rough, however, when our stateroom commode overflowed in the middle of the night and we had to call maintenance in at 3:30 a.m. I had to use my best wilderness survival tactic: I blamed my spouse.

And now, DCPL has added to its collection The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless, Christopher’s sister. Written almost 20 years after Krakauer’s book, Carine shines some light on her brother’s legendary adventure.

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Comic books have had a huge positive impact on my life. As a child of 7 or 8, I would visit the gas station at the edge of my neighborhood on a weekly basis to buy a couple of comics with my meager allowance earned by completing household chores. Pouring over these weekly purchases expanded my vocabulary, sharpened my reading comprehension skills, and whet my appetite for more. By the third grade I was reading at a level well above my peers, and though I eventually progressed to lengthier novels, I continued to read comic books regularly, all the way into high school. As such, I have a permanent place in my heart for comic books and was incredibly pleased and excited when movie adaptations of my favorite titles began to be released. The transition of those superheroes onto the big screen and into mainstream pop culture resulted in a whole new generation of fans. Sadly though, many of these new fans have never been exposed to the comic books that the films they’ve grown to love were adapted from.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Winter Soldier coverDCPL not only carries many of the recent superhero film adaptations, but frequently we also carry the corresponding print comic book titles in our Young Adult and Adult Graphic Novel collections. In many cases, the story ideas and even titles for the film adaptations were directly inspired by their print predecessors. A good example is the recently released Captain America: The Winter Soldier, much of which is based on the comic by Ed Brubaker of the same name. Others films may draw from their ancestral comic series more generally, although they’ll often contain allusions and references that old school fans will pick up and delight in. While there are far too many DVDs and comic series for me to enumerate on this blog, I’ve posted a sampling of some of the most recent films and some of the corresponding comics below. If you are interested in more titles from a particular superhero or superhero team, ask a librarian for assistance, or just try searching the catalog for yourself; both movies and comic books can typically be pulled up with a title search.

Essential X-men
You’ve seen the movie: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Now read the comic book!: Essential X-Men

 

You’ve seen the movie: Iron Man 3Invincible Iron Man

Now read the comic book!: Invincible Iron Man

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Sep 12 2014

Ready for Fresh AND Affordable

by Rebekah B

un climate summit 2014

At DCPL, if you haven’t already taken note, we have a wonderful collection of documentary films.  A lover of the cinema and an eternal student, I am always eager to check out new additions to our collection.

As world leaders calling for restoration of ecosystems prepare to convene at the United Nations Climate Summit this September 23rd in New York City, the largest people’s demonstration on climate change is also scheduled on the morning of September 21st. In the spirit of environmental awareness, I am trying to do my part to make our society, economy, and food/health-care more sustainable. Although I am unable to attend the NYC march, I can write, watch relevant movies, exercise, buy healthy local foods, recycle and re-use items instead of buying new, travel less…and much more!

Fresh_flyer

One of the films that I recently watched and found noteworthy from our DCPL collection is Fresh: New Thinking About What We’re Eating, produced and directed by Ana Sofia Joanes in 2009.  With an outlook intended to be as objective as possible while supporting the sustainability and local food movement, the film features visits to industrial or conventional farms and to sustainable organic farms and lightly touches upon the problem of food deserts.  The film also includes interviews with farmers from both ends of the spectrum, some of whom had begun their careers as conventional farmers, later converting to organic farming, as well as urban farmers, activists, and smaller businesses promoting locally produced foods.

By visually demonstrating and comparing the processes, output, economics, and attitudes of industrial and sustainable farming, I was able to observe for myself as well as to learn from the experiences of these Americans who have devoted their lives to farming, producing and distributing food.  There is a lushness and beauty to the farms where animals and humans share information about living in harmony with nature that is so harshly lacking in the feedlots and chicken farms, where the animals appear stressed, their coats and feathers dull or literally hen-pecked. Prior to watching this film, I did not realize that industrial farmers clip the beaks on their chickens and that pigs’ tails are trimmed.  Bored and frustrated, the animals often attack one another in close quarters, where they never see the light of day.

anajoanes

Organic farmer Joel Salatin of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia demonstrates how he pastures his herd of about 300 cows in fields in which over twenty different types of grasses and wild flowering plants flourish. Conventional farm feedlots group together thousands of animals in close quarters. As in nature, in which cows naturally move to different areas over the course of a day or week to graze, Joel rotates the cows (and pigs) to varied pasture lands from day to day.  Bringing in chickens to the pastures where the cows have grazed, the birds earn their keep by picking the fly larvae from the cow manure deposited throughout the field, allowing the cows to soon return and avoid infection by parasites.

Mr. Salatin explains that sustainable farms are much more efficient and clean than industrial farms.  The animals are healthy, yet they are given no medications, and the veterinarian is almost never needed.

russkremer5

Conventional farms produce huge amounts of pollution growing grain that does not feed people, but cows (who are by nature consumers of grasses). It is expensive to produce this grain, which requires huge amounts of water and enormous quantities of pesticides.  Groundwater and soil are polluted and depleted by this process, and the natural variety of grasses that would ordinarily populate and regenerate the soil is suppressed.  Feedlot animals are regularly injected with antibiotics and consume pesticides through the grain they eat.  Their feces accumulate in large quantities and cannot be recycled because of contamination by the drugs and pesticides.  Additional pollutants are created through the gases produced by the waste.  The continuous use of low-grade antibiotics causes bacteria to mutate, creating strains that are antibiotic resistant, affecting animals and humans alike and creating risk of untreatable infections. The meats produced by grain-fed cows and pigs are also unhealthy because of concentrations of pesticides, antibiotics, and omega 6 fats accumulating in the meat from the high carbohydrate diet.

ChickensInBatteryCageslg

Conventional farmers interviewed in the film complain that they have difficulty finding people to work all shifts in their plants, particularly in the processing areas, because of unhealthy conditions.  It becomes clear that going against nature is expensive, inefficient, unhealthy, unpleasant and sometimes life threatening to both people and animals.

Today, we face a quandary.  Large industrial farms receive federal government grants to raise grain that does not feed people.  These single crop farms threaten plant and animal diversity and are creating an environmental disaster.  By producing local food even in urban areas, we can lower the costs of creating sufficient, healthy, fresh foods and make them affordable and available to everyone in the country, including low income families in urban areas.  By watching this film, while already convinced of the necessity to make healthy and local foods available at reasonable cost to our entire population, regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location, I feel the urgency to help people become more aware of the environmental consequences of conventional agriculture in this country.

industrial vs conventional farming

As consumers, the film notes that each purchase we make is a vote, a demonstration of each of our voices in the democratic process. By purchasing local foods, we are supporting the sustainable movement.  By supporting organic farms that produce quality products, we are supporting our economies and producing jobs in places where people enjoy their work and are well paid for the work they do.  Animals who are raised in accordance with the laws of nature are happier and healthier, and the interconnected process of sustainable farming ensures sufficient food for everyone at a lower cost with infinite benefits for all.  The rear panel of the jacket of a documentary new to DCPL, Fed Up, reads: “This generation will live shorter lives than their parents. By 2050, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes.”  If this is not a wake-up call to change your family’s eating and buying habits and to take action to change the American way of life for the better, I don’t know what is!

basket of veggies

Industrial agriculture and feedlots are responsible for the production of more greenhouse gases than the burning of fossil fuels, to the order of at least 18% (in 2008) according to Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  An Indian economist and vegetarian, Dr. Pachauri recommends a reduction in the consumption of meats as an important personal contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases and the global warming effect.  Choosing to eat grass-fed organic meats or organic poultry is also a good choice. Whatever decisions you consciously make in this direction contribute to the return to balance of man’s relationship with nature.  Your stomach will thank you!

A selection of documentaries on sustainable living and health, the environment, and climate change in the DCPL collections:

Fed Up  2014

Hungry for Change 2012

Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? 2010

Plastic Planet 2009

Burning the Future: Coal in America 2008

Carbon Nation  2011

Children of the Tsunami 2011

Garbage Warrior  2007

No Impact Man 2008

Food, Inc. 2008

Blue Gold World Water Wars 2008

Car of the Future 2008

Farmageddon 2011

It’s a Big Big World. The Earth Needs You: Recycling and Caring for the Environment 2007

Freeze, Freeze, Fry: Climate Past, Present, and Future  2007

The Science of Climate Change 2014

Sustainability in the 21st Century 2008

Tapped  2010

The Garden 2008

Fast Food Nation  2006

Business Advice for Organic Farmers 2012

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Mar 6 2014

Big night

by Dea Anne M

Made for Each Other by Bronwyn CosgraveWho doesn’t love the Academy Awards? I sure do. Each year, I eagerly await the  chance to experience once more the lavish spectacle, the breathless anticipation, the heartfelt acceptance speeches…

Ha, ha…just kidding! I watch it for the clothes. Truthfully, in recent years, I don’t watch the show at all (I just can’t stay up that late). Without fail though, I check the internet in the days following to see who wore what. I don’t care much for the snarkier “What was she thinking?” pictorials and usually ignore those, but I am drawn like the proverbial moth to the flame of each year’s fashion triumphs.

I know I’m not alone in my love for awards show fashion and if you share my interest and want to delve more deeply, DCPL has resources for you.

The Complete Book of Oscar Fashion: variety’s 75 years of glamour on the red carpet by Reeve Chace is as complete a compendium as one could wish of the subject (at least up to 2003). Page after page of snappily captioned photographs capture Oscar’s stellar fashion moments as well as some of the more startling (though no less famous) outfits.

Made for Each Other: fashion and the Academy Awards by Bronwyn Crosgrave is a detailed and well-illustrated account of Oscar fashion starting with the ceremony’s inception in 1929. It might be fair to say that this book gives us the “story behind the dress”, from the blue bias-cut gown Mary Pickford wore in 1929 to Nicole Kidman’s 1997 embroidered chartreuse  frock. Cosgrave devotes a major portion of the book to designer/ actress partnerships such as Hubert de Givenchy and Audrey Hepburn, Edith Head and Grace Kelly, and Bob Mackie and Cher. Fascinating stuff!

Speaking of Edith Head, you might enjoy David Chierichetti’s Edith Head: the life and times of Hollywood’s celebrated costume designer. Arguably one of Hollywood’s most gifted costume designers, Head’s career spanned more than 50 years. She dressed dozens of actresses in as many classic films including:

Click the actresses names above to see fabulous examples of Head’s work!

Here’s a fun  infographic of every dress worn by every Best Actress winner from 1929 to 2013. You will note that some years are missing and these indicate years that the winning actress did not attend the awards ceremony. My favorites include Vivian Leigh’s simple floral dress from 1940, the blue satin gown worn by Grace Kelly in 1955 (designed by Edith Head!), the black and white vintage Valentino that Julia Roberts wore in 2001, and Reese Witherspoon’s Dior gown from 2006.

Of course, I realize that I’ve only touched on women’s fashion in this post. Part of that, I suppose, has to do with a definite media bias. After all, women’s formal fashion tends to allow a greater variation in color and style than that of men.  From time to time, a brave actor attempts his own bit of sartorial rebellion—usually to mixed responses.  Consider this year’s winning actors Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto in their matching white jackets. Some are saying yea and some nay. Call me old fashioned,  but I think that nothing beats the classic black tuxedo for elegance and style.

What are your favorite Oscar fashions?

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Regular readers of this blog know that I am a passionate cook and an enthusiastic gardener. Another interest of mine is games and puzzles of all sorts but especially crossword puzzles. I used to subscribe to the Sunday New York Times but I stopped the subscription when I realized (and I’m embarrassed by this) that I was only reading the magazine and doing the crossword. Then,  I subscribed to the Atlanta Journal Constitution when I realized that it also runs the Times crossword on Sunday (the week after it runs in the Times). I stopped that subscription when I realized (and I’m embarrassed by this) that I was only reading the advice columns and doing the crossword. Now,  I buy the omnibus collections of the NYT’s Sunday puzzles. There are loads of crossword puzzles available online but I like the heft of the books and the sense of satisfaction that I gain from solving the puzzles one by one. I also enjoy contemplating the ego boost I will receive should anyone ever ask about my preferred puzzle and method. I will reply that not only do I consider the New York Times to be the gold standard of crosswords but that I always solve the puzzle in ink. Surprisingly, no one has ever asked me the question!

Of course, the NYT publishes American style crosswords which contain fewer shaded squares than British, Japanese, or Swedish style puzzles. American puzzles also (though not always) have a theme and these are the puzzles that I like best. Show me a puzzle with a title such as “When In Rome?” or “Proverbial Conflicts” and I can’t wait to sit down with a cup of tea and a writing implement (pen, please!).

Are you interested in crosswords? If so,  DCPL has plenty of material to keep you informed and entertained.

cruciverbalismCruciverbalism: a crossword fanatic’s guide to life in the grid by Stanley Newman with Mark Lasswell is an interesting look into the world of those who make the puzzles we enjoy (Newman is the crossword editor for Newsday) and also provides tips for solving puzzles and bits of history—such as the reasons that modern newspaper puzzles increase in difficulty as the week goes on.  Thanks to this book, I have also discovered (much to my shock) that the Sunday NYT puzzle is not the most difficult of the week (that honor goes to Saturday’s puzzle), it’s just the biggest. A cruciverbalist, by the way, is someone who (according to Merriam-Webster) “is skillful in creating or solving crossword puzzles.”

[read the rest of this post…]

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