DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

July 2011

Jul 6 2011

Getting Into The Game

by Joseph M

I have to admit that I’m not much of a sports fan, but I’ve always had a soft spot for soccer. Other than teeball, soccer (or football, to the rest of the world) was the only “league” sport I ever participated in, and while I was certainly not the best player around, I have fond memories of my experiences. That probably has a lot to do with my interest in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Normally I have little use for televised sports, but I can really get into these games. Right now we are right in the middle of the World Cup, which runs from June 26 through July 17 and is being hosted in Germany. You can find out more at the official FIFA website. You can also peruse our collection of books on the subject, such as The Simplest Game: The Intelligent Fan’s Guide to the World of Soccer by Paul Gardner, or The Best of Pro Soccer by Heather Adamson.

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Jul 4 2011

Mr. Mojo Risin’

by Greg H

I was casting around for a significant anniversary to write about when I found mention that this Fourth of July weekend marks the 40th anniversary of Jim Morrison’s mysterious and shabbily-documented death in Paris.  I wasn’t listening to a lot of Doors when I was in junior high, but Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin had died within that same calendar year so I remember Morrison’s passing mostly because it completed that trinity of rock n’ roll tragedies.

I better remember Morrison’s “resurrection” about ten years later. The Doors’ song, The End, had been featured in several of the scenes in the movie Apocalypse Now. Coppola used the eerie song to build to a hypnotic and frenzied climax as Colonel Kurtz was killed by President Bartlet (well, Martin Sheen) and again later, during the credits, when the Colonel’s jungle empire was napalmed.  To a new generation of listeners for whom the truncated AM radio version of Light My Fire was the Doors, this music was fresh and seductive, qualities once again personified by the late Jim Morrison.  Rolling Stone magazine ran a cover of Morrison declaring, accurately, “He’s Hot, He’s Sexy, He’s Dead”.  Jim Morrison, already gone for a decade, was a sensation all over again and possibly more popular than he’d ever been when the Doors were touring and releasing records. Better yet, he was by then incapable of the kind of antics that could jeopardize this second coming as they had the band’s first.

In 1981 the Doors were everywhere. During a trip to Wildwood, NJ my friends and I gravitated to a bar where a Doors cover band was playing. Doors shirts, hats and posters filled the boardwalk stores. In one of these a chatty salesperson quizzed my friend Dave and me about whether we thought Jim Morrison was still alive and living incognito in Africa.  Our response was kind of noncommittal, but our new friend declared “If anyone could pull this off it’d be Morrison!”  An English professor we knew even overheard one of his freshman comp students claim that, when the Doors next toured Pittsburgh, he’d definitely be there! That was a sure sign that at least some of the Doors new-found fans didn’t truly understand the mania of which they were a part.

The Doors frenzy eventually died down and now it’s been forty years since Jim Morrison, and by extension the Doors, disappeared.  I remain a fan but I still wonder how good Jim Morrison really was. He fancied himself a poet but, if what he wrote wasn’t good poetry, it often made for lyrics that were a cut above those of most songs. If he wasn’t a great singer his vocals still rumbled with passion and a touch of menace.  Morrison’s dissolute lifestyle aside, at least his legacy is one of flaming out suddenly…no showing up on late night television, shilling for the latest Time Life collection of Sixties music.  (I’m looking at you, Tommy James!)  Still, his notoriety tends to unfairly diminish the accomplishments of the band. Loving the Doors’ music is like loving the movie Platoon; it’s really great and maybe even a classic but you still feel like you need to apologize for Charlie Sheen. Even 40 years later.

The following are among the Doors items available through your DeKalb County Library System:

Many of the Doors recordings are also available. Visit your local branch to find out more.


Jul 1 2011

ShareReads: A Song of Ice and Fire

by Jesse M

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

***UPDATE***: You can now place reservations on A Dance With Dragons!!

T-minus 11 days until the fantasy literature event of the year, the release of A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin’s long awaited (5+ years!) fifth installment in his epic, award-winning A Song of Ice and Fire series (hereafter referred to as ASOIAF). I can hardly contain my excitement!

Fellow fans of the series will understand why. Beginning with A Game of Thrones and continuing through A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows, Martin has taken readers on a wild ride across kingdoms and continents, through battles and political intrigues, and into the hearts and minds of some of the most compelling characters ever to grace the page. The high quality writing, epic scope of the series, and the sizable (and still growing) number of point-of-view characters have resulted in a large and devoted fan base who eagerly await the remaining novels and hungrily devour every scrap of news related to the series.

Map of Westeros

A fan submitted map of the continent of Westeros, where much of ASOIAF takes place. Click through for a larger image.

To help keep track of all the myriad characters and plotlines, as well as to keep themselves occupied while waiting for Martin to finish A Dance With Dragons, fans have created websites which index a variety of information pertinent to the series. In-depth character and plot analysis, maps, heraldry, and spirited discussion of various “conspiracy theories” (some plausible, some rather dubious) can be found at such sites, the two most notable being Westeros.org and Towerofthehand.com. Both sites also contain episode guides and discussion forums for the ASOIAF television adaptation, Game Of Thrones, which just recently wrapped up its first season.

But let the reader beware: plot spoilers abound on both sites, particularly in the discussion forums. While both sites do a good job compartmentalizing potential spoiler information so that users won’t accidentally browse upon it, Tower Of The Hand also has a clever system in place which lets visitors to the site indicate how many books in the series they have read (as well as how many episodes of the television program they’ve viewed) and then hides problematic articles and essays. Even so, commenters aren’t obliged to add spoiler tags, so if you aren’t all caught up, be cautious.

For those who, like myself, read all the books years ago and would like a little refresher on what’s going on before diving into A Dance With Dragons, the blog Wertzone has written an excellent four part essay on what has happened so far. Part 1 details the ancient history of the world, part 2 covers the events of the past 300 years, part 3 recollects the events of the first two books, and part 4 catches readers up with the events of the third and fourth books.

While the long, agonizing wait for A Dance With Dragons is finally coming to an end, George R. R. Martin isn’t the only author who has kept his readers in a state of frantic anticipation as they await the next installment of a beloved series. An old friend of mine told me that the gaps between installments of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series were nearly unbearable for him (the spread between the publication of first installment and seventh and final volume was a staggering 27 years!), especially after King’s accident in 1999 when he was struck by a vehicle while walking on the shoulder of the road (The injuries King sustained were so difficult to cope with that at one point he announced his retirement from the writing world before eventually reconsidering and finishing the series).

What authors/series have kept you in suspense? Was the wait ultimately worthwhile?