It’s hard to imagine, but December 8 marks the 35th anniversary of the passing of John Lennon. As a member of the Beatles, his music sent a startling ripple through the music world. Lennon and his bandmates didn’t create rock and roll, but their role in popularizing it and helping to bring about the musical revolution of the 1960s can’t be denied. The music Lennon wrote during his Beatles years can certainly be credited with getting people dancing. As a solo musician, his music, which had evolved to reflect his interest in social activism, got people thinking. Continue reading “Remembering John Lennon”
LibraryReads is a monthly top-ten list of forthcoming books librarians across the country recommend. This December, the organizers compiled a “favorite of favorites” list, asking librarians to vote on their top picks from the more than 100 titles appearing on LibraryReads lists over the past year. If you didn’t read these books the first time they were recommended, now is your chance! Check them out to read over the holidays, or use the list for gift ideas when shopping for the readers among your friends and family.
Topping the list is “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins – no surprise there. The holds list at the library for this book was miles long, and everyone seems to be seeking the next “Gone Girl.” This dark, psychological thriller fits the bill.
Here’s the rest of the best – happy reading! Continue reading “Librarian Favorites of 2015”
World AIDS Day is held on December 1 each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.
This annual event also raises awareness about HIV/AIDS and promotes prevention and the search for a cure. Much misinformation still exists about who has the disease and how it is spread. Continue reading “Three Books (and One Film) to Mark World AIDS Day”
Whatever your feelings about Black Friday, today kicks off the holiday shopping season. Personally, I like to spend the day after Thanksgiving in my pajamas, reading and recovering from a hefty pie hangover. However, I realize others enjoy that bargain-hunting buzz. Here are some books that can help us all.
For the readers on your list, give them the gift of inspiration and pick up one of these uplifting titles. Or, if you are staying home the Friday after Thanksgiving (or visiting the library – we’re open), check out one of these books for yourself. These moving and motivating books provide stories of perseverance and advice for living – both serious and humorous – and may just inspire you to write that play or start that business. Or at least get up off of the couch. (Book descriptions provided by their publishers.) Continue reading “The Gift of Inspiration: Books for the Readers on Your List”
Most documentary filmmakers who want to tell a story about an individual try to gather footage of their subject. But what if you don’t have access to the person, or you want to take a different storytelling approach by not showing the individual? Whether by choice or not, documentary filmmakers who barely have their subjects appear on film offer a unique kind of documentary experience that tries to reveal more about a subject by their absence rather than their presence.
“Herman’s House” (2013)
The injustice of solitary confinement and the transformative power of art are explored in “Herman’s House,” a feature documentary that follows the story of one of America’s most famous inmates, Herman Wallace, as he collaborates with a New York artist on a unique project. Continue reading “Presence of Absence: Docs With Subjects Who Barely Appear on Film”
Like many readers, I was charmed by Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.” Though it’s already a cliché, I’ll admit that my favorite part of the memoir was “The Rules of Improvisation that Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat.” Sadly, I have not experienced a reduction in belly fat, but the falsity of that claim was disclosed in the footnote, so the period of jubilant hope was a short one. Fey exhorts us not only to say yes but also to say “Yes, and.” I know that I can always use a reminder to contribute, whether to an improv set, a project at the office or dinner plans.
On that note, yes, “Bossypants” was a delightful read, and here are a few other memoirs by female comedians that I found delightful as well. Continue reading “Comedy Club: Memoirs by Female Comedians”
Keen readers might notice this is the second time I’ve recommended Patrick deWitt’s work. Some will exclaim, “Sir, are there not a practically infinite number of worthy writers to recommend? Why recommend an author twice?” I will respond, “Indeed, there is a seemingly endless sea of writers deserving of my endorsement, but several factors conspire to cause a repeat recommendation of his work. I’m particularly enamored with Mr. deWitt’s writing. His newest novel was published subsequent to my previous recommendation and it is amazing. And while some quick and dubious math tells me I read upwards of 8,000 books a year, I cannot read everything, but I did recently read “Undermajordomo Minor.” Furthermore, as I saunter around town twirling my cane and mustache, my query of, ‘Have you yet mined the depths of Patrick deWitt’s talents?’ is nearly always met with either confusion, averted eyes or a non-sequiturial admonishment to ‘be careful with that cane, you nearly hit my baby.’ (I’ve said this countless times, but I will reiterate here: I never twirl my cane with anything less than utmost precision, and your baby could stand to toughen up.) Clearly, I have not been sufficiently persuasive. So until passersby respond to my deWitt-centric interrogations with a tip of their headgear and an enthusiastic, ‘Yes. And by the way, you are rather precise in the manner with which you twirl both your mustache and your cane,’ I must continue to espouse the virtues of Mr. deWitt’s work.” Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Patrick deWitt (again)”
Crisp weather and turning the calendar’s page to November means it’s pie season. This time of year my extended family begins discussions about who will bring what dish to our Thanksgiving meal, but the question of who should bake the pies is never up for debate. My mother will bake one pumpkin and one pecan pie, and the crust will be made with lard – no butter or (shudder) shortening. The pastry will be flaky and perfect, and I, unable to decide between the two flavors, will end up having a slice of each. And then I’ll ask for another piece of pumpkin to take home and have the next morning for breakfast. Continue reading “Pie Season”
“An Honest Liar”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing at last year’s Boone Dawdle, this film tells the story of the world-famous magician, escape artist and enemy of deception, James ‘The Amazing’ Randi. He devised intricate investigations exposing the ‘miracles’ of psychics, faith healers and con-artists. When a shocking revelation is discovered, is Randi is still the deceiver — or the deceived?
You’ve probably realized from your own experience that being kind brings you positive effect. We all know that warm, fuzzy feeling (known as “helper’s high” or “giver’s glow”) evoked from selfless acts of kindness and generosity extended to others. Well, it turns out that the benefits of being kind go way beyond that “feel good” feeling. Scientific research indicates significant physical and mental health benefits come from offering kindness to others. And interestingly, the bundle of benefits comes not only to those offering the kindness, but also to those receiving it and even to third party witnesses of kind acts. Continue reading “Kindness Makes the World Go Around and Improves Your Health”