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(Anti)Superheroes

Next Book Buzz - June 22, 2015

Book cover for The Dark Knight ReturnsThe superhero. The origin story, the nemesis, the team up, the world-saving, etc. Oh, and the reboot. Never forget the reboot. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. The superhero is an enduring trope that has permeated pop-culture. Inevitably, writers and artists started creating comics that critique, satirize and subvert the idea of the superhero. What might have started as efforts to tell a new story in a well-worn genre morphed into creative examinations of the concept of the superhero. Despite any high-minded genre dissections, the basic thrill of superhero stories is in these titles. These creators work in the genre because they ultimately love it, warts and all.

In 1986 two series premiered which are now touchstones for the re-imagining of the superhero story: Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller tells the story of a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who must return from retirement (spoiler alert!) as Batman. Gotham has turned into a bit of a dystopian nightmare in the 10 years since Batman retired. Batman is not so nice and not very stable. His reemergence brings some of his arch rivals out of retirement as well, which adds to the chaos in Gotham. In addition to being a different take on an iconic character, “The Dark Knight Returns” satirizes the media and political atmosphere of the 1980s.

Cover for The Watchmen graphic novelWatchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons also offers a critique of the 1980s, specifically the Cold War hysteria of the time. It examines political themes buried in comics, such as the line between vigilantism and fascism, and what a government might really do with superpowered beings. Moore’s original idea started as a murder mystery involving characters from Charlton Comics, which DC Comics had just purchased. Although Moore was persuaded to create original characters for the story, it maintained it’s very meta take on comics, what Gibbons referred to as “a comic about comics.”

An unfortunate trend followed the success of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Many comics appeared that tried to replicate their success with darker, more violent superhero stories, but they lacked the substance that made those comics lasting works. However, some darker comics followed whose quality is comparable.

The series Marshal Law by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill first appeared in October 1987, when the final issue of Watchmen was published. It’s a darkly satirical story where the superheros are misguided government experiments and shell-shocked war vets wreaking havoc in a crumbling San Francisco, now called “San Futuro.” Marshal Law is a legally sanctioned superhero hunter (“I’m a hero hunter. I hunt heroes. Haven’t found any yet,” is his tag line). He’s trying to round up all the rogue heroes to make the city safer. From superheros.

Cover for the graphic novel The BoysThe Boys by Garth Ennis also deals with out-of-control superheros with a dark, satirical tone. In this case the superheros are an amoral and entitled variety that play a public role as “heroes” while in reality show a complete disregard for others. The Boys are a CIA-backed group who have lost loved ones, or otherwise had their lives ruined, by the negligence and misbehavior of superheroes. They are given injections of the same compound that creates superheroes and tasked with holding the “‘supes” accountable. They do so with a vengeance.

The series Irredeemable and Incorruptible by Mark Waid tell two sides to the same story. Irredeemable is the story of Plutonian, a god-like superhero from another world (like Superman) who loses it. He lays waste to much of the world, and the survivors live in terror of him. The story traces the cause of his meltdown, while also following the uphill battle surviving superheros have in their attempt to stop the most powerful being on Earth.

Incorruptible follows super villain Max Damage after Plutonian’s meltdown. The horror inflicted by Plutonian and the state the world is in give Max a crisis of conscience. The series follows him as he tries to change his ways and do right in this broken world.

Cover of the graphic novel Death RayDaniel ClowesThe Death Ray examines the “with great power comes great responsibility” line from Spider-Man, asking “what might a misfit teenager really do if he had superpowers?” Andy is growing up in 1970s Chicago and suffering at the hands of bullies. He discovers that smoking cigarettes gives him super strength. Naturally, he arms himself with a ray gun and looks for revenge. Andy is neither good nor evil but a realistic portrait of a mixed-up kid given some unrealistic abilities. The story is told with the mix of melancholy, humor and cynicism that has made Clowes one of the most critically acclaimed cartoonists of our time.

The post (Anti)Superheroes appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

(Anti)Superheroes

DBRL Next - June 22, 2015

Book cover for The Dark Knight ReturnsThe superhero. The origin story, the nemesis, the team up, the world-saving, etc. Oh, and the reboot. Never forget the reboot. We’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again. The superhero is an enduring trope that has permeated pop-culture. Inevitably, writers and artists started creating comics that critique, satirize and subvert the idea of the superhero. What might have started as efforts to tell a new story in a well-worn genre morphed into creative examinations of the concept of the superhero. Despite any high-minded genre dissections, the basic thrill of superhero stories is in these titles. These creators work in the genre because they ultimately love it, warts and all.

In 1986 two series premiered which are now touchstones for the re-imagining of the superhero story: Watchmen, and The Dark Knight Returns. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller tells the story of a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who must return from retirement (spoiler alert!) as Batman. Gotham has turned into a bit of a dystopian nightmare in the 10 years since Batman retired. Batman is not so nice and not very stable. His reemergence brings some of his arch rivals out of retirement as well, which adds to the chaos in Gotham. In addition to being a different take on an iconic character, “The Dark Knight Returns” satirizes the media and political atmosphere of the 1980s.

Cover for The Watchmen graphic novelWatchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons also offers a critique of the 1980s, specifically the Cold War hysteria of the time. It examines political themes buried in comics, such as the line between vigilantism and fascism, and what a government might really do with superpowered beings. Moore’s original idea started as a murder mystery involving characters from Charlton Comics, which DC Comics had just purchased. Although Moore was persuaded to create original characters for the story, it maintained it’s very meta take on comics, what Gibbons referred to as “a comic about comics.”

An unfortunate trend followed the success of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. Many comics appeared that tried to replicate their success with darker, more violent superhero stories, but they lacked the substance that made those comics lasting works. However, some darker comics followed whose quality is comparable.

The series Marshal Law by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill first appeared in October 1987, when the final issue of Watchmen was published. It’s a darkly satirical story where the superheros are misguided government experiments and shell-shocked war vets wreaking havoc in a crumbling San Francisco, now called “San Futuro.” Marshal Law is a legally sanctioned superhero hunter (“I’m a hero hunter. I hunt heroes. Haven’t found any yet,” is his tag line). He’s trying to round up all the rogue heroes to make the city safer. From superheros.

Cover for the graphic novel The BoysThe Boys by Garth Ennis also deals with out-of-control superheros with a dark, satirical tone. In this case the superheros are an amoral and entitled variety that play a public role as “heroes” while in reality show a complete disregard for others. The Boys are a CIA-backed group who have lost loved ones, or otherwise had their lives ruined, by the negligence and misbehavior of superheroes. They are given injections of the same compound that creates superheroes and tasked with holding the “‘supes” accountable. They do so with a vengeance.

The series Irredeemable and Incorruptible by Mark Waid tell two sides to the same story. Irredeemable is the story of Plutonian, a god-like superhero from another world (like Superman) who loses it. He lays waste to much of the world, and the survivors live in terror of him. The story traces the cause of his meltdown, while also following the uphill battle surviving superheros have in their attempt to stop the most powerful being on Earth.

Incorruptible follows super villain Max Damage after Plutonian’s meltdown. The horror inflicted by Plutonian and the state the world is in give Max a crisis of conscience. The series follows him as he tries to change his ways and do right in this broken world.

Cover of the graphic novel Death RayDaniel ClowesThe Death Ray examines the “with great power comes great responsibility” line from Spider-Man, asking “what might a misfit teenager really do if he had superpowers?” Andy is growing up in 1970s Chicago and suffering at the hands of bullies. He discovers that smoking cigarettes gives him super strength. Naturally, he arms himself with a ray gun and looks for revenge. Andy is neither good nor evil but a realistic portrait of a mixed-up kid given some unrealistic abilities. The story is told with the mix of melancholy, humor and cynicism that has made Clowes one of the most critically acclaimed cartoonists of our time.

The post (Anti)Superheroes appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Next Month: Cosplay Costume Con for All Ages

DBRLTeen - June 22, 2015

Cosplay Banner 1

Cosplay Costume Con for All Ages
Come to the library dressed as your favorite character! Whether superhero, anime, sci-fi or your own original design, we want to see you as you usually aren’t! Prizes will be given for costumes in different age categories, and participants can pose for some great photo ops. This program is for all ages! No registration required.

Columbia Public Library
Wednesday, July 22
at 6:00 p.m. Callaway County
Public Library
Thursday, July 30
at 6:30 p.m. Southern Boone County
Public Library
Tuesday, August 4
at 6:30 p.m.

Photos by Flickr User Marnie Joyce. Used under Creative Commons license.

Originally published at Next Month: Cosplay Costume Con for All Ages.

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Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The July 2015 List

Next Book Buzz - June 19, 2015

Library Reads LogoCan we all just agree to take the month of July off to sit around in our hammocks sipping iced tea and reading until our eyeballs break? The LibraryReads list highlighting books publishing next month (and inspiring librarians across the country to entertain similar fantasies) includes not only the expected breezy romances but also a new historical fiction from Paula McClain (“The Paris Wife“) and a confident debut that will delight foodies with an appetite for character-driven novels. Bon appétit!

Book cover for Kitchens of the Great MidwestKitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal
“This novel is quirky and colorful. The story revolves around chef Eva Thorvald and the people who influence her life and her cooking. With well-drawn characters and mouthwatering descriptions of meals, ‘Kitchens of the Great Midwest’ will appeal to readers who like vivid storytelling. Foodies will also enjoy this delicious tale.” – Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ

Book cover for Circling the SunCircling the Sun” by Paula McLain
“I couldn’t stop reading this fascinating portrayal of Beryl Markham, a complex and strong-willed woman who fought to make her way in the world on her terms. McLain paints a captivating portrait of Africa in the 1920s and the life of expats making their home there. Highly, highly recommended.” – Halle Eisenman, Beaufort County Library, Hilton Head, SC

Book cover for Kiss MeKiss Me” by Susan Mallery
“As always, Ms. Mallery has given us a fantastic read. As soon as I pick up her titles, I can’t put them down until I have finished them. They are feel-good, heartwarming — I need more synonyms. I love seeing all the previous characters, the friendships and families that have formed since ‘Chasing Perfect’ came out five years ago. Thanks, Ms. Mallery, for another amazing read.” – Jenelle Klavenga, Marshalltown Public Library, Marshalltown, IA

Here is the rest of the July list with links to the library’s catalog. Place your holds now!

Second Chance Summer” by Jill Shalvis
Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs
Those Girls” by Chevy Stevens
Maybe in Another Life” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Crooked Heart” by Lissa Evans
Love Lies Beneath” by Ellen Hopkins
Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day” by Leanne Brown

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The July 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The July 2015 List

DBRL Next - June 19, 2015

Library Reads LogoCan we all just agree to take the month of July off to sit around in our hammocks sipping iced tea and reading until our eyeballs break? The LibraryReads list highlighting books publishing next month (and inspiring librarians across the country to entertain similar fantasies) includes not only the expected breezy romances but also a new historical fiction from Paula McClain (“The Paris Wife“) and a confident debut that will delight foodies with an appetite for character-driven novels. Bon appétit!

Book cover for Kitchens of the Great MidwestKitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal
“This novel is quirky and colorful. The story revolves around chef Eva Thorvald and the people who influence her life and her cooking. With well-drawn characters and mouthwatering descriptions of meals, ‘Kitchens of the Great Midwest’ will appeal to readers who like vivid storytelling. Foodies will also enjoy this delicious tale.” – Anbolyn Potter, Chandler Public Library, Chandler, AZ

Book cover for Circling the SunCircling the Sun” by Paula McLain
“I couldn’t stop reading this fascinating portrayal of Beryl Markham, a complex and strong-willed woman who fought to make her way in the world on her terms. McLain paints a captivating portrait of Africa in the 1920s and the life of expats making their home there. Highly, highly recommended.” – Halle Eisenman, Beaufort County Library, Hilton Head, SC

Book cover for Kiss MeKiss Me” by Susan Mallery
“As always, Ms. Mallery has given us a fantastic read. As soon as I pick up her titles, I can’t put them down until I have finished them. They are feel-good, heartwarming — I need more synonyms. I love seeing all the previous characters, the friendships and families that have formed since ‘Chasing Perfect’ came out five years ago. Thanks, Ms. Mallery, for another amazing read.” – Jenelle Klavenga, Marshalltown Public Library, Marshalltown, IA

Here is the rest of the July list with links to the library’s catalog. Place your holds now!

Second Chance Summer” by Jill Shalvis
Speaking in Bones” by Kathy Reichs
Those Girls” by Chevy Stevens
Maybe in Another Life” by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Crooked Heart” by Lissa Evans
Love Lies Beneath” by Ellen Hopkins
Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day” by Leanne Brown

The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The July 2015 List appeared first on DBRL Next.

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First 2015 Adult Summer Reading Gift Card Winner Announced

DBRL Next - June 19, 2015

TrophyCongratulations to Kerri G., a Columbia Public Library patron, for winning our first Adult Summer Reading prize drawing.  She is the recipient of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.

All it takes to be entered into our weekly drawings is to sign up for Adult Summer Reading. You can do this at any of our branch locations or Bookmobile stops or register online.  Also, don’t forget that submitting book reviews increases your chances of winning.  There are plenty of chances left to win this summer, so keep those reviews coming.

The post First 2015 Adult Summer Reading Gift Card Winner Announced appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Reader Review: The Tusk That Did The Damage

DBRL Next - June 18, 2015

Editor’s note: The following review is by a library patron and contributed as part of this year’s Adult Summer Reading program. Want to submit reviews of your own? Sign up and get started today!

tusk that did the damageThe Tusk That Did The Damage” follows the story of three characters: The Gravedigger (an elephant who buries his victims he kills), Manu (the brother of a poacher who goes to jail) and a documentary film team recording the wildlife conservation organization in the area. I felt this book had three very good stories, but may have been better if it focused on developing one story. The three stories didn’t connect very well except for Manu and the Gravedigger.

Three words that describe this book: emotional, scattered, slow-starting.

You might want to pick this book up if: you are interested in a story that depicts poaching and efforts to prevent poaching or are just a fan of elephants!

-Luke

The post Reader Review: The Tusk That Did The Damage appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Remnants: One Read Art Exhibit Call for Submissions

One Read - June 18, 2015

Moth and bulbRemnants
A One Read Art Exhibit
Orr Street Studios (106 Orr Street, Columbia)

“No more diving into pools of chlorinated water lit green from below. No more ball games played out under floodlights. No more porch lights with moths fluttering on summer nights. No more trains running under the surface of cities on the dazzling power of the electric third rail. No more cities.” ~ Emily St. John Mandel, “Station Eleven”

 

If the world were changed by sudden catastrophe – no electricity, medicine, Internet, transportation – what would you miss most? Inspired by this year’s One Read selection, we invite mid-Missouri artists to contribute works that explore the objects or relationships in our connected, complex and electrified world we’d yearn for most if they were lost to us.

Cash prizes will be awarded for three winners, courtesy of Columbia’s Office of Cultural Affairs. The third place winner will receive $50, the second place winner $75 and the first place winner $125. The first place winner will also receive a one-year membership to the Columbia Art League. Art will be displayed August 31 through September 26 at Orr Street Studios with a reception, awards and program on Tuesday, September 15, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Submission Details

  • Artists must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Artists may submit one work in any visual medium.
  • Pieces should be ready for display; pieces without secure hanging wire cannot be accepted (no sawtooth hangers, please).
  • Work should be labeled on the back with your name, phone number or email and title of the work.
  • Submit artwork to Orr Street Studios (106 Orr Street, Columbia).
  • Submission forms will be available at Orr Street on the dates below, or you may print and fill one out to bring in with your work.
  • Submission dates are:
    • Friday, August 28, Noon-5 p.m.
    • Saturday, August 29, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • At the end of the exhibit, artists can pick up their work Friday, Sept 25, 12-5 p.m. and Saturday, September 26, 10-3 p.m.

Questions? Contact Lauren Williams at 573-443-3161 or by E-mail.

Special thanks to Orr Street Studios, the Columbia Art League and Columbia’s Office of Cultural Affairs  for their support!

Orr Street Studios LogoColumbia Art League LogoOCA Logo

photo credit: via photopin (license)

The post Remnants: One Read Art Exhibit Call for Submissions appeared first on One READ.

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Program Preview: The Bronze Age to the Avengers

DBRLTeen - June 18, 2015

Lego Avengers

The Bronze Age to the Avengers
Wednesday, July 1 •  2-3:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library

The very first tales were hero tales. They were written in clay, on papyrus and performed before huge crowds in open theaters. These tales are still told today in many other guises. Discuss how the heroes of ancient myths are still present in the books and movies of today. Then create your own versions using ancient techniques in clay, papyrus and paper. Ages 12 and older. Registration required. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161.

Photo by Flickr User Andrew Becraft. Used under Creative Commons license.

Originally published at Program Preview: The Bronze Age to the Avengers.

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Of Cosplay and Cons

DBRL Next - June 17, 2015

Book cover for Cosplay WorldStart planning your cosplay outfit now. This summer, each DBRL building will offer a Cosplay Costume Con for all ages – July 22 in Columbia, July 30 in Fulton and August 4 in Ashland. Prizes will be awarded in different age categories.

Cosplay? Con? If you’re scratching your head, let me explain. You know how children love to dress up as characters from their favorite shows, books and comics? Some people believe you’re never too old to join in the fun. You can find folks of all ages cosplaying anyone from Darth Vader to Hello Kitty at comics and science fiction conventions (cons) around the world.

Want to know more? On July 14, the Columbia Public Library will host comic creator Skip Harvey. He will enlighten the befuddled and entertain aficionados with a program for adults and teens: “Comics, Pop Culture and Comic-Con.”

For a deeper look at the culture of cosplay, check out “Cosplay World” by Brian Ashcraft. The book contains plenty of interesting information but is more a celebration than an encyclopedia. It’s filled with photos of cosplayers from a multitude of countries, along with many personal vignettes.

To see some live action footage, take a look at “Comic Con, Episode IV, a Fan’s Hope.” This film, produced by documentarian extraordinaire Morgan Spurlock, follows attendees of San Diego Comic-Con 2010 and includes interviews with some of the big names on the scene: Stan Lee, Joss Whedon, Ellen Page and more.

Readers who are con devotees, particularly those in the Star Trek fandom, will likely be delighted by Kevin David Anderson’s novel “Night of the Living Trekkies.” The setting is a Star Trek convention in Houston. The plot complication is a fast-moving virus that turns people into zombies. Star Trek in-jokes abound.

Book cover for The Improbable Theory of Ana & ZakThe Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak,” a young adult novel by Brian Katcher, makes good use of the con venue for a romantic comedy/worlds collide tale. Ana is a goal-oriented workaholic, afraid of failing her parents’ high expectations. Zak is a gamer and sci-fi fan whose career plans boil down to something with computers or whatever. They find themselves thrown together on a quiz bowl team and then joining forces to find Ana’s younger brother who, after hearing Zak’s stories of Washingcon, has run off to experience the comics and science fiction mayhem for himself. Through the night-long search, the two teens encounter much zaniness and come to find some common ground.

For those con veterans looking for the next event, as well as newbies who have been enticed by my persuasive words to give the con scene a whirl, the International Costumers Guild provides a list of conventions spanning the globe.

Locally, a couple of events are coming up in Mid-Missouri, in addition to the ones hosted by DBRL. Cosplacon will take place in Jefferson City June 18-21. DoDeca-Con is scheduled for Columbia Sept. 11-13.

Happy cosplaying!

The post Of Cosplay and Cons appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Reader Review: Euphoria

DBRL Next - June 16, 2015

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first review by a library patron we are posting as part of this year’s Adult Summer Reading program. Want to submit reviews of your own? Sign up and get started today!

euphoriaEuphoria” is about three anthropologists exploring parts of New Guinea and their relationships within the group and with the tribes they meet. It is a fiction novel but loosely based on a period of Margaret Mead‘s life. I liked the writing and characters of the novel. It was fairly short (less than 300 pages) but still completes the story, develops the characters and leaves the reader wanting more. It makes the reader think about anthropology work when it first started and the toll it takes on both sides (the anthropologist and the tribe).

Three words that describe this book: Descriptive, hooking, thought-provoking.

You might want to pick this book up if: You like Barbara Kingsolver and her many novels.

-Megan

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The Gentleman Recommends: Will Chancellor

Next Book Buzz - June 15, 2015

Book cover for A Brave Man Seven Storeys TallI was excited to read “A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall” because the story of a brave giant is almost certain to be exciting. To my brief disappointment, the title isn’t literal. But my disappointment was curtailed because the story is riveting. We begin with water polo star Owen Burr, his days infused by one of four colors (obviously: peridot, gamboge, ultramarine and carmine) that correspond to the general feel of the day, and of course, a Greek god. Owen is to participate in the Olympics until a savage blow from from a decidely ungentlemanly opponent obliterates one of his peepers. While most people, after losing an eye, turn to a life of pillaging on the high seas, Owen’s plan is slightly less ambitious. Eyepatch donned, Owen bravely abandons college, steals his father’s prized copy of “The Odyssey” and leaves his goodbye on a post-it note. He journeys to Berlin to become an artist and discover which half of his life would be wasted.

Once there, he meets one tremendous scoundrel, several lesser scoundrels and some people that aren’t scoundrels. When the tremendous scoundrel, a famous artist whose work is often exploitative and disgusting, offers to collaborate with Owen, some dreadful things occur. I haven’t been this outraged by the actions taken against a character since watching any Game of Thrones episode. But Owen has no swords or dragons or lofty titles, only a dashing eye patch and a desire to create.

Meanwhile, Owen’s father, a professor at a fancy college, is distraught about his son. He begins searching for him and finds saying radical things leads to notoriety which might lead to Owen finally responding to an email or perhaps sending a telegram. Joseph Burr’s search leads him to Athens, where he makes a speech about Scarface and philosophy and whatnot. Someone rushes the stage and hands the professor a Molotov. Joseph is trying to spare the crowd a good burning when he lofts the explosive at the Parthenon. Alas, his toss isn’t widely viewed as the good deed it was. Fear of imprisonment ushers him out of Greece and onward on his trek to find his son.

Owen is also on the run now, having done a very bad thing to a man who very much deserved it. I’ll cease the plot talk here, as much of a delight as it is — I’ve already spoiled more than I consider gentlemanly, but sometimes an honorable man wants to write about a professor throwing Molotovs at the Parthenon.

Will Chancellor is a gifted writer, and there is a bounty of delightful sentences in store for anyone who takes this recommendation. Here are some words from the writer John Warner, who did a superior job of recommending this novel.

“…What I loved about the novel is the kitchen-sink quality of its ideas and obsessions. At one point or another Chancellor touches on: Plato’s allegory of the cave; remote-controlled boats; postmodern performance art; postmodern political theory;…Icelandic myth; the inevitable upselling of camping gear; campus politics; and the particular genius of Hungarian water polo.

…I fell in love with the book because it is one of a handful of books I will read in a given year that remind of the potential of literature to mine our obsessions and share them with others…A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall is the most “alive” book I’ve read this year. I don’t delude myself as to the size of this megaphone, but I hope someone’s listening.”

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Will Chancellor appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

The Gentleman Recommends: Will Chancellor

DBRL Next - June 15, 2015

Book cover for A Brave Man Seven Storeys TallI was excited to read “A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall” because the story of a brave giant is almost certain to be exciting. To my brief disappointment, the title isn’t literal. But my disappointment was curtailed because the story is riveting. We begin with water polo star Owen Burr, his days infused by one of four colors (obviously: peridot, gamboge, ultramarine and carmine) that correspond to the general feel of the day, and of course, a Greek god. Owen is to participate in the Olympics until a savage blow from from a decidely ungentlemanly opponent obliterates one of his peepers. While most people, after losing an eye, turn to a life of pillaging on the high seas, Owen’s plan is slightly less ambitious. Eyepatch donned, Owen bravely abandons college, steals his father’s prized copy of “The Odyssey” and leaves his goodbye on a post-it note. He journeys to Berlin to become an artist and discover which half of his life would be wasted.

Once there, he meets one tremendous scoundrel, several lesser scoundrels and some people that aren’t scoundrels. When the tremendous scoundrel, a famous artist whose work is often exploitative and disgusting, offers to collaborate with Owen, some dreadful things occur. I haven’t been this outraged by the actions taken against a character since watching any Game of Thrones episode. But Owen has no swords or dragons or lofty titles, only a dashing eye patch and a desire to create.

Meanwhile, Owen’s father, a professor at a fancy college, is distraught about his son. He begins searching for him and finds saying radical things leads to notoriety which might lead to Owen finally responding to an email or perhaps sending a telegram. Joseph Burr’s search leads him to Athens, where he makes a speech about Scarface and philosophy and whatnot. Someone rushes the stage and hands the professor a Molotov. Joseph is trying to spare the crowd a good burning when he lofts the explosive at the Parthenon. Alas, his toss isn’t widely viewed as the good deed it was. Fear of imprisonment ushers him out of Greece and onward on his trek to find his son.

Owen is also on the run now, having done a very bad thing to a man who very much deserved it. I’ll cease the plot talk here, as much of a delight as it is — I’ve already spoiled more than I consider gentlemanly, but sometimes an honorable man wants to write about a professor throwing Molotovs at the Parthenon.

Will Chancellor is a gifted writer, and there is a bounty of delightful sentences in store for anyone who takes this recommendation. Here are some words from the writer John Warner, who did a superior job of recommending this novel.

“…What I loved about the novel is the kitchen-sink quality of its ideas and obsessions. At one point or another Chancellor touches on: Plato’s allegory of the cave; remote-controlled boats; postmodern performance art; postmodern political theory;…Icelandic myth; the inevitable upselling of camping gear; campus politics; and the particular genius of Hungarian water polo.

…I fell in love with the book because it is one of a handful of books I will read in a given year that remind of the potential of literature to mine our obsessions and share them with others…A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall is the most “alive” book I’ve read this year. I don’t delude myself as to the size of this megaphone, but I hope someone’s listening.”

The post The Gentleman Recommends: Will Chancellor appeared first on DBRL Next.

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“Every Hero Has a Story” Teen Photography Contest

DBRLTeen - June 15, 2015

Superhero Photo ContestHonor a hero in your life by submitting a portrait by August 15 with a short description of his or her inspiring deeds. Portraits may be headshots or photos that show your chosen hero in action. This contest is open to all teens in Boone and Callaway counties. Winners receive a gift card to Barnes & Noble and their entries will be posted on this site. Find contest rules and submission guidelines at teens.dbrl.org/photo-contest or at your library. Ages 12-18.

Image by Pixabay.com. Used under Creative Commons license.

Originally published at “Every Hero Has a Story” Teen Photography Contest.

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New DVD List: A Hard Day’s Night & More

DBRL Next - June 10, 2015

a hard days nightHere is a new DVD list highlighting various titles in fiction and nonfiction recently added to the library collection.

a hard days nightA Hard Day’s Night
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing last year at Ragtag, and earlier this year at the Missouri Theatre, this remastered 1964 film captures all the fun, excitement and unforgettable music of John, Paul, George and Ringo at the height of Beatlemania. The Beatles perform their songs and look for adventure, all while avoiding hordes of screaming fans. Packed with all-time Beatles favorites.

orange is the new black s2Orange is the New Black
Season 2
Website / Reviews
The second season of “Orange Is the New Black” begins with Piper facing the consequences of her actions. Elsewhere, Red feels isolated, while Taystee shows off her business skills. Later, Morello gets her heart broken, Larry makes changes to his life and Piper starts a prison newsletter.

the thin blue lineThe Thin Blue Line
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Director Errol Morris’s 1988 documentary is given a special re-release through the Criterion Collection. The film examines the roadside murder of a Dallas police officer and the subsequent arrest and conviction of drifter Randall Adams, who was given a death sentence despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence.

jewel in the crown dvdThe Jewel in the Crown
Trailer / Website / Awards
Adapted for television in 1984 from the four novels by Paul Scott, “The Raj Quartet,” the sweeping fourteen-part remastered adaptation is the story of the men and women of both ruling and ruled classes of WWII India, trying amidst the turmoil to come to terms with the drastic changes taking place around them, knowing that their lives will never be the same again.

call the midwife s4Call the Midwife
Season 4
Website / Reviews
Now nearing the 1960s, the community enters a new time of social change, while stories of birth, life and death continue to touch your heart. Will live-wire Nurse Trixie marry her young curate? What new project calls for a heart as big as Chummy’s?

broadchurch s2Broadchurch
Season 2
Website / Reviews
The hit mystery drama series, set in a Dorset coastal town, returns starring David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as DS Ellie Miller. Series 2 of the complex crime drama finds the community of Broadchurch attempting to rebuild itself following the shocking events of Series 1.

Other notable releases:
Food Chains
Website / Reviews
Falling SkiesSeason 1, Season 2, Season 3Website / Reviews
A Path Appears
Website / Reviews
Curb your EnthusiasmSeason 1Website / Reviews
Walking the Camino
Website / Reviews
West WingSeason 1, Season 2, Season 3Website / Reviews
Before You Know ItWebsite / Reviews
The Dick Van Dyke ShowSeason 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4, Season 5Website
Gates of HeavenWebsite / Reviews
Bates MotelSeason 1, Season 2Website / Reviews
Vernon, FloridaWebsite / Reviews
FrasierSeason 1, Season 2, Season 3Website
FringeSeason 1Website / Reviews
Ballet 422Website / Reviews
Star Trek: Deep Space NineSeason 1Website
JustifiedSeason 1, Season 2, Season 3Website / Reviews
GleeSeason 1, Season 2, Season 3Website / Reviews

The post New DVD List: A Hard Day’s Night & More appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Traveling Superheroes

DBRLTeen - June 10, 2015

Super Girl 225pxSuperheroes want to see the world, too! Download and decorate your own small traveling superhero. Then, as you are jet-setting across the globe or simply hanging out in your own backyard, snap a photo of you and your superhero having fun. You can bring a copy of the photo to the Children’s Desk at the Columbia Public Library, or email it to us at adventures@dbrl.org. Your photos will be used throughout July and August to the decorate the children’s area.

Photo by Flickr User Bart. Used under Creative Commons license.

Originally published at Traveling Superheroes.

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Ask the Author: An Interview With J.B. Winter

Next Book Buzz - June 8, 2015

Miss Mizzou avatarIt’s the mid-part of the 20th century. A beauty contest at Mizzou inspires a protest consisting of 300-700 students. The entire town of Columbia is in upheaval over the possibility of renaming Columbia’s Providence Road and a blonde woman in a trench coat replacing Daniel Boone himself on MU’s parking permits. All of these events took place because of a mysterious cartoon woman. That woman is Miss Mizzou, a fictional character in Milton Caniff’s famous comic strip “Steve Canyon.” Local author and artist J.B. Winter did some investigation into our local history to create his book “Miss Mizzou: A Life Beyond Comics.” He was nice enough to answer a few questions for DBRL Next before his talk at the Columbia Public Library on June 15.

DBRL: This is a really interesting story that, at least in the past few decades, hadn’t gotten much attention prior to the publishing of your book. How did you discover Miss Mizzou and Milton Caniff’s connection with Columbia?

JBW: I came across the character on a blog post and started researching from there. Cartoonist Milton Caniff was a big name in his day, so I wanted to see why he would have created a character related to Columbia. I had no idea I had come across such a unique and interesting character.

DBRL: Miss Mizzou is a college-aged woman who spends time with students at the university, though she herself is not a student, but a server at a local restaurant. How much do you think the University of Missouri and the town of Columbia actually inspired this character?

JBW: If Caniff had not taken a liking to how the word “Mizzou” sounded, I doubt he would have created the character. Once Caniff had the character name, he created a back-story to the character that was rooted in his memory of his short visit to Columbia. You can see evidence of this by the various references to Columbia landmarks in the strip. However, he repeatedly denied basing the character off any waitress he met in Columbia.

1952 photo of Milton Caniff & Bek Stiner – courtesy of Gabrielle AdelmanI think Caniff was fascinated by the Midwest in general, and that worked its way into the character. He was from the small town of Hillsboro, Ohio, and he’d often throw characters who had small town backgrounds into his comics. It added a lot of realistic background texture that played off of the more fantastical elements in the strip.

DBRL: Do you think a character like Miss Mizzou would be as popular, or cause as much controversy, if she were created today (perhaps in a different incarnation, such as in web comic or as a television character)?

JBW: The specific character traits of Miss Mizzou probably wouldn’t resonate as much with a modern audience as they did back in the 1950s. I think the character had some heavy ties to Marilyn Monroe’s popularity and that Monroe archetype is probably a little too dated at this point to get as much notice.

The idea of some modern character catching on in small town America seems possible–many small towns today are still eager for opportunities at national recognition. However, modern media as a whole (television, comics, movies, etc.) seem to devalue characters with ties to real small towns, and I think this was a central part of Miss Mizzou’s popularity.

The whole promotional aspect of Miss Mizzou emphasized that bond citizens had with their local newspaper. Caniff would occasionally give a nod to a city where the newspaper directly bought his strip; it was just a good public relations move for everyone involved. The cash flow in the modern media landscape doesn’t work like it used to, and as a result, I think that emphasis on specific small town locales gets written out of most stories in favor of larger cities or nameless small towns.

So in short, while it’s possible that some character could gain popularity and/or cause controversy in a small town like Miss Mizzou did, I don’t think it would happen very easily given the modern media landscape.

DBRL: In addition to writing this book, you also create your own comics. Would you care to tell us a little about your comic art?

JBW: I tend to do experimental comics. Sometimes I play around with conventions of the form, illustrating with unique constraints in mind. Other times I have drawn some regular comics, but have done them on a unique canvas like a sidewalk or tortillas. To me it’s all about pushing the boundaries of comics.

I’m probably most known for my 50 state comic. For that project, I used contributions from 50 artists from 50 different states in a collaborative jam comic that featured my character Izzy the Mouse. The idea was that Izzy toured America and in each of the 50 panels Izzy visited a different state. The results were published as a mini-comic when I was done.

DBRL: Have you read any good books lately that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

JBW: If you’d like to learn more about Milton Caniff, I’d highly recommend the current “Steve Canyon” reprints currently coming out from IDW & Library of American Comics. You can start out with Miss Mizzou’s first adventure in “Steve Canyon: 1951-1952,” or read the latest volume, “Steve Canyon: 1955-1956.” Caniff has never been reprinted with such care and attention to detail.

There were a lot of great graphic novels released last year, but one of my favorites I’d recommend is “Seconds” by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It’s his first book after the highly successful “Scott Pilgrim” series, and it really shows an organic growth in style and approach from his last effort. It has all the elements I like to see in a story: good relateable characters, fantastical situations, experimental storytelling, etc.

J.B. Winter will be speaking at the Columbia Public Library on Monday, June 15th at 7 p.m. in the Friends Room. More information about Miss Mizzou can be found on Winter’s website.

The post Ask the Author: An Interview With J.B. Winter appeared first on DBRL Next.

Categories: Book Buzz

Ask the Author: An Interview With J.B. Winter

DBRL Next - June 8, 2015

Miss Mizzou avatarIt’s the mid-part of the 20th century. A beauty contest at Mizzou inspires a protest consisting of 300-700 students. The entire town of Columbia is in upheaval over the possibility of renaming Columbia’s Providence Road and a blonde woman in a trench coat replacing Daniel Boone himself on MU’s parking permits. All of these events took place because of a mysterious cartoon woman. That woman is Miss Mizzou, a fictional character in Milton Caniff’s famous comic strip “Steve Canyon.” Local author and artist J.B. Winter did some investigation into our local history to create his book “Miss Mizzou: A Life Beyond Comics.” He was nice enough to answer a few questions for DBRL Next before his talk at the Columbia Public Library on June 15.

DBRL: This is a really interesting story that, at least in the past few decades, hadn’t gotten much attention prior to the publishing of your book. How did you discover Miss Mizzou and Milton Caniff’s connection with Columbia?

JBW: I came across the character on a blog post and started researching from there. Cartoonist Milton Caniff was a big name in his day, so I wanted to see why he would have created a character related to Columbia. I had no idea I had come across such a unique and interesting character.

DBRL: Miss Mizzou is a college-aged woman who spends time with students at the university, though she herself is not a student, but a server at a local restaurant. How much do you think the University of Missouri and the town of Columbia actually inspired this character?

JBW: If Caniff had not taken a liking to how the word “Mizzou” sounded, I doubt he would have created the character. Once Caniff had the character name, he created a back-story to the character that was rooted in his memory of his short visit to Columbia. You can see evidence of this by the various references to Columbia landmarks in the strip. However, he repeatedly denied basing the character off any waitress he met in Columbia.

1952 photo of Milton Caniff & Bek Stiner – courtesy of Gabrielle AdelmanI think Caniff was fascinated by the Midwest in general, and that worked its way into the character. He was from the small town of Hillsboro, Ohio, and he’d often throw characters who had small town backgrounds into his comics. It added a lot of realistic background texture that played off of the more fantastical elements in the strip.

DBRL: Do you think a character like Miss Mizzou would be as popular, or cause as much controversy, if she were created today (perhaps in a different incarnation, such as in web comic or as a television character)?

JBW: The specific character traits of Miss Mizzou probably wouldn’t resonate as much with a modern audience as they did back in the 1950s. I think the character had some heavy ties to Marilyn Monroe’s popularity and that Monroe archetype is probably a little too dated at this point to get as much notice.

The idea of some modern character catching on in small town America seems possible–many small towns today are still eager for opportunities at national recognition. However, modern media as a whole (television, comics, movies, etc.) seem to devalue characters with ties to real small towns, and I think this was a central part of Miss Mizzou’s popularity.

The whole promotional aspect of Miss Mizzou emphasized that bond citizens had with their local newspaper. Caniff would occasionally give a nod to a city where the newspaper directly bought his strip; it was just a good public relations move for everyone involved. The cash flow in the modern media landscape doesn’t work like it used to, and as a result, I think that emphasis on specific small town locales gets written out of most stories in favor of larger cities or nameless small towns.

So in short, while it’s possible that some character could gain popularity and/or cause controversy in a small town like Miss Mizzou did, I don’t think it would happen very easily given the modern media landscape.

DBRL: In addition to writing this book, you also create your own comics. Would you care to tell us a little about your comic art?

JBW: I tend to do experimental comics. Sometimes I play around with conventions of the form, illustrating with unique constraints in mind. Other times I have drawn some regular comics, but have done them on a unique canvas like a sidewalk or tortillas. To me it’s all about pushing the boundaries of comics.

I’m probably most known for my 50 state comic. For that project, I used contributions from 50 artists from 50 different states in a collaborative jam comic that featured my character Izzy the Mouse. The idea was that Izzy toured America and in each of the 50 panels Izzy visited a different state. The results were published as a mini-comic when I was done.

DBRL: Have you read any good books lately that you’d like to recommend to our readers?

JBW: If you’d like to learn more about Milton Caniff, I’d highly recommend the current “Steve Canyon” reprints currently coming out from IDW & Library of American Comics. You can start out with Miss Mizzou’s first adventure in “Steve Canyon: 1951-1952,” or read the latest volume, “Steve Canyon: 1955-1956.” Caniff has never been reprinted with such care and attention to detail.

There were a lot of great graphic novels released last year, but one of my favorites I’d recommend is “Seconds” by Bryan Lee O’Malley. It’s his first book after the highly successful “Scott Pilgrim” series, and it really shows an organic growth in style and approach from his last effort. It has all the elements I like to see in a story: good relateable characters, fantastical situations, experimental storytelling, etc.

J.B. Winter will be speaking at the Columbia Public Library on Monday, June 15th at 7 p.m. in the Friends Room. More information about Miss Mizzou can be found on Winter’s website.

The post Ask the Author: An Interview With J.B. Winter appeared first on DBRL Next.

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Program Preview: Gamer Eve

DBRLTeen - June 8, 2015

Gamer Eve Banner 2
Gamer Eve
Monday, June 22 • 6-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library

Gamers unite! Drop in and play table-top games like “Gloom,” “Guillotine” or “Ticket to Ride.” Bring your “Magic: The Gathering” cards to challenge other players. Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite game! Ages 10 and older.

Originally published at Program Preview: Gamer Eve.

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Three Common Scams and How to Avoid Them

DBRL Next - June 5, 2015

Have you ever gotten one of those, “You’ve won a cruise!” phone calls? An email from a distant family member asking you to wire money? You aren’t alone. The Federal Trade Commission says that fraudsters generally target consumers of all ages – but they know that older people are likely to have bigger nest eggs, which makes them attractive. And, the consumer protection agency says, when older people lose money to a scam – regardless of whether it involves prizes and lotteries, impostors or identity theft – it’s usually more difficult for them to recoup their losses, making the consequences even more devastating.

With their new “Pass It On” campaign, the FTC is sharing tips and tools for protecting yourself from these commons scams.

1. “You’ve Won” Scams
You get a call, card or email that you’ve won a prize (like a cruise) but you can’t claim that prize until you pay a fee, taxes or customs duty. They ask for a credit card or bank account information. What should you do?

If you have to pay, it’s no prize! Keep your money and information to yourself. Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you and claims to need it. And never wire money to anyone who asks you to.

2. Charity Fraud
Someone contacts you asking for a donation to their charity, and the organization sounds real and their cause worthwhile. How can you tell what is legitimate and what’s a scam? Scammers want your money quickly and often pressure you to give right away. They might ask you for cash or to wire money, and they often refuse to send you more information about the charity or tell you how the money will be used.

Here’s what you can do. Take your time. Tell callers to send you information by mail. Then do your research online or at the library. Is this a real organization? Is your donation tax deductible? How will the money be used? Rule out anyone who wants you to send cash or wire money. Chances are, it’s a scam.

3. Health Care Scams
You see an ad on TV, telling you about a new law that requires you to get a new health care card. Maybe you get a call offering you big discounts on health insurance. Or maybe someone says they’re from the government, and she needs your Medicare number to issue you a new card. The caller may even ask for your Social Security number or other personal information. Stop!

Before you share your information, call Medicare (1-800-MEDICARE), do some research and check with someone you trust.

If you suspect a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at 877-FTC-HELP or online at ftc.gov/complaint. For more information about these and other common scams, visit ftc.gov/PassItOn.

The post Three Common Scams and How to Avoid Them appeared first on DBRL Next.

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