Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Library Video of the Week, December 10, 2012.


50/50, starring, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick. Directed by Jonathan Levine.  (2011.)  Library Call Number: PN1995.9.C55F54 2012.
 
          From the Amazon Product Description: “Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen team up to beat the odds in a film that Rolling Stone calls achingly hilarious and heartfelt. Diagnosed with spinal cancer, 27 year old Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) navigates the road to recovery with the sometimes overbearing support of his crude best friend (Rogen), his smothering mother (Angelica Huston) and an inexperienced therapist (Anna Kendrick).  Inspired by a true story of writer Will Reiser, 50/50 is an honest yet hysterically funny account of a young man's journey toward healing.”
          Although billed as a comedy, the film is more a serious look at cancer in a young man, with poignantly funny scenes mixed in.  The combination of drama and humor gives the film a more realistic feel and avoids what could have been the usual maudlin, Hollywood fare.

Browsing Area Book of the Week, December 10, 2012.


Never-Ending Snake by Aimee & David Thurlo.  Library Call Number: PS3570.H82N48 2010.
From Booklist: “Ella Clah, member of the Navajo Nation and special investigator for the Navajo Tribal Police, is one of the most intriguing and best-realized characters in today’s crime fiction. The Thurlos give added value to the character by slowly developing Ella, deepening her commitments and problems, throughout the series. At the beginning of this [sixteenth] Clah mystery, Ella is facing a critical choice between working for much more money and much less stress for a private security firm in D.C. or remaining with the Rez police. Just as Ella returns home from her D.C. interview, she and her two companions (tribal attorney Kevin Tolino, who fathered Ella’s daughter, and alternative-fuel lobbyist Adam Lonewolf) are met with a hail of gunfire. The ready-made mystery here is determining which of the three was the target? Motives abound for all of them. Action also abounds, sometimes to an almost pulp-novel degree. Still, a thoroughly satisfying crime novel.” --Connie Fletcher

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, December 3, 2102.

City of the Big Shoulders: an anthology of Chicago Poetry, edited by Ryan G. Van Cleave.  Library Call Number: PS572.C5C58 2012.

           Rather than a compilation of poets from Chicago (though most hail from there), Van Cleave has collected poems from 100 writers with the same thematic impulse: to pull a piece of Chicago out for poetic examination.  Notable poets such as Joy Harjo, Barry Silesky and Bob Hicock and Nina Corwin all represent the past, present and future of the Windy City in their work.
           As in any collection, some of the poems are more successful than others, but the best evoke the spirits of Carl Sandburg, Gwendolyn Brooks and the hundreds of other past artistic voices of America’s Second City, while capturing the unique and vibrant neighborhoods, lakefront views, open spaces, hidden corners and individual characters of some of Chicago’s citizens.  One of the more encompassing descriptions of the town, by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz:

I want to eat

in a city smart enough to know that if you

are going to have that heart attack, you might

as well have the pleasure of knowing

  you’ve really earned it.

Library Video of the Week, December 3, 2012


Into the Abyss: a Tale of Death, a Tale of Life.  A documentary by Werner Herzog.  Library Call Number: HV6515.I58 2102.
          Werner Herzog is known to be an intense person, capable of creating films the make a lasting impression. Aguirre, Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo, and his recent documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams were all movies of indelible import.
          Now comes Into the Abyss, a stark and unrelenting look at murderers, victims, their families and the state executioners.
          Focusing on a trio of murders in Conroe, Texas, Herzog interviews the two men convicted of one of the killings.  Michael Perry, one of the killers, is due to be executed only 8 days from the time Herzog speaks to him. Jason Burkett, the other prisoner, met and married his wife while on death row.  Neither Burkett nor Perry had confessed to the murders; each had blamed the other.  Despite Herzog’s stated intention that the film did not have a political overtone, it has re-kindled the debate over capital punishment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Library Video of the Week, November 19, 2012

Sugar, starring Algenis Pérez Soto, Rayniel Rufino, Andre Holland, Ann Whitney, Ellary Porterfield, Jaime Tirelli, Jose Rijo, Michael Gaston, Alina Vargas and Richard Bull. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Library Call Number: PN1995.9.B28 S84 2009.

A well-received indie film about a baseball player from the Dominican Republic named Miguel “Sugar” Santos, who wants nothing more than to make it in the Major Leagues and earn the money needed to support his impoverished family.  An ace pitcher drafted by the Kansas City Royals, he starts his career in the minor leagues in Iowa, hosted by a kind family of strangers.  Speaking little English, and unfamiliar with the wealth and workings of America, the 19 year-old Santos struggles with the culture of both country and professional baseball. But when an arm injury threatens his pitching career, the boy has to re-evaluate his life and make a quick transition into maturity.
Nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, an Espy Award and several others and winner of the American Film Institute’s Best Picture of 2009.

Browsing Area Book of the Week, November 19, 2012

Caught by Harlan Coben. Library Call Number: PS3553.O225C38 2010.
The author of The Woods and Hold Tight returns with another high-octane, contemporary thriller.
When a 17-year-old girl, a high school superstar, doesn’t come home one night and vanishes, the community assumes the worst. That’s when tabloid reporter Wendy Tynes gets involved; she identifies sexual predators via a news program called Caught in the Act, featuring elaborate, nationally televised sting operations. She targets a social worker, Dan Mercer, known to work with troubled teens, and labels him a sexual predator. But is he?
          “In a novel that challenges as much as it thrills, filled with the astonishing tension and unseen suburban machinations that have become Coben's trademark, Caught tells the story of a missing girl, the community stunned by her loss, the predator who may have taken her, and the reporter who suddenly realizes she can't trust her own instincts about this story-or the motives of the people around her.”


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Library Video of the Week, November 12, 2012.

Calder: Sculptor of Air, a film by Franocis Levy-Kuentz, written by Stephan and Francois Levy-Kuentz.  Library Call Number: NB237.C28 C35 2012.
 
From the Liner Notes: Unique modern artist Alexander Calder (1898-1976) revolutionized the art of sculpture with his distinctive modernism, freeing sculpture from its stand and adding movement to the art itself. He rose to fame in the 1930s with his renowned Miniature Circus, but his modernist creativity skyrocketed with his wire sculptures, an invention he dubbed "drawing in space". Contemporary, and friends with Duchamp, Miro, and Mondrian, who have greatly influenced his evolution, this genius tinkerer, too often limited to his Mobiles, was fueled by artistic renewal, creating such unexpected shapes as his huge stabile sculptures now exhibited worldwide. In light of the artist's life, this film retraces this unique quest and explores the masterpieces that have marked the history of 20st century art.” (In the 4th Floor collection.)


Browsing Area Book of the Week, November 12, 2012.

Kivalina: A Climate Change Story by Christine Shearer.
Library Call Number: E99.E7S463 2011.

Forcibly moved by the U.S Government in the early 20th century to a narrow island near the Arctic Circle called Kivalina, the Inupiat people endured the harsh conditions because of their traditional “understanding of and close connection to the cycles and rhythms of the land." As early as the 1950’s however, they noticed ocean storms were eroding the island at an alarming rate.  Now the permafrost is melting and the entire village is at risk, yet Government agencies “who contradicted their knowledge of the area,” are blocking their attempts to relocate.  With an estimated relocation cost of $400 million, the residents finally filed a climate change lawsuit, charging Big Oil with contributing to the loss of their homes. Shearer’s story shines a light on another David and Goliath story: the oil corporations who continue to dissemble and blur the real costs of climate change, their undue influence on American government  “and the cultural disconnect between Native Alaskans and American agencies whose clumsy, often patronizing management of Kivalina's dire situation has only exacerbated the community's problem.”

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Library Video of the Week, November 5, 2012


Happy, a documentary directed by Roko Belic. Library Call Number: BF575,.GH27H37 2012. 

Excepted from the website Paste: Signs of life in music, film and culture:   Inspired by a New York Times article [that] director Tom Shadyac shared with Belic [ranking] countries by the happiness of their citizens…despite the fact that America is one of the richest countries in the world, it’s nowhere near the happiest.”… Shadyac was so compelled by the contradictory correlation between material wealth and happiness, he funded the majority of Belic’s film out of pocket.
          After traveling [through many nations of the world, what] Belic and his crew discovered was astonishing. He spent a few weeks in the slums of Kolkata, India with positive psychologist Robert Biswas-Diener (“the Indiana Jones of happiness research”) and “the poorest of the poor,” and found a community whose dependence on one another transcended their poverty. “Despite the fact that they live in little huts made of bamboo sticks covered in plastic tarps and plastic bags; despite the fact that there’s open sewage running in front of where they sleep; despite the fact that they have no income for medical care or schooling or for anything in excess of subsistence living, they’re as happy as the average American,” Belic says. “What I saw in the slum that I see missing in many American neighborhoods is a real, genuine sense of camaraderie and a bond among the people who live there.”
          Winner of eight documentary awards.

Browsing Area Book of the Week, November 5, 2012.

They’re Watching by Gregg Hurwitz.  Library Call Number: PS3558.U695T47 2010.
          From the book jacket: Patrick Davis is a man with troubles. First his Hollywood dreams crumble and then his storybook marriage hits a snag. Now, DVDs start being delivered to his house, DVDs which show that someone is watching him and his wife, that the two of them are being stalked and recorded by cameras hidden in their house. Then someone offers to fix everything, to take the mess his life has become and make it all right. Patrick figures it's the offer of a lifetime. But Patrick couldn't be more wrong. With every step he falls deeper into a web of intrigue that threatens everything he values in this world. Before he knows it, he's in deep and his only escape is to outplay his unseen opponents at their own game.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, October 29, 2012.


A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.   Library Call Number: PS3608.A7436 D57 2011.
          Diana Bishop grew up an orphan and became a Yale scholar in history.  When she uncovers an enchanted text in Oxford’s ancient Bodleian Library, she’s forced to come to terms with her own past. Her parents both came from long lines of witches and wizards and, though she wants nothing to do with magic, the book she’s found leaves a trail soon followed by all sorts of demons, witches and vampires, anxious to get their hands on the magical tome full of potent alchemical spells. 
          With the help of a 1,500 year old vampire, Bishop is the only one who can stop the magic of the book from being unleashed into the world.  She has to come to terms with her family’s secrets and turn back the mystical evil threatening the world.
          Sub-titled all Souls Trilogy, this is the first in a projected series of books that may grow to pop status.

Library Video of the Week, October 29, 2012.

     
Howl’s Moving Castle, directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Featuring the voices of Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall, Christian Bale and Billy Crystal.
Library Call Number:PN1995.9.F36H69 2004.
               Adapted from the Amazon Review by Charles Solomon:    Like a dream, Howl's Moving Castle carries audiences to vistas beyond their imaginations where they experience excitement, adventure, terror, humor, and romance. …The #3 film in Japanese history with a box office of $210 million, Howl is…based on a juvenile novel by Diana Wynne Jones…Sophie, a 19-year-old girl who believes she is plain, has resigned herself to a drab life in her family's hat shop--until the Witch of the Waste transforms her into a 90-year-old woman. In her aged guise…Sophie discovers her hidden potential in a magical environment--the castle of the title. Miyazaki creates a ramshackle structure that looks like it might disintegrate at any moment. Sophie's honesty and determination win her valuable new friends: Markl, Howl's young apprentice; a jaunty scarecrow; Calcifer, a temperamental fire demon; and Heen, a hilarious, wheezing dog. She wins the heart of the dashing, irresponsible wizard Howl, and brings an end an unnecessary and destructive war. The film overflows with eclipsing visuals that range from frightening aerial battles to serene landscapes, and few recent features--animated or live action--offer as much magic as Howl's Moving Castle.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, October 22, 2012.

The Weird: a compendium of strange and dark stories. Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Library Call Number: PN6071.H727W45 2012.
          Reaching back and forth through time, the VanderMeers pull together 110 classic and newer short stories of the 20th and 21st centuries from around the world.  Alongside Kafka’s gruesome “In the Penal Colony,” and H.P. Lovecraft’s nightmare, “The Dunwich Horror,” are lesser known but still unsettling stories, such as Maruki Murakami’s tale of a woman who meets and marries an Ice Man, Stephen King’s “The Man in the Black Suit”, the story of a nine year-old who goes fishing alone and lives to regret it, Marc Laidlaw’s tale of a police photographer who gets too close to his work in “The Diane Arbus Suicide Portfolio”, and other creepy stories by great authors of fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Ray Bradbury, Fritz Leiber, Jorge Luis Borges, Neil Gaiman, Shirley Jackson and Joyce Carol Oates all make an appearance in this incredible collection of stories, arrived just in time for Halloween.

Library Videos of the Week, October 22, 2012.

  Werewolves (and Vampires)                      
Wolfman: the Legacy Collection, starring Lon Chaney. Library Call Number: PN1995.9.W38W65 2004.
          The earliest of the werewolf pictures are all included in the The Wolfman: Legacy Collection, two discs with four movies including the almost unknown picture that started it all, the 1935 Werewolf of London.  Six years later, the original film was overshadowed by the later, classic, Wolfman, with Lon Chaney and Claude Rains, and the success of that movie prompted several sequels, including Frankenstein meets the Wolfman and the She-wolf of London, all included in this box.
Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer. Library Call Number: PN1995.5.W38W65 2005.
     Wolf, starring Jack Nicholson as the infected human, tells the story of an aging publisher, who loses both job and wife to a younger co-worker, before being bitten by a wolf in the night.  Suddenly he’s a whole new man, eager, energetic, virile.  Though there do seem to be a few side effects.  Half funny, half werewolf, Wolf is an unusual take on the classic story.


The Twilight Saga: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, starring Kirsten Stewart, Robert Pattison and Taylor Lautner. Library Call Numbers: PN1995.9.V3T85 2009, PN1995.9.V3T852 2010 and PN1995.9.V3T853 2010.
         Does anyone not know about the Twilight Saga? Although the major mythical creatures are vampires in this trilogy, the werewolves do play a role and anyone looking for a lycanthropy buzz can fill it here, as the rocky road of romance between human Bella and vampire Edward is overseen by friend Jacob (the furry guy) and his werewolf crew.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Library Videos of the Week, October 15, 2012.


Pitch Black, starring Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Claudia Black and Keith David. Directed by David Twohy. (Film release: 2000.) Library Call Number: PN1995.5.S26P58 2004.
Suck, starring Rob Stefaniuk, and Jessica Pare, written and directed by Rob Stefaniuk. (Film release: 2009.) Library Call Number: PN1995.9.V3S83 2010.
Troll Hunter, starring Otto Jesperson, Robert Stoltenberg and Johanna Morck, written and directed by Andre Ørvedal. Film release: 2010. (In English or Norwegian with subtitles.) Library Call Number: PN1995.9.M6T76 2011.
         Three unusual 21st century horror films for Halloween are spotlighted this week.  Pitch Black, the earliest of the three, is a sci-fi piece about a space ship crash-landing on a desert planet with three suns and no night. Only twelve of the forty passengers survive among them a serial killer named Riddick, and the settlement they discover appears abandoned.  When the castaways begin looking for a way to get the settlers’ ship working again, they piece together a terrible secret—every 22 years, there is a complete eclipse and in the blackness, the planet’s native species emerge—very, very hungry.
          In Suck, a campy vampire movie,  Jennifer is the lead singer of the Winners, a rock band down on its luck.  One night in Montreal, she leaves the club they’re playing with the creepy Queenie and doesn’t return until just before the next night’s gig, with an entirely different look and attitude.  The band begins to get noticed because of Jennifer’s charisma—or is it something else?  The vampire hunter Van Helsing thinks he knows.
          Somewhere in between is the mockumentary Troll Hunter. Dead bears are being slaughtered in the Norwegian wilderness and two University students and a cameraman set out to solve the mystery. Their suspicions fall on the reluctant hunter Hans, until he lets them in on a very dangerous and unbelievable secret. Satiric and suspenseful, the film was the winner of two Amandas, (Norwegian Oscars,)-- Best Visual Effects and Public Choice Award.

Browsing Area Book of the Week, October 15, 2012.

Bedbugs by Ben H Winters. Library Call Number: PS3623.I6735 B43 2011.

            Sometimes horror is the monstrous radioactive animal, the human being assembled from parts, the mythical creatures that rule the night.  And sometimes, real horror comes from the things you can’t see.
            When the Wendt family finds a cheap New York apartment with lots of room for them and their daughter, Emma, in a nice building, they can’t believe their luck.  But not long after they move in, Susan finds herself waking up covered with welts, a sure sign of bedbugs.  The exterminator they call, however, finds no trace of the insects.  The landlady, who seems a little weird, swears her building has never had any trouble with bugs and is clean as a whistle.  And why isn’t Susan’s husband Alex, or Emma, being bitten?  Why just her?
            It’s enough to drive someone crazy…
            A contemporary horror story for those Halloweeners who like their scares in print.

 

Friday, October 05, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, October 8, 2012.


Sailor by Tom Epperson. Library Call Number: PS3605.P59S25 2012.
           Gina was waiting tables when she met Joey—a wise guy with money, good-looking.  He promised her everything.  She married him, even though she’d found out he and his father were in the mob, even though her mother-in-law hated her.  She had a son named Luke and then Joey started going off on her.  He beat her up, he hit the kid.  She wore a wire and turned her husband in, then went into the Witness Protection Program.  It was bad luck Pat the Cat, her father-in-law could buy nearly anyone, including a US Marshal assigned to her protection.  It was good luck she escaped the hit man Pat sent in Oklahoma and ran for it, nothing but Luke and a bag of diamonds she’d stolen from Joey.  But the Marshal isn’t giving up and neither is Joey or Pat.  She needs help when she gets to California and it might be the man who says he’s a sailor named Gray.  But he turns out to be not quite who he says he is, either.

Library Video of the Week, October 8, 2012

To Have and Have Not, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, directed by Howard Hawks. (1945.) Written by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, from a short story by Ernest Hemingway.
            A film most notable for being the first screen appearance of Bogart and Bacall as a duo, this pick from the Library’s classic collection features great dialog and undeniable sparks from the stars.  Bogart plays essentially the same character he played in Casablanca—the expatriate American who doesn’t want to get involved in the World War but finds himself drawn into a fight between the Free French of Caribbean Martinique and the Nazi collaborators of Vichy France who run the island.   Unlike Casablanca, this time Bogart gets the girl.  Spare in settings, the action and characters carry what is arguably one of the Bogart/Bacall team’s best movies.
           If you haven’t seen it for awhile, or if you’ve never sen it, add it to you watch list.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, October 1, 2012

And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life by Charles J. Shields.  Library Call Number PS3752.O5Z855 2011.

Review from Publisher’s Weekly: Vonnegut initially refused to grant an interview to Shields…but then relented, enabling Shields to meet him during the last months of his life. This first authorized biography probes both Vonnegut's creative struggles and family life, detailing his transition from "the bowery of the book world" to counterculture icon. Shields delivers a vivid recreation of Vonnegut's ghastly WWII experiences as a POW during the Dresden firebombing that became the basis for Slaughterhouse-Five; the novel brought him overnight fame when it was serialized in Ramparts magazine and then published in a month when 453 Americans were killed in Vietnam. Tragedies and triumphs are contrasted throughout, along with an adroit literary analysis that highlights obscure or overlooked influences on Vonnegut:: Ambrose Bierce, Céline, Robert Coover's metafiction and Paul Rhymer, who scripted radio's Vic and Sade. With access to more than 1,500 letters, Shields conducted hundreds of interviews to produce this engrossing, definitive biography [which] arrives during a year of renewed interest in Vonnegut.

Library Video of the Week, October 1, 2012

       Lunch Line, a documentary by Michael Graziano and Ernie Park. Library Call Number:LB3479.U6L83 2010.

From the Liner Notes: The National School Lunch Program began in 1946, and now more than 60 years later, feeds more than 31 million children every day. In this documentary, leaders from all sides of the school food debate including government officials, school food service experts, activists and students, weigh in on the program and discuss ways to continue nourishing America's children for another 60 years.     
     The documentary also follows six kids from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago as they set out to fix school lunch, and end up at the White House. Their unlikely journey parallels the dramatic transformation of school lunch from a patchwork of local anti-hunger efforts to a robust national feeding program. The film tracks the behind-the-scenes details of school lunch and childhood hunger from key moments in the 1940s, 1960s and 1980s to the present, revealing political twists, surprising alliances and more common ground than people might realize.
    A selection of the Stout Food for Thought Series.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Library Video of the Week, September 24, 2012

Flypaper, Starring Patrick Dempsey, Ashley Judd, Tim Blake Nelson and Mekhi Phifer. Directed by Rob Minkoff. (2011). Library Call Number: PN1995.9.C55F59 2011.
          A strange comedy revolving around a man named Tripp, who walks into a bank to change a bill, only to find himself surrounded by two sets of bank robbers.  One trio of high-tech heist men want to blow open the vault, while a pair of very low-tech bumblers calling themselves Peanut Butter and Jelly are looking to crack open the bank’s ATM machines.  With a group of hostages in the middle, both teams begin their work; Tripp, meanwhile, becomes more and more frantic as his medications begin to wear off. 
          Secretly in love with one of the tellers, Tripp wants to protect her from harm, even as bank robbers and hostages alike suddenly start dying.  Everything is not what it seems in this robbery and it will take a manic mind to figure out what’s going on.
          Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote The Hangover, bring you an extraordinary script that lets the actors act.  PB and J are especially reminiscent of the writers’ first big movie.  Not exactly laugh out loud, but some very funny bits and an original premise make this one to watch.

Browsing Area Book of the Week, September 24, 2012.

Soft Target by Stephen Hunter. Library Call Number: PS3558.U494S57 2011.
     Stephen Hunter, the recognized king of the sniper novel, began writing books about a World War II Marine turned Arkansas sheriff in the 50’s named Earl Swagger who had an unerring knack with rifle or pistol. He continued by writing about Earl’s son, Bobby Lee Swagger, a Marine during Vietnam and also a dead shot, then came up to present-day with Bobby’s son, Ray Cruz, also a legendary Marine sniper.  In Hunter’s latest book, a terrorist group calling itself the Mumbai Brigade takes over a Minnesota mall, the largest in America (sound familiar?), rounding up thousands of holiday shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving.  Among those trapped and hiding in the stores are Ray Cruz and his fiancé.  But Ray has no intention of hiding for long.  As city, state and Federal law enforcement officials converge, the situation’s politics begins to overwhelm any outside intervention. But Cruz doesn’t know about the political side; when in doubt, he’s in favor of action. First, though, he needs a gun.
          Hunter’s latest hriller features wall-to wall action, a near-familiar setting to all, (America, the Mall, or AtM, instead of Mall of America, or MOA), a surprising villain and a not-so-subtle dig at the President.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, September 17, 2012.

Dog: the definitive guide for dog owners by Bruce Fogle.
Library Call Number: SF427.F615 2010.

          Adapted from the publisher’s description: This handsome book celebrates the close and complex relationship between humans and dogs, examining the animal’s behavior, anthropology, history, literature and genetics. Dog reveals the essential nature of the human-dog relationship, both its past and possible future. Fogle’s book examines the ancestry of the modern dog, their breed classifications, development, feeding care and training, health and welfare, as well a living weith them and coping with their loss.
Dr. Bruce Fogle provides expert advice and thoughtful essays based on his years of experience as a veterinarian, highlighted with personal anecdotes and more than 600 beautiful color photographs. Illustrated how-to spreads focus on practical topics related to dog care and training.
Beautifully presented, compassionate and full of useful information, Dog can be the book that dog owners will turn to throughout their pets' lives.

Library Video of the Week, September 17, 2012.


Vanishing of the Bees, a documentary directed by George Langworthy & Maryam Henein; written by Maryam Henein, George Langworthy & James Erskine. Library Call Number: SF539.V36 2011.

        Beekeepers first sounded the alarm in 2006—otherwise healthy honey bees were for unknown reasons abandoning their hives, never to return. By 2012, an estimated 30% of all hives on the planet had succumbed to what is known now as Colony Collapse Disorder. Some beekeepers have lost their entire inventory of hives and a solution has not yet been found.  Because a full third of the American food supply depends on honeybee pollination, the disorder, if unchecked, could have an extraordinary effect on food production—crops pollinated by the honeybee are worth an estimated $15 billion in the United States alone. 




Friday, September 14, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, September 10, 2012.

 

The Holy Thief by William Ryan.  Library Call Number: PR6118.Y37H65 2010.
          In 1936 Moscow, Captain Alexei Korolev of the Moscow Militia must investigate the mutilation killing of a young American nun in a deconsecrated church.  Because the woman is a foreigner, the case attracts the attention of the NKVD—Stalin’s dreaded secret police—and soon Korolev finds himself reluctantly patnered with an NKVD investigator named Colonel Gregorin.  Stalin has begun the great purges and one denunciation from any source can lead a person to be disappeared to a gulag, never to return.  It’s a bad time to be an honest cop in a city full of politics, intrigue and suspicion. 
          A well-reviewed first novel, with similarities to the best of Martin Cruz Smith's more contemporary Russian Inspector, Arkady Renko, or Philip Kerr's German Bernie Guenther.

Library Video of the Week, September 10, 2012.

 
The Black Balloon, starring Rhys Wakefield, Gemma Ward, Erik Thomson and Toni Collette. Directed by Elissa Down.  Library Call Number: PN1995.9.H34B53 2010.

          In this Australian film, the odds seemed stacked against Thomas, as he turns 16—his family has just moved to a new town in New South Wales, his dad’s in the army and his mother’s pregnant.  It would be hard enough to find new friends and maybe even a girlfriend, but then there’s the problem of Charlie, his autistic older brother, who is a constant embarrassment every time they’re out in public. 
          When Thomas takes swimming lessons, he meets Jackie and is instantly in love, but when she drops by his house, his brother is there, complicating matters.  How is Thomas ever going to learn how to exist with his brother?
          Movie fans might remember the early Leonardo DiCaprio/Johnny Depp movie, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? And find overtones in this movie, but Black balloon is in no way imitative.
         Director Downs focuses neatly on the problems of adolescence and dealing with a family member with special needs. Her story carries the ring of truth, perhaps because she herself grew up with autistic brothers and co-wrote the script.  Dramatic and funny, this is not a glossed-over look at a challenging family life, but it does leave the viewer with a sense of optimism concerning the human spirit.
          Nominated for 24 awards and winner of 17 in Australia and elsewhere, this is a movie well worth seeing.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Browsing Area Book of the Week, September 4, 2012..

The Battle over Health Care: What Obama’s reform means for America’s future by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh.  Library Call Number: RA395.A3G45 2012.
          From Publisher’s Weekly:  “Health care expert Gibson and World Bank economist Singh (coauthors of Wall of Silence) present a well-argued view that the heralded Obama health care reforms may be adverse to the public interest, since by ‘plowing even more funding into health care, the reform law cements inefficiency in the system.’ The reforms increase insurers’ market share, giving them access to 16 million new customers beginning in 2014, but proposed subsidies for individual insurance policies simply foster greater demand, enabling continuing cost increases.
          By 2030, the authors estimate that health care will consume 25 percent of the country’s income, and comprehensive insurance will be unaffordable, even with subsidies. In passionate language, they prescribe possible remedies, but many are the usual suspects, for example, tackling fraud in health care spending. Meanwhile, the prognosis that the baby boomers will overwhelm Medicare might induce the despairing reader to take two aspirins. But don’t call the doctor in the morning; a conservative estimate is that 225,000 people die every year from preventable harm in the health care system. As one observer says: ‘They harm you and they bill you for it.’”

Library Video of the Week,September 4, 2012.

Black Gold: Wake up and smell the coffee, filmed, directed, and produced by Marc Francis & Nick Francis. Library Call Number:HD9199.A2 B53 2006.
          From the film’s website:  “Multinational coffee companies now rule our shopping malls and supermarkets and dominate the industry worth over $80 billion, making coffee the most valuable trading commodity in the world after oil.
         But while we continue to pay for our lattes and cappuccinos, the price paid to coffee farmers remains so low that many have been forced to abandon their coffee fields.
            Nowhere is this paradox more evident than in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. Tadesse Meskela is one man on a mission to save his 74,000 struggling coffee farmers from bankruptcy. As his farmers strive to harvest some of the highest quality coffee beans on the international market, Tadesse travels the world in an attempt to find buyers willing to pay a fair price.
          Against the backdrop of Tadesse's journey to London and Seattle, the enormous power of the multinational players that dominate the world's coffee trade becomes apparent. New York commodity traders, the international coffee exchanges, and the double dealings of trade ministers at the World Trade Organisation reveal the many challenges Tadesse faces in his quest for a long term solution for his farmers.”

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Archives/Area Research Center Open Hours Change

Effective August 1, 2012, the research hours at the UW-Stout Archives/Area Research Center for Dunn, Pepin, and Barron Counties are now Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM.

The Archives will also be offering special evening and weekend hours for its researchers on select dates during the Fall Semester. We will be announcing the dates for these hours soon, so please look to this blog and the Archives webpage for updates.

For more information, please contact the Archivist, Heather Stecklein, at archives@uwstout.edu.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Browsing Books for August--Modern Science Books of Note

How the Hippies Saved Physics by David Kaiser. Library Call Number: QC15.K26 2011.
     The story of the Fundamental Fysiks Group, a band of 1970's UC-Berkeley physics teachers and students who began looking into quantum theory and Bell's Therorem and approached quantum entanglement by way of Zen, hot tubs, drugs and psychic studies to spin physics into new directions.    

 
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, by Nicholas Carr. Call Number: QP360.C667 2010.

     Human thought has been shaped through the centuries by "tools of the mind"…The printed book focused our attention. The Internet encourages rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information. Carr asks, as we become more adept at scanning and skimming, are we losing our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection?



Epigenetics by Richard C. Francis.                                   Call Number QH450.F73 2011.

     Francis' book is the first book for general readers to explore epigenetics--a term that means "on the gene." New discoveries in the field of genetics, indicate that a link exists between between the stress of the environment on an individual and the seemingly inherited traits of his or her subsequent generations. Trauma, smoking, addiction could all lead to increased chances of significant problems like obesity, cancer, even Alzheimer's


 Hot X: Algebra Exposed by Danica McKellar. Call Number: QA159.M34 2010.
     Author McKellar, a former television star of The Wonder Years, also happens to be a math whiz who is trying very hard to get young women to overcome their math phobia. Here, she continues her string of best-selling books, enticing young women into the wonderful world of mathematics using testimonials, real-life examples and a pop-mag style, while illuminating the mysteries of algebra.

August Videos--Early Coen Brothers Classics


Blood Simple, starring John Getz, Frances McDormand and Dan Hedaya. Written by Joel and Ethan Coen.  Directed by Joel Coen. 1984. Library Call Number: PN1995.9.M87B67 2001.
    A jealous saloon owner hires a private eye to find out who his wife is sleeping with, then wants the detective to kill them both.  But the detective has his own agenda.  Most of the deadly sins are represented here in fine Coen Brothers style.  Especially good are the scenes in the detective's car and the problems of burying a body for all the wrong reasons.


Raising Arizona, starring Nicholas Cage, Holly Hunter and John Goodman. Written by the Coens. Dir. by Joel Coen. 1987. Call Number: PN1995.5.C35R55 2002.
     Policewoman Edwina falls for chronic convenience store robber Hi while taking his mug shots.  They marry and settle into an Arizona trailer, but their family can’t be complete without a baby.  When told Edwina is unable to conceive, they decide to steal one of a millionaire’s new quintuplets.  But Hi’s co-worker, a visit from two brothers he knew in prison, and an apocalyptic bounty hunter tracking the baby complicate matters in this goofy and hilarious film.
Miller’s Crossing, starring Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Albert Finney and John Turturro. 1990.  Library Call Number: PN1995.9.G3 M55 2003
   The Coen’s gangster movie, tells the story of two warring gangs and the right-hand man of the Irish Godfather, in love with the Godfather’s girlfriend, protecting her no-good brother, and trying to keep the Italians out of their territory.  Refined double and triple-crosses with Gabriel Byrne as the smart guy, Finney as the Irish gangster chieftain, Harden as the girlfriend  and J.E. Freeman as a great, sinister hit man called the Dane.
Barton Fink, starring John Turturro and John Goodman. 1991.
Call Number: PN1995.9.A84B37 2003.
            A self-important writer moves from Broadway to Hollywood, where he’s given the assignment of writing a wrestling picture in a small room in a fleabag hotel.  Immediately he begins suffering writer’s block, made even worse by his intrusive neighbor next door, a jovial salesman who brushes aside the writer’s rudeness and won’t let him alone.  Darkly funny and moving from comedy to violent weirdness, this is quintessential Coen.