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 fiancĂ©.  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.”