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A Poem is a Poem is a… April 19, 2014

Posted by Dori in Thoughtful Ramblings.
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poetryI do admit my ignorance when I say that I’m not very knowledgeable about poetry, though certain poems do sing to me. Perhaps I’m too literal. In How to Read a Poem from the Academy of American Poets, they stress that you should not expect to understand a poem on first reading it, but should re-encounter it more than once, adding your experience.  Ultimately, it takes practice and work.

Since April is National Poetry Month, it is the ideal time to make the effort. There are events around town and on the web to get you started and activities for adults and children. You can check out a poetry book from the library, listen to poets read their own work or create and share a poem in your pocket.

I myself will take the time to find a couple of new ones that strike my fancy, like this one I just heard the poet reading:

My Philosophy of Life by John Ashbery

Just when I thought there wasn’t room enough
for another thought in my head, I had this great idea–
call it a philosophy of life, if you will. Briefly,
it involved living the way philosophers live,
according to a set of principles. OK, but which ones?

That was the hardest part, I admit, but I had a
kind of dark foreknowledge of what it would be like.
Everything, from eating watermelon or going to the bathroom
or just standing on a subway platform, lost in thought
for a few minutes, or worrying about rain forests,
would be affected, or more precisely, inflected
by my new attitude.  I wouldn’t be preachy,
or worry about children and old people, except
in the general way prescribed by our clockwork universe.
Instead I’d sort of let things be what they are
while injecting them with the serum of the new moral climate
I thought I’d stumbled into, as a stranger
accidentally presses against a panel and a bookcase slides back,
revealing a winding staircase with greenish light
somewhere down below, and he automatically steps inside
and the bookcase slides shut, as is customary on such occasions.
At once a fragrance overwhelms him–not saffron, not lavender,
but something in between. He thinks of cushions, like the one
his uncle’s Boston bull terrier used to lie on watching him
quizzically, pointed ear-tips folded over. And then the great rush
is on. Not a single idea emerges from it. It’s enough
to disgust you with thought. But then you remember something
William James
wrote in some book of his you never read–it was fine, it had the
fineness,
the powder of life dusted over it, by chance, of course, yet
still looking
for evidence of fingerprints. Someone had handled it
even before he formulated it, though the thought was his and
his alone.

It’s fine, in summer, to visit the seashore.
There are lots of little trips to be made.
A grove of fledgling aspens welcomes the traveler. Nearby
are the public toilets where weary pilgrims have carved
their names and addresses, and perhaps messages as well,
messages to the world, as they sat
and thought about what they’d do after using the toilet
and washing their hands at the sink, prior to stepping out
into the open again. Had they been coaxed in by principles,
and were their words philosophy, of however crude a sort?
I confess I can move no farther along this train of thought–
something’s blocking it. Something I’m
not big enough to see over. Or maybe I’m frankly scared.
What was the matter with how I acted before?
But maybe I can come up with a compromise–I’ll let
things be what they are, sort of. In the autumn I’ll put up jellies
and preserves, against the winter cold and futility,
and that will be a human thing, and intelligent as well.
I won’t be embarrassed by my friends’ dumb remarks,
or even my own, though admittedly that’s the hardest part,
as when you are in a crowded theater and something you say
riles the spectator in front of you, who doesn’t even like the idea
of two people near him talking together. Well he’s
got to be flushed out so the hunters can have a crack at him–
this thing works both ways, you know. You can’t always
be worrying about others and keeping track of yourself
at the same time. That would be abusive, and about as much fun
as attending the wedding of two people you don’t know.
Still, there’s a lot of fun to be had in the gaps between ideas.
That’s what they’re made for! Now I want you to go out there
and enjoy yourself, and yes, enjoy your philosophy of life, too.
They don’t come along every day. Look out! There’s a big one…

~ Dori

Tuesday at the Movies April 15, 2014

Posted by Dori in Movies.
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imagesWEEKLY MOVIE REVIEW: Broken Circle Breakdown, a Belgium film nominated in the Best Foreign Language film category at the Oscars, is a heartrending look at a relationship, from its tender and lusty beginnings, to a tragedy that tears it apart. Didier, a bluegrass playing, America loving musician meets Elise, a funny, bright tattoo artist and they quickly fall in love. After she accidently becomes pregnant, they joyfully raise little Maybelle until she becomes ill. Both react differently to this event; Elise becomes lethargic, depressed and spiritual, while Didier rants against right wing polemicists who reject stem cell research. Buoyed by intense emotion, great acting and beautiful music, the film had me mesmerized.

New Releases 4-15-14

Black NativityDVD and Blu-Ray: Based on the play by Langston Hughes, this is a holiday musical that follows a young man as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives.
PhilomenaDVD and Blu-Ray: Based on the book by Martin Sixsmith and starring Dame Judy Dench, this movie follows a woman as she searches for the boy she gave up when she was an unwed mother in Ireland.
The Secret Life of Walter MittyDVD and Blu-Ray: Ben Stiller’s adaptation of the James Thurber story about a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance, and action.
The Invisible Woman – DVD and Blu-Ray: Rafe Fiennes stars in this biographical film about Charles Dickens and his secret romance with a younger woman.
The Making of a LadyDVD: After her marriage, Emily is left with her new husband’s nephew and his wife who soon make her fear for her life. A PBS production.
Flowers in the Attic - DVD: a modern remake of the creepy young adult novel about four siblings, who, after the death of their parents, are abused by their grandparents.
The Bletchley Circle, Season 2DVD: the ladies who served as code breakers during WWII return as investigators into murder and mayhem.

Happy Watching!

~ Dori

Latest Additions April 14, 2014

Posted by stacey in Book List, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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Happy National Library Week! It started yesterday and we’ll be giddy library workers all week long because… Judy Blume is the Honorary Chair this year and who doesn’t love Ms. Blume? Who?!

Right? She’s awesome! Feel free to celebrate your love of Ms. Blume and her books by making sure you’ve read (and re-read) them all!

Also today? The 2014 winners of The Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism and in Books, Drama, and Music were announced! And now that you’re totally into the whole -looking at lists of winning books thing… Might you enjoy checking out the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction? Either the Longlist or the Shortlist?! Maybe you’ll want to pick something from all the different lists! And then stop in and let us know -do you agree, disagree, or feel blah about what you read okay? I’m curious!

— Stacey

Tuesday at the Movies April 8, 2014

Posted by Dori in Uncategorized.
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wordpressreelimageSpring has sprung and days are getting busier, leaving very little time to catch up on movies, so no movie review this week, I’m afraid.

MOVIE SHOWING: The Indie Int’l Film Fest is back on Monday, April 13th at 6:3o pm with Tanta Agua, a film from Uruguay about a father who takes his two children on vacation at a resort. When they are met with days of rain, he tries to entertain them, but his efforts are met with indifference.

New movie releases 4-8-14:

The Hobbit: the Desolation of SmaugDVD and Blu-Ray: the second installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.
HomefrontDVD and Blu-Ray: an ex-DEA agent retires to a quiet Southern town with his ten-year-old daughter and discovers that the idyllic setting is riddled with drugs and violence.
Grudge MatchDVD and Blu-Ray: Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone star as two old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final match.
Paranormal Activity: the Marked OnesDVD and Blu-Ray: the demons return…
August: Osage CountyDVD and Blu-Ray: Both Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts were nominated for Oscars for their performances in this movie about a Midwestern family and the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
A Touch of Sin - DVD: a film from China inspired by true events that focuses on four characters who are driven to violent ends. Winner of the 2013 Cannes Winner for Best Screenplay.

Happy Watching!

~ Dori

 

Latest Additions April 7, 2014

Posted by stacey in Fiction.
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This is such great weather! Not for doing stuff outside, but completely fabulous for inside activities -like reading! Yet strangely, I’m still lagging behind in the number of books I want to read vs. the number of books I’ve actually been able to read. Does that mean I want it to rain more? Nope! I wouldn’t mind reading in some beautiful sunshine, would you? Hopefully we’ve had our fill of moisture dropping from the sky -in any and all formats- and we have nothing but blue skies ahead! (At least for a while!) But back to you! Do *you* need any new books to look at, or even perhaps, new books to read?! How about one of these:

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
City of Darkness and Light by Rhys Bowen
Orange is the New Black bu Piper Kerman
The October List by Jeffery Wilde Deaver

Of course, if none of these appeal? There are plenty more where they came from -here in the *library!!* See you soon!

— Stacey

Tuesday at the Movies April 1, 2014

Posted by Dori in Movies.
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imagesLocal movie fans know that The Cleveland International Film Festival wrapped up this past weekend. A colleague and I saw two films and one series of shorts, all of which were worthwhile. We saw Anina, a richly illustrated animated movie from Uruguay and Monica Z, a biopic from Sweden about the jazz singer Monica Zetterlund. The shorts selection we saw featured a range of films, from an intense look at the war in Syria to a black comedy about the perils of an April Fool’s Day prank in a classroom entitled Fools Day…watch out if your coffee smells of gingerbread!

Speaking of April Fool’s - in its honor, here’s a list from Flavorwire of the 50 Funniest Movies Ever Made. I’m not sure if I agree with all of their selections, and I know Maureen would be disappointed that Dumb and Dumber isn’t on the list, but there’s many, especially the older ones, that I need to put on my viewing list.

WEEKLY MOVIE REVIEW:  I love both the Coen Brothers and folk music so was excited to watch Inside Llewyn Davis this weekend, their latest film about the folk music scene in New York City just pre-Dylan, specifically a week in 1961. Equally funny and quirky and wistful, the acting was great and the look of the film was amazing, with colors taken from period album covers like Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan  and convincing re-creations of the clothing, cars and smoky bars of the era. The music was produced by T. Bone Burnett, a musical legend, and many of the characters were inspired by actual musicians (see this article from Slate). The movie did a great job portraying the earnestness of those early performers who were seeking “authentic” folk music.

It’s catch up time, so I’m just going to list the movie releases – you can click on them to get a little more info:

Movie releases 3-18-14

FrozenBlu-Ray and DVD
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom - Blu-Ray and DVD
American Hustle - Blu-Ray and DVD
Saving Mr. BanksBlu-Ray and DVD
YogawomanDVD

Movie releases 3-25-14

Delivery ManBlu-Ray and DVD
Walking with DinosaursBlu-Ray and DVD
Wolf of Wall StreetBlu-Ray and DVD
The Great BeautyBlu-Ray and DVD
ViolaDVD
Let the Fire BurnDVD
Veep, the Complete Second SeasonDVD
Californication, Season 6DVD

Movie releases 4-1-14

Anchorman 2Blu-Ray and DVD
At MiddletonBlu-Ray and DVD

Happy Watching!

~ Dori

Mind candy March 31, 2014

Posted by Maureen in Book List, Non-Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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So I swore myself off Pinterest last year. But somehow I always find myself crawling back. I just cannot help it. It is a true addiction. I mean, really, how much cool stuff can there be out there? As it turns out, more than I can view in my spare time three nights in a row. Amazing.

Now that I am chock full of (home decor) inspiration, here are a few books I may like to check out to keep the overstimulation going:

 

Remodelista by Julie Carlson

remodelista

Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live by Sarah Susanka

notsobig

Refresh Your Home: 500 Simple Projects & Tips to Save Money, Update & Renovate by Reader’s Digest

refreshyourhome

Step-by-Step Home Design & Decorating by Clare Steel

stepbystep

Country Living Simple Sustainable Style by Randy Florke

simplesustainable

Family Spaces by Candice Olson

familyspaces

 

So, my friends…log off Pinterest (if you can!), put down the tablet, pick up some books and get inspired!

—Maureen

Latest Additions March 31, 2014

Posted by stacey in Fiction.
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Uh oh. Tomorrow is April 1st… aka April Fool’s Day… a day I just can’t fully embrace. There’s just something a little mean about the day, you know? I’m sure there are many harmless pranks that are being planned -and will be sprung on the unsuspecting, but generally I don’t love the idea that lots of energy is put into making someone look or feel uncomfortable. (Honestly? I don’t like surprises any day of the year -so it could just be me.) Anyway. I know that I don’t plan to prank anyone and I’m hoping not to be pranked in return! To help stay out of the way all those wild and crazzzyyy kids -how about a new book to read! How about one of these titles newly added to The Reading Room:

Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin
The Price of Innocence by Lisa Black
Rasputin’s Shadow by Raymond Khoury
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Bridget Jones, Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding

Good luck to us all tomorrow -whichever way you’re planning your day!

— Stacey

What’s Your (life) Story? March 28, 2014

Posted by stacey in Biographies, Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion, Non-Fiction.
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I’m sure you’ve heard at least one variation of the saying: if you want to understand someone you should walk a mile in their shoes, right? And I agree! But if you’re a little tired and you still want to get to know someone better? How about a biography or autobiography! At our most recent genre book discussion we shared books about the lives of real people and I learned a lot -without much walking… Are you interested? Excellent! Here they are:

Donna: Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand was first published in 2010 but has remained on the New York Times Bestsellers List for over 160 weeks. This heartbreaking captivating biography is about World War II prisoner of war survivor Louis Zamperini who is still alive today at a robust age of 97! After his plane crashed in the Pacific, he remained alive for 47 days adrift in a life boat with no food and water until he was captured by the Japanese. He spent the rest of the war in Japanese POW labor camps. As he was tortured and starved, he struggled to keep his sanity and to keep his spirit unbroken. Returning to the United States after the war was not easy for Louis and again he struggled to find his own path in life. Louis Zamperini’s life story is truly an inspiration for all of us. This book will soon be out in a movie that was directed by Angelina Jolie.

Lauren: Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers, tells the story of Syrian-born Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his American wife Kathy’s struggle to survive through the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, only to face a much larger battle in the aftermath of the storm. Kathy and the couple’s children evacuate before Katrina hits, but Zeitoun stays behind. When the worst is over, he uses a canoe to paddle around flooded New Orleans, connecting with other survivors and helping those he can. After a few weeks and daily check-ins with Kathy by a lone working telephone, Zeitoun suddenly disappears. The struggle of being a Muslim man in America compounded by the nation’s ongoing war on terror have devastating implications for Zeitoun and his family. I highly recommend.

Carol: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman is a memoir based on the author’s time served in a federal prison for money laundering. A graduate of Smith College, Piper makes a mistake and gets involved in a relationship with a Nora, a woman who is involved in laundering money and smuggling drugs for an international drug ring. Years after their short-lived relationship, which included an ill-advised transport of money overseas by Piper, Piper is visited by Federal Agents and indicted. Sentenced to 15 months at Danbury Correctional Institution, Piper arrives there a full 10 years after her crime has been committed and she’s a very different woman with a loving fiancé and many supportive friends. Soon, Piper is submerged in the culture of prison, navigating the unspoken rules of institutionalized life and eventually having to do time alongside of Nora, the woman she feels is responsible for putting her there. This is a fascinating book about life behind bars.

Chris: Abigail Adams by Bancroft Award-winning historian Woody Holton takes a comprehensive look at Adams’ life and of women’s roles in the creation of the republic. From a young age and throughout her life, Abigail’s wit and intelligence opened many doors, to the powers that be, and to her husband’s heart, who affectionately called her “Miss Adorable.” She spent her life campaigning for woman’s education and denouncing sex discrimination. She was a savvy investor, and wrote her own will leaving her property to her granddaughters; this done at a time when husbands were legally assigned their wives’ properties. She was really knowledgeable about politics and had a huge influence on her husband and our second President. Abigail Adams truly was a unique and remarkable woman who made a difference.

Emma: Johnny Carson by Henry Bushkin is Johnny’s story at the pinnacle of his career through the eyes of his lawyer, tennis partner, and friend. Bushkin quickly learned that he needed to be available for Carson 24 hours a day. The book contains lots of Hollywood insider information and name dropping. Johnny was successful, brilliant, shy, moody, generous, and sometimes cruel. There were always consequences for crossing Carson. Bushkin went behind Carson’s back on a business deal, and their relationship ended abruptly after 18 years. This is a close look at a man who in the public eye had everything but who never seemed to find contentment and happiness with his family and friends.

Steve: A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley, by Neil Thompson, details the very interesting but very odd life of Ripley. He started out poor, painfully shy, and very self-conscious of his large teeth and stutter. A caring teacher took note of his artistic talents and allowed him to draw his reports, rather than write and speak about them, saving him the embarrassment of his stutter. As Ripley grew older, he honed his skills and began his career as a newspaper cartoonist, later stumbling onto his wildly popular “Believe It or Not!” fame after first showcasing odd sports feats. As his life progressed, Ripley became rich, famous, odd and erratic. A thorough and enjoyable read!

Megan: Stories I Only Tell by Friends by Rob Lowe provides a thoughtful glimpse into the life of a young teen idol and describes the challenges involved in creating a successful and meaningful career as well as a satisfying private life. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, a move to Hollywood when he was ten set the stage for a career path that has stood the test of time. From the Brat Pack to the West Wing, Lowe has managed evolve and succeed in a business that is not always kind to child actors. Fan already know that Lowe is charming, charismatic, and quite hilarious and this book will just confirm this!

Ann: A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen is a dual biography- of Bob the Cat and James Bowen. When they meet, James Bowen is a down and out busker on the streets of London. James sees a tom cat hanging around inside his apartment building and the cat appears to be in bad physical shape. James decides he has to help the cat, whom he names Bob, and takes him to the vet and nurses him back to health. James is recovering from drug addiction, and as a street musician, he can barely afford to feed himself much less a pet. James figures Bob is used to the street and will go on his way when he feels better. Wrong. James cannot shake Bob, who follows him down the street toward his music playing gigs. The two basically adopt each other, and Bob soon becomes a regular with James as they set up and play music in the street. The people love Bob, and so will you!

Dori: Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure: A Memoir is both laugh out loud funny and touchingly poignant. As a child in the Soviet Union, novelist Shteyngart was a fragile asthmatic from a Jewish family that had suffered from the evils of Hitler and Stalin. Once settled in New York, he was bullied for his difference, suffering panic attacks and making few friends. At Oberlin College, he floated along in a haze of alcohol and drugs and started to fall in love with writing, though it takes years of psychoanalysis to pull him through. In this mesmerizing autobiography, he’s able to explain the relationship between himself and his parents, capturing the divide that many immigrants have with their American children, whose ambitions and grievances are often at odds.

Stacey: Jim Henson: the biography, by Brian Jay Jones, provides complete coverage, from birth to untimely death and reveals unexpected contradictions behind the legend. Mr. Henson was a creative genius who could bring simple pieces of felt to life while equally fascinated by new technological toys; he believed a simple handshake could seal the deal but understood the value of owning the rights to his original works. He wasn’t perfect but he was always true to himself, that’s pretty impressive.

And next up? We’ll be reading first novels! If you want to read along with us, find the debut book by an author -hopefully someone who has just recently been published for the first time. It’s always fun to find someone who’s just getting started, then when they’re super popular you can look back and say, “I found them!” So hurry up and search out the next big thing! We’ll be waiting…

— Stacey

Latest Additions March 24, 2014

Posted by stacey in Fiction.
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It’s shocking how fast the time is going, isn’t it? I mean really. It’s almost the end of March! One more tiny week and …bam! We’re into April showers bring May flowers! I’m happy to be done with Winter but now time can slow back down so I can get some things accomplished… please? I wouldn’t mind more time to read either. How about you? And maybe you’re looking for books just in case time finally slows down long enough for you to pick up something new? How about one of these:

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot
Sycamore Row by John Grisham
The Bear by Claire Cameron
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

Some of these are on my list of things to read as well… So let’s make it happen! Let’s read!

— Stacey

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