Wednesday, August 07, 2013
The dog days of summer are upon us and change is in the air so I'm finding it hard to focus. Here are just a few of the things I've been thinking about this week.....
- I'm older than I thought. Last weekend, I went to a Bowie Baysox baseball game and the Naval Academy freshman class was in attendance. None of them sang along with Tom Cruise and Co. when the "You've Got That Lovin' Feeling" scene from Top Gun was shown on the centerfield scoreboard. We soon realized that these kids weren't born until 1995 -- 9 years after that movie was released. That also means no one in college these days was born pre-World Wide Web
- It's not too late to sign up for our Summer Reading Club. The deadline for sign-ups is August 11. Kids and teens welcome! So far, our summer readers have read over 45,000 books!
- Have you seen our new look? MCPL's new website has been launched! Enjoy our sleeker layout, easy-to-find answers to our most asked questions, new branch homepages, and a complete listing off all the ways you can can keep up with your favorite library system (Facebook, Twitter, Ask-a-Librarian, Apps, and more)!
- All summer long, royalty from the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair have been visiting our branches, educating us about farm animals and the various art and craft exhibits. Now it's time for the big payoff. The 65th Annual Mongomery County Agricultural Fair kicks off this wFriday and lasts until August 17. As their tagline goes, "There's plenty to see from A to Z!"
- Also next week, is the 17th Annual Comcast Outdoor Film Festival for NIH Charities. This is year, the festival is housed at the MCPS Board of Education Building on Hungerford Drive in Rockville. With the new location comes a new (or perhaps old?) way of enjoying the festival: Drive-In style!
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I love watching movies based on books I've read. Sometimes I love the movie because it captures the spirit of the book. Other times the way I imagined the movie in my head while reading the book was so much better. We reap so much from reading the original story the movie was based by engaging our limitless imaginations with the words of the author. So here are some highlights of books that are soon to be movies that you won't want to miss.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks. For Zombie lovers and non-Zombie lovers alike. But even if you don't love zombies it is a FASCINATING read. It's a powerful "what if" story about how specific countries could possibly react if a contagion started spreading across the world. Told many years after the zombie war, the story is a collection of smaller stories told by survivors and collected by the narrator. This gives you a chance to see the war from many distinct and unique perspectives to get a total feel for what the world went through. You won't be able to put this book down.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. The play might as well be called Much Ado About Love and certainly shows how the course of true love never does run smoothly. This humorous story, with a dash of drama, centers on soldiers returning from war who fall in love, or are tricked into falling in love. My favorite line in the play is "I was born to speak all mirth and no matter." The war of words between Beatrice and Benedick makes them one of the best couples in literature!
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Will this movie be the next big sci-fi movie since Star Trek: Into Darkness? I've read three books in this exciting series and can't wait to read the rest. This first book in the series introduces us to a young and lonely genius, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, who attends battle school for young soldiers. The school's leaders hope that Ender will be "the one" to end Earth's war with an alien race called the Buggers. Ender is the huge draw in this story as he struggles between who he wants to be and what he must do.
Austenland by Shannon Hale. This book can be described in one word-FUN! Single New Yorker Jane is obsessed with all things Jane Austen, especially Mr. Darcy. When a rich relative dies and leaves Jane a ticket to a Regency era role playing resort in England she, of course, goes to rid herself of her Darcy obsession. Will she be able to kick the habit or will she find a Mr. Darcy of her own? Read and find out!
And here are some other great books that have movies being released this year: Tiger Eyes, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, The Hobbit, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Superman books, Paranoia, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and Geography Club.
Judge for yourself how well they brought your vision of these books to life. Read them and reap!
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Is the movie industry helping the publishing industry or is it the other way around? I don’t really care. As a film nut and a book worm, I love books-to-movies. You, too? Here’s where you can find out what has been done and what’s coming up.
IMDb’s list of upcoming books-to-movies list.
Early Word has month-to-month activities for 2013. How about DiCaprio playing Gatsby?
Mid-Continent Public Library has a year-by-year list from 1980. Hmmm, they forgot to list some classics, though.
Alphabetical list of books made into movies? Check this one from Oxford County Library system in Ontario, Canada. So many films, so little time!
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Most of us are crazy busy at this time of year (including me). We're trying to juggle work, family, shopping, holiday parties, the budget and so on. To help keep some perspective, it's worth trying to carve out a little time to appreciate some of the literary and cinematic classics that bring the season to life.
Read or watch the wonderful Charles Dicken's tale "A Christmas Carol", the story of miserly Scrooge and the three spirits that bring him to a new sense of the joy and wonder of the Christmas season. You can do a chapter a night as a family read aloud in the week preceding December 25th, or you can borrow one of the several film versions of the story that the library owns.
MCPL can offer anything from the 1951 Alastair Sim's version (which set the standard for screen portrayals of Scrooge) to an expanded BBC production that includes ensemble versions of Dickensian pub songs. My personal favorite stars George C Scott as a particularly curmudgeonly Scrooge. Or, there's always "The Muppet Christmas Carol" - Kermit makes a wonderful Bob Crachitt. If you have time after the holidays, and are looking for an interesting read for a cold January night, you can pick up "The Man Who Invented Christmas" by Les Standiford to find out more about Dickens and his beloved story.
Another appealing short read is Truman Capote's autobiographical novella "A Christmas Memory". This gentle story decribes the Christmas preparations of a young boy and his slightly eccentric, elderly cousin in the Depression era South.
Frank Capra's classic film "It's a Wonderful Life" seems to be on continuous television play during December, but if you need to schedule your own showing, the library can provide a copy. Remember, everytime you hear a bell.....
Another lovely family read aloud is Clement Moore's "The Night Before Christmas". The library has many wonderfully illustrated versions of the poem, ranging from the intricate and playful work of Jan Brett, to Tasha Tudor's warm and homey pictures of an elfin Santa, to one in the distinctive style of beloved children's author Tomie De Paola.
So pop some popcorn, make some warm drinks for both the adults and kids, and gather everyone around to make some great holiday memories. Enjoy!
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Have you ever been in an art gallery and wondered what it would be like if the people in a painting could step from the frame and tell you their story? Or if the artist could explain his vision directly to you? This is exactly what happens in the new film by Polish director Lech Majewski, The Mill and the Cross, a living tableaux of Bruegel’s painting The Way to Calvary. Like all Bruegel’s work it is crowded with people, over 500 in all, and in the first scene of the film the artist walks among his subjects as they are costumed and posed. He talks with his aristocratic benefactor about the ideas and symbolism that he intends to communicate in the painting, what he means to say about his world. For though the scene is a traditional religious subject, Bruegel’s real subject is his own 16th century Flanders, suffering under Spanish rule and the cruelties of the Inquisition. He does not paint Roman soldiers leading Christ to Calvary, but red-coated Spanish horsemen leading a heretic to execution. The film follows the crowd of people out of the painting into the fullness of their lives at work and play and love, dancing and merriment going on in one corner while in another a mother mourns her tortured son. High above the people the windmill turns and grinds out the fates of all. The old wooden mill with its whooshing cloth covered sails and huge creaking interior gearwheels was painstakingly recreated for the film and is in some sense the central character. The Mill and the Cross casts a mesmerizing spell as it slowly unspools Bruegel’s vision of the human condition and his times. (The Mill and the Cross was shown at film festivals worldwide including Sundance. It is in limited release in theaters. The DVD is forthcoming).
Seeing this film reminded me of one of my favorite books, Headlong by Michael Frayn, a novel that is also inspired by Bruegel’s work. It’s a suspenseful and comic combination of art history lesson and art heist caper. Two young academics, Martin Clay and his wife Julia, move to the English countryside where they hope to concentrate on their studies. But distraction soon appears when they visit a local couple living in genteel poverty in a dilapidated mansion. Martin sees what he believes is a long missing Bruegel painting being used as a fire screen. He embarks on an obsessive dual mission to prove the painting is indeed a genuine Bruegel, and to separate it from its oblivious owners and make his fortune. In alternating chapters we follow Martin’s research into Bruegel and the progress of his madcap scheme. It is a measure of Frayn’s skill that the chapters on symbolism in Bruegel’s work are as suspenseful as the ill fated plot to steal the painting. This is a great read with appeal for art lovers, book clubs, and anyone who enjoys good writing and an out of the ordinary story.
When I read Headlong I also checked out a book of Bruegel’s paintings to refer to as they were discussed in the novel. There are many more novel/art pairings to enjoy like the bestselling Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier/Vermeer, Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland/Renoir, and Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman/Mary Cassatt. For more ideas search the library catalog for the words or phrase “art and fiction” or “artists and fiction.” You can limit the search results to Item Category 2 “Adult” for a more focused list. And if you can’t get enough of Bruegel, there is also a novel based on his life, As Above, So Below by Rudy Rucker. So during these cold winter months forget trekking to a museum to enjoy art, just pull up a chair to the fire and let the paintings speak for themselves.
Montgomery County Public Libraries