Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: In the Basement of the Ivory Tower

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower
Professor X

Some reviewers find arrogance in this story. I see humility all around. Writing anonymously, to protect his job and because he thinks these issues are nationwide and do not just apply to where he teaches, Professor X, tells of his decade of experience as a part-time Adjunct Instructor of English at a community college and a private college.

The part many reviewers latch onto is his description of the abysmal writing skills many of his students have. These reviewers blame Professor X for his students’ poor performance. They think he is arrogant for claiming he would need years to bring some of them up to college level writing. They think he should take more responsibility for his students' failures.

Professor X thinks that, for a variety of reasons, his students have slipped through the system. Now they are trying to better their lives and are forced to take classes, his classes, which have little relevance to their lives or the work they want to do.

On the surface, the book appears to be just about education, but what I liked most was Professor X’s honesty about what got him started working as a part-time Instructor. He paid too much for a house that was bigger than his family needed. Sounds all too familiar, right? He never deliberately compared this experience to his students’ college experience, but I think the parallels are obvious. They too want to move up but have gotten in over their heads.

So, what is Professor X’s solution? I think his answer is humility - humility in himself, in his students, in colleges, and in society at large. Why should every student need to take English 101 and 102, except for some societal egotism that we will all be better off if everyone, regardless of their job, has studied Classic literature? Why should everyone buy the biggest house the mortgage lender says they can afford?

I recommend this book.

Becky's Romance Picks

Becky, out at the Sunrise Library, always has a great romance on tap. If you need a great book to pull your heartstrings, she's the woman. Each month, Becky suggests three wonderful books in the romance genre.

Here are Becky's picks for the month:

And One Last thing...  
Molly Harper

A romantic comedy about a woman who publishes the details of her husband's affair in his company newsletter, and then must deal with the consequences.

Accidental Vampire 
Lynsay Sands

Ever since an accident turned her into a knockout vamp, Elvi Black's been catching her z's in a coffin, staying out of the sun, and giving up garlic. She knows there's more to being undead than what she saw in Dracula, but she can't very well ask her mortal friends about proper biting etiquette. But when her neighbors placed a personal ad for her in the local paper, she never imagined she'd meet Victor Argeneau, a vampire who could have his pick of any woman - dead or alive.

Rich, powerful, and drop - dead gorgeous, Victor's the perfect man for a novice neck - biter like Elvi. He's willing to teach her everything he knows, but he'll have to do it fast. Someone's out to put a stake through her new vamp life, and only Victor can keep her safe - and satisfied - for all eternity.

When Beauty tamed the Beast
Eloisa James

An unparalleled beauty, Miss Linnet Berry Thynne gives herself two weeks to make her fiance, the Earl of Marchant, who is rumored to be immune to the charms of any woman, fall in love with her, but the tables turn when she loses her own heart to a man who may never love her in return.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Teen Knitting Club

Girls and guys, age 11-17 - Join us after school, the first Thursday of every month for our Teen Knitting Club at the Centennial Hills Library.

If you already knit, come show off your projects! You can chat with other knitters, and get help with new techniques from our instructor, Andrea.

If you've never knit before (or are still wobbly with your technique!), we'll lend you a pair of needles to use at the library, and we'll give you a ball of yarn to keep and practice on!

We have a great beginner's DVD and one-on-one instruction. That means you'll be able to learn the basics - casting on, the knit stitch, the purl stitch, and binding off.

You can also get free patterns, "pet" different types of yarn, see finished projects, and check out great knitting books.

C'mon over!

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Midnight Run
By Niro, Robert de
Director Brest, Martin
2004-01 - Universal Home Video

A bounty hunter tracks down a former mob bail jumper and travels across the country to deliver him to court in LA.

A Gem Lost in the 80's Action-Buddy Film Explosion

No doubt one of the best movies you've probably never seen. Excellent "odd couple" style chemistry between De Niro and Grodin. Great script. It's an intricate plot, but never drags and the give-and-take between Grodin and De Niro (reportedly mostly improvised) comes across as natural. Although the violence is held at a minimum, excessive use of the F-word may make you want to put the kiddies to bed before enjoying this character-driven and charming action film. If you liked Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours, then I highly recommend this film to popcorn movie fans and people looking for a nice escapist evening.--Joyce

Read more reviews on books, movies and more provided by your fellow library users on Recently Reviewed.

Tuesday's New DVD Releases

Here are the DVD releases for next Tuesday, 6 September 2011:

Alaska - The edge of life
Alaska is a land of extremes: the biggest, coldest, windiest, and wildest. Its climate and land forms are shaped by two oceans, the moving Earth, and frozen polar air. Through it flows the Yukon River, perhaps the last untamed river in North America. Beautiful photography modified with computer images show how populations and natural forces have changed the land. Intimate portraits show the spirit of the people native to Alaska, and those who came to change the land but were dominated by it.

Denise Austin Sculpt & Burn Body Blitz
Kick those calories and banish fat with four, fun kick-butt workouts that feature the very best training methods to sculpt lean muscle in all the right areas: Mixed Martial Arts, Athletic Conditioning, Kettlebell-Inspired, and Cardio Sculpt. Each high-intensity workout combines powerful moves so you can dramatically reshape the body in just 30 days!

Everything must go
Nick is a career salesman who loses his wife and his job in the worst day of his life. Faced with his life imploding, Nick puts it all on the line, or, rather, on the lawn, as he moves himself and all his possessions to his front yard.

Raised by her father, an ex-CIA agent, in the wilds of Finland, Hanna's upbringing and training have been one and the same, all geared to making her the perfect assassin. The turning point in her adolescence is a sharp one. Sent into the world by her father on a mission, Hanna journeys stealthily across Europe, eluding agents dispatched after her by a ruthless intelligence operative with secrets of her own. Hanna faces startling revelations about her existence.

Kathryn Budig Aim True Yoga
Kathryn Budig delivers a whole new energy to the art of yoga with fun, new techniques. She breaks down her five favorite poses so viewers can achieve poses never thought possible, while also incorporating flow workouts and helpful practice sessions.

Remembering 9/11: 10 year commemorative
On the 10 year anniversary of 9/11/2001, National Geographic reveals an intimate look back at the day that redefined the nation and also a powerful perspective on the state of the country today. Commemorative collection includes Inside 9/11: War on America, Inside 9/11: Zero Hour, Witness: DC 9/11, Giuliani's 9/11, 9/11: Where Were You?, Through These Eyes, Witness 9/11, and Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive.

Rodney Yee's Daily Yoga
Master instructor Rodney Yee designs five distinct practices developed specifically to take viewers through their week, enhancing their life along the way. Workouts include: Build the Foundation; Energize; Strengthen the Core; Clear it Out; and Calm Down.

Two and a half men: Complete 8th season
This season, Charlie has a thorny problem: Rose. Before, she was on the make for Charlie. Now she's married and supposedly off-limits - and that's irresistible for lust-struck Charlie. He pursues her. That and other situations are all part of the hilarious antics of Charlie, his sad-sack bro Alan and his underachieving nephew Jake as they return to make Two and a Half Men #1 among TV comedies.

WWE Randy Orton: Evolutikon of a Predator
Take an in-depth look at WWE's Apex Predator from Elimination Chamber through the road to WrestleMania and Orton's brutal bout with CM Punk. Along the way, fans learn about the Viper in and out of the ring as he reflects on his career to date. Family and opponents contribute never-before-seen interviews about Orton's past, present, and future. In addition the set is packed with some of Orton's most memorable matches and moments from his career.

Which of these will have the most requests next week?

This week’s release with the most requests is Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family with 325 requests.

Prom had 268 requests,
Sons of Anarchy Season 3 had 198 requests,
Win Win had 196 requests,
Desperate Housewives Complete 7th Season had 130 requests,
Cell 211 had 128 requests,
House MD Season 7 had 88 requests,
Cougar Town Complete 2nd Season had 34 requests,
Only In America with Larry the Cable Guy had 19 requests,
Breaking News, Breaking Down had 14 requests, and
An American Family - Loud story short had 4 requests.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Carla & Jaime's Teen Picks

Carla and Jaime, out at the Summerlin Library, are wired into the best Teen books! You want to know what's hot? Or just what you want to read next? They're the ones! Each month, Carla and Jaime suggest three wonderful books for teens.

Here are Carla and Jaime's picks for the month:

City of Bones
Cassandra Clare

Suddenly able to see demons and the Darkhunters who are dedicated to returning them to their own dimension, fifteen-year-old Clary Fray is drawn into this bizzare world when her mother disappears and Clary herself is almost killed by a monster.

Laurie Halse Anderson

After finally getting noticed by someone other than school bullies and his ever-angry father, seventeen-year-old Tyler enjoys his tough new reputation and the attentions of a popular girl, but when life starts to go bad again, he must choose between transforming himself or giving in to his destructive thoughts.

Kristin Cashore

In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers

Super Diaper Baby 2 : The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers
Dav Pilkey

After George B. and Harold H. wrote their first ever book called Super Diaper Baby. The book landed in the hands of Mr. Krupp, their school principal. "This is garbage... why can’t kids write about anything else besides poop?," Mr. Krupp says. This is when they came up with the ingenious idea that their super-villain would be made of pee!

Their book is about Dr. Dilbert, an evil genius, which invents a machine. One day something goes wrong and he is transforms himself into a puddle of pee. With the help of his side kick, Petey, he vows revenge on the town and wants to destroy every toilet. Only Super Diaper Baby and his super-hero dog can save everyone.

This is a funny tale that young reluctant readers would find very funny. This is especially good if your child likes to laugh at gross things. This book is packed with pictures and includes a flip-o-rama in every chapter.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mike's Hardboiled Mystery Picks

Mike, out at the Enterprise Library, always has a great hardboiled mystery on tap. He's the man to see if you need to feed your gritty mystery addiction. Each month, Mike suggests three wonderful books in the down and dirty mystery genre.

Here are Mike's picks for the month:

Carved in Bone
Jefferson Bass

On the campus of the University of Tennessee lies a patch of ground unlike any in the world. The "Body Farm" is a place where human corpses are left to the elements, and every manner of decay is fully explored - for the sake of science and the cause of justice. The scientist who created the Body Farm has broken cold cases and revolutionized forensics, and now, in this heart-stopping novel, he spins an astonishing tale inspired by his own experiences.

A woman's corpse lies hidden in a cave in the mountains of East Tennessee. Undiscovered for thirty years, her body has been transformed by the cave's chemistry into a near-perfect mummy - one that discloses an explosive secret to renowned anthropologist Bill Brockton. Dr. Brockton has spent his career surrounded by death and decay at the Body Farm, but even he is baffled by this case unfolding in a unique environment where nothing is quite what it seems.

The surreal setting is Cooke County, a remote mountain community that's clannish, insular, and distrustful of outsiders. The heartbreaking discovery of the young woman's corpse reopens old wounds and rekindles feuds dating back decades. The county's powerful and uncooperative sheriff and his inept deputy threaten to derail Brockton's investigation altogether. So do Brockton's other nemeses: his lingering guilt over the death of his wife, and the fury of a medical examiner whom Brockton dares to oppose in court.

Carved in Bone is a richly atmospheric, superbly suspenseful, and magnificently rendered trip into the world of forensic science, the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, and the dark passageways of the human psyche. Full of vivid characters and startling twists and turns, this thrilling novel heralds the debut of a major new voice in crime fiction - and an unforgettable work from the hand of a scientific legend.

Sworn to Silence
Linda Castillo

In Painters Mill, Ohio, the Amish and "English" residents have lived side by side for two centuries. But sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community. A young Amish girl named Kate Burkholder survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Killer... but ultimately decided to leave her community.

A wealth of experience later, Kate has been asked to return to Painters Mill as chief of police. Her Amish roots and big-city law enforcement background make her the perfect candidate. She's certain she's come to terms with her past - until the first body is discovered in a snowy field.

Kate vows to stop the killer before he strikes again. But to do so, she must betray both her family and her Amish past - and expose a dark secret that could destroy her.

Cold Dish
Craig Johnson

Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County, knows he's got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl.

Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces the most volatile and challenging case in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Book Review: The Influencing Machine

The Influencing Machine
Brooke Gladstone
Graphic Novel

What could be more boring than a book about the mass media! Or if not boring, the next word that probably comes to mind is biased.

In this book, author Brooke Gladstone - and illustrator Josh Neufeld (The book is graphic, as in comic book style) - challenge us that the most prevalent biases are not philosophical, like we all fear.

The biases that Gladstone warns about are: The Commercial Bias, The Bad News Bias, The Status Quo Bias, The Access Bias, The Visual Bias, The Narrative Bias, and then The Fairness Bias. Essentially these biases illustrate media theorist Marshall McLuhan's phrase, "The medium is the message." These biases arise from television, radio, and newspapers competing to hold their audiences attention.

The problem is that stories of ultimate, historical importance may not get coverage. So who do we have to blame, Gladstone asks? It's ourselves, or rather our society as a whole. To illustrate this she provides us with a history of the news industry, revealing that things may actually be much better today than many of us think, much better than they have been in the past. With the Internet available for instant fact-checking of many elements of news stories, reporters have to be on their toes.

What is most reassuring to me, is the historical perspective on technological change that Gladstone provides. She points out that Aristotle feared the impact of writing itself on human thought. In the early days of printing, there were concerns voiced about being inundated with information, and in the early days of radio, people complained about the violent programs.

I highly recommend this informative and entertaining, graphic novel-type, book!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's New DVD Releases

Here are the DVD releases for next Tuesday, 30 August 2011:

An American Family - Loud story short
On January 11, 1973, Americans stepped into the home of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. Chronicling the lives of its family members, the series made them household names.

During the seven months that they lived in front of the camera, viewers watched dramatic life events unfold, including Pat asking for a separation from her husband Bill, and the bohemian New York lifestyle of their gay son, Lance. A 2-hour compilation of the most memorable and compelling moments of the series.

Breaking News, Breaking Down
How does traumatic news impact the men and women who cover it. Mike Walter loved chasing the big story, but on one September morning, the biggest story of his career chased him down. On that day, a jet rained from the sky, piercing the Pentagon, and shattering his emotional well-being.

Now Walter turns the camera on himself and his profession as he and other journalists go to New Orleans after a photojournalist suffers a mental breakdown. The result is a raw and gripping look at this profession.

Cell 211
On his first day on the job, prison officer Juan Olivier is knocked unconscious in a freak accident and his co-workers carry him to an empty cell.

When he awakens, Juan discovers that he has been abandoned in the middle of a riot in a high-security cellblock, home to the prison's most dangerous criminals. If they discover he's a guard, he's dead meat. To survive, Juan must pose as a prisoner and conspire with the riot's vicious leader, Malamadre.

Cougar Town Complete 2nd Season
TV's funniest mom (and the cul-de-sac crew) return for more laughs in their not-so-quiet Florida neighborhood.

It's a new year of uproarious changes as Travis prepares to leave for college, Jules and Grayson's relationship reaches another level, and Bobby tries to stand on his own. Meanwhile, Andy and Ellie find clever new ways to keep their marriage lively, and Laurie ramps up her search for love - in her own unique way.

Desperate Housewives Complete 7th Season
It's high noon on Wisteria Lane as a brand-new rival stirs up even more excitement, deceit, and romance in the neighborhood.

Lynette gets jealous when Renee starts spending time with Tom, and Bree finds herself falling for Keith. Meanwhile, Gabrielle makes a shocking personal discovery, Susan copes with a life-threatening event, and a mysterious shooting has everyone on edge.

House MD Season 7
He's sarcastic, incorrigible, bitter, and in a relationship? Dr. Gregory House has spent his career taking on seemingly hopeless cases, but when his rapport with Dr. Lisa Cuddy changes, he finds himself facing new, and very different, challenges.

His team at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital also continues to blaze trails as they investigate baffling medical cases involving a religious zealot, a professional bull rider, and possibly even smallpox.

Only In America with Larry the Cable Guy
Larry the Cable Guy takes a zany spin around the U.S.

From the Oregon Trail to the Grand Canyon, from crossing the Delaware to searching for Californias' gold, Larry's signature persona delivers offbeat America, with stories of real history and loads of down-home fun. Larry 'gits-r-done,' as he visits iconic sites, engaging people along the way. Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy brings fun-loving 'country' to an historic level.

At Prom, every couple has a story and no two are exactly alike. For Nova Prescott, it's a classic tale of opposites attracting when she finds herself drawn to the guy who gets in the way of her perfect prom.

Share the laughter and the drama as secrets are brought to light, seemingly steady relationships unravel, and new romance catches fire. Get ready for this hilariously heartfelt date with destiny featuring a hot ensemble cast of rising young stars and cool bonus features.

Sons of Anarchy Season 3
The sins of the father come crashing down on the son in the stunning, suspense-filled Season Three of Sons of Anarchy!

Chaos and confusion reign after Jax's infant son has been kidnapped and Gemma has been framed for murder. When Abel's trail leads SAMCRO to Belfast, Ireland, secrets are revealed and the bonds of brotherhood are shattered. Jax is left reeling with more questions than answers as he struggles with the legacy of his father, the future of the club, and the fate of his family.

Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family
Madea, everyone's favorite wise-cracking, take-no-prisoners grandma, jumps into action when her niece, Shirley, receives distressing news about her health. All Shirley wants is to gather her three adult children around her and share the news as a family.

It's up to Madea, with the help of the equally rambunctious Aunt Bam, to gather the clan together and make things right the only way she knows how: with a lot of tough love, laughter, and the revelation of a long-buried family secret.

Win Win
Mike Flaherty is a lovable yet long-suffering lawyer and high school wrestling coach. When he comes across a teenage runaway who also happens to be a champion wrestler, Mike's luck turns around in spectacular fashion.

But his win-win situation soon becomes more complicated than he ever imagined when the boy's family affairs come into play.

Which of these will have the most requests next week?

This week’s release with the most requests is The Beaver with 343 requests.

Trollhunter had 103 requests,
NCIS Season 8 had 95 requests,
Bambi II had 71 requests,
WWE - The 50 most shocking moments had 70 requests,
Brothers and Sisters - Complete Season 5 had 64 requests,
Gossip Girl Complete 4th Season had 55 requests,
NCIS Los Angeles - the Second Season had 50 requests,
Sons of Guns had 34 requests,
Dual Survival had 28 requests, and
Exhale - Core Fusion Cardio Pure Intensity had 12 requests.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Catie's Picture Book Picks

Catie, at the Clark County Library, is a magician with a picture book! She can spot the best ones a mile away. She knows what will make a kid start giggling and getting involved with the story. Each month, Catie suggests three wonderful picture books!

Here are Catie's picks for the month:

Dragon Machine
Helen Ward

Seeing dragons that no one else does and knowing that they are only safe until they are spotted, George develops a machine to take them back to their homeland, discovering in the process that his family notices him more than he had thought.

Chicken Soup
Jean Van Leeuwen

Rumor has it that Mrs. Farmer is making chicken soup, so the chickens are on the run - except for poor Little Chickie, who has a bad cold. No matter where she hides - the hayloft, a milk pail, or the sheep pen - her sneezes give her away. She is sure to be found soon!

A Mother for Choco
Keiko Kasza

Choco, a little bird living alone, sets out to find a mother, but he has no luck until he meets the warm-hearted, generous Mrs. Bear and her other children - Piggy, Ally, and Hippy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Movie Review: Blast!


In this case Blast is actually an acronym for, Balloon-Borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope. For budgetary reasons, this international team launched their infrared telescope using a balloon--well, actually a very large helium-filled balloon. Of course, with a balloon launch, the telescope is not going into orbit, but ideally can stay aloft at about 35 kilometers for a couple of weeks.

Even at this altitude, their infrared telescope is able see things that Hubble was not designed to see. The Blast telescope is designed to peer through dust clouds to see the formation of stars billions of years ago. The documentary follows the team's two attempts, first in northern Sweden and then on Antarctica.

The science itself in this film is quite exciting, but beyond that I think this documentary has one of the best presentations of the emotional side of being a scientist. The film is actually quite funny, with the researchers joking throughout.

A subplot of the film follows lead scientist Dr. Mark Devlin of the University of Pennsylvania as he is away from and missing his family - his wife and two young sons - for half of the year. There is also an on-going, even-handed comparison of the religious views of two of the scientists, one a devout Christian and the other not religious.

The film also highlights the scientists' emotional reactions to the research, to their successes and more frequent failures.

I highly recommend this film!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Andrew's Graphic Novel Picks

Andrew, at the Centennial Hills Library, is the Go To Guy for Graphic Novels. He reads 'em, enjoys 'em, and knows which are the best! Each month, Andrew suggests three wonderful graphic novels for Teens or Adults. (Well, OK, sometimes for Kids too!)

Here are Andrew's picks for the month:

Will Eisner's New York : Life in the Big City
Will Eisner

With an unparalleled eye for stories and expressive illustration, Will Eisner, the master and pioneer of American comics art, presents graphic fiction's greatest celebration of the Big Apple. No illustrator evoked the melancholy duskiness of New York City as expressively as Eisner, who knew the city from the bottom up.

This new hardcover presents a quartet of graphic works ("New York", "The Building", "City People Notebook", and "Invisible People") and features what Neil Gaiman describes as "tales as brutal, as uncaring as the city itself."

From ancient buildings "barnacled with laughter and stained with tears" to the subways, "humorless iron reptiles, clacking stupidly on a webbing of graceful steel rails," Will Eisner's New York includes cameo appearances by the author himself; several new illustrations sketched by Eisner, posthumously inked by Peter Poplaski; and three previously unpublished "out-takes"-a treasure for any Eisner fan, and sure to become a collectible.

Introduction by Neil Gaiman.

Spirit: Femmes Fatales
Will Eisner

Created by comics legend Will Eisner, the blue-suited crimefighter known as The Spirit starred in hundreds of newspaper adventure stories that thrilled readers, and Eisner’s groundbreaking style utilized the comics format to its greatest strengths.

With Frank Miller's movie version of Will Eisner's "The Spirit" set to hit theatres in December, DC Comics collects some of the most memorable stories pitting The Spirit against his most sultry opponents!

Featuring 23 selected tales of mystery originally published between 1940 and 1949, these stories star P'Gell, Sand Saref, Saree, Silk Satin, Thorne Strand, Autumn Mews and many others.

Ayn Rand's Anthem : the graphic novel
Charles Santino

In all that was left of humanity there was only one man who dared to think, seek, and love. He, Equality 7-2521, would place his life in jeopardy.

For his knowledge was regarded as a treacherous blasphemy. He had rediscovered the lost and holy word..."I".

Friday, August 19, 2011

Book Review: Fire Season by Philip Connors

Fire Season--Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout
Philip Connors

This book strikes me as one of the best analyses and antidotes to the current economic crisis - completely unintentionally.

The author, Philip Connors, on a whim, left his job as a copy editor at the Wall Street Journal, living in Manhattan, to work as a fire lookout in the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico. At the time of writing, he has worked there for 8 seasons, April through August, spending the rest of the year as a bartender in Silver City, New Mexico. Here is a modern day Thoreau.

How could this possibly relate to the housing bubble, mortgage crisis, and record unemployment, etc.? Don't you think we would be better off if many other Wall Street types would follow Connors' lead and leave Manhattan to chop wood, go on midnight fishing hikes, and spend hours doing nothing but gazing on mountain and desert vistas looking for smoke?

Connors writes,
"I prefer to live, at least part of the year, out here on the edge, where worship of the material recedes and acquaintance with the natural becomes possible, where I carry on my most important conversations by mail, a month lapsing between missives from one side or the other. That seems about right for most things worth saying...I'm a human being, and as such I find it restorative to be in the presence of certain mysteries our species once knew in its bones, mysteries ineffable and unmediated" (73-74).
I doubt I could last 5 months alone on a mountain top, yet it is refreshing to know that at least a few modern Americans have the courage to do so. I do think that I am reaching a saturation point, where too much of life is mediated by artificiality--by mass media, by gadgetry, by mass marketed consumer products. Oh, for the courage to sacrifice some of these incidentals and to just be still. Isn't it the frenetic pace and the desire for more, more, more that got us, our society, in this crisis?

Maybe this is too idealistic. Connors meets Dane on the mountain, a man who has chosen to meander around the West on horseback 300 days out of the year. Dane carries a laptop computer, video game console, and cellphone, all powered by a portable solar electric panel and battery pack. Yet, the man clearly choose this lifestyle deliberately. We all have that choice, if we would just claim it.

I highly recommend this book!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rona's Urban Fiction Picks

Rona, at the Spring Valley Library, is the one who knows her Urban Fiction. They're gritty, sexy and exciting, and she has them on tap! Each month, Rona suggests three tantalizing Urban Fiction titles.

Here are Rona's picks for the month:

Around the Way Girls
Angel Hunter

There's a saying in Brooklyn that if you come from a certain part of town then you're from around the way. Well, Sydni, Angel, and Cream are all from "around the way." They all live in Crown Heights, one of the most notorious sections of Brooklyn, but to them it's just a place they call home.

Around the Way Girls is a fast-paced look at the lives of three street-smart women who think they know it all, but are about to get the lessons of their lives.
  • Angel Santiago is young, fine, and can get what she wants, whenever she wants it, the way she wants it.
  • Cream White is the mother of one, caretaker of another, and one of the hardest working strippers in Brooklyn.
  • All Sydni Johnson wants is to get the hell outta New York.
Around the Way Girls is a unique collaboration between three exciting voices in urban fiction from some rising stars in the genre.

Black Reign
Edd McNair

As Angela leaves her conservative, upperclass home for college, she gets an eye-opening view of street life when she embarks on an affair with the suave, but ultimately abusive, Mac, and falls in love with Damien, a hustler who tries to keep his business a secret from Angela.

Bad Girlz 4 Life
Shannon Holmes

Coming of age in the Badlands of north Philadelphia - one of the toughest and poorest communities in the country - Tonya Morris has had to make some desperate and, at times, ruthless moves in her bid to survive. When Tonya stepped into the unforgiving business of stripping, she found herself caught up in a world of sex-filled nights, dirty money, backstabbing cohorts, and murder.

She left that world behind to become a hairstylist. However, after she is blacklisted from salons across Philadelphia and is evicted by her shady landlord, Tonya finds herself back in the stripping business. Except this time, she promises herself, things are going to end differently.

Tonya teams up with her best friend, Na'eema, to organize underground sex parties, and it's not long before they have a team of beautiful girls and are rubbing elbows with athletes, rappers, and celebrities.

Then Tonya's ex-lover and now music industry superstar, Q, steps onto the scene, and everything takes a dramatic new twist. Because it's not just Q who is back in her life. His murderous baby mama, Niecey, is fresh out of jail and ready to raise hell. And she's got Tonya in her sights. In the meantime, Tonya's past has risen like a beast, threatening to tear away all her newfound success. But Tonya isn't going down without a fight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Book Review: Accomplice

Eireann Corrigan
Young Adult Fiction

Getting into college has become more and more competetive. Kids needs to do more than volunteer work and extracurricular activities to stand out among their peers and gain entrance into the top schools. Chloe and Finn desperately want to attend Ivy League Colleges, and they will do anything to get there.

In order to make themselves stand out above all other applicants, the girls decide to stage Chloe's kidnapping. Suddenly, all eyes in the nation are on the small town where they live. Chloe is instantly catapulted into fame as the beautiful girl whose life is in danger, and Finn as her tragic best friend, coping with the harrowing loss of her childhood companion. The plan is to keep Chloe hidden until the right moment when Finn will heroically find her in the woods and bring her back home to safety.

The plan is supposed to be flawless. It is supposed to be victimless. Chloe will emerge unharmed and famous, and Finn will be a star for having saved her life. They will write amazing college essays and move on with their perfect lives. Unfortunately, things don't quite go as they planned. When events start to spiral out of control, Chloe and Finn realize they are in over their heads and must make some shocking decisions to get out of the mess they've created.

Accomplice is a thrilling page turner that will leave you feeling haunted. Fans of suspense and mystery stories will enjoy this. Looking for more suspenseful kidnapping stories? Try Girl, Stolen by April Henry and Stolen by Lucy Christopher.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday's New DVD Releases

Here are the DVD releases for next Tuesday, 23 August 2011:

Bambi II

A vibrant story about the magical journey of growing up, and a father and son's growing bonds with one another. The Great Prince must now raise Bambi and teach him the ways of the forest, and discovers there is much to learn from his spirited son.

The Beaver

Walter, once a successful and happy family man, has hit rock bottom. But, in his darkest hour, he finds a rather unusual savior: a beaver hand-puppet that takes over Walter's life in an attempt to change things for the better.

Brothers and Sisters - Complete Season 5

Spend some time with the Walkers, a family much like your own, as they support each other through the joys and heartaches of life. It's a season of new beginnings. The family is reunited for Justin's homecoming party, love is in the air as Nora and Kitty get back in the dating game, and Sarah's and Kevin's relationships are put to the test. Relive the excitement and the emotion of every captivating moment.

Dual Survival

Experts agree there are some very basic, and universal rules for surviving in the wild. Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin, two trained survival experts, take on some of the planet's most unforgiving terrain to demonstrate, in their own way, how the right skills and some creative thinking can keep one alive.

Exhale - Core Fusion Cardio Pure Intensity

A powerful workout that combines focused strength-training and flexibility moves with high-intensity cardio for maximum calorie burn. Each of the five 10-minute segments is packed with the most effective fat-blasting moves from exhale's proven Core Fusion method. Includes bonus stretching segment. Featuring Core Fusion creators and exhale co-founders Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp, expert fitness instructors for decades.

Gossip Girl Complete 4th Season

The 22 episodes of Season Four couldn't be juicier! And Gossip Girl is there to keep you clued in to the buzz, secrets, and scandals of Manhattan's elite. Witness Blair and Serena's thrilling summer in Paris, Chuck's new girlfriend and new identity, unexpected fatherhood for Dan, a power play for Bass Industries, Blair's too-haute-to-handle internship at W Magazine, and a vicious conspiracy that threatens to bring down one of your favorite Upper East Siders.

NCIS Los Angeles - the Second Season

The high stakes world of the Los Angeles division of NCIS is charged with apprehending dangerous and elusive criminals that pose a threat to the nation's security. By assuming false identities and utilizing the most advanced technology, the team of highly trained agents goes deep undercover, putting their lives on the line in the field to bring down their targets.

NCIS Season 8

This team of special agents is forced to work together in high-stress situations. From murder and espionage to terrorism and stolen submarines, these special agents travel the globe to investigate all crimes with Navy or Marine Corps ties.

Sons of Guns

The bayou of Baton Rouge, a place where the weather is hot, the humidity s off the charts and the characters are larger-than-life. And it s a place that Will Hayden fits right in. Why? Because Will, with the help of eldest daughter Stephanie, runs Red Jacket Firearms, the nation s most unique weapons business.


A group of students investigates a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.

WWE - the 50 most shocking moments

The 50 Most Shocking, Surprising, Amazing Moments in WWE History. What moments will make the cut, the top 10, and what is the greatest moment of all time? Is it the King of the Ring tournament where Austin 3:16 was born? Mick Foleys' devastating fall off the top of the Hell in a Cell cage? The Montreal Screwjob? The explosion that consumed Mr. McMahons' limo? The perfect release for fans that love to debate which moments were the best.

Which of these will have the most requests next week?

This week’s release with the most requests is Something Borrowed with 421 requests.

The Conspirator had 367 requests,
Jane Eyre had 326 requests,
Dexter - the complete 5th season had 303 requests,
Hoodwinked Too! Hood VS Evil had 206 requests,
Grace Card had 157 requests,
The Bangbang Club had 85 requests,
WWE Money in the Bank 2011 had 56 requests,
Queen to Play had 51 requests,
That's What I Am had 45 requests,
The Best and the Brightest had 30 requests,
Idiots & Angels had 25 requests, and
No eres tu, soy yo had 24 requests.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday's New DVD Releases

Here are the DVD releases for next Tuesday, 16 August 2011:

The Bangbang Club
As apartheid comes to a violent end, four fearless photographers, bonded by their friendship and a sense of purpose, risk their lives to capture the bloody struggle and expose the truth.

The Best and the Brightest
Follows a fresh-faced young couple from Delaware, Jeff and Samantha, who have only recently entered the world of New York City's elite private kindergartens. Every private school in the city informs Sam that she's simply too late to apply for a kindergarten spot for her five-year-old daughter this fall, but she begs Jeff to hire a 'consultant' to find a crack in the system.

The Conspirator
Behind the story you've always heard about Abraham Lincoln's assassination, comes the thrilling true story about the people accused of conspiring to take down a government. In the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination, seven men and one woman are arrested and charged with conspiring to kill the President, Vice President, and Secretary of State. The lone woman charged, Mary Surratt, owns a boarding house where John Wilkes Booth planned the simultaneous attacks.

Dexter, The Complete 5th Season
In season five, Dexter goes from happily married husband to guilt-ridden single dad. How will it affect his ability to maintain an average-guy facade while satisfying his need to kill? Features all twelve chillingly dramatic fifth-season episodes.

Grace Card
Police officer Mac McDonald's life is shattered when a tragic accident takes the life of his son. Years later, Mac's bitterness and pain have eroded his love for his family, strained his relationships on the force, and left him angry with God. When Mac gets partnered up in the squad car with Sam Wright, an African-American ordained minister turned cop, will the two be able to join forces and help one another when it's impossible to look past their differences?

Hoodwinked Too! Hood VS Evil
Red is training with a mysterious covert group called the Sisters of the Hood. But she is forced to cut her training short when she gets an urgent call from Nicky Flippers, the head of the super secret Happily Ever After Agency. A wicked witch has abducted two innocent children, Hansel and Gretel, and Nicky needs the whole Hoodwinked gang, Red, Granny, the ever-clueless Wolf, and his over-caffeinated little partner, Twitchy, for the search and rescue mission.

Idiots & Angels
Angel, a selfish, abusive, morally bankrupt man, hangs out at his local bar, berating the other patrons. One day, Angel mysteriously wakes up with a pair of wings on his back. The wings make him do good deeds, contrary to his nature. He desperately tries to rid himself of the good wings, but eventually finds himself fighting those who view the wings as their ticket to fame and fortune.

Jane Eyre
When orphaned governess Jane Eyre arrives at imposing Thornfield Hall, she's intrigued by her brooding, wealthy employer, Rochester. His dark moods and the strange occurrences in the house lead her to discover a terrible secret that he had hoped to hide from her forever.

No eres tu, soy yo
A romantic comedy that tells the hilarious story of Javier, a man who refuses to accept the loss of the woman he loves. In his journey to recovery, he rides an emotional rollercoaster that eventually leads him to his true love.

Queen to Play
Lovely, repressed, and quietly intelligent, French chambermaid Helene comes upon a couple engaged in an intensely sensual chess match, and discovers she has a knack for the game. This obsession, much to the chagrin of her husband and teenage daughter, leads her to seek the clandestine tutelage of a reclusive American doctor, a liaison that radically transforms both of their lackluster lives.

Something Borrowed
Rachel is a generous and loyal pal to her engaged best friend Darcy. But after celebrating her 30th birthday, perpetual good girl Rachel unexpectedly ends up in the arms of Dex, the guy she's had a crush on since law school, and who happens to be Darcy's fiance. In the frantic weeks leading up to Darcy's wedding, Rachel finds herself caught between her longtime friendship with Darcy and the prospect of losing the love of her life.

That's What I Am
Andy Nichol, 12, like most kids his age, will do anything to avoid conflict in fear of suffering overwhelming ridicule and punishment from his peers. Unfortunately for Andy, that's all about to change. Andy is put to the test when his English teacher, Mr. Simon, pairs him up with the school's biggest outcast, Stanley. However, what Andy will soon learn is that there truly was a method behind Mr. Simon's madness as to why he teamed them up.

WWE Money in the Bank 2011
For years, the Money in the Bank match was a highlight of WrestleMania. In 2011, the popular match headlined its own WWE pay-per-view event, and two spectacular matches led to two more successful title reigns, including the Miz seizing on his momentum at 2010's event to become the most 'must-see' WWE Champion in history. The stakes are incredibly high for the Superstars of Raw and SmackDown look to climb the ladder of success at Money in the Bank 2011.

Which of these will have the most requests next week?

This week’s release with the most requests is Paul with 505 requests.

Your Highness had 487 requests,
Mars Needs Moms had 456 requests,
Jumping the Broom had 367 requests,
Tactical Force had 103 requests,
Clash had 50 requests,
Fox and the Hound had 30 requests, and
Oprah Winfrey - the Past, Present, and Future had 18 requests.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tuesday's New DVD Releases

Here are the DVD releases for next Tuesday, 9 August 2011:

Trinh is a mercenary assigned to recover a stolen hard drive containing codes to Vietnams' first satellite, the VINASAT-1. She creates an ensemble of specialists to regain control of the hard drive before it is sold to the Chinese Triad. Lies and betrayal unfold as Trinh uncovers the truth behind her squad. Who can she trust?

Fox and the Hound
Experience these timeless tales of true friendship, set against a backdrop of comedy and music in perfect harmony. And now, both inspiring classics sparkle with spectacular sound and unsurpassed picture quality. Collection include: The Fox and the Hound and The Fox and the Hound II.

Jumping the Broom
On a weekend wedding in Martha's Vineyard, two African-American families from divergent socioeconomic backgrounds clash during their first meeting before the big event.

Mars Needs Moms
Take out the trash, eat your broccoli. Who needs moms, anyway? Nine-year-old Milo finds out just how much he needs his mom when she's nabbed by Martians, who plan to steal her mom-ness for their own young. Milo's quest to save his mom involves stowing away on a spaceship, navigating an elaborate, multi-level planet, and taking on the alien nation and their leader.

Oprah Winfrey - the Past, Present, and Future
Oprah Gail Winfrey is the most influential woman in the world. The Oprah Winfrey Show has been on the air for 25 years, and is the highest rated show of its kind in history. Her tenacity, vision, and passion are just a few attributes that make her extraordinary. In an inspirational documentary film, examine her trials, tribulations, and triumphs. It's the untold story of a true American icon.

Two sci-fi geeks take a pilgrimage to America's UFO heartland. There they meet a smart-aleck alien, Paul, who takes them on an insane road trip. As they struggle to return Paul home, the little green man might just take the outcasts from misfits to intergalactic heroes.

Tactical Force
A training exercise for the LAPD SWAT Team goes terribly wrong when they find themselves pitted against two rival gangs while trapped in an abandoned hangar.

Your Highness
Two royal princes - weed-smoking slacker Thadeous and the noble Fabious - join with an elusive warrior on a quest to free a princess from an evil wizard. Along the way, they'll have to vanquish horrific creatures and traitorous knights in this raunchy trip loaded with footage too outrageous for theaters.

Which of these will have the most requests next week?

This week’s release with the most requests is Rio with 641 requests.

Soul Surfer had 535 requests,
Stake Land had 101 requests,
United States of Tara - The Third Season had 74 requests,
Jesse Stone - Innocents Lost had 63 requests,
The Perfect Game had 60 requests,
Cold Weather had 45 requests,
The Music Never Stopped had 43 requests,
Exporting Raymond had 38 requests,
Bob Harper - Beginner's Weight Loss had 27 requests,
Bob Harper - Totally Ripped Core had 22 requests,
Maya had 16 requests,
The Colony - Season 2 had 15 requests,
Dear Lemon Lima had 14 requests,
Minnesota Twins 1991 World Series had 3 requests, and
Magic in Minnesota - Remembering the 1991 World Series had 2 requests.