Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Regarding Winter Weather...

We are open today! 

I'm sure that many of you noticed that we were closed yesterday due to the icy roads.  There is a possibility that we will be closed tomorrow as well, since the forecast currently shows that we will receive up to 3 inches of snow tomorrow morning. 

Generally, if the school is closed, then we will be as well.  We don't want anybody getting hurt trying to come to the library!  Just give us a call before you come.  Stay safe!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Best Picture Winners

Preparing for a cold, wet and yucky weekend? Why not take advantage of the Oscar Season and catch an Academy Award winning film for Best Picture? Not sure what made the cut for Best Picture? No worries! Our movie guru, Chance, made a special Best Picture sticker that resembles the symbol above for your convenience.
The Best Picture winners we have are:
2013 - 12 Years a Slave
2012 - Argo
2003 - Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
1997 - Titanic
1989 - Driving Miss Daisy
1975 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
1972 - The Godfather
1965 - The Sound of Music
1961 - West Side Story
1950 - All About Eve
1943 - Casablanca
1939 - Gone With the Wind
We can't wait to find out which film will be joining their ranks!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chance's Corner: Oscar Season

Deer Season, Duck Season, Rabbit Season... Oscar Season! Yes, it's that time of year again when the Hollywood elite put their heads together and decide who's who in the movie industry for the preceding year. My favorite season!

I always enjoy playing a little guessing game beforehand about who will bring home the Academy Award. Sometimes I'm dead on (like last year) and other years I'm clueless. This year, however, I found a little insight on The Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Reporter obtained and posted a conversation with an anonymous female member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences about who/what they voted for. It's truly a fascinating look into just what goes through a voters mind as they decide who should win an Academy Award.

Let's take a peek and see how the anonymous member voted.



The Academy member states that, "American Sniper is the winner of the year, whether or not it gets a single statuette... because it shows that a movie can galvanize America and shows that people will go [to the movies] if you put something out that they want to see."

Sounds like a winner, right? Well, she goes on to say that Birdman truly resonates among the "tortured actors" of the Academy and The Imitation Game is "prestige filmmaking" that should gain more recognition.

Her pick for the winner? The Imitation Game.


She chooses Richard Linklater, the director of Boyhood, because "what he did -- as a 'thing' -- is extraordinary." She's referring to the astonishing fact that the movie was filmed over a period of 12 years to document the true growth of the lead boy actor.


She chooses Michael Keaton for Birdman because he created a character from "whole cloth" wherein the other actors just did impressions of real people. She also points out that he may never get another chance at getting an Oscar nod.


She chooses Julianne Moore because she the minute she saw Still Alice she knew the race was over. She states "four other women are going to have to get dressed and go to 5,000 dinners knowing they have no chance."


She cites Ethan Hawke giving "a very strong performance" in Boyhood, but J.K. Simmons' performance in Whiplash was "in a different league". She actually finds it ironic that he is in the "supporting" category. I'm guessing she means that he was so powerful that he seemed like a "leading" actor.


She votes for Patricia Arquette in Boyhood due to her 12 year dedication to the film and for "having no [plastic surgery] done during the 12 years." I find that a little strange qualification, but I'm not in the Academy.


The Academy member goes on to explain her voting in the other categories such as Costume Design, Film Editing, Cinematography, and the like, but I figure I've covered the highlights of the Oscar evening.

As a funny aside, there were several categories in which she abstained for voting. In the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing Category she states that "she has no idea what's good sound or bad sound.... and I'm not alone among Academy members."

So, do you agree with her choices? Or have you not seen any of them yet? Fear not! We have all the Oscar nominated films (that are currently available on DVD) here at the Franklin County Library. Come check them out so you know who to root for.

Wait, you want to know my guesses for the winners? Well, alright, here's my list.


Birdman or American Sniper


Richard Linklater


Michael Keaton


Julianne Moore (she's swept up all the other awards)


J.K. Simmons


Patricia Arquette (another awards sweep)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's tax time!

Are you getting ready to do your taxes?  Normally the library is able to provide tax forms, but this year, the IRS declined to provide us with the forms they normally do.  They only sent us the 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms.  They are really pushing everyone to do their taxes online, but we know  many of our patrons are not comfortable filing online. 

Franklin County Library is doing what we can to provide forms and booklets.  We printed off three copies of the tax booklets and are making them available to check out for one week.  We can also print forms from irs.gov if you know what you need. 

Everything I've seen this year recommends that you file as early as possible this year if you are expecting a refund.  Let us help you get the forms you need!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Poet's Perch : A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns

A Red, Red Rose
O, my luve is like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June.
O my luve is like the melodie
That's sweetly played in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o' life shall run.
And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel awhile!
And I will come again, my luve,
Though it were ten thousand mile!
Robert Burns

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: Donna Tartt's Second Novel, The Little Friend

Donna Tartt achieved book fame this past year with her third novel, "The Goldfinch," being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  I reviewed it in this column back in December, not knowing that it had polarized the critics, or at least divided them between the mainstream and the so-called "literary" critics, who seem offended that a blatant best-seller could also be a literary success and win the Pulitzer.  Well, I was a bit surprised that it won the Pulitzer, but I'm certainly not about to join the anti-Tartt Club.  I think she is a fascinating writer with loads of talent.  The fact that she has written only three novels since 1992 clearly indicates to me that she is a serious writer, not aiming for a mass market, else, with her ability, she'd be grinding them out like sausages, or like, well, Danielle Steele.  Her first novel, "The Secret History," which I've also read, proved also to be a runaway success, more so than "The Little Friend," which seems to have disappointed reviewers and her already substantial reading public.  I'm kind of not surprised.

"The Little Friend" begins with a brilliant, mind-blowing chapter that I'm not sure the rest of the novel lives up to.  It's one of the best first chapters I've ever read, one, I think, that would be difficult for any writer to top, and therein, perhaps, lies the problem: where does one go from there?  Well, Tartt doesn't have any problem going, but it seems to me that she sort of goes all over the place, creating the air of a murder mystery novel, with a twelve year old girl, the amazing Harriet Dufresne, playing "detective," supposedly solving the murder, then unpredictably not solving it, with the author going into the persona of the supposed murderer, only to have the reader discover, as Harriet does later, that he didn't "do it" after all!  Though much of the novel seems like another Scout/Dill romp, it turns deadly serious and virtually catastrophic in the end, with our young heroine almost killed and the supposed killer (who now really IS a killer!) amazingly surviving amidst a series of improbable events that would do credit to a mainstream thriller.

If all this suggests that at times the narrative takes on the character of a young adult who-done-it, perhaps it does.  Donna Tartt has the enviable capacity of mixing the intellectual, the superficial, the ordinary and the mysterious into a gigantic and intoxicating brew, filled, at least in this work, with some fascinating Southern character types, both White and Black, high and low, proper and pernicious.  One of her special talents is to provide settings of such authenticity that one would think she has experienced everything from the highbrow art/antique world ("Goldfinch") to the old fashioned Southern small town mystique ("Friend") to the sacred halls of New England Academia ("History"), at least the latter two of which she has.

Finally, I would say that "The Little Friend" is not a mainstream murder mystery, because it ends, after some 600 pages, with the murder still unsolved.  Could a real mystery writer ever possibly get away with that?


Friday, February 6, 2015

Staff Picks : Around the Web

Franklin County Library does NOT have the book, Humans of New York, but the blog is very interesting.  Brandon Stanton takes pictures of people on the street and asks them a few questions to get a caption for the picture.  After the initial success, he was able to travel to Jordan and Ukraine to take pictures there as well.  The pictures are poignant and some of the captions are profound.  Personally, the pictures taken in other countries remind me that many people are facing problems that I can't even imagine.  Click the link above to take a look. (Be aware that some language may be offensive.)

Chance recommends IMDb (Internet Movie Database) for information about upcoming movies, new releases, and movie trivia.  All the reviews on the site are user generated, meaning that no one is paid for their opinion.  Users can also find movie and celebrity news and trivia.  For example,  I found out that today is the birthday of Bob Marley and Ronald Reagan.  Click the link above to try it out!
Lisa enjoys the National Geographic website, particularly the photography section.  They have a "photo of the day" or you can look at photos by category.  Today's picture is of homes being built on the water's edge in what used to be part of the Everglade SwampClick the title above to see it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: Arthur Miller, by Martin Gottfried, and American Drama of the 20th Century

Some months back, when I started to read Tennessee Williams' new biography by John Lahr, I got sidetracked into Arthur and Barbara Gelb's bio of Eugene O'Neill, and ultimately the Miller biography cited above; so that by the time I finished, I had read approximately two thousand pages that pretty much comprised the history of American drama from roughly 1920 to 1960.  When I say "American Drama," I mean just that, not American musical theatre, not even American theatre in the lighter, Broadway sense.  I'm referring to drama in the literary sense, a genre comparable to the novel and poetry.

Drama has a long tradition, going back to Classical times (the Greeks had drama festivals along with their Olympics) and culminating in the plays of Shakespeare during the Elizabethan Age.  Up until the early 20s America had mostly vaudeville, musical reviews and melodrama, although there were a few exceptions, e.g, Dion Boucicault's "The Octoroon" (1859), the first play to present the problem of slavery seriously.  Eugene O'Neill became our first and greatest dramatist up to the 40s, followed by the Yin and Yang of American Drama, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.

No two men could have been more different.  Williams was a born and bred Southerner, with all that implies.  Miller was an East Coast Jewish intellectual, with all that implies. Williams wrote about people and places, especially about unstable, neurotic Southern women.  Miller wrote plays of ideas, often in historical and social context.   Williams was a tormented homosexual; born too early to find a social niche in American society, he floundered personally and professionally after his early successes.  Except for a mild flirtation with Communism in the 50s, Miller was eminently respectable, yet he too could not escape personal trauma--his first marriage took a nose-dive after he became entangled,  through Director Elia Kazan, with none other than the Hollywood sex goddess, Marilyn Monroe.

Before that, Miller had written what some consider to be the finest play yet produced in America, "Death of a Salesman," a play that still resonates today with the American obsession with material success.  His relationship with Marilyn Monroe evolved into a tragically unsuccessful marriage that virtually destroyed his career.  He tried to encapsulate that experience later in an all too personal play, "After the Fall," that did his reputation little good.  (Ironically, Williams, not Miller could have handled this material more successfully and certainly could have provided a more sympathetic portrayal of its heroine!). After an inevitable divorce, Miller made somewhat of a comeback, mostly in Europe, and again married, this time to a not famous Scandinavian photographer, Inge Morath, who shared with him a final and successful marriage in later life.

Martin Gottfried handles the Miller material with critical intelligence and sensitivity; Lahr's bio of Williams is the most intimate of the three; and the Gelbs the most definitive, though it does not go into detailed criticism of O'Neill's individual plays.  What happened after the 60s?  Well, a whole new style of American Theatre emerged, first influenced by European models (Edward Albee was an early product of this school), followed by a gritty naturalistic realism ("August Osage County" is a prime example) that would probably make Arthur Miller blush.  Will the 21st century produce another O'Neill-Miller-Williams trio?  Too early to tell, I think.  Certainly nothing comparable to their combined talents has emerged so far!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Blind Date with a Book!

It's that time of year again - when hearts, roses, and pink pop up everywhere.  Franklin County Library is no exception.

For the entire month of February, you can check out a date!  We have chosen books from all over the library and wrapped them in Valentine paper.  When you come in and check one out, the only rule is that you must wait until you leave the library to unwrap your date.  We hope you will find something new and different to read.  There will be a "Rate your date" form inside the book where you can tell us what you thought of your date!  The best thing is, if your first date disappoints you, you can always come in and try a second date! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I'll Have What She's Having by Rebecca Harrington

Earlier this month I was looking at a list of books to read in 2015 and I saw I'll Have What She's Having.  It looked fun to me, so I asked Lisa to buy it.

The author, Rebecca Harrington, gamely tries 14 different celebrity-endorsed diets.  Her observations about what she's eating are witty and sarcastic, and any time her current celebrity endorses entertaining, she subjects her friends to parties almost doomed to failure.  Just my kind of book!

She starts out following Gwyneth Paltrow's diet which requires her to spend more on groceries than she has in her entire life.  It is heavy on kale and fish.  She is doing ok on the diet when she decides to throw a dinner party.  She decides to make Gwyneth's meatballs, and is unnerved early on when the meatballs turn out to be green.  One of her guests pulls out his emergency bag of chips and another leaves to "actually eat dinner." 

Following Gwyneth Paltrow, Rebecca tries diets by Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Madonna, Pippa Middleton, BeyoncĂ©, Jackie Kennedy, and several others.  She also tries a couple of diets endorsed by men, one by NBA star Carmelo Anthony.  On Anthony's diet she decides, "NBA superstars are less hard-core than the average American teen girl the week before prom!"

If you are looking for a quick, fun read try I'll Have What She's Having. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tom's Two Cents: Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, by John Lahr

Terry Mathews recently posted a great review of the above book on Facebook's "Between the Covers," to which I can add very little except some background material and a few juicy tidbits about Williams' co-literary executor, Maria Britneva St Just.

Lahr's biography was preceded a number of years back (1995) by Lyle Leverich's "Tom: the Unknown Tennessee Williams," an exhaustive study of Williams' early life and career, up to the production of his first major Broadway success, "The Glass Menagerie." Named Williams' "official" biographer, Leverich was nonetheless upstaged by Maria Britneva St Just, who withheld permission for him to quote from Williams' unpublished works, which by that time had been placed in several literary archival collections, including the Humanities Research Center at UT Austin.  (A personal note: I happened to be working at the HRC in Austin in 1963 when a collection of Williams' early manuscripts was acquired from his mother, Edwina Dakin Williams, and I personally catalogued a major portion of that collection). Leverich waited twenty years to try to complete his biography, but died before it was possible.  John Lahr's book covers the early period, but places most of its emphasis on the years after "The Glass Menagerie."
Maria Britneva St Just and her long association with Williams are treated fully in Lahr, who had already published a long article on her in The New Yorker.  To say the least, she was quite a woman--an aspiring young actress in London, presenting herself when Williams first met her as a Russian ex-patriate, whose father had medically attended the Czar's family (not true), she insinuated herself into the early period of his London stage productions and flitted in and out of his life for the rest of his tormented days.  Later she married an English lord, had a child by him, and gained a title--thus as a kooky Lady St Just, she maintained a certain status and reputation among the international set--all this would have amounted to little or nothing, were it not for the control she exerted over Williams' estate after his death, which included production rights to all his plays.  To be fair, however, she also provided a high level of care from the Williams Estate for his mentally ill sister, Rose, who lived into her 80's.

By 1960 Williams and his highly personal, lyrical style had given way to a new European avant-garde type of theatre called "Theatre of the Absurd," and the heyday of Broadway, starring Eugene O'Neill, Williams, and Arthur Miller, was practically over.

Next time: Arthur Miller and his marital nemesis, Marilyn Monroe: Arthur Miller: His Life and Work, by Martin Gottfried

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Did you know? : Book Donations

Did you know that the library accepts donations?  We don't just take books, either.  We take movies, games, and puzzles as well.  A few days after Christmas, a gentleman walked in and donated an e-reader! 

We are very grateful for the donations, and if we can, we will put them on our shelves for people to check out.  If we already own the book or movie, we put it in our book sale.  We have books for sale all year long.  All we charge is a reasonable donation!  The proceeds help us buy more books!

A few tips for donating to the library:
  1. Make sure items are in good shape - i.e. no torn covers or pages; binding still tight; all the pieces are with the item.
  2. Do not donate books that have been wet, even if they are now dry.
  3. Make sure items are clean without excessive dust or bug infestations.
  4. Unfortunately, we do not accept encyclopedia sets or large collections of magazines.
  5. Please do not leave items after hours. 
The next time you don't know what to do with the books you are no longer using - think of us!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Poet's Perch: It Couldn't Be Done by Edgar A. Guest

I'm starting a new feature on the blog, "Poet's Perch".  I plan to put up one poem a month.  If you have a favorite poem, let me know.  I might feature it!
It Couldn't Be Done
Somebody said that it couldn't be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face.  If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you'll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he'd begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn't be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you, one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "cannot be done" and you'll do it.
Edgar A. Guest