Roger Ebert, film critic extraordinaire and Pulitzer Prize winner, died last week after a battle with cancer. Immediately following his death, there were lots of quotes circulating online from Ebert which reminded me what a great writer he was. In writing about movies, Ebert was able often able to put his finger on the pulse of real life human behavior and articulate the human condition – both the happy and the sad. I forgot how funny he was, and his reviews are a joy to read even if you disagree on the rating.
Those interested in starting with the basics, check out his Movie Yearbooks – complete with movie reviews, essays, tributes, journal entries, and new additions to his popular Movie Glossary. If you are looking for critiques that might lead you to viewing of really good movies, try The Great Movie series. However, some of Ebert’s best writing was in critiquing bad movies. If you aren’t looking for movie suggestions, but just some hilarious examples of his writing check out Your Movie Sucks. Read more »
When compact discs first came out they were proclaimed to be almost indestructible. I still remember watching the Today Show and being amazed as the new media storage for music was demonstrated. Part of the demonstration was taking a small hammer and hitting the CD disc with it. A wonder of wonders; the disc still played. Looking back on this event today I wonder if the disc would have played all the way through. The Idea that digital disc storage was indestructible has been more than a little overblown. Digital discs need the same care and sometimes greater care than the old vinyl recordings. I would like to share with you some guidelines for caring for your digital discs. " Read more »
Libraries can be an interesting place to find things. It's sometimes said that librarians think differently than other people. That of course isn't really true; our goal is to make things as easy to find as possible for as many people as possible. The end result however can be confusing. Why? Because librarians think differently than other people. The use of numbers in movie titles is a good example. Let's look at the movie "2012," (Two Thousand Twelve)
You might have noticed that in the above example I spelled out the title in parentheses. There is a reason for this. Libraries, unlike your home computer, place titles with numbers on the shelf as if they were spelled out. Why do we do this? Read more »
I will admit it, creating a list of foreign films using the library’s catalog can be a frustrating experience for many patrons; however, it can be done and it is simpler than you might think. Here are some tips to help you generate a list of foreign films in various languages. Read more »
Although I've spent some time in Asia, I never visited China, so when I came across this personal narrative that combines essays on life in modern China with growing up during the Cultural Revolution, I couldn't resist. Through the focus of ten simple words, contemporary novelist Yu Hua presents a vivid picture of how Chinese life has changed in many ways, yet in others remained the same for over fifty years. With humor and an incisive take on his own culture, Hua shows how conformity vies with individuality in his country and how conformity often wins.
The chapter titled "Leader" focuses on the era of Mao Zedong. Although Yu was only a boy when Mao was Chairman, Yu entered the spirit of things by writing big-character posters. These were signs that were put up in all public place: movie theaters, schools, stores, and outside people's houses. In these anonymous signs, people criticized their neighbors for being landlords or for not following the precepts of the little red book. Yu Hua himself wrote many about his teachers and parents. In fact, he traces his love of writing from this childhood activity. Read more »
Forget the bland title, the latest Best American Nonrequired Reading presents a fresh, amusing, and wide-ranging compendium of last year's best nonfiction and fiction.
It's not just the writing that is fresh but the kinds of content that editor Dave Eggers chose to include are both imaginative and often cutting edge including such categories as: Best American Band Names, Best American Ominous Place Names, Best American Call of Duty Handles, Best Wikileaks Revelations, and Best American Commune Names. The reader senses not only a vibrant sense of humor (see Best American Categories that Got Cut) but someone behind the scenes who is curious, wide-reading, and always eager to learn something new. Also, someone with a great sense of humor. Read more »
2011 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Johnson. He has been called the "King of the Delta Blues Singers". Legend has it that he sold his soul to the Devil. It has been said that he faced away from his audience when he played certain licks on his guitar so that no one could copy his style. People claim that he died as a result of being poisoned by a jealous husband. but what of his music and its legacy? Read more »
How did people live long ago? What qualities were essential to the idea of home in classical China and Japan? Did people aspire to a simpler life even before the invention of engines, computers, and electricity? Finally, does a life lived simply promote happiness? This slim volume answers all of these questions. Read more »
A while back I posted an article on this blog called “In Praise of Black and White.” In it I mentioned that the invention of color film brought about a number of films that focused on color shock effects and explosions rather than focusing on the story. I believe that many of the films made today would not seem as good to us if we were forced to watch them in black and white. Today we have a rise in another new gimmick format called 3D. Read more »