Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call New Orleans – Nicholas Gage, Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, detective Terence McDonagh investigates the murder of five Senegalese immigrants. Complicating matters is his addiction to drugs, and his tumultuous romance with a prostitute


Pirate Radio – Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson

The high-spirited story of how 8 DJs’ love affair with rock n’ roll changed the world forever. In the 1960s this group of rogue DJs, on a boat in the middle of the Northern Atlantic, played rock records and broke the law for the love of music. The film is packed with the music that defined a generation and will leave you rocking out all day and all night.


Lovely Bones – Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci,

When 14-year-old Susie Salmon was murdered, she left her unfinished life behind. Now from her place in a strange but beautiful in-between world, she must help her father catch her killer and protect her family before she can finally move on.

Young Victoria – Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany

Chronicles the life and times of Queen Victoria from her childhood to her early rise to power and the first turbulent years of her rule. Her romantic relationship and eventual marriage to Prince Albert culminates in a royal power struggle which ultimately is the key to her happiness when she comes to the realization that he is someone she can fully trust and believe in


Avatar –  Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana,  Sigourney Weaver,

Jake Sully is a former Marine confined to a wheelchair, but despite his broken body, Jake is still a warrior at heart. He is recruited to travel light years to the human outpost on Pandora, where a corporate consortium is mining a rare mineral that is the key to solving Earth’s energy crisis. He is given a mission to infiltrate the Na’vi, who have become a major obstacle to mining the precious ore. But a beautiful Na’vi female, Neytiri, saves Jake’s life and this changes everything.


Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus– Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer

The immortal Dr. Parnassus and his daughter Valentina travel the countryside with his Imaginarium show, a mirror that audience members enter and are given two different paths to follow. If they choose correctly they will find joy and happiness, but choose wrongly and things will be quite the opposite. The doctor must also discover the right course to follow. After making a deal with Mr. Nick years ago, he must choose the correct path if he is to save his beloved daughter from Satan.

It’s Complicated – Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin

A hilarious look at marriage, divorce, and everything in between. With a thriving Santa Barbara bakeshop, a new romance heating up, and her divorce finally behind her, Jane Adler has her life all figured out, until she finds herself trapped between the perfect new beau and her philandering ex-husband, who’s determined to win her back. When opposites attract all over again, will love be sweeter the second time around? It’s…complicated!

An international best-selling thriller, The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, transports us to present day Sweden where crime, corruption, and the little known world of human trafficking run rampant.  Lisbeth Salander, a smart, tattooed, self-sufficient computer hacker, is the focus of a criminal investigation centered on the murder of two journalists who are close to exposing the international sex trade business.  Mikael Blomkvist, a magazine publisher whose magazine was to eventually publish the expose, has a history of working with Salander and is intent on proving her innocence – if he can find her before the police do.  On the run from authorities, Salander’s alarming past is revealed and she is intent on revenge.

The twists and turns in this book will keep you wondering if she is innocent or guilty and, most importantly, what is the motive for these murders if she is the culprit?  Even though this book is the second in the Millennium series, it is easy to start with this book before reading the first book in the series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  The final book in the series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, will be published later this spring. Sadly, Stieg Larsson died in 2004 while working on his fourth book.  This series will also hit the big screen with the first installment being released in 2010.  This is an exciting book that combines contemporary Scandinavian culture with the elements of a little-known underworld of betrayal, deceit, murder and corruption.

Behold, an extensively tested method of laundry technologies, honed over centuries!  Anyone will tell you that line-drying your clothes is a serious saver. It certainly is less convenient than transferring into the dryer, and not appropriate for all lifestyles, however.

Pros: Free, there are discrete indoor methods, easier on your garments, saves tons of C02 from the atmosphere, dries faster, larger clothing amounts

Cons: Not all city aesthetic ordinances support outdoor drying, time spent wrangling those pins

The consensus seems to be, depending on the number of loads you clean and kids living at home, line drying will save you around $150 per year.
The outdoor season begins in a month or so.  After hanging up a couple of baskets in late July, the beginning of the line may already be nearly dry.

An even more green/cost-effective solution is not doing your laundry at all, but there also may be sanctions in your household against that measure as well.

Happily settled into a comfortable retirement, Major Pettigrew’s cozy world is shaken up, first by the sudden death of his brother and then by his growing attraction to a local shopkeeper. Because the recently widowed Mrs Ari is of Pakistani descent and worse, is a tradesperson, the small English village where they live is scandalized. Major Pettigrew soon realizes that some things are worth fighting for, despite cultural and family obstacles.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson is a charming, witty look at love, set in a seemingly idyllic country village. The humor here is the famously dry wit that has been honed to perfection by the English. Sharply observed issues of race, age and class, of the pull between tradition and modernity, and of the obligations of family create a lively and vivid story that you won’t soon forget.

Hey there, Twilight fans! Are you waiting patiently for your hold on the New Moon DVD to come in?! Well, why don’t you spend that waiting time by reading the just released Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer and Young Kim!

Twilight: The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Stephenie Meyer and Young KimIt has been awhile since I read the first book, so I cannot make a judgment call on how faithful the graphic novel is to the original text, but there was one big change that surprised me: I actually liked Bella! Although a big fan of the books, I have always found Bella’s attitude towards other females a bit annoying and unsympathetic (although appreciated as part of her character). However, whether due to less internal monologue or just lovely illustrations, the graphic novel Bella feels like a friend who happens to have really gorgeous hair. Unfortunately, I find Edward less likable when in graphic form; he kind of just looks like a jerk who thinks too highly of himself…but no worries! The chemistry between Graphic Bella and Graphic Edward still made my heart race!

Overall, Kim’s work is fantastic: the variation in line texture, the soft photo-realist backdrops, and the subtle, poignant color changes give the graphic novel incredible feeling. Swoon, can you hear my heart beating?! I can’t wait for Volume 2!

Twilight isn’t the only book to go graphic. Check out these other popular titles that have had an illustrator’s touch:
book cover image for A People's History of American Empirebook cover image for The Hound of Baskervillesbook cover image for The Picture of Dorian Graybook cover image for Jane Eyrebook cover image for Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptationbook cover image for Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptationbook cover image for The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumbbook cover image for Pride and Prejudicebook cover image for Coraline

Admittedly, we’re probably a several weeks away from harvesting from our gardens, but it doesn’t hurt to start planning early.  And what better (or more fun) way than to look through cookbooks? After all, you might never have even considered planting brussels sprouts until you see Keith Snow’s  “Brussels Sprouts with Mornay Sauce” in his Harvest Eating Cookbook. OK, maybe you’re still not considering growing brussels sprouts, but you get the idea – grow what you like to eat.

Taken in part from Snow’s PBS series, this book features delicious, simple recipes – none takes longer than a page to describe – using seasonal local ingredients. Some of those ingredients – avocados, mangos – aren’t exactly locally grown here in Iowa, but there are plenty of fresh ideas for local favorites – asparagus, butternut squash, tomatoes, corn, etc.

Don’t have a garden? There’s a huge variety of beautiful, locally grown produce at the Freight House Farmers Market here in Davenport, held every Saturday from 8am to 1pm and every Tuesday 3pm to 6pm, year round.

A recent Wall Street Journal article reports that newspapers and magazines still are alive and kicking.  Magazines Team Up to Tout ‘Power of Print” describes a campaign by publishers to promote the value of  print magazines. “The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive,” according to an ad to run in May issues of selected magazines.

Jann Wenner, the man behind the campaign, says that “just as TV didn’t kill magazines, the Internet was a threat only to publications that lost focus on what makes magazines unique. “In a certain way, this campaign is aimed at the magazine business itself.”

Magazine readership has actually been rising. Similarly newspapers are trying to get the word out that the readership of daily papers is up.

Michael Phelps is headlining the ads, so if you see his goggled face, check out the copy. It may surprise you.

If someone just handed you a couple hundred bucks around Christmas time, you’d be cool with that, right?

That, apparently, is what you will get if you can work into your routine a daily flip of a common power strip before you go out the door, effectively cutting the energy draw to devices that aren’t in use.  Vampire energy (though obviously a lower amount than when the item is in full-tilt operation) still accumulates, some would say unnecessarily.  That energy goes to keeping the clock illuminated, and having the device in a general state of almost-readiness for you to come use it.  If you’re never going to come use it for a week, then there’s no sense in that, is there?

According to the United States Department of Energy, 75 percent of home electricity for appliances and electronics is consumed while they are turned off.

Use that VCR very much?  If it is plugged in, that’ll run you close to seven dollars this year.  Plasma Televisions, Satellite A/V receivers, are apparently pigs as well.

A device that is getting a lot of press is the Kill-A-Watt, which tells you the draw of individual devices and predicts your bills.

There also are smart power strips which will sense when an appliances are in vampire mode and “stop the bleeding” so to speak.

It may not always feel like it yet, but spring officially arrives at 12:32pm on March 20th. Time to start planning your garden!

With all the emphasis on organic, local foods, back-yard gardens have become all the rage – even the White House has a vegetable garden! There’s a big crop of new titles, whether you’re new to gardening or would just like to pick up a few tips.

One Magic Square: the Easy, Organic Way to Grow Your Own Food on a 3-Foot Square by Lolo Houbein. This book specializes in getting the most out of the smallest plots – best varieties, space-saving tips and sustainable practices. Multiple examples of Magic Square plots are shown including the Antioxidants Plot, the Curry Plots, and the Summer Stir-Fry Plot. Completely organic.

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces by Gayla Trail. This beautifully illustrated book gives you lots of basic information, presented in a friendly, no-nonsense style. In addition to the expected vegetables, herbs and edible flowers are also included. A chapter on preserving the harvest ranges from making a ristra and drying tomatoes in the oven to canning and freezing. Completely organic.

Grocery Gardening: Planting, Preparing and Preserving Fresh Food by Jean Ann Van Krevelen. Three things make this garden guide stand out – the inclusion of fruit, the varied and interesting recipes and the nutritional information.  While there is some brief information on planting your own garden, just having access to a Farmer’s Market is all you need. There are also tips on selecting quality produce.

The Small Budget Gardener by Maureen Gilmer. This book has one goal – saving you money – and they mean business. All aspects of gardening are covered, from how to plant trees to aid in energy savings, to recycling found objects into garden treasures. They also discuss the impact of technology on gardening,  listing useful (free) websites, blogs and online newsletters. Sometimes it’s important to spend money – quality tools for instance – and Gilmer shows you what and how to buy. Tightwad tips throughout. Completely organic.

One month after her wedding,  Cami Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Two years later, she was depressed, angry and addicted to prescription pain medication.  Though at first reluctant, she decides to follow a recommendation from her friend, Mbali Creazzo, a healer from South Africa.  The advice: give away something every day, for 29 days.

In shifting her focus from herself (and her difficulties) to others, Walker also becomes more open to receiving gifts.  By Day 29, she  is not only healthier and happier, but she has created a worldwide giving movement, 29 Gifts. In some ways, with it’s message of being positive, the book is reminiscent of The Secret by Rhonda Bryne.   However, because it recounts her journey of dealing with a serious illness, it seems more personal, a factor that is enhanced by the inclusion of the stories of others who relate their own experience of giving for 29 days.

It’s realistic enough to make me want to try it.  What kind of world might this be if we all did?