DVDs for July

July 15

Rango – Johnny Depp

Rango, a kooky pet chameleon, accidentally winds up in the gritty, gun-slinging town of Dirt, a lawless outpost populated by the desert’s most wily and whimsical creatures. Welcomed as the last hope the town has been waiting for, new Sheriff Rango is forced to play his new role to the hilt, until he starts to become the hero he once only pretended to be.

 Arthur – Russell Brand, Helen Mirren

Lovable billionaire Arthur Bach has always relied on his limitless fortune and nanny Hobson to keep him out of trouble. Now he faces his biggest challenge. He must choose between an arranged marriage that will ensure his lavish lifestyle or an uncertain future with the one thing money can’t buy: Naomi, the only woman he has ever loved. With Naomi’s inspiration and some unconventional help from Hobson, Arthur will finally learn what it means to become a man

 July 19

Limitless – Bradly Cooper, Robert De Niro

Eddie Morra, a burnt-out writer, discovers a top-secret pill that unlocks 100% of his brain’s capacity. He instantly acquires mind-bending talents and mesmerizing visions that bring him big money, beautiful women, and limitless success. But his dream life soon becomes a waking nightmare, as the drug’s brutal side effects take their toll and Eddie finds himself entangled with a cunning Wall Street power broker who wants everything Eddie has and more.

July 26

Source Code – Jake Gyllenhaal,  Michelle Monaghan

When Captain Colter Stevens wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of an experimental government program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last eight minutes of his life. In order to identify the bomber of a Chicago commuter train, he must relive the incident over and over again, gathering clues to prevent an even deadlier second terrorist attack.

A Fond Farewell

We want to take a minute to say a giant “thanks!” to one of our favorite blog post contributors here at Info Cafe – Tana will be leaving the Davenport library at the end of this week in pursuit of new adventures and we will miss her. She’s an excellent writer with a wide range of reading interests that has helped to make our blog diverse and dynamic. With over 120 posts to her credit Tana wrote, among other things, about “literary” fiction, non-fiction covering contemporary issues and many of the themed displays at the library. I particularly liked Tana’s series of RAGBRAI posts, written in 2008 starting with the July 22 post. They showcase Tana’s wit and good humor and are just plain fun to read.

If you’re lucky enough to know Tana personally, you know she’s smart and funny and cheerful and generous, all of which are excellent qualities in a reference librarian. And in a friend.

Good luck and best wishes always Tana!


Geeky Craftsters Will Take Over the World.

The World of Geekcraft: Step-by-Step Instructions for 25 Super-Cool Craft Projects by Susan Beal and Jay B. Sauceda is one of my favorite new craftbooks. What really sets this book apart from the other zillion hip craft books on the shelf is the wide variety of crafts (it’s about time a craft book included fuse beads!) and the cool extras such as the craft designer’s own websites and inserted text explaining the stories behind the geekiness.

Have I made anything from this craftbook? Nope.
Have I still checked it out from the library multiple times? Yes.
And do I really really hope that someday I will make something from it? YES!

Here are a few of the things I wish to make:

•Coraline Mystery Sewing Box by Susan Beal
•Oregon Trail Cross-stitch by John Lohman
•Buffy Fuse Bead Portrait by Shayne Rioux

Super cool.

Some of my other favorite geeky craft books are the The Star Wars Craft Book by Bonnie Burton and The Muppets Big Book of Crafts by the Muppet Workshop

Frugal Librarian #38: Late-night lettuce

In another month, every break room and front porch is going to be loaded with well-intentioned zucchinis, cucumbers, and tomatoes from benevolent friends and neighbors.

But in the interim, take this recent advice from Lifehacker.  According to them, it’s practically a standard equation at the supermarket level regarding deep price markdowns to salvage some return on the product before the freshness date expires.

To compound it, Wednesday may enable you to harness overlap between the the two-week span’s advertising circulars.

It makes sense, and it’s actually true.  I figure whatever they aren’t going to be able to work into the next day’s salad bar gets the big red sticker.

Frequently I get seven bagged salad mixes that were $3 once they become $1.    That’s the only time to buy.  If you pay more than $1, you paid too much.  If there’s nothing there for $1, select another style of mix that they are unloading.

Congratulations, you paid $7 instead of $21 for your week’s lunches, you genius.

Apparently the leafy greens in there turn into a pumpkin coach after midnight as opposed to something that is completely edible and delicious we all can safely consume for an additional 7 to 10 days.

Bless you freshness date.

Chick Days by Jenna Woginrich

My Mother often tells stories about her father and the everyday adventures he had as a rural postal carrier during the Great Depression – the horse and wagon he used during the winter and when the roads were impassable, the cat they acquired because the cat hitched a ride in the mail truck one day, and how every spring he would deliver boxes of baby chicks, their busy peeps filling the truck – stories about events that now seem strange and distant to our modern world. In those days, raising chickens was commonplace both for eggs and for meat and nearly every farm – and many households in the small towns of Iowa – had a pen for chickens. As small farms and towns disappeared, so did the backyard pens and raising chickens became exotic and unusual. Thanks to the growing interest in eating local and fresh, chickens are cool again.

If you’re thinking about raising your own chickens, take a look at Chick Days: an Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Jenna Woginrich. You’ll learn a lot and have fun while you’re at it. Arranged scrapbook style with lots of photos and tips, Woginrich takes you through the first year of raising three chicks to laying hens. Along the way you’ll learn all kinds of trivia and practical information, all presented with humor and encouragement. There’s even a recipe (for quiche! not fried chicken!) These are fancy chickens that produce beautiful eggs and Woginrich makes no bones about the fact that these chickens are being raised as pets (although they’re also good egg producers) Even if you have no intention of adding chickens to your garden, you’ll have fun imagining the possibilities with this book.

The Kids in the Hall: Death Comes to Town

The Kids are back in the Hall! Or at least they returned to the hall long enough to make a new 8 episode mini-series in 2008 called Death Comes to Town which is super duper funny and, of course, very Canadian.

It used to be impossible to go a day without seeing an episode of The Kids in the Hall, the Canadian Sketch Comedy show that originally aired on CBS and HBO from 1989 to 1995, and then appeared in constant reruns on Comedy Central and other cable channels. But it has been awhile since I have seen the gang altogether (comedians Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney, and Scott Thomson) since they have all been off making other TV shows, voicing characters in Disney movies, and hosting reality shows in their home country, so I was thrilled to discover this new series sitting on our new DVD shelf.

Instead of The Kids in the Hall‘s usual short comedic sketches, Death Comes to Town is a murder mystery ala Agatha Christie meets Monty Python featuring a huge cast of characters/suspects all played by the five comedians. The story takes place in the small town of Shuckton, Ontario, when the town’s beloved mayor is killed in his home just after informing the town that they did not win the bid to host the 2028 Winter Olympics. One of the mayor’s old hockey prodigies, an recluse who hasn’t left his home in decades, decides to solve the mystery with help from the local news team and a bunch of quirky townspeople, all while a Demon repeatedly tries to kill him.

I highly recommend Death Comes to Town for all Kids in the Hall fans and for anyone who likes their humor both a little dark and very silly. And although fans may be sad not to see most of their favorite KITH characters, there is a brief cameo by the beloved Chicken Lady.

Summer Cooking (and Eating!)

Summer is here at last and that means the Farmers’ Markets and your backyard garden are filled with the bounty of the season. Take advantage of the harvest with some help from the following books:

Cooking in the Moment by Andrea Reusing – Interspersed with short essays and gorgeous photographs of Reusing’s farm and kitchen, this friendly cookbook celebrates simple food cooked with love through the seasons.

Cooking from the Farmers’ Market from William-Sonoma – As you would expect from Williams-Sonoma, this cookbook is beautiful and stylish and offers multiple recipes for each fruit and vegetable featured. Recipes are sophisticated but not out-of-reach.

Harvest to Heat: Cooking with America’s Best Chefs, Farmers and Artisans by Darry Estrine – Here’s a slightly different approach – following the growers and creators using the best ingredients. The emphasis is on family favorites and local delicacies across America.

Seasonal Recipes from the Garden by P Allen Smith – Low-key and approachable, this cookbook makes you feel like you’re exchanging recipes with a good friend. The recipes are favorites of P Allen Smith and his family and celebrate the backyard bounty of the garden.

The Art of Preserving from Williams-Sonoma – Keep some of that summer goodness for the cold days of winter. Not only does this book show you how to make delectable jams and jellys and salsas and relishes, it gives you multiple ways to use them in tasty dishes.

Doctor Who on DVD

Being a pretty big fan of anything sci-fi or fantasy, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to watch the long-running BBC series Doctor Who.  Now that I have, I can’t stop watching!  The main character of the show is simply called The Doctor.  He’s an alien (though he looks human), and he is the last of the species called the Time Lords.  Along with various companions, The Doctor travels through time and space in a contraption called the TARDIS (which is disguised as an old-fashioned blue Police Call Box) looking for trouble and solving a myriad of intergalactical crises.  The show has been on since the 1960s and to date there have been 11 different actors who have portrayed The Doctor, whose new look is explained by The Doctor’s ability regenerate if he is near death.

One of my favorite things about this series is the humor.  I especially enjoy the fact that The Doctor is always so chipper when presented with a new challenge or catastrophe.  He and his companions are constantly encountering crazy-looking aliens and monsters and fighting them off using wisdom and wit.  One of my favorite episodes so far had The Doctor and his companion Rose traveling back to 1879 and encountering Queen Victoria, who was being hunted by a werewolf.  It’s honestly just a really fun series to watch.

I know what you’re thinking.  “But hey, this show has been on since the 1960s!  Where am I supposed to start?!”  That’s the beauty of Doctor Who, you can really pick it up anywhere and still enjoy it.  I chose to start with the 2005 relaunch of the series, The Complete First Series, starring Christopher Eccleston as The 9th Doctor.  But one could also argue that the best place to start is The Complete Second Series, which stars David Tennant as the 10th Doctor, because Tennant completely encompasses the fun spirit of the series.  He is so fun to watch thanks to his acting talent and his always expressive face, and I’d say he is easily my favorite Doctor (so far, that is, since I’m still on the second series).  If you’re a fan of humor, sci-fi, or British TV, I’d strongly recommend checking out this series!

My Father said “Marry a Wally”

During my childhood, my father worked hard to educate my brother and me on all the classic family sitcoms of the 1960’s: The Andy Griffith Show, F Troop, Mr. Ed, My Three Sons, etc, but all of his references of the Cleaver family fell on ignorant ears until a fateful Father’s Day weekend when TVLand finally introduced reruns of Leave it to Beaver by airing a whole-weekend-long marathon. I was hooked after the first episode and even popped in a VHS tape to record as many episodes as I could (just in case TVLand decided to be cruel and revoke my Cleaver family privileges after the weekend marathon wrapped up. Luckily they did not, and I have had about 15 blissful years of Leave it to Beaver reruns.)

So I finally understood why my Dad always told me that he wanted me to marry “a Wally,” and I quite agreed for a long time (Tony Dow was super cute). Until I met my husband and realized that hanging out with “a Theodore” was a little bit more fun. I think my Dad is just content that I didn’t fall in love with “a Lumpy” or “an Eddie Haskall” (who, by the way, was the inspiration for the name of my brother’s high school punk band).

My father will be out of town this Father’s Day, but I’m going to have to rent some Leave it to Beaver DVDs (from the library, of course!) to celebrate in spirit. I think I will be starting with Season Three so I can watch a specific episode where the Beave loses a copy of Treasure Island and lives in fear of a visit from the LIBRARY COPS!

Fathers and Sons

Daddy by Loup Durand was a bestseller in France but, amazingly, never a huge hit in the U.S.  

Thomas, an 11-year-old genius, is being chased by Nazis, after they discover the boy’s grandfather has entrusted him with information about Jewish fortunes held in Swiss bank accounts.

American millionaire David Quartermain, the father Thomas has never known, is summoned by the child’s mother when she realizes her life is in danger. Not only an incredibly tense cat-and-mouse chase novel, this is also the story of how father and son learn to trust and love each other.

Intricately plotted, there are iconic characters (a sociopathic Nazi, a mysterious sniper/bodyguard and wealthy playboy turned patriot), mysteries, secrets, and  the always-fascinating setting of World War II Europe. A great and satisfying page-turner.