Down with the Sickness

I just got hit by a winter cold and it hit me hard…usually I only need a day to recover, but not this time. Went back to work on day three and was miserable. Took another day off hoping to get through it – I spent most of my time away moving from the bed to the couch then back to bed again. I couldn’t even read because I couldn’t concentrate, but I did get a lot of time with the television screen.

Pulled out an old favorite of mine, Across the Universe, starring Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood. Not only does it have one of the best soundtracks, but just the visual effects and story are so beautifully done. It does a remarkable job of bringing The Beatles lyrics to life and creating a story of its time. Continue reading “Down with the Sickness”

Calling All Anglophiles

~posted by Frank

Are you an Anglophile who just can’t get enough period drama, droll humor, gray skies or visions of the British countryside? If this describes you, then check out these dozen new television programs and miniseries from BBC, ITV, Channel 4, and Acorn that have recently made their way to DVD. Continue reading “Calling All Anglophiles”

Death Comes Knocking

Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me.

The Carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality.

-Emily Dickinson

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore is an edge-of-your-seat read. After seeing a man in mint green at his wife’s hospital bedside – a man he shouldn’t be able to see – Charlie Asher’s life goes from ho-hum normal to utter insanity. Recruited to be Death, Charlie must juggle raising his daughter, hearing voices coming from the sewers, people dropping dead and raven-like creatures attacking him. The characters are brilliant, the humor is epic and the adventure is one of a kind! Continue reading “Death Comes Knocking”

What was on the Tube in 1962

On the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, we look back at that year’s popular books, music, movies and TV shows. This week, what was on TV in 1962.

Find The Jetsons in the Seattle Public Library catalog.Television looked different in 1962. Nine out of ten American households had TV sets, but they were almost all black & white; Zenith produced its first color set that year. Only a few major TV shows such as Bonanza, The Flintstones and The Jetsons were produced in color at this time. TV was undergoing another big transition as the unpredictable TV comedy of Ernie Kovacs and Sid Caesar were being usurped by pre-recorded sit-coms, and relatively highbrow live dramas (soon to be eulogized as the “golden age” of television) were replaced with filmed anthology shows such as The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, both now revered as TV classics themselves. (Of course variety/talk shows were still live: here’s Barbara Streisand on the Gary Moore Show). In 1961, FCC Chairman Newton Minow gave a speech decrying television as a “vast wasteland,” characterized by “a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons.” It was around this time that TV began to be called “the boob tube.”

“Unbelievable families” were very big in 1962, though they hardly seem unwholesome today. The Beverly Hillbillies premiered this year, and was the year’s highest rated show. The new Dick Van Dyke show also did well, while The Andy Griffith Show had been renewed for a second season and was picking up steam; Barney Fife ushered in Tod and Buz from Route 66 the new year with the first use of his habitual expression “Nip it in the Bud!” Leave it to Beaver was in it’s fifth season and winding down, as Wally got a driver’s license and a steady girlfriend, and the Beaver joined a Rock ‘n Roll record club. Viewers looking for something a bit more hip could head out on the road with clean cut Tod and vaguely Kerouacish Buz as they tooled around the country in their Corvette convertible along Route 66 and other byways, seeking adventure, finding trouble, making things right, and moving on.

In his speech, Newton Minow also referred to the assault of endless “…commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending.” That, at least, hasn’t changed. To see more of what we were watching in 1962, check out this list in the library catalog.

The Reading Dead: A Zombie literary salon.

Walking Dead Days Gone By Cover ImageAMC’s The Walking Dead has risen again for a second season, but the aisles of your local library are already crowded with zombies, including Robert Kirkman’s original graphic novel series upon which the show is based (and what isn’t based on graphic novels at this point?) and the first season on DVD.  

For anyone who thought the zombie craze was so 2009, think again. And as whimsical as many zombie titles are (Zombie Haiku?), there seems to be something deadly serious underlying all those “could you survive a zombie apocalypse” Facebook quizzes, as we whistle through the darkness of our prolonged global economic crisis and reflect wistfully on the bygone American Century. There’s plenty to fear these days, and relentless hordes of brain-hungry cadavers seem an apt metaphor; I predict zombies will still be hot at least until unemployment dips back below 6%.

A while back I thought I’d assemble a tidy little list of zombie books in our catalog, but I had seriously underestimated the relentless, ravening hordes of the zombie revival that wouldn’t die: they just kept coming, and coming, and coming. Our catalog lists no less than 351 items with “zombie” in the subject heading, so I’m at seven lists and counting, and here they are:

I don’t think I’ll truly be happy until we have a fullscale zombie invasion of the library. Not to tempt fate, but after visits from Santarchy and Glee Flash Mobs, it just feels like we’re due.