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.

Bigfoot Sighted at the Library

Many of us look back at the 70’s with fond embarrassment. Feathered hair, down vests, CB radios. This was the decade in which Clint Eastwood co-starred with an Orangutan, and we liked the idea so much that for three years we tuned in to watch Greg Evigan and a truck-driving chimpanzee in BJ and the Bear, a show that arguably jumped the shark in its opening credits. In celebrity news, a drunken Grizzly Adams’ beard was set alight by a drink called the Flaming Eddy, while another famous big hairy guy did some even more embarrassing things, and I don’t mean Chewbacca.

The 70’s were a heady time for Bigfoot, with movie and TV deals and all the attendant merchandising, and stunned by the glare of Hollywood (or the omnipresent nose candy), Image of Bionic Bigfoot Doll Courtesy of JD Hancock via Flickrthe famously reclusive creature made some very bad decisions. I was reminded of this the other day when I noticed the library’s newly purchased Bionic Woman DVDs included a couple of episodes in which Bigfoot guest starred. I used to be the proud owner of a Bionic Bigfoot action toy, the necessary foil to my truly awesome Major Steve Austin doll, with its creeply peel-back-able arm and bionic eye you could peer right through. The pair could fight just like on TV, or even drag race! In The Six Million Dollar Man franchise, bigfoot actually turned out to be an android scarecrow left behind by space aliens, which was kind of a stretch, but these were crazy times remember, when the pairing of bigfoot and aliens seemed as natural as pairing roller & disco; The Captain & Tennille; BJ & the bear.

Employing my librarian skills, I ventured a subject heading: “Bigfoot – drama.” And hit gold, of a sort. The Bigfoot Terror Collection is a suite of downloadable films which casts its merciless glare on the nadir of Bigfoot’s filmography, before Harry and the Hendersons resurrected his career as a loveable, overgrown plush toy. The best title for true Bigfoot aficionados has to be Legend of Bigfoot, a 1976 shlockumentary in which noted sasquatch paparazzo Ivan Marx – a man who truly has bigfoot on the brain – scours the earth in hopes of capturing the gentle giant on film. When at last he corners his leading man in some far northern desolation, bigfoot is typically camera shy. Sadly, this was not always the case.

Just two years before, Bigfoot’s cousin the Yeti had appeared in Shriek of the Mutilated, a low budget slasher movie that falls well within the realm of so-bad-it’s-good. To attempt to explain the inspired illogic of this bizarre cinematic fever dream is beyond me. I loved every minute of it. In 1979, Bigfoot made another regrettable appearance in The Capture of Bigfoot. By far the scariest part of this movie is the gnashingly bad overacting of Richard Kennedy as the town baddy, Mr. Olsen. (You may remember Kennedy from his equally galvanizing appearances in C.B. Hustlers, Ilsa: Queen of the SS, or Invasion of the Blood Farmers). The less said about The Search for the Beast the better. Made in 1997, it is a softcore drive in flick featuring a goggle-eyed, amorous Alabama swamp ape. (Not that I watched the whole thing, or anything). You’ve been warned, or tempted.