Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Holidays!

I hope that all of you have a happy and healthy holiday season.  Best wishes for 2013!


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Rebelle, Goon, Cosmopolis among Canada’s Top 10 movies of 2012

Published on Tuesday December 04, 2012
Bruce DeMara
Entertainment Reporter, Toronto Star


Alliance Films Liev Schreiber as the elder hockey enforcer in Goon.

Rachel Mwanza

Mongrel Media Newcomer Rachel Mwanza won an award at the Berlin Film Festival for her role as a child soldier in Rebelle (War Witch).

Sarah Polley with Super8cam

National Film Board Sarah Polley turned the documentary lens on her own family in Stories We Tell.

2 of 4
Sarah Polley’s searing family portrait, a profanity-laced ode to hockey violence and Robert Pattinson in an artsy leading role are three of the diverse films announced Tuesday as Canada’s Top Ten of 2012 by the Toronto International Film Festival.
Stories We Tell, Goon and Cosmopolis, respectively, take the honours among such notables as Rebelle (War Witch) by Kim Nguyen, Midnight’s Children by Deepa Mehta and Laurence Anyways by Xavier Dolan in a memorable year for Canadian film. The 10 were chosen by seven panelists including filmmaker Jacob Tierney and CBC’s Metro Morning host Matt Galloway.
The event has been a showcase for Canadian film since 2001 and audiences will have an opportunity to see the selected movies on screen from Jan. 4 to 13 at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox.
Polley, whose Stories We Tell — a highly personal documentary-style film exploring family history — has earned rave reviews since its Venice debut, will take part in a special Mavericks question and answer session on Jan. 5.
Several of the films will also be presented at major theatres in Montreal, Vancouver and Edmonton.
Besides Stories We Tell, the other honourees are:
Cosmopolis by veteran filmmaker David Cronenberg, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, follows a young, amoral financial whiz kid (Pattinson) during one particularly eventful day.
The End of Time by Peter Mettler (Gambling, Gods and LSD) is a documentary with an international scope that explores the very concept of time.
Goon by Michael Dowse is a gritty comedy with graphically hilarious violence about a club bouncer who becomes an “enforcer” (Seann William Scott) for a minor league men’s hockey team.
With Laurence Anyways, Quebec’s Cannes darling Xavier Dolan explores the tumultuous relationship between a man who becomes a woman and a woman and their struggle to overcome their differences.
Midnight’s Children by Deepa Mehta is a historical drama adapted by Salman Rushdie, based on his Booker Prize-winning novel, set at the moment of India’s independence in 1947.
My Awkward Sexual Adventure by Sean Garrity follows a staid accountant in need of sexual experience who turns to an exotic dancer for help to win back his girlfriend.
Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle (War Witch), chronicling the experiences of a child soldier in sub-Saharan Africa, has earned rave reviews and is Canada’s nomination for the Best Foreign-Language Film at the Oscars.
Still by Michael McGowan is a story, based on true events, about an elderly man who risks the wrath of the authorities when he tries to build a better home for his ailing spouse.
Nisha Pahuja’s The World Before Her, which earned Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs, is a tale of two worlds for young Indian women, one a beauty pageant, the other a fundamentalist Hindu boot camp.
Also named Tuesday were the Top 10 short films: Bydlo by Patrick Bouchard; Chef de meute (Herd Leader) by Chloé Robichaud; Crackin’ Down Hard by Mike Clattenburg; Kaspar by Diane Obomsawin; Ne crâne pas sois modeste (Keep a Modest Head) by Deco Dawson; Lingo by Bahar Noorizadeh; Malody by Phillip Barker; Old Growth by Tess Girard; Reflexions by Martin Thibaudeau; and Paparmane (Wintergreen) by Joëlle Desjardins Paquette.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Library books vandalized with urine

As some of you may know, I was CEO of this Library for 11 years before it was amalgamated into the Essex County System and a native of the community.  I still have very postive feelings about the patrons of this library, many of whom became good friends. 

I am appalled that this is happening here.  I hope that the perpetrator is caught soon.  My thoughts are with the current staff in this difficult situation.

Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. Barb Newman, a regular visitor to the library checks out some books Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. Barb Newman, a regular visitor to the library checks out some books Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)
It is said that books open a world of discovery, but staff at the Leamington library are none too pleased with what they’ve been finding on the shelves lately. A patron has been urinating on books. At first it was the fiction of Dan Brown and Lee Child. Monday morning, staff discovered the vandal had moved to more expensive non-fiction titles on genealogy and ancient civilizations.
“It’s very unsettling,” said Janet Woodbridge, chief librarian and CEO of the Essex County Library system. In her four years heading up Essex County’s 14 branches, and 23 years at the Windsor Public Library before that, she has never heard of such vandalism.
“This is deviant behavior.”
The acts are taking place in the library, with the vandal – almost certainly a male – relieving himself on the lower shelves. He is keeping to the farthest reaches of the building, and is likely waiting to see that library staffers are busy at the front desk. Until the latest discovery Monday, he had been keeping to the rear left corner of the library, where the fiction section is located. Monday’s discovery was in the rear right corner of the building.
The first instance occurred about three weeks ago, Woodbridge said. The latest occurred over the weekend. It has happened four times in all. More than 210 books have been destroyed. Until Monday, staff had pegged the damage at $3,000, but the latest destruction – to 90 non-fiction hardcovers all worth much more than the earlier fiction casualties, has yet to be tallied.
Books are seen at the Leamington Public Library. (Dan Janisse/The Windsor Star)
Books are seen at the Leamington Public Library. (Dan Janisse/The Windsor Star)
Staff didn’t call police after the first instance, believing it to be an isolated event, Woodbridge said. They called after the second time and police went public after the third.
The ink had barely dried on the police news release Monday when staff made the latest discovery in the non-fiction section. A visit to the library Monday found the branch manager donning blue medical gloves and scrubbing the shelves herself. She said she could have waited until the janitor arrived, but that would have meant cordoning off a section of the library and inconveniencing patrons.
“Kudos to my staff,” Woodbridge said.
The library has mounted a second security mirror and will soon install surveillance cameras. When they are not busy with patrons, the librarians patrol the rows of shelves. They’ve moved all the books off the bottom three shelves of the bookcases to mitigate damage if there is another attack.The library staff has been trying to keep the vandalism quiet, not wanting to scare off any of the 250 to 300 patrons who use the library
every day.
“That is disgusting,” said regular patron Barb Newman, learning about the vandalism as she left the library Monday. “My heart sank when I saw all the books missing,” she said.
“I hope they find him. I hope they make him pay for it.”
Library patron Karen Anderson Miller said she thinks the vandalism is an expression of anger. “That to me is aggressive.” Miller, a school teacher, said she is sure the person committing the acts likely has psychological issues surrounding education.“That’s my opinion. There’s an anger there. It’s somebody angry at the written word.”
Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. The corner is reflected in a domed mirror. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)
Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. The corner is reflected in a domed mirror. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)
Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. The corner is reflected in a domed mirror. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)
Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. The corner is reflected in a domed mirror. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)
Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. The corner is reflected in a domed mirror. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)
Books have been removed from lower shelves at the Leamington Public Library in a far corner of the building. An unknown person has been urinating on the books and damaging them. The corner is reflected in a domed mirror. (DAN JANISSE/The Windsor Star)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Return of Downton Abbey for fourth season confirmed, filming starts next year

I haven't seen Season Three yet and they are announcing Season Four!  Lots to look forward to.

By The Associated Press | The Canadian Press
LONDON - British television channel ITV has confirmed that hit drama "Downton Abbey" will return for a fourth season.
Filming of eight new episodes for the award-winning period series will begin in southern England's Highclere Castle and London's Ealing Studios early next year.
ITV said Friday that as before, the opening and closing episodes will be feature-length, and that the series will continue the story of the Crawley family and their servants in the 1920s.
The channel said that an extended special episode for next Christmas is also planned.
"Downton Abbey" has won fans worldwide and an average of 11.9 million viewers in Britain watched its third season, which will premiere in the U.S. on PBS in January.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Biblio-mat: Random book-vending machine deals in mystery

If only Readers' and Viewers' Advisory were this easy!

Published on Monday November 19, 2012


ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE/TORONTO STAR Every book is a surprise at the Biblio-mat, the latest in hipster technology at the Monkey's Paw on Dundas St. W. Owner Stephen Fowler, right, and his friend, designer and animator Craig Small, came up with the idea at a cottage weekend. Small then built the machine.
Jeff Green
Toronto StarStaff Reporter
For the arcane, the absurd and an absolutely eclectic collection of second-hand books, the Monkey’s Paw is a destination for bibliophiles.
But if you can’t decide what to take home from Toronto’s idiosyncratic bookshop, the Biblio-mat, a random book vending machine, will choose for you.
And it will only cost you a toonie.
“I was picturing a skinny guy sitting in a cardboard box feeding out books,” jokes Stephen Fowler, who owns the Monkey’s Paw on Dundas St. W., just west of Ossington Ave. “I never actually believed it would happen.
“It is, as far as I know, the first antiquarian book randomizer.”
With no window on the vending machine designed and built by Toronto animator Craig Small, what book the Biblio-mat spits out with each toonie is a mystery each time. Its stock will stand up to the seemingly random titles the Monkey’s Paw offers, selected by Fowler himself, but supply may be the next challenge.
“It’s definitely struck a chord with customers,” Fowler said as he loaded the machine Monday.
The pistachio-coloured and retro-themed machine has a certain rhythm to it: each toonie starts the hum of a lever and rings an old telephone bell as the book pours over the top and falls into the open tray.
Fowler and Small first spoke about the idea of a random book-vending machine in July at a cottage weekend.
It became a labour of love for Small, eating away evenings and weekends with designs, animations and eventually the build itself inside his garage.
The result was an old metal office supply cupboard, originally called the “book-randomizer,” which went live in late October.
Since then, blogs around the world have picked up on the novel idea. Fowler spoke about the Biblio-mat on NPR and a video Small created drew 12,000 views overnight. Small said in the 15 minutes it took him to get to work Monday morning, it jumped to 24,000 views.
For the small shop that featured both the 1970-71 Canadian Tire Fall catalogue and a collection of select works by Lenin in the front window, the draw of the machine plays off the cautionary tale of the Monkey’s Paw tale: be careful what you wish for.
“I’ll have to figure out how to stock this thing for the next year,” Fowler said. “I’m going to have to start scrambling for books that are sufficiently Monkey’s Paw flavoured.
“The theme of this shop is to hold unusual books that are going to surprise people, not your usual pile of bestsellers,” Fowler added. “We go through considerable pains to find really odd and out-of-the-way published artifacts.
“And the stuff that goes into the machine is no different.”

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Thinking outside the (X) box: The collision between video games and books

Not being a gamer, I found this correlation between the games and books that come after fascinating.  Perhaps this will help we boomer librarians to understand what teens and young adults would like to see in their public library.
Mark Medley | Nov 16, 2012 11:30 AM ET National Post
Illustration by Mike Faille
Illustration by Mike Faille

Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken; Gears of War: The Slab; StarCraft II: Flashpoint. These are neither the latest button-mashers, first-person shooters, nor massive multiplayer online games. They are books.
A video game can cost millions of dollars to produce — Grand Theft Auto 4, it is said, cost upwards of $100-million to make — so it makes fiscal sense to leverage a popular franchise beyond just consoles. It’s been going on for a long time in other mediums — Star Wars and Star Trek novelizations, for instance, dwarf their film and television counterparts — and now, increasingly, developers are looking outside the (X) box, allying with publishers to tell stories that provide their product with extra lives.
“If [people] are going to spend time playing the games, and they can read a book that makes the game a little more interesting for them at the same time, that’s a win-win,” says Kevin Grace, franchise manager at 343 Industries in Seattle, which developed the just-released Halo 4. Books, he continues, “are a really good opportunity for us to get fans right into the details of the universe, and what’s happening around them when they pop that disc in and start the game up.
“If they want to put their feet up and think about things a little bit, we can give them a Halo story in a book,” he adds. “And if they just want to sit on the couch and start blowing things up, we’ve got plenty of fun for them there, too.”
A few years ago, when development on Halo 4 began, Grace hired Greg Bear, a Hugo Award-winning writer of science-fiction classics such as The Forge of God, to produce The Forerunner Trilogy, a series set 100,000 years in the game’s past that both explains the origin of the Halo universe and acts as prologue to the new game.
“It’s more than just a game book,” says Bear, on the phone from his home in Seattle. “This is a very intelligently written, classically oriented science fiction trilogy … which just happens to underlie all of the Halo games.”
Working on novels based on someone else’s characters means certain compromises have to be made. “It’s like collaborating with the game makers,” he says. For instance, while working on the final volume in the trilogy, Silentium, which comes out next year, he had to make changes to the final third of the book to line up with the game. After all, after years of development “they don’t want to change it to fit my book,” he says. “Over the last two or three revisions, we have come down to where most of the really great stuff is still there, but it fits the game.”
Stacy Hill, his editor at Tor, puts it more bluntly: “The manuscript isn’t considered final without approval from the game company.”
Bear hopes the trilogy acts as a sort of gateway drug for gamers who might not be regular readers.
“These people haven’t read a lot of science fiction,” he notes. “And with the Halo trilogy … they’re being introduced to Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, my own fiction — all that sort of stuff. The classic SF that I was raised on in the 1950s.”
Hill, who has also edited books based on Dead Space and Dragon Age, says she’s heard from teachers, parents and librarians who say these novels also appeal to reluctant readers. “Once those readers have seen what books have to offer, it becomes easier to get them to try another book, and another.”
Christopher Golden, the author of dozens of comics, novels and books for young adults, has been approached throughout the years to pen a video game tie-in. He turned them all down until Naughty Dog, the developer of the hit series Uncharted, asked him to write a book telling the continuing adventures of its hero, Nathan Drake. Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth, was published last year. Reactions, he says, varied from “people who said ‘I enjoyed reading this book, but I wish it had been more like a game,’ to people who said the exact opposite: ‘I loved this book. Reading [it] is exactly like playing the game.’
“I made an effort to include things that would have the tangible feeling of playing the game,” he adds, “but I made no effort to exclude things that wouldn’t.”
Video game developers are not only hiring authors to write spinoff novels, but to write the games themselves. For instance, Tom Bissell, who covers video games for publications ranging from Grantland to the New Yorker and whose book, Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, was published in 2010, was recently hired to script the next Gears of War.
“I don’t think that video games can get away with just having bulls— writing in them anymore,” says Scott C. Jones, a Vancouver-based writer and co-host of two popular video game shows: Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run. Likewise, Golden, who scripted two Buffy the Vampire Slayer video games back in the day, says that if you want to have a successful game, plot is something that can’t be ignored. “There was a tipping point, where the gaming companies realized that they needed to put just as much thought into the story as they did into the settings and into combat systems and all of that stuff.”
Gamers “have gotten older. We’ve gotten more sophisticated,” Jones says. “Everybody got to a point where we were fed up being fed these really half-hearted stories … These lame excuses to get games from the snow world to the desert world.
“They need to hire writers,” he continues. “They need to hire people who’ve read books. People who have some skills putting together a line of dialogue or a sentence. It makes a difference.”
As for a game getting it right, he points to Dishonored, developed by Arkane Studios and recently published by Bethesda Softworks, which is known for releasing games with narratives that wouldn’t be out of place in a university course on contemporary literature, such as Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls series. Dishonored, in which the player controls a revenge-seeking assassin through a city modelled after Victorian London, received rave reviews when it was released in October.
“It’s so mature and erudite and literary,” Jones says. “That’s what I expect from my games. That’s where I think all games [should] aspire to at this point.”
Austin Grossman wrote Dishonored. It should come as no surprise, then, that’s he an accomplished novelist, too — his debut novel, Soon I Will Be Invincible, was published in 2007 (he’s also the twin brother of novelist and Time magazine’s books columnist Lev Grossman).
“It’s the most exciting medium that you can work in, because the medium changes every year,” he says on the phone from Irvine, Calif. “There’s a storytelling potential in video games, in interactive media, that is not well understood, and is not well-utilized. But we get to be the first people to try. You’re attacking problems that no one has solved. You feel like D.W. Griffith. You feel like you’re at the dawn of a medium.”
He’s been working in the medium since the early 1990s, and has worked on some of the most acclaimed games and franchises of the past 20 years, including Tomb Raider, Deus Ex and Thief: Deadly Shadows, the latter two both seen as precursors to Dishonored. For a long time, he concedes, story was not a priority among developers.
“I was the first person hired at [my] company who was there as a writer,” he says. “Typically just everybody pinch hit as a writer. Like, literally, their first choice would be whoever their dungeon master was.”
The writing was often awful, Grossman says, “and no one seemed to care.”
“I had a great deal of personal pride, or hubris, knocked out of me, because I was writing in what was basically a degraded medium,” he says. “No one cared what I wrote. I was hired and I wrote for six months before anybody even went to check what I was writing. They simply didn’t care. They just slammed it into the product and moved on.”
This wasn’t always the case. Some of the first games were, in a way, books. The text-based adventure games, or interactive fiction, of the 1970s and early ’80s were glorified Choose Your Own Adventure novels. The largest company, Infocom, even hired Douglas Adams to help design The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game. “Games” such as Zork or Trinity relied on second-person narration (“You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door”) to transport the gamer into the text. In fact, Grossman’s next novel, due out in 2013, is called YOU, and explores the world of game development. It is one of several new novels paying homage to video game culture. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, published in 2011, is partly set in a massively multiplayer online game called OASIS. And even Salman Rushdie’s 2010 novel for young adults, Luka and the Fire of Life, was structured like a game. “There is, I think a worry that [games] may somehow supplant the world of story, the world of stoytelling and books,” he told me at the time.
Yet part of the reason a wave of writers hasn’t swamped the industry, says Grossman, is economics. A writer will make significantly more writing for film or television than video games. “The incentives aren’t there,” he says. Another is the clash of cultures. Most programmers, he says, don’t have a liberal arts education. “Are they going to see you as trying to unload a bunch of literary stuff onto them, when what they want is a cracking good story?”
“There’s a line developers have to walk, between presenting a really solid story and still making the experience a game,” agrees Dan Jolley, a writer of both novels and video games. “You can’t get so deep into the story that you forget you’re making an actual game that needs to be fun and engrossing to play. And yes, gamers do care about story, but if they get a good story embedded in a boring, clunky, [or] broken game, they’ll still feel ripped off, and rightly so. If you want pure story, you see a movie or read a book.”
But there are games that offer both. If you ask me what my favourite novel is, I’ll say Catch-22 or The Sun Also Rises. But, as a lapsed gamer, if you ask me for my favourite story, I’m just as likely to reply Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy III, games I played as a teenager I connected to just as strongly as any novel. Could “Press Start” be the new “Once upon a time?” Are video games the new novels?
“I think that they’re going to be,” Grossman says.
Still, he says, it’s a “very slow transition.” He thinks the aughts were a terrible decade for story in games, but is hopeful, with the rise of indie games, the upcoming decade is more promising. He characterizes the industry as only being “at the beginning of developing its own literary culture.” The novel, after all, didn’t hit its stride until the 18th century, it could be argued.
“It’s a really exciting new way to tell stories,” Jones says. “But even the most sophisticated games we have right now, like Mass Effect or Dishonored or the Fallout series — they’re really just cave paintings. They’re really still at the beginning of something bigger.”

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey blamed for Windsor baby boom

I don't know if this is the first time a baby boom has been atrributed to a book.  Anyone know?

CBC November 6, 2012

The CEO of a Windsor, Ont., hospital speculates that a spike in birth rates is linked to the popular novel Fifty Shades of Grey.
A sexuality professor says he could be right while a demographer remains cautious.
David Musyj said the hospital has delivered 80 babies in six days — that’s 30 per cent more than delivered in an average week.
“When this book came out, everyone said ‘just wait it’s coming,’” he said of the increased birth rate.
The erotic novel was released in January.
Musyj said he’s not alone in his speculation. He said nursing staff share in his thinking.
“We’ve been talking about it all week,” he said.
Robin Milhausen, an associate professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Guelph, said the book could be at least partially responsible for the increase.
Musyj and Milhausen agree it is difficult to scientifically prove the book is to blame.
“We don’t have the data that would indicate it but it would be right around now that babies would be born,” Milhausen said.
Milhausen said more people are having sex and some of that has to do with the book — even if women don’t agree with the type of sex, writing style or character development presented in the book.
“The material is arousing that is likely going to arouse the reader,” she said. “Many women respond to the book and don’t even know it. It’s leading to more sex.”
Milhausen is scheduled to give a public speech about the book and its sexuality at the Kitchener Public Library on Dec. 11.
A leading Canadian demographer, though, cautions about jumping to conclusions.
“Unless someone does a specific analysis it’s hard to say,” said Doug Norris, chief demographer of Environics Analytics. “It’s possible there’s an effect like that. It would be pretty hard to detect.”
Norris, who also worked at Statistics Canada for 30 years, said the increase may have to do more with what “the echo effect” — children of the baby boomers now having their own kids.
“The real big increase in birth has happened across the country,” Norris said. “The boomers children are having children. But that’s not to say there isn’t an effect as suggested [by Musyj]. It makes for a good story and water cooler talk."

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Down and out, but online at the library

Libraries are definitely more than just books - they are a lifeline to those who need a hand up, not a hand out.  Check out why the Los Angeles Public Library has received more city funds.

The Central Library provides a critical lifeline for people without access to a computer.

Getting online at the library
People wait in line for 15 minutes for a computer at the Central Library. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times / October 16, 2012)

Murray Carter, 56, is living a life without luxury. He's out of work. He sleeps at the Weingart Center on skid row.
He's hoping for a job as a cook. He needs to go online to find one. But he's worlds away from affording either a computer or Internet access.
Well before the Central Library opens at 10 a.m., Carter waits out front to get in and grab a computer terminal.
Toni Albert, 23, of East L.A. takes night nursing classes at community college. Her mom helps by looking after her baby. But Albert also needs a computer and one's out of reach for now. So she waits, too, holding 7-month-old Zariyah to her chest.
A few years ago, L.A.'s libraries cut their hours — hit, like everywhere else, by budget cuts.
To those clinging to the 73 branches as lifelines and safe houses, the cuts were crushing blows.
Live on the street and you have to be very wary. Breathe deeply and relax, bad things happen. In the library, you let down your guard for a while — use the sinks and the toilets, gaze up into the rotunda, watch TV or play animated slots in the ever-crowded, subterranean computer center.
"During the summer, everybody comes in here to cool off. And during the winter, people come in out of the rain. It's a safe place to be," said Viola Castro, a library clerk at the center's help desk.
Jeri Emmett Laird, 76, has striking snow-white hair and icy blue eyes, and she used to have a house above Sunset Boulevard. In the 1960s, Laird wrote a memoir about being a Playboy bunny. She sang in an antiwar group "Mother's Quaker Oats and Her Peaceful Marching Band." She wrote episodes of "The Fugitive."  But with time, the firm foundations of her life began to slip. Her husband died. Her son died. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then bedbugs invaded the Koreatown building where Laird and her daughter had lived for years. They got rid of everything — mattresses, books, computers. "We went to the 99 Cent store and bought new outfits and changed in the parking lot," she said. They started over at the Alexandria Hotel downtown. And the Central Library became Laird's off-site office. She's writing a book, she says.Near her, one man hunches over a war game. Another stares at a screen full of blonds.

Anyone with a library card can reserve a terminal for an hour. Those without cards wait in a line for machines parceled out in 15-minute stints. The 15-minute line's there all day long.
Some saw the mayor outside the library the other morning, when he showed up to announce extended library hours. But while the news conference stretched on, the library stayed shut — an hour and a half later than usual. Those who needed it most waited outside impatiently, ever more anxious to get in.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Gun found inside book donated to Indiana library

Those of us who work in public libraries have many stories of items that were in either returned or donated books - half eaten sandwiches, used tissues or even money.  However, I don't think many of us have come across a gun in a book.  In this instance, my guess is that someone was cleaning out a relative's house and didn't know that the gun was in the book.
What are some of your stories of items in returned books?
Published on Saturday October 27, 2012

Associated Press
VALPARAISO, IND. — An employee at a northwest Indiana library found a gun inside a hollowed-out book donated to the branch. The Times of Munster reported Saturday that police in Valparaiso are holding the gun as evidence. Assistant Library Director Phyllis Nelson says an employee at the Valparaiso branch of the Porter County Public Library discovered the antique-looking firearm when she opened the book earlier this week. Police describe the weapon as a gold, wooden handled, 31-caliber, single shot, black powder gun. Nelson says librarians have no way of knowing who donated the book. She says thousands of books are donated each month and no records are kept.
Police have determined the gun was not stolen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Toronto library study pods take page from science fiction


The Toronto Reference Library is offering study pods to help students work in a quiet environment.  With the condo boom in the downtown, the demand for study space is high.  These pods don't require any structural changes to the library building which is cheaper, causes less distruption and can be moved as needs change.
However, I don't know if I would want to work in one of these.  As a public librarian, I understand that these spaces need to monitored and visible.  As a patron, I would feel like I was a manequin on display in a store window.  Some  might feel claustrophobic.
What do you think of the study pods?

Linda Mackenzie and pods

Josh Tapper/Toronto Star Linda Mackenzie, director of research and reference libraries at the Toronto Reference Library, said the new glass study pods support the branch's "open and transparent ethic."
Josh Tapper
Toronto Star Staff Reporter
Published on Wednesday October 17, 2012
When it comes to study space, the downtown Toronto Reference Library is thinking beyond the ordinary. Light years beyond.
As part of its five-year, $34-million revitalization, the library will open five futuristic study pods on the second floor in the next two weeks. Ten more of the tubular glass pods will be installed over the coming months.
“We wanted to create something a little more private and less distracting,” said Linda Mackenzie, the Toronto Public Library’s director of research and reference libraries, sitting at a light brown open work table, a holdover from the library’s original late-1970s design.
“Part of the overall plan for revitalization was to create varied study and work space in the library.”
Mackenzie said the 5-square-metre pods, which resemble pneumatic tubes, fit snugly into the library’s floor design.
While the two-seater pods won’t be completely silent, Mackenzie said they should cut out ambient noise.
As part its revitalization, to be completed this year, the reference library has also constructed a three-storey glass entrance cube, “Idea Gardens” on each floor which, according to its website, promote “reflection and inspiration,” and a special collections rotunda. Moriyama & Teshima Architects handled the massive redesign at the Bloor St. and Yonge St. branch.
Closed off with caution tape Wednesday as they awaited electrical wiring, the pods drew curious stares from library patrons sitting at more conventional study spaces.
“They look very clinical,” said Heather Meek, a Schulich Business School student working on a class project at a nearby table. “It reminds me of science fiction. But I guess the idea is that it’s quiet in there.”
Polly D’Arcy, who had been staring at the pods from behind her laptop at a distant study table, said they looked “cool,” but perhaps not conducive to getting work done.
“I’d feel claustrophobic in there,” she said.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Johnny Depp starting imprint, releasing Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie books

Publishing is just so cool!
FILE - In this Sept. 8, 2012 file photo, actor Johnny Depp participates in a photo call and press conference for the film "West of Memphis" at TIFF Bell Lightbox during the Toronto International Film Festival, in Toronto. HarperCollins Publishers announced Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, that Depp will help run an imprint that will be a home for “authentic, outspoken and visionary” books. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Johnny Depp is bringing a dash of cool to the book world.
Depp will help run a publishing imprint with the same name as his production company, Infinitum Nihil, meaning "Nothing is forever." Already on the list of books is "The Unraveled Tales of Bob Dylan," which aims to set the record straight on the songwriter's enigmatic life and career and will be based in part on interviews with Dylan by bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley.
The imprint will be part of HarperCollins Publishers, which announced Monday that Depp will seek "authentic, outspoken and visionary ideas and voices."
"I pledge, on behalf of Infinitum Nihil, that we will do our best to deliver publications worthy of peoples' time, of peoples' concern, publications that might ordinarily never have breached the parapet," Depp said in a statement released by HarperCollins. "For this dream realized, we would like to salute HarperCollins for their faith in us and look forward to a long and fruitful relationship together."
Brinkley, who recently wrote a cover story on Dylan for Rolling Stone, said he and Depp thought the Dylan book was "the ideal way" to inaugurate the Infinitum Nihil series.
"Bob has been very warm and forthcoming with us," Brinkley said in a statement. "His music has inspired us both deeply since we were teenagers."
The Dylan book is scheduled for 2015. Dylan and Brinkley also will collaborate on the editing and publication of a previously announced novel by one of Dylan's heroes, folk musician Woody Guthrie, who died in 1967. The novel, "House of Earth," was completed by Guthrie in 1947 but was only recently discovered. It's scheduled for January.
Depp, whose movies include "Edward Scissorhands" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, already has ties to the book world. He was a close friend of Hunter Thompson and starred in film adaptations of Thompson's "Rum Diary" and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." He also narrated parts of the audio edition of Keith Richards' memoir "Life."
Other celebrities with their own imprints include Chelsea Handler and Rachael Ray.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Downton Abbey creator writing a prequel

Even more Downton Abbey for the legions of fanatics!

Bruce DeMara
Toronto Star Entertainment Reporter

Downton Abbey

Nick Briggs/ITV Julian Fellowes has mused publicly about writing a prequel to Downton Abbey. Shown, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in the period drama.
Julian Fellowes, co-creator of the wildly popular drama Downton Abbey is musing publicly about writing a prequel after the award-winning series winds down.
Fellowes, speaking during a screenwriting lecture hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, said he has already begun work on the project, which would focus on the early relationship between the Earl of Grantham and his American heiress wife, Cora.
But it’s an idea that would only come into fruition when Downton Abbey, which debuted its third season on the U.K.’s ITV on Sept. 16, comes to a close. Season three episodes are slated to begin airing on PBS in the U.S. on Jan. 6, 2013.
“I don’t think you can continue a narrative in more than one area at once,” Fellowes told the forum.
Fellowes said there’s much drama to be mined from the early years when the couple first met, including the fact the Earl married his heiress wife “entirely for her money.”
The series, set in Yorkshire, chronicles the lives of the Earl and Countess,

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Passports to a prettier past: The enduring appeal of bonnets, butlers and stiff upper lips

Why we can't get enough of Downton Abbey.  This article provides some wonderful insight into some of the factors of appeal that we use in Viewers' Advisory:

The shifting times — on the brink of war, of female emancipation, of film — speaks to another era of technology and communication that’s unfolding now. (Timeframe)

That said, “women are very knowledgeable that what they are doing is an escapist fantasy,” (Genre)

“I think that usually when times are hard, when there’s not only the economy but also the fears that are going on today, people retreat to a past when they feel there was more of a safeness. (Mood)
 “How lovely — green velvet and silver. I call that a dream, so soft and delicious, too,”  (Language)
Another theory is that as we inch into the teens, the late Edwardian era is long enough ago to be exotic, but still near enough so as to be recognizably modern. (Setting)
What insight did you gain from this article?
Nathalie Atkinson National Post| Sep 29, 2012 2:00 PM ET | Last Updated: Sep 28, 2012 11:52 AM ET
BBCRebecca Hall in Parade's End

Viewers in England have fallen into swoons over Parade’s End, a new five-part television adaptation by Tom Stoppard set in the decade of 1908 through to the end of the Great War. That Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the tortured Tory husband of Ford Madox Ford’s novels doesn’t hurt, but beyond the day dresses and military costumes, it’s the central themes of sex, suffragettes and duty that have been of interest to viewers, and writers such as Julian Barnes, who recently praised Ford’s modern novel in an essay for the Guardian.
In the absence of a new season of Downton Abbey or access to Parade’s End, my recent costume melodramas have instead included The Forsyte Saga, available on Netflix Canada. The 2002 series is based on Nobel-winning writer John Galsworthy’s novels, which span three generations of a nouveau riche Victorian family — it stars Rupert Graves, Ioan Griffudd, Damian Lewis (who just won an Emmy for Homeland), Gina McKee and a whole lot of crushed velvet. In lieu of a Pemberley or Downton’s Downton there is Robin Hill, their classic Arts and Crafts pile, and an exploration of the moral codes of the Edwardian, then early modern era. Some of its original popularity surely had to do with the fact that it aired during the last frenzy of property obsession and materialism before the economic downtown, which are also Galsworthy’s themes in the books. Glossing over the Boer War and the death of Queen Victoria, The Forsyte Saga seems an uncanny parallel of the Manolos and martini obsession of Sex and the City-era Manhattan.
But Downton Abbey’s new season recently began airing in the U.K., and in an exclusive Grazia magazine interview this week costumer Caroline McCall (spoiler ahead!) reveals that the wedding gown for Lady Mary’s nuptials cost £4,000 ($6,365) to produce — more than any other single costume in the series so far. Judging by the retweeted links to the article alone, fans can’t get enough of this sort of tidbit, thanks to the current craze for lavish period dramas that fetishize the past (and lately, the Edwardian and early Jazz Age in particular).
“We do have these cycles of costume dramas,” says Dr. Rebecca Sullivan, a professor in the University of Calgary’s faculty of communications who specializes in feminist film, media and cultural studies. “We have cycles where we’ll be all about Shakespeare but in contemporary dress, or the postwar era, or la belle époque, and then cycles of Edwardian culture.”
“A couple of years ago it was all about Mad Men,” Sullivan cracks sarcastically. “Oh man, wouldn’t it be great if I could be sexually harassed at work while I wear a girdle and a bullet bra!”
In these serial aesthetic entertainments, the viewer stand-in is generally a plucky heroine who bristles at the societal restrictions of the era. “Costume dramas largely target female audiences and they target a sense of pure nostalgia for a history that never was,” Sullivan explains of not only historical television but film and novels. “One that is prettier, easier and one without consequences. It imprints contemporary values onto an imagined past to suggest that problems are easily solved.”
Even with below-stairs characters, the harsh realities of the era are cheerfully rendered with exquisite costumes beautifully shot, “usually from a bourgeois, if not elite, privileged perspective. That escapism treats the past as uncomplicated.
“There isn’t a whole heck of a lot of specificity because what costume dramas allow us to do so well is unmoor ourselves from historical specificity,” she adds. “Ask anybody who watches these what else was going on in the Edwardian era to connect three historical dots — it ain’t gonna happen.
“But the real beauty of the costume drama is that it prettifies the past, and creates a nostalgic longing for a time when all we did was wear beautiful clothes,” Sullivan says, calling the effect of the elaborate production and costume design “a disconnected otherworldliness that allows you not to feel grounded in social, political, economic conflicts and inequalities.”Another theory is that as we inch into the teens, the late Edwardian era is long enough ago to be exotic, but still near enough so as to be recognizably modern. The shifting times — on the brink of war, of female emancipation, of film — speaks to another era of technology and communication that’s unfolding now. There are parallels to concerns of identity, not unlike the spate of American Westerns set in the late 1800s, which were enormously popular in the 1950s and capitalized on righteous patriotic sentiment. And in the wake of the fairytale Charles and Diana wedding, Britain was primed to be swept up in the fictional aristocratic life between the wars of Brideshead Revisited, which aired in 1981.
So it’s zeitgeist, then? Hardly. For every argument of cultural relevance, you could argue budgetary considerations: Those Westerns were cheap and easy to make (just head to the middle of nowhere with a bagful of 10-gallon hats, some chaps and a few horses). They were cheaper than the extensive cast of the current how-the-other-half-live genre —all those footmen and parlour maids! Although the latter is admittedly still cheaper to costume than Elizabeth I’s Tudor England milieu.
When I spoke with Downton-loving designer Anna Sui last fall, we digressed into a conversation about why that period, along with Sui’s beloved 1930s, continues to have such appeal. “It seemed like a last hurrah,” she said of the high-society screwball comedies and backstage musicals that were a disconnect from the realities of the Depression.
“I think that usually when times are hard, when there’s not only the economy but also the fears that are going on today, people retreat to a past when they feel there was more of a safeness. All those 1930s movies,” she continued, “talk about the way things had always been and nobody thought it would end. But it all did,” Sui added.
That said, “women are very knowledgeable that what they are doing is an escapist fantasy,” Sullivan admits: “And I’m as soapy as the next person — I love Gone with the Wind and watch it every time it comes on TV.”
Speaking of the 1930s, Love in a Cold Climate is next on my stack of period dramas. But while a two-parter in 2001 starred the lovely Rosamund Pike, it’s the longer original adaptation of Love in a Cold Climate that I’ve been waiting for since it first aired 30 years ago. (The eight-episode mini-series produced by the BBC in 1980 and later shown in North America on PBS Masterpiece.) All 405 minutes of it finally came out as a DVD box set last month.
Adapted from Nancy Mitford’s two bestselling novels, it concerns the bright young things of the posh Radlett family, between the wars. It is set at Alconleigh, a stately country manor modeled on the Mitfords’ own home, Batsford Park, and, as any good costume drama must have its grande dame, stars a fortysomething Judi Dench as Aunt Sadie.
“We end up telling these stories of very difficult histories, but through the prettiest lens,” Sullivan reminds me, as I slip into a reverie telling her about the series. “Usually through that of the colonial overloads,” she cautions, before one last guffaw, “but oh, the clothes!”
Put another way: “How lovely — green velvet and silver. I call that a dream, so soft and delicious, too,” Mitford wrote of one of her Cold Climate ladies. “She rubbed a fold of the skirt against her cheek. ‘Mine’s silver lamé, it smells like a bird cage when it gets hot, but I do love it. Aren’t you thankful evening skirts are long again?’ ”

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Filipino man turns his home into a public library

Hernando Guanlao has set up an informal library outside his central Manila home to encourage his community to share in his joy of reading, BBC News reports.

In 2000, Guanlao put his collection of books — he owned fewer than 100 — outside the door of his house, offering them to anyone who wanted to borrow them. People did. They even added to his collection. There are now close to 3,000 books — he doesn't keep an inventory as numbers are always changing — on the shelves and boxes stacked outside his door. "It seems to me that the books are speaking to me. That's why it multiplies like that," he says of his unadvertised library, dubbed the Reading Club 2000. "The books are telling me they want to be read…they want to be passed around."
Locals call it "the library on Balagtas Street." Guanlao insists there are no rules at his library, and people can borrow the books for as long as they want, or even keep them permanently.
"People can borrow, they can read, they can take home. In fact, the club is open 24/7. I never close," he tells the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Despite the Philippines' very high literacy rate, access to books in the country, especially among the poor, is limited. Guanlao reaches Manila's poorest communities on his "book bike." He loads a large basket with books and delivers them to families who can't afford to buy books or make the long trek to the national library. Guanlao is also starting to branch out, helping two other men set up similar ventures in other provinces. Eventually, he hopes to set up a "book boat" that would travel around the islands of Sulu and Basilan, "an area better known as a hideout for separatist rebels than for any great access to literature," BBC News reports. "A book should be used and reused. It has life, it has a message," he says. "As a book caretaker, you become a full man."

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Downton Abbey has monster ratings with U.K. third season premiere

I can't wait for Season 3 to be broadcast in North America! I know that we will have long hold lists for this one!
Published on Monday September 17, 2012
Toronto Star

Downton abbey

Nick Briggs/AP Elizabeth McGovern stars as Lady Cora, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham, Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary in Downton Abbey.
Paul Irish
Entertainment Reporter
The incredibly popular costume drama Downton Abbey launched its highly anticipated third season in Britain Sunday evening to huge ratings and positive reviews.
The show — described by some as Upstairs, Downstairs on steroids — was watched by an average of nine million people (a 36 per cent share of the total audience), according to BBC News.
Though the premiere’s viewership wasn’t as high as the show’s second season’s opener in 2011 (9.3 million) or that year’s Christmas episode (a staggering 11.33 million), viewers weren’t disappointed and critics were quick to praise the work written by Julian Fellowes and starring Hugh Bonneville.
“This felt like a programnme back to its best, the one we fell in love with back in 2010.” said The Telegraph. “The script was tight, the detail was there.”
After season two left some critics and fans disappointed, The Mirror said the show was “back on form.”
Giving the opening episode four stars out of a possible five, The Times asked the question: “Which heart does not guilty swell at the return of this blissfully undemanding nonsense??”
And although the miniseries is a huge hit in Canada, fans must wait until Jan. 6, 2013 to see the premiere of the third season.
In a nutshell, the show is a saga centred on a fictional, noble British family, featuring servants, beautiful costumes, sibling rivalries, skullduggery, drama and, of course sex, all set in early 20th-century England.
Television information website catermatt.com says that after viewing the first episode of the third season “it looks like Grantham’s fortune has already all but run out courtesy of what happened with the failed Canadian rail investment, and it raises all sorts of questions that many of these people have never been forced to ask before. For example, what (will there be to eat) when the servants have nothing left … how will some of these folks, so concerned with social stature, find a way to keep the illusion going. If the first two seasons were about the creation of the world, season three may in many ways be (about its deconstruction).
The Huffington Post reports “After Lady Mary and cousin Matthew’s troubled and two series-long courtship, the episode begins with wedding preparations - which did not run smoothly.”
“They spiced things up with enough flirty chat to make a viewer blush, and a nice bit of pre-wedding conflict over yet another surprise fortune for Matthew.”
This Sunday, Sept. 23, sees Downton Abbey in the running for several Primetime Emmy Awards in the U.S. battling Mad Men, Breaking Band, Homeland, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire for best drama.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Wallander Television Series

The Lincoln Public Library has the first and second series of these great show if you want to get caught up for series 3!  Kenneth Branagh is magnificent.

On the cusp of a network-TV season filled with new and returning dramas – all high-octane, high-concept, and often empty of everything except by-rote plotting – some truly great TV returns on PBS.
Masterpiece Mystery!: Wallander III (Sunday, 9 p.m., most PBS stations – although WNED, serving Southern Ontario, will air this on Sept. 30) brings back Kenneth Branagh as Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in new adaptations of the popular novels by Henning Mankell. And, as ever, Branagh is great.

He was a little younger than the Wallander in the books when these adaptations arrived a few years ago, but Branagh has become the definitive Wallander now – brooding, laconic and deadpan. Beautifully crafted, visually arresting, the adaptations capture the cold, despairing heart of Mankell’s novels – the weary cop asking the eternal question, “What kind of world are we living in?”
In the first drama, An Event in Autumn, Wallander appears to have found some solace and peace. He’s in a new home with girlfriend Vanja (Saskia Reeves), and is looking forward to life rather than looking back in sorrow and regret. Then, a body turns up, too close to home to ignore. Soon, he’s brooding again. And Vanja is concerned. He says this: “I’ve seen three dead girls in the last week. I don’t think you can do what I do and not end up like this.”
Imbued with both reticence and gravity, Branagh’s Wallander is compelling because he’s simultaneously decent and terribly flawed. His brooding self-absorption drives others away, even his daughter. And yet he tries to be caring. It’s just that his pessimism turns out to be the appropriate stance in a place and a society where terrible things can happen to the innocent. Wallander is depressed, a man who takes personal and professional slights too seriously, and the actor gives him the ideal level of vulnerability without milking pity for him.
As usual, there are three dramas in this season, and what happens in the first has echoes and ripples in the other two stories. We see Wallander smile, but smile in a way that suggests his facial muscles aren’t used to the expression. And, as he becomes obsessed with the crime at hand, he puts those close to him in the sort of danger that might make forgiveness impossible. As ever, the productions are wonderfully cast with skilled, experienced British actors. Reeves is great, as is Lindsay Duncan (Rome).
There is rarely a hint of melodrama in these adaptations. Even when a criminal is loose, there are police on the chase and you know there will be a twist in the tale before it ends. There is, of course, a temptation to classify the Wallander books and adaptations as part of a trend toward what’s being called Nordic noir – the popular Stieg Larsson novels and movie versions, and the American adaptation of the Danish TV series The Killing. But the Wallander TV dramas remain separate, thanks to Branagh’s extraordinary exploration of the character. (John Doyle, Globe and Mail, Sept. 8, 2012)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Publishing giant Random House jumps into TV show production

Publishing giant Random House jumps into TV show production

Toronto Star

One for the Money

Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum book series was already made into a movie, One for the Money, starring Katherine Heigl. Is a TV series next?
Alyshah Hasham
Staff Reporter
Game of Thrones, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Dexter, Bones, Gossip Girl … some of the best (or at least most popular) shows on television sprang straight from books.
And now one of the world’s biggest book publishers wants in on the action.
The U.S. division of Random House is joining hands with FremantleMedia (who gave us American Idol, The Bill and The X Factor) to create Random House Television.
The partnership will develop shows based off the books published by Random House and collaborate with some of the company’s top authors for original content.
The new venture is headed by Jeffrey Levine, who has worked on movies like Blood Diamond and Monster-in-Law and executive produced HBO’s acclaimed TV movie Too Big to Fail.
The television branch joins the publisher’s film arm, which started in 2005 and has produced Reservation Road (2007), One Day (2011) and Lay the Favourite (2012).
Publishing giant Macmillan is also planning to extend its film division into television, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The publishers are planning TV spinoffs for Gossip Girl-like series Prep School Confidential and supernatural military novel SEAL Team 666.
Random House hasn’t mentioned which books are being considered for its new project, but many of its top-selling series’ are already TV shows including Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles, John Grisham’s The Firm and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.
Here are a few of Random House’s top-sellers, which perhaps have a shot at a being made into a TV series.
• Karin Slaughter’s bestselling detective thrillers with ominous one-word names like Triptych, Fractured, Criminal and Faithless.
• Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series recently adapted into film One for the Money starring Katherine Heigl.
• Alexander McCall Smith, best known for the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, which were made into a series by HBO and BBC, has four others detective series on the go.
• Lauren Kate’s Fallen series of teen paranormal romances.
• Jonathan Kellerman’s many psychologist-detective Alex Delaware thrillers
• Kevin Hearne’s Arizona-based fantasy series about the last living druid, the Iron Druid Chronicles.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Lauren Conrad Deletes Book-Destroying Craft Video After Negative Backlash


Lauren Conrad Deletes Book-Destroying Craft Video  After Negative Backlash
Lauren Conrad's recent episode of her web-only show Crafty Creations had book lovers so angry that Conrad quickly took down the video as the internet backlash gained momentum.
Conrad touted the project a "great way to display vintage books or slightly used books and also create a unique storage space."
What had book fans upset is that Conrad created the box by cutting the spine off of nine books to glue to a white cardboard storage box, destroying the books in the process.
(Conrad appears to have used books from the Lemony Snicket series. We want to know: What does she have against the beloved children's series? Also, one commentator on youtube pointed out that the books aren't in order either).
The do-it-yourself project appeared on Conrad's own site Laurenconrad.com, as well as the fashion and beauty site ulookhaute.com.
Buzzfeed called it the "worst craft idea ever." Other books blogs, including GalleyCat picked up the story, and it started to go viral on the internet on the morning of Aug. 16. Within four hours of Buzzfeed posting a link to the video, Conrad removed it.
On youtube, "dislikes" out numbered "likes" 8-to-1 and the comments were pretty scathing.
One viewer, summing up the general tenor of responses, wrote, "Holy sh-t I feel like I'm watching some sort of terrible snuff film."
See the original Buzzfeed story here (complete with broken youtube link).

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Dead Again

Sunday Book Review


Published: August 10, 2012   
Two decades ago, the Book Review ran an essay, “The End of Books,” in which the novelist Robert Coover questioned whether print could survive the age of “video transmissions, cellular phones, fax machines, computer networks, and in particular out in the humming digitalized precincts of avant-garde computer hackers, cyberpunks and hyperspace freaks.” Was the book as “dead as God”?
Illustration by Marcos Chin
Coover’s answer was noncommittal, but his metaphor launched a thousand eulogies for the book as we knew it: a gathering of printed pages mass-­produced on spec to be sold to anonymous strangers for financial gain. Back then, hyperlinks were the killer app. Coover’s title punned on the page-turning powers of the codex, which sweeps novel readers inexorably from Page 1 to The End. (He ignored how many codices, like the Yellow Pages, are designed for random access; millenniums before the advent of Bible.com, the codex allowed the first Christians to cross-reference their Scriptures.)
Now, succession planners have shifted their sights from the lowly hyperlink to the seemingly indomitable e-reader. Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center calculated that the percentage of Americans who own e-reading devices doubled last December. Christmas, for centuries the publishing industry’s busiest season, became a gift to hardware manufacturers. And last year, Amazon announced it was selling more e-books than print books — hardcover and paperback combined.
There’s just one catch: chronology. Well before any of these digital technologies, Théophile Gautier’s novel “Mademoiselle de Maupin” had already declared that “the newspaper is killing the book, as the book killed architecture.” This was in 1835. And Gautier was only one-upping Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” which, four years earlier, depicted an archdeacon worrying the book would kill the cathedral, and a bookseller complaining that newfangled printing presses were throwing the scribes out of work. (The novel is set a quarter-century after Gutenberg’s first Bible, when a thriving industry of manuscript-on-demand was forced to readjust.)
In hindsight, we can see how rarely one technology supersedes another. Television didn’t kill radio any more than radio ended reading. Yet by 1927 a librarian could observe that “pessimistic defenders of the book . . . are wont to contrast the active process of reading with the lazy and passive contemplation of the screen or listening to wireless, and to prophesy the death of the book.” By 1966, in a Life magazine profile, Marshall McLuhan lumped books with other antiques: “clotheslines, seams in stockings, books and jobs — all are obsolete.”
Every generation rewrites the book’s epitaph; all that changes is the whodunit. Gautier’s culprit was a very real historical phenomenon. Thanks to broader literacy, daily papers began to emerge in 1835, following the invention of the metal press around 1800 and the introduction of steam printing shortly thereafter. Science fiction writers would soon finger other, seemingly more fantastical villains: “fonografic” recordings, “telephonic sermons,” VCR-like “Babble Machines,” microfilm-esque “reading-machine bobbins” and “spools which projected books.” One 19th-century inventor gave the names of “whispering-machine” and “metal automatic book” to something that sounds like a cross between the audiobook and the Walkman. Users “would place the machine in the hat, and have the sounds conveyed to the ear by wires.” Besides curing eyestrain, these “reading machines” would “permit of the pursuit simultaneously of physical and of mental improvement.” Instead of hunching over desks, intellectuals would be free to jog and with both hands free, their wives could read while washing the dishes: “the problem of the higher education of woman would be triumphantly solved.”
The future, in all such cases, was recognizable by its bookshelf-bare walls. When the time traveler in H. G. Wells’s 1899 “When the Sleeper Wakes” alights in the 22nd century, he searches for hardcovers only to find rows of “peculiar double cylinders.” Insert one into a square apparatus, and presto: the rolls project “a little picture, very vividly colored, and in this picture were figures that moved. Not only did they move, but they were conversing in clear small voices. It was exactly like reality viewed through an inverted opera glass and heard through a long tube.” Where Wells invoked the optical devices used to magnify live theater, Aldous Huxley was inspired by the talkies three decades later to dream up “feelies” — “super-singing, synthetic-talking,” full-color stereoscopic extravaganzas “with synchronized scent-organ accompaniment.” Would these new technologies transmit text in more user-friendly forms or crowd out writing and reading altogether? On the eve of World War I, one collection of “Library Jokes and Jottings” favored the first hypothesis, imagining a day in the life of a late-20th-century household as follows:
“There was a knock at the front door, and the young people slid up the moving stairway, anticipating the parcel of books delivered each morning by the public library aeroplane service. They returned disconsolate; it was only the sterilized milk. ‘You youngsters don’t know what hardships are,’ said the elderly uncle; ‘when I was a lad, back in 1913, I used to get up at 9 o’clock in the morning and walk the length of the street to get a book from a Carnegie Library.’ ”
A century and a half earlier, the French visionary Louis-Sébastien Mercier had predicted that in the year 2440, the sprawling bookstacks of the Royal Library would be condensed into a single volume. Like a chemist distilling botanical essences, Mercier explained, editors of the future would “extract the substance of thousands of volumes, which they have included in a small duodecimo” — scaled somewhere between an iPod and an iPad.
History proved Mercier right: the future lay not in expanding information, but in compacting it. By 1961, the Polish fantasist Stanislaw Lem pictured bookshelves squeezed onto what we would now call an e-reader. (“All my purchases fitted into one pocket, though there must have been almost 300 titles.”) And four years later, Frank Herbert’s doorstop-size “Dune” conjured a “Bible made for space travelers. Not a filmbook, but actually printed on filament paper.” Like thumb drives and Palm Pilots, the book is measured against a human body: thanks to a “magnifier and electrostatic charge system,” the volume takes up less space than the joint of a finger.
A darker strain of futurology emphasized political decline over technological progress. “Fahrenheit 451” represents book burning as an end in itself, not just the means to suppressing sedition. And “1984” opens with the purchase of a “thick, quarto-sized blank book with a red back and a marbled cover” — “a compromising possession.” A year before Orwell’s dystopia, the pulp magazine “Planet Stories” ran Bradbury’s second most famous book-burning fable, “Pillar of Fire.” Washed up in the 24th century, its time traveler heads straight for the library. Even in a society that torches horror fiction, circulation desks still exist, and their attendants still say, “May I help you?”
“ ‘I’d like to “have” Edgar Allan Poe.’ His verb was carefully chosen. He didn’t say ‘read.’ He was too afraid that books were passé, that printing itself was a lost art. Maybe all ‘books’ today were in the form of fully delineated three-­dimensional motion pictures.”
However the terms change, in these visions, the place where books are read, acquired or received remains constant. Even that most cinematic of novels, “A Clockwork Orange,” begins and ends in the Public Biblio. Writers foresaw space travel, time travel, virtual reality and, endlessly, the book’s demise; what they never seem to have imagined was that the libraries housing those dying volumes might themselves disappear. After a year in which 2,600 public library branches cut back their hours, some readers will need to walk a lot farther than the length of a street. I’m still waiting for the public library aeroplane.
Leah Price is a professor of English at Harvard and the author of “How to Do Things With Books in Victorian Britain.”