Saturday, December 21, 2013

Books On Film | The Secret LIfe of Walter Mitty{CKEY}&searchfield1=GENERAL^SUBJECT^GENERAL^^&user_id=WEBSERVERThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1939) is a short story by James Thurber which chronicles the fantastical daydreams of mild-mannered man named Walter Mitty. Walter daydreams himself into heroic adventures as a U.S. Navy flying boat pilot, a surgeon, an assassin, and an Royal Air Force pilot as an escape from his humdrum life.

The book has been adapted into two movies, two radio plays, and a stage play. The most famous of the adaptations is the 1947 technicolor comedy film starring Danny Kaye. The plot of the film departs from the story by a fair bit with Walter eventually meeting a mysterious woman and getting involved in a real life adventure involving missing jewels.

A new drama adaptation, starring Ben Stiller, will be out Christmas day. The plot of this film also departs from the original story. In the new film, daydreaming Walter is eventually forced to go on a real life adventure around the world to recover a lost photo. It looks like a heart-felt movie about living life to the fullest.

It's a short read, so if you are intrigued by Walter Mitty's tale then make sure to grab a copy of the book linked above.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Trailer (2013)
Cover courtesy of LibraryThing.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | Books: Armchair Travel at its finest

When I travel, I love when I have a comfortable seat. It's preferable for me to have some premium coffee and some tasty nibbles. Oh, and while I'm at it... my own private bathroom. 

The bloggess has spoken. 

Right. What I meant to say is when i'm at home and traveling to new places in an engaging book

Traveling doesn't always mean luxurious places. One place I (armchair) traveled to this year was prison. I learned what it was like to be in a women's prison with Piper Kerman in her biographical book Orange is the New Black. This book is full of gritty descriptions and more prison slang than I can shake a stick at! This book is a cautionary tale at its best. 

I went to Indianapolis to hear the story of Hazel Lancastster, cancer patient and her journey through illness and love in The Fault in Our Stars by the (AWESOME) John Green. My friend, Panteha, chronicled this book in her blog. My 15 year old daughter and I loved this book. I suggested this read to a guy friend who also loved it. One place that was described lovingly in this book was Amsterdam. My cousin recently moved there and between Green's descriptions and his pictures, I'm wondering what's stopping me from going there! The movie comes out next year, so if you want to be ahead of the trend, check out this book. 

At some point in my life, I wanted to be a coroner. Instead of reading about one, I read about the afterlife of a dead body. In the book Stiff: The Curious Lives of Cadavers by Mary Roach, I learned the different ways cadavers are used for medical science, automobile safety and the study of decomposition. Warning, this book is not for the faint of heart. While funny and macabre at times, there are still dead bodies in this book. I revisited this book earlier this year (it was published in 2004) and I was still fascinated by the many voyages the body can take after the soul departs. One of the best opening lines from Mary Roach reads: "The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back".  

Give yourself some time to enjoy some reading time. Read a new book from the library or re-read a favorite! Comfy chairs are out there... and they're waiting for you! 

Book Bucket List | Gift Books!

It's December 20th. I have only three real days of shopping left.  I'm still not done and I'm trying not to completely freak out.  (Brothers of mine, I promise you won't go without!) Since I always end up scouring the internet for gift ideas last minute, I thought I would make a list of my own. 

Here's a few bookish gift ideas:

The picture book This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen is not only hilarious, but  imparts some helpful life lessons as well.  It is the 2013 winner of the Caldecott Medal from the American Library Association too.  Follow the journey of a little fish who just happens to "find" a hat. Yikes!

Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan is the Newbery Award winner for 2013.  The story is about Ivan, the gorilla happily living at a mall.  He loves his fellow animal friends and likes to focus on his art.  However, when Ivan meets the baby elephant Ruby, who was taken away from her elephant family, Ivan's perspective on life quickly changes.  This chapter book would be perfect for a young reader. (The cover is also one of my favorites this year!)

Teens are almost the easiest to buy for this season.  There are so many popular series out that appeal to fans of multiple genres.  Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games series is still huge, especially with the recent release of Catching Fire in theaters.  Veronica Roth's Divergent series is another good option, as the movie in that series will be coming out this March. (Yay!)  And as always, there's Harry Potter. (Shameless plug, I know)

One of my favorite books I read this year was James McBride's The Color of Water.  This year, McBride's new book The Good Lord Bird won the National Book Award for Fiction from the National Book Foundation.  The story begins in 1857 when the young slave, Henry Shackleford, leaves the Kansas territory with abolitionist  John Brown after a violent argument.  However, after a case of mistaken identity, Brown believes Henry is actually a girl.  The pair eventually end up at Harper's Ferry, one of the many catalysts of the Civil War.

Vader's Little Princess and Darth Vader and Son are some of the funniest Star Wars books I've ever seen.  If Lord Vader ever knew about the existence of his children (sorry spoiler alert), then maybe the scenes in these books may have actually happened.  Very funny and good for all ages!

For lovers of non-fiction, the recent release of Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower is really fascinating.  Lower has done quite a bit of research on the involvement of the much ignored presence of women in Nazi Germany.  This is a must read for any history buff.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Learning | Burma-Shave, Part 1.

I recently requested a book, that I remembered checking out from my neighborhood library when I was a child. I had started thinking about it when a friend posted something about Burma-Shave on Facebook--and that post had caused a lively discussion about rhymes and roadside signs.  
Every second without fail, some store rings up another sale. Burma-Shave.
Lori's note: I recall roadside Burma-Shave signs spaced much farther apart.)
 Photo courtesy of Brent Moore's photostream on Some rights reserved.

Just in case you do not know what all the fuss is about, Burma-Shave was an innovative brushless shaving cream product that first appeared in the United States in 1925. Picture the days when people were riding around in Model-T Fords.

The manufacturer of Burma-Shave, the Burma-Vita company, began advertising with roadside signs, which evolved into clever rhymes. The signs were spaced far enough apart that one would have to wait to see what came next.

Photo courtesy of Orin Zebest's photostream on

Since SSJCPL does not own a copy of Frank Rowsome, Jr's The Verse By the Side of the Road: the Story of the Burma-Shave Signs and Jingles, I had to order it through the Link Plus program.

I regret to say that I don't have time to write everything I wanted to say about Burma-Shave, so I'll have to wait until next week.  

Photo courtesy of miss_curse_10's Photostream on
Some rights reserved.

In the meantime, I'll share my favorite Burma-Shave jingle with you: 

Don't stick your elbow
out so far
it might go home
in another car

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

She's Crafty | Winter Wonderland on the Inside

Brrrrrrr! It's cold outside! This kind of weather makes me think of snowflakes. Lots of them. And, while I like the idea of snow, I've never really developed a love for the real deal--not much going for it in my opinion. It's probably because I've never lived where it snows--I just don't understand how people can think sliding around on the cold, wet stuff is so much fun. To each, her own, I guess.

But, the look of snow, that's what I love. Beautiful, soft shapes covering the world outside like a blanket, yet also a sparkling crisp whiteness, blinding in it's intensity when the sun hits it. Oh, and there's the snowflakes;  real ones you can only see in extreme close-up. I've only seen them in photographs, but what amazing things they are, all with six sides, no two exactly alike. Breathtaking. Enchanting. Absolutely beautiful.

Wilson Bentley
Have you ever heard of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley (1865--1931)? He was the man who first worked out a way to photograph nature's own snowflake designs. Our library has a few titles concerning Bentley and his snowflakes:
And, from a link plus library, there's a glorious photographic album of real snowflakes, The Art of the Snowflake, by Kenneth Libbrecht, who uses technology Bentley had never dreamed of to photograph snowflakes today. Libbrecht has also collected some of nature's most beautiful snowflake designs in his least, I think so, but I can't be sure. You see, photographs can't capture all of the myriads of designs mother nature produces every year when the snow falls. I can't even imagine how many unseen snowflakes there might be in a single drift outside someone's cabin door, let alone everywhere there's snow. And, once they melt, the designs are lost forever.
M Scott Moon - AP
I think that's one reason Malia and I have been making our own winter wonderland indoors every year. We can save the designs we like the best. Not that the designs we've created in white paper, white crochet cotton, white coffee filters, and anything else white we could fold, snip, hook, or weave into intricate designs could ever come close to capturing nature's real deal. But, I think it gets us closer to the idea of snow and snowflakes and the enchantment of nature's yearly show. Plus, we don't even get cold or wet!

Last year, snowflakes were a major theme for all my holiday crafting and decorating. During my internet research, I ran across two amazing ideas.
  1. Make snowflakes out of coffee filters.
  2. Hang snowflakes from the ceiling, around the Christmas tree.
So of course, I had to do it.
Our very own indoor, six-sided, coffee filter snow storm.

Coffee filters make the best snowflakes. They're easy to cut, they twirl around on their own when hung, the translucent paper gives the flakes an ethereal look, and if you plaster them to a window they look fantastic!

If you'd like to try your hand at making some snowflakes, there are some great instructions to be found online. Just type "paper snowflake instructions" into Google's search bar and you'll get plenty to choose from. There's one from the Instructables website that's especially good in that it teaches you to analyze snowflake photographs so you can make your snowflakes look as real as you can get them.

Enjoy your fantastic flurries while you stay warm, dry, and crafty!
Kaye & Malia

Monday, December 16, 2013

Can't Get Enough Bandwaggoning: It's The A Game Of Thrones Graphic Novel!

Greetings and Salutations, fellow reader of the graphic novel form!
So you like Game of Thrones, no reeeaaally like A Game Of Thrones? Can't get enough of the convoluted plot and the need of having to memorize, like, a million names only to find out you needed to really care about 3 of them? You can't get enough of having to wait 2 episodes for something to happen? Well, does Professor O have a surprise for you: it's the A Game Of Thrones graphic novel! Yes, the SSJCPL has that one extra thing that your life has been lacking, the comic book version of the hit George R. R. Martin hit novels/television show. 


 Both of the comics include a new Preface by George R. R. Martin, renderings of key scenes and favorite characters from the novels, a walk-through of the entire creative process, from auditioning the artists to tweaking the scripts to coloring the final pages, and behind the scenes with the author, artist, and comic book editor. 

What a read for anyone who finds themselves looking for one more way to take in all the epic-ness of  the epically epic story. Look for it on the shelves at the SSJCPL!

Until next time, keep reading those comics!

Professor O

Just Life | Running Like A Girl !

I just finished reading "Running like a girl" by Alexandra Heminsley. 

It is about the author's journey from being a couch potato to being a marathon runner and it is a glance at how to morph into being a runner for life.

Can I learn to run? I doubt it.

But as Henry Ford says: " Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right."

Alexandra Heminsley's journey begins when her brother signs up for the London Marathon and she decides to give it a try, not knowing what she got herself into. Part of the book chronicles her journey towards the London Marathon.

What an undertaking.

I don't have any desire to run a Marathon not that I can pull it off if I want to. All I want is to build enough stamina to run a couple of blocks before passing out. I want to work towards that goal.

I got this tip from the book that says: pick a distance around your neighborhood and try to walk that distance for a month and then attempt to run part of it and go from there. It is too cold outside so I am going to the gym to work on my running.

Here we go:

Day one- Went to gym and walked very fast on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Ran five (1 minute interval) in the process. My ankles are on fire. This is hard. What am I getting myself into.

Day two- Even though I only ran a total of 5 minutes yesterday, my entire body is in pain. Even the muscles that I didn't know they existed are hurting. I can't bend my legs. I am not build for this .............

Day three- Walked very fast on the treamill for 20 minutes and ran a total of 4 minutes. My ankles are burning.

I am not giving up yet. I am going to dive into one of these books for insight.

Running 101

Getting started  

The principles of running
Just wish me luck.

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha