Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dirty Little Secrets or I Used To Be Famous But Now I'm Not

We've all thought about it. What it would be like to be famous.

As a kid I wanted to be a rock star. Not like Madonna. Instead I wanted to be like Joan Jett or Pat Bentar or Nancy Wilson from Heart. I wanted to sing and play a mean guitar  Unfortunately I didn't have a talent for either.

My next dream seemed at least a bit more realistic.  I wanted to be a journalist. Alas this also fell by the wayside.  I lacked that drive that journalists have to go after a story no matter what, even if it would have been kind of nice to see my name in a byline.

Now I'm quite happy to be anonymous and hide myself by the pseudonyms that I use.  If one day fame ever comes hopefully it won't be my name that is in print but my alias instead.

Others seem to have no problem revealing all their secrets.  Whether it's because they want to share with the world so others can learn from their mistakes or a need to reflect on past glories, fame for them is something that they can't quite give up.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sorry endings

The written word is a powerful thing - bewaaaaaaaare!

As people who have inadvertently tweeted and blogged silly comments to their own regret will know, a word in print can have catastrophic consequences. That includes spoiling my mood for the rest of the day.

A book with a tragic ending can really, really upset me. I was reminded of this the other day when I read the finale in a trilogy of teen fantasies, only to be left with a distinctly bitter taste in my mouth. The London Stone, if you want to know. There was a great deal of death and despair and betrayal, and a conclusion as satisfying as cold porridge. Fills in the gaps, but you sure don't enjoy it.

I acknowledge an obvious lack of maturity in my literary tastes. I should merely wallow in the exquisite pain and hyperrealism of it all.

Should I bo|!ocks.

I read to escape. I read - oh dear, how gauche - for pleasure. I don't want horrible things to happen to the people I have enjoyed spending so much time with. If you make me love a character - don't destroy him. It's all I ask. King Lear, meh, he had some life lessons coming. Othello was a bit of a gull, granted. You can learn from the tragedies of these people. But when that person is coming right...when that person is, say, Elizabeth Bennet, about to embark on her first're just really going to wazzle me off.

This doesn't mean I don't want to read about tragic circumstances. Not at all. As I have mentioned, my favourite genre is crime, and you just can't have a good story without conflict. But give me something to smile about at the end. Please.

Stop reading now if you are afraid of spoilers, but these are some of the books that rained off my finals. Let me know if any had the same effect on you...Or, of course, if you think I'm mad.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Finding "A forest" on my desk

A delicious treat arrived on my desk, a debut picture book, A forest, by Australian author/illustrator Marc Martin.

Simple, clear text. Layered water colour & pen images. Poignant messages about forest regeneration & human encroachment on the natural world.

If you have read The Lorax by Dr Seuss, if your kids are studying pollution & the environment, if you want to discover a new & talented artist, then you have at least three reasons to pick up this book.

Read. Think. Share.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Iconic 90's Movies

It’s iconic 90’s movie week so get yourself some out of date tangy fruits on trade me, sit back and enjoy their high waist pants.

Beauty and the Beast 1991
Tale as old as time, true as it can be. I this is easily my favorite Disney movie and one of my favorite love stories. Beautiful young Belle (who is a hot nerd) agrees to be imprisoned in a castle with the Beast to save her father’s life (because she’s kick-ass and brave). But it’s okay because then the Beast gives her his library and if that’s not true love, I don’t know what is. This movie is magical. I recommend you get the sing-a-long version.

Forrest Gump 1994
Life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re going to get. Unless you’re about to watch Forrest Gump because then you know it’s going to be great. So run Forest run down to the library to get yourself a copy!

Sister Act 1992 Sister act 2 1993
Sister Act and Sister Act 2 –Back in the Habit are two of my favorite movies in the world. I’m not joking. I have both of the soundtracks on my Ipod. When you have a cast that includes Whoopi Goldberg, Maggie Smith and Lauryn Hill singing rock and roll infused Gospel songs; it’s amazing that this isn’t everyone’s favorite movie. Seriously just watch them.

Jurassic Park 1993
I straight up love dinosaurs but in 1993 this movie scared the crap out of me! I still check the kitchen for raptors now and again. Treat your self to a Jurassic Park Marathon and watch all 3 of them.

Pulp Fiction 1994
We are just spoiled for choice when it comes to great movies in the 90’s. Not only did Quentin Tarantino give us this masterpiece but we also got Reservoir Dogs in 1992. I will say that Pulp Fiction is slightly better because Reservoir Dogs doesn’t have that epic dance scene.

Honorable mentions include: Dances with Wolves, Spice World, Empire Records, That thing you do, Schindler's List, Edward Scissorhands, Braveheart, American History X, The Lion King, Fight Club, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Goodfellas, Saving Private Ryan, Silence of the Lambs

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Axe Factor - nominate your contestants

It's hard to stand out from the crowd as an author. When there are fifty million other people all trying to make it in print, and now on their own blogs as well, how on earth do you get yourself noticed?

One way, of course, is to write something so kinkily filthy it outrages all demands of decency, plot, dialogue or character and makes a splash in the papers. Not mentioning any trilogies in particular.

The other way, of course, is to introduce a character so twisted, so monumentally and memorably evil, that it attracts an audience like a fire at the Playboy Mansion. Hannibal Lecter, I'm looking at you.

Mr The Cannibal aside, who is your favourite (or most hated) villain? Who sticks in your mind from all the nasties you've encountered? Now I read, or at least test-drive, more than 100 books a year. I really tried to squeeze my brain, but in fact, it wasn't the killers who got in my head so much as the general feeling of horror. I remember being positively sickened while reading Mo Hayder - but can I recall anything about the murderer? Nope.

Film villains are a dime a dozen. The T1000, Hans Gruber and the Joker are easy to remember, as are any of the Disney crew. No one does high camp like Disney - I can only think of the Bond villains to match them in literature. Anyone help?

Please - no spoilers if the villain's identity is supposed to be a secret!

Here are a few of my most memorable:

Monday, 17 September 2012

How movies are really made, or, POM Wonderful presents The greatest movie ever sold.

While this movie has been out a while now, I've only just managed to sit down & watch POM Wonderful presents The greatest movie ever sold, directed and co-written by Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me movie fame.

I am aware that marketing within movies and on tv shows, or "product placement" as it more is commonly known in the industry, has been around since ... well, since before I was born. This movie lifts the lid to show just how movies and television series are made and sold, and what that potentially means for directors, actors, companies, and ultimately for the movie-going and tv-watching public, aka. people like you and me.

Morgan Spurlock cold calls companies to be part of his documentary (mostly with a resounding No response), he talks with advertising executives, he talks to marketing companies, he pitches to companies. Along the way, he demonstrates just how much the movie industry and the advertising are in cahoots - the adage of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" is ever present.

He interviewed a wide range of people along the way, including Ralph Nader (consumer advocate), Noam Chomsky (Professor Emeritus of Linguistics), Martin Lindstrom (author of Buyology), Susan Linn (author of Consuming kids : the hostile takeover of childhood), Quentin Tarantino (director), and J. J. Abrams (director), which shows an interesting divide between non-industry & industry perspectives on the power of advertising & marketing companies in the film & television environment.

This movie certainly made me laugh at times - at the ridiculousness of why some companies turned down the opportunity, at the language used in legal contracts, at how some companies spent most of their annual marketing budget to be in the movie - and it made me curious to check out some of the companies that were an integral part of the movie (POM Wonderful is now on my list of drinks to try - the marketing obviously worked on me).

Most of all though, it made me want to watch a Hollywood blockbuster and count the number of times I could spot a deliberate product placement. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

5 geeky links you need to check out

"Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It's basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating."
- Simon Pegg

Our 'geeky links' posts are becoming quite popular with you all. YAY geeky links! What does this tell me? That you guys are just as weird as I am. Respect. Some of you have emailed me asking, "Where do you find this bizarre stuff? Do you make it all up? And how do you choose what to highlight and what not to?" You guys are NOSEY, and because I do adore sharing, here are my answers: "The interwebs is MADE for stuff like this, so that's where I find it. No, I don't make it all up - my brain isn't half as interesting (although maybe it is half as scary). And I just choose whatever makes me fangirl and SQUEE and cry and laugh and coo the loudest." My usual scientific method. Everything should be run like this. (No, no it really shouldn't). I often think, though, that if this stuff makes me laugh and smile and whatever, then why not share it? If it does the same for others then YAY, hopefully they share it. A sort of technological 'pay it forward,' if you will. it forward, guys! Pay it forward :)

Here's a roundup of 5 geeky links I think you might get a kick out of. As ever, feel free to recommend your own in the comments section.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Space: the final frontier...

Few opening lines of a TV show are as memorable as the ones quoted above, though most of you were probably unaware that Star Trek had its 46th birthday on the 8th September unless of course you happened to see the google doodle that day which celebrated this event.

Like many I grew up with this show and it will come as no surprise that I have been a fan since... well let's just say that the show and I share something in common, though inside I'm still pretty much the geeky 8 year old I have always been which was about the age I started watching Star Trek. The Original series of course since the others were still a decade or so away from even been thought of let alone made.

This was a show that caught my imagination right from the beginning with its aliens and spaceships and a universe of possibilities. I loved it for everything it showed me and everything it didn't, and it helped fuel a sci-fi television addiction that is still with me today and though it has had its ups and downs (Star Trek the Animated Series, anyone) it has managed to continue and expand with each decade that passes.

So Star Trek Happy Birthday to you. Live long and prosper.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Iconic 90's Tv Shows

I'm a big fan of the 1990's. I was young enough to be able to gloss over the horrible and tacky parts but old enough to remember all of the words to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. It was a magical time. To celebrate I'm going to do a small series of blogs celebrating the decade. Here's the first one: Iconic 90's TV. Enjoy!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997-2003 7 seasons WB, UPN
Remember back when vampires didn’t sparkle or generally like people? Us kids from the 90’s do! Buffy Summers was the kick-ass vampire hunter ridding the world of evil from Sunnydale High School. I’ve recently re-watched most of Buffy and it’s still amazing. Plus it’s fun to think of what Buffy would do to Edward Cullen.

Seinfeld 1989-1998 9 seasons NBC
You can't have a blog about 90's TV without talking about Seinfeld. This Iconic show pretty much epitomized what the 90’s where all about. So Join Jerry, Cosmo, Elaine and George in upstate New York for some coffee and cynicism. This one stands the test of time.

3rd Rock from the Sun 1996-2001 6 seasons NBC3rd Rock from the Sun was a staple in my house. One of my most vivid memories I have is fighting over who got the ‘TV guide 3-D glasses’ for the 3-D episode (please keep in mind this was a huge deal, it was 1997). We should all be grateful to 3rd Rock. Without it, we might not know Joseph Gordon-Levitt and that boy is quite easy on the eyes... Okay, maybe not so much in the 90’s, but defiantly now.

Friends 1994-2004 10 seasons NBC
It would be hard to find someone who hasn’t at least seen a couple of episodes of Friends thanks to constant re-runs. Easily one of the most popular shows of the 90’s and early 2000s, we all know the concept. Get it from a Library near you!

Fresh Prince of Bel Air 1990-1996 6 seasons NBC
Now, this is a story all about how Will Smith became king of the world! The Fresh Prince of Bel Air took young 80’s rapper Will Smith and put him in a sit-com that ensured his place in the 90’s hall of fame forever! So take a minute and sit right there because I’m pretty sure that you will love this one as much as you did a couple of decades ago. Plus his kids will probably be your boss one day.

Roswell 1999-2002 3 seasons WB, UPN
Okay, I know this show barely counts as 90’s TV but I love, love, love it so I’m sneaking it in here. The show is set in the town of Roswell, New Mexico, home of the famed ‘Roswell Incident’. The show is based around the life of Liz Parker and her relationship with the super-dreamy alien Max Evans. Based on the books by Melinda Metz which we also have at the library!

Honorable mentions include(but not limited to): Beverly Hills 90210, Saved by the Bell, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Freaks and Geeks, Full House, Step by Step, The X Files, Spin City, Frasier.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Behind the scenes at the library (v. 1)

One of the most common misperceptions of librarians is that we pretty much get paid to read all day. The number of people who come in and say, "Gosh, that must be a great job - getting paid to..."

You get the picture. You'll also get a weak smile, probably through gritted teeth.

I would like to ask those people how often they come into a library to find all the staff sitting in chairs reading books, and completely ignoring all entreaties to help them find something until they've just finished this chapter...

Yeah, thought so. Believe me, there's way too much happening at work.

Welcome to the first in the series of Behind the Scenes at the Library.

Have you ever wondered how we choose books for the library? Even WHY? And what manner of little pixie ensures they get to you?

This is the realm of Regional Resources (that's Collections, Acquisitions and Cataloguing). Come in, come in...

Monday, 10 September 2012

Trying to figure out social media

Are you perplexed by social media?

Not quite sure what the (grand) kids are on about when they talk about Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube?

Thinking you want to start a blog, but not sure how?

Thinking that social media might help out your family history search? 

Want a hand to figure it all out?

Check out the following to get you started :
 Looking forward to seeing you online!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Comic Book Month - Week 1

Scott Pilgrim

23 years old
Rating: Awesome

You may have heard of Scott Pilgrim already - they made the comics into a film a couple of years back, and while they did a pretty good job, the source material is better. I can't really do better than the blurb on the book to describe the scenario for you, so here it is:

Everything is totally sweet.
Scott Pilgrim's life is so awesome. He's 23 years old, in a rock band, "between jobs," and dating a cute high school girl. Everything's fantastic until a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. but the path to Ms. Flowers isn't covered in rose petals. Ramona's seven evil ex-boyfriends stand in the way between Scott and true happiness. Can Scott beat the bad guys and get the girl without turning his precious little life upside-down?

Scott... well, basically he's an idiot, but you can't help rooting for him anyway. His complete cluelessness and optimism that everything will work itself out is kind of endearing. There's so much to love about the series, from Bryan Lee O'Malley's artwork to the wonderful character names (Knives Chau? That's one for the list). With six volumes and a movie, there's plenty to keep you going, and if you read them all that's one and a bit cards filled up for the Comic Book Month competition!

Edited to add: Try as I might I cannot get a link to this book on the catalogue to work, but you can find it on the catalogue if you search for Scott Pilgrim or Bryan Lee O'Malley

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Letting the fur fly

This piece is not about WEREWOLVES. Fans of vampires and WEREWOLVES should read no further.

No, honestly, this isn't about paranormal stuff, so stop reading now if you really just saw the word WEREWOLVES in capitals and got excited. (Oo, I'm naughty.) It's about books starring animals, which seem to be popping up like meerkats on Viag - er, a phone advertisement.

Yes, they've been around a while, since Beatrix Potter and The Wind in the Willows, in fact. Aesop, if you're going to be like that about it. However, few aside from William Horwood's Duncton chronicles (talking badgers), were actually for adults. No longer. Rita Mae Brown is guilty of the long-running Mrs Murphy series, starring a cat. Stories about a small-town library cat called Dewey, and destructo-dog Marley, caused a non-fiction explosion. Suddenly it was raining cats and dogs. And it still is.

For you animal lovers, here's a special treat.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Terry & Stephen team up for The Long Earth

Two authors that I really enjoy (Sir Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter) have teamed up in a joint effort in The Long Earth. I can't tell you how good this book is yet, as it has literally only just landed on my reading shelf. Usually I am somewhat nervous about joint author efforts, as sometimes it goes horridly wrong, but I'm pretty sure I am going to enjoy it no matter what.

I'll tempt you with the synopsis from Publisher's Weekly :
In this thought-provoking collaboration, Pratchett (the Discworld series) and Baxter (Stone Spring) create an infinity of worlds to explore. A revolutionary process known as Stepping has allowed humanity access to an unlimited number of parallel Earths, all devoid of human life. The further one travels, the stranger the variant worlds become.
Joshua Valiente, one of a rare breed who can Step without external help, is hired by the transEarth Institute to travel by airship across the Long Earth, exploring as far as possible. Accompanied by Lobsang, a Tibetan reincarnated as an artificial intelligence, he journeys across millions of Earths, discovering just what sort of bizarre secrets lurk in the farthest reaches.
Has anyone out there read it yet? Willing to share your thoughts on this collaboration?