Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hot August Night

Okay. Technically the concert was in July, but Neil Diamond fans know that Hot August Night is both the title of a concert, an album, and the opening words to that crowd pleaser, Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. "The Legend Returns" read the promotions for the concert at the United Center in Chicago, and he is indeed a legend. At 67, Neil Diamond is said to be the oldest artist with a new No. 1 album (Home Before Dark) and the oldest male performer to take on a major arena tour. I went to the United Center on July 26th with my sisters – we're all big fans, thank goodness. (Think about it. How would you like sitting in a car with three other people singing Neil Diamond songs, all the way to the United Center and back if you were not a fan?) Anyway, a few years ago we went as far as Omaha to see him in concert and my sisters have been to Grand Rapids and long, long ago to McCormick Place, where a long-haired Neil wandered the stage taking requests. Attending one of his concerts is practically a religious experience. He encourages the audience to sing along, and of course, we all know the words. He has a great crew of musicians and back-up singers, with lights and video adding to the experience. There’s nothing like a live concert, especially with a performer whose music you’ve been enjoying for decades.

If you haven't listened to Home Before Dark I would encourage you to do so. Pretty Amazing Grace, No Words, and Don't Go There are among my favorites on the CD, but for the first time in years I actually purchased a CD where I don’t want to skip over any of the tracks. I like them all!

Look for Neil Diamond CD's in our Popular music collection on the 3rd floor.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Six Degrees of Literature

Sometimes one book will lead to other books. I was talking with one of the regulars from a book discussion here at the library. She mentioned that in preparing for the discussion of Finn by Jon Clinch, she went back and reread The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and that enhanced her understanding of both books. The book by Clinch is a darkly fictional portrait of Huck Finn's father and it is beautifully written. I too went back to reread the Twain classic. I find it fascinating to follow the strings of interest that reading can provide.

Several years ago I read Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins. It is a profoundly moving, yet tragic story of a man and his family so caught up in the brilliant promise of science in the 1940's that they fail to see the unseen dangers before it threatens to tear them apart. There are a lot of intriguing references to Moby Dick throughout the novel.

I recall being so inspired that I went on to read Moby Dick (or at least a good portion of it). That was followed by In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. This is a true story of survival at sea following a whale attack on a ship and it was the inspiration behind the Moby Dick story.

I liked Philbrick's storytelling so much that I then read his other book Mayflower which recounts the true story of the Pilgrims. It caused me to view our country's origin, the Pilgrims (as well as the Native Americans) and the New England region in an entirely new way. I had been to New England the year before to attend a library conference. I wish I had read Mayflower before that trip so I could have explored some of the places it covered.

Then I remembered that during that trip to Boston I explored some of the places I recalled from reading another book, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. Mystic River is fantastic suspense novel, which was later made into a very good movie starring Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and . . .

Kevin Bacon.

I wonder where the next book will take me . . .

Saturday, August 16, 2008

“Do you think me handsome, Jane?” “No sir.”

Every once in a while I come across a movie so wonderful that I have to share it with friends. Cinema Paradiso is one of those movies. Another is the latest version of Jane Eyre, produced as a miniseries for the BBC and starring Ruth Wilson as Jane and Toby Stephens as Mr. Rochester. For those unfamiliar with Jane Eyre, it’s an atmospheric, gothic novel by Charlotte Brontë, the heroine of which is a plain, intelligent and passionate young woman who works as a governess for the mysterious Mr. Rochester, with whom she falls in love.

Although I had some initial reservations with the Wilson/Stephens version, (“How could the screenwriter have omitted that! Toby Stephens is way too good looking to play Mr. Rochester!”), those reservations were overcome by Wilson’s expressive Jane and Stephen’s flirtatious Rochester. Although there are many wonderful moments, one of my favorites is when Rochester asks:
“Do you think me handsome, Jane?” To which Jane promptly replies: “No sir.” Another is the scene in which Jane rails against his anticipated marriage to the superficial Blanche, after which Rochester . . .

Ok, I can't reveal any more than that lest I spoil your viewing experience. You'll just have to watch it yourself.

The miniseries is so wonderful I decided I had to share it with two friends, and I had them over for a “girls’ night in.” I was worried, though: one had read the book more than 10 times. Would she like it? Or would she be put off by some of the liberties taken by the screenwriter and director? I shouldn’t have worried. Both of them loved it, both were in tears at the end. Like me, they felt it was true to the spirit of the book, which is ultimately a love story of equals.

If you’ve never read Jane Eyre, or if you’ve tried to read it and been put off by the style—it was published in 1847—check out the DVD at the library. My own introduction to the story was in fact the Joan Fontaine/Orson Welles movie, and after seeing it I went straight from the movie house to the nearest bookstore to buy the book. (But you can get it at your library!) Although I had tried to read it when I was twelve and given up, this time I loved it. There was no way I could not finish the book, so enamored was I with the story I’d seen onscreen.

Watch it, read it, share it with your friends!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Movies - Pay Less, Get More!

One of the things I love about summer is that it is the season of blockbuster film releases. From Indiana Jones to HellBoy II, the Dark Knight to Iron Man, this summer has seen its share of thrilling action movies. There is nothing like walking down a carpeted hallway with ticket in hand, gawking at upcoming movie posters on the wall, and searching for your theater with an acute sense of anticipation. But if you are bored with going to the same old venue again and again or you're feeling the crunch of a $9.75 movie ticket, I have some suggestions for you to breathe excitement into your summer movie-watching.

For a change from the normal movieplex awash with a sea of people and spilled popcorn, I would like to recommend the Highland Park Theatre at 445 Central Ave in Highland Park, IL. A year ago, I attended this theater and viewed Notes on a Scandal and The Last King of Scotland back-to back. A few months ago, I went there again to see Juno. Each time was a terrific experience: the unique lobby where people were speaking quietly led to a relaxed feeling right when I walked in, and the fact that there were five theaters in this cozy building I found truly astounding. The tickets were $7 (its $5 for seniors), which is not much of a price break, but the experience of supporting a non chain-operated, privately-owned theater was well worth it! They show a mixture of first and second run movies, so there are always a great variety of films at this theater. You can find more information about them at their website: www.highlandparktheatre.net or by calling them at (847) 432.3322.

Another theater that I enjoy is not necessarily about the ambiance, but about value. The Buffalo Grove Theaters at 120 McHenry Road in Buffalo Grove, IL are just north of the intersection of Route 83 and Lake Cook Road. I especially enjoy this second-run film venue because it allows me to catch the releases that I may have wanted to see but didn’t get a chance to at the beginning of the summer. At $2 a ticket ($1 on Tuesdays), I don’t mind waiting to see a film. And there is just something about paying for two people and getting change back from a five-dollar bill that makes me feel infinitely better. Plus, if it was a bad film, you feel better not having spent $18 of your hard earned on it. For show times you can call (847)604.1393 or search Buffalo Grove in any online movie theater database (www.movies.com; www.mrmovietimes.com).

Last but not least among my suggestions is the special program run by Arlington Theaters at 53 S. Evergreen Avenue, Arlington Heights, IL. If you are looking to see a movie on a Monday or Tuesday, and are pretty hungry, Arlington Theaters has a deal that includes dinner and a movie. You can purchase a voucher for dinner for two from a selected menu from a rotation of restaurants in downtown Arlington Heights and two movie tickets for $28. This offer is only good for Mondays or Tuesdays, so it’s a good excuse to move date night up by a few evenings! Please view their website for more information (www.arlingtontheater.com) or give them a call at (847)483.0123.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to add value to your movie-going experience. Enjoy the silver screen!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Teens Rock at Des Plaines Library!

Know how libraries are usually quiet, and if there's any talking its in hushed tones? That won't be the case this Wednesday at DPPL because The High Strung are coming!

The High Strung are three guys- Josh, Derek, and Chad- whose quirky, Beatlesesque, witty, catchy music have been grabbing listeners (and reviewers) attention for the past few years. They have been named by Rolling Stone magazine, the New York Times, and Village Voice as one of the best rock & roll bands in America; have been on MTV; have been featured articles in Entertainment Weekly, Magnet, and Spin magazines; and now they'll be playing here!

This Wednesday, in front of the library in Library Plaza, The High Strung will play a one hour set, starting at 7pm. After the set, the audience and band will create a song from scratch during the improv session.

But make sure to be here at 6:30-because that's when local teen band The Friendly Ghosts will be opening! Kasey, Vince, Jimmy and Alyssa are a rock/pop band with a folk/indie sound-be sure to check them out!

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, this awesome combination makes the Des Plaines Library THE place to be this Wednesday night. Bring your friends, bring lawn chairs, and be ready to be LOUD and ROCK OUT!

*In bad weather arises, the concert will be in Friends Room B/C.