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Margaret Atwood on the small screen

Tue, 12/05/2017 - 4:52pm

Margaret Atwood’s 1996 novel, Alias Grace, discloses the inner musings of a true-to-life Irish immigrant, Grace Marks, who was accused with and locked up in a Canadian penitentiary for killing her employer and his housekeeper. Grace’s story is given to us mostly through the interviews she has with Dr. Simon Jordan, a psychiatrist who has arrived at the penitentiary to determine Grace’s guilt or innocence. From Margaret Atwood’s able hands, we receive intricately drawn out details of the drudgery of a servant’s day, peppered with profound and beautiful observations about nature, God, men, and women. Born to serve, first her father, than various other households, Grace continues to serve through her crime. Her accusers, her co-conspirators, her defender, her jury, and the journalists who tell her story are all male. The action in Grace’s story belongs to the men who want to convey it. In order to own her narrative, Grace must rely on creating misconceptions, fugues, hallucinations, and evasions.

There are two threads running through this story at all times. The actual answers Grace gives to Simon’s many questions are interwoven with the answers she richly imagines providing. For his own part, Simon envisions a Grace different from the one who sits before him. “Grace’s will is of the negative female variety - she can deny and reject much more easily than she can affirm or accept. Somewhere within herself - he’s seen it, if only for a moment, that conscious, even cunning look in the corner of her eye - she knows she’s concealing something from him. As she stitches away at her sewing, outwardly calm as a marble Madonna, she is all the while exerting her passive stubborn strength against him. A prison does not only lock its inmates inside, it keeps all others out. Her strongest prison is of her own construction.”

Simon is excited by the possibility of Grace being a murderess. Though he is there to support her innocence, he can’t remove his own fantasies from Grace’s tale and therefore is unable to ascertain whether Grace is guilty of the crimes she has been charged with or not. “Murderess, murderess, he whispers to himself. It has an allure, a scent almost. Hot house gardenias. Lurid, but almost furtive. He imagines himself breathing it as he draws Grace toward him…”
Alias Grace has recently been made into a mini-series on Netflix. Showrunner Sarah Polley’s outstanding adaptation sticks closely to Atwood’s story (Atwood was a producer and has a small role in it). If you have a chance to watch it, I highly recommend it. What you won’t get from either Polley or Atwood are definitive answers as to the question of Grace’s guilt, but both work to convey the timeless struggle faced by women of how to have a voice.

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TV Spotlight: Six Feet Under

Wed, 10/25/2017 - 12:30pm

Critically acclaimed Six Feet Under is one of the most amazing shows to flicker across a television screen. The award-winning show aired for five seasons on HBO, from 2001-2005 – and it’s aged well for a fresh watch or a revisit. If you haven’t met the Fisher family you need to immediately head on over for an awkward dinner.

The show focuses on the dysfunctional Fishers, who run and live in a funeral home in California. The controlling mother Ruth and her three grown children: The angsty teen Claire, the rebel Nate, the responsible David, and their assorted spouses. The show begins with a death close to the family that alters the lives of everyone. The actors do an amazing job of portraying these lovingly flawed characters – you can’t help but root for them as life’s curveballs incessantly head their way.

Stellar writing makes five seasons worth of a drama series fly by effortlessly. And fair warning, the final episode is one of the best you’ll ever see as far as series finales go, and that’s not just me talking. So, if you’re looking for a thinker of a drama with some melodramatic funeral directors, you’re all set here with Six Feet Under.

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New TV Shows @ AADL

Wed, 10/18/2017 - 1:17pm

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they popular, new, or classics. Here are some new-to-AADL series that you might want on your list:

Westworld, Season 1
A dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, not matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged. No rules, no laws, no judgment. Live without limits. Based on the film by Michael Crichton. Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Wright and Ed Harris.

24: Legacy, Season 1
An adrenaline-fueled race against the clock to stop a devastating terrorist attack on United States soil, in the same real-time format that propelled the original genre-defining series.

The Good Place, Season 1
The show follows Eleanor Shellstrop, an ordinary woman who enters the afterlife and, thanks to some kind of error, is sent to the Good Place instead of the Bad Place, which is definitely where she belongs. While hiding in plain sight from Michael, the wise architect of the Good Place who doesn't know he's made a mistake, she's determined to shed her old way of living and discover the awesome, or at least the pretty good, person within. Starring Kristen Bell andTed Danson.

Dark Matter, Seasons 1 & 2
Buried in the black murk of space, a stowed-away crew suddenly awakens from stasis aboard the castaway space ship known as the "Raza". With no memory of their pasts or why they are onboard in the first place, this rag-tag crew has no choice but to roam the frontiers of the galaxy searching for answers. On their voyage they encounter rebel space armies, a zombiefied ship crew, derelict androids, and intergalactic bounty hunters, all attempting to pull the team further from the truth.

Restless, Parts 1 & 2
A young woman finds out that her mother worked as a spy for the British Secret Service during World War II and has been on the run ever since.

American Gods, Season 1
When Shadow Moon is released from prison, he meets the mysterious Mr. Wednesday and a storm begins to brew. Little does Shadow know, this storm will change the course of his entire life. Left adrift by the recent, tragic death of his wife, Shadow is hired as Mr. Wednesday's bodyguard. He finds himself in a hidden world where magic is real, where the Old Gods fear irrelevance and the growing power of the New Gods, and where Mr. Wednesday is building an army to reclaim his lost glory. Starring Crispin Glover and Gillian Anderson.

Marcella, Season 1
An emotionally damaged ex-police detective goes back on the job after her seemingly happy marriage falls apart to investigate a serial killer.

Last Man Standing, Seasons 1-4
Mike Baxter, world voyager and one daredevil of a marketing director ... is about to face his greatest challenge yet-- his family. After Mike's wife, Vanessa ..., receives a promotion at work, Mike must spend more time in his female-dominated household. With years of advice and guidance from their nurturing mother, Mike's three daughters are not prepared for their old-fashioned, hotheaded father to take over. Starring Tim Allen, Nancy Travis.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

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TV Spotlight: This Is Us

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 1:51pm

This Is Us is now airing its second season on NBC, but you might want to start with season one. I have thoroughly enjoyed this show much more than I thought I would, and the buzz around the show is fully warranted. I recommend reading as little about it as you can, and then just dive in. Not knowing much about the premise or the set-up will pay off in the end. So, with that in mind, here's the gist.

The show is about family, relationships, and life. But it's done in such a creative, thoughtful way that interweaves lives and timelines as the season progress. The characters are so lovable, you can't help but root for them as life's challenges come their way. Every episode had me both smiling and crying. The show recently picked up two Emmy Awards for acting and casting, because wow, these actors do an amazing job and there is such chemistry among them on screen.

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Writing & Publishing

EVENT CANCELLED: Actor/Writer Jon Glaser Discusses Comedy And His Career

Sunday September 17, 2017: 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

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More New TV Shows @ AADL

Thu, 09/28/2017 - 4:43pm

Holy mackerel! More new TV shows have hit the catalog! We are always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they popular, new, or classics. Here are more new-to-AADL series:

Jonny Quest, Season 1
TV's first animated action-adventure series. The Quest family's globe-trotting adventures have them travel to exotic locations and face a gallery of sinister villains with their science and detective style logic to solve the mysteries.

The Son, Season 1
The sweeping family saga that spans 150 years and three generations of the McCullough family. Starring Pierce Brosnan.

Channel Zero: Candle Cove, Season 1
Centers on one man's obsessive recollections of a mysterious children's television program from the 1980s, which almost no one seems to remember. He grows increasingly suspicious of the role it may have played in a series of nightmarish events from his childhood, including the disappearance of his twin brother.

Timeless, Season 1
Intent on destroying America, by changing history, a mysterious criminal, Flynn, steals a secret state-of-the-art time machine. The only hope of stopping him lies with an unexpected team: Lucy, a history professor; Wyatt, a soldier; and Rufus, a scientist, who must use the machine's prototype to travel back in time to ensure critical events remain un-changed.

Andromedea, Season 1
Captain Hunt and the crew of the Starship Andromeda set out on a mission to rebuild the Systems Commonwealth 300 years after its fall.

Lethal Weapon, Season 1
TV show based on the popular Lethal Weapon films in which a slightly unhinged cop is partnered with a veteran detective trying to maintain a low stress level in his life. Starring Damon Wayans.

Ned and Stacey, The Complete Series
What happens when two people hate each other at first sight? They get married, of course, the fast and funny, shotgun marriage-of-convenience sitcom. Ned Dorsey is a pompous advertising executive who needs a wife to get promoted. Stacey Colbert is a ditzy freelance writer desperate to move away from her parents. So what happens one week after these strangers meet? They become in-name-only newlyweds with a great new job and a terrific view of Central Park. Starring Debra Messing and Thomas Haden Church.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

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New TV Shows @ AADL

Fri, 09/22/2017 - 9:20am

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they popular, new, or classics. Here are more new-to-AADL series:

Loch Ness, Series 1
Against the stunning landscapes of Scotland's iconic Loch Ness, local detective sergeant, Annie Redford finds herself in the midst of her first murder investigation; DCI Lauren Quigley is called in to lead the investigation, joined by forensic psychologist Blake Albrighton who believes there is more to the murder than initially meets the eye. Grief, terror, and suspicion soon shatter the town's normality.

Secrets and Lies, Season 1
Ben Garner is about to go from Good Samaritan to murder suspect after he discovers the body of his neighbor's son in the woods. As Detective Andrea Cornell digs for the truth, town secrets and lies come to the surface and no one is above suspicion. Starring Ryan Phillippe and Juliette Lewis.

Chicago Justice, Season 1
Join the State's Attorney's prosecutors and investigators as they fearlessly pursue virtue in the Windy City's most high-stakes cases. Peter Stone leads the team, and his relentless quest for justice often puts him in conflict with his politically savvy boss, Mark Jefferies.

Emerald City, Season 1
Swept up into the eye of a tornado, twenty-year-old Dorothy Gale is transported to a mystical land where an all-powerful ruler governs one kingdom, has outlawed magic, and faces not only the wrath of a growing cauldron of witches, but a looming disaster brought on by a mythical force. Based on the series of books by L. Frank Baum.

Kevin Can Wait, Season 1
Recently retired Kevin Gable tries to settle into life away from the police force. With the assistance of his wife Donna, Kevin tries his hand at a variety of new activities to occupy his time, but nothing quite seems to fit until an opportunity to come out of retirement raises its head. Meanwhile, Kevin's daughter, Kendra, quits school to support her supposed tech whiz boyfriend Chale, who has been secretly working to buy her an engagement ring.

The Astronaut Wives Club, The Complete Series
This limited series tells the story of the women who were essential players behind big events in American history. As America's astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, the lives of their young wives were transformed from military spouses to American royalty. As their celebrity rose, and tragedy began to touch their lives, they rallied together. Based on Lily Koppel's book.

This Is Us, Season 1
Centered on characters who share the same birthday, the story follows several decades in the lives of Jack and Rebecca Pearson. As the plot unfolds, it traverses numerous timelines, and intertwines the stories of people whose lives connect in unexpected ways. Filled with memorable performances from its acclaimed cast, it is a smart, poignant dramedy.

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Blog Post

69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Winners

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 1:27pm

Time to celebrate some television! Last night the winners of the 69th Emmy Awards were announced in an event hosted by Stephen Colbert. The awards recognize excellence within various areas of television and emerging media. Below are some of the top winners in a variety of categories. Keep in mind that some of these shows are not on DVD or Blu-ray just yet, thanks to things like streaming, Netflix, and Hulu.

Outstanding Drama Series – The Handmaid’s Tale

Outstanding Comedy Series – Veep

Outstanding Variety Talk Series – Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program – The Voice

Outstanding Limited Series – Big Little Lies

Outstanding TV movie – Black Mirror: San Junipero

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series – Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Animated Program – Bob’s Burgers

Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series – Planet Earth II

For a full list of winners in writing, acting, directing, costumes, make-up, etc. be sure to check the full list here

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Blog Post

TV Spotlight: Home Movies

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 11:59am

Home Movies is one of funniest, most enjoyable little shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. It’s so simple and bizarre. The animated show centers on 8 year old Brendan Small, a budding filmmaker who enjoys making videos with his two best friends, Jason and Melissa. He lives with his divorced mother and baby sister. Brendan also plays soccer and forms a warped father/son relationship with his coach, John McGuirk. Happenings include identifying a body, a camp out, guitarmageddon, bad advice, and puppy adoption.

Sounds pretty average, but it’s the dialog that sets it apart. With a sparse script and room for improv, the actors created believable and funny dialog that is so dry and witty. Anything out of McGuirk’s mouth is pretty much the best thing ever.

Created by Loren Bouchard and Brendan Small, the show premiered in Squigglevision in 1999 on UPN, and was cancelled after just five episodes. The show came back in 2001 on Cartoon Network and was the first program in the Adult Swim block of shows. And there it happily sat bringing forth balance to even weirder shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

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Blog Post

New TV Shows @ AADL

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 1:17pm

Well, I suppose the days are growing shorter and it's time to get in queue for some new television series to watch. The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they popular, new, or classics. So we have you covered! Here are more new-to-AADL series:

Riverdale, Season 1
A subversive take on Archie and his friends, exploring small-town life, and the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale's wholesome facade.

Class, Season 1
Like all teenagers, the students at Coal Hill Academy have hidden secrets and desires. They are facing their own worst fears, navigating a life of friends, parents, school, sex, sorrow and possibly the end of existence. The very walls of space and time are starting to thin. Something is pressing on the other side: something waiting for its chance to kill everyone and everything, to bring us all into Shadow.

Crashing, Season 1
The semi-autobiographical show follows Pete (Pete Holmes) as a New York comic who is forced to make a new start for himself after his wife leaves him.

Big Little Lies, Season 1
The apparently perfect lives of three mothers of first graders unravel to the point of murder. Based on the book of the same name by Liane Moriarty, and features of a powerhouse cast of Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Laura Dern.

Chesapeake Shores, Season 1
Abby O'Brien Winters returns to Chesapeake Shores when she receives a panicked phone call from her younger sister Jess, who has renovated the charming Inn at Eagle Point. The Maryland town her father built has many sad memories and Abby, thanks to her demanding career, divorce and young twin daughters, has not had time to spare. Saving the inn from foreclosure means dealing not only with her fractured family but also with Trace Riley, the man she left ten years ago. Based on the book series by Sherryl Woods.

Jessica Jones, Season 1
Haunted by a tragedy that broke her world apart, Jessica Jones settles in Hell's Kitchen, New York City, and opens her own detective agency with the hope of rebuilding her life and keeping the lights on in her apartment. She discovers that the source of her trauma, a mind-controlling sociopath named Kilgrave, has resurfaced.

Delicious, Series 1
Professional chef Leo has everything he ever wanted: a prosperous hotel business, a beautiful family, and an amiable relationship with his ex-wife, Gina, to whom he owes much of his success. Leo’s glamorous wife, Sam, starts to suspect that he is having an affair. None of them could anticipate the disastrous chain of events that follows.

Bull, Season 1
Brilliant, brash, and charming, Dr. Bull is the ultimate puppet master as he combines psychology, human intuition, and high-tech data to learn what makes jurors, attorneys, witnesses, and the accused tick.

Sharpe, Season 1
Set during the Napoleonic wars of nineteenth century Spain. This fast-moving, hard-hitting action adventure series, based on Bernard Cornwell's best-selling novels, brings to life all the danger and romance of one of the bloodiest wars in history.

Designated Survivor, Season 1
A low-level Cabinet member (Kiefer Sutherland) becomes President of the United States after a catastrophic attack kills everyone above him in the Presidential line of succession.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.