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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #659

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 9:23pm

Seven Days of Us * * by Francesca Hornak, is a sharply observed and ultimately satisfying holiday story.

For the first time in years the entire Birch family will be spending Christmas together under one roof, no thanks to elder daughter, 32-year old Olivia, a disaster-relief physician who just spent 6 weeks in Liberia fighting an Ebola-like Haag epidemic. The family decides to ride out the one-week quarantine at Weyfield Hall, their dilapidated country estate.

Thrown together with little to occupy themselves, and cut off from the outside world (even their Wi-Fi is spotty at best), all their disagreements, resentments, and secrets, both old and new, come bubbling up.

Father Andrew, a restaurant critic secretly hates food, and longs for the glory days as a globe-trotting war correspondent. Mother Emma is trying to shield her family from the cancer diagnosis so they could enjoy their time together. Olivia's secret relationship with a fellow doctor could potentially be dire for the whole household. Younger, and unabashedly frivolous, Phoebe is fixated on her upcoming wedding while secretly having second thoughts about her fiance George. None of them are prepared for the charming stranger who turns up at the door - Andrew's son from a one-night stand while on assignment in the Middle East.

"Hornak writes with a sense of irony and an eye on today's social issues... Fans of contemporary English stories such as those by Jane Green or Jenny Colgan will enjoy this novel about the shaky recovery of family bonds." (Library Journal)

* * = 2 starred reviews

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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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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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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

we are never meeting in real life: essays

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 10:57am

Blogger, Samantha Irby, has written a compelling, and wickedly funny book of essays, we are never meeting in real life.

Irby's essays chronicle her life in a contemporary writing style that pays attention to form, but skirts scholarly essay convention, (fine by me, let's read essays that mean something and say it in an interesting way).

She writes about her childhood, her college years, and the years she spends working at a veterinarian office.

Irby has experienced hardships that are often difficult to write about without sounding morose. However, Irby's talent as a comedian and writer is apparent in her candid and hilarious accounts of events like adapting a cat that she, and everyone else, hates.

we are never meeting in real life: essays, has been lauded by authors like Roxane Gay and Lindy West, and has been reviewed by organizations like Kirkus.

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30th Anniversary Films! Hello 1987!

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 3:00pm

This summer marks the 30th anniversary of some of your favorite classic films, including such 80s gems as The Lost Boys, Spaceballs, and Dirty Dancing.

In 1987 the hair was still high, as were the waistlines on those acid wash jeans. We were sporting Keds, neon everything, and a little bit of Jane Fonda spandex, as we listened to Whitney Houston, Madonna, and U2. If you really want to go back to 1987, here’s an article with some images that will get you back to the people, places, and events that defined that time.

But onto the films…
In June we were graced with the oddball sci-fi comedy Spaceballs, starring John Candy, Rick Moranis, and Bill Pullman. The film spoofs sci-fi classics like Star Wars and Star Trek. It takes place in a galaxy far away and features a dark lord, a princess, a half-man/half-dog, a rescue mission, and plenty of laughs.

In June we got darker and were raided by vampires in The Lost Boys. In the horror-comedy two brothers move to a new town in California with their single mom and soon encounter vampires. With young Sam and his new friends leading the way, they have to escape the vampires and stay alive. The film stars Jason Patric, Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman (THE COREYS!), and Dianne Wiest, in a most glorious display of brooding 80s music and fashion. Any film with Kiefer as a bad guy is good by me!

Last but not least, in August of 1987 things got dirty, thanks to Patrick Swayze and Dirty Dancing. "Baby" spends the summer in the Catskills at a resort with her parents, where she soon meets and falls for a dance instructor. It’s a campy romantic comedy featuring an iconic dance scene, and Patrick Swayze doing his thing. Also starring Jennifer Gray.

And there we go -- three of many that came out in 1987. Which one do you gravitate to the most? For me it’s definitely The Lost Boys.

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Blog Post

New from David Sedaris

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 3:00pm


[t:Theft by Finding: Diaries: Volume One] is the newest publication from best selling author and humorist [a:Sedaris, David|David Sedaris].

For nearly four decades, David Sedaris has faithfully kept a diary in which he records his thoughts and observations on the odd and funny events he witnesses. This is the source material for the remarkable essays which have delighted fans for many years. Often read from at live shows, fans have been waiting for a chance to read more of the diaries, which developed into a collection of major turning points in Sedaris' life.

Sedaris came to prominence in 1992 when National Public Radio broadcast his essay [|"SantaLand Diaries."] He published his first collection of essays and short stories, [t:Barrel Fever], in 1994. Each of his subsequent essay collections became New York Times Best Sellers. Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air on NPR, featured an [|interview] yesterday to discuss the challenges of publishing his diaries directly, without crafting them into a humorous tale.

"Sedaris is caustically witty about his bad habits and artistic floundering. Even when he cleans up his act, falls in love, and achieves raving success, Sedaris remains self-deprecating and focused on the bizarre and the disquieting. A candid, socially incisive, and sharply amusing chronicle of the evolution of an arresting comedic artist." - Booklist starred review

Reserve your copy today and peruse the collection to enjoy his other [|books] and [|recordings]!

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Blog Post

Throwback Thursday: Annie Hall Turns 40

Thu, 04/13/2017 - 1:55pm


[|Annie Hall] was released in April 1977 and seems to be a favorite [|Woody Allen] film for many. I’m not a huge Allen fan and find most of his films annoying, but I enjoyed this funny, awkward, witty, and utterly charming romantic comedy.

The film spans the rise and fall of the relationship between Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) and Annie Hall ([|Diane Keaton]). The film is full of the usual onslaught of Allenesque conversations and observations, but it’s the 70s and there are iconic New York film locations and high fashion to be noticed.

In 1978 the film won four of the five Academy Awards it was nominated for, including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay .

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Blog Post

Raising Arizona Turns 30

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 2:22pm


The year was 1987. The hair was big, the jeans were pegged, and MTV was blaring on the tube. It’s also the year we were blessed with the presence of Herbert I. McDunnough, AKA H.I., AKA Hi, in [|Raising Arizona].

Released in March of that year to mixed reviews, the comedy film is now a cult classic and a must-see of the [|Coen Brothers’] works. I’ll admit that when I first watched it in the mid-nineties I wasn’t into it. But once I got more into eclectic films and delved into the creative, mind-bending films of the Coens, I saw the film in a different light.

Ex-con Hi and his police officer wife Ed (portrayed by [|Nicolas Cage] and [|Holly Hunter] in early lead roles) want a baby and cannot have children. With the help of his freshly broken out of jail pals, Hi kidnaps one of the famous “Arizona Quints,” as he feels that family has more babies than they can handle. The task is not simple and the film delves in and out of dream sequences, bounty hunter chases, and some fabulous dialog among the misfit characters on madcap adventures. If you can hang with offbeat comedy it’s a pure and crazy delight.

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TV Spotlight: Grace and Frankie

Thu, 02/23/2017 - 4:08pm

[cover_image]|b14918389[/cover_image]In the television comedy [|Grace and Frankie]… Grace and Frankie’s husbands are friends and coworkers. While the two couples are out to dinner one night the men drop the bombshell that they have fallen in love with each other and are leaving their wives. The two women could not be more different than each other. But now, both being older, newly single, and living in close quarters they have to put up with each other, their ex-husbands, and the four grown children they have between them. They learn that they rely on each other more than they ever thought they would. Seasons 1 and 2 follow the daily lives of the four of them, portrayed by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, Sam Waterston. It’s a funny show!