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Friday, March 22, 2013

ACM Awards to Honour Dick Clark

Written by Jon Williams

Televised music awards shows usually focus more on performances than they do on the awards. At this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards, however, a performance by two legendary artists has been put together to celebrate one of the night’s biggest honourees.

In 2009, George Strait was named ACM’s Artist of the Decade for the 2000s; Garth Brooks was given the same title for the 1990s. These two country music icons will perform together for the first time ever at this year’s ACM Awards ceremony in memory of the late Dick Clark, the late music mogul who passed away in 2012. The Artist of the Decade Award will be renamed in Clark’s honour. Clark had produced the show since 1979.

The Artist of the Decade Award has been awarded since the 1960s. In addition to Strait and Brooks, the title has gone to the band Alabama (1980s), Loretta Lynn (1970s), and Marty Robbins (1960s).

While Strait and Brooks may be the most anticipated performers of the night, they certainly aren’t the only ones. Other superstars appearing at the ceremony include Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan (who will host the show), Miranda Lambert, Hunter Hayes, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, the Band Perry, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, and Kelly Clarkson. Many of these artists were also nominated for awards; for a complete list of nominees, SmartBrowse ‘2013 ACM Award Nominees’ on our website.

The ceremony will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 7. It will air live on CBS at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Edmonton Public Library Turns 100

Written by Kyle Slagley

One week ago today, the Edmonton Public Library in Alberta celebrated their 100th anniversary. According to their website, EPL has gone from a single location above a meat shop in 1913 to a 17-branch system with over 300 employees.

EPL has been the first library in Canada to take quite a few milestone steps. EPL was the first to use a computer-based circulation system, the first to offer patrons online access to their catalogue, and the first to operate out of a streetcar – the predecessor to the bookmobile.

Edmonton has scheduled events all throughout 2013 to celebrate their centennial. There are photo displays on the history of the EPL system, outdoor festivals with live music, games, and activities, barbeques later this summer, and comedian Rick Mercer will perform free for all EPL cardholders in June.

Stop by their website to get more information on the events they have planned and get some ideas for your library’s next big celebration!

Congratulations to the staff of Edmonton Public Library and to the Edmonton, AB community on 100 years!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Take Patrons Out to the Ballgame

Written by Jon Williams

The weather is slowly getting warmer and the days are growing longer. We’re just a few days away from the official start of spring…and already more than a month into Major League Baseball’s spring training. The World Baseball Classic, the sport’s answer to the Olympics, is in full swing; unfortunately, the Canadian team went down in the first round. The regular season begins on March 31 with a game between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros, with other teams starting on April 1 or 2.The Blue Jays open at home on April 2, hosting the Cleveland Indians.

Everything about baseball captivates our creative imagination: the pace of the game, the larger-than life characters that play it, the hot, hazy days and long, sultry nights in which it’s played, the smell of grass and leather…I could go on. So it’s no surprise that it has inspired some of the finest storytelling. It’s a game that translates naturally to audiobook, with the narrator’s voice reminiscent of a broadcaster relating the action of the game over the airwaves.

Here are a few baseball-related audiobooks to whet your patrons’ appetites for Opening Day:

Selected Shorts – Baseball: A fine place to start, this collection features eleven pieces of short fiction about baseball from notable authors and fans of the game.

Moneyball by Michael Lewis and The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri: The Yankees became known as the “evil empire” by being able to outspend other clubs for the services of the best available players. Teams without New York’s revenue are forced to look at other means to build their teams. Here are looks at two such teams—the Oakland Athletics (Moneyball) and the Tampa Bay Rays (The Extra 2%)—who found success despite having payrolls a fraction the size of their competitors.

Ball Four by Jim Bouton: Bouton, a pitcher with the Seattle Pilots and Houston Astros at the time, kept a diary throughout the 1969 season. Ball Four is the result, a book that shined the light for the first time on what life was really like as a Major League Baseball player. Controversial at the time, earning the ire of Bouton’s peers, the book was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Non-Fiction books in 2011.

Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker: Talk to any baseball fan of a certain age—I’m one of them—and you’ll hear memories of a youth filled with collecting baseball cards and trading with their friends. In Cardboard Gods, Josh Wilker entwines memoir with baseball history, explored through a handful of cards from his formative years.

The Great American Novel by Philip Roth: In 1943, the Port Ruppert Mundys were the worst team in the Patriot League. What, you’ve never heard of the Patriot League? That’s because, as a Communist organization, it has been eradicated from the history books. That’s the premise of this hilarious novel from Philip Roth, the recently retired author of other great American novels like Goodbye, Columbus and American Pastoral.

Blockade Billy by Stephen King: When the New Jersey Titans lose both of their catchers, they call up Billy Blakely to fill in. It turns out Billy is a phenomenal player who quickly captures the adulation of the fans…but Billy may not be who he seems to be. It’s a baseball yarn with a twist that only Stephen King could provide. King also has another novella tangentially related to baseball, A Face in the Crowd, written in collaboration with Stewart O’Nan.

Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella: Baseball fans know the classic baseball movie Field of Dreams. This is the novel the movie was based on, in which an Iowa farmer, inspired by a disembodied voice, plows under his cornfield to build a baseball diamond for the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson and a few other notables from the past.

For more novels that became classic baseball flicks, also check out The Natural by Bernard Malamud and Bang the Drum Slowly by Mark Harris.

What baseball tales are your favourites? Are there any that are particularly popular with your patrons?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Magic on the Silver Screen

Written by Kyle Slagley

I remember watching a TV special with magician David Copperfield when I was a kid. I watched the basic illusions with interest: I watched him make an army tank disappear and I watched him fly through hoops, proving there were no wires. The trick that really got me was the one that involved me. He and James Earl Jones asked people to go up to the TV and then correctly predicted the outcome of this trick.

Of course, I realize now that the trick is just simple math, but for a young kid enthralled by one of the numerous TV specials by the Master of Illusion, it was pretty awesome. Polished theatre magic like that of Copperfield has faded in recent years, replaced instead by people like David Blaine who specialize in endurance feats, or Criss Angel of the rough and gritty street magician variety.

Fortunately, for those who prefer the glitzy, sequined, spray-tanned variety of magic, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone opens in theatres this week. Burt Wonderstone (played by Steve Carell) and his partner Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) are a fading magician duo in Vegas who must repair their dying act and friendship to keep from being unseated by rising star Steve Gray (Jim Carrey).

Burt Wonderstone joins a line of magician films that dates all the way back to the 1950s. In 1953, Tony Curtis and then-wife Janet Leigh starred as Harry and Bess in the classic biopic Houdini.  The film follows Harry’s career from circus performer all the way to his death of a ruptured appendix in 1926. With an 83% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes, this film has aged rather well.

Next up is one of the few films that truly give Hugh Jackman the credit he deserves. Released in 2006, The Prestige chronicles a professional battle between rival magicians Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale). The cast also includes Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, and even David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. It’s a love story, a mystery, a war, and scientific discovery all in one. In a word: fantastic.

Also a very well done magician drama, The Illusionist stars Edward Norton as the renowned performer Eisenheim. Eisenheim packs theatres across Vienna with his feats that blur the boundary between the tangible and the supernatural. Eventually Eisenheim’s own skill and love for a highborn woman lead him to undermine the royal house in Vienna.

Although it’s not necessarily a movie about magicians, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus follows the immortal Dr. Parnassus and his traveling show, showing participants an imaginary world controlled by Parnassus’s mind. This film got a lot of attention when it first came out because of Heath Ledger’s accidental death halfway through filming, but the film itself is definitely noteworthy on its own for its captivating visuals and quality acting.

Finally, for those who like their magic quick-witted with a dash of humour: The Great Buck Howard. Buck (John Malkovich) is a famous mentalist who seems to have unknowingly lost his pizzazz. Malkovich’s biting comedy, paired with Emily Blunt’s lovable charm as his publicist, makes this a film you’ll be able to go back to time and time again.

Friday, March 8, 2013

There Is Still No Place Like Home

Written by Kyle Slagley

In a small town in Pennsylvania, nestled in the hills, is a cave, and in this cave are vaults. Vaults owned by some of the biggest organizations and companies in Western society. The security is extremely tight, the technology in this cave amazing, and the sheer size wondrous. One of these vaults contains the original filmstrip for one of the most beloved movies of all time—a movie about a young girl and her dog, from Kansas, who go on an extraordinary adventure.

By now you of course realize that I’m referring to The Wizard of Oz, which is big news these days thanks to the prequel Oz: The Great and Powerful, starring James Franco, which opens in theatres today.

The Wizard of Oz holds great memories for generations of people, but there are a few things most people do not know about this particular treasure. By the time Judy Garland graced the silver screen as Dorothy in 1939, there had been three film adaptations produced already as well as a stage musical written by the author Frank Baum himself.

Of course the ’39 film with Garland is the one we all remember and has been named the most-watched film of all time by the Library of Congress. Although MGM has ceased distribution of the film to any and all sellers for the time being, there are a few titles we have that might help supplement your Oz display.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (audiobook) – the classic by L. Frank Baum is now in the public domain, so there are a plethora of versions from which to choose. I read this book probably half a dozen times when I was a kid and the first time I was surprised at the differences between the book and the film. Audiobook versions to choose from include: Dreamscape, Tantor, BBC Radio, Blackstone, Naxos, Random House, and Yo Yo Libros.

The Wizard of Oz in music – As I mentioned before, Dorothy and Toto first appeared in front of large audiences as a stage musical in 1902. Fortunately, the music of the original musical has been preserved and was nominated for a 2004 Grammy for Best Historical Album. In 2011, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s New Wizard of Oz came out in London’s West End and ran for just over a year. For the younger kids, A Tribute to The Wizard of Oz is a collection of kids’ songs from and inspired by the movie and book.

And finally, submitted for your approval is a collection of animated adaptations, the first of which is The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. Who doesn’t love the Muppets?! Best of all, Ashanti and Queen Latifah star as Dorothy and Auntie Em, with Jeffrey Tambor as the wizard. Next in line is Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz, and finally an animated version from Lightyear Entertainment.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Becoming the Biggest Loser

Written by Jon Williams

Last week Kyle wrote about junk food and eating choices and told you about some related titles your patrons might find interesting or helpful. With obesity rates at an all-time high, there’s no doubt that health is in the public consciousness like never before. However, diet is only one part of that equation; the other is exercise.

NBC has turned exercise for weight loss into a form of entertainment with its hit reality series The Biggest Loser. Currently in its fourteenth season, this competition features contestants spending several weeks exercising and undergoing a series of physical challenges as they vie for the $250,000 cash prize. They have the opportunity to work out and learn about healthy living under the watchful eyes of celebrity trainers like Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. My wife is a fitness professional, so this is appointment TV for us each week. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a compelling show; the contestants must deal not only with the physical struggles of losing weight and getting in shape, but also the emotional obstacles that led them to becoming overweight in the first place. With the season finale on March 18, the five remaining competitors have already undergone incredible transformations. Who will take home the prize?

Each trainer on The Biggest Loser brings a distinct approach and personality to the competition, and sometimes it takes a while before one of them (or a combination) can figure out exactly how to get through to someone. Sometimes they can’t get through at all, and those are usually the contestants that go home early. Likewise, not all trainers, and thus all fitness videos, are right for all viewers. Here are some options your patrons may be interested in checking out.

Dancing with the Stars: Another reality series has spawned a series of fitness DVDs. Dance is a popular fitness option because it allows the participant to have fun and forget that they’re exercising. Zumba is another dance fitness craze, similar to belly dance, that is hot right now, as are ballet workouts.

10-Minute Solution: For patrons who are pressed for time—and who isn’t these days?—these videos are a great option. Each DVD contains a selection of complete workouts that can be done in just ten minutes, or combined on days that allow a little extra time.

Sit and Be Fit: For senior citizens and others with physical limitations, finding an exercise routine can be extremely difficult. Here is the answer. With these DVDs, viewers can learn how to exercise even while seated, limiting impact and pressure on joints.

Yoga is another popular fitness routine that can be gentle, with many options for modifications as participants become more advanced. Well-known fitness expert Denise Austin offers one well-rounded program suitable for beginners, while celebrity yogi Mandy Ingber encourages viewers to advance in their practice.

It’s never too early to get started with healthy habits, and with that in mind, there are even workout videos designed for children. Denise Austin offers a yoga video designed with kids in mind, and the Kideosyncrasy series combines music and movement to teach kids that exercise can be fun.

These are just a few of the fitness options CVS Midwest Tape has available for you and your patrons; there are literally thousands more. SmartBrowse ‘fitness’ on our website for a complete list of what we have to offer.

Friday, March 1, 2013

New Customised Standing Order Plans!

Written by Kyle Slagley

At CVS Midwest Tape we pride ourselves on being able to get you the titles your patrons want before you even have the chance to tell us you want them, while still giving you the flexibility and control over the purchases you need. The Customised Standing Order program is no exception to this philosophy; indeed, it may be the epitome.

Not only do we offer the most comprehensive selection of Standing Order plans in the industry, they come to you risk-free and you are never under any obligation to purchase titles. Unlike competitors, when you receive a Standing Order cart from CVS Midwest Tape, you can choose to order all, some, or none of the titles – the choice is entirely yours.

Now, with the addition of over 20 new Standing Order plans, you can save even more time when you let CVS Midwest Tape do the hard part for you! These new plans include Parents’ Choice DVDs, Animal Planet DVDs, Rap/Hip-Hop CDs, Religion & Spirituality Audiobooks, and many more. Let us save you time by choosing the best titles so you can get back to doing what you wanted to do when you became a librarian in the first place – help your patrons!

With 150 Standing Order plans, we’re here to help you make the best selections possible and get your patrons the titles they want. For a complete list of our available Customised Standing Order Plans, click here. Call us today at 866-698-2231 to speak with one of our selectors and let us design a Standing Order plan that’s customized just for you.