News Home RSS Feed

Friday, April 26, 2013

Visit Us at the Alberta Library Conference

It is time for the Alberta Library Conference in beautiful Jasper! 

Come visit David at our booth and help us celebrate 25 years of CVS. You will also be entered for your chance to win a Dreamscape Audiobook prize pack.

April 25th- 27th, the Exhibit Hall is in the Mary Schaffer Ballroom. The Exhibit Hall is open:
Thursday                      6:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday                          10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Saturday                     10:00 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. 

See you there!

In Memoriam: Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013)

Written by Jon Williams

Think of your favourite album. No doubt your mind turns first to all the great songs it contains, and to the hours of enjoyment you’ve gotten from listening to it, to say nothing of the memories associated with it and the joy of sharing it with others. And chances are good that you can also picture it in your mind, the vibrant colours or stark design of the album cover being as much a part of the experience as the music itself.

Recently the music industry lost an icon. You haven’t heard Storm Thorgerson’s work, because he wasn’t a musician himself, but if you’re a rock music fan at all, you’ve almost certainly seen some of it. Thorgerson was a visual artist responsible for some of the most well-known album covers in rock history. He worked primarily with hard rock and prog rock bands, coming up with surreal cover visuals that complemented the songs to be found inside.

Thorgerson’s most famous work graces the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1973 masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon. His work with Pink Floyd began with their second album, A Saucerful of Secrets (1968), and continued throughout the band’s career, up through their 2007 compilation album Oh, by the Way. He also worked on the cover for Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s 1984 solo album About Face.

It was his friendship with Gilmour and other members of Pink Floyd that gave him his start designing album covers, but they were by no means the only famous band Thorgerson did work for during his long and illustrious career. His art adorns the cover of Black Sabbath’s 1976 album Technical Ecstasy. He did three albums for Led Zeppelin (including In Through the Out Door, their last album of all-new material), as well as three albums for Peter Gabriel as a solo artist and one during his time with the band Genesis. He also worked with more modern rock bands, such as Muse and the Mars Volta. His most recent design was for the Biffy Clyro album Opposites, which released in January.

Click here to browse a more complete list of albums sporting Thorgerson’s memorable artwork.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Preparing Grads for the Next Step

Written by Kyle Slagley

When I graduated from high school, I remember being thrilled at the prospect of finally being done, getting to go to a university that I’d had my heart set on for a long time, and of course getting out from under Mom and Dad in the process. I also remember being very nervous about all those things.

When I graduated college, there wasn’t nearly as much excitement and a lot more anxiety. The idea that I now had to completely put on my big-boy pants and fend for myself was overwhelming, despite the fact that I’d been preparing for it – theoretically, at least – for years.

Graduation can be a very bittersweet time for both the graduates and the parents, but the right words can be incredibly empowering. Every year during graduation season, I post the YouTube video of Conan O’Brien’s Dartmouth commencement address on my Facebook page. I wholeheartedly believe that if someone were to make a ‘graduation speaker all-stars’ video, this one would be at the top. It’s 25 minutes long, but I promise you, it will probably be the most worthwhile 25 minutes you spend on YouTube all year.

A couple years after I graduated, I came across the book Mastering the Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success. This book is great for anyone, but in particular for graduates. The seven decisions are really very basic ones, but the book explains them in a way that isn’t quite so ‘self-help’ and more like a reminder. It is a sequel to the book The Traveler’s Gift, which reads like a story. These titles also make for great book club selections right around graduation time.

When it comes to storytelling, nobody can wordsmith a life lesson quite like Dr. Seuss. Whether he’s telling you to be ecologically responsible, be tolerant and respectful of other cultures, or that “a person’s a person, no matter how small,” when Seuss speaks, we listen. Oh the Places You’ll Go, one of the most popular graduation books of all time, is even more fantastic when narrated by John Lithgow.

Teachers and speakers are sometimes asked to consider their own deaths and give a lesson based on what they’ve concluded – commonly referred to as ‘last lectures.’ The book The Last Lecture has gained quite a bit of notoriety in recent years. When Professor Randy Pausch was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he went on to give what may be the most famous final lecture ever written down. It has nothing to do with cancer, but it does teach the reader to value every minute. This title will be around for generations, and don’t forget to check out the DVD of the lecture as well.

Finally, for a more humourous take on the entire situation, The Worst-Case Survival Handbook is an absolute gem. You never know when you might encounter quicksand, rabid wolves, or the need to deliver a baby in the back of a cab whilst at college. For the truly prepared, also check out the versions specific to Dating & Sex, Travel, and for college grads – Work.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Gatsby Brings Fitzgerald to New Generation

Written by Jon Williams

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic 1925 novel, has been adapted for film numerous times, most notably in 1974. In that film, Robert Redford portrayed the mysterious title character who has amassed a vast fortune with the sole purpose of winning the love of Daisy Buchanan. Mia Farrow plays the object of Gatsby’s affection (although “obsession” may be a more accurate word).

Now, a new adaptation is coming to theatres, this time starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the eponymous role and also featuring Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher, and Tobey Maguire. This version is directed by Baz Luhrmann, who brought another classic literary work to life with 1996’s Romeo + Juliet. Luhrmann updated Shakespeare’s work for modern times, noted for its soundtrack of modern rock and pop music. Luhrmann doesn’t bring Gatsby from the 1920s into the 2010s, but he did opt for a modern sound, bringing in Jay-Z to supervise the film’s score and populate the soundtrack with an eclectic, contemporary sound.

Although Gatsby is far and away Fitzgerald’s most heralded work, it is by no means his only one. He finished three other novels (This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, and Tender Is the Night), and left one (The Love of the Last Tycoon) unfinished at his death in 1940. He also published a great deal of short fiction. The 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was based on one of his short stories. Fitzgerald, who coined the term “Jazz Age” to refer to the 1920s, is considered one of the most influential writers of that time.

With the new version of Gatsby coming to theatres on May 10, interest in Fitzgerald is sure to be at an all-time high. Be sure to have his other titles on your shelves for your patrons to explore and enjoy. (And also point them to Z by Therese Anne Fowler, a new, fictionalized account of Fitzgerald’s relationship with his wife, Zelda.)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Arrested Development Returns

Written by Jon Williams

Bluth fans rejoice—Netflix has announced a May 26 release date for the fourth season of Arrested Development. The comedy series, which stars Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, and Michael Cera as the dysfunctional Bluth family, ran for three seasons on the Fox network. It was cancelled in 2006 despite critical acclaim and a legion of die-hard fans. That dedicated audience played into Netflix’s decision to revive the series.

Likewise, there’s good news for fans of Veronica Mars. Like Arrested Development, Veronica Mars ran for three years as a series, on UPN and the CW. Kristen Bell starred as a high school college student who spent her free time working as a private investigator. The show ended in 2007. Although it has not been picked up as a new series, it has been announced that a feature-length movie is in the works. The effort to make the movie was helped by the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, which many believe may become a force in the creation of many future films.

Here are a few other shows ripe for a revival.

Friday Night Lights: In the words of Tim Riggins, “Texas forever.” Leaving behind the world surrounding high school football in Dillon, Texas, wasn’t easy for anyone. Talk of a movie has been around since the series’ five-season run ended in 2011, but those plans are still up in the air.

24: The show went off the air in 2010, but the world still needs Jack Bauer. Movie talks have also swirled around this popular show since its end. Take heart, though: the latest word from Kiefer Sutherland indicates that plans are moving forward, possibly to begin filming this summer. Stay tuned.

Firefly: This short-lived (just one season?!) TV show dealt with the exploits of a band of pirates in space. It actually did spawn a movie follow-up, Serenity, in 2005, but that still isn’t enough for those who love the show. Something tells me if Joss Whedon launched this show today, it might get a little bit more of a chance.

Smallville: OK, so this show, about Clark Kent’s coming of age as Superman, enjoyed a full ten-season run. Still, fans were hoping that star Tom Welling would get the chance to feature in a big-screen blockbuster. They’ll have to content themselves with Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel, in theatres June 14.

What are some shows you’d like to see resurrected, either as films or back in production as series? Let us know in the comments section below.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

2013 Tony Award Talk

Written by Kyle Slagley

For your patrons who, like me, have affection for theatre, this is an exciting time of year. The Tony Award nominees are going to be announced on April 30 by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Sutton Foster.

Ferguson currently stars on the ABC comedy Modern Family, but has his roots in theatre, having starred in On The Town, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and a variety of Shakespeare productions.

Foster is currently starring in the ABC Family series Bunheads. She has a long list of Broadway credits, but most notable among them are her Tony Award-winning roles in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes. She was also nominated for Tony Awards for her roles in Little Women, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Shrek: The Musical.

Here are some musicals to watch this year. Most of them also happen either to be based on a movie or have a movie adaptation.

Kinky Boots – based on the 2006 film that you didn’t even know existed, this musical tells the story of Charlie Price, a young man who inherits his father’s shoe factory that is nearly bankrupt. With the help of Lola, they revitalise the business by developing a fantastic line of shoes for a very niche market – drag queens. Despite the name, the show isn’t all that risqué and will likely be up for Best New Musical.

Jekyll and Hyde – You know the story, but did you know the original production starred Mr. Baywatch himself, David Hasselhoff? The original show ran for three and a half years with over 1,500 performances. The soundtrack and a DVD from the original cast are still available, and a rerecording with the revival cast wouldn’t surprise me since this show will be in the running for Best Revival of a Musical.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Who could forget the classic film with Audrey Hepburn? It’s arguably the first film people think of when someone says her name. Starring Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) as Miss Holly Golightly, this production will almost certainly be in the running for Best New Play.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – Although the play itself has gotten mediocre reviews, it’s likely that Scarlett Johansson will receive a nom for Best Actress; whether she’ll win is another story. The show itself is eligible for Best Revival of a Play, but with competitors like Alan Cumming’s creepy-awesome interpretation of MacBeth, Al Pacino’s Glengarry Glen Ross, and Jim Parsons’s Harvey, it may or may not make the initial cut.

Friday, April 5, 2013

In Memoriam: Roger Ebert

Written by Jon Williams

The film industry lost an icon with yesterday’s passing of movie critic Roger Ebert. He was 70.

Ebert’s career writing movie reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times started in 1967. His work helped bring film criticism to the forefront. In 1975, he became the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize. That same year, he ventured onto television for the first time, hosting a monthly program with fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel. That show eventually evolved into the well-known At the Movies that brought the trademarked “two thumbs up!” into the vernacular.

Ebert’s illness stole his voice from him in 2006, forcing him from his regular television show, but he continued to write. In addition to his prolific criticism, he wrote entertainment columns and articles on political issues that interested him. He was a constant presence on his blog and social media, offering his opinions on a wide range of topics.

Today, the Internet is awash in loving tributes to Ebert from friends, colleagues, actors, directors, and a whole host of others who were influenced and moved by his criticism, his writing, his passion, his humanity. For the complete story from those who knew him best, read his obituary in the Sun-Times, the newspaper where he worked for 46 years.

Truly, Ebert led an amazing and fascinating life. One vein that always ran true was his love for film, and his influence on the industry was undeniable. Click here for a collection of his best-reviewed movies throughout the years. His voice—his passion—will be sadly missed.

“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do.
--from Roger Ebert’s 2011 memoir, Life Itself

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Climbing Past the Expectations

Written by Kyle Slagley

Earlier this week I read a news story that, while brief, was amazingly inspirational. Eli Reimer, a 15-year-old young man from Oregon, has become the first teenager with Downs Syndrome to reach Mount Everest Base Camp. The South Base Camp in Nepal is at an elevation of 17,598 feet above sea level and the climb is no small feat for even the fittest of adults.

The story got me thinking about all the stories that have come from Everest over the years. According to the website, as of 2011, over 3100 people have been recorded as summiting Mt. Everest, while over 220 have died in the attempt. It is worth noting that the elevation difference between the South Base Camp and the Summit is still over 11,000 feet.

There have been some great memoirs written about Everest and her climbers over the years. Perhaps the most famous climber in Everest’s history, George Mallory, may not have made it to the summit at all. In 1924, Mallory died on the mountain, and since the last time he was seen was 800 feet below the summit, it has never been determined whether he died going up, or was one of the dozens that died in the descent. In Climbing Everest, Mallory takes the reader with him on each of his three attempts to summit the mountain. For the further story, The Wildest Dream is a documentary that was released in 2010 and gives mountaineer Conrad Anker’s firsthand account of discovering George Mallory’s body on the North Face of Mt. Everest over 2000 feet below the summit.

The fatality rate for climbers has dropped dramatically in the past couple decades thanks to advances in the equipment. Unfortunately, however, gear is only part of the equation. Like many extreme sports, the weather is an uncontrollable and often unpredictable variable, and in May of 1996, eight people would die after a massive storm bore down on three expeditions of climbers. Into Thin Air was written by Jon Krakauer, who was on assignment from Outside magazine. His party lost four climbers—one guide and three clients. Published a year later, The Climb was written by guide Anatoli Boukreev, whose party lost one guide that same day.

For a more inspirational look at the attempts on Everest, look no further than Touch the Top of the World by Erik Weihenmayer. In May 2001, Weihenmayer became the first blind person to summit the world’s tallest peak, and this documentary chronicles his life.

Finally, if you happen to have it on the shelves already, pull out The Boy Who Conquered Everest: The Jordan Romero Story, by Katharine Blanc and Jordan Romero. Not only did Romero become the youngest person to summit Everest at 13 years, 10 months, 10 days of age, he also became the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits at age 15 years, 5 months, 12 days. The Seven Summits consist of the highest points of elevation on all seven continents in the world, and it is likely that his record will remain unbroken for the foreseeable future, now that Nepal and China no longer issue licenses to climb Everest to climbers under age 16.