News Home RSS Feed

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Explore Neil Gaiman’s Fantasy Worlds

Written by Jon Williams

As the British television series Doctor Who moves toward its 50th anniversary, to be celebrated with a television special in November, the show’s producers wanted to add a new edge to a classic enemy, the Cybermen. To do so, they turned to popular fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, who penned the episode “Nightmare in Silver,” which aired earlier this month. It was Season 7’s penultimate episode. Gaiman previously contributed an episode, “The Doctor’s Wife,” to the series’ sixth season.

Even before writing for the series, Gaiman was no stranger to Doctor Who, having watched the series since the very beginning, when he was a young child. Along with fantasy classics like The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, it helped to set a tone that would serve him well in his coming career.

Gaiman began his career in journalism, writing for a number of British publications. He moved from there into comics and graphic novels. In 1990, he published his first novel, Good Omens, in collaboration with fellow fantasist Terry Pratchett. His first solo novel, Neverwhere, was actually a novelisation of a screenplay he wrote for a BBC miniseries. He followed that with Stardust in 1999, which was turned into a film starring Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert DeNiro in 2007. Gaiman’s latest work, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, will be released on June 18, and has received a great deal of advance acclaim.

Of course, not all of Gaiman’s fiction is aimed at an adult audience. He is also an acclaimed children’s author, known for works such as Coraline (upon which the innovative animated film was based). In 2008 he released The Graveyard Book, a Newbery Medal and Hugo Award winner based heavily upon Rudyard Kipling’s classic The Jungle Book. His next children’s title, Fortunately, the Milk, is scheduled for release in September.

Gaiman also writes for film and screen, having co-written the script for 2007’s Beowulf. In addition to the episodes he wrote for Doctor Who, he also wrote an episode for season five of the sci-fi TV series Babylon 5. Currently he’s adapting his novel American Gods into a television series for HBO, which is tentatively slated to begin airing sometime later this year. He’s also writing a sequel to that book, which will be incorporated into the series’ later seasons.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Kick Grilling Season Off Right

Written by Kyle Slagley

For many people across the country, this weekend will be the first of many installments in this year’s grilling season. Guys everywhere are stocking up on charcoal, checking igniters, and quite possibly practicing their tong-twirling skills in the mirror as though they were the John Wayne of cookouts - not that I’ve ever done that or anything.

As with any other style of cooking, grilling takes a certain amount of skill, care, and finesse in order to master. Burgers don’t cook the same way as a T-bone, and charcoal is different than propane. If you have a vegetarian in the house like I do, squash doesn’t grill like an ear of corn, and veggie burgers definitely do not cook like hamburgers. I definitely found that out the hard—aka: charred beyond edible—way.

Lest you be one of those people who simply tosses the meat on the grill, walks away for 30 minutes, and takes it off when it’s about the texture of shoe leather, it will benefit you, your family, and your guests to brush up a little bit this summer. Whether you fancy yourself a grillmaster or a greenhorn, there are a few informative videos that may help out even the most seasoned BBQer.

BBQ Tech – One of the primary rules of cooking in general is to know your equipment, be it a stove, oven, pot, or grill. In this video, the History Channel takes you to the Weber factory to see how the grills are made. You’ll also get some insight into the history of barbecuing.

Barbecue – A Texas Love Story – Folks in Texas are very proud of their barbecuing culture, to say the least. This video gives a humourous-but-accurate look at how nearly every aspect of Texas life, in one way or another, ties back to barbecue.

Primal Grill with Steven Raichlen – When it comes to techniques, sauces, rubs, and recipes, there are about as many different opinions as there are people. Worry not, though; Steven Raichlen is here to guide you through all of the details.

BBQ Secrets – Master Guide to Extraordinary BBQ – I found this video to be a little more helpful for a more experienced griller. There’s a lot of information in here about all the different elements of grilling so it may seem like overkill to any but those who fancy themselves grilling aficionados.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a hobby if someone, somewhere, didn’t turn it into a competition! Be sure to check out: BBQ Pitmasters, All-Star BBQ Showdown, Barbeque Championship Series, and Now You’re Cookin’- Inside The World of Championship Barbecue.

And just to get the season started off right, here’s some background music for your weekend cookout.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In Memoriam: Doors Keyboardist Ray Manzarek

 Written by Jon Williams

 The world of classic rock lost a legend earlier this week with the death of keyboardist Ray Manzarek. He was 74.

Manzarek met Jim Morrison while a student at UCLA. Later, the two would found the legendary rock group the Doors. While Morrison is the name most associated with the Doors, Manzarek’s work gave the group its signature sound. The Doors were one of the very rare rock groups to operate without a bass guitarist; Manzarek handled those parts by playing a bass keyboard with his left hand in addition to solos and melodies with his right.

After forming in 1965, the Doors got their start as the house band at LA’s famous Whisky a Go Go club, where they played with such musicians as Van Morrison. Their self-titled debut album was released in January of 1967, including such classic rock staples as “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” and “Light My Fire,” which was the song that made the Doors into bona fide stars.

Manzarek also took over some vocal duties as the band attempted to carry on following Jim Morrison’s death in 1971. During their six years together with Morrison as the vocalist, the Doors released six albums and charted fifteen singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Manzarek was played by Kyle MacLachlan in the 1991 film The Doors starring Val Kilmer as Morrison.

Be sure to SmartBrowse ‘The Doors’ on our website for a full list of their CDs, as well as DVDs featuring performances and behind-the-scenes looks at their career.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Off to Summer Camp

Written by Kyle Slagley

Ask any student (or teacher for that matter) and you will be told that summer is the best season of the year. We all know this. Sure, there are things like warm weather, vacations, no school, pool parties, and mowing the lawn every other day to look forward to, but when I was a kid, summer meant one thing: camp.

Yes sir, who needs pool parties when you can go live in an Army tent circa 1949, use bug spray as perfume, and swim in a lake that may or may not be home to the Loch Ness Monster of North America? I know, I know…I was always a little weird.

Fortunately, there are plenty of films to get your patrons jazzed up about their ventures into the wilderness this summer!

Let’s start off with two classics: Camp Nowhere and Meatballs. In Camp Nowhere, the campers decide to swindle their parents with the help of an unemployed teacher and create a “camp” that pretty much lets them run amok all summer. In Meatballs, my personal favourite, Bill Murray plays the camp counsellor who makes sure campers and staffers alike are having a summer they won’t soon forget.

Perhaps even more classic than those two is The Parent Trap. Unfortunately, the original 1961 version with Hayley Mills is no longer available, but we do carry the 1998 version with Lindsay Lohan – which, despite all the negative press surrounding Lindsay right now, is a pretty good remake. If you also happen to have it on the shelves, the Olsen twins put out a revamped version of this film in 1995 titled It Takes Two.

Two more camp films that have been around for quite a while are Wet Hot American Summer and Heavyweights. Wet Hot American Summer takes place in the early ‘80s and focuses more on the antics of the counsellors than the campers. With a killer comedy cast of Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Ian Black, and Molly Shannon, the slapstick helps make up for the lack of plot. Heavyweights was Judd Apatow’s big-screen debut for both screenwriting and executive producing, and is generally an unsung gem. It features a group of overweight kids sent off to a vacation-like “fat camp,” only to find that Tony Perkis (Stiller) has taken over it and turned it into weight-loss bootcamp.

For a comedy alternative, try Indian Summer, a sentimental film in which a group of former campers reunite after twenty years when their beloved camp is closing down, only to find that they pick up right where they left off.

And finally, I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the ultimate summer camp horror film – Friday the 13th. After being closed for years, Camp Crystal Lake is being reopened under new management, but the infamous Jason Voorhees isn’t having it. Even the most dedicated counsellors out there will second-guess returning to camp this summer after seeing this slasher mainstay.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Serial Fiction Rising in Popularity

Written by Jon Williams

This week saw the release of the book The Human Division by John Scalzi. While this is the first time the book has been available in its complete form, it’s possible that Scalzi fans and sci-fi readers may have already experienced the bulk of it. That’s because The Human Division is made up of thirteen individual episodes which were each published individually in ebook form, one per week, beginning in January. The book version collects these installments into a complete tale, and also includes a couple of bonus stories.

Of course, the serial novel is far from a new concept. It came to popularity in Victorian times, when a young writer named Charles Dickens was hired to write a series of loosely related adventures to accompany a number of comic illustrations. Those tales eventually became The Pickwick Papers. Dickens continued to publish his works in serial format, and in 1841, in one of the earliest instances of release date fever, a riot nearly broke out in New York as eager readers waited impatiently at the harbour for delivery of the final installment of The Old Curiosity Shop.

Many works of classic literature were introduced into the world in serial form, among them Madame Bovary (1856), Anna Karenina (1873-1877), and Portrait of a Lady (1880-1881). One of the earliest American serials was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, appearing each week for forty weeks in an abolitionist newspaper in 1851-1852.

Serial literature went into a decline as the format shifted into radio and, later, television broadcasts. It never fully died out, however, and various writers have experimented with it over the years. Tom Wolfe, for example, serialized The Bonfire of the Vanities in Rolling Stone in 1984 before compiling it into book form.

One of the most notable forays into serializing a novel came in 1996 with Stephen King’s The Green Mile, which came out as six monthly installments and led to the popular film starring Tom Hanks. It’s interesting to note that the serial format doesn’t always work out; King tried to distribute a story entitled The Plant via his website in 2000. After payment for the installments proved to be sporadic, the story petered out and has yet to be completed.

Now, though, with the rise of ebook technology and digital subscription services, the serial form is coming into vogue once again. Scalzi’s success with the experiment that became The Human Division shows that there’s room in the market for tales told and consumed episodically as well as compiled later as one complete story.

Visit Us at APLA!

CVS Midwest Tape is exhibiting at the Atlantic Provinces Library Association Conference!

Visit Douglas Atkinson at our table as we continue the celebration of the 25th anniversary of CVS (Canadian Video Services). Be sure to bring your postcard to be entered for your chance to win a Dreamscape Audiobook prize pack. And while you are visiting, don’t forget to ask for a hoopla demo!

Exhibit hours:
May 14th 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
May 15th 8:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
May 16th 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

See you there!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Voyages of the Starship Enterprise

Written by Jon Williams

Despite the fact that the solstice is still over a month away, the summer movie season is in full swing with Iron Man 3 opening last weekend, The Great Gatsby this weekend, and Star Trek Into Darkness coming to theatres next week.

The Star Trek phenomenon began in 1966 with the original television series starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, and James Doohan as the intrepid crew of the Starship Enterprise. Set in the 2260s, the series dealt with the crew’s adventures as they explore the galaxy in the name of the United Federation of Planets.

Creator Gene Roddenberry’s original series ran for three seasons, totaling 79 episodes (80 if you count the series pilot, which was originally rejected by NBC and went unaired until 1988). That wasn’t enough to satisfy fans, though, and it was followed up with an animated series in 1973. This show featured the voices of the original cast in the same roles, and ran for two seasons.

At that point, the small screen was no longer big enough for the further voyages of the Enterprise. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the series’ first foray onto the silver screen in 1979. It was followed by five sequels (released every 2-3 years and culminating in 1991) that featured Captain Kirk and his original crew.

As it turned out, even this wasn’t enough for Star Trek fans. So, in 1987, the franchise spun off with an entirely new television series. Star Trek: The Next Generation starred Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn, Denise Crosby, and Wil Wheaton as the Enterprise’s new crew, set about a century after the original.

The Next Generation was well received by both critics and fans, and it received a longer run than the original series, spanning seven seasons and 178 episodes. It also carried on into a theatrical run, beginning with the film Generations, which released soon after the series finale in 1994. William Shatner, James Doohan, and Walter Koenig reprised their roles from the original crew as a means of passing the torch to the new crew. Three other films were made featuring the Next Generation crew.

Following The Next Generation, three more television series were set in the Star Trek universe. Beginning in 1993, Deep Space Nine was set concurrently with The Next Generation, and took place aboard a space station orbiting the planet Bajor. Voyager, which premiered in 1995, deals with a different Federation starship returning home to Earth from 75,000 light years away. Then, 2001 brought Enterprise, a prequel series detailing humanity’s first voyages into interstellar space.

As popular as these series have been, nothing has captured Trek fans’ imaginations in quite the same way as the original crew. That set the stage for 2009’s theatrical reboot, featuring a time-travel plot that allowed the familiar characters to be brought back with new actors portraying them. Star Trek Into Darkness will pick up where that film left off, as the second adventure for the “new” crew of the Enterprise.

With the new film coming into theatres, Trek fever is sure to be at an all-time high. Make sure you have plenty of Star Trek series and movies on your shelves for patrons to enjoy. SmartBrowse ‘Star Trek’ on our website for a complete selection of films and TV seasons on DVD and Blu-ray.

Friday, May 3, 2013

McCartney Remasters Wings Over America

Written by Jon Williams

On May 28, Paul McCartney will re-release Wings Over America, a 2-disc live set originally released in 1976. McCartney’s post-Beatles band Wings recorded their concert from 23 June 1976 at the Forum in Los Angeles. The 28-track album contains many hits from Wings and McCartney’s early solo career, as well as mixing in a few Beatles classics.

This will be the latest release in McCartney’s Archive Collection, a project giving McCartney’s albums a similar remastering treatment that the entire Beatles catalog received in 2009. The first album in this collection was Band on the Run, widely considered to be the best of Sir Paul’s post-Beatles oeuvre, in 2010. This was followed in 2011 by McCartney (his first solo album) and McCartney II (his second “solo” album, released in 1980). Then in 2012, he re-released his 1971 album Ram, which was credited to himself and his wife Linda.

These re-releases are being overseen by Paul McCartney himself, and often include bonus tracks including B-sides, unreleased songs, and live versions.  The schedule for upcoming releases runs through 2016. The exact order seems to be in flux, but the next ones on the list are rumoured to be Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound.

Of course, these re-releases aren’t the only things McCartney fans have to look forward to. He’s working on an album of new material with producer Mark Ronson to follow up his 2012 Grammy-winning album Kisses on the Bottom. He’s also embarking on a world tour beginning tomorrow and running through August, with dates in South America, Europe, and both the U.S. and Canada.

With the Beatles’ debut album, Please Please Me, being released in March of 1963, Sir Paul McCartney has been a heavyweight in the music industry for more than fifty years. Make sure you have a broad selection of his music on your shelves for patrons to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Looking to the Stars

Written by Kyle Slagley

It seems like space exploration has gotten a lot of press lately. On October 14, 2012, Fearless Felix Baumgartner traveled to “the edge of space” and skydived from an altitude of 24 miles in what would be the most-watched live online broadcast ever. Now, thanks to the privatization of space travel, space tourism is getting closer to becoming a reality.

That being said, I think one of the biggest reasons for the public’s renewed interest in space travel lies solely in the hands of Canadian Astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield (as well as the Canadian Space Agency). For the first time – or at least the first time on this scale - Cmdr. Hadfield is showing the average person across the world what it’s like to live in space. Thanks to YouTube, we now see what happens when you wring out a wet cloth in space, how to clean up a spill in space, or how water is recycled on the International Space Station.

If you get your patrons, particularly the younger ones, hooked on CSA’s YouTube station, once they’ve exhausted all 175+ videos, they may come to you looking for some longer titles. Here are a few that we recommend.

Earth from Space (DVD or Blu-Ray): This two-hour video gives viewers some of the most definitive imagery of our planet as seen from space. It gives extensive detail on how environmental elements that are hundreds or thousands of miles apart interconnect to form the complex and delicate ecosystem of Earth.

Space Flight Collection from the Discovery Channel: A four-video anthology, each touching on a different element of space flight, from the first moon landing through the future of space travel.

Bill Nye the Science Guy: Outer Space: Bill Nye was the go-to man for pretty much any science-related question for children of the ‘90s. He explained it in an entertaining way that wasn’t overly complicated. In the Outer Space episode, Nye travels to the Mount Wilson Observatory in California to discuss the speed of light in space. Also check out the Space Exploration episode where Nye talks about the technology used in space.

Kids @ Discovery – Space: In this video, Canadian astronauts detail how the arm of the ISS that was built by the CSA, which has four cameras and can lift 100 tons, was built and functions. They also show viewers the rigorous training they go through and some of the equipment that is used in space.

Food In Space: This is a topic that every kid will want to know about! Do astronauts get pizza? What about ice cream or soda? Watch the video to see how the astronauts prepare and eat their meals.