Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chance's Corner: Apocalypse Now Review

On August 15, 1979, Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece Apocalypse Now hit theaters and has remained on the world's conscience ever since.

Adapted from Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now focuses on Army Captain Benjamin Willard's (Martin Sheen) journey into the dense jungles of Vietnam... and into the dark recesses of the human psyche. Willard is tasked with a secret mission to kill Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), an all-star military man who has gone off the grid and set himself up as a god amongst the Montagnard tribe, but his mission is met with external and internal conflict.

Apocalypse Now is like an odyssey into Hell, and Hell is populated with all sorts of characters. Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) is a surfing maniac who loves the smell of napalm in the morning. A photojournalist (Dennis Hopper) is a little spaced out and wrapped up in Kurtz's philosophies. Kurtz is a domineering figure who hides in the shadows and mutters bone-chilling ideals and beliefs (most, if not all, improvised by Brando).

After all these years, I finally sat down and watched this film (on it's 37th anniversary). I've been avoiding it because war films are not usually my cup of tea, and I also believe some films are better appreciated (and understood) at certain ages. I'm glad I finally gave Apocalypse Now a chance. It's a very powerful film that feels more like an experience. There are no beginning or ending credits - it just begins and ends - leaving you to roll around in your emotions. Just what did I come out of this experience feeling? I know that this is the closest glimpse of war I ever want to see.

Apocalypse Now is coming soon to the Franklin County Library!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tom's Two Cents : Florence Foster Jenkins: The Tyranny of Ambition and the Ecstasy of Delusion

Florence Foster Jenkins was a wealthy New York socialite with a passion, rather than an innate talent, for classical music.  In the New York City of the 1940's she was a mover and a shaker, a founder of the Verdi Club, patron of Toscanini, and unfulfilled singer. Her amusing and often poignant climb to the pinnacle of music--a debut at New York City's famed Carnegie Hall--is the subject of Meryl Streep's new film, "Florence Foster Jenkins."

For those Streep fans who are now legion, one can only look forward to what the Miraculous Meryl will pull off next.  As usual she doesn't disappoint, but wrings both the poignancy and the delightful kookiness out of the Jenkins character.  But the biggest surprise and delight of all is Hugh Grant, who plays her slightly scandalous, but oh so devoted husband, determined to protect Florence from the slings and barbs of the New York critics.  Why?  Well the simple truth is, she not only can't sing, she sings so badly that she can't even carry a tune--yet she appears on stage, blissfully unaware that her butchering of great operatic arias is hysterically funny.

Streep sings all the songs and arias herself and does them live.  Not since the recitals of Anna Russell, a great satirist of opera in the 1950s, have I been so entertained, and at the same time moved by the sincere love of this deeply odd couple.  Grant emerges as a mature comic/dramatic talent worthy of the late Cary Grant.  And Simon Helberg, one of the fabulous four in "Big Bang Theory," makes a gem out of a secondary role, Mme. Florence's accompanist, Cosme McMoon.  Sets and costumes evoke a marvelous sense of New York society during the late days of WWII.  And when you next make potato salad, you will immediately evoke the infamous bathtub scene--enough said!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Anybody who has ever worked in retail knows the joys of inventory.  I (Julie) have never had that pleasure, but I learned all about inventory when I came to the library.  For the first several years of my employment, we were pretty random about inventory, but four years ago we decided to do it all at one time, in the summer.  It's a BIG job and it has been mostly the responsibility of our summer help, but this year, the bulk of it fell to Christian.

Today she is finishing up the last section, the children's area.  We saved the kids' area for last so we would be done with summer reading before we started.  It's not the easiest section to inventory, but so far Christian isn't complaining!  She claims to even enjoy it!  Finishing the children's section will mean that Christian, (with a little help), has inventoried over 16,000 items this summer.  I consider that a job well done!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Julie's Journal : What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Those of you who know Jason and I, know that we rarely venture too far from home.  Most of the time we both enjoy spending our breaks around the house and working on improving our home.  Occasionally, we will take a short trip that usually includes taking in a Texas Ranger's baseball game, but that's about as exciting as we get.  This year, though, we both wanted to do something different - something that would get us out of our routine.

Early last Thursday morning we started driving north and east and by the end of the day (actually late that night), and after driving curving mountain roads in a thunderstorm after dark, we were in Gatlinburg, TN.  Friday, we spent the whole day exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was spectacular!

It was also wonderfully cool.  Our truck thermometer read 66 degrees and there was a very pleasant cool breeze blowing!  We did not miss the Texas heat!


We stopped at Newfound Gap on the Tennessee/North Carolina state line and ventured a very short way down the Appalachian Trail.

Now, during those ice-breaker, get-to-know-you type games, I can say that I have hiked the Appalachian Trail!

Coming down the other side into North Carolina, we stopped at Mingus Mill.  Mingus Mill is an 1886 grist mill powered by a flue that diverts water from a mountain stream.  We found the design to be ingenious, and a friendly park ranger demonstrated the mill in action.  Cornmeal was a main staple for most households and families from miles around would bring their corn and wheat to be ground at the mill.

 After lunch, we drove through Cade's Cove and enjoyed a different view of the mountains.  I felt small and insignificant standing surrounded by the mountains.  The pictures really do not do justice to how magnificent the scenery was.

Cade's Cove is also home to several historic cabins, churches, and cemeteries.  One gravestone was inscribed "murdered by rebels", which we found interesting.

Jason did not want to go back to Gatlinburg, so we took a different exit from Cade's Cove and found ourselves on a 12-mile 1-way "unimproved" road out of the mountains (Rich Mountain Road).  It was a narrow gravel road with no guard rails, and for the entire 12 mile trip, we saw only one other person, a man on a motorcycle.  Jason says that this was his favorite drive of the trip, but I was pretty  nervous and only took one picture.  The picture doesn't show it, but some parts of the road had steep drop offs on one side or the other.  It was crazy!

The next day we ventured into Georgia, to Atlanta, to visit the Georgia Aquarium.  It was interesting, but very crowded.  Our favorite part of the trip by far was the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  We look forward to a return visit, as there are several things we didn't have time to see!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Summer Reading : The Finale

Tuesday was the last day of Summer Reading and we celebrated with a water party!

We had a total of 692 kids attend Summer Reading and together they read 7426 books!

Our top readers were:

4-6 years old:      Trinity Woods with 280 books read
7-9 years old:      Samantha Edge with 485 books read
10-12 years old:  Sawyer Burns with 392 books read

Winners received a Kindle Fire and an Amazon gift card, courtesy of the Friends of the Library!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Summer Reading : Chalk Day

Chalk day is always fun and this year Mrs. August added to it by drawing this cool weight-lifting bar on the wall.  The kids have had a ball posing with it!  

If you happen to be passing by today, don't worry about the drawings on the side of the building!  It's not graffiti, just chalk!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Poet's Perch : In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.  Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

Photo credit:

Monday, July 11, 2016

We recently found out that - a popular early learning website - is free for libraries.  Setting it up was extremely easy so we now offer access to ABCmouse on all of our in house computers and tablets, and through our wifi.  Just look for the icon below on all our computers for instant access.

ABCmouse is for kids ages preschool through about 7 years old.  The activities are fun and geared towards basic reading and math skills.  It is the perfect activity to keep your little one occupied while you use the library.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tom's Two Cents : Zero K by Don DeLillo

Zero K, the latest novel by the greatly admired American author Don DeLillo, is a pre/post-apocalyptic take on the state of mankind sometime in the near future.  I'm not sufficiently up on the current evolution of cryogenics to comment on where we are at this time, and I suppose I really don't care, or I would have done some obligatory research before I wrote this article.  Freezing dying bodies for the distant future seems to me a subject for science fiction, but DeLillo treats the subject with such deadpan realism that one can hardly approach this work as such, and I'm not familiar with his other work, so I can't say whether this is a departure for him or not.  To be fair, the second half of the novel is concerned with another subject entirely, and I'm not sure at this point how I would connect the two.  Those of DeLillo's fans who are interested in how young men in America might be won over to terrorism will find that topic finely explored in the second half of the book.

As for the book as a whole, it's well written, graphically presented, and clinically cold.  One could say that for the entire book and its protagonist, the only son of an American billionaire (no, not Donald Trump), who has funded an immense cryogenics project called "The Convergence" somewhere in a vast underground bunker in Outer Mongolia.  The son, who narrates virtually the entire book, is torn between his admiration for his father's second wife, a prominent archaeologist, who is dying and will be frozen in expectation of a "return," and his disdain for his father's abandonment of his first wife, the man's mother, who virtually raised him as a single parent while her ex-husband was accumulating a vast fortune.  As for his feelings toward his own father, they are, to say the least, ambivalent.

This is a novel of profound ideas and notions about death and the human desire for an afterlife.  As such, it can seriously command our attention without necessarily engaging us as readers of fiction.  As with most novels of ideas, it teeters somewhat precariously between being fiction or non-fiction, because it lacks too much of the elements of the former, that is, narrative drive, character development and emotional tone.  Are fundamental ideas about the nature of human existence best suited to philosophy or epic poetry?  Or else the tragedies of Shakespeare?  I suspect I probably think so!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Chance's Corner: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Back in the mists of time (2008), producer J.J. Abrams took the horror sub-genre of low-budget found footage flicks and bolstered the concept with a big budget. The end product became the Godzilla-esque film called Cloverfield. The sub-genre of found footage is pretty divisive amongst film critics. Some say it has rejuvenated horror, while others think its pretty hokey. Whatever found footage really is, Cloverfield is still one of its crowning achievements.

Surprisingly, it's taken eight years for the sequel, 10 Cloverfield Lane, to be released - and boy, it just came out of nowhere! 10 Cloverfield Lane ditches the found footage concept and plays out like an actual movie in the confined depths of an underground bunker. Also, it really has absolutely nothing to do with the original film. I believe they are going for an anthology type set-up, but I'm not sure. All of these factors could have easily meant disaster, but it doesn't!

10 Cloverfield Lane opens with our leading lady, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, already running from something. It's not Godzilla or anything sinister. It's just life. Her escape is cut short, though, when she's run off the road by a truck. She awakens in a desolate place - a bunker - handcuffed and with a broken leg. She immediately jumps to the conclusion of abduction.  Then enters a grizzly John Goodman. He claims to have saved Mary's life, and he tells her stories of an attack above ground - and space worms. Mary doesn't buy what he's selling, and the suspicion continues to grow as the days and weeks pass by.

10 Cloverfield Lane is an incredibly suspenseful and claustrophobic thriller. You're not quite sure who or what to believe. I do know one thing, though. John Goodman is absolutely incredible. One minute you're suspicious of him - and afraid. Then, all of a sudden, you start to believe him and feel sorry for him. When the answers are brought to light, you're left to wonder who and what the true monster is.

My review sounds overly positive, doesn't it? Well, I haven't mentioned the ending of 10 Cloverfield Lane, yet. The ending really left a sour taste in my mouth. It undoes everything the first two acts of the film built. Everything just goes up in flames - literally. It's a shame. However, despite the disappointing ending, I'd still recommend anyone to watch 10 Cloverfield Lane, simply because everything else in the film is fantastic.

10 Cloverfield Lane is now available at the Franklin County Library!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Reading Day 1

Yesterday we kicked off our 2016 Summer Reading program.  This year the theme is "Reading Olympics" and the kids heard books about the Olympics and about Sportsmanship.  133 kids attended the program over three sessions.  Tuesdays are going to be wild around here for the rest of the summer!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Poet's Perch : Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do no go gentle into that good night, 
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage,rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Chance's Corner: Zootopia Review

The days of the Golden Age of Disney animation have long since been over, and the effects of the Disney Renaissance are still deeply felt by those around from 1989-1999. It may be the end of an era (or two), but lately Walt Disney Animation Studios has been firing on all cylinders with hits such as Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Frozen, and their biggest hit to date (that doesn't involve an incredibly annoying song) Zootopia.

Zootopia is a thriving city full of all sorts of animals - big and small, exotic and farm, predator and prey - all living together in certain sections that accommodate the climates in which they would live in the wild. Our heroine is Judy Hopps, the first rabbit to join the police force in Zootopia. She's spunky, full of energy, and ready to take on the world, even if the world isn't ready for it. Unfortunately, she'll have to take it through issuing parking citation fines, seeing as that she's only a meter maid. That is until she senses that treachery is afoot!

Emmitt Otterton has gone missing in Zootopia, and Judy Hopps is on the case! She tracks down the last "man" to see Emmitt alive, a sly fox named Nick Wilde. Against her better judgement, and against Nick's wishes, they set off together to uncover a growing conspiracy that could unravel the very fabric in which Zootopia was built.

The world of Zootopia is gorgeous to look at, and it's fascinating to see how other animals coexist with one another. The story is well-written. It's very funny and cute, a children's buddy cop movie, but there's a much deeper message lingering in Zootopia - a message on the ugliness of discrimination based on race, sex, etc. Sadly that's still a message we all need to learn!

Zootopia is now available at the Franklin County Library.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Julie's Journal : Tablet/Phone Games

Today, I thought I was share some of my favorite games for tablets and phones.  I have an ipad and iphone, but most of these games will work on Android based devices as well.

Clash of Clans is a war game.  The player builds a fortress complete with troops and defenses.  They then pit their troops against other players by both attacking other fortresses and defending their own.  The player can also join a clan and join forces with other players to wage war on other clans.  It's tempting to spend money to speed the development of your fortress, but not necessary for the enjoyment of the game.

The Smurf's Village is a building based game.  The Smurf's have been run out of their village by Gargamel and have to build a new one.  The player farms and builds improvements and homes for the smurf's.  The smurf's go on quests and eventually expand to an island, a mountain, and outer space,  Another building type game I enjoy is SimCity.

The Secret Society is an hidden object game.  There are several worlds to explore, all with different items to find.  The player also is able to unlock intriguing puzzles.  It has some challenging levels, and I tried to play it on my phone, but it was impossible to see.  It definitely needs a bigger screen.  Another hidden object game to try is Criminal Case.  Be aware that there is some language in Criminal Case, though.  

Bonza, Red Herring, and 7 Little Words are all good word games.  I like Bonza.  You are given a clue and several word fragments and have to piece them together into a crossword puzzle.  

I asked Charly, our new summer helper, what some of her favorite games were.  She gave me list of three., 100 Balls, and Piano Tiles.  She told me she takes Piano Tiles very seriously! Chance likes Crossy Road, a Frogger type game.  (There's a Disney version, too.)  Lisa likes Dots, a game to see how many dots of one color the player can connect within a time limit.  

Tablet games can be a fun distraction, especially during down time, like waiting at the doctor's office. They can get addictive though, so be careful!