Archive for June, 2011

Documentary Monday~~Bigger, Stronger, Faster*

TitleBigger, Stronger, Faster*

Year–2008

Awards–Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, 2008

Nominated for the Feature Film Award at the Prism Awards, 2009

Summary–Takes a look at steroid use in America, especially among celebrities and athletes.  The film is made by Chris Bell, and follows him as he struggles with whether or not to use, especially since both of his brothers do.

My Thoughts–I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this film or not.  I don’t know a lot about the topic, and aside from being a baseball fan, don’t really think too much about steroids.  My opinion is that if they are illegal, then nobody should be using them and also, it is cheating.  I thought it was interesting that one of the big questions this film asks is, “Should they even be illegal?”

Chris Bell is the director and narrator of the film.  He talks about how Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hulk Hogan, and Sylvester Stallone were all his heroes.  He spent a lot of his high school years bodybuilding and getting buff to be like his role models.  Of course, later in life he realized that they were all on steroids at one point.  Chris thinks steroids are morally wrong and after trying it, decided that he wouldn’t use them.  But both of his brothers use them on a regular basis.

The documentary spends a lot of time talking about how the negative effects of steroids have been blown out of proportion.  It is pointed out that all drugs have negative side effects and potential pitfalls.  Also, tobacco and alcohol are legal even though they are harmful when used and cause thousands of deaths every year.  One statistic they mention is that deaths related to steroids in one given year were only 3.  From the info they provided, I can understand why it is a little bit silly for someone who possess anabolic steroids to be classified as a federal drug criminal.

I do, however, think that they should not be allowed in sports.  One of the most depressing things about this documentary is how many people said “everybody does it, so that’s why I did it.”  He talks to people from so many different sports and they all say the same thing.  It kind of broke my heart a little bit.  It really is true when the narrator says “Steroids are as American as apple pie.”  Sigh.

There are a lot of things addressed in this film (my one complaint is that it did feel a little long) but all of it is tied in with Chris’ struggles with his family and their decision to use steroids.  The interviews and discussions with his family members really added a lot to the topic and made it more personal.

Final Verdict–Well-made, interesting film that will never let you look at your favorite athletes in the same way.

Jen

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Sooo extremely excited about Pottermore? Yes! but…..

I AM ALSO RIDICULOUSLY ANNOYED THAT ALL THE FANSITES GOT A PREVIEW!

I was soooo thrilled when I first saw the tweet about Pottermore for two reasons: 1. obviously new Harry Potter thingy but also 2. I had a reason to go visit all my old friends over at Leaky and Mugglenet and elsewhere to hear their discussions and see their insider theories!

This is what I read at Leaky:

Leaky has seen a preview of Pottermore and it is breathtaking.

Ummmmm really? REALLY?!

That’s it? THAT IS IT?!

Mugglenet said essentially the same thing.

I would compare what I am feeling now to what it is like when your unicorn turns on you.

WHYYYYYY? I am really really upset about this. I can’t blame them for looking at the preview–who would turn that down? Buuuuuut, it just made me sad. I wanted to feel something similar to what I felt in the years and months leading up to Deathly Hallows–where EVERYONE was wondering and hoping and feeling all at the same time. Instead, the Pottermore excitement crashed into the Whomping Willow. sigh.

Yup, I am seriously all frowny over this! And not because I am jealous that they got to see it before anyone else (because actually that kinda takes the fun out of the surprise, right?), but because they got to see it and thus are SWORN TO SECRECY, they cannot talk about Pottermore AT ALL. ummmmm, doesn’t that kind of suck all the fun out of a fan site? I kind of feel like I was pushed away for not being cool enough.

Me with all the fun sucked out of me. (Image via markopolio-stock of Deviant Art)

Okay, so now I have that off my chest, I will try to go back to being really super excited and hoping and wondering and feeling. Magic is real.

-Amber

Documentary Monday~~Sound and Fury

TitleSound and Fury

Year–2000

Awards–Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, 2001

Nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards, 2001

Won the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review, 2000

Summary–Follows the story of a two related families who are considering cochlear implants for their children.  One of them is an infant, Peter, who was born to parents who can hear.  The other is his cousin Heather, who has grown up in an all deaf family.

My Thoughts–This was a really good film, but parts of it were hard to watch.  It is a very emotional story where people feel very passionate about their views, so there is a lot of arguing.  I am not big on confrontation or fighting, so some of the family discussions were hard for me to watch.

The main focus of the film is a 4 1/2 year-old girl named Heather whose parents and siblings are all deaf.  She is interested in getting a cochlear implant which would allow her to hear so it will be easier for her to interact with other children who are not deaf.  Her parents have very mixed feelings about the idea because they are worried that she will stop identifying with the deaf community and lose herself in the hearing world.

Heather’s infant cousin Peter (their fathers are brothers) is born deaf and his parents really want to get him an implant as soon as possible.  Peter’s maternal grandparents are both deaf and think that this is not the right choice for their grandchild.

One of the good things about seeing all the arguing amongst family members is it really helps to illustrate what a huge impact these implants have on the deaf community.  Many of the older deaf people in the film seemed to be opposed to them, while the majority of the hearing people seemed to think it was the only way to go.

I admit that I fell into that category at first.  I thought, well, of course I would want my child to be able to hear.  But after listening to Heather’s parents discuss their fears and seeing how great it was for Heather when she went to visit the deaf school, I began to rethink my position.

This is a good film to introduce you to the topic because there are good arguments on both sides of the issue.  I’m so glad I watched it because I was only vaguely aware that this surgery even existed.  I also enjoyed watching everyone speaking in sign language.  I almost never get to watch people signing, and I am always so impressed with how beautiful the language is.

Final Verdict–This is a good, emotional film that will make you really think.  It’s impossible to watch it and not think about what you might do in the same situation.

Jen

Documentary Monday~~The Wonder of it All

TitleThe Wonder of it All

Year–2007

Awards–Won Best Documentary at the Rhode Island International Film Festival

Summary–This film explores what it was like for the men who landed on the moon during the Apollo missions.  It includes interviews with several of the 12 astronauts who walked on the moon from 1969-1972 and original NASA footage.

My Thoughts–I am fascinated by everything that has to do with space.  I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little, but then one of my teachers told me that I should pick a more realistic career (yeah, I had some pretty *awesome* teachers).  The fact that only 12 men in history have ever walked on the moon totally boggles my mind.  And the last man to set foot on the moon did it in 1972!!!  I honestly thought we had gone back since then, but apparently I am not that bright.

This film is composed of interviews with 7 of those 12 men.  They talk about how they first got involved with NASA (most of them can’t really describe it, they just feel like they got lucky) and the beginnings of the Apollo program.  I will admit that this first part was a little slow.  It started out with a bang when Eugene Cernan said that Kennedy’s challenge to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade was scary because “we didn’t know tiddly-winks about space.”  Heehee.  I love it when grownups use fun words.  🙂  It kind of got a wee bit boring after that, but it picked right up when they started talking about their time on the moon.

It was so fascinating to hear them talk about their time up there.  These are men who have experienced something that no one else has, and you can tell by the way they talk about it that they know how special it is.  They spend a lot of time talking about how tightly scheduled their time on the moon was.  They were not allowed time to goof off or marvel at the view, because they had task after task that they had to perform.  But each one was able to take a moment to reflect on the enormity of the situation.

There is some great footage of someone (I can’t remember who) hopping along the surface singing “I was strolling on the moon one day…”  And Charlie Duke talked about how he started jumping up and down just for fun and ended up falling on his back, which could have been really dangerous.

One reason I am glad that I watched this documentary is that I had never even heard of any of these guys, except of course for Buzz Aldrin.  The other astronauts interviewed accomplished just as many amazing things as Buzz and Neil, but no one knows who they are.  I now feel better knowing that I am a little more informed than I used to be.  (Now I can list off all the astronauts on Apollo 13 without batting an eyelash, but of course they were not included because they did not land on the moon.)

Final Verdict–If you are interested in space or NASA related things, this is something you should watch.  If that’s not your cup of tea, you should probably skip this one.

Jen

A Typical Tuesday During Summer Reading

My lovely friend Abby has a series of posts on her blog about a Day in the Life of a Children’s Librarian, and I have always wanted to do one.  I also kind of promised Lindsay that I would do one during BEDA, which I never got around to.  So today was a pretty cool day at work, and I thought I would share a step by step look at what I did.  Some of you might say that this is NOT a typical day, but I will do this every Tuesday for six weeks this summer, so yes, it is pretty typical for me.

8:35  Get in to work and check the book drop.  My boss and I are supposed to be at work at 9:00, but both of us snuck in at the same time today.  That is how hardcore things are during the summer at my library.

8:40  Set up the room for storytime and make quick example of the craft.

9:00  Went over stories for the program and jumped up and down in excitement over a delivery of new smelly markers from Dick Blick (they are so fancy!!!).

9:30  Storytime for one of the daycares with 27 people there.  We did around the world stories including “Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes” by Mem Fox, “My Granny Went to Market” by Stella Blackstone, and “Say Hello” by Rachel Isadora.  We also sang one of my very favorite songs “Sally the Camel.”  It’s great, look it up.

10:00  Craft time with the daycare.  All the kids got reading passports that we stamped with a “World Traveler” stamp and they drew their portrait inside.  Each week they will get a new stamp in their passport and then they take it home on the last day.  They also made their own personal flags out of cardstock and popsicle sticks.

10:20  Quickly clean up and reset the room at the same time for the next storytime.

10:30  Storytime for the public.  Do the same thing all over again for a crowd of 50.  It was one little guy’s last storytime before he moves and it was super sad to see him go.  He came to my very first storytime at the library over two years ago.  *Sniffle*

11:20  Clean up the room and reset it for the teen program this afternoon

11:40 Gather some last minute supplies for the teen program and then search frantically for my car keys.

11:50 Finally find my keys and head home for lunch.  (Even though I am at home, I use my lunch break to check work emails.)

12:40  Back at the library.  Spend a few minutes at the desk checking stuff in and shelving things.  Help a few kids pick up summer reading stuff.  Go over the I Spy that our lovely page did for the display window and say that it looks awesome.

1:30 Last minute set up for the teen program.  Get out display books and enough pens and pencils for the scavenger hunt.

1:45  Kids start arriving early so we start dishing out the ice cream cones.

2:00  The program has just started and the stream of kids coming in is not stopping.  I run to the store to get more ice cream!  We end up having 43 kids show up!!  They all eat their ice cream and then break up into teams for a library scavenger hunt.  I worried they might think it was kind of lame, but they went CRAZY over it.  They were running around the library like little cockroaches searching for the answers.  I loved it, but according to my boss, this is the last one we do for a while 🙂

2:40  Announce the winner of the hunt and give away prize books to 8 lucky kids.

2:45  Kids clear out and we clean up the drips of ice cream and put away the bean bag chairs.

3:10  Finish out my regular shift by working the desk.  I shelve, check stuff in, help people search for the hidden pictures in the library, and chat with a nice family that comes in for storytime.

5:00  Head home for a quick bite to eat.

6:00  Back at the library to get ready for our Family Night program.  A local wildlife rescue guy is bringing his reptiles to the library.

6:25  Let in the massive group of people gathered outside the door and try to get them to keep an aisle clear in the middle of the room.

6:35  We start the program and these are the things that happen

*115 people show up.

*My camera batteries run out after he brings out the second animal.

*I yell A LOT to get people to quiet down.  I adore my patrons, but they are always rowdy when performers come.

*The giant tortoise poops on the kitchen floor.

*When the tortoise tries to walk on the carpet he can’t get any traction so he just sits there swinging his huge legs.  SO CUTE!

*The cobra poops all over the presenter and our floor.

*The cobra literally escapes his container and we all scream bloody murder.  He doesn’t get very far, but it literally sounds like we are all being massacred.  I am halfway out the door ala George Costanza in a fire.  In a situation like that, I was like, “You’re on your own kids!”

*He brings out a Ball Python that is the hugest thing ever.  It is shedding its snake skin all over the carpet.

*Everybody gets a chance to touch all the animals (except that crafty cobra) and they all seem to have had a marvelous time.  Most kids go home with a piece of snake skin.  I was even brave enough to touch some of them.

7:30  I vacuum up the snake skin and try to clean the cobra poop off the carpet (I did not succeed).

7:50  I put the new receipt printer in the cash register since I have the magic touch.

8:05  I finally head home.

Phew!  So, every Tuesday for the next five weeks I have four programs.  But then I am halfway done with my programming for the week, so it is pretty easy peasy from here on out.  Sorry this was such a long post, but it was a really LONG day.

Jen

P.S.  Man, kids and parents are going to be talking about the escaped cobra for a long time.  It was so awesome how we all freaked out, and then laughed about it.

 

Documentary Monday~~Man on Wire

TitleMan on Wire

Year–2008

Awards–Won tons of awards, most notably the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2009

Summary–Tells the amazing story of Philippe Petit, a Frenchman who in 1974 wire walked between the tops of the Twin Towers.

My Thoughts–I will start by saying that this documentary is very good.  It won the Oscar, so it has to be great, but I was a little let down by it.  I liked it and all, but the trailer really builds it up to be “THE GREATEST MOVIE IN THE HISTORY OF EVERYTHING EVER MADE!”  Well, let me tell you a little secret–it’s not.  It is really good and enjoyable to watch, but it is not the nail-biting, suspenseful roller-coaster ride that is suggested by the critics’ comments.

The film goes back and forth between interviews with Philippe and his cohorts, home video footage they shot back in France, and recreations of the big event.  Philippe mentions that the first time he ever saw a picture of the Twin Towers he knew that he had to wire walk between them.  He spent a lot of time dreaming about the day he would do it.  I loved hearing about just how much planning was involved in order to accomplish his feat.  He needed a whole team of people to help him set up the wire and prepare for the big event.

I really enjoyed all of the talk about how they had to study the World Trade Center and learn how to get in and out and which elevators to use.  They would NEVER be able to get away with things like that in today’s world, with all of the crazy security things we have set up in buildings like that.  It is sort of sad to think that in keeping ourselves safe, we also prevent people from doing amazing things like Philippe did.

It was really interesting to hear the story of all of the events leading up to the actual walk.  There were so many things that could have gone wrong, and some things that really did go wrong that could have stopped them at any moment.  Just the fact that they were able to get the wire set up between the buildings before someone caught them is incredible.

There are two things about this documentary that I found disappointing.  First of all, there is no actual video of Philippe’s great accomplishment.  There are photographs, but no video.  I found it funny that there seems to be endless footage of Philippe and his cronies frolicking about and being silly in a meadow in France, but nobody had a video camera handy when he did his biggest stunt ever.

Also, I was really enjoying the movie until it came to the end.  After he got out of jail (because that’s what happens when you do crazy things, you go to jail) he randomly runs off and has sex with a beautiful stranger (groupie) who is waiting outside the jail.  WTF???  I would normally frown upon this type of behavior, but he was in New York with his longtime, very serious girlfriend who had helped him through the whole process, so it really pissed me off.  So my opinion of him pretty much hit rock bottom after that, because I don’t care how high you are flying because you are awesome, that is no excuse for being a cheating bastard.

Final Verdict–This is a good film, that I would recommend to any fan of documentaries, even though I didn’t LOVE it as much as everyone else seems to.

Jen

Breaking Dawn Trailer…..Duh Duh Duuuuuuuuunh!!

After dealing with all the heaviness of national publications attacking books we love and Summer Reading Programs starting all over the country, we all need a little bit of levity right now.

So…….here is the first trailer for Breaking Dawn Part One.*  I happen to be in the camp of people who adore Breaking Dawn (hey, Jacob got his happy ending, that’s all I wanted….I don’t care how gross it is) and the Twilight movies always make me happy, so I am super excited about this.

I really love the way it starts out with everyone receiving the invitations.  And the wedding itself looks gorgeous!!!  I just can’t believe they revealed so much of the plot.  I guess most people who will be seeing the movie already know what is happening, but still…..they could have left a little to the imagination.

I am really excited to see what the fancy pants director does with the impossible-to-adapt material in the book.  Is anyone else looking forward to it?  At least it will give me something to do after the last Harry Potter this summer.

Jen

*Sorry, I couldn’t get it to embed and I was too lazy to devote time to making it work.