Author Archives: wplblogger

It’s Time To Read: But I Don’t Wanna Grow Up! (Special Live Episode)

“There’s real drama in performing live. You never know how it’s going to be.”

Kevin Costner

Welcome, dear readers. Or maybe I should say “Dear LISTENERS”?

Have you ever wondered what goes into making an episode of our library bookclub podcast, “Time To Read”? Now’s your chance to find out (and have some fun at the same time!) It’s also one of the only times I think I could use a Kevin Costner quotation to start things off, so it’s already a success.

To celebrate our one year anniversary, we cordially invite you to The Good Will Social Club (625 Portage Ave) on Tuesday March 26, 2019 to help us record a LIVE EPISODE of “Time to Read”. We plan to get underway at 7:30 pm.

Never listened to an episode? NOT A PROBLEM. Our theme for the Live Episode is “But I don’t wanna grow up!” and we will be discussing our favourite books as kids. No homework required!

And you know what? We’ve heard from some listeners that they enjoy the book discussion even HAVING NOT READ the featured book each month, and many have been inspired to read the book after they’ve listened to a particular episode. (Assuming you don’t mind hearing possible spoilers. WE MAKE NO APOLOGIES!)

In any case, it isn’t a spoiler to say that we are super excited (and a little bit scared!) to record our upcoming live episode. We have a few surprises up our sleeves, including some music from funlife, featuring WPL’s own Brittany Thiessen.

We hope you can make it! It would be less fun if you weren’t there.

In the meantime, why don’t you give a listen to our most recent episode where we discuss Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake? And then tell us in person what you think!

-Trevor and the rest of the “Time to Read” gang.

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“Everyone Counts or Nobody Counts”

Sometimes you just want a grilled cheese sandwich. You know it’s not that great for you, and there might not be a whole lot to it, but sometimes it’s the only thing that will hit the spot.

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I feel the same way about Michael Connelly’s books. Look, he’s not going to ever win the Pulitzer or Man Booker prizes, nor is he ever going to Stockholm to get the Nobel Prize in Literature. AND THAT’S OKAY, because sometimes you just feel like a grilled cheese.

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Michael Connelly mostly writes police procedurals, and the majority of his books revolve around LAPD detective Harry Bosch. First appearing in 1992 in The Black Echo, Bosch is featured in 21 novels (as of this writing), with the most recent being the recently published Dark Sacred Night. In those 21 books, Bosch cycles through a series of partners, love interests and villains. It’s one of those series where reading them in order matters, as major events in one novel have repercussions in later ones. Picking up a new “Bosch” is like reconnecting with an old friend and spending a few days together. In this case, there’s usually also  a murder involved.

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Michael Connelly is really great at using real world locations in his novels, and I can’t stop myself from going onto Google Maps and Streetview as I am reading his novels so I can look up different locations. I even sometimes question Bosch’s driving routes, like “Why is he taking the 101? Wouldn’t the 5 be faster?” I know, I’m weird.

I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Connelly a few years ago at a book signing. I shyly waited in line, and when I got to the front I told him I worked in a library. I explained that I often recommend his books to people who are looking for a good read. He seemed genuinely pleased and when he handed my book back it was inscribed, “To Trevor, Thanks for pushing Harry Bosch at the library! Michael Connelly”. It’s my favourite inscription!

Sometimes a grilled cheese is just what you’re looking for, and when you feel like literary grilled cheese, may I recommend a double serving of Bosch?

Everyone counts or nobody counts“. Harry Bosch

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Titus Welliver as the titular character in Amazon Prime’s series based on the books.

-Trevor

A Star is Born… Again

It’s around this time of year when movie studios begin to release the films they hope will be in the running for next year’s awards season. One of the movies that is getting early “Oscar Buzz” is A Star is Born, starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper also directed the film; his first one.

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Did you know that A Star is Born is a remake of a remake of a remake? It’s true. The original A Star is Born was released in 1937. It was remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and James Mason, and again in 1976 with Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Each version tells the same basic story of a grizzled down-and-out celebrity who mentors a new, fresh talent, and as the popularity and success of the new talent rises, the career of the established character burns out. (Sorry about the spoilers for an 80 year old story that’s been told four different times).

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In the original, the action is based in Hollywood and tells the story of a young woman who rises out of obscurity and makes it big as a star of the silver screen. Fun fact: the 1937 version was the first colour movie to get nominated for Best Picture. You can watch on WPL’s digital services Hoopla and Kanopy. In the 1954 version, musical numbers abound as Judy Garland’s character transforms from the leader of a musical ensemble into a star of movie musicals. The following remake (1976) ditches Hollywood and makes the mentor character a drug-addled alcoholic rock star (Kristofferson) who discovers the titular star who gets born (Streisand) and the usual twists and turns insue.

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The newest take on this well-worn tale appears to have Bradley Cooper as a country singer and Lady Gaga as a pop singer. It played at the Toronto International Film Festival to rave reviews, and goes to show that, like interesting covers of classic songs, some stories can be told again and again (and again).

-Trevor

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It’s Time to Read: Son of a Trickster

It’s podcast day! This month the panel increases to 5 as we invite Monique from Information Services at Millennium to join in on the discussion for Son of a Trickster.

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You can find the latest episode, along with all of our previous episodes in your favourite podcast app, iTunes, Stitcher, or at our website at wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca.

This month the discussion includes favourite pet stories, whether we think MAGIC IS REAL (or not), and how much vomit is too much vomit in a story. We even get around to discussing Governor General Awards Finalist Eden Robinson’s novel for a bit too.

We hope you enjoy it. Please give us a rate and review on iTunes. A good rating and review really helps to make future readers and listeners find our podcast in the ocean of info out there.

Now’s the perfect time to get a jump on next month’s book. It’s Walkaway by Cory Doctorow. Doctorow writes about a dystopian near future where “Walkaways” are people who leave the default world of tech behind, and live and create in a frontier-like makerspace world where objects are created through 3D printers and group-wiki style decisions. With the recent opening of the ideaMILL on the 3rd Floor of the Millennium Library and the issue of “ghost guns” and 3D printers in the news, Doctorow’s world isn’t that far away from our own.

We’ll send out some discussion questions before we record our next episode at the end of August, but feel free to email, tweet or facebook us your thoughts ahead of time. We love hearing from you and will include your comments as part of the discussion on the show.

Until then, happy reading!

Trevor and the Time to Read gang.

It’s Time to Read: Fun Home

Welcome, dear readers! It’s that time at the beginning of the month when you should check your podcast feeds because a BRAND NEW EPISODE of WPL’s podcast, Time to Read is now available wherever you find your podcasts and on our Time to Read website.

This month, the gang discussed Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic

If you’re not familiar with it, Fun Home is the author’s own story of growing up in an unconventional family (they are part-time funeral home operators, hence the book’s punny title), and how she tries to come to terms with her own sexuality and the possibility that her father may have ended his own life. It doesn’t sound like cheery stuff, but a Tony winning Broadway musical was inspired by it, and there is quite a bit of humour throughout. I should also mention that it is written as a graphic novel (a fancy term for comic book) which allows the author to cram in tons of little specific details which make it a good book for repeat reads.

In addition to the book, the gang discusses the Bechdel test (and other pop culture tests) named after the author, and how journal writing has worked (or not worked) for us, among other things.

If you want to get in on the fun,  pick up next month’s read, Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson.

You may be interested to know that we have a SECRET GUEST PANELIST next month, so you won’t want to miss it! Maybe I’ve said too much.

You can email your thoughts on the book and on the podcast generally to us at:

wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Until next time, try to find some Time to Read!

-Trevor and the rest of the Time to Read team

I’ll see you again in twenty five years

I just finished watching Twin Peaks: The Return, the incredible, maddening, brilliant puzzle box mystery told over 18 hours last summer on Showtime. The library has the collected series on DVD, and I am left at the end of it with more questions than answers. I am sure this was creators David Lynch and Mark Frost’s intention all along. I’m not going to be able to do the show justice in one blog post, but let’s just say you’ll know pretty quickly where you are into it or not, starting with Season 1, which aired way back in 1990 on ABC.

In one of the final scenes of the second season of the show’s original 1991 run, the spirit of Laura Palmer leans in to Special Agent Dale Cooper, both captives of the Black Lodge, and whispers, “I’ll see you again in twenty five years”. By some amazing meta-reality twisting, fans of this peculiar show are presented with the fulfilment of this promise in almost real time. Many of the original cast returned for what would be their final roles. (Almost every episode ends with a “In Memory of” tribute to someone who you had just been watching). Many long-term David Lynch collaborators, such as Laura Dern and Naomi Watts, appear for the first time in the Twin Peaks universe, and it was a joy, if not a frustrating joy, to watch it all unfold.

Part way through the series, (I believe it was after the particularly mind-bending episode 8. No spoilers here, except to say that if you don’t have a clue what you just watched, you are not alone), I knew I had to turn to some expert help. I found a wonderful podcast by Entertainment Weekly writers Jeff Jensen and Darren Franich that goes deep into each episode. To give you an idea how deep, their episode on the finale runs for three and a half hours! Myself, I found the podcast an essential companion to the new season.

In addition to this podcast, WPL has some great supplemental resources for those Twin Peaks fans left wanting more.

Mark Frost, the co-creator of the series, recently published a couple of books that help fill in some gaps in the mythology. Both Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier and The Secret History of Twin Peaks are worth checking out. Could these be the final words we ever get from them about Twin Peaks?

 

Coffee, donuts and cherry pie play prominent roles throughout the series, so it only makes sense that someone would write a Twin Peaks cookbook. I’d avoid the creamed corn if I were you.

Damn Fine Cherry Pie by Lindsey Bowden

 

 

Music also plays an important role in the Twin Peaks experience, with many episodes of the new series ending in the Roadhouse with full performances from a variety of interesting musical artists. Additionally, the haunting themes of Angelo Badalamenti are peppered throughout the entire run and set the mood for this show’s mystical setting.

The soundtracks to the original series, the follow up feature film Fire Walk with Me, and the limited series return are all available through Hoopla, and there is an excellent book about the collaborative process between David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti called Soundtrack from Twin Peaks by Claire Nina Norelli.

Now that I am through all 18 parts, and have lived to tell the tale, I am also left wanting more. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ve seen from the world of Twin Peaks, and that we won’t have to wait another twenty five years for our next piece of cherry pie.

-Trevor

 

All we need is TIME TO READ

Not so very long ago, a small group of librarians had the idea to create a monthly “Podcast Bookclub” to which anyone could subscribe and follow along.

We are super excited to announce that today (Friday, February 2, 2018) is the launch day for our first episode! You can find us at wpl-podcast.winnipeg.ca or wherever you find your other podcasts.

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We are calling it “Time to Read” and we would love it if you gave it a listen. Our first selection is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. When we announced this project on Twitter last month,  Margaret Atwood HERSELF tweeted her approval, so no pressure, right?

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“Passionate and Witty”? You be the judge!

Without giving too much away, in addition to talking about Margaret Atwood and her dystopian novel, we veer off on tangents involving sloths, CD-ROMs, Blade Runner, and Keanu Reeves. To learn more you’ll just have to listen. Haven’t read Oryx and Crake yet? What are you waiting for? The cool thing about podcasts is that they will be still available for listening down the road, so you can always go back and revisit old episodes.

Going forward, we are hoping that you, our online community of readers, can be a part of this project too. We’d love it if you’d like to read each month’s selection along with us, and send us your opinions, thoughts and questions ahead of time. We’ll even give you a shout out during the episode if you include your first name and home library branch. We’ll be eagerly checking our inbox at:

wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

You’ll also be able to find us on Instagram,  Twitter and Facebook, and we would love to hear from you after you listen as well. Even if you disagree with us. ESPECIALLY if you disagree with us! It’s all about getting a discussion going, and connecting in new and different ways.

 

 

Next month’s book will be Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, and I can’t wait to find out what all of us, and all of YOU, have to say about it.

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TIME TO READ: A WPL Podcast

Trevor

Snow on Snow

“Snow had fallen, snow on snow”. In the Bleak Midwinter, Christina Rosetti

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One of the more insidious and effective ways that “the holiday spirit” gets to us is through seasonal music. You can’t escape it. There’s no agreement as to when the “season” begins. After Halloween, surely. PROBABLY after Remembrance Day, right? But when? December 1st? The first Sunday in Advent? Grey Cup? Whatever you use to define the beginning of the holiday season, there’s no doubt that we are reaching the “peak cheer” zone this week.

The holiday season for me is all about traditions, and I like to listen to the same handful of albums year in and year out. They connect me to Christmases past and fill me with warmth and good feelings. Are any of these on your favourites list?

A Charlie Brown Christmas by Vince Guaraldi

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I remember watching this tv special even back before you could record it on VCRs, so you had to plan ahead to make sure you didn’t miss it. I still try to watch it at least once a year with my daughter, although it’s clear that it doesn’t hold the same meaning for her. Maybe that will change once she sees the live action version of it, currently playing at Manitoba Theatre for Young People.

The Bells of Dublin by The Chieftains

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I often think of this album as the Christmas album for people who hate Christmas albums. It shies away from the more well known carols, and opts instead for songs like The Rebel Jesus, The St. Stephen’s Day Murders and Past Three O’clock. At various points during the album you can hear long medleys of various carols played in a live setting, and it really creates the impression that you are eavesdropping on a bunch of talented musicians jamming and having a great time, in the tradition of a Celtic kitchen party.

Christmas by Bruce Cockburn

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I would include this album EVEN IF I didn’t feel a certain obligation to have some Canadian content in this list. Even though this album came out in 1993, it is the most recent addition to my regular rotation, joining the others just a few Christmases ago. I like the folksy, upbeat treatment most of the songs on this album get, especially Mary Had A Baby, I saw Three Ships and that most Canadian of Christmas Carols (No, not River by Joni Mitchell, you guys), The Huron Carol.

James Taylor at Christmas by James Taylor

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You know, sometimes you just want to hear a schmaltzy Christmas album, and James Taylor doesn’t disappoint. He kicks things off with Winter Wonderland and gamely works his way through many contemporary classics, like Santa Claus is Coming to Town, Jingle Bells, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and the problematic Baby It’s Cold Outside with Natalie Cole. It’s not all tinsel and marshmallows, though. We get a lovely rendition of In The Bleak Midwinter towards the end, one of my favourite traditional carols, and one that feels like it was written especially for our part of the world.

What are some of your perennial favourites, and have you found any interesting new ones this year? Let us know in the comments below.

-Trevor

Autumn Tool Kit

There’s a chill in the air most mornings now, and our regular activities have resumed after our summer break. Time is running out to finish that yard work and all that’s left to do is to batten down the hatches in preparation for the long winter ahead. Some people love autumn, and others find it difficult to get through. I’ve put together a little “Autumn Tool Kit” to help make it a little easier on those who struggle, and make it even better for those who love it.

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First Snow, Algoma. A.Y. Jackson

One of the things I like about autumn is getting our slow cooker down off the top shelf and coming home to the delicious smell of something that’s been cooking away all day. My favourite “go to” recipe is super easy. You just stick a boneless pork roast in there, cover it with a can of Coke, and cook it on low all day. About a half an hour before you eat, pull the pork apart and throw in some BBQ sauce. If you want to get REALLY fancy, you can chop up an onion in the morning and throw that in with the pork (but you don’t have to). Toast up a couple of buns, and bingo bango: you’ve got pulled pork for supper. Trust me, it’s easy and delicious, but if you’d like to venture out and try other slow cooker recipes this fall, why not check out one of our slow cooker cook books? One of our newer ones is “Adventures in Slow Cooking” by Sarah DiGregorio.

Another fall activity you can try is canning and jarring. We had a presentation on jam making and preserving basics at the Louis Riel Library last month. Judy, our presenter, talked about Fruit Share Manitoba, an organization where you can sign up if you have fruit bearing plants in your yard and you don’t think you’ll get around to picking them yourself. If you register your fruit trees or bushes on the website, then people interested in looking for fruit can connect with you. The idea is that the pickers get to keep a third of the fruit, you as the fruit tree owner get a third, and a third is donated to charity. Once you have the fruit (or vegetables for that matter), the next step is to preserve them for the winter ahead. America’s Test Kitchen has a new book out called “Foolproof preserving: a guide to small batch jams, jellies, pickles, condiments and more”.

Now that we’ve got food covered, you’ll need an activity to keep you occupied on these long nights. If you are interested in trying out knitting or crocheting, we’ve got you covered in one book called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting” by Barbara Breiter and Gail Diven.

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Once you feel like you’ve got the basic hang of it, why not come out to Louis Riel’s Knit Night? We meet the first Tuesday of every month at 7 pm. (Our next meeting will be on November 7). Although it is not a knitting class, it is a chance for knitters of all experience levels and talent to come together, share projects, and work together on individual projects. Most months will include a presentation on a particular topic. Give us a call at 204-986-4573 to register. We even let crocheters come, but we draw the line at macramé.

 

-Trevor

 

 

So very Camp

 

9780590431354[1]One of my favourite books growing up was Gordon Korman’s I want to go home. It’s a hilarious novel about this kid, Rudy Miller, who is sent to summer camp against his will. He spends the entire time trying to devise new and ingenious ways of escaping. One of his schemes is to write a letter home to his parents describing his camp life (filled with exaggerations and lies) with the hope that they will collect him early. Here’s an excerpt:

Dear Mom and Dad,

This place is terrible. Each day I’m subjected to countless atrocities. The food is spoiled and poisonous, and the drinking water is contaminated so there is an outbreak of typhoid. Our cabin collapsed last night in a typhoon, but don’t worry. Only one guy got killed.
It’s not all bad. I do have one friend, named Mike. He’s the one who pulled me out of the quicksand. I have to haul garbage every day, but there aren’t too many wild animals at the dump and I’ve only been bitten twice.
Tonight is really going to be fun. Our cabin hasn’t been fixed yet, so we get to sleep in trees. I sure hope the typhoon doesn’t start up again.
I’ll be safe and sound so long as Algonkian Island doesn’t sink any further.

Your son,
Rudy

P.S. If this letter looks messy it’s because I’m writing it while being chased by a bear.

It’s a little more difficult finding adult novels that deal with summer camp, but here are a few that you might enjoy. SPOILERS: things don’t go well.

The Summer is Ended and We are Not Yet Saved by Joey Comeau

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Okay, let me say right off the top that this book is not for everyone. It’s quite graphic (it’s a horror novel, essentially) about an 11 year old kid who goes to Bible camp. The first part of the novel sets up a lot of the 1980’s slasher tropes but they are interspersed with some lovely correspondence between the kid (Martin) and his mother back home. The second part of the novel devolves into a genre slasher story, albeit one with some creativity and dark humour. Not exactly an adult companion piece to I want to go home, but close.

How to Survive a Summer by Nick White

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This powerful debut tells the story of a film studies graduate student, Will Dillard, who spend a summer at a “gay conversion camp” as a teenager, and how now, almost 20 years later, he is confronted with what happened that summer and how it affected him. (And yes, there is a “slasher film” element to this story as well. It seems you can’t write a novel about summer camp without evoking the image of someone in a goalie mask).

The Mad Cook of Pymatuning by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

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Maybe I’m just looking for slasher summer camp stuff at this point, but here’s a book recommended by Stephen King, He says: “Warm ’50s nostalgia gives way to cold chills in this tale of a summer camp gone bad. Very bad. Think Lake Lord-of-the-Flies.”  Are there no “feel good” summer camp books? I guess that wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? “Chapter 1: we all had a lovely time, made life-long friends and learned valuable survival and leadership skills. The End.”

All of these books reference the “Summer Camp Slasher” genre in one way or another, and none of it would have been possible without the original, Friday the 13th. If you are at all interested in that franchise and the impact it has had on our pop culture, you should check out Crystal Lake Memories. It’s 400 minutes long and takes you through every Friday the 13th movie. (I know, it’s a bit much, but it does a thorough job.)

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After reading through all these different “reinventions of the slasher novel”, it just made me want to rewatch The Cabin in the Woods, which is a great little take on the “teenagers go camping in the woods” kind of story…WITH A TWIST (of course).

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Enjoy the rest of your summer. Hopefully you make it through!

-Trevor