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Archive for January, 2008

John HancockYes, today is John Hancock’s birthday and surprise, surprise, it is also National Handwriting Day, apparently in his honor.

Hancock, of course, was the first one to sign the Declaration of Independence back in 1776, and his signature is definitely the easiest to recognize.

Even in this image of the Declaration from the National Archives, you can make out Hancock’s signature, right there at the top of everyone else’s. (He certainly wasn’t shy.)

To find out more about one of the least well known (aside from his signature, of course) of America’s “founding fathers” check out what the Alameda County Library has on Hancock.

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Attention all Lord of the Rings fans! We’ve hoped. We’ve prayed. We were dismayed by news of internal strife. But now? Now our dreams are coming true.

The Hobbit is headed for the big screen sometime in 2010, and it is brought to you by none other than Peter Jackson himself.

Now, here’s the interesting bit: Apparently, they’re planning to make two films based on The Hobbit, not just the one we were hoping for. They would be released one year apart, just as the Lord of the Rings films were. If you want to keep informed as the news comes in, be sure to keep an eye on the official blog – The Hobbit Blog. Of course, I’ll keep you informed of any major developments.

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Review: Sector 7

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Sector 7 by David Wiesner is a story told entirely in pictures about a young boy who befriends a cloud while visiting the Empire State Building. Okay, there are some words in the pictures, but they are along the lines of “Empire State Building” and “Observatory.” As you may imagine, this Caldecott Honor Book contains some very nice artwork. The fantastic world of the Cloud Dispatch Center is not to be missed, especially after our young hero arrives. This story in pictures delights in pointing out the possibilities that exist if you have artistic ability and imagination. I like this book for its sheer cleverness. It is not a storyline that I would have ever considered on my own. Obviously, it would be difficult to read this book to someone for story time, but on the other hand you might ask a child to “read” it to you. You never know what might be seen in the clouds.

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Paul MuniThis handsome man on the left is Paul Muni (in case you weren’t aware), and his picture is adorning this page because today I’ve decided we need a little digression into classic film history. By the by, I’m crazy about classic films and if you are too, you might want to check out the TCM classic movies site. It’s packed with information, photos, clips and more—really great stuff! (Do I sound like a commercial?)

Okay, enough of that. Let’s chat a little about Paul Muni, shall we? He is one of my absolutely favorite actors—ever. He didn’t make too many films, but those he did were consistently excellent. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang and Scarface (both 1932) are probably his best known films. If you’ve never seen this “original” Scarface, directed by Howard Hawks (who we’ll have to chat about sometime too), you really should try to track down a copy of it. Other Muni films not to miss: The Life of Emil Zola (1937) and Juarez (1939).

Juarez also has Bette Davis in it; she gives an amazing performance. It’s interesting though, that she and Paul Muni have no scenes together in this movie. Too bad. They were really great together in Bordertown (1935); kind of a lost gem of a movie. I don’t want to give the plot away—so I won’t, but a huge chunk of this movie was incorporated five years later into the (also very good) movie, They Drive by Night (1940), with Ida Lupino, who very handily steals the show from Humphrey Bogart and George Raft. (This sentence is way too long; I hope you paused to take a breath if you were reading aloud.) If you ever have the chance, compare the performances of Ida Lupino in this movie and Bette Davis in Bordertown. Very interesting!

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Pooh Day!

Book JacketYes, today is Pooh Day, aka the birth anniversary of Alan Alexander Milne, the author who created Winnie the Pooh.

Learn more about Milne and explore all things Pooh at the Just-Pooh website.

Alternatively, check out what Winnie the Pooh materials we have here at the
Alameda County Library
.

And just for fun, some random wisdom from Pooh:

Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.

When late morning rolls around and you’re feeling a bit out of sorts, don’t worry; you’re probably just a little eleven o’clockish.

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Volunteers Wanted

Booklegger Logo

Become a Booklegger

Are you interested in sharing books and a love of reading with students in the Fremont Unified School District? If you just answered yes, you should consider becoming a Booklegger. For more information, come to one of the upcoming orientation meetings. The meeting will last about one hour and will:

  • Introduce the project staff
  • Demonstrate Booklegging
  • Describe the training program
  • Give an idea of the time involved in being a Booklegger

Orientation Meetings

When: Wednesay January 30, 2-3 p.m. or 7-8 p.m.
Where: Fremont Main Library, Conference Room A

Spring 2008 Training Dates

When: The following Tuesday mornings from 9:15-11:15 a.m.
February 5 and 26; March 4, 11, 18 and 25; April 1 and 8
Where: Fremont Main Library, Conference Room A

For more information, please call 510-745-1421 or 510-745-1409 and ask for Gail Orwig or Karen Pacheco.

You might also want to look at Booklegger FAQs.

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Thursday 13 #2

For this week’s Thursday Thirteen I offer you Thirteen SciFi/Fantasy Books that have been filmed. I’m always interested in books that are making the transition to film, so if you encounter any information on the topic, please let me know.

I have linked the title of the book to the listing for the film on the IMDB. (In some cases I had to chose one version of a film to link to when there have been multiples.) I also linked to the book and/or film if it is in the Alameda County Library system so that you may place a hold on the item if you want to. The opinions of the films and books that are included in this list are my own snarky opinions and not the official stance of the Fremont Libraries. Just so you know.

1. Dune – Frank Herbert (This book has been filmed a couple of times. I still haven’t seen the new mini-series that the Sci Fi Channel put out, but the one with Kyle MacLachlan had several different versions. A couple of those versions are a bit…gross, actually. This is the only book of the series that I have read. [The Book, The Film, The Miniseries]

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (Douglas Adams provided the world with a number of different versions of this story. Reportedly, he liked to change it a little each time he gave us a new version. There have been a book, radio series, mini-series, and a film. I’m sure that I’m missing an iteration in there somewhere. This is not a mere work of literature. It has become a cultural phenomenon. Do you know where your towel is?) [The Book, The Mini-Series, The Film]

3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Philip K. Dick (The film version of this book is better know as Blade Runner. I love the film, but I haven’t read the book yet. The film contains my favorite film quote ever. “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”) [The Book, The Film]

4. Contact – Carl Sagan (Why haven’t I read this book yet? I loved the film, and I used to obsessively watch Cosmos as a kid. Hmm… Perhaps this is another of those mysteries of life.) [The Book, The Film]

5. Stardust – Neil Gaiman (I loved this film, and not just a little bit. De Niro’s performance was priceless. As is usually the case, the book and the film are a wee bit different from each other. I have a friend who likes the film better than the book.) [The Book, The Film]

6. K-Pax – Gene Brewer (I don’t have too much to say about this one, except that Kevin Spacey did a good job in the film.) [The Book, The Film]

7. The People: No Different Flesh – Zenna Henderson (The People appeared as a TV film back in 1972. It isn’t available in either DVD or VHS, sadly. To see this one you’ll have to set your Tivo or monitor the late night movies. That’s what I did anyway. The film was okay, but Zenna Henderson’s books are fabulous. I own the compilation of her stories about “The People” called Ingathering. I need to go back and re-read it now.) [The Book]

8. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. LeGuin (This book is the first in a series of excellent books. Well, I’m not that fond of Tehanu, but still… The film was a bit regretable and sort of combined the first two books in the series. If you have a choice between the two, read the book.) [The Book]

9. The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman (The book has been out for a while, and the film has not yet arrived on DVD. I haven’t yet seen the film, but the trailers were breathtaking effects-wise. Both the book and its film are controversial. Kinda makes you want to see the film/read the book when you hear that, doesn’t it?) [The Book]

10. Wyrd Sisters – Terry Pratchett (Strangely, my library has the filmed version of this, but not the book. This film first appeared on British television back in 1997. Hey, it has Christopher Lee as the voice of Death. How can you go wrong with that?) [The Film]

11. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Arthur C. Clarke (“I’m sorry Dave. I can’t do that.” Actually, what I remember best about the film is the bone flying up into the air and becoming a space ship. Yes. I haven’t seen it for about 18 years. I should probably see it again one of these days. I’m also amused that it is now 2008, and we still don’t have quite that level of space travel.) [The Book, The Film]

12. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien (I loved both the book and the film on this one. I’m completely biased. No point in arguing about it. I have two copies of the book, and both versions of the film.) [The Book, The Animated Film, The Film]

13. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling (This is my favorite of the Harry Potter books. As near as I can figure, it’s due to the change of pace that this book represents. All of the others are Harry vs. Voldemort in one form or other. This one is different. Well, that and I like Sirius Black. I wish that the film could have been a bit longer. It felt rushed. Not as much as the next one did, but there you are.) [The Book, The Film]

Do you have a favorite SciFi/Fantasy Book that has been made into a film?

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