Arrow Season Two Hits Another Bullseye

arrowblu2-cover A while back I gushed about Arrow season one. Now I am back to deliver more of the same plaudits for season two!

It’s often easier to create a sensational first season of a television show than it is to build on that success with a solid second one. Just ask the creators of the late lamented Heroes. Great first season. All downhill from there. Arrow producers Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg faced just such a challenge going into season two of the CW’s surprising hit superhero show. To recap, lead character and bon vivant Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) spends five years on a deserted island, only to return a changed man. Haunted, toughened, and bearing enough secrets to choke the NSA, Oliver begins a war on Starling City’s corrupt power elite.

That war changes him. He gains allies and enemies. Clever flashback sequences to his life on the island slowly reveal how he survived and changed into the expert fighter and archer he is now. Oliver wears a hood to hide his identity and uses brutal methods to accomplish his goals. He kills for the cause of justice, but ultimately fails to prevent a calamity that costs his city dearly. The end of season one left him mourning the loss of one of his dearest friends and questioning his methods and his mission.

Staunch Arrow allies John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) open season two by traveling back to the mysterious island where it all started. Oliver has exiled himself there to lick his wounds and heal his soul. Convincing him he is still needed in Starling City, the trio returns home to face a raft of new threats, and a deadly menace from the Arrow’s past. Season two explores the identity of Oliver’s alter-ego and his progression from “the Vigilante,” to the “the Hood,” to “the Arrow” by the first few episodes. We see this progression most starkly through the eyes of tough cop Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). Season one is all about him hating the Vigilante or the Hood. Just as the island changed Oliver, the disastrous events in Starling City change Lance. The Arrow’s many shifting relationships create lots of dramatic tension.

Season two features even more of the DC Universe characters fans will recognize and love. At the risk of revealing too much, we get to see a lot more of Deadshot and a certain “Dirty-Dozen” style task force. Some other familiar faces return, and plenty of new ones emerge. It delivers on the promise shown in season one, and ratchets the action and drama up yet another notch on the salmon ladder. Of course now season three will have even more to live up to, and I will return next year to blog about it!

–Scott P.

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Enter the Secret World of Cirque

Readers tend to have good imaginations.

For example, you may have imagined that there is more to the life of the Library than meets the daylight eye. You have, quite possibly, entertained fantasies of secret rituals and mysterious adventures taking place after the closing chimes have rung and the doors are bolted fast. Perhaps you have daydreamed about the inner worlds of books leaping free of their pages, magicians and their companions (both sweet and sinister) roaming through the stacks, wild and playful, making merry mischief underneath the stars while the city’s mundane citizens sleep.

For one night, and one night only, all of those possibilities will come true. And you can be a part of it! But only if you have a ticket.

Click through to purchase your tickets!

Click through to purchase your tickets!

Experience Cirque

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main (Oakland) 

Friday, October 17 From 7 to 10 pm

This dreamy iteration of our popular after-hours event series ushers you into a world where the lines between reality and fiction blur. Enjoy enchanting performances by Belles Lignes Contortion, The Wreckids, Guy and Zoob, and Mr. A.H. Hastings. Refresh yourself throughout the journey with creative cocktails and sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, or fortify yourself with beer and wine as you face dazzling challenges which include:

  • Glimpses into the future with tarot readings and spirit drawings.
  • Winding your way through a shadowy maze in the Library stacks.
  • Mask making, airbrush tattoos and elegant face art.

Early Bird Ticket Special: $45 per person until October 13
$55 from October 14 until we sell out!
Hors d’oeuvres and three (3) drink tickets included in the ticket price.

Want to bring some of the magic home with you? Our silent auction is your chance to acquire classic card catalogs and other refurbished library furniture, lovingly restored by Team Laminates and Workshop Pgh. Raffle tickets will also be available for other mystical treasures and cunning prizes–visit the auction page for full details.

Great treasure and magical adventures await in the shadowy world of the after-dark Library. Will we see you there?

cirque

–Leigh Anne

Note: After Hours @ the Library supports the day-to-day operations of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. For tax purposes, the fair market value of the refreshments and entertainment for the event is $25. The tax-deductible portion of each ticket is the cost of the ticket, less $25.

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A Teen Space of Their Own

CLP - East Liberty

Pictured in late-September 2014, the new Teen space at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty is seen undergoing the final construction and installation phases. Made possible through the generosity of the Cindy and Murry Gerber Foundation and the input of teens, the new space will give teens a space of their own to hang out, be creative, explore The Labs equipment, read and relax with friends while visiting Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – East Liberty.

Next week, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh will join many other libraries around the country in celebrating Teen Read Week, a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). It began in 1998 and is held annually during the third week of October. Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.

The 2014 theme, Turn Dreams into Reality @ Your Library, is especially appropriate for the teens and staff at CLP-East Liberty because on Saturday, October 18, a much-awaited dream of a new Teen space will become a reality. The new Teen space is a place to hang out, be creative, explore The Labs equipment, read and relax.

If you’re local and you’ve visited CLP-East Liberty, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the construction. Perhaps you’ve wondered what’s going on. Now’s your chance to get a first look.

On Saturday, October 18, 2014, from 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM, all are invited to join community leaders and CLP staff, teens and volunteers for a Grand Opening of the Teen Space at CLP-East Liberty (130 S. Whitfield Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15206).  We’ll showcase the new space, provide an overview of all the Teen programs the Library has to offer, and give attendees an opportunity to name the new space. Food will be provided and – speaking of newly-monikered things, Eleventh Stack has heard rumors that, depending on his reading schedule, Andrew Card-negie himself may make an appearance at the party.
We hope to see you there!
Andrew Card-negie

Andrew Card-negie, Official Mascot of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Event Details at a Glance:
Teen Space Grand Opening
Saturday, October 18, 2014
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Join us for this event showcasing the brand new space and all the programs the library has to offer! Food will be provided.
Location:
East Liberty
130 S. Whitfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15206Contact:
East Liberty
412.363.8232
eastliberty@carnegielibrary.org

~ Melissa F.

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Let’s Read Big, Pittsburgh

Have you ever momentarily surfaced from a great book you’ve been reading in a park, bus, airport, or cafe, only to notice another person reading the same book? There’s an instant connection — despite any perceived difference in age, race, nationality, or sports team allegiance, you know that, at least on some psychic plane, you and this other person are inhabiting the same world. This kind of shared literary experience can lead to a knowing look, a good conversation, a friendship, even a marriage. It’s powerful stuff!

This month, Pittsburghers are going to be much more likely to make these public literary connections. Thanks to the Community College of Allegheny County, our town is participating in the National Endowment of the Arts’ Big Read Campaign.

The basic idea behind the Big Read is simple — the community that reads together stays together, and if you can get as many people as possible to read the same book, you’ll spark great discussions, convene people around important ideas, and support literary reading which is, after all, very good for your brain, a great stress reliever, and can even increase your productivity at work.

The selection for the Big Read in Pittsburgh is perfect: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a classic celebration of the power of reading and its importance to society.

Image courtesy of Random House via our library catalog.

Here’s the description from the Big Read website:

When did science fiction first cross over from genre writing to the mainstream of American literature? Almost certainly it happened on October 19, 1953, when a young Californian named Ray Bradbury published a novel with the odd title of Fahrenheit 451. In a gripping story at once disturbing and poetic, Bradbury takes the materials of pulp fiction and transforms them into a visionary parable of a society gone awry, in which firemen burn books and the state suppresses learning. Meanwhile, the citizenry sits by in a drug-induced and media-saturated indifference. More relevant than ever a half-century later, Fahrenheit 451 has achieved the rare distinction of being both a literary classic and a perennial bestseller.

Now, I’m aware, Eleventh Stack  reader, that I am preaching to the choir when I talk about the power of reading. And you may be thinking “Whatever, Dan, my whole life is made up a series of month long celebrations of reading.” All the more reason to participate! Here are two great reasons to participate in the festivities:

  • You can bring along people in your life who aren’t as jazzed about reading as you are. We need literary leaders in the community to champion the virtues of reading!
  • If you love to read, you probably love to talk about books. And, boy, will you ever have a chance to do that this month.

There’s a great slate of events coming up this month. To get things started, tomorrow night from 6:30-9pm at the Lecture Hall (around the back of the Main Library in Oakland) we’ll be hosting the Big Read Kickoff. Check out this incredible lineup:

It is the Big Read, after all, so we had no choice but to go big. Following the kickoff, there will be a number of events in libraries across the city:

All of these events are free.

And that’s only the list of events that CLP is hosting! Check out the full calendar courtesy of CCAC here (PDF),

Need a copy of the book? We have you covered. It’s available for check out in a variety of formats:

Let’s read big, Pittsburgh! I’ll be on the lookout for all of you on the bus reading Farenheit 451 this October!

-Dan, who is especially looking forward to this as he has somehow managed, despite being a lifelong casual reader of science fiction, to make it a long way into adulthood without having read Fahrenheit 451.

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October: A Month of Movie Adaptations

As it turns out, there are quite a few movie adaptations of great books coming out this month.  So, if reading a book is too much of a commitment for you, maybe you can catch its movie adaptation instead.

Gone Girl (October 3)

When Gillian Flynn’s novel first came out, we couldn’t keep it on our shelves. Actually, we still can’t.  When I heard that David Fincher (Zodiac, The Social Network) was directing an adaptation, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.  Am I ever glad I did.  The titular girl disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary and her husband is the primary suspect. What follows is a story so full of twists and turns that I’d advise you hold onto something while you’re reading it.  The novel is four hundred and nineteen pages, but that didn’t stop me from gobbling it up in three days.  I could have done it in two if I hadn’t had to go to work.

Early rumors suggested that Fincher and Flynn changed the ending, but recent reviews say the ending remains faithful to the book.  I guess I’ll find out for myself this weekend.

 

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (October 10)

Just the other day I was thinking about how totally awesome it is when children’s books are adapted into eighty-minute movies and how they’re almost never ever awful in every single way (That’s sarcasm, Ron Howard and Robert Zemeckis for your versions of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express, respectively).

Sadly, no amount of The Black Keys, Of Monsters and Men and CGI kangaroos presented in the trailer makes me want to see this movie.  I’m fully aware that I’m not the target audience, but Pixar has proven for years that family films can be intelligent and still appeal to children and adults alike. Despite being published in 1972, Judith Viorst’s book about a child having a bad day is timeless.  Adding in a subplot about the father getting a job at a “game design firm” run by smug millennials and injecting current Internet slang (“hashtag blessed”) are unnecessary and come across as pandering in the worst way.  And, yes, I already hate myself for typing that quote.  Can you ever forgive me, Noah Webster?

“Forsooth, nay.  I am disinclined to acquiesce to your request.”

Men, Women & Children (October 17)

I talked about this book and its big screen adaptation last month.  Since then, a second trailer has been released that gives us a better look at some of the characters.  Similar to the trailers for Gone Girl, it looks like certain scenes were literally ripped right from the book.  Adam Sandler’s performance looks subdued, subtle even.  That’s never a bad thing.

The Best of Me (October 17)

I haven’t read this book, but I have actually had a small desire to read at least one of Nicholas Sparks’ novels.  Judging from the trailer, this looks like it’s in the same romantic style of all the other Sparks adaptations and it looks like James Marsden might finally get the girl in this one (see his previous failures in the X-Men film series, Enchanted, Superman Returns and The Notebook—another Sparks adaptation.  Why do you hate James Marsden, Hollywood?)

This movie knows what it’s about and knows its target audience.  If you like that kind of thing, you’ll probably enjoy this.  I say step outside your comfort zone and go see Men, Women & Children.  Or Gone Girl again.

White Bird in a Blizzard (October 24)

A mother walks out on her family one day.  Her sixteen-year-old daughter, seemingly unaffected by her mother’s departure, continues on with her life.  In her dreams, however, the girl dreams of her mother, crying for help.  Soon, she can’t ignore her dreams any longer.

This is another book I haven’t read, but I have it on my list.  What first piqued my interest in this film is the director, Greg Araki.  I have a complicated relationship with Araki’s films.  On the one hand, we have films like  The Doom Generationa meandering mess of a movie and Smiley Face, a film just a little too dumb to be funny.  On the other hand, we have  Mysterious Skin.  An adaptation of Scott Heim’s novel of the same name, it remains one of the most disturbing and depressing films I’ve ever seen. I absolutely loved it.  It’s probably one of my top twenty favorite films.  That said, I have absolutely no desire to watch it again.  After I saw it, I literally felt sick.  I can’t remember ever having such a visceral reaction to a film before it.

I feel like Araki deserves the benefit of doubt from me on this one.  While I may not love all of his films, he does capture teen angst and despair quite well.  Plus, there is some beautiful imagery in the trailer and Araki has assembled a pretty knockout cast including up-and-coming It-girl Shailene Woodley, Eva Green and Thomas Jane

Horns (October 31)

I finished reading Joe Hill’s novel about a month ago and really enjoyed it. It was the most twisty-turny book I’ve read since Gone Girl.

The trailer for the movie looks promising, depending on the version you watch.  I’ll admit that summarizing the tone of the book is difficult, which explains why there are different trailers. The book is funny, spooky, unsettling and heartbreaking, sometimes all in one page.  I’m worried that the movie might ignore some of the more nuanced aspects of the story.  If it turns out to be a straight-up horror movie, it will be a huge missed opportunity.  A balance between Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow and American Psycho would be a near-perfect combination. I’m still interested in seeing it though, mostly because I’m probably one of the only people in the universe who doesn’t see Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter; I only watched those movies for the first time last year.  His American accent is on point. Not since Hugh Laurie’s turn as Dr. Gregory House have I heard such a convincing American accent from a Britt.

I’ll probably see it as a prelude to my Halloween activities.  Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

–Ross

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Halloween Movies (for kids!)

This year my daughter asked to see some Halloween-themed (scary) movies so I picked out several titles and we have been watching… or rather starting to watch and then stopping when they get too scary. Although she loves Halloween, my daughter, like me, is a huge scaredy-cat. Everything that goes bump in the night is elevated to serial killer proportions in our minds (I once stayed awake all night while camping CONVINCED that the shadow on the tent was a murderer; turns out it was a tree). I thought I would share some of our recent selections along with our personal ratings, in case you your 6 year old is also a scaredy-cat… you can use my mistakes instead of freaking out your own kids! Win-win.

http://giphy.com/gifs/mNPp4sdKeGHdu

Black Cauldron: A 1980s-era Disney animated film about a vision-having pig and her knightly protector. I thought this would be a nice little story for my daughter. Having never seen it myself I settled in for what I assumed would be something similar to the Sword in the Stone. Yeah… no. Ten minutes in and my daughter was freaked out by the horned-king and his grim reaper-like appearance. She left the living room with the parting line “This will give me nightmares, are you crazy?” It does seem like an interesting story that we may be able to revisit once she is older.

Hocus Pocus: This movie really needs no introduction. It is a modern-day classic. My kiddo has caught it in the middle on TV, but never from the beginning. I forgot about the opening scene where a little girl gets her soul sucked right out of her and her brother gets turned into a cat. This freaked her out, but luckily Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy are so outlandish and over the top even during this part of the movie that she quickly got over it and watched the rest of the movie. By the way… this news article broke my heart and smashed all my dreams.

Beetlejuice: Again, another classic film. I loved this movie when I was about my daughter’s age. As an adult I realized there was a TON of stuff that went over my head and luckily the same thing happened for my daughter. The scary stuff is scary but also so over-exaggerated that she found the movie hilarious. And remember this is a kid that got scared by a Disney movie about a pig.

The Witches: another classic (from my childhood) based on Roald Dahl’s book. As a kid I could. not. watch. this movie. Just too scary. Even as an adult something about it just spooks me. My daughter did exactly the same. She was uncomfortable through the whole set up and as soon as the witches showed themselves for who they really were she jumped up and ran out of the room.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: This is what started the whole “I want to watch scary stuff” fad in our house back in early September. We were on Sleepy Hollow Road and I made a comment about the story of the headless horseman, which fascinated my daughter. So after reading a few versions of the original Washington Irving tales (which went right over her head) I got the DVD. This DVD has the Disney version from the 1940s narrated by Bing Crosby. She loved this cartoon. It was really funny and not scary until the end and even the scary stuff is handled with a lot of humor. We really are spineless.

GhostBusters: Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Need I say more? My daughter LOVES this movie. She can’t sit through scary episodes of her favorite Nickelodeon shows, but Bill Murray having a proton pack showdown with Slimer, red-eyed murderous dogs, Zuul? She can’t get enough of it. Apparently 6 year olds really love live-action 1980s movies. Who knew?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: I know this isn’t technically a Halloween movie, but just try and tell me that this doesn’t make you think of fall and cold weather. My daughter loved this movie. I tried to read the book to her chapter by chapter, but it is still just a little too much for her. We haven’t moved on to the next movie either. I figure she has her whole childhood to be introduced to the HP world, why rush it?

The Addams Family: My daughter loves this movie, but it isn’t really scary. It is more about people who are different.

Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin: She loves this. Of course it is completely not scary and about as tame as you can be.

Hotel Transylvania: A story about a dad learning to accept his daughter as she grows up. But, you know, based around vampires and mummies. She gets a kick out of this, I think, because the scary monsters aren’t scary, they are just like you and me.

This is as far as we have gotten with our viewing and reviews, but just in case you have seen these or just really love watching seasonal themed kids movies here is the whole list I have on hold for us this October!

The Haunted Mansion

Corpse Bride

The Nightmare Before Christmas (I have tried to get her to watch this before and she never makes it more than 20 minutes in, we will see if she can handle it this year)

Coraline

Monster House

Paranorman

The Worst Witch (You know you love you some hunky warlock named Tim Curry)

The Vampire’s Assistant (PG-13)

Frankenweenie

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (PG)

Hope these movies help get you ready for Halloween!

-Natalie

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Common misconceptions

Do you use Wikipedia? I find that people either love it or hate it (or just don’t trust it). I rarely go there for the final word on anything, but I do love it as a starting point for topics I don’t know much about (Actually, I checked it just moments ago to find out who Lena Dunham’s mom is– Laurie Simmons, FYI). Most of the time the information on the site seems to be fairly accurate, but I especially love the footnotes! The footnotes are a great way to instantly find a short bibliography of sources.

Another thing I love about Wikipedia is the strange articles that you can find there– like this one about popular misconceptions. (Did you know that Napoleon was actually not that short?) Here are a few other articles that I especially love:

Ampelmännchen, aside from being a great German word that translates to little light man, is also an interesting article about these pedestrian walk signals from East Germany that survived reunification in 1990.

Have you heard of the Borough of S.N.P.J. in Lawrence County, PA? It stands for Slovenska Narodna Podporna Jednota  and is a recreation hall that applied to be a municipality in 1977 to get around liquor laws.

Calculator spelling has a name– beghilos!  Everyone spelled out 5318008 and 0.7734 in elementary school, right?

Need a better word for doodads or whatchamacallits? There’s a whole list of placeholder names here. (Gewgaw, gizmo, gubbins, hoofer doofer…)

The Waffle House Index is a real thing, guys. I actually had to check the footnotes on this one to make sure someone didn’t just make it up, but in this case truth really is stranger than fiction. FEMA actually does consider the strength of a hurricane by whether Waffle Houses nearby are open or closed.

Do you have a favorite Wikipedia article? Do you use it to find reliable information or just steer clear altogether?

-Irene

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