Tag Archives: DVD

what is this i don’t even

Last month I replaced most of our worn and damaged TV series box sets – now the Main library has scads of new DVDs, including The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., Desperate Housewives, Fingersmith (man, does that one circulate), M*A*S*H, Prime Suspect, The Sopranos, and the original* Upstairs Downstairs.

New!     New!     New and sexy!     New!

When I replace DVDs, I always inspect the old discs before I send them to their final resting places (final resting places can vary, you see – but that’s all boring and technical). Anyway, this is what I found inside the second season of Upstairs Downstairs.

what is this i don’t even

Someone, somewhere, at some time, put a sticker on disc F. A sticker that’s exactly the same as what’s beneath it (note: please don’t do this).

Obviously, I had to share my confusion with my coworkers – most of them sat very still for a few moments, blinking slowly in sad puzzlement before finally turning to me with a slightly pained expression in their eyes that begged, “Why? But why?” as if their very hearts would break if I could not unravel this mystery for them.

We have our theories, of course – though they involve library trade secrets, so I can’t share them with you here. You’ll have to work it out on your own (or you can just check out Fingersmith instead).

– Amy

* There’s a 2010 version, as well.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

And then…

I bet today you thought, “Hey, I wonder what I can celebrate on this fine December day?”

Then a ninja tackled you on the street and you figured it out.

That’s right, today is the Annual Day of the Ninja.

Every December 5 the creators of the Ninja Burger website encourage people to “dress as ninja, engage in ninja-related activities, and spread information on ninja online.” The Day of the Ninja began in 2003 in response to the release of the Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai, which apparently has some ninja fighting scenes.

Tom Cruise is totally believable as a Samurai Warrior. LOLZ.

And it’s world wide. Check out the French Day of the Ninja. Oh, those crazy Francs!

For no particular reason I could find, it has since morphed into an alternative to Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19.) In one article, this clash was referred to as the “familiar Pirates versus Ninja conflict.” There have even been some instances of ninjas protesting pirate festivals.

The closest explanation I found came from Know Your Meme.

Well, duh.

Before you do anything, visit the Iga-Rye Ninja Museum online for the history and origins of real ninja. Then find out if you are a ninja with this handy quiz. In the interest of full disclosure, it turns out I’m not ninja at all. Sadly, here are my results:

You are not a ninja. You are a vampire. You’ve got most of the elements of ninja-ness down pat, but you generally don’t get along well with others of your kind. And the whole blood drinking thing is, well… just ick. Dude, get a burger. Jeez.

Alas, I was not discouraged. Instead I found this: Become a Ninja in 7 easy steps

SuzyNinja

Instant Ninja. Me and Tom Cruise, warriors both.

Ninja stuff at the Library!

Ninjago

Ninja with Legos!

Ninja on Film

NinjaFilm

Ninja in Print

NinjaBook

Now please excuse me while I go “plague my co-workers with my ninja-ness.”

-suzy

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My Love Letter to the South Side

Did you know that the South Side has a beautiful, newly renovated library? And that it’s open for business? And that I get to work there? It’s the best!

Photo from the South Pittsburgh Reporter

I love my neighborhood. I love the energy of East Carson Street and the (relative) tranquility of the Slopes. I love that I have so many bars, restaurants, galleries, theaters, bike trails and parks in my backyard. We even have a new dog park, so my girl Ozzy is happy on the South Side, too!

You know who else loves the South Side? Rick Sebak. Check out his DVD South Side. Learn about Veronica’s Veil and what the heck a StepTrek is. Or check out Greetings from Pittsburgh: Neighborhood Narratives, an “omnibus film created by Pittsburgh filmmakers features nine short fictional films set in diverse Pittsburgh neighborhoods, linked together via short sequences of a bus traveling throughout city streets.”

Did you know there is a work of fiction specifically based on the South Side? Scotch and Holy Water : A Pittsburgh Story by Gini Sunner. It tells the story of three immigrant families (Irish, Jewish, and Polish) who all lived and had businesses on Carson Street during World War II.

For more serious fare, check out Pittsburgh’s South Side by Stuart Boehmig. It’s part of the excellent Images of America Series and includes information about the historic buildings, people and events in the early days of Carson Street. Or visit the amazing Pittsburgh Iron and Steel Heritage Collection online and check out old South Side photographs.

Here are some of my personal favorite South Side things. (Besides the library, of course.)

I eat here. And hereHere, too. Oh, and here. I eat and drink here. I met my husband here. Look at art. Here, too. Watch art. Watch movies. Buy a bike. Get your bike fixed. I buy shirts here. I buy jewelry here and clothes here. I get my hair cut here. I get beautified and massaged here. Get coffee. Get more coffee. Get even more coffee, because there’s never enough!

And always, always, ice cream and candy.

So come visit the new South Side library! I’m always happy to give the nickel tour. Ask me questions about the geo-thermal heating and cooling system and LEED certification; because I can answer them!

–suzy

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Filme Romanesti

Yes, Julia Roberts has a big, adorable smile. Of course there’s much to love about Brad Pitt’s eyes.  And beyond the gorgeous stars, there are explosions, fantastic effects, car chases, and even the occasional, glamorized peek into some forgotten corner of history. Hollywood movies have a lot to offer. But every so often, one gets a hankering for a different kind of movie. If you are feeling a little underwhelmed or restless when it comes to American movies, may I suggest filme romanesti?

I’ve always had a thing for underdogs. Romania is one such underdog (as explained by MA in a previous eleventhstack post).  And the films that have been coming out of Romania in the past decade or so are turning this quiet Eastern European country from a cinema dark horse into a film force to be reckoned with. Story lines and cinematography trend toward the beautiful yet understated; screen writers and directors are patient and creative with dialogue. Also, Romanians maintain a wicked, sharp and dark sense of humor, which  shines through with gusto in many recent films. I’m a total sucker for a wicked, sharp and dark sense of humor.

I find my cure for the common movie, Romanian films, in the Music, Film & Audio department’s awesome foreign film collection. Some favorites are listed below, but I suggest browsing the entire collection at Main.

If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle

Photo courtesy of vreausafluier.ro

This  2010 tale of a Romanian juvenile detention center  focuses on Silviu, biding his time in an often brutal atmosphere until he can again care for his family. He is 18 and two weeks away from his release when he discovers his mother has come back to town. A few years earlier, Silviu’s crime of survival was committed to provide for himself and his younger brother. Despite having abandoning her children years ago, his mother wants to whisk off the little brother to Italy before Silviu’s release. Silviu was only able to endure prison by dreaming of being reunited with this little brother. Now helpless and locked away, he takes matters into his own hands.

The Way  I Spent the End of the World

Photo courtesy of sfarsitullumii.ro

In 1989 Bucharest, Eva (played by Dorotheea Petre, who won an award at Cannes for her performance) and her boyfriend accidentally break a bust of  dictator Ceausescu. Eva is sent to an alternative high school, while her boyfriend is spared punishment, due to his father’s connections to the communist party. The romance doesn’t last. Eva is furious, and plots to escape the country with a classmate. This doesn’t go unnoticed by her 7-year-old brother, Lalalilu. He loves his big sister,  and so Lalalilu and his friends devise a plan to kill the dictator to avenge his sister’s punishment. This movie is a tragicomedy with a big heart.

Police, Adjective

Photo courtesy of ifcfilms.com

A young police officer faces an ethical dilemma when he is asked by his superiors to go undercover and investigate a teen selling hash. Not only does Cristi believe that the crime is not so severe, but the government is about to change the laws to lessen the punishment for drugs. The police department could care less, and only wants Cristi to carry out orders, rather than question them. Police, Adjective is not the typical crime drama, as it avoids the typical good guy/bad guy dichotomy and instead examines individuals stuck in broken systems. In this sense, it could be recommended to fans of the The Wire.

The Death of Mr.  Lazarescu

Photo courtesy of tartanfilmsusa.com.

Perhaps the bleakest of these film recommendations, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is a dark comedy that doubles as a sharp criticism of Romania’s healthcare system. Mr. Lazarescu is a hapless widower with a fondness for wine, cats, and behaving cantankerously. When he encounters a bout of extreme pain, he calls for an ambulance. The ambulance arrives, hours later, and begins a journey across Bucharest, from hospital to hospital, and is rejected from each. Mr. Lazarescu’s pain increases throughout the hours-long trip, and the tension builds, with viewers left to wonder if he will get treated in time.

-Holly

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stuff We’re Enjoying: Early Spring Edition

Summer weather arrived in Pittsburgh this past week, dramatically muscling spring weather out of the way with a flourish, flipping its ponytail over its shoulder and flopping down on a beach towel with a good book.  Your stalwart Eleventh Stack crew has done likewise; here are a few of the library materials we’re enjoying at the turn of the season.

Amy:

This book will mess you up.

I know that everyone and their grandmother is reading The Hunger Games right now, but I don’t feel that I need to, as I’ve already read Lord of the Flies, Battle Royale, and The Long Walk. As a matter of fact, I’m rereading The Long Walk for the fifth or sixth time right now. It’s a Stephen King short novel, written under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, from back in the days before King started selling novels by the pound. Basically, every year one hundred teenage boys start at the Maine-Canada border and walk south until there is only one boy left. There are rules, of course. And penalties. And insanity. And death. If you read this one, you’ll never forget it.

Don:

Recently I visited some family in Illinois. One of the folks there is a big reader of sci-fi and fantasy, and so I waxed on to him over a couple of beers about a recent title, Embassytown, by China Miéville, that I thought one of the best science fiction titles in years.  He told me that I had to read The City and the City, another Miéville title he insisted was equally fantastic.

And right he was. The basic plot has a noir feel: a dead body is found, a hard-boiled Eastern European detective is investigating. But there’s a twist. The city where the murder takes place (Besz) happens to share contiguous space with another, just barely visible, city (Ul Qoman), where a different population and a very different–though related–language is spoken. And, oh yeah, where the murderer perhaps came from. I’ve just started this one and once again  Miéville is pushing–literally, this time–the boundaries of speculative fiction.

It seems I ought to go to Peoria more often.

Jess:

The following two CDs have been in heavy rotation during my daily commute:

The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 and Beyond. First things first: contemporary country music mostly makes my brain hurt. However, for some inexplicable reason, I love the current wave of bluegrass/folk-alt-country stuff that’s out there (Avett Brothers, anyone?). Thankfully the music producers went that route for most of this soundtrack, which fits the tone of Katniss and Peeta’s District 12 perfectly. I especially like the tracks from Neko Case (“Nothing to Remember”) and Kid Cudi (“The Rule and the Killer”).

Say Anything’s Anarchy, My Dear. I’ve always admired SA leader and primary lyricist, Max Bemis, for his smart, brutally honest songwriting. Though he’s mellowed a bit with age and marriage, he’s still telling it like it is. Standout tracks include “Overbiter,” which includes backing vocals from his wife, Sherri DuPree of the band Eisley, and describes their long-distance courtship; “Admit it Again,” a sequel of sorts to the “Admit It!!!” track on the …Is A Real Boy album (completely worth tracking down to dissect the lyrics); and the title track, “Anarchy, My Dear,” an almost ballad-y ode to rebellion.

Leigh Anne:

I’d like to be able to tell you I’m reading something incredibly literate, deliciously witty, or professionally advantageous. However, I am forced to confess that, in this unseasonable heat, the best I can do is leaf through magazines. Super Girl Scout Niece #1 was selling subscriptions, and I’m a huge fan of The Girl Scouts, so I’m happily parked in front of a fan with Oprah, yoga, and some warm-weather recipe ideas.

Maria:

In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic, by Professor X. This eye-opening and provocative treatise caught my eye in a review journal. It’s an expansion of an article originally published in The Atlantic magazine, and deals with the unprepared students colleges recruit and the status and treatment of professors (especially adjunct professors like the author), with a bit of the author’s life story mixed in. I was intrigued because the author is an English professor, and he writes extremely well, so the book is interesting, illuminating, and readable. He writes anonymously because he’s worried he’ll lose his job.

Suzy:

For my birthday I received a Kindle Fire from my awesome husband , who always buys me things I think I don’t want until I get them. To my eternal (but not blushing) chagrin, the first thing I did was purchase the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy from Amazon. In case you live under a rock, Fifty Shades is a self-published “erotic BDSM” e-book by a little-known British author named E. L. James. I zipped through Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker in two days. I was ready to run out and buy some grey ties and an Audi.

For over a week now I’ve malingered on the final book, Fifty Shades Freed. I have simply stopped caring about the characters, the story, and the sex. The controversy surrounding this book reminds me of a quote from Fear of Flying author Erica Jong: “My reaction to porn films is as follows: after the first ten minutes, I want to go home and screw. After the first twenty minutes, I never want to screw again as long as I live.”

Tara:

Sublime Frequencies re-issues strange and wonderful music from all over the world, everything from Bollywood steel guitar to what’s playing on the radio in Morocco. It’s perfect music to listen to while cooking or porch-sitting, and we have quite a few albums available for check-out here at the library.

I’ve also just watched a recently re-released gem on DVD called A Thousand Clowns. Fans of films about eccentric and lovable iconoclasts (and the films of Wes Anderson) should check this one out immediately.

Tim:

I’m not enjoying this “nice” weather because it’s disturbing to have 80 degree weather in mid-March.  And you know what else doesn’t like it?  Spinach.  Or radishes.  Or any of the other cool weather crops that only grow well when temperatures are in the 60s and 70s.

So I’ll be forced to enjoy such books as The Gardener’s Weather Bible: How to Predict and Prepare for Garden Success in Any Kind of Weather by Sally Roth or The Weather-resilient Garden : a Defensive Approach to Planning & Landscaping by Charles W.G. Smith.

Your turn.  Hot enough for you?  What are you reading / watching / listening to this spring?

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Learning the old-fashioned way

While I do have some fond memories of watching instructional films in elementary school, they mainly involve shoving desks around the classroom, sitting on the cold linoleum floor until my butt went numb, and that one time in second grade when the projector overheated and started smoking (true story; not a Simpsons flashback). The films themselves, I don’t remember so well.

Fortunately, I can relive all of those glorious instructional moments with the help of a little series called the Educational Archives. Each one is packed full of information on everything you’ll ever need to know, from why it’s wonderful to be a girl to the importance of soap. You’ll even learn exactly why stealing a car is such a bad idea.

We also have a fine two-volume set from Kino – How to Be a Man and How to Be a Woman (those were the only choices you had back then). Apparently, to be a man one must be trustworthy and plan for success, while to be a woman one must improve one’s personality, learn how to make a sandwich, and say no to sex.

Many of these adventures in moral education come from a company called Coronet Instructional Films, and can be viewed online for free thanks to the Internet Archive. Here’s a little gem with a catchy title: Are You Popular?

So remember to study hard and respect your elders, and you’ll succeed in life. Now go make me a sandwich.*

– Amy

* Poof! You’re a sandwich!

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

On Judging a Book by Its Cover

As an employee of the Carnegie Library, I can’t even begin to surmise the amount of information that has swirled around me as our collection circulates.  CDs, books and movies passing from the shelves, through my hands, into homes and back again.  Thousands of people’s likes and dislikes giving me ample opportunity to come across items of which I had no previous knowledge.  One such item is the movie “Withnail & I.” I had to pull it from the shelf to fill a patron request.  Upon seeing the cover, I put it on hold for myself.
 
 
First clue – This movie has made its way into the Criterion Collection, a DVD series that concerns itself with publishing only the “best” the movie world has to offer.  Obviously, this doesn’t mean that every movie they release is going to be enjoyable, but it’s a good first indicator that someone out there with some clout thinks it really is good.  
 
Second clue – The immediately recognizable scribbles of  Ralph Steadman.  I will go on record as saying that any movie that Steadman illustrates a cover for is going to be a movie that I like.  His trademark scrawl of “Bruce Robinson’s Withnail and I,” complete with ink spatters and coffee stains.  The illustration of two men; one sprawled hopelessly across a couch, head in hand, mouth agape.  The other worriedly standing in the background, peering out to the viewer with hands clasped.  Their surroundings cluttered with the signs of a haphazard lifestyle, all broken and stacked in Steadman’s own frenetic style.  
 
This simple image conveys the tone of the movie and gives the viewer just enough clues as to what can be expected from the characters and the film.
 
-Christopher

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized