Tag Archives: Scott

Opinions, Assemble!

I saw Avengers: Age Of Ultron this past Sunday. Brilliant! A movie with so many important characters and so much action and CGI runs a real risk of becoming a hot mess. Like a great symphony conductor, Joss Whedon kept this film moving, hit all of the right notes, and gave just about every character at least one moment to shine. Movies with large ensemble casts need just the right pacing and attention to detail to pull this off. Being a big Hawkeye fan, I was floored that he played such a pivotal role in the film and enjoyed so many amazing moments. Jeremy Renner did a superb job capturing Hawkeye’s core conceit–the “normal dude” among godlike beings–normal being a relative thing in this case.

Seeing Age of Ultron marks a good time to go back and assess my top three superhero films of recent memory, and just to add a bit of spice, I will throw in my bottom three as well!

Top Three

Guardians Of The Galaxy. Guardians masterfully blends sci-fi and superheroes and only gets better with repeated viewings.

Iron Man. The first Iron Man film remains the best as Robert Downey, Jr. forges the role he was born to play.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I loved the first Cap movie, but Winter Soldier establishes Captain America as Marvel’s paragon of what’s best in a hero.

Honorable MentionThor. Chris Hemsworth is The God of Thunder, and his chemistry with Natalie Portman (Jane Foster) flows so naturally it adds a lovely bit of romance to the rollicking action.

Bottom Three

X-Men: The Last Stand. Everything Joss Whedon did right in Age Of Ultron, Brett Ratner did wrong in this hot mess–uneven script, key action occurring off-screen, and not enough special moments for characters.

Superman Returns. Watch this one up to the point where Supes saves the space-plane, then turn if off and put in the original Superman with Chris Reeves and Brando–it’s Supes vs. a bad real estate scheme in both films.

Punisher: War ZoneCosmic villain Galactus has a robotic watchdog named the Punisher; I wish this movie was about him.

Dishonorable Mention: Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer. Significant divergences from the comic book versions of Dr. Doom, Galactus, and the Surfer himself helped ruin this poorly paced film for me.

–Scott P.

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Work Left To Do: Deep Water Horizon Disaster Turns Five

Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon Explosion and Oil Spill. Yeah, that’s an official Library of Congress subject heading. When LC grants your mess its own subject heading, you know you will live in infamy.  BP has spent a lot of money cleaning this mess up, and cleaning up their tarred image. That link also features some pretty funny parody ads as well.

No one can deny a lot of work remains to be done to make things right in the Gulf. Here are a few items on the disaster to bring you up to speed:

Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil And Won…

The Big Fix

Fire On The Horizon: The Untold Story Of The Gulf Oil Disaster

–Scott P.

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Haiku’s Winding Path / Seventeen Syllables Long / One Million Steps

Shaping sounds like clay?
Beating sand with a hammer,
wrestling with haiku…

Haiku In English: The First Hundred Years

The Classic Tradition Of Haiku: An Anthology

Past All Traps

Baseball Haiku: American And Japanese Haiku And Senryu On Baseball

–Scott P.
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Spring Training

You didn’t think I meant baseball, did you? We’ll leave that for another post. I am talking about physical training, and the idea that you don’t need fancy gyms or high-tech equipment to get a great workout. In my case my workouts have matured to the point where any aspect of my environment can serve as the center of a workout. I run hills. I leap high objects. I drag odd items.

Now that the weather has broken, this sort of stuff should be a lot easier to do.

Here’s a few titles that address the sort of training I do and the activities that I try to ready myself for.

The Amazing Water Bottle Workout by Jason Greespan

Cardio 4 x 4 by Jay Cardiello.

Conditioning For Outdoor Fitness by David Musnick.

The Outdoor Athlete by Courtenay Schurman.

Your Body Is Your Barbell by B. J. Gadour.

Keep in mind as you look at these books that personal fortitude remains the key ingredient you need to bring to any program of exercise. If you possess the will, you can train in a 4′ x 4′ box and get something out of it. Fortunately we have the whole wide world to use as our gym, so get out and enjoy the warmer weather, and get fit while you’re at it!

–Scott P.

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Ah, Fair Carcosa: True Detective’s Weird Horror Connections

It took me a while, but I finally got around to watching HBO’s True Detective. Wow. This gritty, eight-episode detective series adroitly moves back and forward in time between 1995, 2002, and 2012. It focuses on two protagonists, Rustin “Rust” Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson), investigators for the Louisiana state police department. The story hinges on a 1995 murder investigation whose bizarre occult  overtones deepen with the discovery of the victim’s diary. In it she writes of strange rituals, and a place called Carcosa. Any fan of the weird fiction of H. P. Lovecraft and his Cthulhu Mythos watching the show when Rust and Marty discover the journal would likely have stood up and taken notice of this immediately. “Did he just say ‘Carcosa‘?” Yes, he did.

The macabre nature of the focal crime scene, that word Carcosa, and the Southern Gothic flavor of creator Nic Pizzolatto’s vision of Louisiana combine to deliver an eerie mystery that takes its time unraveling and entertains you through every moment. So what is Carcosa? H. P. Lovecraft did not invent the term. Carcosa is a fictional place invented by Ambrose Bierce, and later adopted by Robert W. Chambers for his 1895 collection of short fiction entitled The King In Yellow. In it Mr. Chambers further detailed the “other-realm” of Carcosa and its chief inhabitant, The King In Yellow, an eponymous story in the collection. The idea of the King manifests in True Detective in the guise of the mysterious killer committing these hideous crimes.

I’ve read some of the material that inspired the show’s more macabre elements, and I thought I might share them here so folks could give them a try.

American Gothic: From Salem Witchcraft To H. P. Lovecraft, An Anthology edited by Charles L. Crow

The King In Yellow by Robert W. Chambers

The Yellow Sign And Other Stories: The Complete Weird Tales Of Robert W. Chambers by Robert W. Chambers

The Thing On The Doorstep And Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft

The Watchers Out Of Time by H. P. Lovecraft and August Derleth

The White People And Other Stories by Arthur Machen

I’m also suffering from True Detective-withdrawal! So if anyone can recommend me a series like it, please do so in the comments field! Thanks!

–Scott P.

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Librarians Love Clubbing

Book clubbing. You didn’t think…? Well, never mind that. I am not as well read as I’d like to be. That’s a public confession. I read a lot of poetry and short fiction.

I am a slow reader. I am also a “rat” reader. Like a rat repeatedly following the same path through a maze, I read mostly in the same genres (poetry, sci-fi, and fantasy), and I re-read a lot of stuff. Hell, I read Dune once a year! Now that might be because I secretly want to produce, direct, and play in a community theater version of Dune, but that’s a post for another day. Still, if you know me, I have likely sized you up for a part in this epic, so don’t be surprised if one day you are called for a reading. Enough digressions!

I think librarians love running book clubs because they compel us to read outside of our personal comfort zones. That’s why I do. I just participated in a recent Smithfield Critics book club discussion about E. L. Doctorow’s World’s Fair. This incredibly warm and real fictionalized memoir of growing up in the New York City of the 1930s profoundly moved me. I feel like I have a new friend now. Without the structure of the book club, I would not have read any Doctorow.

Next up for me comes Maya Angelou and I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I read this twenty-three years ago. Reading it again after doing so much living gives me a whole new perspective on it. I’ve read enough since then to recognize the lyrical quality of Ms. Angelou’s work, and I appreciate her accessible descriptions of life’s hardships through the eyes of a young African American girl. She makes it look easy, but writing good prose that transports the reader to that place and time is a challenge.

You can find an extensive listing of our book clubs on our web page here. If you look hard enough you should be able to find one that suits your location and areas of interest.

We offer book clubs for our patrons, but make no mistake, they do just as much good for us.

–Scott

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“It Is The Old Wound My King…”

Lancelot’s death scene ranks as my favorite moment in John Boorman’s amazing Excalibur. As he falls on the battlefield and Arthur goes to him, he utters the following: “It is the old wound my king. It has never healed.” The “old wound” he refers to is one he inflicted on himself after Arthur discovered his indiscretion with Guinevere. It’s a great clip and you can watch it here. The titular line occurs at around 1:37 or so. The moments after Lancelot’s death are pretty gory, so take care.

Some hurts don’t heal. At least not fast enough for our taste. I went hiking October 31st and fell four feet into a gully. A mild accident by my standards, but as I fell I braced my landing with my right arm at full extension. All 180 lbs. landed on that arm and sent a shock up into my right shoulder. It hasn’t been the same since. Of course I have made the decision to train through the injury, trying to work around it, but the healing has been slow. I have sought various resources in my quest for healing, so I thought I’d share some of them here.

I needed to first figure out what was wrong “in there”, so I looked for a source that might tell me. I found this one:

Everyday Sports Injuries from DK Publishing is a PDF title available through our eCLP resources tag. If you prefer the hard copy, find it here. It helped me realize I most likely have a soft tissue shoulder injury. Tendon inflammation (bursitis) caused by the shock of the fall.

I have also begun working regular yoga sessions into my weekly routines. Doing yoga increases flexibility and in my case, has helped to ease the throbbing pain of my shoulder injury. Because I like a bit of preparation before undertaking any new physical regimen, I checked out this book before starting yoga:

Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Yoga by Amy Auman is another title available through eCLP. Not really a title for reading cover to cover, I skimmed this resource and scouted out the sections on arms, shoulders, and the lower back–all potential problem areas for me.

While I did not start my search looking for eCLP resources, it kind of ended up shaking out that way! The final title I have to recommend comes from Rodney Yee, my new favorite yoga guru. Dude is seriously y-jacked, a term I have coined for people who are jacked as a result of doing a ton of yoga. Here it is:

Ultimate Power Yoga by Rodney Yee. This is not really a beginner’s yoga video, but it’s something I want to aspire to doing once I spend a little more time practicing with a more basic Yee title I’ve been using the last few weeks. Find the DVD version here.

I have not sought stronger medical remedies for the injury. I like to avoid drugs and cortisone shots. I found a book that agrees with me:

Whole Health: A Holistic Approach To Healing For The 21st Century by Mark Dana Mincolla. This book supports non-traditional, non-drug solutions to injuries.

These resources coupled with a bit of patience have allowed me to train through this lingering injury. As we get older, we realize pain will likely be a constant workout partner. Dealing with it sensibly will keep us on track, and allow us to live with those old wounds that never quite heal.

–Scott P.

 

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