Brits do Minis in a Big Way


The U.K. isn't known for food or dentistry, but when it comes to miniseries they set the standard. Political thrillers "State of Play" and "The State Within" stand out for acting and action.

"State of Play" was remade as a feature film in the U.S. Though the political drama is the same, the British version's additional storyline adds punch and is better cast. John Simm plays investigative reporter, Cal McCaffrey, whose college friend, Stephen Collins, is a politician. Collins comes under scrutiny for an alleged affair. Because of McCaffery's relationship with Collins, his newspaper expects exclusive information. The situation intensifies when McCaffrey investigates a shooting and unearths a briefcase that pits the paper against the police for withholding evidence. John Simm's performance is full of agonizing decisions as his profession and friendships are in conflict.

Behind the Scenes: "Hugo"

With the recent release of Martin Scorsese's film, "Hugo," based on Brian Selznick's Caldecott Award winning novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret,"  in theaters and generating Oscar buzz, some may wish to delve deeper into the movie's rich cinematic history, accessible via the SLCL database page. The story centers around an orphaned boy living in a Paris train station and the relationship he forms with the station's toy shop owner and goddaughter. What some viewers may not realize is that "Hugo" pays homage to the life and works of real life French filmmaker Georges Méliès. Méliès, who began his career as a professional magician, went on to become one of the great silent filmmakers, creating over 500 films, many of which were applauded for their special effects.  

A Brighter Star Than Sirius

"Can dogs climb trees? Evidently," writes Susan Orlean. "At least certain dogs can. And they can climb down, too." 

A staff writer for The New Yorker, Orlean's work has been snatched up by Hollywood in the movies "Adaptation" and "Blue Crush." That relationship with Hollywood has reversed direction in her latest work, "Rin Tin Tin, The Life and The Legend." 

Staff Review: “God’s Secretaries” by Adam Nicolson


"God's Secretaries" by Adam Nicolson is the story of the development of the King James Bible.  The author tells of the efforts and struggles to produce an English translation of the Bible, especially with competing religious factions in the wake of the Reformation. For readers who do not have a background in British history, the book does give a sufficient summary of the religious and political situation of the time in order to provide context.
The author keeps the reader's interest despite the ordinarily dense subject matter. Everyone has heard of the King James Bible but few know how it was written and translated; few also know the story of King James I himself.  This book weaves his story into the larger work.  Overall, this is a book worth reading, particularly for an infrequently written-about topic. 
--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch


Bob Seger: Rock n Roll Never Forgets


Bob Seger is touring  again after a hiatus. His career has lasted for decades and part of his longevity is due to his songwriting. Raunchy anthems like "Fire Down Below" and "Her Strut," are only part of his repertoire. His Silver Bullet Band spent excessive time on the road, and the lyrics for "Katmandu," "Travelin' Man," and "Turn the Page" are ripe for a doctoral thesis on the effects of endless touring.

Staff Review: "A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism"

Peter Mountford's debut novel, "A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism," follows Gabriel de Boya, a young, overeducated freelance writer who lucks into a perfect job with a high-power New York hedge fund. His first assignment is to cover the elections in La Paz, Bolivia, but not as a journalist--the fund wants to know what the president-elect will do with the oil pipeline so they can bet accordingly profit at any expense. All he has to do is get close to the new president without showing his real intentions--especially a press corps that keeps wondering why the new guy isn't publishing anything. When the unexpected happens--Socialist Evo Morales wins the election--Gabriel's position is suddenly more important than his superior expected, and Gabriel's romance with Morales' press secretary gives him a clear advantage. The problem is that he may be falling for her, and for Bolivia.

Going Outside the Box for Christmas

Whether I'm making gifts or just passing the time, I enjoy making crafts. I've tried my hand at a couple, and most recently have ventured into the world of jewelry making, inspired by the steampunk necklace design of "World of Geekcraft," seen below. These books are some fun ones I like for making distinctive handmade gifts for this holiday season.
"World of geekcraft : step-by-step instructions for 25 super-cool craft projects," by Susan Beal ; photographs by Jay B Sauceda. "'Marvelous Machine' Steampunk Pendant" on page 66 is simple to make, and although the materials are a bit harder to find, it's certainly a necklace that will stand out and go with anything.

Not Just For Kids

Animated movies have long had the reputation of being only kiddie fare. Yet with the rise of studios such as Pixar and Dreamworks, animated movies have been moving more towards appeasing parents who are dragged to the theater by their children. Animated movies have always had a special place in my heart, they have the ability to tug at the heart strings, make the kid inside and the adult laugh, make us look at our own lives through a new lens, and simply delight us for ninety or so minutes. Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

Coming of Age

I have discovered that my literary heroes aren't strong, self-controlled or mature. They aren't even adults, but confused, impulsive teenagers. One of them likes to steal books and the other prays to trees. The books "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak and "Walk Two Moons" by Sharon Creech present two teenage girls coming of age in the most tragic of circumstances.

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