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Archive for December, 2011

A Walk on the Wild Side

Nelson Algren's Chicago book cover“A certain ruthlessness and a sense of alienation from society is as essential to creative writing as it is to armed robbery,” said Nelson Algren in Nonconformity:  Writing on Writing. Algren spoke of his own experience as an outsider, but many profound works of art have been created with brutal honesty and a process that borders on social callousness. This rang true for Art Shay who regularly photographed subjects on the sly, as exampled in his photo essay (and failed, pitched article to Life Magazine) turned bleak coffee table book, Nelson Algren’s Chicago. Join Algren’s tour of the underbelly of the Second City circa 1949 as Shay captures the deadbeats, the downtrodden and the working poor that became Algren’s deeply loved, literary inspirations.

By MPPL on December 15, 2011 Categories: Books, Nonfiction

Donna S.’s Pick: The Best Advice I Ever Got

Donna S staff pick photoThe Best Advice I Ever Got:  Lessons from Extraordinary Lives
, by Katie Couric, is an inspirational, non-stuffy self help book. Couric is an upbeat journalist, author and special correspondent for ABC News. Lessons from politics, entertainment, sports, the arts, business and philanthropy are covered in this great book.

By MPPL on December 13, 2011 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Donna, Staff Picks

Charmingly Clever Cons

Shooting Fish DVD coverIn the mood for sweet fun and a splash of romance? Take a chance on Shooting Fish, a light PG-rated British comedy released in 1997. Jez and Dylan have a particular talent for ingenious schemes, and the money they pocket goes toward providing a stately home for orphans. Since they themselves are the orphans, it might not be as altruistic as first appears. You won’t really mind, though, because it’s so much fun watching them concoct their elaborate cons. When they hire Georgie (Kate Beckinsale) to pose as a secretary, their long-established twosome makes room for a third. Smart writing, witty dialogue, and winning performances make enjoying this film as easy as…well, you know.

By MPPL on December 12, 2011 Categories: Humor, Movies and TV, Romance

LISTS: Jazz Piano

Duke Ellington Playing PianoDuke Ellington allegedly was quoted as saying, “I never had much interest in the piano until I realized that every time I played, a girl would appear on the piano bench to my left and another to my right.” Whether you’re there for the music or the company, jazz piano can get a person swingin’.

Click here for classic jazz piano players.

By MPPL on December 9, 2011 Categories: Lists, Music

If Father Christmas Were Evil…

Rare Exports DVD coverPietari lives on a reindeer farm with his father in the far, arctic reaches of Finland and someone has slaughtered their entire herd. It could’ve been wolves, whipped into a frenzy by American archaeologists dynamiting the mountain, but it wasn’t. It was Santa and his vicious, naked elves. What the Americans dug out wasn’t a mountain…it was a prison burial mound where the fat, not so jolly man, has been trapped for centuries. Children begin to go missing and it’s up to Pietari and his father to hunt down Santus Clausium and save the world. Rare Exports:  A Christmas Tale is a horrific holiday treat for those looking for a darkly humorous, alternate history of Old Saint Nick.

By MPPL on December 8, 2011 Categories: Horror, Movies and TV

Patty’s Pick: Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story

Patty staff picks photoIn a theater converted into a recording studio, Stax Records laid down such legends as Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Sam and Dave, Booker T &the MGs and Isaac Hayes. Watch the rise and fall of Motown’s biggest rival in, Respect Yourself:  The Stax Records Story.

By MPPL on December 6, 2011 Categories: Movies and TV, Music, Nonfiction, Staff Picks

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well

Nearing Home book coverBarb of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Nearing Home:  Life, Faith and Finishing Well by Billy Graham:

In Billy Graham’s eloquent book, the renowned author speaks of specific areas to help us understand our roles as we age. By sharing his stories, we learn about building strong foundations and understanding the gifts of aging. He talks about facing life’s transitions, including the passing of years, retirement, when a loved one passes on and making wise decisions. This book is not just for those who are nearing the end of their lives. It is a handbook on how to prepare for your older years while you are still young. This is an easy-to-read book full of stories of Billy Graham’s life as he “nears home and finishes well.”


By MPPL on December 5, 2011 Categories: Books, Nonfiction, Picks by Barb B., Staff Picks

LISTS: Fit for Foodies

Kitchen Confidential book coverBefore Anthony Bourdain and the Food Network, people ate, but not many really thought about how cool what they were eating was. Learning about your food can bring greater pleasure to the table.

Click here for food histories and here for delicious fiction and film about food.


By MPPL on December 2, 2011 Categories: Books, Lists, Movies and TV, Nonfiction

Have an Eco-Friendly Holiday

A Greener Christmas book coverIt’s December first! There’s still time to plan and prepare for the holidays. Don’t let the seasonal crowds or late-shipped Internet gifts get you down. Have a do-it-yourself Christmas! A Greener Christmas, by Sheherazade Goldsmith, is a hands-on, eco-friendly holiday guide to home decoration, gift giving and entertaining. It is full of warmly photographed, simple, earthy crafts and projects. Learn how to make your own presents like salon-style foot scrubs, recycled paper cards, fruit jams, bath oils, tote bags and wreaths. Then, when January rolls around, brush up on how to reuse your live tree. For stripped down, environmentally conscious Christmas ideas, check out A Greener Christmas.

By MPPL on December 1, 2011 Categories: Books, Nonfiction