Month: November 2010

Check It Out Blog

Jazz It Up

Treme CD coverWhen you think New Orleans jazz, what comes to mind?  Lively horns.  Punctuating trombone.  Saxophone runs.  Syncopated keyboard.  All these stir together in harmonies that both tap your toes and make you sway.  For a mix as varied and tasty as authentic jambalaya, try Treme: Music from the HBO Original Series, Season 1.  The very soul of post-Katrina “New Awlins” is set to music with an amazing collection of artists including Dr. John, John Boutté, Kermit Ruffins, Irma Thomas, and Li’l Queenie and the Percolators.  With a vitality that can barely be contained, the album builds a diverse carnival of music that begs you to jump to your feet and join the parade.

On A Trail of Dead Elvises

Mesopotamia book cover Tabloid reporter Sandy Bloomgarten got fired from the Star, the Weekly World News and The National Enquirer after she began boozing on the job. Sandy started drinking when her husband started cheating. A freelance reporting gig comes up that could help clear Sandy’s mind and put a dent in her mountain of credit card debt. Only when Sandy gets down to Mesopotamia, Tennessee to investigate the death of a missing woman, a bigger story starts to develop. There have been multiple “Elvis slayings” in the small town. Who is killing Elvis impersonators and why? A minister, a vicious cover band, a widow, a meth-making private eye and a hermit are all clues in Arthur Nersesian’s Mesopotamia.

Castle on the Move

Howl's Moving Castle DVD coverAn enchanted castle that walks from place to place.  A vain and powerful wizard.  A fire demon voiced by Billy Crystal and a menacing witch who sounds like Lauren Bacall.  Only the awe-inspiring Hayao Miyazaki could combine these elements into a flight of fancy to rival any dream.  In Howl’s Moving Castle, the Witch of the Waste turns young Sophie from a hard-working hat shop assistant into an old crone.  She sneaks away from the life she knows and discovers a ramshackle factory that turns out to be the castle of the notorious wizard Howl.  Based on the novel by Diana Wynne Jones and including the talents of Christian Bale and Jean Simmons, Howl’s Moving Castle is pure magical entertainment.

Joan Wilder, Hopeful Romantic

Joan Wilder is a popular romance novelist who lives life more in her imagination than in practice.  She likes her heroes strong, daring, sensitive, and irresistible.  When Columbian smugglers kidnap Joan’s sister and offer to trade her for a treasure map, Joan sets off on a dangerous escapade straight out of one of her books. Along the way she encounters profiteer Jack Colton, sparking an attraction that even she couldn’t imagine.  Sound familiar?  If you were swept away by the thrills and fun of the film starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner, indulge in one of the heroine’s own stories by choosing Romancing the Stone or The Jewel of the Nile for your next adventure.

The Mom and Pop Store

The Mom and Pop Store book cover Patti of Reference Services recommends The Mom & Pop Store:  How the Unsung Heroes of the American Economy are Surviving and Thriving by Robert Spector:

For two years, Robert Spector visited diners, bakeries, repair shops, bookstores, groceries, retailers and other small businesses. The Mom & Pop Store goes beyond nostalgia of the quaint shopkeeper by recognizing that small business success comes with tremendous hard work and investment. Small business owners depend on return business; they know how to market to neighborhoods, build relationships with their customers and deliver exceptional service. I appreciated the author’s account of his visit to Dinkel’s Bakery on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago.  After three generations of ownership, this remains the bakery of my family’s choosing. Spector reminded me that there are many opportunities in Mount Prospect for us to patronize quality, locally-owned businesses.

A Guitar and an Amplified Left Foot

Something's Wrong Lost Forever album coverScott H. Biram, also known as the Dirty Old One Man Band, writes holler-stomp music. He sings porch-yodeling-dive-bar-blues with the mixed growl of a man as apt to buy you a beer as steal your car. Something’s Wrong/Lost Forever is the mad telling of a fella down on his luck, lonely as oblivion and ready for creation to quit battling him over his small slice of peace. Biram turns a mouth harp, a ’59 Gibson guitar and an electrified stomp board into a furious country cacophony. He’s a godless, drunk heathen, but even so, Scott H. Biram will make you see the light.

Yo-Yo Ma and the Movies

YoYo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone CD coverImmerse yourself in sweeping drama, gentle melody, and panoramic views of the imagination with Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone.  World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma embraces the epic nature of film scores arranged by the inimitable award-winning composer Morricone.  Enduring selections from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The Untouchables, Cinema Paradiso, and The Mission are among the breathtaking harmonies offered in this 2004 collaboration.  Perfect for candlelight dinner music or as background for your own inspirational moments, these suites will enhance any personal soundtrack.