Month: March 2012

Check It Out Blog

Ugly Ducklings and Swans

Jemima J book coverJemima knows she isn’t what most would call attractive.  Though she puts effort into her style, hair, and skin, others see only fat.  Her skinny roommates treat her more like a maid than a friend, and her coworker crush thinks of her as a buddy.  She’s even convinced that her size is holding her back professionally.  In Jemima J, an early novel by bestselling author Jane Green, an Internet flirtation gives Jemima the motivation to reinvent herself, but even then she can’t believe anyone could be seriously interested.  An everywoman with a healthy sense of humor, Jemima undergoes a transformation that is emotional as well as physical, learning that it isn’t how you look that ultimately allows you to be your true self.

“Whither Goest Thou, America, in Thy Shiny Car at Night?”

“…The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

To find out what mad, beautiful folks Jack Kerouac was talking about, have a read of his famous novel, On the Road. Then go see the movie, later this year.

LISTS: Irish Pop/Rock

Loveless album coverThere’s more to Irish music than the Chieftains, Gaelic Storm, and Riverdance soundtracks. U2, The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy — these are only a few of the awesome modern rock bands to come out of Ireland.

If you’d rather rock out than folk out this St. Patrick’s Day (or any other time), click here.

They Want to Eat You

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark DVD coverThere are nocturnal beasties at Blackwood Manor that savor the crunch of children’s teeth. If only young and lonely Sally had known that the soft whispers calling her to come and play from deep down in the hidden basement were evil…she wouldn’t have let the creatures loose in the house. Co-written by Guillermo del Toro, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a remake of a 1973, made-for-TV horror movie with further inspiration taken from the dark fairy lore of Arthur Machen. What malevolent fiends dwell in the dark at Blackwood Manor? Check out Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark to find out.

Renee’s Pick: Saturn Apartments

Renee Staff Picks PhotoIn the manga Saturn Apartments, Mitsu has joined the window washers guild, which takes care of the multilevel glass ring habitation that circles the Earth. As Mitsu begins his job, he gains a new view of the world, which unlocks secrets in his life and the lives around him.

A Scarlet Woman

When She Woke audiobook coverIn the not-too-distant future, a young woman awakens to discover that her appearance has been chemically altered.  She is Red, her skin now the alarming shade of a stop sign.  Hannah Payne has been convicted of the murder of her unborn child, and her crime is compounded by her unwillingness to name the father.  Justice demands that she be sentenced to wearing her guilt where it can be seen by all.  When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is a fast-paced reinvention of The Scarlet Letter as a modern dystopian novel.  Narrator Heather Corrigan expertly voices the conflict in this thought-provoking examination of religion, politics, character, and prejudice.

LISTS: Contemporary British Sitcoms

Black Books DVD coverIf you’re tired of of American TV, look across the Atlantic to what’s on the telly in England. The BBC produces absolutely fabulous, small-screen sitcoms that are usually about six episodes per season.

To explore contemporary British comedy, click here.

Worth it, Even if You Don’t Understand it All

Godel, Escher, Bach book coverDouglas Hofstadter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for his book, Gödel, Escher, Bach. It is an exploration of thought and creativity through examining common threads in the music of Bach, the art of Escher and the mathematical theories of Gödel. Hofstadter then takes his observations on human thought and extends them to the possibility of artificial intelligence. It is 800-plus pages of cognitive science and the philosophy of self as illustrated through art and music. There are times when it feels dated, like when Hofstadter mentions LPs or the idea that a computer could never beat a human at chess, but as a whole, G.E.B. is still the gold star book on the nature of human consciousness.