Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sounds Swedish.


I originally intended to show a Star Trek episode followed by a Star Trek movie each day during our Star Trek Marathon.  For Monday February 3's Night of the Borg I was going to show a Next Generation episode which featured the Borg, the human synthetic hybrids, (who I think were some of the best villain's Star Trek ever came up with) and combine it with the Star Trek movie First Contact.  However the more I thought about it the more I realized it was the television show that made Star Trek such a huge and enduring hit.  The "Best of Both Worlds" a Star Trek Next Generation two part episode where Captain Picard is kidnapped and assimilated into the Borg Collective.  It is considered by many Star Trek Fans to be two of the very best of Star Trek episodes ever so it just seemed natural to put "Q Who?", the episode that introduced the Borg together with the two episodes of the "Best of Both Worlds" all in a single evening.  Q, the omnipotent being who teases and tortures the crew of the Next Generation from time to time is not really my favorite character but he does have my favorite quote from Star Trek: “If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed. It's not safe out here. It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross. But it's not for the timid.”  I always thought this quote summed up the spirit of Star Trek.  Come join us for Night of the Borg Monday February 3 starting at 6.  Admission, popcorn, and sodas are free.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

All Khan All Weekend

I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral

The Rogers Public Library will be having a Star Trek Marathon from February 1 through February 6 beginning with All Khan All Weekend.  I decided to start the Star Trek Marathon with the Original Series Episode "Space Seed" because "Space Seed" is usually considered to be one of the ten best Star Trek television episodes ever.  The Khan character was resurrected for the second Star Trek Movie Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan which is often considered to be the best of the Star Trek movies and Khan was resurrected one more time for Star Trek Into Darkness.  I think this best explains the enduring popularity of Star Trek.  It is a universe with characters we can all relate to.

Star Trek: the Movie had a long and muddled development.  Paramount Pictures, Gene Roddenberry, and most the cast had moved on from Star Trek to other projects but Star Trek fans would not let Star Trek die, it had become a bigger hit in syndication than it had been in prime time but with the success of Star Wars and the growing cult status of Star Trek, Paramount decided to milk the popularity of Star Trek and make a made for television movie but the project grew and mutated until it became Star Trek the Movie.  Star Trek the movie was somewhat of a train wreck but it still made enough money for Paramount to make a Star Trek 2 but this time the writer's directors went back and looked at what made the television so popular and came up with the Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan.  They obviously had a hit and the Star Trek franchise has kept going strong ever since.  Even to the point that they brought back Khan for the reboot.  So come visit the Rogers Public Library for a showing "Space Seed" followed by the Wrath of Khan on February 1 and see what made Star Trek such an enduring American entertainment legacy.  It's free along with free drinks and popcorn.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Musical Part of the Show

We just moved the music CD's to a more visible location and I'm hoping circulation picks up.  I know it's a losing cause because streaming music along with streaming movies will change everything.  For a Librarian that's sad.  I spend a lot of time looking for the right music.  I'm proud of the collection I built.  I don't have room for everything so I try to pick the best but with streaming you just get to pick what the vendor provides you.  With movies for example not all titles are available are available all the time.  They rotate the collection.  For a librarian there's no fun in that.  Couple of months back someone gave us a donation of Jazz CDs and as I was looking through them trying to see if there was anything we could use I discovered several important artists and recordings I'd missed before.  With music it's not just the band or the musician, it might be a particular concert or recording that for some reason the band just ripped it.  "Live in Japan" by the Runaways was such an album.  The Japanese were huge fans of the Runaways and their live Concert in Japan was supposed to have been one of their best performances.  The two "Night at Birdland" CDs are another live album where great artists produced an even greater performance.  Even the great Miles Davis was said to have impressed with the performances of Art Blakey's band.  At the beginning of each year I go through the Billboard charts and try to pick the top CD's.  So here's the list of CDs I purchased for January this year.  The Chart Toppers are heavy in Country because that's the first chart after the top 100 albums and the Country Charts were as far as I got.  Teens already had most of the Hot Albums for the year.
 The Runaways,Live In Japan,France,Deleted,LP RECORD,417311

  1. "Based on a True Story" Blake Shelton.  2013 Billboard chart topper.
  2. "Evolution/Revolution. The Early Years 1966-1974"  Richard Pryor.  Because everybody needs a laugh.
  3. "Here's to the Good Times" Florida Georgia Line.  2013 Billboard chart topper.
  4. "Impressions" John Coltrane.  Maybe his best album EVER and re-mastered.  Coltrane's out there and he's an acquired taste but for jazz lovers he was god.
  5. "Is it something I said?"  Richard Pryor.  More laughs.  I think the Library needs comedy.
  6. "Live In Japan" The Runaways.  One of the early Girl Rock bands and their best album.
  7. "A Love Supreme" John Coltrane.  Often listed as one of the Greatest Jazz Albums of all time.
  8. "Night at Birdland Volume1" Art Blakey.  These two Live performances should be a part of anyone's core Jazz Collection.
  9. "Night at Birdland Volume2" Art Blakey.  These two live performances should be a part of anyone's core Jazz Collection.
  10. "Pioneer" Band Perry.  2013 Billboard chart topper.
  11. "Random Access Memories"  Daft Punk.  2013 Billboard chart topper.
  12. "Real McCoy"  McCoy Tyner.  One of those albums every Jazz Collection should have.
  13. "Spring Break: Here to Party"  Luke Bryan. 2013 Billboard chart topper.
  14. "True Believers"  Darius Rucker.  2013 Billboard chart topper.
  15. "Truth About Love"  Pink.  2013 Billboard chart topper.
  16. "Two Lanes of Freedom"  Tim McGraw.  2013 Billboard chart topper.
  17. "World from the Side of the Moon"  Phillips Phillip.   2013 Billboard chart topper.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

These are the musing of the AV Librarian.

"These are the musings of the AV Librarian who's five year mission is to boldly buy what no Librarian has bought before."  Okay the Real purpose of this blog is to let people know what movies and music the Library is buying and why.  I get this question fairly often.  Why do we buy what we buy?  This is called a collection development policy and it is always evolving.   Originally I purchased DVDs that were classics and of historical value.  These were movies that were Academy Award winners or which had been deemed by reputable or authoritative sources to be of significant historical or artistic value.  With popular new releases I usually waited two years before I purchased recent releases, partly because the Library didn't want to use tax money to compete with local business, and partly because it was cheaper to wait for the price to come down.  However the DVD market has radically changed in the last couple of years, streaming video "Redbox" and other video delivery services have fundamentally changed the DVD market.

The primary difference in what I do now is that I buy top grossing movies much sooner than I did two years ago.  I can buy a Blu-ray-Digital-DVD combo fairly quickly after the initial release so the higher cost isn't prohibitive since I'm usually buying 3-for-1.  But it also makes what I did before much more important.  The streaming services don't make all movies available all the time.  If you need to see a movie for a class, or if you hear about a famous or significant movie and you can't wait to see it you don't have to wait for it to show up on TCM or for it to rotate through your video service.  You can check it out at the Library and this is what Library's are really for, finding the best and putting them on the shelf for our customers.

So, drum roll please!  This month's Library DVD purchases are!

Call the Midwife: Season One
Call the Midwife: Season Two
The popular BBC production based on the Memoirs by Jennifer Worth.

A top grossing film of 2013

Galaxy Quest
A really funny movie for Star Trek fans I bought this in Blu-ray just for the Star Trek Marathon

Great Gatsby
A top grossing film of 2013

Guns at Batasi
In this British Classic from 1964 Richard Attenborough's character is supposedly the inspiration for the Higgins character in Magnum PI.

Clark Gable, Deborah Kerr, Ava Gardner, Ralph Menjou, Edward Arnold, Sydney Greenstreet, and Keenan Wynn in this 1947 classic.  (What a fantastic cast!)

Identify Thief
A top grossing film of 2013

In Cold Blood
This is the classic movie based on the Truman Capote book.

Man of Steel
A top grossing film of 2013

Nativity Story
This 2007 film is highly rated and a customer request.  (See I listen)

Now You See Me
A top grossing film of 2013

Star Trek: the Next Generation Season One
Star Trek: the Next Generation Season Two
Star Trek: the Next Generation Season Three
Star Trek: the Next Generation Season Four
Star Trek: the Next Generation Season Five
Blu-rays for the Star Trek Marathon

A top grossing film of 2013

NCIS Season Five
NCIS Season Six
The relentless requests of a super fan wore me down.

This is the 1956 version of the classic Dystopian Classic by George Orwell.
  George Orwell's 1984 (Big Brother)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dystopian Vs. Utopian

One of the most popular explanations for enduring popularity of Star Trek is that it is Utopian rather than Dystopian, and I agree.  Star Trek has a positive heroic vision of the future rather than a pessimistic Road Warrior-Hunger Games point of view.  However, when I was looking at pre Star Wars movies yesterday I was not overwhelmed by all the Dystopian Science Fiction movies preceding the Star Trek television series.  Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman and the Incredible Shrinking Man weren't exactly Dystopian visions of the future.  Like Godzilla and Them! they were examples of a Frankenstein's Monster type of plot line where man's creation destroys the creator.  This is not to say that there weren't any Dystopian movies prior to Star Trek.  The Last Man on Earth (1964) starring Vincent Price was an early zombie-plague movie and before that there was a 1956 version of 1984 (Which I've been trying to get for the Library for years. It's just been reissued.).  However neither of these movies made an especially big impact.  In general 1950's and early 1960's Science Fiction movies tended to be alien invasion or mutant monster type of fun.

So if a Dystopian world view wasn't prominent in Sci-Fi movies before 1967 why would a positive Utopian series like Star Trek have such staying power.  I think the answer is the 60's.  The 1960's were a time of anti war protests, the Cold War, Civil Rights, and the beginning of the Environmental Movement.  That's a lot of pessimism for one decade.  Also Science Fiction Literature was steeped in Dystopian concepts.  Two of the biggest classics of the Science Fiction genre are A Brave New World and 1984  which are both the Dystopian world views all other Dystopian novels are compared to.  They're not really Science Fiction movies but 1960's era produced Doctor Strangelove, Failsafe, On the Beach, and the Bedford Incident which were all cold war, 'if-we're-not-careful-we're-going-to-blow-up-the world' movies.  There was a lot of angst in the 60's.  

All literature, and Science Fiction is no exception, have some degree of social commentary.  H. G. Wells War of the Worlds was an allegory on Victorian Imperialism.  It was a book that asked the question 'How would you feel if some super advance culture came along and stomped you?'  That's one of the reasons I included all three of Charlton Heston's late 60's early 70's science fiction movies in my 'must-see' list from my last post.  They were all Dystopian movies dripping with social commentary.  Planet of the Apes was an allegory on racism, The Omega Man was commentary on the germ warfare and the military industrial complex, and Soylent Green was a commentary on fear of man destroying the environment.  Its not surprising that lots of Dystopian Science Fiction began showing up in the late 60's and 70's.  George Lucas' 1971 film THX 1138 is one of the most frightening visions of the future possible at least until the Matrix franchise.  But the number of Dystopian themed movies began increasing in the late 60's and 70's.  Besides those movies already mentioned there were Fahrenheit 451 (1966,) A Clockwork Orange (1971) Rollerball (1975) a Boy and His Dog (1975) and Mad Max (1979) so I'm not surprised that Star Trek re-runs became popular in the 70's.  I think people want a positive hopeful view of the future.  I think that's why Star Trek made a comeback and Star Wars was such a huge hit.

(All movies mentioned in my articles are available at the Rogers Public Library, well 1984 will be as soon as I order it.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Love Science Fiction

As long as I remember I've been a huge fan of Science Fiction.  It didn't matter whether it was movies or books, I loved SciFi.  So when the original Star Trek television series came along in 1966 we watched.  The whole family watched.  We were all Science Fiction fans but before Star Trek, Science Fiction was kind of a guilty pleasure.  It was paperback books, lurid covers on pulp magazines and cheap special effects drive-in movies.  Science Fiction just wasn't really respectable.  There were some classic authors like Jules Verne and H. G. Wells but other than that it was Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Princess of Mars.  It was the same with movies.  There were the occasional good science fiction movies like Metropolis in 1927 and the Things to Come in 1936 but for the most part Science Fiction cinema was Flash Gordon using pie pans on wires with sparklers for engines as special effects.  Sometimes they had iguanas in slow motion for space monsters.  Special effects were just too expensive.  The 1950's was the 'golden age' of Science Fiction movies and there was a ton of cheap low budget science fiction movies.  Some of them were very good.  Them! in 1954, Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1956, the Day the Earth Stood Still in 1951, and Thing From Another World in 1951 were all really well written quality movies.  Ray Harryhausen was doing the best special effects in the 50's and both Earth Versus the Flying Saucers and 20 Million Miles to Earth were state of the art when they were made.  But generally with the exception of some classics made into film (War of the Worlds 1953, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 1954, and Journey to the Center of the Earth 1959) the 1950s were not a time of A list major studio release science fiction movies.

Science Fiction changed in the 1960's.  Fantastic Voyage in 1966 was an A list special effects movie starring two of Hollywood's hottest stars, Raquel Welch and Steven Boyd.  1968's Planet of the Apes starred academy award winner Charlton Heston and the greatest of all Science Fiction movies (according to American Film Institute) 2001 a Space Odyssey came out in 1968.  I remember when 2001 was showing.  It was an event that everyone, and I mean everyone, was talking about.  Special effects were still very expensive but Science Fiction was becoming an acceptable plot line for mainstream film. 

By the 1970's Science Fiction was taking off in Hollywood.  George Lucas came out with his THX 1138 in 1971.  Also in 1971 A Clockwork Orange was up for Best Picture.  Soylent Green 1973, The Omega Man 1971, Westworld 1973, The Stepford Wives 1975, Rollerball 1975, and Logan's Run in 1976 were all mainstream movies with major actors.  Then 1977 the blockbuster of all blockbusters Star Wars premiered and Science Fiction broke out.  Mad Max and Star Trek the Motion Picture both came out in 1979 and Science fiction would become a part of every summer's fare.  Now it almost seems as if Science Fiction has replaced the Western as the one of the major genre's of motion pictures.  This year Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Gravity, and Star Trek Into Darkness are all top ten grossing films of 2013, and the Star Wars, Star Trek, Terminator, Back to the Future, X-Men, and the Matrix are some of the highest grossing film franchises of all time.  Science Fiction has come a long way from being a guilty pleasure.

Rob's list of must see pre Star Wars Science Fiction.
  Metropolis 1927
  Things to Come 1936
  Day the Earth Stood Still 1951
  Thing From Another World 1951 (A Howard Hawks Film!  It's Alien screwball!)
  Them! 1954
  Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
  Earth Versus the Flying Saucers 1956 (This is the movie Mars Attacks parodies)
  20 Million Miles to Earth 1957
  War of the Worlds 1953 (Still the best version of Wells classic but Independence Day is close 2nd)
  Fantastic Voyage 1966
  Planet of the Apes 1968 (Ruined by the sequels but the original is a classic)
  Omega Man 1971
  Soylent Green 1973
  Rollerball 1975 (Critics don't like this movie but I think it's highly underrated.)



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Star Trek Marathon



On Saturday February 1 at 1:30 the Rogers Public Library will kick off a Star Trek Marathon by showing “Space Seed” from the Original Star Trek’s first season. In this episode the Star Trek villain Khan Noonien Singh played by Ricardo Montalban attempts to take over the Starship Enterprise before being foiled by Captain Kirk played by William Shatner. Montalban reprized his role as Kahn in the second and the best of best of all the Star Trek movies, Wrath of Khan, which will be shown at 2:30 on Saturday immediately following “Space Seed”. On Sunday at 1:30, Star Trek into Darkness the most recent motion picture in the Star Trek universe will be shown where once again Khan is the villain.

Star Trek is easily the most successful entertainment franchise in American history. There have been six different Star Trek television series with a staggering 719 Episodes. There were eighty episodes of the Original Series, twenty two episodes of Star Trek the Animated Series, 176 episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation, 173 episodes of Star Trek Deep Space Nine, 170 episodes of Star Trek Voyager, and 98 episodes Star Trek Enterprise. The Star Trek Canon includes twelve different Star Trek movies and hundreds of Star Trek books. Star Trek Conventions have become synonymous with rabid fanatical Geekdom so it is only appropriate that the Rogers Public Library honors Star Trek Fans everywhere by having a Star Trek Marathon leading up the fourth Geek the Library event on February 8. Only James Bond and Star Wars come close to matching the sheer magnitude of Star Trek mania.

Star Trek is an integrated universe. Cast members of the Original Series made guest appearances on subsequent series. Sarek, Mr. Spock’s father in the Original Series was the title character in the Next Generation’s Third Season Episode “Sarek”, while Mr. Spock himself was in a two part episode of the Star Trek the Next Generation called “Unification”. Leonard Nimoy was also a bridge character between Star Trek the Original Series and the new Star Trek reboot with Chris Pine as James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as the new Mr. Spock. Mr. Worf made the transition from Star Trek the next Generation to Deep Space Nine, while both Star Trek the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine spun off plot lines and characters for the Star Trek Voyager series. The alternate “Bad Universe” created in the Original Series with the episode “Mirror Mirror” became a plot devise in Star Trek Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Enterprise and Tribbles have been showing up everywhere in Star Trek movies and trek television series ever since the "Trouble with Tribbles". So on Saturday February 1 and Sunday February 2 the Rogers Public Library will begin the Marathon with the television episode and two movies that follows the villain Khan through the Star Trek Universe.

On Monday February 3 beginning at 6:30 the Library will have Borg Night beginning with Star Trek the Next Generation’s “Q Who?” which is the episode that introduces best Star Trek villains ever, ‘the Borg’. This is followed by ‘Best of Both Worlds’ Part I and II where Captain Picard is assimilated into the Borg Collective and rescued. Many people consider the ‘Best of Both Worlds” to be one of the very best Star Trek episodes.

Tuesday February 4 is the night for fan favorites. Deep Space Nine’s “In the Pale Moonlight”, the Original series “City on the Edge of Forever”, and the Next Generation’s “Yesterday’s Enterprise” are three Star Trek episodes that are continuously cited as the very best of Star Trek. Since all ‘best of’ lists are subjective and since everyone’s list of the best is different on Wednesday February 5 the Library will show three staff favorites, The Next Generation’s “Inner Light”, the Original Series “Balance of Terror”, and the Next Generation’s “Darmok”. I think it is suggestive that each of the staff favorites are first encounters episodes.  I guess most librarians dream is “to go where no one has gone before.”

Finally on Thursday February 6 the Library will show “The Trouble with Tribbles” followed by the Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest. Never let it be said that Librarians do not have a sense of humor. All showing's will be in the Friends of the Library Community Room and are free to the public.