We’re happy to announce that we moved our Quick Picks blog to our own WordPress site, and we’d love it if you stayed in touch! For WordPress.com users, you can add us to your Reader at our new home at: http://library.cedarmill.org/topic/find/feed . Just click the gear icon, and enter the feed URL above to keep the recommendations coming.
Or, subscribe by email for weekly updates. Either way, keep getting great recommendations for your next best read, movies and audio for everyone in your family. Thanks! — Cedar Mill Library Staff
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Summer reading for all ages begins June 1st, but don’t let the kids have all the fun!
Join us on Saturday, June 6th at 1pm for our adult kickoff event with the drumming ensemble Portland Taiko!
Sign up at wccls.org/asrp to be entered into countywide prize drawings.
Finally, we have two contests happening at both locations for adults this summer:
- Tell us who your favorite hero or villain in literature is. We’ll draw from the entries to give away prizes at the end of the summer.
- Free Book Friday: We’ll be giving away a different bestselling book every week at each location. Enter in the library or on Facebook.
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Rose George has a knack for tracking down the secrets of the invisible systems that keep life as we know it running. In her book Ninety Percent of Everything : Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that Puts Clothes on Your Back, Gas in Your Car, and Food on Your Plate, George illustrates a piece of infrastructure that touches the life of nearly every human on Earth in some way. Though perhaps not quite as universal as her previous book, The Big Necessity, in which she tackled the complicated world of human waste, Ninety Percent of Everything is an eye-opening read on a global industry.
After reading Ninety Percent of Everything, it’s hard to go near the Port of Portland without thinking about the registrations of the ships and the lives of those on board. Modern-day sailors leave their home countries to risk piracy, boredom, disconnection, stowaways, bribery, and grueling schedules. Shore leaves for the merchant marine are largely a thing of the past. Massive ships and standardized shipping containers make the process of loading and unloading take hours, rather than days. This helps to keep shipping shockingly cheap, allowing a customer in Seattle to enjoy a fish that was caught off the South American coast, shipped to Southeast Asia to be filleted, and shipped to the U.S. for less than the cost of locally-sourced seafood. It many ways, it’s a miracle of efficiency.
But the dangers of the shipping industry are real, as George’s book describes. At any given time, hundreds of shipping employees and their vessels are held for ransom, at the mercy of not only pirates but insurance companies, corporate risk management practices, and the skills of professional negotiators. In addition, the invisibility of cargo in uniform shipping containers and discrepancies in international shipping codes contribute to all manner of dubious practices.
Rose George’s ride-alongs on container ships and piracy patrols, described in her warm, highly readable prose, provide a glimpse into a flabbergasting and very real world where geopolitics tangle with modern necessities and the romance of the sea.
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Filmed on location on a sheep farm in rural Quebec, The Auction is an atmospheric film that echoes the stories of King Lear and Balzac’s classic novel, Le Père Goriot, where a doting father sacrifices everything for his daughters.
Gaby, our main character, has worked his family’s generational farm for 40 years. An introvert by nature, he derives a quiet but profound sense of contentment in the life he has chosen. His love for the land, his sheep and his dog, Pal, is unambiguous. Highly regarded by his neighbors, there exists unmistakable moral support and comradery among his fellow farmers and friends despite his self-imposed isolation. Nevertheless, a sense of deep longing is discernible in Gaby. His determination, ingenuity and skill have manifested a singular paradise far from the madding crowd. Yet there is a void: what is paradise to Gaby is hell to his wife and daughters. All of them left the farm years ago, his wife to a new marriage and his daughters to their own lives far off in Montreal. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that for Gaby, having both farm and close family ties was never possible. Moreover, Gaby comes to this realization as well. Perhaps he knew it all along, and perhaps that knowing is what makes it possible for him to accept the wrenching loss he now chooses.
Director Sébastien Pilote describes The Auction as “a story about a downward journey that would also be a story of heroism – the story of a beautiful loser.” Gabriel Arcand’s poignant performance as Gaby brings this Beautiful Loser vividly to life. And yet…did it really have to be this way? Did Gaby’s life-long reticence blind him to other options? Will you, the dispassionate viewer, see a redemptive path other than the one he chose?
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Aging punks, lucha libre, small-town ennui, the enigmatic Luba and everyone else in the Central American village of Palomar – all signature elements of Love and Rockets, Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez’s soap in graphic novel form. Starting in 1983 as an SF-flavored pop culture mashup, Love and Rockets moved quickly into decade-spanning character drama which continues today in yearly installments.
Jaime’s side of the series focuses on the lives and loves of the Locas: Maggie Chascarrillo and Hopey Glass, two young punks living in fictional LA barrio Hoppers 13. Maggie and Hopey navigate life changes and upheaval, their on again-off again romance and tragedy in stories that effortlessly blend slapstick and heartbreak in equal measure in gorgeous black-and-white. The tales of the Locas expand beyond their early borders over the decades into a tapestry that includes friends Izzy, Daffy and Penny Century (née Béatriz Garcia) among others, and often delves into women’s wrestling, a sport often underrepresented in any medium. The bulk of the Locas stories are collected in four volumes from Fantagraphics: Maggie the Mechanic, The Girl from H.O.P.P.E.R.S., Perla La Loca and Penny Century, spanning over twenty years.
Gilbert’s side of the Love and Rockets universe centers on Palomar and its well-drawn residents. His more traditionally structured tales are as mesmerizing as Jaime’s sprawling ones. Town mayor Luba anchors the first years of Palomar stories, and later ones follow her life post-Palomar as she moves to America with her family. Most of the Palomar tales are collected as Heartbreak Soup and Human Diastrophism, with the first set of post-Palomar tales collected in Beyond Palomar.
Dizzyingly inventive, often profane and absolutely not for children, Love and Rockets has continued since 2007 in yearly collections. To get a taste of Los Bros Hernandez’s range, check out Amor y Cohetes, a collection of their non-Locas/Palomar work from Love and Rockets. From the ridiculous pulp SF of “BEM” to a fourth wall-breaking “Hernandez Satyricon” to Gilbert’s gorgeous tribute to Frida Kahlo, it’s a great place to begin a readthrough – or to end. Check them all out today!
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At the Stratford Zoo, the animals act out Shakespeare plays after the visitors go home. In the first of this delightful new series, these animals present Macbeth in a manner never seen before. The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Macbeth, by Ian Lender offers a fun introduction to the Bard for kids in grades 2-5. It’s also great for adults who love all things Shakespeare. Lender cleverly alludes to quotes from the play which appeal to younger audiences and make readers familiar with the play smile. Zack Giallongo’s colorful illustrations draw the reader into the story showing the perspective of the audience; the murder scene is cleverly hidden by a late arriving elephant. Fans will eagerly await the next installment, the zoo’s rendition of Romeo and Juliet, due to be released in September 2015.
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“Sometimes you wonder how she knows the difference, since Bushmiller’s hoboes look exactly like his bums – battered hats, patched coats and pants, and heavy stubble (though never full beards) – except that the bum doesn’t carry the regulation bindlestick that in Cartoonland signifies ‘just passing through.’ In a strip from 1959, [Nancy] enters a public bomb shelter for no particular reason, sees two bums sleeping, and changes the sign to BUM SHELTER. (Have the semioticians gotten their claws into Nancy? No other cartoon character is half as compulsive about revisiting signs to better suit their referents.)” – Unpacking Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy vis-à-vis formerly funny vagrant humor, from American Cornball
The hi-larious comedy of the past can often be difficult for a twenty-first century sensibility to parse. Hats, for instance. Now that hats are no longer considered de rigeur, fashionwise, it’s harder to find the joke in one getting knocked off. Comedy archeologist Christopher Miller has addressed this pressing researchological gap in American Cornball, an encyclopedia of the former cornerstones of American pop-culture funny. From pie fights to the stinky nature of limburger cheese, the obsessive wearing of barrels when no other clothing is at hand or the slapstick of attempting to put up wallpaper sans skill or sense, Miller leaves no trope unturned. Racism and sexism aren’t overlooked, either, so be warned that some entries contain offensive material.
“When you ask people to list the funniest words they can think of, pants often makes the list alongside more obvious candidates like lollygag, platypus, kumquat, and gubernatorial. The question of exactly what makes a word funny falls outside the scope of this encyclopedia, but usually the humor is semantic and not just phonological. To be sure, a disproportionate number of funny words feature p or k; and oo (as in poot or bazooka) shows up more often than it should, but seldom do funny letters alone add up to laughter.” – Phonology is serious business in American Cornball
The next time an anvil falls on a cartoon character’s head or a Honeymooners rerun is on and Ralph’s railing on about the delivery peccadilloes of the iceman, turn to American Cornball for all you need to know about the yuks of the past. Put a hold on it today!
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Poetry month might be over, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely done with poetry here at the Cedar Mill Community Library. Like a rude guest late to the party, May 12th is Limerick day! You know limericks. Those sneaky little poems with an unforgiving rhyme scheme and usually start with “there once was a man from a Nantucket?” It’s all plenty of fun until you run out of things that rhyme with bucket. Although famously silly and dirty at once, Limericks have a long history in poetry and have been tarnishing the names of good poets since late medieval times. Their modern identity as crude, humorous stanzas named after a city in Ireland really only emerged in the 18th century, and became popularized in the 1800’s by one Edward Lear. Today, they’re usually known as children’s rhymes or dirty lyrics, but I like to think of them as a funny little five-line challenge in creativity. Here goes.
There once was a man overdue
Who couldn’t check out anything new
so he paid off his fine
Returned books on time
and kept track of when to renew!
Alright, there may have been a slant rhyme in the middle, and that last line is kind of a mess. Let’s see what else we’ve got here.
Printing is 10 cents a page,
Even in the digital age,
We can’t fax or scan
but that’s still in the plan
so hold on to your internet rage.
It might not be funny or even terribly relevant, but it fits the rhyme scheme nicely. One more, you say?
Our mascot is Wiser the Owl,
we’d never keep him as fowl,
He encourages reading
and learning and leading
at prices much better than Powell’s.
The obligatory promotional limerick, now with hyperlinks:
We offer some great learning classes
No card? We give out guest passes
Make it your mission to visit 2nd Edition
and we’ll be here if your computer crashes.
I think that’s it for me today. What have you got? – Reference Rob
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Who was Andy Kaufman- really?
Was he a comedian? He was an entertainer, that much is certain. Andy called himself a “song and dance man,” but that was about as true as, um, Richard Nixon telling the country that he was not a crook. He captivated audiences with those piercing blue eyes and was (in)famous for doing whatever he could to generate the greatest reaction possible – whether it was positive or negative, he didn’t seem to notice, as long as HE was the one being noticed. He would never break character, ever, in his public career, and died young enough (or did he die at all?!) that the world has very little idea of, well, who he really was.
Bill Zehme’s book, Lost in the Funhouse, does not attempt to directly answer that question. It is not a magical window into the essence of the “real” Andy Kaufman. If anything, it reinforces the idea that the real Andy was the one who had been staring straight at us the entire time. Based on interviews with Andy’s parents and several of his friends (that is, the few people who were less distant from Andy than everyone else), the book starts at birth and travels through Andy Kaufman’s entire life, documenting everything from his favorite activities at home and at school, to when he invited members of the audience at Improv New York to touch a cyst on his neck (but only after they washed their hands), to the stellar evening when he killed at Carnegie hall before loading the entire audience onto twenty-four buses and buying them milk and cookies.
The text is written from a dazzling, surreal perspective that lets you feel – just a little – that you are living through Andy’s eyes, and the view is spectacular. This book has been recently purchased for the Cedar Mill Community Library, and is available to be placed on hold Right Now. You’d better, um, get to it!
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