Holidays 2013 Survival Kit Image4

Ah, the holidays.

There are any versions of cherishing the holidays as there are families. They may watch (for the 27th time!) Ralphie’s quest for an air rifle in A Christmas Story or George’s redemption in It’s a Wonderful Life.  Never any shortage of baked goods around this time, either. If a tree is involved, out come dusty boxes of ornaments and in comes a five foot evergreen. Others will light the Menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. It’s all good.

But the holidays also bring something which strikes fear into the hearts of parents: Children with no school to go to!  A few hours of TV-movie nostalgia and cookie-munching and tree decorating may not be enough. Where to find things for them to do, watch, listen to, and — yes, even over the holidays — read?

Here. Video games help the holidays speed by. If the holidays are a “blast your enemies”-free zone, maybe they’d go for electronic hockey or Sims or Diego. If blasting is allowed, they could get in touch with their inner Harry Potter. A little laid-back wizarding — in Kinect, Wii, Playstation 3, Nintendo DS, or Xbox — might be just the thing.

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home_alone

The image above is probably embedded in every kids and adults mind alike that it hardly warrants guessing where it came from if you’ve watched the movie from your childhood or for the first time.

This hit family holiday comedy is a feel good movie for all ages!

Aside from being one of my all time favorite holiday movies, it deserves to be on the list of top classic holiday movies. Its multiple themes of togetherness, forgiveness, and most importantly family, transcends time itself and still plays on till this day. Though it premiered in November of 1990, the movie itself does not get tiring. Though the laughs may wane a little after watching the “Wet Bandits”, played by Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, encounter the various booby traps–which I alone admit to actually recreating my own battle plans when I was small–the end result is still pretty darn hilarious.

The plot of the movie is simple: Eight-year-old Kevin McCallister gets left home alone after his family accidentally leaves him behind due to a mishap at the beginning of the movie, which I will not spoil, but is pretty ridiculous that you forget about it after watching the whole movie. He is forced to defend himself and his home after the two bumbling burglars sets their sights on their property. Amidst all the gags and the action that most of the comedy derives from, the emotional core of the movie and the music itself elevates it to a whole different experience.

At its core, it’s a heartwarming tale that tugs at the strings mainly because of the mother’s attempt to get home to her little boy. You’ll find yourself cheerful, festive, smiling, and maybe develop a slight “lump” in your throat after the movie.

So if you find yourself stuck with nothing to watch during the holiday season, pick yourself up a copy of the movie or put it on hold here. We also have the movie on Blu-ray here. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

 

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MOTION PICTURES

Best Drama
12 Years a Slave
Captain Phillips
Gravity
Philomena
Rush

Best Musical/Comedy
American Hustle
Her
Inside Lleweyn Davis
Nebraska
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director
Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
David O. Russell, American Hustle

Best Actress in a Drama
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
Kate Winslet, Labor Day

Best Actor in a Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyer’s Club
Robert Redford, All Is Lost

Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo Di Caprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix, Her

Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Best Screenplay
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
Jeff Pope/Steve Coogan, Philomena
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell, American Hustle

Best Foreign Language Film
Blue is the Warmest Color
The Great Beauty
The Hunt
The Past
The Wind Rises

Best Animated Feature
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Frozen

Best Original Song
“Atlas,” The Hunger Games, Catching Fire
“Let It Go,” Frozen
“Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“Please Mr. Kennedy,” Inside Llewyn Davis
“Sweeter Than Fiction,” One Chance

Best Score
Alex Ebert, All Is Lost
Alex Heffes, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Steven Price, Gravity
John Williams, The Book Thief
Hans Zimmer, 12 Years a Slave

TELEVISION

Best TV Comedy or Musical
Girls
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
The Big Bang Theory
Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Best TV Drama
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
The Good Wife
House of Cards
Masters of Sex

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Best Actress in a TV Comedy
Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Best Actor in a TV Drama
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
James Spader, The Blacklist

Best Actor in a TV Comedy
Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Show
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Best Miniseries or TV Movie
American Horror Story: Coven
Behind the Candelabra
Dancing on the Edge
Top of the Lake
White Queen

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Rebecca Ferguson, White Queen
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story
Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie
Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
Idris Elba, Luther
Al Pacino, Phil Spector

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie
Jacqueline Bisset, Dancing on the Edge
Janet McTeer, White Queen
Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
Monica Potter, Parenthood
Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie
Josh Charles, The Good Wife
Rob Lowe, Behind the Candelabra
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Corey Stoll, House of Cards
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

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main entrance

Open for business!

Today at the Niles Public Library we reopened our Main Entrance, revealing new spaces that I have to run downstairs from my 3rd floor office to see every few hours because it is so darn cool.

View photos from our renovation project here!

And there’s another first today, we are starting a new way to let you know about all we have to offer – The Buzz Blog – written by an interesting, intelligent and insightful (and often quite funny) group that includes me and my colleagues.

As the person in charge of promoting the Library, I love to toot my horn for our incredible staff. We know that our community members have other choices they can make to find information and even movies and music; but the access to our knowledgeable and experienced staff is really what separates us from other options that are available.

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In honor of Halloween, all this month I’m going to be reviewing books that have scared over the years, in a new series I call “‘Round Midnight”.

John Bellairs, I guess you could say, was the thinking man’s R.L. Stine. He, like Stine, made a career churning out a panoply of childrens’ horror books, but while Stine’s work (which isn’t without its merit, mind you) is full of grotesque images, and often aspires to be kiddie Stephen King, ends up being blackly comic self-parody often reminiscent of the Evil Dead series. Read more »

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International Observe the Moon Night takes place Saturday, October 12. Look up and take notice of earth’s nearest celestial neighbor. There’s a lot to see with binoculars, a telescope or even just your naked eye.

For even more fun and potential prizes, snap a picture of it and post to Instagram with the hashtag #npldteens for week two of our month-long scavenger hunt. We’ll scroll through everyone’s moon shots and select the best one to re-post in our feed. The winner will also earn a small prize!

Moonrise happens in the Chicago-area right around 2:30 pm, so keep an eye out for it during the day! It sets at 7:45, so be sure to get out to see it in the early evening.

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sculpture1 sculpture2 sculpture3The new Niles Public Library sculpture, now located in the renovated Commons area on the first floor, was designed and created by well known Chicago artist Terry Karpowicz. Paid for by the Friends of the Niles Public Library, the artwork stands 15 feet high and is constructed from red cedar wood. Located in the stairway atrium, the sculpture is best viewed close up. Visitors to both the lower and upper levels of the Niles Public Library will have views of the artwork from a variety of angles.

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In honor of Halloween, all this month I’m going to be reviewing books that have scared over the years, in a new series I call “‘Round Midnight”. 

For a notorious shut-in and misanthrope, H.P. Lovecraft sure knew how to scare a person. His “Cthulhu Mythos” stories are known for their quaint New England settings, their unique cosmology, and overwhelming sense of cosmic dread. He was one of the first horror authors to stray away from your typical witches-ghosts-undead triumvirate, and was met with middling success during his life, but after his death was revered as one of the greatest writers in the genre, and highly influential on authors from Stephen King to Neil Gaiman. He was also a racist in the “grouchy old man” mode, but we’ll get to that later.

His 1927 novella, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward is strange among the works in his oeuvre, in that it grafts his “mind-breaking abominations from beyond the void are slowly taking over the universe” ideas onto a traditional English-style detective thriller. This actually works surprisingly well. It concerns a young man named (you guessed it) Charles Dexter Ward. He’s a pretty normal WASP-y New Englander who develops a strange obsession with his long dead ancestor Joseph Curwen, who was known for his eccentric habits. Not to ruin much, but things go pear shaped, and his doctor, Marinus Willett, is sent in to investigate.

The beginning of the book is a little slow. Lovecraft enjoys building atmosphere gradually over time, but all that eventually culminates to some of the scariest horror writing ever. I was reading this on the train, one of the least immersive places to read, and I was afraid. This is made even more impressive when you see that Lovecraft doesn’t rely on cheap shocks, or overly gruesome/sick description to make you jump. The mystery elements ground it, so it doesn’t float too far off into Lovecraft’s twisted, whimsical head, like some of his other novellas (e.g. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath), and provide a welcome relief and comfort from the stark horror taking place elsewhere. There even is a little comedy at one point, although it’s easy to miss.

I have two main issues with it, though. It takes a long time for Charles Dexter Ward to get going, and it often spends pages digressing into the villainous Curwen’s backstory, which drags a bit. The aforementioned racism is also at play here, but only in the occasional descriptive passage. Lovecraft didn’t get out much (and kind of hated all people), so he ended up with a skewed perception of humankind, that most often manifested in prejudice. This doesn’t forgive his racist biases by a long stretch, but doesn’t diminish the mostly great writing here, and Lovecraft’s impact on the genre of horror. In total, this is a flawed, but singularly frightening work from one of America’s premier masters of spooky.

Grade:
B+

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cafe friends

Here’s a look at the new vending café and our Friends book sale corner. Both are located in the newly renovated Commons area (temporary home to Circulation).

Make sure to grab a cup of Starbucks coffee or a gently used item for purchase on your next visit to the Niles Library!

Stay tuned for a special announcement about a new artistic addition to the Niles Library coming soon.

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