Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell
The Room. Not everyone has seen it, but many have probably heard of it. A 2003 independent film directed, produced, and written lead actor Tommy Wiseau, The Room’s story concerns a love triangle between three friends. Johnny (Wiseau) is a kindly, middle-aged banker engaged to the untrustworthy Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Out of boredom, Lisa decides to ensnare their misguided friend, Mark (Greg Sestero), in a passionate affair in a move that will destroy their circle of friends. Meant to be taken as a heart-wrenching drama on par with Shakespeare’s tragedies, the film’s bad acting, bewildering script, and atrocious dialogue was met with howls of laughter worldwide. Although a flop at the box office, it developed an impressive cult following, and ultimately led to Sestero’s decision to write a memoir of his experiences. Hilarious, and at times, surprisingly sad, The Disaster Artist is a wildly entertaining memoir that will definitely appeal to fans of The Room.
WHO: The Birmingham Public Library, Instagram Birmingham, The Literacy Council, and REV Birmingham will celebrate World Literacy Day, September 8, by encouraging people to take selfies in cool places to read in Birmingham.
WHAT: World Literacy Day's aim is to highlight the importance of literacy. About 776 million adults lack minimum literacy skills, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Also, one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women. However, there are about 4 billion literate people in the world, according to UNESCO.
WHEN: Monday, September 8, 2014
WHERE TO POST PICS: People may take photos of themselves at the library, their favorite coffee shop, the park, etc. Then, they should share the images on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. People may also send images to TLC@literacy-council.org so that the Literacy Council may share the images on social media.
HOW: When posting images, people should use the hashtags #coolplacestoreadbham and #literacyselfie. People are also encouraged to tag the following organizations:
- Birmingham Public Library - Twitter: @bpl; Instagram: @bplpics; and Facebook: Birmingham Public Library
- Instagram Birmingham - Instagram and Twitter: #instagrambham
- REV Birmingham - Twitter: @revbirmingham Facebook: REV Birmingham
- The Literacy Council – Facebook: literacycouncil; Twitter: @literacy_update; Instagram: theliteracycouncil
For more information contact: Missy Burchart, The Literacy Council, 205-326-1925, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Legal Services Alabama, a nonprofit law firm in Birmingham, will prepare wills at three Birmingham Public Libraries in the coming months.
To qualify for a free will, a person must be a Birmingham resident and must fall into one of the required income areas: under $34,200 for a single person; $39,050 or less for a family of two; $43,950 or less for a family of three; or $48,800 or less for a family of four. For those unable to meet the income requirements but are over 60 years old, the law firm may still be able to help.
Central Library/Arrington Auditorium
Thursday, August 28, 2014
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
North Birmingham Library
Thursday, September 25, 2014
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
East Lake Library
Thursday, October 23, 2014
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
"Basically, we think everybody should have a will. If you have parents or kids, you should have a will,'' said Dru Clark, an attorney with Legal Services Alabama. Those also in need of a will should be anyone: owning a home, with a bank account, with elderly parents, with dependents with special needs, or without close relatives but interested in leaving items to a friend.
"The goal of the wills clinic is to raise awareness of how easy it is to get a will done. It's not a painful experience,'' Clark said. "There's a stigma associated with a will - that you will die tomorrow. But that's not the case. Having a will is just good planning.''
Those needing help with what to do with a loved one's estate may also seek help during the clinics. The service is part of “Preserving the Wealth of Our Communities Project (PWOCP),” which is made possible because of Birmingham Mayor William Bell's RISE initiative. The RISE initiative is an effort to strengthen neighborhoods, eliminate blight, and increase property values. The program is also for low-to-moderate income property owners and senior citizens of Birmingham.
For more information, call Dru Clark at 205-328-3540, ext. 3508.
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins is the first volume in the Underland Chronicles. This is the same Suzanne Collins of The Hunger Games fame. Gregor is a scrappy teen who has to forfeit summer camp to take care of his 2-year old sister, Boots, while his mother is at work. A few years earlier, their father disappeared causing the family to fall on hard times. Boots accidentally slips down a hole behind a loose grate in the laundry room. Gregor follows her into a strange world beneath New York City.
The Underland was founded centuries ago by a disillusioned Englishman who thought he could create a better world somewhere else. His descendants have the same problems as humans living above ground. As part of the fantasy world, the Underland is populated by oversized Rats, Roaches, Bats and other assorted creatures who all speak English and do not like humans very much. I would not like any group who descended into my realm and stole my land. Gregor and Boots discover that their father fell into the Underland and is being held hostage by the Rats. Gregor is told by the humans that he is a warrior who was sent to fulfill a series of prophecies. Members of the Underland plus two cockroach friends set off to solve a mystery and free Gregor’s father.
Despite the huge cockroaches who are devoted to Boots, the story is quite interesting. The author intersperses triumphs and trials in just the right intervals to keep the story moving. The first volume is family friendly and good for ages 11 to adult.
The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost is an extremely fast-paced narrative with dueling fantasy beings and lots of gadgets. Mark Frost is a longtime television writer known for Hill Street Blues, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Twin Peaks. As I listened to the audio I could visualize all the action. This book was written like a movie.
Will West appears to be a regular teenager, but he has a secret. Will constantly has to keep his physical and mental abilities hidden. He cannot afford to be the star of the track team or a whiz kid at school. Will and his parents move around a lot making Will a loner. One day Will is almost kidnapped but rescued by a monster angelic creature driving the ultimate sports car. Will’s parents are kidnapped in his place and he is sent to a high school for teens with untapped super powers. At the school there are weird happenings and a mystery Will and his new friends must solve.
If you like a fast moving reads, you will enjoy this audio. The plot zips by with enough mystery and science fiction elements to keep older teen through adults entertained.
Mark Helprin’s acclaimed 1983 novel, Winter’s Tale, has been called a fantasy novel, and, although it is brimming with the fantastic, it is a genre of its own. It has more in common with the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but is best described as a tall tale, an American tall tale, perhaps told around a fire over a snowbound winter by a visionary storyteller deeply in love with New York City. Helprin is entranced by color and light, and is more than willing to let narrative wait patiently while he, and his readers, are immersed in visual wonder. This brick of a book is chock full of descriptive scenes like the following:
“By the Battery itself the harbor took color with the new light, rocking in layers of green, silver and blue. At the end of this polar rainbow, on the horizon, was a mass of white – the foil into which the entire city had been set – that was beginning to turn gold with the rising sun. The pale cold agitated in ascending waves of heat and refraction until it seemed like the place of a thousand cities, or the border of heaven. The horse stopped to stare, his eyes filled with golden light. Steam issued from his nostrils as he stood in contemplation of the impossible and alluring distance. He stayed in the street as if he were a statue, while the gold strengthened and boiled before him in a bed of blue. It seemed to be a perfect place and he determined to go there.”
And, oh yes, a huge white horse with dreams of heavenly apotheosis is one of the major characters, but this is no animal fable. We come to know thieves and newspapermen, mayors and mechanics, beautiful maidens and consumptive waifs.
Winter’s Tale is still mentioned as one of the best novels of the past 30 years.
And, if you have grown weary of picky cynical reviews you may be interested in reading the three pages of effusive praise a New York Times reviewer showered upon it in 1983:
“A piercing sense of the beautiful arising from narrative and emotional fantasy is everywhere alive in the novel. And because the novelist commits himself throughout to the pursuit of nourishing truths - truths of justice, hope and cheer remote from the more fashionable truths of alienation and despair - Winter's Tale stands forth in its own right as a restorer and comforter…..The affirming voices that one is reminded of are those of Blake and Whitman.”
The patient reader will be rewarded with vivid scenes that will linger long in the mind’s eye. Winter’s Tale has been loosely translated into a recent film which is truer to the book’s imagery than to its plot and is worth viewing in that respect.
Winter’s Tale—nothing short of amazing.
Check it out.
[By the way, this is not to be confused with William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Both are worth pursuing.]
Through the month of September, all public libraries in Jefferson County will be participating in a food drive that helps support local charities by replenishing food pantries in anticipation of the coming holidays.
How does it work?
$1.00 in fines will be waived for each food item donated in September for up to $10.00 per library card holder. The donations will go toward fines only, not lost/damaged materials. The drive is open to all who wish to participate.
When and where can donations be made?
Donations will be accepted at all 40 Jefferson County public libraries circulation desks during September 2014. Here is a list of acceptable/unacceptable canned and boxed food items.
Food for Fines is held in conjunction with the annual National Library Card Sign-up Month. In September, cardholders can also trade in their old card for a keychain card or receive a replacement for a worn out card without paying the usual $3.00 fee.
With your library card you have access to a world of information.
From home, you can access our many databases and reserve books so they will be waiting for you when you come to the library.
Our databases are probably our best kept secret. Our databases include Learning Express, where you can take practice test to prepare for the ACT, SAT, and many more, to Freegal Music, where you can download MP3 songs to add to your own collection. The databases also include encyclopedias, dictionaries, full text articles from magazines, newspapers, and journals.
At the library, you can log on to our public access computers, check out books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, books with CDs, and eBooks. Many of the libraries also have computer classes to make your computing experience more productive and fun.
Legal information, biographies, maps and more are available with your library card and a computer.
The best thing of all, your first library card is free. So, while you are doing your back-to-school shopping, stop by your local library to get your most important school supply—your library card.
Five Points West Library
College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy
It’s so hot outside that it's hard to believe fall is right around the corner. You know what that means. FOOTBALL!!! Yay!!!!! Last season, Auburn represented the SEC in the BCS National Championship Game, but they were unable to knock off the Florida State Seminoles. A championship trophy outside the SEC is like a day without sunshine. It happens from time to time, but we really don’t like it. It’s time to return the trophy to its rightful conference.
2006 Florida (41) Ohio State (14)2007 LSU (38) Ohio State (24)2008 Florida (24) Oklahoma (14)2009 Alabama (37) Texas (21)2010 Auburn (22) Oregon (19)2011 Alabama (21) LSU (0) 2012 Alabama (42) Notre Dame (14)2013 Florida State (34) Auburn (31)2014 SEC (win) Someone else (lose)
This season, for the first time in history, there will be a playoff to determine the national champion. Four teams enter, one team leaves. The semifinal games will be played on January 1, 2015 in two different locations. One semifinal will take place at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, LA. The other semifinal will be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. The winners will meet at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX on January 12th. After the game, the winning SEC team will hoist the first College Football Playoff National Championship Trophy. Hopefully, the playoff system will curtail some of the whining from undefeated teams in weaker conferences who have been unable to participate in past championship games. If your team is that good, prove it in the playoffs!
The college football season kicks off with nearly a full week of games from Wednesday, August 27 through Monday, September 1st. I’m excited about the season and can’t wait to see who competes in the first College Football Playoff. Grab your snacks, text your friends, and get the grill ready because college football is back.
- God & football: faith and fanaticism in the SEC
- My conference can beat your conference: why the SEC still rules college football
- SEC football: 75 years of pride and passion
- Where football is king: a history of the SEC
Getting up early in the morning can be an intense challenge. By the time you get settled and snugged, it seems like it’s time to get up again. However, after assessing the worth of getting up early, the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices. Just picture the things that can be accomplished while the world is still. You can start working on the blog you’ve always wanted to start; finish reading the book you’ve wanted to finish since forever; start an exercise regimen; meditate; and the list goes on. While many of us have good intentions to maximize the time in our days, we must make a conscious commitment and turn those good intentions into a reality even if it causes a temporary discomfort.
The beginning of change in anything can be a challenge, but can be well worth it in the long-term. It is often stated that breaking an old habit and developing a new one for this matter takes an average of 30 days. Are you willing to commit 30 days to make a lifetime change? To find out how to wake up early, read "The Most Successful Techniques for Rising Early," by Leo Babauta, which can be accessed at http://zenhabits.net/early/. He addresses everything from how to get up early to solutions to common complaints we tend to have for not getting up early. Happy Rising!
Subjects of interest:
Kaiju is defined as a Japanese word that literally translates to "strange beast." The word has been translated and defined in English as "monster" and is used to refer to a genre. Kaiju films usually showcase monsters of any form, usually attacking a major Japanese city or engaging another (or multiple) monsters in battle.
With the success of the movie Pacific Rim, we are being put on notice that they are here to stay. Pacific Rim already has a sequel, or rather a prequel in the works. There is some excellent kaiju fiction coming on the market. There are also more movies in the pipeline. So if you’re ready to move on from the Twilight crowd, check out some of these books and join us as we usher in the next big trend: kaiju.
Five Points West Library
By Pierre Boulle
When I was a kid in the Sixties, my dad had a copy of a book called Monkey Planet on his bookshelf. I was intrigued by the title. I was old enough to realize it was a made-up story but I knew almost nothing about it. Many years later it was made into the movie Planet of the Apes (1968), which referenced the more-common name of the novel. I liked the movie and have seen it several times over the years. Some (well, more than some) of it is silly, dated, and embarrassing, but it still tells a great action story, and the soundtrack is astonishing. Recently, I read that the novel is more serious than the movie. That caught my attention, so I started reading it and discovered that the serious bit is only one of many differences between the book and film. And its seriousness is tripped up by flaws anyway. Two aliens discover a message in a bottle. It’s the story of an Earthman, Ulysse Merou, who travels to Soror, the titular Planet of the Apes. The apes-not monkeys learn French (Boulle was French) from Merou, who in turn learns the simian language. Soror isn’t Earth, but it is Earthlike, sometimes clumsily so—did the ape annals really have to have Impressionists?
The apes are the dominant species, and they have our human level of intelligence and the native humans run wild as beasts when they’re not being experimented on by the apes. Boulle isn’t a great (or even a very good) stylist, but he tells a corker of a story and handles the social, religious, scientific, and philosophical aspects of Soror in a mostly entrancing way. He means to make the reader uncomfortable, too, and the way the apes treat humans will at least make you look at PETA in a new way. The apes tell Merou that their races (chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans) are equal but our narrator quickly cottons onto the face-saving nature of the claim. The apes’ textbooks state that the planet Soror is the center of the universe, though the educated have long since discarded this belief (I couldn’t help but think of the evolution-averse statement inserted into Alabama state textbooks and what an embarrassment that is to the equivalent here.) There are many funhouse parallels in Planet of the Apes and they are enjoyable when they aren’t disturbing, which is to say that they’re usually intriguing. At his best, Boulle is in the Swiftian line, and he can be merciless.
On another front, the early-Sixties (1963) nature of the book is doubly odd. The apes have just put up satellites, and a man, into space. They see all non-ape creatures as incapable of thought, the way almost all Earth scientists saw animals back then. (One of the questions the book raises is, What is an animal, anyway?) Subplots with rich sexual potential end up chaste after all—and the author was French! There are none of the humanlike bonobos, which science knew little of at the time of the novel. In some ways, the book’s future is our past.
So check out this book already. The misfires don’t ultimately matter too much and the hits are deep and wide. It’s a compelling read with a considerable ironic underbelly. While reading, you never quite forget the precariousness of man on Soror or Earth, or man as narrator or beast.
As for my dad? I never read that, he told me the other day.
Fond Library Memories Inspire Sanspointe Dance Company's September 24 Tour Set for the Birmingham Public Library
Sanspointe Dance Company will present "Creative Catalog," dances inspired by library experiences, on Wednesday, September 24, at 5:00 p.m. in the atrium of the Central Library. Admission is free.
From dances that embrace everything from research and the Dewey Decimal system to the energy, imagination and fun found in children's books, the show will celebrate what libraries do for the community and for the imagination. The company’s 30-minute performance will be comprised of four dances with seven dancers and narration. Sanspointe has performed at the Birmingham Public Library and other libraries in the past.
New this year will be a free Master Class for teenagers from 3:00 to 4:30 p.m. on September 24. It will be held in the library's second-floor Story Castle. The introductory, contemporary dance class will blend children's favorite library books with works of dance art. It is ideal for ages 12 to 17. Class space is limited to 15 participants. Advance registration may be made at the Central Library's Youth Department. The class is free. Call the Youth Department at 226-3655 for more information.
For more information on Sanspointe, a Birmingham-based, nonprofit modern dance company, visit www.sanspointe.org. For more information on library programs, visit www.bplonline.org.
Hardly an hour goes by without one of my patrons saying, “I’m looking for a job online but I’m not sure where to go,” or “How do I fill out this online job application?” or “How do I attach my resume to this online job application?” Having been hired recently as the new branch head at East Lake Library, I can certainly identify with those who are navigating the online job search tools and figuring out what is required to apply for a job online.
I tell my patrons that Birmingham Public Library is a good place to start when looking for a job. The BPL website has a guide specifically for Job Searching. From there you can access local and national job listings like Alabama Joblink, Best Local Jobs which is powered by al.com, or CareerBuilder.com, Simply Hired, or SnagAJob. If you want reliable, current career information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook. If you are about to apply for a job but need help with your resume, try Creating Resumes which provides information about the various types of resumes and tips on what to include and leave out.
If you need to access to tools to help you keep the new job or get that promotion, try Learning Express Library which offers test preparation assistance, and tools for helping to improve your reading, writing, and math skills. And don’t forget the Regional Library Computer Center which offers free computer classes.
Whichever library you visit as you begin your job search, you can count on friendly staff to help you access the print and online resources you need.
East Lake Library
The doctor’s report indicates you have diabetes, your mind is inundated with questions: Why Me? What am I going to do? What life changes do I need to make?
Take the 90 Day Diabetes Challenge to jumpstart a healthier diet and exercise routine to combat diabetes. Here are some resources to help you get started.
Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook
Curing Diabetes in 7 Steps
No More Diabetes
School is back in session and students are looking for copies of books for their required reading assignments. We are called to check our shelves for such classics as The Outsiders, Animal Farm, and The Giver. Fortunately, many of these titles are now available as free e-books. Just Google the title and "e-book" to see if the book you're looking for is online.
Birmingham Public Library has e-book and audio book versions as well. You can find them by checking the catalog for the online version or at downloadable e-books and audio books on the BPL website.
The website Goodreads has a list of 100 classics for teens. I checked the top ten and found ebooks for all but I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Ender's Game. I've linked the library epub versions for those titles.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Terri L. French, the Southeast region coordinator for the Haiku Society of America, will lead the session. French's 2010 book of haiku, A Ladybug on My Words, was illustrated by her son. She lives in Huntsville, Alabama.
The event is ideal for teens and adults. For more information call 226-3670.
Crime novels are an exceptionally popular genre in the publishing world. James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Alexander McCall-Smith are authors that often work in this genre that nearly everyone has heard of and all of whom have an enormous following among readers around the world.
One of my favorite crime novelists is Elmore Leonard and when I discover an author whose work I really enjoy, I like to seek out the authors and books they found to be influential.
On occasion, this search may lead down the rabbit hole and open up a literary world that I never knew existed. This was certainly the case when searching for Elmore Leonard’s literary forefathers.
I was led to an author by the name of Charles Willeford with the quote below.
No one writes a better crime novel than Charles Willeford. - Elmore Leonard
Charles Ray Willeford was a teenaged hobo during the Great Depression, a tank commander in World War II, a professional boxer, a painter, a horse trainer, a poet, an English professor, a book critic for the Miami Herald and one of the most twisted and acerbic crime writers to ever put pen to paper.
Willeford’s first book of poetry Proletarian Laughter was published in 1948 and he went on to write several lurid (yet literary) pulp novels in the crime genre in the fifties with titles such as Wild Wives, The Woman Chaser, and High Priest of California. By the sixties, Willeford was churning out dark masterpieces such as The Burnt Orange Heresy and Cockfighter -- a book about man with an unhealthy obsession with the underground sport of fighting roosters that was later made into a film produced by Roger Corman and starring Warren Oates.
Charles Willeford and Warren Oates in a scene from Cockfighter
By the eighties, Willeford had settled in Miami and the outrageous violence of the booming cocaine black market and the massive immigration of Haitians and Cubans provided ample fodder for Willeford’s creative writing process and the author created his most successful books -- a series of novels about a Miami police detective named Hoke Moseley.
Miami Police Detective Hoke Moseley is not your usual crime novel protagonist-- by a long shot. Mosely was born for hard luck. He is a single father, middle-aged, and wears dentures (which are promptly stolen in Miami Blues - the first book in the series). Mosley is constantly broke due to his low pay, teenage daughters, and crippling alimony payments to his ex-wife. He is not well liked on the police force and criminal psychopaths seem to be drawn within his orbit on a regular basis. He is a competent police detective though he generally makes a break in a case only after bending the rules -- usually quite far.
On second thought, the above description does sound like the hard boiled protagonists of most crime novels.
The main difference between Hoke Moseley and any other crime novel detective is that Charles Willeford is running the darkly comic show here. Willeford’s villains are not arch criminals nor are they evil geniuses. They are desperate characters that are broke and busted and seeking the path of least resistance. Hoke Moseley is not much different from the villains in this regard; however, Moseley does adhere to his own moral code, twisted though it may be.
Several of Charles Willeford's books are available through the library. I would recommend starting with his semi-mainstream Moseley series (Miami Blues, New Hope for the Dead, Sideswipe, and The Way We Die Now) before tackling some of his darker tomes such as The Black Mass of Brother Springer or The Machine in Ward Eleven.
If you do check out any of these books, let me know what you think.
- Click the File tab. This will take you to the “Backstage” view.
- Once there, select New. You will see templates. A preview of the selected template appears on the right.
- Select the template of your choice and click Download or Create, and customize according to your needs.
- Complete name, address and phone information. PLEASE PRINT.
- Place a check mark in the check box next to the class(es) you would like to attend.
- Return the entire form to a staff person in the Public Computer Services department.
- You may also send an email to email@example.com or use the online form to register.
Starting a genealogy project with your children can be as simple as writing down the names of their parents and grandparents, along with their places of birth and other important dates. Fill out a genealogy chart together to see how much you already know and to get an idea of where you need to look next. If your child has older relatives nearby, have him or her conduct an “interview” in which he asks about their life. Hearing how their grandparents studied, worked, and had fun will make history personal for them.
By taking information about their family and piecing it together, children of all ages are gaining valuable research skills. Not all families are easy to track down and doing so requires using many different sources (both print and online). Learning to use and evaluate the information they find will serve them well as they progress in their education.
Many people find that genealogy makes them feel more connected to the places their ancestors lived and to history. Putting our ancestors into their historical context helps us to understand them and turns them into real people rather than just names and dates. Wanting to know more about their family naturally leads children (and adults) to the study of the towns, states, and countries their ancestors came from.
For more information about starting a family genealogy project, visit our new Genealogy for Kids subject guide. It includes links to books, websites, craft projects, and charts. You can also visit the Library’s Southern History Department for free classes and help anytime you need it.
Southern History Department