Legends of Film: Peter Medak

By , March 28, 2015

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - movie posterDuring this episode of Legends of Film we talk to director Peter Medak. Mr. Medak’s film credits include The Ruling Class, The Krays, and the upcoming Movies @ Main feature The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Medak discusses working with notable actors such as Glenda Jackson and Helen Mirren, his experience directing episodes of two critically acclaimed TV series: Hannibal and Breaking Bad, and finally, his justification for making another film adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

See The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Saturday April 11, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at the Nashville Public Library, downtown.

Subscribe to Legends of Film podcast (feedburner).

Popmatic Podcast for March 25th, 2015: Crime Wave

By , March 25, 2015

Nobody Move by Denis JohnsonReal life crime is down but crime books are as popular as ever. The Popmatic crew clues you onto sure bets ranging from the darkest true crime to the funniest parody novels. Plus – Mike’s tribute to the late, great Terry Pratchett.


Lost Girls by Robert Kolker

A is for Alibi: a Kinsey Millhone mystery by Sue Grafton

Payback, aka The Hunter, first in the Parker series by Richard Stark, aka Donald Westlake

Point Blank DVD | Hoopla

The Score: Ricard Stark’s Parker Volume 3 by Darwyn Cooke

The Hot Rock: the First Dortmunder novel by Donald Westlake

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson


R.I.P. Sir Terry Pratchett


Hinterland aka Y Gwyll


iZombie comics


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

March can be MADDENING!

By , March 24, 2015

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland“In like a lion, out like a lamb” and somewhere in between, we have “MADNESS”. These are a few idioms and phrases commonly associated with the weather-confused month of March. If you are a college basketball fan, the phrase “March Madness” means one of the best times of the year. It can also be one of the most disappointing times of year, if say, your team is the one that went to the National Championship two years in a row, and lost both years. But I digress. Instead, I shall use this time to highlight the most “maddening” books from the Wilson Collection.

When I use the term “maddening,” I am using it in a broad sense. This means book endings with a twist, bizarre or complicated plots, or the actual word “mad” is used in the title. Sound good? Okay, let’s get started…

Of the many books included in the Wilson Collection, there are many classics, poems, fairy tales, plays (Shakespeare galore!), and plenty of duplicates. It is a book-lovers dream. Of these books, there are many stories that are rare and unheard of as well as bizarre beyond belief. A few of these “bizarre” stories are mentioned here, along with a few you might recognize.

Starting with a classic…

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Author: Lewis Carroll
Published by the LEC: 1932
Originally Published: 1865

What makes it “mad”: Well the mad-hatter, of course! Perhaps the craziest of all depictions of the Mad Hatter was arguably played by Johnny Depp. It was as if he was born to play that role. But Johnny Depp is not the only reason why this “literary nonsense” story is slightly crazy and quirky. Everyone knows the tale - it follows the story of a young girl, Alice, who falls through a rabbit hole while in the forest. This rabbit hole is unlike any other however, and sends her to another bizarre world full of anthropomorphic creatures and other interesting individuals. The story only gets “curiouser and curiouser” after Alice encounters many diverting characters, such as a caterpillar that is smoking a Hooka, a creepily-grinning cat, a queen obsessed with decapitation, and of course, an eternally-drinking-tea Hatter (what’s a hatter?). If this story doesn’t sound crazy to you, then maybe you should write a book; I’m sure you could tell a great story.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland may be a story that stretches the imagination, but it was a popular story when it was first told and published (especially loved by children), and remains to be popular to this day.

Fun fact about the LEC copy: The illustrations are the original drawings by John Tenniel (from the original publication), re-engraved on wood by Bruno Rollitz. It is also signed by the original “Alice” who inspired the story.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland          Alice's Adventures in Wonderland          Alice's Adventures in Wonderland     

“An American Tragedy”
Author: Theodore Dreiser
Published by the LEC: 1954
Originally Published: 1925

What makes it “mad”: “An American Tragedy” is a much different story compared to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, addressing a different sort of “madness.” The crime-fiction classic by American author, Theodore Dreiser, follows the life of Clyde Griffiths throughout his many jobs, relationships, short-comings, and his eventual unfortunate fate. This is merely a broad definition of a tragic and complicated story that is based on a real crime that occurred in 1906. Coming from a lower-class family, Griffiths is an ambitious but ill-educated and immature young man. He also lacks a strong will. This weakness lands him in several unfortunate situations. When he began working as a bellhop at a top-notch Kansas City hotel, the influence of his coworkers led him down an unhealthy path, including the use of drugs. This was only the beginning of Clyde’s tragic story; the end occurs as a result of the relationship he has with two very different women. A tragic and sad story, yes, but also a story that will drive you crazy.

An American Tragedy          An American Tragedy          An American Tragedy

“The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Published by the LEC: 1957
Originally Published: 1891

What makes it “mad”: A story addressing the consequences of vanity, Oscar Wilde’s only novel upset many people when it was first published in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine. The story of a man who sold his soul to keep his beauty presented a new definition of moral ambiguity to the readers. Prior to its publication in the magazine, the editors believed the story was too indecent and they deleted 500 words without Wilde’s knowledge. When it was published again in book form, Wilde edited it – revising and expanding upon the original. Despite which version is read, the story still follows an inevitable path of self-destruction. Immoral? Yes. Twisted? Definitely. Stretches the mind to another realm that humanity should not go? Yep. Then deranged? Yes, I’d say so.

The Picture of Dorian Gray          The Picture of Dorian Gray         The Picture of Dorian Gray

“Far from the Madding Crowds”
Author: Thomas Hardy
Published by the LEC: 1958
Originally Published: 1874

What makes it “mad”: For starters and for obvious reasons, the word “mad” is in the title. But there’s so much more about this story that is both enjoyable and maddening at the same time. Different than any other complicated plot that is discussed here, the element that provides the twist in this story is love. The heroine of the tale, Bathsheba Everdene, encounters three men of differing circumstances, over a long period of time. The first is Gabriel Oak, a young shepherd that works for her (more than once), and is six years older than her. The second man, William Boldwood, is a wealthy farmer that is much older than her. And lastly, there is the soldier, Sergeant Francis “Frank” Troy. Without giving away the ending to this intriguing story, I will say that it is similar to other classic love stories such as Pride and Prejudice or Wuthering HeightsIt is frustrating, heartbreaking, and beautiful (which explains the madness), but ends exactly as it should.

Fun Fact: There will be a movie adaption of this book coming out in May, starring Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba, Michael Sheen as William Boldwood, Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak, and Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Troy.  

Far From the Madding Crowds          ???????????????????????????????

“The Maltese Falcon”
Author: Dashiell Hammett
Published by Arion Press: 1983
Originally Published: 1930

What makes it “mad”: Everyone knows this story, right? Well if you don’t, you are about to. Does the name Sam Spade ring a bell? No, I am not referring to one of the detective’s names in the long-time running CBS show (no longer running), Without a Trace. Coincidence that she’s a detective, I don’t think so. The famous Sam Spade from Hammett’s story is a clever and somewhat cold-feeling private detective. At the beginning of the story, Spade has an associate by the name of Miles Archer. Both detectives are hired by a lady by the name of Wonderly to find her sister who seems to a have run off. This false story is only the beginning as Spade’s partner is soon killed, and he is left to solve the case alone. Nothing is as it seems in this story, but that does not stop Spade. Considered to be one of the best English-language novels of the 20th century, The Maltese Falcon has inspired many mystery stories since.

The Maltese Falcon          The Maltese Falcon          The Maltese Falcon

Wanna come check these books out? They are all housed in the Wilson Room (East Reading Room), on the 3rd floor of the Main Downtown Library (next to the Fine Arts area). The Wilson Room is open to all visitors during regular Library hours. If you are interested in viewing more books from the Wilson Collection personally, you can make an appointment by calling either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363, or simply respond to this blog post.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next month’s post featuring some of the Wilson Collection’s best poetry!


Book review: Dead Wake

By , March 24, 2015

Dead Wake
By Erik Larson

Every couple of years Erik Larson puts out a new book and my excited first thought is usually “Oooo, what’s the topic?” which is then followed by “Aww, man, I don’t want to read about that.” Sigh. And yet…when I buck up the courage and actually start reading, he always pulls me in (with the exception of Thunderstruck…which I thought would NEVER end). He’s written about Nazis (In the Garden of Beasts), hurricanes (Isaac’s Stormmy favorite), and serial killers (The Devil in the White City). Not the most funnest of topics, but there is something about Erik Larson that makes me love his books – even when I know they aren’t going to end well.

For one, Larson has a journalistic style that makes his stories incredibly readable. They are almost like novels. Also, Larson takes a couple of years to do very in-depth research on his topic of choice. Quotes in the books come from actual letters. Facts and timetables come from history books. Nothing is made up. All of it is true and all of it happened. Larson chooses to dig into history to find the stories that took place, instead of trying to make up what he thinks occurred.

His latest project involves the final voyage of the Lusitania. Again, when I found out I was not initially excited because I saw how Titanic ended, and I knew that this ship was on a similar course. As I read, I was divided between screaming at the people to get off the boat as they boarded in New York City and reading on in fascination at the backstories of the famous guests and talented Captain Turner. I was also intrigued by the history of the German U-boat commander who actually fired the fateful shot.

Even though this event occurred 100 years ago, I still found myself hoping that the Lusitania would make it to Liverpool this time. Maybe the fog would hold just enough or the torpedo would malfunction and everyone traveling aboard the luxury liner would make their lunch plans. SPOILER ALERT: but alack and alas, the torpedo runs true and the big ship is sunk forever and ever.

I did not want to put this book down. Maybe it was like seeing a car crash on the interstate; you just can’t look away. I wanted to know who were the lucky few who made it out alive. I wanted to know how the rest of the world reacted. We will never know how the events surrounding World War I might have changed if the Lusitania had instead made it safely into port.

History buffs, Erik Larson fans, and people just looking for a good book – this one’s for you.

Happy reading…

:) Amanda


Cracking Codes: DIY Morse Code Jewelry

By , March 21, 2015

Spy Hunters Find Clews in Secret CodesImages, symbols, codes, and ciphers have been used to communicate information secretly for thousands of years.  The June 1938 issue of Popular Science includes several examples in the article, “Spy Hunters Find Clews in Secret Codes.”  There’s a transposition wheel in which music notes replace letters and even a stitched version of Morse code, for instance.

In our Nashville Reads story, Between Shades of Gray, the main character, Lina, includes information about her location in artwork that she passes along in hopes of reaching her father, as she and her family are being deported to work camps in Siberia. Our Nashville Reads program, Codes, Ciphers, & Secret Messages, will explore how codes, hidden messages, and ciphers have been used in history while kids crack codes and create their own secret messages.

Make Morse code jewelry with the Special Collections Division at Bordeaux on March 26 from 2:00-3:00pm or at Bellevue on April 15 from 4:00-5:00pm. Can’t make it out to a branch? Participate in the city-wide read from the comfort of your own home with this simple tutorial on making a Morse code necklace or bracelet.



  1. Choose 3 different colors of beads.
  2. Use the Morse Code Translator to create the letters in your name using 2 of the colors. Color #1 will represent the dots and Color #2 will represent the dashes.
  3. Insert a bead of Color #3 in between each letter. This color will serve as a space.
  4. String the beads to create a necklace or bracelet and VOILA!

Morse Code Picture Tutorial


Book(s) review: Clutter

By , March 20, 2015

How many books have promised to unclutter your life?

Free you from the restrictions of consumerism?

Elevate you to another level of consciousness by breaking the bonds of useless stuff holding you down?

These books offer both the blessing of salvation while at the same time adding to the problem itself, another book cluttering up our lives.

In the past month I have had various “salvation from stuff” conversations with women I admire and respect. One touts “life changing magic,” another espouses the religion of “just seven” things…The thing is, they are both right. Each of us can find inspiration in books that come across our paths at just the right time. I have always believed this to be true with fiction. More and more I find this also to be true with non-fiction titles.

So, be it The life-changing magic of tidying up : the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, 7 : an experimental mutiny against excess by lifestyle blogger Jen Hatmaker, or any of the 74 titles on Simplicity in the Nashville Public Library, embrace the one that speaks to you. I’ll continue rely on my 1995 copy of Simple Abundance: a daybook in comfort and joy close by….as soon as I can find it.


Popmatic Podcast for March 18th, 2015: Ides of March

By , March 18, 2015

The Silver PigsThree days after the Ides of March – it’s our Ides of March episode! We pack three days worth of Roman factoids, book recommendations and snarky barbs into one little podcast. And what is tickling our fancy this week. Listen to the end to hear Johnny No Brain (aka Bryan) get schooled yet again.


Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davies

Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell

Roman Holiday

Asterix Omninbus by Goscinny

A History of Wales by John Davies

Mabinogion featuring “The Dream of Macsen Wledig”

Tacitus, in Five Volumes by Cornelius Tacitus

The Twelve Caesars by Seutonius

The Gallic War by Julius Caesar

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

I, Claudius mini-series


learn Latin and Welsh with Transparent Language


Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

Movie Crypt podcast

Mythology by Edith Hamilton with illustrations by Savage Steele

Confessions by St. Augustine

Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll by Peter Bebergal

Cave Evil: a game of brutal necro-demonic dungeon warfare” by Peter Bebergal


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book List: Dreaming of Dystopia

By , March 17, 2015

Ship Breaker  
by Paolo Bacigalupi

In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota–and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life.


 Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life-a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free.



Perfect Ruin
by Lauren DeStefano

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge of Internment, the floating city and her home, can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her on Internment: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden. Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city.



Of Metal and Wishes
by Sarah Fine

Sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, housed in a slaughterhouse staffed by the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor. Wen often hears the whisper of a ghost in the slaughterhouse, a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. And after one of the Noor humiliates Wen, the ghost grants an impulsive wish of hers-brutally. Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including the outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the ghost. As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen is torn between her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat-real or imagined.


The Dark City
by Catherine Fisher

Welcome to Anara, a world mysteriously crumbling to devastation, where nothing is what it seems: Ancient relics emit technologically advanced powers, members of the old Order are hunted by the governing Watch yet revered by the people, and the great energy that connects all seems to also be destroying all. The only hope for the world lies in Galen, a man of the old Order and a Keeper of relics, and his sixteen-year-old apprentice, Raffi. They know of a secret relic with great power that has been hidden for centuries. As they search for it, they will be tested beyond their limits. For there are monsters-some human, some not-that also want the relic’s power and will stop at nothing to get it.


Maggot Moon
by Sally Gardner

Set in a ruthless regime, an unlikely teenager risks all to expose the truth about a heralded moon landing. What if the football hadn’t gone over the wall. On the other side of the wall there is a dark secret. And the devil. And the Moon Man. And the Motherland doesn’t want anyone to know. But Standish Treadwell — who has different-colored eyes, who can’t read, can’t write, Standish Treadwell isn’t bright — sees things differently than the rest of the “train-track thinkers.” So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. 



The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim
by E. K. Johnston

There have always been dragons. As far back as history is told, men and women have fought them, loyally defending their villages. Dragon slaying was a proud tradition. But dragons and humans have one thing in common: an insatiable appetite for fossil fuels. From the moment Henry Ford hired his first dragon slayer, no small town was safe. Dragon slayers flocked to cities, leaving more remote areas unprotected. Such was Trondheim’s fate until Owen Thorskard arrived. At sixteen, with dragons advancing and his grades plummeting, Owen faced impossible odds–armed only with a sword, his legacy, and the classmate who agreed to be his bard. 

The Immortal Rules
by Julie Kagawa

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them -the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters. Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend-a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike.


The Young Elites
by Marie Lu

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelinas black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fevers survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars–they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.


by Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. 



by China Mieville

On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. Spectacular as it is, Sham can’t shake the sense that there is more to life than the endless rails of the railsea–even if his captain thinks only of hunting the ivory-colored mole that took her arm years ago. But when they come across a wrecked train, Sham finds something–a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible–that leads to considerably more than he’d bargained for.


The Glass Casket
by McCormick Templeman

Death hasn’t visited Rowan Rose since it took her mother when Rowan was only a little girl. But that changes one bleak morning, when five horses and their riders thunder into her village and through the forest, disappearing into the hills. Days later, the riders’ bodies are found, and though no one can say for certain what happened in their final hours, their remains prove that whatever it was must have been brutal. Rowan’s village was once a tranquil place, but now things have changed. Something has followed the path those riders made and has come down from the hills, through the forest, and into the village. Beast or man, it has brought death to Rowan’s door once again. Only this time, its appetite is insatiable.


The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancey

fter the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the un lucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother–or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death.





Book review: Girl in a Band

By , March 15, 2015

Girl in a Band by Kim GordonGirl in a Band
by Kim Gordon

Depending on the amount of amplification, a guitar can cut a listener to the quick, or it can bludgeon them into submission. That’s why they call them axes. Holding one is like holding a weapon. For thirty years, Kim Gordon wielded her bass axe as a founding member of the band Sonic Youth. The band’s noise-infused rock gave Gordon ample opportunity to pummel her audience and carve a space for herself in the pantheon of American punk rock, but her arsenal isn’t limited to music.

Gordon is also an accomplished visual artist, having exhibited works around the world, and 1993 she co-founded the fashion label X-Girl. In 2015 she adds the title of author to her list of credits with the memoir Girl in a Band.

The book begins with endings: first with Gordon’s marriage to fellow Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore and, as a result, her band. Being in a band with your spouse, touring the world in various cramped vans and buses, seems like a recipe for disaster, but somehow Gordon and Moore made it work. Until it didn’t.

Like her singing, Gordon’s voice on the page goes from menacing growl in one sentence to whisper quiet in the next. The breakup of her marriage colors her memories of her family history, her brother’s struggle with mental illness, and her work with Sonic Youth. There are tabloid details if you want them, but Gordon’s book reads more like purging than exploitation.


Richard Ford, Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascombe Book

By , March 15, 2015

Richard Ford discusses his book, Let Me Be Frank With You: A Frank Bascombe Book. The author appeared as part of the Salon@615 author series.



Download this episode (.mp3) | Subscribe to the Salon@615 podcast (feedburner)

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