Crystal’s picks: Jeremy Irons

By , January 30, 2010

crystalspicks_markeeBritish actor Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, a small island just off the south coast of England. His career began with two years of training at the Bristol Old Vic School, after which he joined the repertory company working in everything from Shakespeare to contemporary dramas. He moved to London in 1971 and had a number of odd jobs before landing the role of John the Baptist in the hit musical “Godspell”. Irons made his on-screen debut in Nijinsky. In the early 80s, he gained international attention with his starring role in the adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel Brideshead Revisited.   In 1984 he won a Tony for his role opposite Glenn Close in Tom Stoppard’s “The Real Thing.”  Irons won an Oscar in 1990 for his role again opposite Glenn Close in Reversal of Fortune.  His most-watched movie from the 1990’s may only include his voice –he brought to life Scar in The Lion King.  His latest roles include Brom in 2007’s Eragon, and the Earl of Leicester in Elizabeth I.

Check out movies with Jeremy Irons

Winter Olympics are coming

By , January 26, 2010

quatchiThe 2010 Winter Olympic Games is just a few weeks away.  Go Team USA!  For all things Olympics, visit  Learn more about Olympic history through these documentaries and films, available from your Nashville Public Library:

Check out videos about the Olympic Games.

Book review: Amanda’s 1st Annual PNRUFy Awards

By , January 23, 2010

It’s that time of year again – award show season, and I didn’t want to be left out.  With the popularity of a certain teenage vampire series (which will remain nameless due to the fact that I’m not totally in love with it, unlike the rest of the female universe), the Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy genres have exploded with new reads.  It can be a daunting task to figure out where to start, so I thought I’d offer a little advice on books I’ve found to be eminently more readable than The Book That Will Not Be Named (see also this PNR bibliography).  So here now, the absolutely meaningless, but hopefully still enjoyable, PNRUFies (pronounced pa-NER-fies).

Longest Series SK FL small– local author, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters at 30 books/stories. Honorable mention to Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books at 22 and Christine Feehan’s Dark series at 20.  For those REALLY long car trips, I’d suggest starting one of these.


JB SmallBest Sidekick – Bob from Harry Dresden – he’s a talking skull who knows everything about everything.  Seriously, what else do you need and where can I get one?


kmm smallMost Cliffhangery (This category is so frustrating that I had to invent a word for it) – Fever series from Karen Marie Moning.  You’ll scream. You’ll cry.  You’ll throw your book across the room (unless it’s a library book, then you’ll gently set it on the nearest table, lovingly brushing off any crumbs or lint, before you turn and punch the wall). Be warned – this one’s got at least one more book to go, and it’s not supposed to come out until December ’10.  Oh the humanity!

JB Smallkc smallWizard with the Biggest Hero Complex – Tie: Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden and John Pritkin from Cassie Palmer by Karen Chance. Harry’s never met a spell he wouldn’t try in the name of saving the world.  Pritkin would have had something quippy to say, but he’s already saved the world four times since we asked him for a quote.

kh smallBest Living Arrangements – The church in which Rachel and Ivy reside in Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series.  A witch and a vampire living in a decommissioned church – you’d think it would be more peaceful.  Honorable Mention to Jean-Claude’s underground lair in Anita Blake and the Black Dagger Brotherhood compound care of the Warden.

jk smallch smallCraziest Relatives – Tie: “Grandpa” Eddie from Julie Kenner’s Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series and Niall, Sookie’s fairy great-grandfather, from Charlaine Harris’s True Blood-inspiring series.  One’s not related, one’s not human, but there’s still so much to love.

lab smallThe Dr. Evil Award for Excellence in Villainy (I haven’t talked to Dr. Evil about this personally, but I’m sure he’d agree that these bad guys are worthy of being compared to someone who went to evil medical school) – Lilith from LA Banks’s Vampire Huntress series.  I mean, come on, she’s married to the devil – that’s evil. Honorable mention to Lash and the creepy baby-powder scented Lessers from J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood.

And there you have it.  The PNRUFy Class of 2010.  I was really hoping to see some Weather Wardens or Werecats in the lineup, but I guess there’s always next year. Agree or disagree with the winners – but either way, these books are all pretty good reading.  Happy PNRUFy-ing!

- Amanda

Crystal’s picks: Dark, Brooding Characters

By , January 21, 2010

crystalspicks_markeeRobert Pattinson, the young British actor who portrays Edward Cullen in the Twilight series movies, is next in a long line of actors who have played dark, brooding characters.

Listed here are others, including the best, Marlon Brando, who have taken a turn at playing the brooding male lead. Unfortunately, the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff (the ultimate brooding character!) is out of print at this time.

Check out more movies with Dark, Brooding Characters.

- Crystal

Movie review: There Will be Blood

By , January 19, 2010


There Will Be Blood

Wow! This 2007 movie lives up to its accolades as an American epic, with Daniel Day-Lewis earning an Academy Award for best actor for his mesmerizing portrayal of oil prospector/land speculator/entrepreneur Daniel Plainview. Set in the dust bowl areas of California between 1898 and 1927, Day-Lewis is riveting as a swindling, greedy boss out for land in his quest for his ever-expanding oil drilling operations.

I was sometimes reminded of a few other favorite films, including Paper Moon, No Country for Old Men (in the ironic, elliptical discussions between Plainview and devoutly religious Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), whose main concern is always The Church (he is also a healer and has some hilarious early scenes) and Dead Man (especially in the belching, clacking soundtrack, composed by Johhny Greenwood of Radiohead).

This movie is full of great acting, surrealistic scenes and dark humor. Plainview negotiating with the Standard Oil executives is one such scene. Some of his memorable lines include “I really don’t like people” and “I like all religions…” (the latter as he tries to assuage the townspeople early on that he is sincere in his plans).

The cinematography is often stunning (Academy Award winning, in fact. Comparisons to Citizen Kane are not out of place.)  as in the scenes involving building the oil drilling apparatus against the western skies. This is quite a long film and the tension and turmoil builds throughout as Daniel becomes embroiled in conflicts as the ultimate capitalist, obsessed beyond his wits against the determined preacher. Like in HBO’s late great Carnivale series, this central battle at times reaches crazy, epic, disturbing proportions.

A film based on Upton Sinclair’s 1927 novel “Oil”, this one is not to be missed!

Book review: Superfreakonomics

By , January 16, 2010

superfreak btr small Superfreakonomics
By Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Who would have ever thought that a book about microeconomics would be so interesting?  Especially the second time around?  After really enjoying Freakonomics, the first book from this talented writing team of dueling Steves, I wanted to see what new and seemingly incomparable comparisons they made.  Here are some intriguing facts I learned:

1) The spread of television through rural India vastly improved the lives of women by decreasing the amount of domestic abuse they were forced to endure.  Whether this was because the women saw strong, positive role models and tried to emulate them, or their husbands were just too busy watching soccer to torture their wives, was indeterminable.

2) If a computer screen does not load in 1 sec., most people will lose their train of thought.  If it takes up to 10 secs., most people will have already started thinking about something else entirely.  Think about that the next time you are at a hospital as a patient waiting for a diagnosis and the network slows down…

3)  There is a group of scientists just outside of Seattle who have potentially figured out how to stop global warming.  If you want to know how, you have to read the book, but I’ve long held the opinion that if we put chemicals in the air that made it warmer, why couldn’t we put chemicals in the air that negated the original chemicals we had already dispersed? That’s basically their idea in a nut shell, and it’s actually a very interesting concept.

This book is full of thought-inducing ideas, and I think Round 2 was just as good, if not better than Round 1.  Thanks Steves!

- Amanda

Book review: Divine Misdemeanors

By , January 16, 2010

LKH SmallDivine Misdemeanors
By Laurell K. Hamilton

Ok, I need a hand count.  How many of you love Laurell K. Hamilton?  Alrighty, now how many of you hate her? Yep, that’s what I thought.  You’re either one or the other.  I happen to fall on the love her side of things.  LKH doesn’t write Great American Novels, but that’s partially why I like both her Anita Blake and Merry Gentry series so much.  They are pure entertainment.

Divine Misdemeanors is the latest Merry release.  **Spoiler Alert** With all the pseudo-climatic events of the previous book, Swallowing Darkness, I was surprised (pleasantly so) to find out that this one was even coming out. I was afraid that the series was ending.  DM’s dedication indicated that LKH had a hard time with the book, and it kind of showed. I’m sure it was difficult to find a new story path after tying up some of the previous threads so neatly.

Merry and the guys exiled themselves back to LA.  The Princess, Rhys, and Galen have gone to work for Merry’s old detective agency.  Doyle, Frost, Kitto, and several others, including former guards of Prince Cel,  set up house in Maeve Reed’s estate while she is in Europe.  In working with the police, Merry learns that someone is killing demi-fey, and she has to figure out how to stop it.

If you are fans of Darkness and Frost, this is not going to be your favorite installment.  The guys are there, but they are all work and no play.  Rhys and Sholto stepped up, though, and **Seriously, if you want to be surprised, stop reading!** it was nice to see Rhys get his own sithen (although, it’s an old apartment building? Gee, thanks Faery. You shouldn’t have…no really…). That should give LKH some material to work with to build some new story lines. Overall, though, DM kind of felt like a filler book. I hope LKH can find her way forward from here, because I really want to see what happens when the babies are born. Keeping my fingers crossed…

- Amanda

Crystal’s picks: Cabin Fever? Epic Movies.

By , January 14, 2010

crystalspicks_markeeWinter is in full swing here in Nashville!  Looking for something to stave off that cabin fever?  Try an epic movie.  An epic is a genre of film that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale.

Got Cabin Fever? Check out an Epic Movie.

- Crystal

Book review: Whole Lotta Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time

By , January 13, 2010

coverWhole Lotta Zeppelin: The Illustrated History of the Heaviest Band of All Time By Jon Bream

This book is truly great.  For anyone interested in a band that really made its own rules while creating some timeless and never equaled rock music, this large book will satisfy you on many levels.

This is a comprehensive, lavishly illustrated history with all the bases covered; tour diaries and dates, memorabilia shots, complete reviews of their recordings by various writers, interviews, timelines, recollections and fascinating stories. The band members certainly have their say through various excerpted interviews as well.

The picture of Jimmy Page ordering at a Howard Johnson’s restaurant circa ‘68 is priceless alone, but this book also filled in many gaps in my Zep knowledge, including manager Peter Grant’s involvement in many incidents, the source of their early bluesy material, and how their music continued to evolve up through 1980.  It also includes a close look at their film The Song Remains the Same and covers their 2007 London reunion performance with Jason Bonham on drums as well as an extensive discography.

I can remember when an older brother put headphones on me around 1973 and boggled my mind with the solo from “Heartbreaker” when I was about 10 years old.  While we can’t go back in time this book will take you through the years with many excellent guest writers and critics, sound engineers and fellow musicians who share personal recollections. Like the band and their career, an enthralling tour de force!

Crystal’s picks: Best of 2008

By , January 13, 2010

crystalspicks_markeeThere’s still time to create your list of top ten movies released in 2009.  Did you catch all the best of 2008?

Check out the films that at the top of last year’s “best of” lists.

- Crystal

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