Popmatic Podcast May 2010

By , April 30, 2010

Bryan reviews Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem. Crystal proves the Smiths are forever when she tells us about Girl in a Coma. Amanda gets her Bloomington on when she revisits Academy Award winner Breaking Away.

Check out Titles mentioned in this episode

Suggestions for Life after Lost

By , April 27, 2010

lost-theoriesI am freaking out at the impending end to my beloved TV show Lost.  What could possibly take its place???  Books??  (Just kidding, a little library humor thrown in for free.)  If you’re in the “so sad to see Lost end” camp like me, here are my suggestions to work through your grief and move on.

  • Battlestar Galactica – if you haven’t watched BSG (the new series), you’re in for a wild journey.  Like Lost with great characters, intriguing mythology, mystery and suspense, but in Space!
  • Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy – if you especially enjoy the philosophical side of Lost, Pullman’s novels will definitely fill the void.
  • Rose and Bernard, although minor characters of the cast, have a huge following among Losties! For more retired persons/senior citizens on adventures, read The Leisure Seeker by Michael Zadoorian, or watch the Oscar-winning animated movie Up.
  • The Prisoner – this amazing British TV series from the late 1960’s starring and co-created by Patrick McGoohan will satisfy your need for deep intrigue and mystery.
  • The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – if you especially like Sawyer’s biting wit (and those nicknames!), you’ll dig this fantasy series featuring Chicago’s only wizard in the Yellow Pages, Harry Dresden.
  • One of my favorite scenes on Lost occurred when Hurley declares a desire to write the script for The Empire Strikes Back and send it to George Lucas.  For more hilariously geeky conversations and lovable characters, don’t miss The Big Bang Theory.
  • My personal favorite suggestion to overcome Lost grief, and one I hope to someday achieve: travel to Hawaii and visit locations where Lost was filmed.

TV Review: Quick Cable Picks Week #2

By , April 24, 2010

Ok, here we are again, back for week #2.  Last week we discussed super great shows on HBO that are available at your Nashville Public Library.  This week, we’re moving on to shows on Showtime.


The Tudors
I’m not Henry VIIIth, I’m not.  But Jonathan Rhys Meyers is.  The show is full of court-intrigue, lust, violence.  Well-written and well-acted, if you can stomach a few beheadings here and there, this is the show for you.


A show about what you think it’s going to be about. David Duchovny stars as a man who is hopefully nothing like Duchovny in real life.  I haven’t made it through all of season one yet, so if you start now, we can watch it together.  Say it with me…awwwww… :)


Another show about exactly what you think it’s about  And yet, this one has a heart buried underneath all that smoke.  Mary-Louise Parker is a down-on-her-luck mom who has to find some way to support her family.  What else was she gonna do?


So that’s the Showtime round-up.  Two weeks down.  One more to go.  Next week, we discuss shows on regular cable.  Same bat time.  New bat channels.
:) Amanda

Book List: Hipster Crafts

By , April 23, 2010
iGet Crafty : Hip Home Ec/i

Get Crafty

Check out books on Hipster Crafts

Crafty hipsters have to start somewhere. What better place than the library to learn how to make your own wares. Find books on sewing, knitting, decorating, and more on our book list.

Music List: Aleatory Paths at the Library

By , April 19, 2010

NPL recently supplemented its music collection with recordings by some of the most forward thinking composers. If you are willing to try something new, or you think you have heard it all, or (if you are like me) this is your favorite music already, check out the following titles:

Ever Present
By Alvin Lucier

Featuring pieces for bagpipe, flute, triangle, and koto, each instrument is warped into a droning soundscape that will sooth and startle you in equal measure. Lucier is primarily concerned with acoustic spaces and chance overtones. When the most recognizable sound on an album by a Western composer is the koto it is needless to say you have never heard a triangle played quite like this before.

By Christian Marclay

The original vinyl scarifying, four+ turntable improvisational composer par excellence is represented here with a collection of super-limited cassette and LP recordings compiled for CD. Marclay mixes decayed/destroyed thriftstore castoffs on four to eight turntables simultaneously. This is the new music, the rest is memory.

By Karlhienz Stockhausen

Experimental song-cycle from the high priest of tape manipulation, St. Stockhausen drops the voltage control and writes an acoustic piece for vocal sextet. A droning B-flat is interspersed with erotic poems and the shouted names of pagan gods. Think Glass’ Einstein on the Beach but actually about something and of tolerable length.

TV Review: Quick Cable Picks Week #1

By , April 17, 2010

Week #1: HBO

Who here could stand to save some money?  That’s what I thought.  The NPL solution – get your cable TV shows here on DVD.  Why pay premium prices for premium channels when – with a little patience – you can get caught on up your all your favorite shows for FREE! (Unless, of course, you forget to turn them in on time – then, my friend, you are on your own.)

Don’t have any favorite shows, you say?  Well, then let me suggest a few from HBO that I’ve found enjoyable:

True Blood

True Blood
Big shocker, I know, me being the PNRUFy fan that I am.  Very different from Charlaine Harris’s book series, but close enough to still be fun.  If you like your vampires with crawfish and murder, then check this one out.


Yeah. Oh yeah.   This half hour series follows fictional superstar Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his buds as they transverse the trappings of Hollywood life.  Come for the cute guys, but stay because Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) is one of the best scumbag agents ever.



Ok, who doesn’t want to watch a show with 500 characters who have very similar names?  All kidding aside, once you get worked out who’s who, these two seasons are filled with intrigue, lust, and betrayal.  Et tu, Brute?


So those are my HBO thoughts.  Tune in next Saturday, when I discuss Showtime and it’s viewing options.  (Then if you can wait 2 whole weeks, you get to hear what I think about shows on basic cable.  Awesome, right?)

So much TV, so little time.  Happy watching!
:) Amanda

Book Review: The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag

By , April 16, 2010

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's BagThe Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
by Alan Bradley

I wish I were finding this book (and its predecessor, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) twelve years from now. I love discovering a worthy series and then greedily reading all the titles one after the other, in order, of course! More’s the pity when you begin a series early on and have to wait a year between titles.

This second in the Flavia de Luce series is every bit as enticing as the first (read the staff review by Phyllis). We’ve come to adore our heroine Flavia, an 11-year-old chemistry savant with a penchant for poison and an encyclopedic memory for English literature and history. I’ve read criticism that the character is unbelievable in that regard, but my friend Ariel, a retired librarian with legendary recall, could easily have been Flavia in another life. And hey, it’s just a story, so lighten up!

This time around, Flavia unravels two mysterious deaths in her village of Bishop’s Lacey–one in the present (well, in the 1950s present) and one in the past. Along the way, we meet Rupert the creepy but talented puppeteer, the aged singing and piano playing Puddock sisters, overbearing Aunt Felicity from London, and Dieter, an Anglophile POW from Hitler’s Luftwaffe.  And there are roles for our favorites from Sweetness, as well: Dogger the shellshocked gardener/butler; Mad Meg the town nutter; and, of course, Flavia’s mean sisters Feely and Daffy. By the end of the book, every human being in Bishop’s Lacey is suspect, including the sainted vicar, and it’s great fun to ponder along with Flavia even if you can’t do the chemistry.

My sole criticism is that the publisher cheaped out on the book’s manufacture. The cover illustration and title of Sweetness is charmingly printed directly on the book’s cover board, with no dust jacket, giving it an old-fashioned look and feel. Random House didn’t do a thing in the world with Weed’s binding, opting instead for a dust jacket design. So they’ve already spoiled the design of what deserves to be a very a collectible set. –Pam

Celebrate Earth Month

By , April 15, 2010

I CAN eliminate 1 ton of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the CFLs.

April is the month for Earth Day, Earth Hour, and even Earth Week. So we’ve decided to celebrate for the whole month! You can do your part by taking small actions to reduce power consumption, save water, and reduce waste. Take Mayor Dean’s Environmental Pledge.

Borrow a book or media item from Nashville Public Library instead of buying a new one. Check out these books to learn more ways you can help:

Green Titles (for Adults)

Green Titles (for Teens)

Green Titles (for Children)

Movie review: It Might Get Loud

By , April 13, 2010


It might get loud

This is a very interesting and unique movie – part documentary, part travelogue and part cross-generational rock star meet up. Great use of various archival footage, still photos and current film of these three guitarists alone and together keeps things moving along nicely.

I went into this not really caring for Jack White that much (or at least his singing) but I now understand his attitude and inspiration – Son House, and realize for him it’s all about passion and getting a feeling across. The White Stripes may be a slightly manufactured band but there is a core of real honesty in their music. The Edge is clearly and admittedly all about sound craft and getting the perfect tonal quality and feel from his guitars and the arsenal of effects he uses. “It’s my voice.”  One scene has him listening to early U2 guitar parts in his kitchen (on cassette!) as he taps out the various digitally delayed time signatures, obviously second nature to this musical alchemist. There is also a wonderful outtake of him running through some classic U2 riffs on a soundstage – the tonal palette is unmistakably and uniquely The Edge.

Jimmy Page is like a wizard steeped in rock history; partially responsible for some of the heaviest, most creative sounds of the 70’s. He is a joy to watch and highlights include his unpretentious and remarkably luminous presence, complete with priceless facial expressions when he listens to someone sharing a story. Another great outtake is him demonstrating the intricacies of “Kashmir” on guitar as the Edge and Jack try to absorb it, with wonder in their eyes. Having Jimmy Page run through vintage Led Zep tunes in front of you has to be a thrill for anyone!
I liked this movie quite a bit – it shows three unique and very different musicians for who they are and shows some genuinely entertaining and sometimes amusing interactions. Never taking itself too seriously, there is sure to be something worthwhile here for everybody!


Book review: Mama Black Widow

By , April 12, 2010

Mama Black Widow
By Iceberg Slim

Iceberg Slim’s has the dubious distinction of being the bestselling African American novelist in American history. The cultural impact of his novels Pimp and Trick Daddy would be hard to underestimate though this is probably more visible to Caucasians in cinema and music than fiction. With the explosion of urban fiction, Slim has engraved himself a permanent place in the cultural canon. One of Slim’s final novels, Mama Black Widow is the fictionalized autobiography of Otis Tilson, aka Sally, a drag queen surviving in early 1960s Chicago. I was drawn to Mama Black Widow being curious about the pre-Stonewall transgender experience. In that regard it is something of let down, but in other ways it is a Molotov cocktail.

The first fifty pages explode as Tilson’s heterosexual relationship falls apart and the Chicago race riots blossom around him. He runs through the chaos back to his Mama’s house. We soon realize their mother-son relationship is anything but healthy. Before we can learn more, the plot flashes back to Tilson’s childhood in the de facto slavery of the sharecropping South. Stop me if you have heard this one before, this is the one slow moment in the novel. Soon enough the family moves north to the slums of Chicago. Then the book falls into the urban fiction template Slim himself created: good girls gone bad,  bad boys getting worse, drama in the church, heinous crime, heinous injustice, seriously politically incorrect social attitudes and dirty sex.  Papa Tilson’s transition from patriarchal country preacher to disenfranchised manual laborer destroys him. Mama Tilson becomes the head of the family and makes sure bills get paid by any means necessary. The journey north seems to obliterate Mama’s moral compass even if there is always food on the table.

The plot roars along with the pace of the best pulp fiction. The catalog of nightmares that is Otis’ childhood rivals Burroughs’ Naked Lunch. Granddaddy of the Beats and Granddaddy of Street Lit have a lot in common. I kept thinking of Naked Lunch when reading Mama Black Widow. You need a strong stomach for both. Cringe-factor-ten and pedal-to-the-metal plot do not make up for the lack of character development in key instances. There is a big lacuna between Otis’ skewed childhood and his adult double life as a drag queen. We are not privy to when he realizes he is gay, or how he is initiated into the underground gay scene in Chicago.

Moral ambiguities abound in this book. Social hostility between blacks is a major theme. Mama Black Widow is much more a book about black on black crime than overt racism. Slim’s implied attitude towards homosexuality will also be a sticking point for many. Though the narrator is gay, this is not pro-gay novel. Every reader will have to decide for themselves what is art and what is trash; what is realism and what is exploitation. As if any of those categories are cut and dry. The library’s version of Mama Black Widow is a reissue under Norton’s Old School Books imprint. Any qualms a major publisher may have had about touching Slim’s work in the past has apparently been overcome by a chance cash in on the popularity of urban fiction. An artifact much too volatile for many to sit comfortably with, Mama Black Widow remains a dispatch from the margins between what is acceptable and unacceptable.

- Bryan

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