Legends of Film: Paul Lazarus

By , December 27, 2014

WestworldDuring this episode of Legends of Film we talk to producer Paul Lazarus. Mr. Lazarus’ producing credits include Capricorn One, Barbarosa, and the upcoming Movies @ Mainfeature, Westworld. Mr. Lazarus discusses the making of Westworld, his experience collaborating with Michael Crichton, and what’s involved in producing a motion picture. See Westworld on Saturday January 10, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. at Nashville Public Library, downtown.

Christmas Tradition from Nashville’s Past

By , December 26, 2014

CentennialNativity001The Nativity scene at Centennial Park is a favorite Christmas memory for many Nashvillians.  I’m sorry I never got to see it.  The display began in 1953, a gift to the city of Nashville from the founder of Harveys Department Store, Fred Harvey, Sr.


According to articles in the Nashville Banner, Harvey got the idea for the display while on a tour of Europe a few years before.  He saw a permanent Nativity scene in a village in the Bavarian Alps and thought “how beautiful a larger replica of the scene would look on the mall beside the Parthenon in our own Centennial Park.”


Centennial Park Nativity Scene – December 3, 1956

The Centennial Park Nativity Scene was a popular sight in Nashville for about 15 years, attracting a hometown crowd as well as visitors from around the country.  The original cost was $150,000 for the sculptures created by Italian sculptor Guido Rebeccini.  There were a total of 123 figures (45 people and 78 animals), and the space covered by the display was 280 ft. wide and 75 ft. deep.  The amount invested by the Harvey family by 1967 was said to be close to $250,000.

Centennial Park Nativity Scene, Nashville Banner Archives December 5, 1955

Centennial Park Nativity Scene – December 5, 1955

Sadly, before the Christmas season of 1968, many of the figures were badly damaged in storage.  Fred Harvey, Jr. announced that the Nativity scene would not be installed that year and it was sold soon after to an advertising firm in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A crowd enjoys the Centennial Park Nativity Scene  December 3, 1956.

A crowd enjoys the Centennial Park Nativity Scene, 
December 3, 1956.

All photos courtesy of the Nashville Banner Archives, Special Collections Divison, Nashville Public Library.



Books to Get Your House in Shape in 2015

By , December 25, 2014

As we get ready to start a new year what better way to get your house into shape than with the Home Repair Almanac by Edward R. Lipinski, a season by season guide for maintaining your home.

If the thought of home maintenance scares the bejeebers out of you, never fear the library has books for that……How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Homeby Charlie Wing is filled with hundreds of simple drawings illustrating the basics of how things work in your home. Chapters on Plumbing, Wiring, Heating, Cooling, Air Quality, Appliances, Windows & Doors and Foundation & Frame discuss the basics of how it all works along with handy tips to try before calling a service person. This book is easy to understand and is a great place to start if you have any questions about home maintenance. How Your House Works is a must read for any home owner.

You’ve seen them on the shelves at Home Depot now you can check them out for free from the library: The Ultimate Guide: Home Repair and Improvement by Creative Homeowner will give you tips about “money-saving projects and simple ways to go green.” The Reader’s Digest New Fix-It-Yourself Manual shows you “how to repair, clean and maintain anything and everything in and around your home.” The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Home Repair and Maintenance Illustrated by David Tenenbaum offers step-by step instructions for common repairs to the interior and exterior of your home. And Popular Mechanics Complete Home How-To by Albert Jackson claims to be “the most comprehensive and up-to-date DIY guide ever published.” The book features chapters on Organization, Decorating, Repairs & Improvements, Home Security, Infestation, Rot & Damp, Insulation &Ventilation, Electricity, Plumbing, Heating, Working Outdoors and Tools & Skills.


These books provide a little something for everyone, to get your New Year off to a good start!







Book review: Southern Reach Trilogy

By , December 24, 2014

Area X (The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VandermeerArea X (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
by Jeff Vandermeer

Earlier this year everyone was talking about HBO’s True Detective. The thing that really caught me about the show was that it seemed to take a gritty, hard-boiled noir landscape and mix in a Weird horror-fantasy element. In the end that was all just atmosphere and the whole thing ended like an episode of CSI Miami – so disappointing. I wanted the Yellow King that was promised to me.

I’m not trying to denigrate True Detective. I really enjoyed it, but I wanted to draw a comparison to my favorite book of 2014 because it comes from a similar place and gave me more of what I wanted. I’m talking about Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, a series published in it’s entirety in 2014. Its three volumes Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance where recently released in one hardbound edition titled Area X. The library has the omnibus and all the individual volumes too. I should say that I haven’t finished the last book of the series, so you should probably question my advice after I bashed the ending of True Detective, but the Annihilation and Authority are so good that the third book would have to be pretty awful to diminish my enjoyment of the other books.

So why my comparison to True Detective? These aren’t crime novels, but similarly they take the form of other genres that have Lovecraftian, Weird science horror imposed upon them. The great thing is that both of these novels are coming from different places. The first book, Annihilation is written as the journal of a biologist, and it has the feel, almost, of a quaint meditation on nature and conservation, but it is quickly superimposed with environmental terror. Authority is like John Le Carré except the normal paranoia of spycraft is tainted by the horror of literal monsters. These books are as much about atmosphere and mood as plot, which was also the highpoint of True Detective, but here the uncanny atmosphere actually delivers with glimpse at the uncanny. I mean, how much cooler would it have been if Matthew McConaughey found an interdimensional portal to the yellow king rather than a dumb, inbred serial killer?

Vandermeer wrote an article in the LA Times about how sci-fi and fantasy writers use real environments to craft their worlds as much as writers of realistic fiction. It struck a chord because it’s definitely something I’ve noticed — some of the best descriptions of Charleston, SC’s marshes and rivers are in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the world is based on the wilderness areas outside of Tallahassee, FL, a place I once called home, and I see North Florida all over this series.

I’ve managed to say a lot without talking much about the actual book. The Southern Reach is a government agency managing the secrets of Area X, spun to the public as an environmental disaster, though it’s more likely a localized invasion of extraterrestrial origin. The first book is about an investigative expedition into Area X, the second about the inner workings (and failings) of the agency managing the area, and the third, at least as much of it as I’ve read so far, is pulling together loose ends and revealing more about the secrets of Area X.

One last thing I’ll say about True Detective, which may or may not apply to this series as well — I don’t care about endings. Sometimes great books or films have bad endings. A lot of my favorite books fizzle out at the end. Endings are hard. If you enjoy 95% of something and the end is lacking, who cares? Let’s stop caring about endings.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer           Authority by Jeff Vandermeer           Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer

Arion Press – Behind the Books

By , December 22, 2014
Several Books from the Library's Collection of Arion Press Books

Several Books from the Library’s Collection of Arion Press Books including: The Maltese Falcon, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and The Big Sleep.

“Genius…is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one.”
- Ezra Pound


If you read last month’s post, you will not be surprised that this month’s topic is about the history and workings of the Arion Press, another limited edition book club included in the Wilson Collection.

I will try to keep this month’s post short…well, at least shorter than last months. In addition to the discussion of Arion Press, I’ve had a request to include more Christmas Cards from the Limited Edition Club. You can find those at the bottom of the page as well.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (the 70′s and in San Francisco, actually)….

There existed a unique, fine-press limited edition book club known as Arion Press. Founded by Andrew Hoyem in 1974, he was the last remaining descendant from the Grabhorn Press.

The Press started in a city well known for its book making and fine printing – San Francisco. It produces all of its own books (crafted primarily by hand).  Most people might think, “don’t all book publishers produce their own books?” Well actually, that’s not always the case. For example, the Limited Editions Collection outsourced many of the book-making steps, especially in the 70′s when Mr. Shiff took over the club.

But Arion Press is involved in every step of the process – the selection of the author, artist, editing, designing, printing, and binding. Some of the equipment used at the Press today came from Hoyem’s previous partnership with Robert Grabhorn (Grabhorn-Hoyem). They used Types that were acquired from John Henry Nash (another influential figure in the publishing business) when he retired. When Robert Grabhorn passed away in 1973, Hoyem began his next adventure by renaming the Grabhorn-Hoyem Partnership to Arion Press.

Similar to George Macy with the LEC, Hoyem has always been an avid fan of reading. His artistic interests including his own work of poetry are self-attributed to his college experience at Pomona College in California. This is where he experienced his first brush with printing as well. It was recommended to him by Pomona’s choral director, to look up a famous printer in Los Angeles because his work seemed like something Hoyem would be interested in.

One of the 100 wood engravings by Barry Moser, for Herman Melville's Moby Dick

One of the 100 wood engravings by Barry Moser, for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick

Hoyem’s story after college is an interesting one, including his service in the Navy where he read all the poetry he could get his hands on (mostly poets similar to Ezra Pound and the Beat poets). But to avoid centering this post on Arion Press’ creator, I’ll simply recommend that if you’d like to read more about Andrew Hoyem, see the article in Biblio magazine.

So the Arion Press…as mentioned, Hoyem started the limited-edition books company in 1974. Publication began in 1975. The name Arion came from the Greek poet who was saved from the sea by a dolphin. The explanation for why that name was chosen is also included on page 34 in the Biblio article; in short, the dolphin is a mascot for fine printing.

Though famous for its artistry, attention to detail, and many other accolades, Arion has remained a small, self-sustaining business that has never been subsidized by grants. As for its success, Hoyem proudly attributes many of the Press’ success to its staff. And many of the staff members have been there for years, and a few have their own printing businesses on the side.

Two years after Arion first began publishing, Hoyem and his staff began production of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Other early publications by Arion are Hoyem’s own book, Picture Poems, Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis, and the first Arion Press livre d’artiste (books illustrated with original prints by well known artists) - A Travel Book by Fred Martin.

The books listed above are included in the Wilson Collection. There are several other unique books from the collection, currently on display in the Wilson Room (East Reading room on the 3rd floor):

  • The Temple of Flora - edited by Glenn Todd and Nancy Dine. Includes poetry by several notable writers including E.E. Cummings, Frank O’Hara, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams (and Andrew Hoyem of course) (1984).

    The Temple of Flora edited by Glenn Todd and Nancy Dine

    The Temple of Flora edited by Glenn Todd and Nancy Dine

  • Birds of the Pacific Slope - 156 bird portraits by Andrew Jackson Grayson (with his notes), biography by Lois Stone (1986).

    156 bird portraits by Andrew Jackson Grayson with a companion volume

    156 bird portraits by Andrew Jackson Grayson with a companion volume, Grayson’s ornithological notes and a biography of Grayson by Lois Stone

  • Invisible Cities - by Italo Calvino, new intro by William Weaver and 12 drawings by Wayne Thiebaud (1999)

    Photo from Arion Press' website, the drawings for Invisible Cities are printed on clear plastic with different ink colors. The images are only revealed when the transparent sheet is turned back onto the preceding page.

    Photo from Arion Press’ website, the drawings for Invisible Cities are printed on clear plastic with different ink colors. The images are only revealed when the transparent sheet is turned back onto the preceding page.

  • Wiley Godot - illustrated by William T. Wiley; original play was Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

    Godot - an imaginary staging by William T. Wiley of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

    Godot – an imaginary staging by William T. Wiley of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Unlike the Limited Editions Collection, the Wilson Collection does not have the full collection of Arion Press books. Though I’m unsure how many books Arion Press has published to date (99 plus), the Wilson Collection includes quite a few from the collection (roughly 91).

We still regularly receive books from the Press, the most recent being Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. The next upcoming book is What the End is For, a selection of 55 poems by Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Fellowship-winning poet, Jorie Graham.

And now a few of the LEC Christmas Cards, for your viewing pleasure…

Christmas Card from the LEC     Christmas Card from the LECLEC Christmas Card    Christmas Card from the LEC     LEC Christmas Card     LEC Christmas Card

Want to see these books, or would you like to view more works from the Wilson Collection? The Wilson Collection is housed on the 3rd floor of the Main Downtown Library, next to the Fine Arts section. It’s open to all Library visitors during regular Library hours. To make an appointment to view the books, you can call either (615) 880-2356 or (615) 880-2363.

Book Review: Stone Mattress

By , December 21, 2014

Stone Mattress by Margaret AtwoodStone Mattress
by Margaret Atwood

I’ve had a very long and wonderful journey with Margaret Atwood’s works. It started in high school, when a teacher assigned The Handmaid’s Tale as a complementary novel to 1984 and A Brave New World.  Every year since then, I have attempted to read it at least once. After high school, I practically devoured every fiction work she had ever done, including her poetry.

Stone Mattress is compromised of nine tales (tales, not stories) written by Atwood over the years. The themes they explore include aging, loss, and reality (even the reality of others).

I think my favorite story out of all of this was the one about Constance and Alphinland. Constance is a prolific fantasy writer, whose stories have a cult following. Yet, she lives alone after the death of her husband, a doddering old woman who listens to his voice in her head telling her what to do to take care of herself. It isn’t about the fact that she is old and perhaps a little crazy. It is about an old woman who made two things very important in her life – her husband and her writing. She couldn’t share her writing with her husband in this world – so she imagines him waiting for her in her fantasy world, along with former lovers who have hurt her.

These stories are not light and airy. Margaret Atwood explores the darker side of human nature – the grotesque, the murderous, the hatred – from a perspective of some of the more interesting characters experiencing those things.

This was a very fast read for me, because it was a collection of short stories. Highly recommended for your personal wish list!


Jodi Picoult – Leaving Time

By , December 20, 2014

Jodi Picoult discusses her book Leaving Time. This author talk was recorded October 21, 2014. Picoult appeared as part of the continuing Salon@615 author series.

Subscribe to Salon@615 podcast (iTunes)

Download this episode (.mp3)

Book review: The Simpsons Family history

By , December 19, 2014


The Simpsons family history: a celebration of television’s favorite family

The holidays are upon us and that means sharing this festive time with people you normally would not spend time with outside of a funeral home. Well, embrace the family spirit by taking a stroll down memory lane with a family we first met on the Tracy Ullman show 25 years ago. Yes, the long awaited Simpsons family history: a celebration of television’s favorite family can now be shared.

Did you know that Marge and Homer first met as children at Camp-See-A-Tree?

Did you know that Homer’s mother was a free-spirit that had to abandon him to avoid the feds? And that Mr. Burns is involved?!?!?!?

Did you know that while mired in sibling jealousy Bart tried to mail baby Lisa away?

These facts and many others are revealed in The Simpsons Family History.

Do yourself a favor and make sure you have a copy of this instant classic sitting prominently on the coffee table when the relatives arrive. The resulting Simpson discussions may be quite revealing…. Of course he relates to Moe! Gather the family around the internet and take one of hundreds, “Which Simpson are you?’ quizzes available. A holiday tradition is born.

“…and that is how you win an opium war”  -  Mr. Burns



Popmatic Podcast December 17th, 2014: Best Movies of the Year

By , December 17, 2014

Your holds queue just gained a few holiday pounds. These are best movies of the year. Could Bryan’s favorite movie of the year be Amanda’s least favorite of the year? You’ll have to listen to find out. Tell us your favorites in the comments.


The Lego Movie1) The Lego Movie
2) Veronica Mars
3) Frozen

Chef1) Chef
2) A Most Wanted Man
3) Nightcrawler

Maleficent1) Maleficent
2) The Congress
3) Jodorowsky’s Dune

We are the Best1) We Are the Best
2) Snowpiercer
3) Obvious Child

Grand Budapest Hotel1) The Grand Budapest Hotel
2) Under the Skin
3) Blue Ruin


Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks by Dick Cavett

Text Me Merry Christmas” by Kristen Bell & Straight No Chaser

Holiday Wishes by Idina Menzel

Amanda’s holiday concert

Letterboxd – like GoodReads but for movies

Cutie and the Boxer

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three original 1974 version




Cat People

Captain American: Winter Soldier

Guardians of the Galaxy

A Field in England


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book List: Who am I? A Book Cover Guessing Game

By , December 16, 2014

Click on the book cover to find the answers!



Mom has so many suitors
It’s hard to keep track.
Better to leave these shores
‘Til my dad gets back





You may know our dad
Or at least know his plan.
It’s all pretty sad
He made monster, not man.





You won’t know my name
For it”s clothed in the past
But hearing my claim
Know my bravery stands fast.





They’ll search through my trove
Of poems from my heart.
But will they know of the love
Inspiring my start?





I watch and deduce
Surprising them all.
Some call me the muse
Of criminal law.




As I peer down
At my love far below,
I laugh at his frown
And swing my hair low.



Magician or fairy,
A name means nothing.
But all must be wary
Else the death of a king.




They say that my face
Will launch many ships.
And none can erase
The fate of those trips.






Don’t ask me why
I need a son.
But my wives will die
Until I get one.




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