Behind the scenes at Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live is one of the longest-running television programs in the country, and is certainly one of the most beloved. Featuring live comedy sketches and variety performances as well as popular bands and musical guests every week since it first aired in 1975, SNL celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this year. Fans of SNL will absolutely love Saturday Night Live: The Book, published this year in honor of the show’s 40th year. The large, brightly colored book is filled with facts and never before seen, behind-the-scenes photographs from every season of the show. Also included are interviews with Lorne Michaels, cast members, and other contributors to the show, and fun, goofy details about some of the more famous skits.

As a huge SNL fan myself, I even liked the portion of this book that shows photos of every host the show has had, and lists the air date, host and musical guest for all 784 episodes of the show. It was amazing to see the hundreds of various people that have hosted over the years!

The AADL also has lots of great SNL episodes on video, including the Best of Steve Martin, the Best of Will Ferrell and the Best of Amy Poehler collections, and many complete seasons. If you’re interested in reading more about the show, try Live From New York: the complete, uncensored history of Saturday Night Live as told by its stars, writers and guests.

Live from New York it’s Saturday niiiiiiiight!

Diego & Frida

From now through mid-July the Detroit Institute of Arts is hosting the exhibition Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit. The exhibit focuses on their lives and work before Detroit, during Detroit, and after Detroit. Diego and Frida spent 1932-1933 in Detroit, where Diego worked on the Detroit Industry murals that are painted on the walls of the DIA. The work is amazing, as is the exhibit. Here’s a sneak peek of the magic if you haven’t been yet.

There’s been a lot of buzz about this exhibit and the artists are popping up all over the place, particularly Frida. Feeling inspired for more? Take a peek at the Caldecott Honor picture book Viva Frida!. There are also many other books and DVDs on Diego and Frida in the AADL collection, including the exhibit catalog that’s on order, and the visual book Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals.

The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film.

If you enjoy the bonus features which accompany your movie, where you can see interviews with the director and actors and fun details about how your movie was made, you can thank the Criterion Collection. They invented the concept. They also pioneered the use of letterbox format for widescreen films and have been at the forefront of restoring old and classic films. They are all about promoting and preserving the pleasure of film as entertainment and as art, with social and cultural significance. Their website is a huge source of unique lists of films not to miss and salient information about all kinds of film experiences. You can fall down several wormholes of intrigue exploring this site.

We own hundreds of films in the Criterion Collection here at AADL. Using the “Sort By” feature in the catalog, you can find new and newly re-released films in the collection here, while if you sort your search for the oldest films first you find this listing.

How to describe the collection? Quirky, highbrow, trendy, classic, artistic, unique, nostalgic, contemporary, darkly dramatic. All, and more, are true. Let’s face it, the most popular movies are not always the greatest. Let the Criterion Collection be your guide to finding the essential canon of film.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #520

Plague Land * * by S.D. Sykes. Dispatched to a monastery at the age of seven, now at seventeen Oswald de Lacy assumes the title Lord of Somershill Manor when his father and two older brothers too, succumb to the Plague that has decimated the countryside. Left at home are his overbearing mother and his dangerous and unmarried sister Clemence.

In quick succession, local villagers Alison Starvecrow and her sister are found murdered, which the ambitious village priest blames on a band of demonic dog-headed man. It is now Oswald's responsibility to solve the crimes. But every step Oswald takes seems to lead him deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.

"Sykes adds an intricate and intriguing debut (the first of a planned series) to the ever-widening pool of medieval-era mysteries. Thrilling plot twists and layered characters abound in this rich tale of murder and mystery in 14th-century Kent."

Readers might enjoy watching the Brother Cadfael series, based on mysteries by Ellis Peters; and Hugh De Singleton series by Melvin R. Starr.

Sadly, this brings to mind The Siege Winter, a stand-alone by the late Ariana Franklin (and completed upon her death by her daughter Samantha Norman), whose award-winning series based on the character of Adelia Aguilar, a medieval woman forensic pathologist will be fondly remembered by historical mystery fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

New TV Shows @ AADL, Pt. 2

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new-to-AADL series:

Grantchester, Season 1
It's 1953 and Sidney Chambers is vicar of Grantchester, a village just outside Cambridge, England. Sidney's is a quiet life. He tends to his flock, keeps up with his jazz collection, and does his best to contain his passion for beautiful heiress Amanda Kendall. But when one of his parishioners dies in suspicious circumstances, Sidney quickly finds that people confide things in a parish priest that they would never tell police. Based on the Grantchester Mystery novels by James Runcie.

WPC 56, Series 1 and 2
Set in England's West Midlands in 1956, the show follows determined Gina Dawson, the first woman police constable to serve in her hometown, as she struggles to gain acceptance in the male-dominated world of policing. Sometimes dismayed by the patronizing sexism, bullying, corruption and racial prejudice that she encounters every day, Gina remains undaunted and sets out to prove her worth, make a difference and earn some respect.

Murder in the First, Season 1
San Francisco homicide detectives investigate what originally appear to be two unrelated murders. Ultimately, they learn both victims have ties to a Silicon Valley prodigy.

Ntsf:sd:suv, Season 1
Never forget? Terrorism hasn't, and neither will the NTSF:SD:SUV. In a world where threatening danger looms large and Homeland Security won't secure itself, San Diego's citizens can't afford not to trust in the NTSF. Short for National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle, the show is a parody of action and police dramas.

Halt and Catch Fire, Season 1
The series is set in the Silicon Prairie of Texas in 1983 and depicts a fictionalized insider's view of the personal computer revolution.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #519 - “When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss

Man at the Helm * by Nina Stibbe (Love, Nina : a nanny writes home), an impressive first novel, has been compared to P. G. Wodehouse in its pacing; and Gerald Durrell's memoir My Family and Other Animals (1956), about an eccentric family's relocation to the Greek isle of Corfu, and a BBC Masterpiece Theater adaptation.

The narrator, 9-year old Lizzie Vogel has lived a charmed life. But when his homosexual affair is discovered, Lizzie's father packs them off to the tiny village of Flatstone, where life for the Vogels takes a drastic turn. The new neighbors are hostile and disapproving (of divorcees and fatherless children), and Lizzie's theatrical mother slips ever more into drinks, pills, and obsessive playwriting. Lizzie and her all-knowing older sister fear that the infamous Crescent Homes for Children is in their future, unless they could find a new husband for their mother, and a new "man at the helm" for the household. As one unsuitable suitor follows another, chaos ensues. Lizzie confronts the downright craziness of grown-up love and learns that sometimes a family needs to veer catastrophically off-course in order to find true happiness.

"An extraordinarily well-written, deeply satisfying read about an unusual, highly entertaining group of people." "Charming and bittersweet, with a very English flavor, this social comedy is distinguished by Stibbe's light touch and bright eye." Check out the New York Times Review.

Everlasting Lane * by Andrew Lovett is "(a) captivating, absorbing, and suspenseful evocation of the spells of childhood in a timeless coming-of-age tale."

After the death of his father, 9-year old Peter Lambert moves with his mother to the village of Amberley, and a cottage on Everlasting Lane. As the new kid, he is befriended only by the other two outcasts in his class - chubby Tommie and the neighborhood bossy Anna-Marie. Escaping the bullies, they find pleasure and solace in the countryside and soon meet up with local eccentrics who prefer solitude.

At home, Peter is disturbed by the growing awareness that his own aggrieved mother might be falling apart - first by changing her name, and then expressly forbidding him from entering a locked room in the attic.

Written in beautiful prose, "as charming and haunting as the movie Stand By Me... (w)ith nods to such children's classics as Alice in Wonderland, Lovett's first novel, inspired by events from his own childhood, contemplates the often very fine line between imagination and reality."

* = starred review

New TV Shows @ AADL, Pt. 1

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. For many new ones you can now get the entire season in one check-out, as all the discs are in one case with an extended check-out period. A slew of shows just hit the catalog.

Here are some new-to-AADL series:

TURN: Washington's spies, Season 1
A historical thriller set during the Revolutionary War. Abe Woodhull is a farmer living in British-occupied Long Island who bands together with his friends to from the Culper Ring, an unlikely team of secret agents who not only went on to help George Washington turn the tide of the war, but also gave birth to modern spycraft.

The Accused, Series 1 & 2
One by one, defendants are led into court to face their fate. Willy and Frankie, Helen and Liam, family man Kenny and seventeen-year-old Stephen are ordinary people, or so it seems. Are they innocent or guilty? Will the jury make the right decision?

The Last Ship, Season 1
After a global viral pandemic "wipes out" over 80% of the world's population, the crew (consisting of 218 men and women) of a lone unaffected U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, the fictional USS Nathan James (DDG-151), must try to find a cure, to stop the virus and save humanity.

Manhattan, Season 1
Set against the backdrop of the greatest race against time in the history of science; the mission to build the world's first atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. The series follows the project's brilliant but flawed scientists and their families as they attempt to coexist in a world where secrets and lies infiltrate every aspect of their lives.

The Power, Season 1
The series follows James St. Patrick, "Ghost", owner of a popular New York City nightclub and major player in one of the city's biggest illegal drug networks. He struggles to balance these two lives, and the balance topples when he realizes he wants to leave the drug ring in order to support his legitimate business, and commit to his mistress.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

53rd Ann Arbor Film Festival

Are you ready to film fest it up this week?! The 53rd annual Ann Arbor Film Festival started last night with a bang and goes through Sunday, March 29 at the Michigan Theater. As the longest running experimental film festival in the country, the film festival celebrates the best in experimental film making featuring a ton of amazing films, including feature lengths, documentaries and short films.

This year offers a special nod to founder George Manupelli, who passed away last fall, and there are special programs surrounding his work, including a free event on Saturday that is a tribute to Manupelli.

Check out the full schedule of films to see what looks good to you. I also recommend taking a look at the Ann Arbor Film Festival DVD Collection at AADL, featuring some films from past festivals. For further investigation, peruse the the wonderful Ann Arbor Film Festival Archive featuring photos, interviews, posters, articles, and programs from the history of the fabulous film festival.

New TV Shows @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new-to-AADL series:

The Outlander, Season 1
Claire Randall is a married combat nurse from 1945 who is mysteriously swept back in time to 1743. She is immediately thrown into an unknown world where her life is threatened. When she is forced to marry a chivalrous and romantic young Scottish warrior, a passionate affair is ignited that tears Claire's heart between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives. Based on the popular book series by Diana Gabaldon.

The Red Road, Season 1
A hard-hitting drama that revolves around a local cop struggling to keep his family together while simultaneously policing two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring mountains, home of a Native American tribe. After a terrible tragedy and cover-up occurs involving the cop's wife, an unholy alliance is forged between the cop and Phillip Kopus, a dangerous member of the tribe that will come back to haunt all involved.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

New Documentaries on DVD

New DVDs and Blu-rays are often hitting the catalog, whether it’s film or television, fiction or nonfiction. The AADL owns a slew of fabulous documentaries, and more documentaries have recently been added. Here’s a full list, with newest additions listed first, and below are a few to get you started:

The sixties
The 1960s was the decade America transformed from a country of conformity to a land of political, cultural, and social liberation. Looking through the lens of television, this production weaves together the events and personalities that influenced and dominated the 1960s in America, sketching a portrait of this remarkable decade that is both entertaining and illuminating.

Fat, sick & nearly dead 2
The second inspirational documentary in the higly successful franchise. This reconnects Joe with his followers from the first film to catch viewers up on how the impact of juicing has changed their lives. With help from friends, family and the medical communit, he not only shows viewers were he is now, but also continues to educate viewers about the critical role that family and community support play in maintaining this healthy lifestyle.

Code Black
In his vivid and thought-provoking filmmaking debut, physician Ryan McGarry gives an unprecedented access to America's busiest Emergency Department. Amidst real life-and-death situations, McGarry follows a dedicated team of charismatic young doctors-in-training as they wrestle with both their ideals and the realities of saving lives in a complex and overburdened system.

The Fidel Castro tapes: The story of the Cuban dictator's turbulent leadership
In 1959, Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba. He has been one of the most controversial figures in the world ever since. This chronicles the Cuban leader's ability to maintain control through ongoing tumult in his country, and in his dealings with the United States and the rest of the world.

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