The Greatest DVDs Never Made

Want to buy that film-lover on your list The Magnificent Ambersons or The African Queen? Sorry, neither are available on DVD--at least not officially. Last year the rest of the Marx Brothers comedies and the great Astaire and Rogers musicals finally made it to DVD. So did La Dolce Vita, which had been involved in a legal dispute. And it took Warner Brothers several years to catch up but last year they finally released White Heat, Goodbye, Mr. Chips and Meet Me in St. Louis. Here are a few others I'm still waiting for: Johnny Guitar, Penny Serenade, Night on Earth, La Ronde (1950), Man in the Wilderness and Exterminating Angel. So what's on your most-wanted list?

A Toast to This Year’s Wine Books

Enjoy some good reading as you sip your wine:
from primer: The Wine Guy: Everything You Want to Know About Buying and Enjoying Wine from Someone Who Sells It by Andy Besch
to the process of winemaking: A Very Good Year: the Journey of a California Wine From Vine to Table by Mike Weiss
to the memoir of a new vintner: My First Crush: Misadventures in Wine Country by Linda Kaplan
to the arrival of American wine on the world scene: Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine by George Taber
to one person’s choices of the best current wines of America: The Great Wines of America: the Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages by Paul Lukacs
to the melding of travel, wine, and art: Untrodden Grapes by Ralph Steadman

Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen

Welcome to Foggy Bottom where nightmarish swamps swarm with hordes of gruesome, bewitched creatures, sweethearts are tragically separated by Zelda, the evil Swamp Queen, Eatmore Beans, a talking cat bears an enchanted locket and feisty, 12-year-old Gnat Stokes longs to be a hero. She must rescue her beloved Goodnow from the malevolent Swamp Queen, who is also her lost mother. In the end, she learns she must give up Goodnow in order to save him. Lots of humor and great characters make Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen by Sally Keehn a great read-aloud. For ages 9-12.

This American [Literary] Life

At his lecture last weekend, Ira Glass forecast that this coming week's episode of This American Life will be one of the best ever. The contributors are so good, he said, that he might as well quit now.

In case that isn't enough for you, check out this list of some of our favorite books by TAL contributors:

Found : the best lost, tossed, and forgotten items from around the world and
The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas by Davy Rothbart
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Fraud by David Rakoff
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Lenny Bruce is Dead by Jonathan Goldstein
Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage
God Said "Ha!" by Julia Sweeney
Beware of God by Shalom Auslander

Holiday CD is music for tired ears

If your ears are jangling from too much holiday noise, switch to the uplifting sounds of this CD, Carreras, Domingo, Pavarotti: Christmas Favorites from the World's Favorite Tenors. Not only are their voices glorious, but the selections - including I'll be Home for Christmas and Joy to the World - hit just the right note, too. Happy holiday listening!

Bah, Humbug! Who's the best Scrooge?

scrooge

There have been dozens of film and TV adaptations of Charles Dickens' classic Christmas ghost story A Christmas Carol including musical, animated and dramatic versions. But which is the best, and which features the most convincing portrayal of Ebeneezer Scrooge? Is it Reginald Owen, Alistair Sim, George C. Scott, Michael Caine, Mr. Magoo, Bill Murray, Disney's Uncle Scrooge, Patrick Stewart or someone else? Our family favorite is the musical 'Scrooge' featuring Albert Finney in the title role. Although this version is temporarily not available from the library's collections, it's worth looking for. What's your favorite?

Trevanian, 1931-2005

Trevanian, author of The Eiger Sanction, Shibumi, and several other titles considered the thinking man’s airport fiction, died December 14, 2005 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Eiger Sanction, published in 1972, was a spoof on the James Bond novels. One critic declared that Trevanian’s first novel was “…more intelligent, witty, and stylish” than the original 007 tales.

Trevanian was one of at least five pseudonyms that Rodney Whitaker used to write on a wide variety of topics, including the law, religion, and the movies.

History Bits: 1915 Historical Fiction

Lizzie Bright And The Buckminster Boy tells a little-known piece of early 20th century history and race relations through the eyes of two children in a small town in Maine. Lizzie lives on a small island which has been inhabited by ex-slaves for generations. The Parson has a son referred to as the the Buckminster Boy. The Buckminster family is new to the coastal town of Phippsburg. Although there is profound impact on the island residents, the characters are deep and surprising. Hope and redemption remain a possibility beyond the end of the story.

Best-Reviewed Movies of 2005

Metacritic.com has released a list of the 20 best-reviewed movies of 2005. Although many of these titles won't be released on DVD until next year (especially those that have only recently arrived in theaters in that last mad dash for Oscar contention), a few of the lower-profile titles on the list are already here on DVD. Check out Downfall, Nobody Knows and Memories of Murder. Also on order are Murderball and Turtles Can Fly.

Lawyers in Movies

Ed Masry, the lawyer made famous by the oscar-award winning Erin Brockovich, recently died of complications from diabetes. Erin Brockovich, directed by Steven Soderbergh, is just one of many compelling movies centered around lawyers, courtrooms, and intense legal battles. Here are some others: Philadelphia, The Firm, Judgment at Nuremberg, 12 Angry Men, A Few Good Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and of course, I can't forget to mention this legal thriller!

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