The Big Apple

Transit strikes come, transit strikes go. The City endures. Pete Hamill knows, as only an old newspaper reporter can, the streets, the people, the stories that make New York City so captivating and so confounding . Listen to Downtown: My Manhattan and you’ll want to visit even if you have to walk from the airport.

Once Hamill has you hooked on the Big Apple, you’ll want to know how it all started. The Island at the Center of the World takes you back to the founding of New Netherland, describing the array of cultures and peoples that created one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Comedy or tragedy?

In The Apartment (1960) Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine star as C.C. Baxter, an upwardly mobile insurance clerk and Fran Kubelik, the whimsical elevator girl in Baxter’s office building. Little does Baxter know that Miss Kubelik is having an affair with his boss—in Baxter’s apartment! One of Billy Wilder’s more emotionally complex comedies, The Apartment was nominated for ten Oscars in 1961 and won five of them.

Literarian, n. 1. One who makes great contributions to the world of literature. 2. Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

In November the National Book Foundation awarded its first-ever Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-). Ferlinghetti is a poet, publisher, painter, tireless advocate for poetry and free speech, San Francisco poet laureate and proprietor of the renowned independent bookstore City Lights. Several of his books of poetry are available in the library, as well as a documentary of 1987 interviews with Ferlinghetti and other Beat writers, thinkers, and artists. Three cheers for the man who stood up for Howl and blessed the world with the first all-paperback bookstore.

New Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (12/18/05)

There was only one new title this week and again it is from an author who is no stranger to the list.

Coming in at #4 is Forever Odd by Dean Koontz: this popular and prolific writer brings back Odd Thomas who uses his ability to communicate with the dead to search for his missing friend.

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties

Including bipartisan testimony by lawyers, politicians and victims of the USA Patriot Act, this DVD discusses how the Patriot Act of 2001 has taken away checks on law enforcement and continues to endanger the civil liberties of all Americans under the guise of being part of the war on terrorism. Following in the footsteps of Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election and Uncovered: The War on Iraq, this hour-long documentary illustrates how paranoia, fear and racial profiling have led to gross infringements on freedom and democracy without strengthening national security.

De-stress while listening to classical piano

With the holidays upon us, smart music lovers are stocking up on relaxing CDs. The library recently bought the popular title The Most Relaxing Classical Piano Music in the Universe, with selections by Bach, Schumann, Mozart, Beethoven (Moonlight Sonata and Fur Elise), and other composers. Right now there are 27 people on the waiting list for this CD, but if you reserve it now, you, too, can look forward to being among the most relaxed listeners in the universe.

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

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