TV Shows: Bored to Death

It seems like offbeat comedy TV sure is easy to come by these days, and though it may not all be quality, it exists. HBO’s Bored To Death (A noir-otic comedy) is one that hits the funny bone, and hard.

Created by author Jonathan Ames, the show centers around a fictional Jonathan Ames, played by Jason Schwartzman. He is a well meaning but struggling writer, living in New York, who decides to lead a double life by pretending to be a private detective. He starts out by placing an ad on Craigslist, and ends up getting calls for cases that take him on crazy adventures with his two friends George and Ray, played by Ted Danson and Zach Galifianakis.

Schwartsman's great, but Danson and Galifianakis kind of steal the show in this one. Their style of comedy is less stuffy than Schwartzman, and their wacky characters allow for some killer scenes with even more killer lines. Danson is at his best in this one.

It’s akin to Curb Your Enthusiasm, Party Down, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Community, if you’re into that. Season 3 of Bored To Death begins this fall on HBO.

Author Birthdays: Potter, Ashbery, Davis

July 28th marks the birthday of authors Beatrix Potter, John Ashbery, and Jim Davis.

Beatrix Potter was an English author known for her children's books, most notably The Tale of Peter Rabbit. There are actually over 20 tales of Peter Rabbit and his fellows, like Mrs. Tittlemouse and Mr. Tod.

Potter's other works include The Fairy Caravan, about a guinea pig who runs away from home to join the circus, and the sort-of-autobiography Letters to Children From Beatrix Potter, edited by Judy Taylor.

John Ashbery is an American poet. According to the Academy of American Poets, he has won nearly every major American award for poetry, and has quite a few other awards as well.

Ashbery's collections include the Griffin Poetry Prize winner Notes From the Air, and the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle and National Book Award winning Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

Jim Davis is an American cartoonist. You've probably at least heard of his most famous strip, Garfield. In addition to the actual strip, he also helped to write and produce the many TV shows, specials, and CGI movies starring the lazy cat.

While his main cartoon is Garfield, Davis also wrote U.S. Acres, also called Orson's Farm, which you still might recognize if you have ever watched the animated series Garfield And Friends.

If you're looking for Summer Game points, try taking a look at some of those titles!

Author Birthdays: Stone, Garfield, Howatch

July 14th marks the birthday of authors Irving Stone, Leon Garfield, and Susan Howatch.

Irving Stone was an American historical fiction author. His most well known novel may be The Agony and the Ecstasy, a book about the Renaissance artist Michelangelo. The book was also made into a movie starring Charlton Heston.

Stone's main works are all fictionalized biographies. In addition to Michelangelo, he also wrote books on artists Vincent Van Gogh and Camille Pissarro. The novel of Van Gogh was also made into a movie.

Leon Garfield was a British children's historical fiction writer. He also adapted many Shakespearean tales for children, which we have in both written and audio formats, as well as the television show Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.

Garfield's original works include Smith, which is about a 18th century London pickpocket, and The Empty Sleeve, a ghost story featuring protagonist twins.

Susan Howatch is a British fiction writer known for her family sagas and religious themes. Her most popular series is probably the Starbridge Series of six books about a fictional Anglican diocese called Starbridge. The first book in the series is Glittering Images.

Howatch also wrote many stand-alone books. These include The Waiting Sands, which Library Journal described as "three tales of romantic suspense," and Penmarric, a novel set in medieval Cornwall.

Author Birthdays: Heinlein, Eddings, McCullough

July 7th marks the birthday of authors Robert A. Heinlein, David Eddings, and David McCullough.

Robert A. Heinlein was an American author of science fiction and first winner of the Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement. He still holds the record for winning the most Hugo Awards for Best Novel, awarded for Double Star, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and the Retro winner Farmer in the Sky.

Heinlein also had a few Hugo Best Novel short-listed books: Have Space Suit--Will Travel, Glory Road, Time Enough for Love: The Lives of Lazarus Long, Friday, and Job: A Comedy of Justice.

David Eddings was an American writer mostly known for his fantasy series. Many of these series, including The Dreamers, were co-written with his wife, Leigh.

Eddings also wrote some non-fantasy novels. Regina's Song, also written with his wife, is a fictional work about twins and their relationships. Booklist called it "a story of murder and revenge sporting supernatural overtones."

David McCullough is an American author and historian, and winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also won the Pulitzer twice for his biographies of Harry S. Truman and John Adams. The HBO television series John Adams and the film Truman were both based on his books.

McCullough has also written non-biographies. His The Path Between The Seas : The Creation Of The Panama Canal, 1870-1914 won four awards in 1978. Library Journal noted that in it "McCullough's careful research and genius for narrative come brilliantly through."

Author Birthdays: Awdry, Clampitt, Jacques

June 15th marks the birthday of authors W. Awdry, Amy Clampitt, and Brian Jacques.

W. Awdry was an English children's author and Anglican reverend. His best known works are those in the Railway Series, from which you may know Thomas the Tank Engine.

Awdry created the stories about the railway in order to comfort his young son Christopher, who had the measles. He wrote a total of 26 books in the series; he also wrote other books, but unfortunately, there are no copies available at Michigan libraries.

Amy Clampitt was an American poet who was first published at the age of fifty-eight. Her first collection, The Kingfisher, made her a known and respected poet in 1983.

Clampitt's fifth and last collection was Silence Opens, which Booklist called "dramatic and wry and always in motion." The collection focuses on crossroads, and includes a poem about the legend of Pocahontas.

Brian Jacques was an English writer most known for his Redwall series; all of the characters in Redwall are animals Jacques passed away due to a heart attack in February, but the last Redwall novel, The Rogue Crew, was released early last month.

Jacques wrote other series, including Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, based on the legend of the Flying Dutchman ship and its survivors, cursed with immortality.

Ben Franklin on Video

The Ben Franklin exhibit continues!

Obviously, there are many documentaries on Ben Franklin. One from the History Channel not only features Ben, it also has a snippet from the series Save our History. Another from the History Channel includes a small printed study guide. Ben is even the main subject of one of the discs of the channel's The Founding of America series.

There are also some more interesting DVDs we have that include Ben. Liberty's Kids, a chidlren's TV series from 2002 has Ben as one of its main characters. There is also a short Disney production based on the book Ben and Me.

Two characters that have been named after the real Ben are Benjamin Franklin Pierce, from M*A*S*H, and Benjamin Franklin Gates, from National Treasure.

My personal favorite is either the "Ben Franklin" episode of The Office, or the musical film 1776, starring Howard Da Silva as our beloved Ben.

TV Shows: It’s Time to Party Down

The 30 minute comedy Party Down features a group of six LA actors trying to break into the acting business but end up working as caterers for Party Down Catering. You can’t help but like the quirky, pessimistic characters as they handle each day, and still manage to work together as a team, pulling ahead as things go wrong and hilarity ensues. Each week features a new party (and eccentric clients) to prep for, as the crew mingles with guests and deals with their own mundane drama while they continue to look for acting work. The comedic styling of actors Ken Marino and Jane Lynch just make the show more insane.

The show comes from the same creator as Veronica Mars, and also shares some common actors, writers and directors. There is also crossover with actors, writers and directors from Freaks and Geeks and The State, so there’s solid comedic background. Party Down originally aired on Starz and was cancelled after two seasons, so this is all we get. Season one is now avaialble at AADL.

Author Birthdays: Chesterton, White, Ehrlich

May 29th marks the birthday of authors G. K. Chesterton, T. H. White, and Paul R. Ehrlich.

G. K. Chesterton was an English author. He wrote mysteries, essays, biographies, and general fiction. His works on Father Brown, a Catholic priest and detective, were even adapted for television in the 70s.

Chesterton also wrote a biography of his friend and "rival" George Bernard Shaw, and the novel The Man Who Was Thursday, which involves seven anarchists in London who give themselves the names of the days of the week.

T. H. White was an English author best known for his Arthurian works The Once and Future King and The Sword in the Stone. The musical Camelot and the Disney film The Sword in the Stone were based on his works.

White also wrote the children's story Mistress Masham's Repose, about an English orphan and her interactions with Lilliputians, a race of people described by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels.

Paul R. Ehrlich is an American writer and biologist, as well as a professor at Stanford University. His works focus on the environment and population growth. His latest book, The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution And The Environment, published in 2008, examines the relationship between the two.

Ehrlich's first big work was The Population Bomb, which discussed overpopulation and its effects on society. His later book, The Population Explosion, considers the topic further, more than 20 years afterward.

Glee at the Library!

After last week's Glee episode featuring Fleetwood Mac, their album Rumours shot to number four on our “hot CDs” list. If you’re getting impatient waiting in line, never fear! We have a host of other great Glee related items, including DVDs from Season 1, CDs and even books.

Be sure to get in line now for the new album from The Warblers, featuring University of Michigan graduate Darren Criss as Kurt’s dreamy boyfriend Blaine. Our copies should be in soon!

Want to hear other music featured on Glee? Try the original Rocky Horror Picture Show or the great popstar and frenemy of Brittany S. Pierce, Britney Spears. Our exclusive inside source (cough Wikipedia cough) tells us that Abba, Otis Redding and Amy Winehouse will be featured in upcoming episodes. And as for Rebecca Black? You’re on your own.

Do You Have Royal Wedding FEVER?!

If you're looking for a FUN way to view and celebrate the upcoming British willandkatewillandkateRoyal Wedding than be sure to join us at the Downtown Library this Friday @ 6:00 PM on the 4th Floor! We'll be televising the wedding itself - in case you missed it earlier in the day or want to re-watch - we will be serving tea, cookies and Wedding Cake! Come dressed in your Royal Best and you will have a chance to win Gift Certificates for best costume! Attendees will also have a chance to win a special floral arrangement created by Sweet Pea Floral.

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