‘Tis the Season for Awesome Holiday Movies

‘Tis the season for awesome movies! I am a big fan of movies in general but I have a special place for holiday movies. Cold weather, hot cocoa and a good Christmas movie can be just the ticket to get in the holiday spirit this time of year.

Here is a list of my top 5 favorite holiday movies.

Frosty the Snowman
Frosty appears and helps a little girl escape from the greedy magician. This animated film is a favorite of mine due to the fact that a snowman comes to life and dances around the town.  Who wouldn’t love that?!

This movie came out in 1989 but I didn’t see it until the mid-90s because I wasn’t old enough until then to see it. A young girl discovers a hurt reindeer and nurses him back to health with the help of the town veterinarian. Over time the girl becomes convinced that the reindeer is actually one of Santa’s reindeer, Prancer to be exact. I won’t give away the ending but it is heartwarming for sure.

A child named Buddy finds his way in Santa’s sack back to the North Pole where he grows up and becomes one of Santa’s elves. When Buddy discovers that he is actually human and not and elf he sets off on an adventure to New York City to find his father. The humor in this movie is beyond fabulous in my opinion – Will Ferrell (who plays Buddy) is a 10.

Home Alone
Home Alone is my generation’s classic Christmas movie as it came out in 1990 when I was about 6 years old. Kevin is a young boy accidentally left at home alone when his family takes a vacation to France for the holidays. Two robbers, the Wet Bandits, are on the prowl to burgle Kevin’s home while the family is away. Once Kevin figures out what they are up to he comes up with a plan and chaos ensues.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
I didn’t see this movie until last year, but I must say I really enjoyed it when I finally did! The Griswald’s are a kooky American family just enjoying the festivities of the season. There are a lot of quirky moments (driving under a semi trailer, speed-sledding through town, and a totally toasted turkey) that make this movie an awesome addition to your holiday movie line-up.

Grumpy Old Men
I am not sure there is anything funnier than watching a couple of self-proclaimed “old farts” fooling around ice fishing on a frozen lake. When an attractive single woman moves into the neighborhood the two men chase after her and do ridiculous things to gain her favor. Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau have the bickering banter down to a T as this dynamic duo starred together in the 1968 film classic The Odd Couple.

It’s too hard to narrow down my favorite holiday movies so I’ll add in a few more of my favorites for good measure!

  • Christmas in Connecticut
  • Love Actually
  • It’s A Wonderful Life
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Charlie Brown Christmas
  • The Holiday

Happy Holidays to all!


Welcome to Our Neighborhoods!

It has just gotten easier to locate items in the children’s room through the creation of Neighborhoods. Some of the books and movies are being shelved together by topic rather than classified as fiction, non-fiction or format (such as DVD). The first Neighborhood created was based on the most popular requests from children of their Favorite Characters. These include Barbie, Clifford, Dora, Star Wars and Thomas. For children who love the airplane or train books, we have a Transportation Neighborhood with sub-categories of In the Air, In the Water, and On Land. Coming soon will be Neighborhoods on Holidays and the Town Values.

The call number on the spine of the book/DVD has not changed; the only changes are the location of the item on the shelves and listed in the Evergreen on-line catalog, plus the addition of a color-coded spine label. An example of a location change in the Evergreen online catalog will be “Children: Favorite Characters: Dora” instead of “children picture book”.

We hope these Neighborhoods make it easier for you and your child to locate the items you want. Please be patient with us as we take the time to transfer the items into Neighborhoods. If you need assistance finding items or have suggestions for improvements or additional Neighborhoods, please tell any of the children’s room staff.


A Game of Thrones

What’s a fan of George R.R. Martin to do? Season Two of HBO’s acclaimed miniseries A Game of Thrones has just finished up and only God knows when Book Six (tentatively titled The Winds of Winter) in A Song of Ice and Fire saga will be published. May I suggest that fans of George R.R. Martin’s medieval fantasy try out A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook newly available at the library.

The cookbook is the product of the immense Internet fandom inspired by Martin’s works. Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer’s curiosity led the duo to a start a blog documenting their attempts at cooking up some of the dishes mentioned in the stories. They still maintain that blog – innatthecrossroads.com  – which includes additonal recipes and commentary not featured in the book.

But what if you haven’t read the Fire and Ice books or seen the miniseries? The Library has those too! There is little I can add to the lauds already heaped on Martin and his Locus Award winning series. It’s a riveting story well told. And don’t let the “fantasy” label scare you away. There are some fantasy elements to be sure –  dragons, a bit of magic, etc. But these stories are primarily focused on complex characters who struggle with competing loyalties, ambitions for power, greed, lust, and honor. Martin’s eye for detail brings to life everything from the byzantine machinations of the Seven Kingdoms politics to the sumptuous heraldry and feasting of the noble families. A Song of Ice and Fire is a highly entertaining, suspenseful series. 

Whether you’re looking to cook up some Honey-Spiced Locusts to poison a queen, recreate King Joffrey’s 77 course wedding feast, or simply whip up a delicious meal to enjoy while you re-watch A Game of Thrones, A Feast of Ice and Fire will delight fans and risk-taking cooks alike.


Are You Ready for Memorial Day Weekend?

Memorial Day Weekend: a time for spending with family…

…in the car…

for hours.

Why not read a book while you’re in the car?

Or are you like me, a control freak, and drive everywhere? No offense…

Or do you get carsick while reading directions when forced to be the trusty navigator?

Well here are some fabulous non-book options furnished by your fabulous library, to entertain you instead of being bored, sick, or forced to play the license plate game again.

Audiobooks: PGTPL has a fabulous collection of books on CD. Whether you like non-fiction, historical fiction, or even teen fiction and children’s books, we have something for you. Pop in a CD, and listen to great authors, actors, and professional voices read you great books. Many more audiobooks are available for download on Overdrive as well. My favorites: Beauty Queens, written and performed by Libba Bray via OverDrive; and Horton Hears a Who and other stories, performed by Dustin Hoffman available through Evergreen.

Playaways: If your trusty vehicle doesn’t have a CD player, don’t fret! We have these cute little do-dads called Playaways. You just plug a set of headphones in and listen to the story.

DVDs: If you have a fancy vehicle with DVD players, we can load you up with great movies from our collection. You can even find movies about wherever you’re going with our extensive non-fiction DVD shelves. One movie I like that’s good for all ages: IMAX Under the Sea, narrated by Jim Carrey. Popcorn not included.

CDs: Tired of trying to find a great radio station in the middle of nowhere? Grab a handful of CDs and create your own playlist. I enjoy exposing my kids to music that I like, so I don’t have to listen to the Hokey Pokey a million times. However, Barenaked Ladies have a great kid’s CD called Snacktime that rocks!

Especially for Kids:

Playaway Views: Got kids? Got kids that love Elmo, Arthur or fairy tales? We have Playaway Views in the Children’s room! These nifty handheld buddies are personal movie players. They are pre-loaded, so you don’t have to fuss with DVDs or extra pieces. Earphones can be plugged in, but aren’t necessary…unless Elmo’s voice will make the drive feel like Purgatory. My child’s favorites: Between the Lions and Strega Nona.

Kid Kits: Help yourself and help our children’s room staff flex their creative muscles by compiling a kid kit for your child. Stop by the children’s room a week or so before your trip and fill out a kid kit form. You will let the librarians know how old your child is, what his interests are, and what kind of materials he would like. Then, the librarian will pull together materials for your child to take with him on his trip! You can pick them up when convenient for you, and have all the items you need to keep your kid excited about being in the car for eight hours…well…maybe.

I hope you have a safe trip to wherever your three day weekend takes you. Me? I’m thinking a couch staycation is in order!


Joanna’s Top 10 Movies

One Fine Day
This is one of my favorite romantic comedies. Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney are both amazing in this movie as they play characters who get thrown together for a day when they need help finding a babysitter for their children. They end up having a wild time and learn a few things about themselves along the way.

Nanny McPhee
Nanny McPhee is about a single father searching for a nanny to tend to his seven children. After the children drive away 17 nannies, Nanny McPhee mysteriously comes into the picture to give the children some much needed discipline. I especially love that Emma Thompson and Colin Firth are together in this movie as they are two of my favorite actors of all time. This is a great movie to see with the family!

The Queen
Another favorite actor of mine is Helen Mirren, who does an excellent job playing Queen Elizabeth II in the movie The Queen. This movie focuses on the tragedy of Princess Diana’s death and the difficulty Queen Elizabeth II faced when it came to leading the nation in mourning in the loss of the People’s Princess. The inside glimpse into the Royal perspective during this difficult time in England’s history is riveting to say the least.

Gone With the Wind and Scarlet
Gone With the Wind is a classic for many reasons. My main reason for loving GWTW is the psychology behind the characters Scarlet and Rhett. They always think about what is in it for them and don’t care if someone gets trampled along the way. Scarlet is a sequel movie to GWTW and I like it because it does a fairly good job of continuing the GWTW story. 

The Silence of the Lambs
This is my #1 favorite movie of all time. Those of you who have read my True Crime: Serial Killers blog will know why. I saw the movie poster for SOTL in D. Rose (the local video store in Plainfield back in the 1990s) and I remember seeing this giant moth over Jodie Foster’s mouth, and in the design of the moth’s back were the bodies of five women. Clearly the image stayed with me for years and when I was in college I saw the movie for the first time. I was horrified by the serial killer Hannibal Lecter and his insights into the twisted mind of Buffalo Bill. Even after seeing this movie more than 50 times I still get freaked out.

Gone Baby Gone
This movie is about two detectives investigating the disappearance of a little girl in Boston. The police are making very little progress and something just doesn’t seem quite right. The detectives run into all sorts of criminals from gangs to pedophiles along the way to finding the missing girl. At the end there is a scary twist that earns the movie a place on my Top 10 Library Movies to see.

The Prince and Me
I’m a bit of a sucker for a sappy romance every now and then. The Prince and Me is about a young Danish prince who is sowing his wild oats. The prince takes a hiatus to Wisconsin to seemingly “get it together” and attend college, which is where he meets and falls head over heels for a woman with determination and drive. This movie is pretty much a “wash, rinse, repeat” romance, but I love it for its sentimental predictability.

Into The Wild
True-life stories are one of my favorite things of all time. Into The Wild is based on a true story about a young man named Christopher McCandless who leaves his life behind to pursue his own path in the wilderness of Alaska . The movie is adventurous, funny and truly inspiring. Other favorite true-life movies include: Grizzly Man, which is about a man who video taped his close interactions with bears; Kinsey is another great movie that is about the Alfred Kinsey, the American biologist who studied and taught human sexuality at Indiana University in the 1940s and 1950s; 127 Hours is about a young man who gets trapped between a boulder in a canyon crag in Utah. It is not for the faint of heart and is also an amazing movie!

Jurassic Park
OK, so here’s the deal: I could watch Jurassic Park every single day for the rest of my life. I’d even throw in Jurassic Park II and III and I would be a happy camper. Every single time I watch the “real life” dinosaurs walking around I get a giddy excitement that I just cannot compare to any other movie. I recall vividly back in 1993 when Jurassic Park was released I wanted to see it soooo badly but my parents would not let me. A few years later I watched it and loved it.

Fargo is about a Minneapolis car salesman who is in a lot of trouble. He hires some thugs to kidnap his wife in hopes that the ransom will help him with his troubles. Many things go wrong during the kidnapping, and when Police Chief Marge Gunderson gets on the case things begin to unravel at a rapid pace. The Coen brothers do an excellent job making this movie. Just be prepared for some dark comedy if you decide to see it!

Mary’s 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die

Documentaries are my favorite films.  When I was a student at IU, I was lucky enough to take a class that focused entirely on the documentary style.  It opened me up to a whole new world of entertainment!  Last fall, one of my favorite filmmakers, Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me), hosted a show on Current TV called 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die.  I was very proud to say that I had seen well over three fourths of the list, and over the past few months have been watching the rest.  There were several documentaries that I love that didn’t make the Spurlock list…….so I decided to compile my own “50 Documentaries to See Before You Die” list.  And, the great thing is, the library actually has them all! 

Check them out!!
Click the links to place things on hold. We’ll pull the DVD and have it ready and waiting for you!

  1. Hoop Dreams: I agree with Morgan Spurlock- it deserved to be #1.
  2. The Fog of War: Errol Morris is my favorite director- he is amazing.
  3. American Movie: didn’t make his list- but I LOVE this hilarious film.
  4. Grizzly Man: hilarious and sad all at once.
  5. Dark Days: this was one that I watched in my documentary class- fascinating.
  6. Exit Through The Gift Shop: all about the amazing graffiti artist Banksy.
  7. Tarnation: disturbing….but very original.
  8. When We Were Kings: the best account of the famous “Rumble in the Jungle.”
  9. King of Kong: so great- and funny.
  10. Catfish: wow.  a strange, strange, story.
  11. When the Levees Broke: the most personal viewpoint of Hurricane Katrina I’ve seen.
  12. Man on Wire: who walks a tight-rope between the World Trade Center towers?!?!?!  Crazy)
  13. Vernon, Florida: Errol Morris’ first documentary.  It’s hilarious, and very quotable.
  14. Garbage Warrior: about a very interesting man who builds sustainable housing from garbage.
  15. I Like Killing Flies: a quirky man and his restaurant in Greenwich Village.
  16. Devil’s Playground: about the Amish tradition of Rumspringa- much of it takes place in northern Indiana.
  17. Capturing the Friedmans (hitting our shelves soon… be the first to check it out, then let us know what you think!): crazy story…..another one that was featured in my documentary class.
  18. Street Fight: the mayoral race for Newark- fascinating, and somewhat troubling.
  19. Waiting for “Superman”: raises some interesting points concerning the state of the education system.
  20. It Might Get Loud: Jimmy Page, Jack White, and The Edge…..jamming.  What could be better?
  21. Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?: I first heard about this woman on 60 minutes- she’s very entertaining!
  22. Bowling for Columbine: the always controversial Michael Moore. 
  23. Fahrenheit 9/11: I’ll just name that one too…..sorry to those who hate him.
  24. Marwencol: wow.  Just have to see it to believe it- a man and a world he created.
  25. War Dance: a beautiful film about a dance competition in Uganda.
  26. Young @ Heart: what is better than a group of 80 + year olds singing Radiohead??
  27. Tabloid: Errol Morris’ latest film…..very, very quirky.
  28. Spellbound: who knew a spelling bee could be so intense?
  29. Word Wars: and who knew that scrabble was so involved!
  30. Jesus Camp: I learned a lot from this one…..it was also on Morgan Spurlock’s list.
  31. Gasland: Can You Light Your Water on Fire?: lighting tap water on fire!!  Scary stuff….
  32. Crumb: about the comic book writer Robert Crumb.
  33. Food, Inc.: somewhat disturbing, but I really learned a lot.
  34. Rip!: A Remix Manifesto: about the remix musician Girl Talk- very cool.
  35. The Hobart Shakespeareans: inspirational story about Rafe Esquith, a revolutionary teacher in L.A.
  36. Anvil: The Story of Anvil: like Spinal Tap- only real.
  37. Dancing Outlaw: wow.  Also, check out the recent follow up film The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia.
  38. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills: this story was recently in the headlines again- and there are two follow-up documentaries.
  39. The Devil and Daniel Johnston: a genius songwriter who was respected by many- including Kurt Cobain.
  40. Stevie: by the same director as Hoop Dreams.
  41. Trouble the Water: a very personal documentary shot DURING Hurricane Katrina.
  42. Dogtown and Z-Boys: the beginning of skateboarding.
  43. Super Size Me: Morgan Spurlock’s often funny, but disturbing film.
  44. This Film Is Not Yet Rated: a look inside the movie ratings system- surprisingly interesting.
  45. The Eyes of Tammy Faye: I never realized that her story was so complex.
  46. Best Worst Movie: Have you seen Troll 2?  It’s the Best Worst Movie ever!
  47. Shut Up and Sing: about the Dixie Chicks and their controversy following 9/11.
  48. Little Dieter Needs to Fly: this is the story that the Christian Bale film Rescue Dawn was based on.
  49. Shut Up Little Man: this is a new one….the first half of it was very, very funny.
  50. The Natural History of the Chicken: trust me on this one- it’s hilarious.

So, yes- that’s my list.  I highly recommend each of these titles.  Let me know if there are any that you feel should be included…..I always love to discover a new great documentary!

~Mary Glaser (film nerd)