Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Pressure Cooker" a documentary

"Pressure Cooker" a documentary. If you are a fan on Hell's Kitchen, or Kitchen Nightmares, or any other cooking program available on television these days, please consider this documentary. James and I watched this last night and really enjoyed it.

Wilma Stephenson is a force to be reckoned with, in the culinary arts department at Frankford High School, in inner city Philadelphia. She is uncompromising and relentless in her pursuit of her students' education in culinary arts - she goes beyond being just another teacher at Frankford High, she becomes mentor, mother, mother confessor, and cheerleader for her students. 40% of the students at Frankford High never make it to their senior year. Wilma has a reputation as being stern, and hard to like as a teacher, but she has her reasons - work hard to get out of Northeast Philadelphia with a realistic goal.

This film follows Wilma and her students through an entire school year, their ups and downs, trimuphs and failures, in their pursuit of careers in culinary arts.

Towards the end of every school year in Philadelphia, there is a competition held strictly for culinary arts student from every school in Philadelphia that offers this course. This particular year, 5 of Wilma's students make it to the finals. Top chefs from the area judge each student's skill and talent, with scholarships from $1,000 to over $80,000 to be awarded to those judged the most motivated and talented.

There are some moments of humor, some moments of sadness, and moments of feeling like shouting "You Can Do It!" I knew how Wilma felt, "sitting on the sidelines" waiting for the results of her students' results, and the moment when her students will either hear their name called for a scholarship, and if so, which one.

Hope you will consider, and equally hope that you will enjoy this film.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman

"Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman.

12 year old CeeCee Honeycutt, has had anything but a normal childhood. Camille, her mother, has suffered for years with mental health issues, and one day is tragically killed in a freak accident. CeeCee's father has been a non-existent presence most of her life, so when CeeCee's previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell appears to whisk CeeCee away to live in Savannah, he gladly turns CeeCee over to Tootie.
CeeCee travels with Tootie from Ohio to Savannah in a vintage Packard convertible, seeing sights new and exciting, but not nearly as exciting as the strong Southern women she is about to meet through Tootie's amazing assortment of the women of Savannah. Through Tootie's love and support CeeCee is well on the way to healing, and becoming a strong person in her own right.
A wonderful coming of age story, with sights, smells and good common sense of what it is like to live in a Southern city where people still care about each other in their own particular way.
Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"As It Is in Heaven" Swedish movie

"As It is in Heaven", a Swedish film

We watched this film the other evening. First, although it has some religious connections, it is not trying to convert anyone. As a young boy, Daniel, is the subject of bullying due to his love of music. His mother takes him away to study in a better environment. Over the course of his life, his mother is tragically killed before his eyes, he becomes a well known symphonic orchestra conductor, but due to a health problem must put his careet on hold. He returns to his childhood village, Norrland, in northern Sweden. As the word of his move to the village spreads, the local preacher asks him to be the conductor of the little local choir. No one in the village is aware of his connection to the village, or to one of the bullies, now grown and even more violent. Daniel has something that attracts those in the choir to really trust and "love" him, after a "sold out" village performance, more of the local villagers join the choir. When they decide to go to Innsbruck for a festival contest, Daniel resists at first.
The music in this film is just lovely, there are some really wonderful humorous scenes, and there are some rather frightening moments. Some nudity, afterall this is a Swedish film.
Hope you consider this film.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Summerland by Michael Chabon

Summerland, by Michael Chabon. A good read for all ages.
As usual, I was listening to NPR, and heard Michael Chabon being interviewed. He stated that he started writing this story when he was 8 years of age.
Set in Washington State, in the Puget Sound area, on Clam Island, Ethan Feld lives with his inventor father, and due to his father's interest in baseball, Ethan is "forced" to play on one of the island's little league teams - Ethan plays almost as bad as his hate for the game. Strange things begin to happen, beings from other universes begin to appear to Ethan, and he is told that he will have to play Coyote, to save not only his father, who has been kidnapped by Coyote, but also to save the Universe.
Clam Island seems to be based on the real island in Washington state, Camano Island, where I live.
When this came out on audio, I purchased it, it is really one of the few books I enjoy hearing read, as the author reads it, and well he should, he developed these characters and knew exactly how they all should sound......
This is a great coming of age novel, and I have a dear friend, university professor who really enjoyed this book as well.
Hope you will consider this one, a good summer read.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Support Your Public Library

Support your public library

This is a photo, albeit rather small, of the Stanwood, WA library, where I have worked since August 1978.

Our library was built, entirely, with donated funds, materials and labor. Not one penny of local, state or federal money was involved, something that very few libraries can state in this day and age.

Your library is a fount of information, whether it be printed page or electronic. Your library offers programs for people of all ages, library staff members are there to help you find what you need, all you need to do is ask someone for help.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The All of It

This "little" book packs a powerful punch.

The All of It, by Jeannette Haien, is set in a tiny Irish village, Roonatellin. When Kevin is near death, the local priest wants to know why Kevin and Edna never married, but "lived in sin". When Kevin reveals their secret, Father Declan de Lowry is surprised by what he hears, but realizes that they had reason to keep their secret.
I enjoyed this story, writing was thoughtful, and heartfelt.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians.
Great children's book, based on, you guessed it, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Children will enjoy the humor in this and it might even encourage the reluctant reader to pick up a book.
Will be reading this at a special event this week in Stanwood, Teddy Bears' Picnic.
Hope you will pick it up and give it a try.

"Rosenstrasse" the movie

Rosenstrasse, the movie.
This was a very interesting find at the library. According to historical fact, not all Germans, during the Nazi's reign, were anti-Semitic, especially those married to men or women of Jewish heritage.
This movie starts out in current day New York city, when a family is sitting Shiva for the death of the husband and father. Mother and daughter are unable to come to terms about the past. The daughter is determined to find out about her family's past, and so travels to modern day Berlin, to visit the woman who saved her mother. In doing so, a poignant story of love for a man and a child is unfolded.
The acting was outstanding.....
In German, with subtitles, but VERY easy to follow, after awhile I found that I was following the story more then the dialogue....
Hope you will consider this one.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman. What can I say about this book, first in the series, that hasn't already been said???
Philip Pullman based this series on Milton's "Paradise Lost", pretty heavy material for a children's series, but.......
Several years ago, when Mr Pullman was going to tour the USA for his final book in the series - The Amber Spyglass - bookstores across the country were given the opportunity to compete for their area to be the first stop on his tour. Well, five independent bookstores in the Stanwood/Mt. Vernon/Bellingham/Whidbey Island went together and wrote a proposal, lo and behold they won. So, Mr Pullman started his tour in Mt.Vernon, Washington, and because of my close association with the bookstore in Stanwood, I won a front row seat - actually right smack in front of Mr. Pullman. That was a very exciting evening to put it mildly. He autographed everyone's books, and since I had all three of the series, plus one I won, all of my first editions are autographed..... In addition, a dear friend of mine, who lives in England, sent me the English version of "The Amber Spyglass" which is very different from the American version.
I have read these books so many times, I am beginning to be able to quote them. This is about the only series of books that I enjoy listening to, as it has a cast with Mr. Pullman reading the narration.
These books are well written, very thought provoking, and very popular with young and old alike.
Some folks LOVE the Harry Potter books, but I can take them or leave them..... Mr. Pullman's books are MUCH better written and I would certainly want to have at least "The Golden Compass" with me, if I were stranded somewhere.
Hope you will consider - maybe you won't share my enthusiasm for them, maybe you will.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson

"Housekeeping" by Marilynne Robinson
This is one of my favorite books. This should have won a Pulitzer when it was first published, but since it was Marilynne's first book, well, it didn't.
My very best friend, roomed with Marilynne at the U of Washington some time ago. They still keep in touch, so, I was fortunate enough to have my first edition signed by Marilynne. Thank you, Marilynne.
The writing in this book is so utterly wonderful, I would really suggest that everyone give it a try.
Marilynne describes a large piece of driftwood at one point, I was absolutely stunned when one day walking on the beach on Camano Island, I happened upon the piece she had written about. Unfortunately, time as done a number on the driftwood, so one would probably not recognize it anymore.
The movie version was done about as faithfully as any I have ever seen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Everybody's Fine" the movie

Everybody's Fine

Watched this while the world was shooting off their fireworks. This was a really interesting movie, not light and fuzzy, but I am glad I watched it.
The cast did a marvelous job.
Robert DeNiro was so believable in this part. Sadly, he believes that his children are avoiding him, and in part they are, but they are trying to find out what has happened to the oldest son before he does. In fact, he realizes that something is going on, but what? At last they are able to come together as a family, the only thing he has wanted the whole time.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fourth of July

Fourth of July!
Have a safe and happy Fourth.
If only my neighbors would leave the fireworks show to the professionals, instead of trying to blow up our neighborhood!

"August Rush" the movie

Well, this is one of the most interesting "music" based movies. If the person playing the guitar really plays that way, well, they are truly Unique!
Robin Williams plays an especially wicked person, Freddie Highmore - August Rush - did a really good job as the young boy.
Hope you will give it a try.