Libraries are Avenues to Art

Today’s post is brought to us by Bill, Head of Adult Services.

Why is art so important to individuals and society?

  • We use art to create and express ourselves.
  • Art is a part of our culture and reflects the society in which it was created.
  • We become more mindful when we create and view art – it allows us to slow down in a fast-paced world, increasing our self-awareness.
  • Art encourages critical thinking as we interpret what we see and then communicate our thoughts to others.
  • Art has no language barriers – it is a universal form of communication regardless of one’s culture.
  • Art can inspire, please  and motivate us, and influence our daily lives. It makes us think and feel in new ways.

Public Libraries are a great place to experience art and artists for free. From art books, concerts, exhibits, and programs, your public library brings many different forms of art to the community.

Art speaks to individuals in many different ways. To that end, we are hosting a community art discussion with the Mattatuck Museum of Waterbury on Monday, December 16, 2:00 p.m.   The museum is looking to engage area residents in discussions based upon some of its exhibitions. Valerie Rodgers, Lead Museum Educator, will present this discussion using images of paintings, artworks, archival photographs and more!

Have you ever visited the Mattatuck Museum lately? Cheshire residents can check out a museum pass which gives two adults and accompanying children free admission. The museum exhibits American art and cultural history – with a focus on the history of the Naugatuck Valley and the artists of Connecticut, using its history collections to tell the community’s stories and to collaborate with neighborhood associations, ethnic organizations and manufacturing groups.

Art is everywhere, and your library can bring it to you!

Susan’s Best Reads of 2019

I don’t read as much as I wish I could; I just don’t have time at the moment. It doesn’t help that I wind up with sometimes 600 page books in my hands, and those take longer.  I never know what I’ll read next, and I read a bunch of good ones last year. Here are some of my favorites:

One of the two best books I read this year, I’ve already blogged about: Creativity, Inc, by Ed Catmull, was amazing. Not just a history of Pixar films, it’s also the best darned, most entertaining book on business and employee management you will read. Pixar is a 5-star company for a reason.

The second of my Best Reads this year is The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James.  From approximately 1898 to 1912, a serial killer traversed the US by train – coming through New Haven’s Union Station on the way – with an MO of bludgeoning his victims with the back of an axe. Because of communications at the time, few people were able to connect the murders. James painstakingly, with the utmost detail, traces the dozens of murders and examines them, deciding if they were likely by the same killer or not, and why. He traces the paths through the states and the seasons, chasing the trail to a man who was most likely the killer. By the time he’s done, you are convinced and amazed. I could not stop reading this book. I read it while waiting for the school bus. I read it while cooking. I would have read it in the shower if I could have. If you love a mystery, if you love history, if you love crime stories, this book is a must.

I’m only 30 years late in reading Neuromancer, the Hugo-winning cyberpunk novel by William Gibson. I can see why it is held as one of the greatest novels of our time. Gibson predicts and writes about today’s modern computers and internet and gaming – long before they existed. The scenarios he describes are both familiar and futuristic at the same time. While not only visionary, it’s written in  a flawless style and with realistic, interesting characters. If you loved Ready Player One or The Matrix (which has to have been influenced by this book), you will love Neuromancer.

If you’re aware of social and racial issues, I strongly recommend Survival Math, by Mitchell S. Jackson. A professor of writing, in achingly beautiful prose worthy of Martin Luther King Jr., with the voice of a preacher without being preachy, Johnson breaks down the issues faced in his own family, examining how he came to where he is, how racism played into it without even being visible, and how despite all the odds, it’s possible to thrive. He covers harsh topics without flinching. The book is brilliant, spellbinding, and a superb read from a voice that soars with truth.

Far more than I expected, I loved Total Recall, an older door-stop of a biography on Arnold Schwarzenegger. From his birth in a tiny town in Austria (which still has only 2500 people) to his divorce from Maria Shriver, Arnold is witty and candid and down to Earth. No matter what you think of his politics or his movies or his personal life, this book may be older, but it was highly entertaining. His best friend just died in September of this year.

Not my favorite, but worth mentioning because of its local importance, is Frog Hollow  by Susan Campbell. Campbell, a former reporter with the Hartford Courant, digs into the history of the notorious Frog Hollow section of Hartford, and through tireless research shows the former glory of the neighborhood as not only an important area in Colonial times, but once a major manufacturing center (in 1898, Pope automotive made half the cars in the US). I was hoping for a deep sociologic dissection of the issues, but instead Campbell gives us an upbeat view from street level about the good aspects of Hartford and the people who live there, not just the doom and gloom of ad-selling news clips.

Last but not least, I’ll throw in a kid’s series you probably missed; with 18 years between my last two kids, I certainly did, but my youngest is so hooked on the British easy reader series Urgency Emergency! by Dosh Archer, I wound up buying most of them. The series is so witty and enjoyable you don’t mind reading them over and over again. Doctor Glenda, Nurse Percy, and the Pengamedics, in predictable melodrama, assist the maladies of Humpty Dumpty, The Big Bad Wolf, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and many more. They are a delight. The library has several of the stories; be sure to read them all!

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in December

It may be cold outside, but we’ve got some hot programming this month at CPL. Check it out:

New Movie Thursday ~ Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2019)

Did you miss the screening of a film you wanted to see in theatres?  Join us for the first Thursday of the month for a screening of a recently released film.  This month’s film is Where’d You Go, Bernadette, rated PG-13 and starring Cate Blanchett. Registration appreciated for this adult program.

The Nutcracker performed by Brass City Ballet

Saturday, December 7, 2019, 1:00pm and 3:00pm

Brass City Ballet celebrates the magic of Christmas in a live, narrated performance of The Nutcracker. Children and adults will delight in the story of Clara and her journey through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of the Sweets where she meets the Sugar Plum Fairy and all her delicious treats. Please register for either the 1:00 show, or the 3:00 show.

Holiday Concert with Boogie Chillun’

Sunday, December 8, 2019, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Celebrate the season with Boogie Chillun’!    This special concert will engage and captivate adults and kids alike with interactive sing-a-long seasonal holiday songs from multiple traditions. No registration required.

DIY Ornament Making (All Ages)

Thursday, December 12, 2019, 5:30 – 7:30pm

Join us for a evening of DIY ornament making!  All materials will be provided by the library and each participant will leave with one completed ornament. Stop in anytime between 5:30 and 7:30pm. Light refreshments will be served.  Registration is required.

Play & Learn

Saturday, December 14, 2019, 10:00 – 11:00am

Our drop-in play group for children and their caregivers! Children and their caregivers explore interactive and sensory activities together, encouraging the development of early literacy skills.  We will have lots of movement, songs, and a short storytime during the last 20 minutes of the program. Best for ages 2 to 5 years old, no registration required.

Mattatuck Museum Community Art Discussion

Monday, December 16, 2019, 2:00 – 3:30pm

The Mattatuck Museum is looking to engage area residents in a community art discussion based upon some of our exhibitions. Valerie Rodgers, Lead Museum Educator, will present this discussion using images of paintings, artworks, archival photographs and more! Registration is required.

Homeschool Meetup

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Meet other local families who are educating their children and teens at home while sharing tips, ideas, and educational materials. Please register each child or teen separately.

Terrific Tweens: Let’s Make Wishing Bracelets!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Kids in grades 5-8 are invited for fun with art, science, technology, and games. Today we’ll decorate paper beads on one side with crayons, markers or pencils, and then write a wish on the other. Then we’ll roll them up, string them together and wish for good things! No registration required.

Books Over Coffee: Snow Child

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Eat lunch with friends? Join us for an adult monthly book club. We’ll meet from 12-1:30 in The Loft to discuss the selected title. Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is our December selection. You bring your lunch, we’ll provide the coffee and tea. Registration is required.

Trivia Night

Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Come by yourself of bring friends. Test your knowledge of categories including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course, literature. It’s all for pride, not for prize. Registration is required for this adult program. When registering please register entire group from one person to a max five people.

Holiday Wrapping Event

Thursday, December 19, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Do you have many presents to wrap this holiday season?  Need a place to spread out?  Need to get away from prying eyes?  Join us for a holiday wrapping event.  Each participant will have a table, 1 roll of paper, scissors and tape.  Feel free to bring your own supplies but please note you must complete your wrapping by 8PM. Space is limited for this fun event, Registration will take place two weeks before and tea/coco will be offered.

DIY Holiday Cards and Gift Bags (All Ages)

Monday, December 23, 2019, 5:00 – 6:30pm

Need a last minute gift bag? Forgot to grab holiday cards? We got you covered! The library will provide all sorts of materials and tools to create one-of-a-kind holiday cards and giftbags. Light refreshments will be provided. Registration is required.

Movies @ the Library: Elf (2003)

Thursday, December 26, 2019, 2:00 – 3:45pm

Don’t be a cotton-headed ninny-muggins! Make sure you bring the whole family for a screening of the movie, Elf (2003)!  Popcorn will be served. All ages are welcome. Runtime: 97 minutes, rated PG. No registration required.

 

 

 

Sci-Fi at the Movies

Harold our sci-fi-guy is going to the movies in today’s blog post!

Science fiction is an extremely popular film and video genre and the Library has a sizeable collection of sci-fi movies, videos, and television programs.

If the Force is with you, you can check out a film from the most successful film series of all times: George Lucas’ Star Wars. The library has every Star Wars movie on DVD.  My favorite is: Episode V, The Empire Strikes BackThe library also has a collection of Star Wars novels that have spun off from the films.

You can share in the voyages of the Starship Enterprise with Star Trek.  The library has many of the Star Trek movies and television shows in their catalog including one of the most acclaimed Star Trek films: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  I enjoy all of them, but one of my favorites is Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The library also has the complete first season of the new Star Trek Discovery Series along with a great collection of Star Trek books that span all the Star Trek television series and movies.

If more contemporary science fiction movies are more your style, there are some great ones on the shelves at the Cheshire Public Library. Some favorites:

Arrival debuted in 2016. It stars Amy Adams as a linguistic professor recruited by the U.S. Army to figure out how to communicate with intelligent aliens who have landed on earth. It is based on the 1998 short story Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang that is available from the Library as a downloadable audio book. His book of short stories, Exhalation, is also well worth reading.

Ex Machina is a 2014 British science fiction film. IMDB.com says that it is about “A young programmer [who] is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid A.I.”

Gravity – This 2013 critically acclaimed film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as American astronauts who are stranded in space because of a Shuttle accident and their attempt to return to Earth. It received 10 Oscar nominations and the Golden Globe Award for Best Director along with the 2013 Ray Bradbury Award.

The Martian – This 2015 film one of my favorites. Directed by Ridley Scott, it is a modern-day Robinson Crusoe story about an astronaut, played by Matt Damon, who is stranded on Mars and his efforts to survive. It is based on the book by Andy Weir that is also and available in print and as an audiobook at the library.

Here are some other great science fiction movies that are available at the CPL:

If you have some favorites that I have missed that are in the library’s collection, let me know and I will add them to a future blog.

 

10 Comedies That’ll Make You Cry

Oh, they’ll sneak up on you. You’ll be chuckling along with a funny movie when suddenly – hey, what’s that lump in your throat all about? They get you when your guard is down, those comedies with little bits of sadness tucked in. If you’re looking for a movie that’ll make you laugh AND tug at your heartstrings, I’ve got just the list for you:

Planes, Trains , and Automobiles. This Steve Martin/John Candy movie could be called an anti-buddy-comedy. Forced by circumstances to travel together (via planes, trains… you can guess the rest) from New York to Chicago at Thanksgiving time, Neal (Martin) can’t wait to be rid of the over-exuberant Del (Candy), but then softens when he learns more of Del’s story.

Big . Tom Hanks plays a boy who wakes up in the body of a grown man. Hanks is adorable as the suddenly “big” Josh trying to navigate in the adult world. Watch out for the ending, though, have tissues ready!

Sideways. Melancholy Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his more gregarious friend Jack (Thomas Haden Church)  through wine country on a buddy-trip before Jack ties the knot. Lots of wine and hi-jinks ensue, revealing much about the lead characters. Miles can be a real “Debby Downer”, which is played to comedic effect, but some of the realizations on this boy’s trip are a little more melancholy.

The Bucket List. Ok, with a title like this you could probably guess that something sad might be on the horizon. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman mine the situation laughs, though, as a billionaire and a mechanic who share a hospital room after being diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Working on a list of things they want to do before they die becomes a healing exercise for both.

Click. Wait, this is an Adam Sandler movie. There’s no crying in Adam Sandler movies! Well, get ready to be proven wrong. In this movie Sandler plays a workaholic husband and father who finds a remote control device that lets him pause, fast-forward, and rewind events in his life.  Of course, he comes to many realizations, mainly that the things that he thought were important in his life, aren’t.

In Bruges. This comedy about a suicidal hit man is admittedly pretty dark, but the writing and performances in this film really pull you in, and the scenes between the hit man Ray (Colin Farrell) and his partner (Brendon Gleeson) can be particularly affecting.

Little Miss Sunshine. Dysfunctional family road trip! Everyone is this family has issues, but they all pile into a barely-working van to drive young Olive (wonderfully played by Abigail Breslin) to compete in the Little Miss Sunshine contest. Funny moments are peppered with poignant ones, and you’re bound to tear up at least once along the way.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Another road trip movie. Why are road trips the perfect vehicle for sad comedies? In this one, an unstoppable asteroid is hurtling toward Earth and certain annihilation. What to do in the days you have left? One man (Steve Carrell) decides to drive off and find his high school sweetheart before the world ends. He’s joined on his quest by his quirky neighbor (Keira Knightly), and hilarity ensues. But there’s still that asteroid out there…

WALL-E. In this animated movie from Pixar, WALL-E is a trash-collecting robot on a deserted and ravaged planet Earth. After years alone on the planet, another robot suddenly appears,  giving WALL-E a new purpose. Funny and endearing, you’ll root for the little guy as he tries to interact with his environment and save the future of the planet.

Up. All right, Pixar, enough with the heartstring-pulling! A retired balloon salesman rigs up his house with thousands of balloons, and he (and his house) sail off into the sunset. Except he has a stowaway, an eight-year-old Wilderness Explorer Scout named Russell. The unlikely duo have many adventures along the way, and of course learn many valuable lessons about life and love.