Amadeus: Revisiting a Classic

“Are we going to appall you with something confidential and disgusting? Let’s hope so.”

So begins the trailer for the movie Amadeus, which you can watch here.

Amadeus tells the story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s professional life from the point of view of his rival, composer Antonio Salieri. Salieri narrates a tale that takes you through the different beginnings each man had, and how they wound up at the same palace in competing positions. This film also addresses the question of whether or not Salieri murdered Mozart.

This film is absolutely wonderful. The acting is superb, the settings are elaborate, the costumes are beautiful, and the music is, of course, top-notch. The only drawback to this film is the lack of historical accuracy. However, while this may not be anyone’s biography, it is still one of the best movies I have ever seen.

Did you know that F. Murray Abraham (Salieri) and Tom Hulce (Mozart) took lessons while filming so they could learn how to conduct and play the piano?

Also, the director chose relatively unknown actors (at the time) to play the roles because he wanted viewers to be able to think of the characters as actual people, not famous actors pretending to be characters.

Setting: The second-half of 18th-century Vienna.

Was this movie based on something?  It was based on a play, also called Amadeus. The plots of both are very similar.

What is this movie rated? R for brief nudity.

Is there any objectionable content? Yes, including, but not limited to, sexual content, crude jokes, on-screen deaths, and some violence. There are also scenes involving Salieri questioning and rejecting his religion.

Can children watch this? Not recommended for anyone younger than a teenager.

What themes are found in the movie? Religious devotion, music, rivalries, and the line between madness and genius.

Who would like this? Anyone who enjoys watching historical fiction, or who enjoys Mozart’s music. It is also great for people who love movies that have a lot of depth to them.

Rating: Five stars.

This movie is available as both a DVD and Blu-ray.  And don’t forget to check out the soundtrack!

If you’d like to know more about Mozart, click here. We have many books about the legendary composer and, of course, many CDs featuring his music.

Mysteries: Around the World in 80 Sleuths

I love mysteries that immerse the reader in another culture, so here is a short (won’t burden you with 80!) list of some of my favorites, all written by authors with a gift for conveying a strong sense of place. There is no Nordic noir on my list.  A dead body or two and a certain amount of violence are inevitable in all but the coziest of mysteries, but the Scandinavians tend to take it a little far for my taste. Plus I prefer that the majority of the characters in the books I read be people I would enjoy spending time with!  So make yourself a nice cup of tea and curl up with any one of these for a satisfying few hours of reading.

Tannie Maria mysteries by Sally Andrews.
Set in rural South Africa, Recipe for Love and Murder is the first in a series featuring Tannie Maria, a middle-aged widow who loves both to cook and eat and also writes a recipe and advice column for the Klein Karoo Gazette.  While assisting other people with their problems, Tannie Maria is forced to deal with her own–and with a murder to boot. Recipes included! The second novel in the series, The Satanic Mechanic, is due out at the end of March 2017.

Vish Puri, Most Private Investigator mysteries by Tarquin Hall.
Set in the colorful, crowded  metropolis of Delhi, this humorous series features the endearingly idiosyncratic detective Vish Puri (aka Chubby for reasons that will be obvious), India’s Most Private Investigator, and a boisterous cast of supporting characters including Puri’s irrepressible Mummi-ji and his operatives Tubelight, Facecream and Handbrake. Warning:  Do not read these books on an empty stomach, the descriptions of food are positively mouth-watering. No need to read in order.

Commissario Guido Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon. 
Venice is the setting for this best-selling series, which has been running for 25 years and captures the beauty, character and seamy underbelly of  life in this glorious city.  Brunetti is a good and intelligent man working to keep crime and injustice at bay in his beloved Venice.  You read these books as much for his musings and observations about daily life, his beloved family, politics and government as you do for the mysteries. The books are also celebrated for their mouth-watering descriptions of the food,  so much so that Donna Leon co-wrote a cookbook featuring some of the fabulous Venetian recipes referenced in her novels.  For long-time fans, reading the latest Donna Leon book is like a visit with old friends. Pick up any one in the series and start reading!

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny.
Set in Quebec, these books feature one of the most admirable men to ever command a police force. Or pretty much anything else.  Multilayered plots, a large and richly described cast of characters and lyrical writing characterize this series which is made even stronger by its incorporation of the complexities of bi-lingual and bi-cultural Quebec.  As one reviewer said, “few writers in any genre can match Penny’s ability to combine heartbreak and hope in the same scene.” Still Life is the first in the series of 12 books, which is best read in order.

The Highland Gazette Mystery Series by A. D. Scott.
Set in the northern Scottish Highlands in the 1950s, this series about a mystery-solving newspaper staff in a small town captures the changing world of post-war Scotland.  This series has everything I like–richly drawn characters, complicated relationships and well-developed backstories in a setting both beautiful and bleak.  Read this fine series in order–the first one is A Small Death in the Great Glen.  There are 6 books in all and the author is working on the seventh.  As a bonus, you will meet members of the Highland Travelers, an indigenous group similar to the Romani in Europe.

Bruno, Chief of Police mysteries by Martin Walker.
A small village in the Dordogne region of south-central France is the setting for this series, featuring Benoit “Bruno” Courreges, a soldier-turned-policeman who would rather tend his garden or whip up a gourmet meal than use his gun or arrest a suspect.  Part of the pleasure of these richly satisfying mysteries is the contrast between the traditional rhythms of life in a French village and the terrors of the modern world.  You may miss a few details if you read this series out of order, but it will not dampen your pleasure in the slightest.

Emily Dickinson said it best:  “There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away…”

Ceòl na h-Alba (Music of Scotland)

wallacesco-368349William Wallace is a Scots folk hero who, it is believed, was born around April of 1270. Wallace was a Knight who fought for Scottish independence from English rule, and was immortalized in the Oscar-winning film Braveheart, at least in name. Braveheart, while an entertaining drama, is about as factual on Scottish history as a tub of Cool Whip is the equivalent to Whipped Cream.

Braveheart’s soundtrack, while pleasant,  is also a modern composition, in the style of 468e4c6be98b994f6e8abf87e1f95732Scottish music but not containing a single actual Scots tune. This begs a greater question: what’s the difference between Scottish Music and Irish Music? Aren’t they the same, but with bagpipes? The question might just get you decked for saying that.

Truth is, they are quite similar, passing traditions back and forth. If you listen to folk steeped in the music, there are subtle differences in rhythms, traditional Scots music tends to be in the key of A (there’s only so much you can do on a bagpipe), while the Irish prefer drums and the key of D. Scots tunes tend to be more “snappy,” while the Irish are more “driving” (the Clancy Brothers version of “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye” all but jumps out and strangles you through the speakers). But, as in anything, the styles change song to song. Each will tell you theirs is better.

brigadoonIrish music tends to be better known for several reasons. Far more people have emigrated from Ireland than Scotland, a country with the same population as Dallas-Fort Worth. The Irish tended to have more children than the Scots, so they beat them on sheer numbers as well. Many of Scotland’s great ballads get lumped in with English, but Scottish music is far from unknown. Amazing Grace, played on bagpipes though it’s an English hymn, is a funeral standard. Pipe bands are often a staple of parades. There is the Broadway play Brigadoon by Lerner and Loewe, complete with kilts and dancing. There’s a 1954 film version, but even for its day it’s rather awful. If any film needs a full Hollywood reboot, this one is 60 years overdue.

If Ancient Scottish Ballads aren’t your thing, and you think bagpipes sound like boiling rodstewartdm1306_468x431witches, there’s a much better chance you’ve enjoyed modern Scottish music. So many of the songs we hear today and think of as American or British acts are actually the work of Scots, since accents aren’t always that obvious in song. Perhaps the best known Son of Scotland would be Rod Stewart, the gravel-voiced rock singer who worked his way from rock to swing music. Annie Lennox of The Eurythmics is a Scottish lass. Sheena Easton, KT Tunstall, Mark Knopfler, now solo but formerly the lead singer of Dire Straits, David Byrne of The Talking Heads, the folk group The Corries, Average White Band, and current smooth hit-maker Paolo Nutini (yeah, that had me fooled, too – his father was Italian, his mother Scotch, and he was born in Scotland). Add in Ian Anderson (lead singer for Jethro Tull), Lulu (you might remember her for the theme from the Bond film “Man With the Golden Gun”), Big Country (a one-hit wonder in America), Gerry Rafferty, Simple Minds, and the Celtic folk group Capercaillie.

200px-wallace_tartan_vestiarium_scoticumThat’s a lot of tartan pride!

So whether you like traditional Celtic folk, the plaintive reels of a good piper, or feel like rocking out to Maggie May, sit back and raise a pint to old William Wallace, a patriot who died keeping his country and culture from being lumped with Ireland and England.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in April

We’re springing into April with so many great programs for kids, teens & adults, we can’t fit them all here! Check our event calendar for the full list of programs coming up this month.

indexGeology of Cheshire

Monday Apr 3, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

Ever wonder how Cheshire got its ridges?  Learn about the geologic changes that have shaped the diverse and interesting topography of Cheshire.  Presented by Dr. Charles Dimmick, Professor of Geology, Emeritus.  Sponsored by the Cheshire Planning Department and Cheshire Public Library. Registration is required.

robin-mccahill-e1486659456246-225x300Kids Puppet Making Series

Wednesdays,  April 5, 12, 19, and 26, 4:00  –  5:00 PM

Learn to make puppets using unique and everyday items.  Robin McCahill, local artist at Artsplace, will be our artist in residence leading this workshop on puppet making.  Visit www.artsplacecheshirect.org/ to learn more about Artsplace and the other programs artists like Robin McCahill offer.  This is a 4-week long series, meeting April 5, 12, 19, and 26.  You only need to sign up once to attend all four.  Due to the cost of this program please try to attend all four sessions.  For students in grades K-2, registration is required beginning March 22 for Cheshire residents and March 29 for all others.

poetry-open-micPoetry Open Mic Morning

Saturday Apr 8, 2017, 10:00 AM  –  12:00 PM

Celebrate National Poetry Month with an open mic morning! Teens and adults are welcome to bring their own original poetry to share, recite a poem by a classic author, or just sit back and enjoy the verses. We’ll have tea and coffee available, and we’ll set out some poetry books and resources to peruse for inspiration. No registration required.

bill_96Pysanky Egg Decorating Workshop

Saturday Apr 8, 2017, 2:00  –  4:00 PM

Come learn the art of Pysanky Egg decorating from the egg lady Sharon Leonard. This form of Ukrainian egg decorating uses special wax and color to make beautiful eggs.  Each participant will be able to go home with one decorated egg.  This program is for adults and has limited seating, registration is required.

captureCurious George Party

Monday Apr 10, 2017, 10:30  –  11:30 AM

Join us for a party to celebrate our favorite little monkey, Curious George! We will sing, dance, and read some stories about George and his adventures. Curious George will make a special appearance and pose for photos with his friends! For children of all ages and their families. Registration required beginning Monday March 20.

opener-720x487Foraging and Eating Invasive Plants

Tuesday Apr 11, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

Join The 3 Foragers, a family that forages for wild, natural, organic food.  This program will highlight edible invasive plants.  Do your part to reduce invasive plants by eating them! The 3 Foragers eat garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, Rugosa roses, autumn olives, wineberry, sheep sorrel, dandelions, black locust blossoms, and yellow groove bamboo.  Never eat anything from the wild without first consulting an expert! Please forage responsibly. Educate yourself, and have fun. Registration is required.

Community Connections

Wednesday Apr 19, 2017, 12:00  –  2:00 PM

The Cheshire Public Library is pleased to announce a new program that we have started entitled Community Connections. This program connects civic minded individuals with community agencies to perform skilled volunteer projects.  Enjoy lunch provided by the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library while you meet other civic minded folks and talk with local non-profits and government agencies about volunteer opportunities available. Please register in advance (so we know how much food to get!).

back-pain-1911009_1280Exercises to Treat and Manage Low Back Pain

Saturday Apr 22, 2017, 2:00 PM

Whether mild or severe, short-term or long-term, low back pain can greatly affect your daily life. If low back pain is affecting your daily life or if you want to learn the top causes of back pain join Kirsten Albrecht as she explains common causes of back pain and shares exercises to stretch and strengthen your back. Registration is required.

jacket-aspxBirds; Their Side of the Story…

Tuesday Apr 25, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

John Himmelman is a children’s book/natural history author and illustrator, who has written and illustrated about 80 books since 1981.  He is an avid bird watcher and served as president of the New Haven Bird Club for two years. He will share light-hearted stories of birds and bird watching – from cuisine to cartoons, ornaments to icons, murmurs to murders. Registration is required.

6daf3aa1b259c15f3e788bca1ac6b5a7Taekwondo

Wednesday Apr 26, 2017, 6:00 PM

Join Cheshire resident Master Jonguk Jang for an introductory Tae Kwon Do (also known as Taekwondo) class for adults. Learn about the fascinating history of Taekwondo and its physical and mental benefits such as focus, self-control, confidence, stress release, flexibility and self-defense, as well as an introduction to various fundamental skills and techniques. Registration is required.

dia-banner-imageDía de Los Niños Celebration

Friday Apr 28, 2017, 10:00  –  11:00 AM

Celebrate El día de los niños / El día de los libros (Children’s Day / Book Day) with a multicultural storytime! Día is celebrated on April 30 to emphasize the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Tom Colicchio – Chef Extraordinaire, TV Host, and Author

tomTom Colicchio is a well-known American chef.  He co-founded the Gramercy Tavern in New York City and was the executive chef.  He also is the founder of Crafted Hospitality, which includes Craft, Riverpark, Fowler & Wells, Craftbar, Craftsteak, Beachcraft and Heritage Steak restaurants.  He is the recipient of five James Beard Foundation Awards.   I was introduced to him via the Emmy award winning television show on Bravo, Top Chef.  That I would be watching a cooking show is very funny because I don’t, and I can’t, cook.  I can read a recipe, but executing it becomes an inedible, unsightly disaster no matter how hard I try.  You would think I’d get frustrated or bored watching a cooking show, but Mr. Colicchio is the perfect host for this fast-paced competition among a varied collection of American chefs.

Mr. Colicchio has come out with a new cookbook that will appeal to the hearts of sandwich lovers.  It is listed below, along with a few other cookbooks he has had his hand in.  Also listed, a powerful documentary film he produced on hunger in America.

wichwichcraft: craft a sandwich into a meal…and a meal into a sandwich –  Shares the secrets behind the ‘wichcraft restaurant group’s spin on the sandwich, with recipes for their most popular offerings,essays on stocking the sandwich pantry, and an interview with the owners.

 

eatEat Like A Man: the only cookbook a man will ever need – “So long, dude food. Most men who love food have a roasting pan and a decent spice rack, but they’re still looking for that one book that has all the real food they love to eat and wish they could cook. Esquire food editor Ryan D’Agostino is here to change that with his unapologetically male-centric Eat Like a Man–a choice collection of 75 recipes and food writing for men who like to eat, cook, and read about great food. It’s the Esquire man’s repertoire of perfect recipes, essays on how food figures into the moments that define a man’s life, and all the useful kitchen points every man needs to know. Satisfying, sexy, definitive, and doable, these are recipes for slow Sunday mornings with family, end-of-the-week wind-down dinners with a lady, Saturday night show-off entertaining, poker night feeds, and game-day couch camping. Or, for when a man is just hungry”–

smartSmart Chefs Stay Slim: lessons in eating and living from America’s best chefs – Celebrity chefs including Michelle Bernstein, Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio, and Giada de Laurentis provide answers to the often-asked question of how they stay so thin and fit when their occupation clearly is based on their love of indulging in food.

 

tecTen: All the foods we love and ten perfect recipes for each – Identifying thirty-two of our favorite foods, from roast chicken and burgers to mashed potatoes and cakes, a innovative cookbook presents ten variations of each food in a collection of more than three hundred recipes, many contributed by such leading chef s as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, and others.

placeA Place At The Table (DVD) – 50 Million Americans—1 in 4 children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. A Place at the Table tells the powerful stories of three such Americans, who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat. In a riveting journey that will change forever how you think about the hungry, A Place at the Table shows how the issue could be solved forever, once the American public decides—as they have in the past—that ending hunger is in the best interests of us all.