- Bob Brozman, 1954-2013
Virtuoso guitarist who drank in the world’s musical culture from the Delta to Papua New Guinea
- Colin Davis, 1927-2013
Revered conductor in the English tradition
- Barrie Dobson, 1931-2013
Medieval historian who explored the origins and enduring appeal of the Robin Hood legend
- Stephen Dodgson, 1924-2013
Composer who played the horn but wrote mostly for the classical guitar
- Deanna Durbin, 1921-2013
Young star of Hollywood’s golden age who became the highest paid actress in the industry
- Roger Ebert, 1942-2013
Influential film critic
- Richie Havens, 1941-2013
Singer who opened Woodstock with a performance that defined the ‘peace and love’ ethos of the era
- Jocasta Innes, 1934-2013
Interior design guru and cookery writer who showed how to live elegantly on a shoestring
- Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, 1927-2013
Novelist and Merchant-Ivory screenwriter who, uniquely, was both a Booker Prize and an Oscar winner
- George Jones, 1931-2013
American country singer whose personal troubles provided raw material for his ballads
- Molly Lefebure, 1919-2013
Novelist and Coleridge expert who spent her wartime years investigating grisly Home Front deaths
- Diana Neutze, 1939-2013
Christchurch poet and author who lived four decades with multiple sclerosis
- Milo O’Shea, 1926-2013
Irish actor who starred in Ulysses and Barbarella and in TV shows Cheers and Frasier
- Eion Scarrow, 1931-2013
Veteran gardening personality
- Janos Starker, 1924-2013
Cello virtuoso who claimed that his phenomenal technique made him greater than Rostropovich
- Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013
Britain’s first woman Prime Minister
- Rodney Wilson, 1945-2013
NZ art gallery director and art critic
10 May 2013
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19 April 2013
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I learnt of a new genre this week and fell in love with a zombie for the second time. Zom-Rom-Com is a romantic comedy featuring a zombie as a leading romantic lead.
He’s cute, endearing and with a droll and funny sense of humour. He’s ‘R’ and he’s the zombie hero of Warm Bodies, a great Young Adult book by Isaac Marion that I really enjoyed last year, and is now a great new movie out in the theaters at present.
We have all got used to the lovable if troubled vampire, via the True Blood television series, the books it was based on by Charlene Harris, and of course the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer that spurned a generation of movie vampire heart throbs.
But Zombies? They eat people, and they’re dead, so where’s the appeal? R doesn’t remember his past, just a shuffling existence around a deserted airport terminal in a post apocalyptic world. The remaining humans who have been spared the virus that has turned most of the world to zombies are holed up in a fortress and when R meets Julie, the daughter of leader of the human resistance, something sparks his humanity and he spares her, and becomes determined to save her and in the process saves himself.
The humour is great. In the movie there is a scene where ‘R’ tries to remember what life was like before, his voice over talks of a romanticised view of people connecting, loving, enjoying each other’s company, and we find ourselves looking at a busy airport terminal where everyone is connected alright, but to phones, computers, i-pods, all together but disconnected.
In both the book and the movie, the horror that is usually at the core of Zombie-hood is not at the core of the story, but love, acceptance and taking risks for others are.
Warm Bodies is a great story and has been made into a great movie, a faithful film recreation of a unique written story that is often hard to find.
16 April 2013
My last blog lamented a book drought…it has ended with a small joy of a book. In The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, we meet Don Tillman. a geneticist living in Melbourne. Don tells us of his life, which is navigated using very strict, logical rules and boundaries which are obvious to all around him and the gentle reader, but strangely not by Don himself, as classic Autistic traits.
Schedules and routine make up his life, but he increasingly becomes aware that he should have a life partner, to enable him to fit in. He devises a 16 page questionnaire that he plans to use to narrow down his search and to enable him to find the perfect match.
Of course, as with life itself and all good romances, his course will not run smooth, and perhaps he will find his match where he least expects to.
Full of quirkiness and gentle humour, I found I really warmed to Don, and was hoping he’d find someone who ‘got him’ as he was, without him having to compromise too much of what made him interesting.
At a speed dating event, Don tries to apply his criteria to the women he meets:
Rather than ask about IQ, I decided to make an estimate based on Olivia’s responses to questions about historical impact of variations of susceptebility to syphilis across South American populations. We had a fascinating conversation, and I felt that the topic might even allow me to slip in the sexually transmitted diseases question.
I often sense the square pegs in our community feel pressured to fit in, when their unique take on life and their way of view of the world adds to society as a whole and to the lives of those around them.
If you are a fan of The Big Bang Theory, as I am, you’ll see a little of Sheldon in Don. It seems I’ve come across a few autistic spectrum heroes in my reading and viewing lately. The Bridge, a Scandinavian television crime drama, has a wonderful female lead, Saga Noren, whose detective brilliance is not bound by emotion or ties to others.
Of course there is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon. A wonderful murder mystery, narrated by Christopher Boone who has Aspergers.
The Rosie Project was a fun read, it had a light touch, driven by a search for love and acceptance and with an ending that made me go awww.
Have you read great books or watched movies about people who think outside the square, or refuse to fit the dreaded square hole? Do share!
30 March 2013
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11 February 2013
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Dust off your Daleks and polish up your Pokemon – Armageddon is early this year (9 and 10 March 2013). Our household is full of very earnest discussions about what shade of grey is acceptable for which character, and whether international shipping can be relied upon to deliver the necessary in time for the big weekend. The girl-child is attempting two different cosplay costumes, one from the insanely popular Homestuck online comic series, and the other from something that I am not even beginning to understand. There’s body-paint involved, and horns made out of papier-mache, and that’s all I care to know, frankly.
If you or your dear ones want to join the madness this year, fear not – the library has a range of resources to help sort out those pesky costume issues, study up on pop culture and comics, or just embrace your inner fanboy/girl.
- Search the catalogue for books about making your own costume.
- Check out our huge range of graphic novels and comics, if you’re looking for inspiration.
- Read about other people’s interesting obsessions – collecting, gaming, cosplay …
- See how other people did it – there’s heaps of photos on our Flickr pages.
- Explore the Armageddon website, and see who this year’s guest stars are, plan your pillow-fighting and pizza-eating schedule, and start saving your pennies for those collectible figurines.
And if all else fails, and inspiration is still lacking, travel back in time and read our reports from previous years’ Armageddon visits.
16 January 2013
My Christmas reading took a serious hit after being introduced to a certain television series on DVD. I had a plan, there were books to read, magazines to skim, recipes to make from borrowed cookbooks, but it all got cast aside for a good, long dose of murder, political intrigue and endless rain.
The Killing is a Danish TV series. It is about to start its third season in the UK, but you can find the first two seasons on the library shelves. It is completely enthralling, but it takes stamina, determination and a comfy chair. For the first season, you will dedicate yourself to 2o hours of viewing, with subtitles, which means you can’t wander off and make a cuppa while listening to the dialog and every minute you will have to watch (lesson learnt – you can’t ice the Christmas cake or check Facebook while watching it).
Now, this may seem like I’m trying to put you off, but I assure you, for your dedication you will be rewarded with a rich, involving series that actually engages the brain cells. Each episode leaves you thinking.. “What the…” and “But I thought…”. It has gone on to win a Bafta award and an International Emmy.
And at the end you’ll want to watch it all over again (almost) - to spot the red herrings, the connections between the characters and to find out who knew what when. You’ll also be struck by the sheer dreariness of a November in Copenhagen, boy does it rain! It looks like a fascinating and beautiful place, but I’d seriously look at a different time of year to visit.
The main character, Chief Inspector Sara Lund, is as laconic and tightly wound as a person could get. Her passion for wearing the same two jumpers throughout the episodes, has apparently spawned a cult following, with people now being able to buy replica home spun jumpers on-line. But at the end, you’ll be rooting for her as much as you’ll be frustrated by her.
As our catalog describes it:
As the investigation unfolds, Copenhagen opens up like a Chinese box, full of secrets and power struggles.
With Season Two, you’ll be rewarded with only 10 episodes to get through, but an equally enthralling story. I’m about to start reading How to be Danish: From Lego to Lund , hopefully this will enlighten me as to the city, the people and maybe even the weather?
Have you watched or did you give up at episode 3? Do you have a favourite series that just hooked you in?
26 October 2012
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Other cool stuff:
- About Halloween for adults and kids
- Books on spooky stuff and spooky stories
- Horror tales and movies, horror genre authors
See if your local library has their decorations up.
1 October 2012
5 October 2012 marks 50 years since the first James Bond movie was released. Dr No was the first of what will be 23 official James Bond movies (Skyfall is released next month) or 25 if you include two unofficial Bond movies produced in the 1967 (Casino Royale) and 1983 (Never Say Never Again). With over $12 billion in revenues (when adjusted for inflation) the Bond films have been a financial and cultural phenomenon. Who can say they have not heard of the expression “Bond, James Bond” or would fail to recognise the iconic theme tune? James Bond is associated with fast cars, beautiful women, gadgets, guns and adventure, not to mention the vodka martini, “shaken not stirred.”
Christchurch is part of the celebrations. The CBS Canterbury Arena is hosting a musical celebration on 4 October 2012: The music is Bond. James Bond.
What is the best James Bond movie of all time? It is hard to compare movies from 50 years ago to movies of today. It is tempting to choose a favourite Bond based on who has portrayed him (there have been six people play Bond). Or maybe you might pick a more recent release because it is relevant and production qualities appear better. I find myself having to consider them all to make a decision.
I would quite happily ignore all the Roger Moore movies as, although he brought in some humour and suaveness to the role, the movies were essentially rubbish and it still surprises me that the franchise didn’t stop there. Timothy Dalton’s tenure is vastly underrated – the films are better than Moore’s and in most cases, Pierce Brosnan’s. Casino Royale with Daniel Craig in the role was an excellent film, ditching the by now cliché gadgets and going for a more raw portrayal of the character, whilst amping up the action in an attempt to ward off the onslaught of franchises like Mission: Impossible and Bourne.
For me ‘Dr No’ is still one of the best, even with the ‘monster’ scene (it was moving so slowly, why didn’t he just move out of the way instead of being burnt to a crisp!?) but Goldfinger is my favourite Bond movie. It still had the rawness of the original Bond film and initiated the use of gadgets and one-liners we associate with the character including one of my favourites, “Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?” “No, Mr Bond… I expect you to die.” Here’s hoping that won’t happen and Bond will continue to entertain for another 50 years.
What is your favourite Bond movie and why?