Locked and loaded for the Zombie Apocalypse

Cover of Zombie SurvivalIt’s Zombie Awareness Month. Do you know where your cricket bat/lawnmower/blunt object of choice is?

No, but seriously, it IS zombie awareness month. What’s more, it’s nearly over and I haven’t even revised my evacuation plan or topped up the first aid kit in case of the Zombie Apocalypse. I deserve to get my brains munched, frankly.

But fear not! For your library is practically overflowing with zombie-related reading and viewing. So here are my picks of the best of the shambling undead.

Watch

Better check out some fight sequences and bone up on your best zombie combat moves –

  • The Walking Dead – We’re between seasons with everyone’s favourite zombie horror TV series, but why not got back and rewatch the first season before Rick went feral and facial hair took over his face? You know, back when the post-apocalyptic world was a kinder, gentler, better groomed place.
  • Warm BodiesCover of Warm bodies – A zombie as a romantic lead? Seems a bit unlikely but that’s the premise of this film starring Nicholas Hoult of TV show Skins.
  • World War Z – Where the zombies are fast and really good at climbing, the little monkeys. But are they a match for Brad Pitt in “action” mode? Well, they give it a good try at least…
  • I am Legend – Not technically zombies because they’re not dead (much like the ones in World War Z) but if you spend time quibbling about such distinctions during the apocalypse you’ll likely become someone’s afternoon tea, so just enjoy the ride (and make note of Will Smith’s survival skills and strategies).
  • Shaun of the dead (we’ve got this as a double-DVD combo with Hot Fuzz). Just the rom-zom-com to lighten the mood a touch.

Read

Board up the windows and hunker down with some reading material –

Make

No actual zombies around just at the moment? Make your own with the following crafty titles –

I think you’ll agree that’s plenty to be getting on with, but if you’ve got an hot tips for zombie reading or preparedness please do make suggestions.

The role of the critic – Wystan Curnow and Peter Holland at the Auckland Writers Festival

Cover of The Critic's partShakepeare critic – and doppelganger – Peter Holland, and New Zealand art critic Wystan Curnow were on stage with Rosabel Tan, editor of the awesome must-read Pantograph Punch. This was a meaty and intellectual session to kick off my Auckland Writers Festival.

There was much to ponder on and unpack – the idea of critic as a mediator, the differences between criticism and reviewing, understanding, judgement, objectivity.

Peter Holland talked about “reviewing for history”:

I want to know that moment.

He had an appropriately Shakespearean reference on hand  to explain the role of the critic “to help other people see best”:

See better, Lear.

Wystan Curnow’s sense is that:

The really dedicated critic is full of desire for the work.

Both have difficulties with the word “critic” and people’s perception of it. “The word is a slippery one” said Peter.

It’s so easy to be rude …sneering puns and jokes, that’s the reviewer showing off.

Neither felt it necessary to be a “put the boot in” kind of critic. Both prefer the critic’s role to be one of explanation, elucidation, focus, and mediation.

Wystan said:

What you don’t write about is in itself a judgement.

In Auckland Writers Festival sessions, not only do you come away wanting to read – or re-read – the books by the presenters, you get some topnotch reading tips. Peter’s suggestions:

Other comments

Auckland Writers Festival

How Marvel-lous

Cover of Avengers the ultimate guideThe Marvel Cinematic Universe, or MCU as it’s known in the geeksphere, continues to grow with the recent release of blockbuster action movie The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And it won’t stop there. We’re currently in Phase Two, with further films and spin-offs due for release from next year.

What makes the MCU so interesting is that rather than simply being a disparate series of films (and television shows) featuring different super heroes who happen to originate from the same comic book company, there are multiple character crossovers between the films (both starring and supporting), and tantalising hints in post-credit sequences of future instalments. There is a master plan at work and it’s increasingly hard to keep a track of.

For those of you feeling a little overwhelmed by all the superheroes (and who wouldn’t?), I’ve prepared a crib sheet so you can navigate your way around the MCU with confidence.

Phase One

Phase One of the MCU officially began back in 2008 with the first Iron Man movie.

Cover of Iron Man the ultimate guide to the armoured super heroCover of The invincible Iron ManCover of Ultimate Iron Man II

Cover of The Incredible Hulk, Planet HulkThe Incredible Hulk film followed (the one with Ed Norton). Norton was supposed to continue playing the Hulk through The Avengers movies but “talks broke down” and he was replaced in later outings by Mark Ruffalo. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For those of you who like your Hulk more “bodybuilder in green paint” than “CGI motion capture”, we have four seasons of the TV series on DVD.

The next films in the series were Iron Man 2 in 2010 and Thor in 2011.
Thor introduced fan-favourite, Loki.

Cover of Thor God of ThunderCover of Thor the mighty avengerCover of New ultimates Thor rebornCover of Thor the trials of Loki

2011 also brought us the first Captain America film (curious “Cap” fans may want to check out the 1970s TV series).

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Phase One ended in 2012 with the first Avengers film which brought Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and Captain America together and added Black Widow and Hawkeye in for good measure. We also got our first look at villian, Thanos.

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Phase Two

Cover of Thor: the dark world preludePhase Two kicked off in 2013 with Iron Man 3 and was quickly followed by Thor sequel, Thor: The Dark World.

Also in 2013, the first series of Marvel’s Agents of Shield aired which followed on from events in The Avengers movie and features recurring film character, Agent Coulson.

In 2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released as was box office smash Guardians of the Galaxy (which included more screentime for Thanos). The retro vibe of the movie soundtrack album meant it was just as popular as the film.

Cover of Guardians of the galaxy volume 1Cover of Guardians of the galaxy cosmic avengers volume 1Cover of Guardians of the galaxy volume 3 guardians disassembledCover of Guardians of the galaxy

On television Marvel’s Agents of Shield returned in 2014 and events that took place during The Winter Soldier continued to have repercussions in the show’s second season. Though it stands on its own the series contains ideas and story arcs that are likely to make an appearance in the Marvel films. Recent episodes of the show (as yet unscreened in New Zealand) have been coordinated to set up the opening of The Avengers sequel.

A further television series, Marvel’s Agent Carter, features Peggy Carter from the first Captain America movie who has also appeared in Marvel’s Agents of Shield episodes in flashback. There’s a lot of “interweaving” in the MCU.

Meanwhile, Netflix series Marvel’s Daredevil has also recently been released.

Cover of Daredevil volume 2Cover of Daredevil the man without fear volume 9 King of hell's kitchenCover of Daredevil volume 6Cover of Daredevil end of days

Cover of Avengers Rage of UltronCover of Avengers battle against UltronSo far this year on the movie front we’ve had The Avengers: Age of Ultron but Ant-man is expected in a few months’ time.

 

Phase Three

Looking forward to Phase Three which roughly spans 2016-2019, there is a third Captain America instalment planned, a second Guardians of the Galaxy, and a third Thor film.

A Marvel’s Agents of Shield spin-off TV series has just been announced, and there will be an Avengers “Infinity War” two-parter which may or may not involve The Avengers and Guardians gangs crossing paths.

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Cover of Captain Marvel volume 2 downOn the schedule are also a highly anticipated female super hero film, Captain Marvel, as well as Black Panther, Doctor Strange, and Inhumans.

Phew.

And if you’re all “Marvel-ed out” now, I don’t blame you. Though if you’re keen for more hot comic action, it’s Free Comic Book Day tomorrow so get amongst, either at your local comic book store or at our Papanui Library event.
Otherwise, why not just sit back and enjoy Jeremy Clint Barton/Hawkeye Renner singing about being the least super of the super heroes?

What do Hollywood and libraries have in common?

You may not think there is a lot in common between a library and Hollywood.  We may not be as glamorous as the likes of Angelina Jolie or Jamie Dornan, but where would they be without Unbroken and 50 shades of grey?

However it isn’t just books that we have in common, it is our need to keep up with The Next Big Thing, and nothing typifies this more than and diet and exercise industry. You may have just come to grips with the low-fat ideology which has spawned the likes of low-fat bacon for goodness sake, only to now be told now that butter is good!

Paleo is still huge and cavemen everywhere must be beating their clubs with glee as there seems to be a never-ending plethora of books published in this area. Fasting is also popular although having holidayed with someone when they were on their fasting days was a pretty unpleasant experience, and one I don’t wish to repeat. Of course you can also use this time to detox using juices and smoothies, or you could munch your way a plate of raw food. It would seem that actually cooking food is akin to devil worship in some circles!

ECover of Embrace the suckxercise has also gone through a variety of Metamorphoses over the years. Jane Fonda feeling the burn has now been replaced by so-called gyms or  “boxes” where you push around tires and lift heavy chains. Perhaps all that paleo has indeed turned us into cavemen/women?

HIIT is  also big, High Intensity Interval training … gone are the days of slogging it out on the treadmill for hours on end. It’s all fast and intense now, perhaps better for the time hungry?

Craft is another area that is trend focused.  Fancy a bit of scrapbooking/mosaic/ beading? Well actually no, now it is all about quilting, knitting and a side of crochet, and if you branch out into the vintage aspect of things all the better.

Cover of Yarn, yarn, yarnYou may have thought hacking involved some sort of illegal action with computers, however now we have life hacks: Any Procedure or Action That Solves a Problem, Simplifies a Task, Reduces Frustration, Etc. in One’s Everyday Life.

This has been big on social media so we should expect more books on this subject in the next while.

It’s Oscar Time!

Cover of American SniperOscar nominations have been announced, you can catch up on lots of them from the Library before the February 22 ceremony (Monday 23 in NZ), as well as the books they are based on:

Best Picture nominees

American Sniper (based on this book by Chris Kyle) is up for six awards including Best Picture & Actor.

In Birdman (up for nine awards) an ex-superhero actor tries to mount a play based on the Raymond Carver story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

Boyhood is on its way to the Library, get on the reserve list and watch this landmark Richard Linklater movie that was filmed over 12 years!

Haven’t seen The Grand Budapest Hotel yet? It’s been nominated for nine awards (tied for the most nominations with Birdman) and is beautiful.

Book cover of 85 years of the OscarThe Imitation Game may not be historically accurate, but hopefully the play it is based on (Breaking the Code) is, or the book that the play that the movie was based on (Alan Turing: The Enigma) is.

Selma is based on voting marches led by Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Read Marching for Freedom for an introduction to this topic, or listen to the music of the marchers online.

The Stephen Hawking bio-pic The Theory of Everything (also nominated for Best Actor and Actress) is based on Travelling to Infinity, a memoir by his first wife.

Whiplash is an original story based in the world of jazz. You can listen to thousands of jazz tracks on Freegal and our other Music eResources.

Best Actress

Book cover of Still AliceJulianne Moore has been nominated in the Best Actress category for Still Alice, based on the novel by Lisa Genova, about a professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Rosamund Pike is nominated for Gone Girl. We have the fantastic novel as well as the movie in our collection.

Reese Witherspoon has been nominated for her turn as a women who embarks on a huge solo hike after some personal tragedy. The movie was based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir – Wild.

Best Actor

Steve Carrell has been nominated for Foxcatcher, which is a bit of a feat for someone whose only other entry in the Library database is for Anchorman 2. We have the recently released book in now.

Best Animated Feature Film

We have The Boxtrolls, How to Train your Dragon 2, and the not nominated but phenomenally popular The LEGO Movie, although I was always more of a Torro girl myself.

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Books into film

American SniperMany of the bigger recent movies have either been original scripts or based on novels, so 2015 may be a bit different in that there are some big numbers coming up based on non-fiction work.

The reviews have been best with American sniper, based on the Chris Kyle bestseller about the man who holds the record as the deadliest sniper in American military history for his confirmed 150 killings. Clint Eastwood has directed the film version which has Bradley Cooper as Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, In the heart of the sea, is a gripping read about the sinking of the Essex and its fatal encounter with a whale.  Ron Howard has directed the film version with Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy  – and Ben Whishaw as the author of Moby Dick, Herman Melville.

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is an interesting account of the author’s 1100 mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Advance reviews have been enthusiastic for the film version with Reese Witherspoon.

Reviews have been less enthusiastic for Angelina Jolie’s directorial account of another bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, about Olympic runner Louis Zamperini and some critics felt it was a gruelling slog that didn’t justify its “if you can take it, you can make it” tagline.

If you have extra Sky channels you may have seen the adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy (Rob Lowe as Kennedy) and coming up is Killing Jesus with Kelsey Grammar as King Herod.

Zinio for Libraries – prepare for your eMagazine conversion!

Over 1,000 copies of eMagazines are downloaded from Zinio For Libraries each week from our library. Zinio is a digital library of eMagazines. The over 300 eMagazine titles contain the same content as the print and are released at the same time. The most popular eMagazine in October was Hello Magazine and in November it was The Economist.

It is hardly surprising our attentions shift to the economy now that we are close to Christmas and having our purses sucked dry by promises of eternal happiness if we would keep buying, drinking and eating. With costs high and wages low I have become a bit more of an economist myself and subscriptions can cost a lot of money.

What will these eMagazines cost you on Zinio for the same content? ZERO, $0.00, Nadir, Zip, Naught, Blank, Nix, Zilch. In other words nothing. The five minutes it takes you to sign up could save you hundreds. You can even sign up for email reminders when a favourite title comes in.
Zinio Cover of Hello Cover of The Economist Cover of New Zealand marketing Cover of Pets   Cover of In style

All you need is your library card number and password/PIN and an internet connection to download the eMagazine to your portable device from home or in libraries. You can read it offline after that and it it yours to keep until you decide to delete it.

Search the catalogue for titles on Zinio for Libraries.

Exciting school programmes at South Learning Centre

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Thorrington School Minecraft sessions

Tuesday 2 December, 10.45am – 12.30pm

This is education within the gaming world. Teaching and Learning in the medium of Minecraft. Students are learning what a community is and how to physically build one. They are discovering the essential workings within a community, for example decision making, voting on decisions and negotiating ideas, and are learning with and from other peer experts.

All you teachers out there this is a chance not to be missed. Be involved in this new opportunity. It’s free professional development to learn the intricacies of Minecraft and see why children are so enthused by it.

3D-Technology

Horizons From 2D to 3D

Wednesday 3 December, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

This programme is experimenting and creating in 3D design. Moving from the 2D world into 3D, students are learning the New Zealand curriculum technology design process of  idea > target market > purpose > specifics > production model > testing prototype > evaluation. Students are learning to create in 123D design software then 3D print their prototype.

Media

Film School with Canterbury Home Educators

Friday 5 December, 11.00am – 12.30pm

Film School discovers script writing, filming and software editing to create short movies and documentaries. Students narrate their own script and learn how to film using good lighting and set design. They collate images, footage and interviews into iMovie software, where they then edit keys, transitions and music and share their final short movie with Youtube and South learning Centre website.

Peter Jackson watch out!

Horizons Robotics with Science Alive

Friday 5 December, 1.00pm – 2.30pm

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This is a joint venture with Science Alive with a focus on creating Lego robotic vehicles and learning how to programme them to manoeuvre. Add light and ultra sonic sensors to complete challenges. Be creative and add a pencil/paint brush to your vehicle for your own masterpiece!

In our Learning Centre, students experience e-learning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us  please contact us Tel: 941 5140 or  Learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

Read the book before you see the film

How many times do you read a book and like it, then hear that it is being made into a movie? It seems that a really good book may have qualities that don’t translate to a good movie.

Cover of Gone GirlIt was said once – and I can’t remember who said it – that more bad books make good films rather than the other way round. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is a good yarn, but a long way from being a great piece of literature. The film version, however, is one of the great American movies of all time with the bad bits – especially the sex scenes that even Harold Robbins might laugh at – jettisoned.

What can make a book fall over when it hits the screen? Reviews have been less than enthusiastic for the film version of S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and it may be that gimmick-style revelations at the end can’t work when the many readers of the novel know them. Will this make the film version of Gone Girl, expected soon, go the same way?

Cover of Z for ZachariahThere are, however, some interesting adaptations coming up and they may work well on the screen. The film of Z for Zachariah, the classic YA novel by Robert C. O’Brien, may be the first major movie filmed on location in Port Levy and a cast that includes Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Margot Robbie sounds promising.

Further up the island, in the Marlborough Sounds, filming has begun on an adaptation of the excellent novel by M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans, the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a boat washed ashore with a dead man and an infant on board. Their decision to raise the child as their own drives the plot of the novel which is actually set in Australia. The film has Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in the cast.

Cover of A Hologram for the KingOne of my favourite writers –if you like state of the nation novels – is Dave Eggers and the film version of A Hologram for the King is an interesting choice for a big American film in that it’s about a middle class man trying to hold himself and his family together as the world economy falters by trying to sell himself and his ideas to the burgeoning Arabian world. Tom Hanks is in the lead.

The dystopian world of J. G. Ballard is perfectly captured in his High Rise which is set in a luxury high rise building where things start to go wrong, leading to a major social breakdown. The novel, firmly set in the Thatcher era, has been on the cards for decades and is only now coming to film with Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller in the cast.

Cover of The Family FangNicole Kidman’s career may be faltering at the moment, but good on her for buying the rights to one of the most outrageous and funny novels, around, Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang, featuring the worst parents imaginable, a couple of performance artists and their children who live in permanent embarrassment at the idiotic performances their parents dream up. Kidman and Jason Bateman play the parents with Bateman directing. Continue reading

My Life in Books

I was busy, as librarians often are, returning items one day and to my surprise, I noticed I had returned three DVDs, one right after the other, in the right order, which uncannily mirrored a pretty large chunk of my life so far – all in three movie titles!

We Bought a Zoo encapsulated the child raising years, where at times my kids were monkeys, other times brainless chickens, and the teenage years were more like herding rabid hyenas into a bag.

Look Back in Anger were the divorce years. Bitter and twisted times, I was a wronged woman who wasn’t always kind, nor brimming with forgiveness.

The Spectacular Now is my present life. Well, not always spectacular, but often filled with much fun, love, laughter and music and more than a little dollop of gratitude.

Book cover of the grapes of wrathIt made me think of other movies or book whose titles could encapsulate a life.

The Grapes of Wrath could document the mornings after when I should have known better, and perhaps Someday, Someday Maybe, would aptly sum up my exercise regimen. What I Know for Sure, is that I know very little, and The Hunger Games covers that time period between morning tea and lunch.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is what I will tell you over Three Cups of Tea.

So, are there books or movies that remind you of your life, or parts of it? Can you encapsulate your life so far in three titles?