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

Holy Cow, the X-Files

TVIt’s coming back, ladies and gentlemen. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

Yes, X-Files fans the world over (or X-Philes as we like to call ourselves) got the rock solid confirmation they were waiting for this week when Fox announced the date that a new six-episode series of the show will air.

24 January 2016. Scribble that excitedly in your diaries, fan-kids.

It remains to be seen which local TV channel will pick up the option to screen this and how quickly it will make it to New Zealand but in the meantime we have all nine seasons of the show on DVD if, like me, you feel like you need to update your X-Files knowledge. It’s been a while and I’m having trouble keeping all those aliens, malevolent parasites, evil clones, genetic mutants, and possessed tattoos straight in my head.

Other things you might consider checking out between now and January next year include –

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).

Cover of Captain America the tomorrow soldierCover of Captain America volume 4Cover of  Marvel masterworks presents Captain America volume 2Cover of Captain America volume 3

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.

Cover of The Avengers 1Cover of Avengers 1 Avengers worldCover of The Avengers time runs out volume 2

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.

Cover of Thanso the infinity revelationCover of Avengers Infinity 4Cover of Avengers assemble

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?

Goodbye, Gilbert Blythe

Cover of Anne of InglesideIf you were a teenage girl during the 1980s and watched television then you were probably enraptured with the Anne of Green Gables TV series based on the novels of L. M. Montgomery. And there’s a good chance you were smitten with Anne Shirley’s regular tormentor/rescuer/romantic interest Gilbert Blythe.

It is with a sad heart that I learned yesterday that the actor who played Gilbert in the various Anne of Green Gables TV series’, Jonathan Crombie, died suddenly from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 48.

Born in Toronto, Canada, Crombie was the son of a former mayor of the city, Dave Crombie, and by strange coincidence his mother’s names were “Shirley Ann”.

Though he worked regularly in television, Gilbert Blythe was by far his most famous role and according to his sister, fans who recognised him on the street would often refer to him as “Gil”.

If this news leaves you in “the depths of despair” and in need of a “Jonathan Crombie Commemorative Screening” we have DVDs of the following Avonlea-based TV series featuring Prince Edward Island’s resident dreamboat, Gilbert.

Exciting school programmes at South Learning Centre

fr-minecraft_wallpaper_AE5H

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

image              robotics_content

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

TV is ruining our lives – with Dr Aric Sigman

Cover of Remotely controlledMy father once said to me, “when you’re watching TV, you’re watching other people make money”. Fundamentally he’s right, and both my parents were right in making me turn off the idiot box and then kicking me out of the house to go and play outside or, if it was rainy, I’d have to find something creative to do like draw army pictures of death and explosions, or play an instrument. Initially there was a battle, as the injustice of it all provoked me into a frenzy of rage. However, over time I learnt to entertain myself in other ways and enjoy the outdoors along with my juvenile wee crew of renegades, terrorizing the neighbourhood on our after school excursions.

That’s why I enjoyed reading Dr Aric Sigman’s book Remotely Controlled, which discusses how “television is damaging our lives”. This book is a compelling read, and demonstrates via a range of scientific/psychological studies how prolonged TV viewing stunts the brains development in teenagers and pre-teens in particular, and seriously hinders their ability to reason and perform well academically. TV quite literally dulls kids down as it provides rewarding chemical and hormonal experiences without the brain actually having to do any creative thinking or reasoning, as opposed to reading a book for example, where the readers mind creates its own images and depictions of the settings and characters, exercising the mind and fostering creative thinking. Interestingly, there is a recommendation that kids under two should not have ANY screen time at all, while some in the field of child psychology and development are more extreme and recommend five as the age to introduce the idiot box.

Further to this, Aric Sigmund argues that TV is too stimulating, and addictive, with ongoing viewing causing impulsive behavior in people whose minds are used to the instant gratification it provides, which in turn develops an attention deficit in people. Then there are all the social problems TV arguably causes, or reinforces: consumerism, depression, material and social dissatisfaction, social anxiety, unreasonable expectations of life in general …you know, like when you started high school and thought it would be like Beverly Hills 90210 where Brandon or Dylan would come chat you up in their cool leather jackets with their quiffed hair dos, or that your social interactions would be like those depicted on Home and Away, where the good old Aussie, salt of the earth digger Alf Stewart would provide an ethical and moral compass for all those in the “the bay” and correct anyone acting out of line! It was a shock for me to learn life’s not like those romanticized and idealized dramas.

There are those who dispute the works of Dr Sigman and the methods he employs to convince us all of television’s detrimental impacts on society. But he’s entitled to his opinion. After all, Dr Sigman has the whole alphabet under his name, as he works in health and education lecturing at medical schools and to National Health Service doctors in the UK. He is a Chartered Biologist, Fellow of the Society of Biology, Chartered Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, a Chartered Scientist and a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine.

So there you go, have a read and decide for yourself, and when you are done, like me you can curl up on the couch with a blankie and watch Shortland Street, or Coro or Home and Away and forget about how mad the world really is with a bit of good old hellevision … whoops I mean television.

Naxos Theatre presents…

Logo of Naxos Video LibraryWhilst making myself aware of what library resources we have via the Source today I came upon ‘a gem’. Now I quite understand if you don’t think this tidbit of information is mind-blowing, because, let’s face it, we all appreciate different things.

If someone mentioned in passing that they had found a fantastic library resource all about the history of football which showed vintage games of yesteryear, you would probably find me in the foetal position banging my head on any available wall (not as easy as it sounds!).  But theatre productions – now, that’s a totally different ball game (every pun intended).

I clicked on Music, audio & video and chose the option Naxos Video Library. I then selected the option Genres and Programmes which showed me Theatre.  I would have had much more immediate fun if I hadn’t clicked on Opera, Monuments/History/Geography and Feature Films first, but maybe I had to wade my way through the potential of these first to truly experience the excitement I felt when – alphabetically by playwright’s surname – I found plays and theatre productions I had never heard of before. Some of these productions go back as far as 1960 with the most recent being a Shakespearean play put on at the Globe Theatre in 2011.

Cover of Much Ado About NothingAnyway, back to the 1960s and 70s…  Eli Wallach, Lee J. Cobb, Dustin Hoffman, Ingrid Bergman, William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, Jason Robards, Walter Matthau are just a few of the American actors who ‘trod the boards’ in their younger years before Hollywood beckoned. Some of the offerings are literally on stage sets, whilst others are televised versions of plays.

Chekov’s The Seagull , Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing are just a few of the more recognised plays, but there are also playwrights and plays I’ve never heard of before.

After much dithering I’ve decided to watch the 1979 production of Mourning Becomes Electra, Eugene O’Neill’s ‘classic American drama of love, revenge, murder and suicide’ with hopefully not a football in sight!

Have a look at the Naxos Music or Video Library next time you are on the library website – there’s a HUGE amount of material to cast your eye over.

 

Popular Culture: Picks from our September Newsletter

Cinema Sex Sirens, Joan Rivers, Ja Rule and comedians are the stars of our September Popular Culture newsletter:

Book cover of Cinema Sex Sirens Book cover of Diary of a mad diva Book Cover of Unruly Book cover of We killed Book cover of Dirty Daddy Book cover of Seriously...I'm kidding

 

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight from your inbox.

For more topical reading ideas, check out our blog posts from the WORD Christchurch festival.

Exterminate!

The Library holds many culturally important taonga that inform our identity as Cantabrians. This is not one of them, but it is the coolest thing I’ve seen in Store since an old edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:

Dr Who and the Daleks omnibus

 

Doctor Who and the Daleks omnibus is a 1976 TV tie-in. It includes two novel-length stories and vital information on Dalek anatomy:

Dalek-Anatomy

The Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) was the Doctor du jour when this was published, and he (and his scarf) feature prominently:

Tom Baker and Daleks

 

Levity aside, never forget that “beyond the beyond of beyond at the dark endless edge of eternal space, exists a life force that has neither form nor substance.”

Invasion

Look to the skies…

Dalek saying goodbye