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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Diary of an Omnivore

Written by Kyle Slagley

I have a confession to make: I love Cheez-Its. And Pepsi. And occasionally, even a Whopper or some Chicken McNuggets. I, like millions of other folks out there, have fallen victim to that dreadful predator that attacks when you’re at your most vulnerable, hungry, and pressed for time – the junk food industry. Last week, The New York Times Magazine published an article that explained to me just how much engineering, research, and food chemistry has gone into cultivating my love for those little orange crackers.

I happen to be one of the lucky ones with taste buds that shun sugar, salt, and grease for the most part, and living with a vegetarian also has a positive effect on my diet, but while I have only a handful of vices when it comes to processed food, the research that has gone into Cheez-Its has certainly paid off with me.

Now, I’m not here to tell you what to eat or what not to eat, but this story and a couple related ones regarding public health that have come out in recent weeks may make your patrons curious enough to dig deeper into the hidden secrets of what they eat. Worry not; we can help!

Food Additives – Let’s start with the basics. In this video, Learning Seed shows viewers a straightforward history of food preservation and then leads into an explanation of various flavorings, colorings, and preservatives contained in tons of things we consume on a daily basis.

Eating for Your Future – Discovery Education also goes for a direct approach in this video that details how eating choices affect quality of life. Geared mainly toward teenagers, viewers will learn that eating well does not have to be a chore and that there are numerous ways to make a healthy-diet lifestyle fun.

Junk Food Wars – Cambridge Educational gets a little more defensive, arming kids and teens with some knowledge on how to ward off the dangers of too much junk food. With positive reviews from Video Librarian, School Library Journal, and Booklist, there is enough information in this video to help kids develop a strategy for healthy eating.

Fast Food Nation – Reporter Eric Schlosser puts the fast-food industry directly in the crosshairs now. Attacking everything from how the food is prepared to how restaurants market toward kids in an effort to groom them into lifelong customers, this book may make you think twice before super-sizing your fries.

Born With a Junk Food Deficiency – Not only does Martha Rosenberg go after junk food, she goes after big pharmaceuticals as well. Rosenberg doesn’t pull any punches, resulting in an expose that targets every level of public health. If this title seems controversial, it’s because it is, but it’s also bound to generate discussion within your community.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Hot This Week: February 25

In a week with movies in the spotlight due to the Academy Awards, the Denzel Washington feature Flight took the top spot on the DVD list. Mumford and Sons' Babel makes a big jump to reclaim the top CD position, with a number of other familiar titles making similar jumps up or back onto the list. The fiction chart, on the other hand, sees Maeve Binchy debut at #1. In non-fiction, Chris Kyle's memoir moves to the top, while another presidential biography, Coolidge, comes in at #3.

  1. Flight
  2. Hotel Transylvania
  3. Here Comes the Boom
  4. Seven Psychopaths
  5. The Bourne Legacy
  6. Ted
  7. Looper
  8. Alex Cross
  9. Pitch Perfect
  10. Paranormal Activity 4
  1. Mumford & Sons, Babel
  2. 2013 Grammy Nominees
  3. Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
  4. Taylor Swift, Red
  5. Josh Groban, All That Echoes
  6. The Lumineers, The Lumineers
  7. fun., Some Nights
  8. NOW That's What I Call Music 45
  9. Andrea Bocelli, Passione
  10. Maroon 5, Overexposed
  1. A Week in Winter, Maeve Binchy
  2. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  3. Tenth of December, George Saunders
  4. Guilt, Jonathan Kellerman
  5. A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  6. Private Berlin, James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  7. Suspect, Robert Crais
  8. Touch & Go, Lisa Gardner
  9. The Dinner, Herman Koch
  10. The Night Ranger, Alex Berenson
  1. American Sniper, Chris Kyle
  2. My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor
  3. Coolidge, Amith Shlaes
  4. The Future, Al Gore
  5. Killing Kennedy, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  6. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  7. Francona, Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy
  8. No Easy Day, Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
  9. Going Clear, Lawrence Wright
  10. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham

Friday, February 22, 2013

Cures for Downton Abbey Withdrawal

Written by Kyle Slagley

Another season with the Dowager Countess has come and gone. I won’t spoil it for you, in case you haven’t yet seen the season finale, although chances are your patrons may have already done so. Season four will likely begin airing in the UK in late October or early November, but that means that even those of us who happen to be Internet-savvy will have to wait months before getting our fix of aristocratic dramatics.

Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey, has been tapped by NBC to create a new show called The Gilded Age. The show will chronicle the rich and powerful of New York in the late 1800s. Although we have no idea when the show will begin filming, period dramas are all the rage right now.

My favorite miniseries, aside from Downton Abbey that is, is set in the relatively recent past during World War II. A far cry from the prim and proper nature of Grantham estate, Band of Brothers ran in 2001 and starred Damian Lewis as Major Richard “Dick” Winters. This series is frighteningly realistic in just about every way imaginable, including the graphic nature of the wounds. I own the series and also the book; both are fantastic.

For those who like to go further back in history, try The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Meyers stars as the corrupt, promiscuous, and slightly insane Henry VIII, and through the series viewers get to watch the drama and deception unfold in the King’s court. The series follows King Henry through his attempts to divorce Catharine to marry Anne Boleyn, and the political turmoil that results. With four seasons and great acting, there will be enough to keep you entertained for quite a while.

If you want to stick with turn-of-the-century England, I highly recommend The Forsyte Saga, which brings us back to Damian Lewis, this time as Soames Forsyte. Soames is a well-to-do solicitor who, through the course of two series totaling 14 episodes, falls out of love with his wife and remarries a Frenchwoman named Annette. The series begins in the 1870s and ends in the 1920s. At only 14 episodes, it won’t last very long, but it’s well worth it.

Finally, there is the series Upstairs, Downstairs. The premise is similar to that of Downton Abbey: the show is set in London in the 1930s and details the relationships of the wealthy upstairs as compared to the servants downstairs. The 2010 series is actually a revival of the award-winning series from the 1970s that won BAFTAs, Emmys, and Golden Globes. The original series lasted five seasons, and the revival for two. Between the two, you should be able to get your fix for quite a while.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CYBIL Awards Honor Children’s Lit

Written by Jon Williams

On Valentine’s Day last week, the 2012 CYBIL Award winners were announced. For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards are given to the best books published in the U.S. and Canada in a given year. Titles are nominated mostly by the public, and judged by a panel of volunteers who write for blogs dedicated to children’s and young adult literature.

Here’s a look at some of this year’s winners:

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (Fantasy & Science Fiction): The first book in a planned trilogy, this book deals with a precocious orphan named Sage who is thrust into the middle of a brewing war engulfing his medieval kingdom.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Fantasy & Science Fiction): In the kingdom of Goredd, the decades-long peace treaty between humans and dragons is nearing its anniversary, and tensions are high as Seraphina, a court musician, is drawn into a murder mystery.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Middle Grade Fiction): Auggie is a youngster who has always been homeschooled due to illness and a facial deformity. How will he react—and how will others react to him—when he starts going to a mainstream school?

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin (Nonfiction): Sheinkin details the thrilling true-life story of the race by Germany, the United States, and the Soviet Union to be the first to develop nuclear weapons during World War II.

For these winners and a list of other great titles nominated for this year’s CYBIL Awards, click here.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hot This Week: February 18

The animated feature Hotel Transylvania takes top honors on this week's DVD list. Five new titles make their debut on the CD chart, headlined by Josh Groban's latest effort. Gone Girl makes its way back to the top of this week's fiction list, with the Lisa Gardner thriller Touch & Go being the only new title to make it. In non-fiction, the tale of American Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle makes the list at #2.

  1. Hotel Transylvania
  2. Ted
  3. Seven Psychopaths
  4. Looper
  5. The Bourne Legacy
  6. Paranormal Activity 4
  7. Pitch Perfect
  8. Ice Age: Continental Drift
  9. The Dark Knight Rises
  10. Trouble with the Curve
  1. Josh Groban, All That Echoes
  2. Tim McGraw, Two Lanes of Freedom
  3. NOW That's What I Call Music 45
  4. Mumford & Sons, Babel
  5. Andrea Bocelli, Passione
  6. Justin Bieber, Believe: Acoustic
  7. Red, Release the Panic
  8. Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
  9. Coheed and Cambria, The Afterman: Descension
  10. The Lumineers, The Lumineers
  1. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  2. Tenth of December, George Saunders
  3. A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  4. Touch & Go, Lisa Gardner
  5. Private Berlin, James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  6. Until the End of Time, Danielle Steel
  7. Suspect, Robert Crais
  8. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Ayana Mathis
  9. The Fifth Assassin, Brad Meltzer
  10. The Racketeer, John Grisham
  1. My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor
  2. American Sniper, Chris Kyle
  3. Killing Kennedy, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  4. The Future, Al Gore
  5. Going Clear, Lawrence Wright
  6. Francona, Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy
  7. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  8. No Easy Day, Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
  9. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham
  10. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Dark and Stormy Fairy Tale

Written by Kyle Slagley

Remember when you were young and your mom, dad, grandparent, teacher, or librarian would tell you all those fairy tales that had happy-frou-frou endings where the prince gets the girl in the sunset and you can practically hear the birds singing and the unicorns… unicorning?

Apparently those types of fairy tales are soooo thirty years ago. As the recent release of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters will confirm, the new thing is the dark, creepy, gritty fairy tale. The Brothers Grimm was one of the films that I think really shotgunned this fad into prominence back in 2005. Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger as Will and Jake Grimm travel through an eerily exotic land as con artists, chronicling their adventures.

Before The Brothers Grimm, however, came a film from the master of all things dark and creepy – Mr. Tim Burton. In 1999, Sleepy Hollow was released, starring Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp. This would be just another in a long resume of eerie movies for Depp.

More recently there have been a number of films to stoke the flames of this craze. Snow White & the Huntsman was released just last year starring Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, Mirror Mirror was a new and beautiful rendition of Snow White, and Alice in Wonderland with the Burton-Depp duo provided a look at the teenage Alice searching for her destiny.

Television joined the party last season too with Grimm and Once Upon a Time. Grimm takes place in Portland and follows a detective who finds out that his “precinct” covers more than just the mortal world. Once Upon a Time, on the other hand, takes place in Storybrook, Maine, and tells the story of Emma and a town full of storybook characters trapped in the town by the evil witch turned mayor.

For some tales that maybe some of your patrons do not yet know about, especially younger patrons, I would start with the Inkheart trilogy, which start in the present day but soon shift to another world that is much more bleak. Inkheart started as a book by Cornelia Funke and was later made into a movie starring Brendan Fraser. As is expected with book-to-film projects, the movie was not nearly as good as the book, but I thought it was okay. It was only a moderate success at the box office, which is probably why the two other books in the trilogy – Inkspell and Inkdeath – never made it to film.

Finally, in yet another of my shameless plugs to promote all things theatre, there are even fairy tales for the Broadway lovers out there. Most girls have at least heard of the musical Wicked, starring Kristin Chenowith and Idina Menzel, but not all of them may realize that it started out as a book that is much more than just rainbows and yellow brick roads. The younger generation may also not be familiar with the classic musical Into the Woods. Though not exactly dark, I still recommend the show for some great music that’s made it through two revivals. To get a feel for how the set of this show looks, be sure to watch the video recording of the stage performance – it’s a few years old, but still worth the watch.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Grammy Performances Highlight Collaborations

Written by Jon Williams

The Grammy Awards ceremony took place this past Sunday night. Mumford & Sons (Album of the Year for Babel), Gotye (Record of the Year for “Somebody That I Used to Know”), and fun. (Best New Artist) took home some of the most coveted awards, while the Black Keys and Jay-Z and Kanye West earned three awards apiece. (For a complete list of winners, click here.)

If you watched the broadcast, though, you saw only a handful of those awards presented. Most of the awards are presented beforehand, so the televised ceremony can focus on actual musical performances. Taylor Swift kicked the evening off with an Alice in Wonderland-themed rendition of “We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together,” while Justin Timberlake announced a return to the music world with a two-song performance later in the show.

Over the years, the Grammy Awards ceremony has become known for the unique artist combinations that have taken the stage together. This year’s ceremony boasted a number of collaborations, such as Miguel and Wiz Khalifa, Elton John and Ed Sheeran, Alicia Keys and Maroon 5, and the Black Keys with Dr. John and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Bruno Mars and Sting were joined onstage by Rihanna and Ziggy Marley for a tribute to the late Bob Marley; later, a similar tribute to Levon Helm was done by Elton John, Mavis Staples, Mumford & Sons, the Zac Brown Band, Alabama Shakes, and T Bone Burnett. (For a complete list of performers, click here.)

You don’t often see multi-genre collaborations of this sort outside of the Grammy ceremony; when you do, the results can be transcendant. Here are a few:

Sound City: Real to Reel Soundtrack: The soundtrack to Dave Grohl’s documentary features the Foo Fighters frontman collaborating with a number of artists, such as Stevie Nicks and Trent Reznor. Perhaps the most notable track, though, is “Cut Me Some Slack,” which drew buzz leading up to the 12-12-12 concert for Hurricane Sandy relief as a Nirvana reunion of sorts, with Sir Paul McCartney on lead vocals.

Tony Bennett – Duets: An American Classic: This 2006 album from the jazzy pop singer, released on his 80th birthday, sees him perform duets with a number of today’s stars from various genres. Some, such as Billy Joel and Elton John, don’t seem like much of a stretch. Other songs, however, include the likes of country star Tim McGraw, rock singer Bono (from U2), and Latin rocker Juanes.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising Sand: One of classic rock’s most iconic voices, Robert Plant, best known as lead singer for Led Zeppelin, teams up with bluegrass queen Alison Krauss for this understated duet album of cover tunes. Produced by T Bone Burnett, a follow-up collaboration has been in the works since 2009.

Lou Reed and Metallica – Lulu: Singer-songwriter Reed performed with Metallica in 2009 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert, which led to this album. Metallica was no stranger to unconventional collaborations, having paired their heavy metal catalog with the San Francisco Symphony for S&M in 1999.

Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith – “Walk This Way”: Okay, so it’s only one song…but what a song. In 1986, rappers Run-D.M.C. covered rock legend Aerosmith’s hit single from 1977, with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry helping out. The song helped propel rap into mainstream consciousness: the video received heavy airplay on MTV, and it became the first rap song to crack Billboard’s Top 5.

What are some of your favorite collaborative albums and songs? Let us know in the comments section below.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hot This Week: February 11

Horror film The Possession, starring Kyra Sedgwick, is the only newcomer to this week's DVD chart. The CD chart, on the other hand, has four debuts at the very top, headed by Justin Bieber's new acoustic album. In fiction, Danielle Steel's new book tops the list, while the latest installment of the Flavia de Luce Mysteries series debuts at #7. In non-fiction, the usual suspects lead the way, with former Vice President Al Gore's new book on global change making the list at #5.

  1. Looper
  2. Ted
  3. The Bourne Legacy
  4. Pitch Perfect
  5. The Dark Knight Rises
  6. Ice Age: Continental Drift
  7. The Possession
  8. Trouble with the Curve
  9. Total Recall
  10. The Watch
  1. Justin Bieber, Believe: Acoustic
  2. Andrea Bocelli, Passione
  3. Tegan and Sara, Heartthrob
  4. Charlie Wilson, Love, Charlie
  5. Pitch Perfect Soundtrack
  6. Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
  7. Mumford & Sons, Babel
  8. Gary Allan, Set You Free
  9. The Lumineers, The Lumineers
  10. Taylor Swift, Red
  1. Until the End of Time, Danielle Steel
  2. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  3. A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  4. Private Berlin, James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  5. Tenth of December, George Saunders
  6. Suspect, Robert Crais
  7. Speaking from Among the Bones, Alan Bradley
  8. The Fifth Assassin, Brad Meltzer
  9. The Racketeer, John Grisham
  10. Ever After, Kim Harrison
  1. My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor
  2. Francona, Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy
  3. Killing Kennedy, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  4. Going Clear, Lawrence Wright
  5. The Future, Al Gore
  6. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  7. No Easy Day, Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
  8. Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
  9. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham
  10. The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg

Friday, February 8, 2013

Star Wars News and Speculation

Written by Jon Williams

You’ve probably heard by now that J.J. Abrams has signed on to direct the seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise, due to hit theaters in 2015. Abrams is known for creating or co-creating the TV series Felicity, Alias, Fringe, and Lost. His big-screen work has included directing Mission: Impossible III, Super 8, and, interestingly enough, the 2009 reboot of Star Trek (as well as its upcoming sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, which releases in May).

Obviously, Abrams’s sci-fi and action chops are well developed. With Michael Arndt (who wrote, among other things, Little Miss Sunshine and Toy Story 3) drafting the script, the beginning of the next trilogy appears to be in good hands.

What you may not have heard is that Disney’s plans for standalone, non-trilogy Star Wars films are beginning to take shape. It was reported earlier this week that individual films would focus on single characters from the movies in their adventures outside the scope of those stories. An early rumor speculated that Jedi Master Yoda would get his own film; more plausible buzz centers on Han Solo (in his younger days) and the bounty hunter Boba Fett, respectively. Perhaps we could see Ewan McGregor reprise his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi?

And there’s more good news on the writing front for these as-yet nebulous standalone films. One scribe attached is Simon Kinberg, who’s known for (again, among other things) Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Sherlock Holmes. Another is Lawrence Kasdan, a man already known to Star Wars fans as the writer of The Empire Strikes Back (widely considered the best movie in the series) and Return of the Jedi. The pair will also do some writing for the new trilogy films.

Aside from casting, one major question remains when it comes to names attached to new Star Wars films: who will write the score? John Williams, composer for all six films to date, turns 81 years old today. You have to think it’s his job if he’s interested; but if he’s not…? Joel McNeely has experience composing for Star Wars, whereas Michael Giacchino frequently works with J.J. Abrams. Would one of them get the job?

Needless to say, there are still plenty of questions to be answered. One thing that goes without saying, though, is that interest in Star Wars remains strong. Make sure you have a broad selection of DVDs and Blu-rays, music CDs, and audiobooks for your patrons to check out and enjoy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Unearthing Richard III

Written by Kyle Slagley

Some men are born great, others achieve greatness, and some are buried under the parking garage.

By now I’m sure most of you have heard about the discovery of the skeleton of Richard III under a car park in Leicester, England. Leicester, in case you weren’t sure, is about 100 miles north-northwest of London.

Historically, Richard is known for being the last king in the House of York, and also for being the last King of England to die on the battlefield after scheming and killing his way to the throne.

Most people are familiar with Richard III as the man who said things like “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” and “Now is the winter of our discontent!” For that we thank none other than the great William Shakespeare, whose tragedy has been performed countless times all across the world.

Having read the majority of the Bard’s plays, Richard III is definitely one of my favorites. Richard is one of those characters you love to hate. Whether he was actually as dastardly and despicable as the play makes him out to be may never truly be known, though. Here’s a look at some of the adaptations of Richard III out there.

The Naxos Audiobooks minimalist recording of the entire play is quite possibly the most definitive version out there, starring Kenneth Branagh as Richard. There are very few sound effects except the reading by the actors, making it seem as though the listener is sitting in on a casual read-through of the production. Quite simply, this is THE audiobook version to share with your patrons.

The 1955 Criterion version is widely considered to be THE film version of this play, mainly because it stars the be-all-end-all when it comes to Shakespearian actors, Sir Lawrence Olivier. I’ve seen this film a few times, and can definitely appreciate it as being the quintessential British theatre version. I have to admit my affection for this film only goes so far because in true Olivier style it is grand and magnificent, but I also find it stiff and uptight – particularly during the opening monologue.

The Murders of Richard III is a novel by Elizabeth Peters about an American librarian named Jacqueline Kirby who happens to be in England attending a Richard-themed murder mystery in a large manor house. As you might expect, the play-murders turn real and Kirby must solve the mystery. I’ve not read the book, but if you like the Jacqueline Kirby books, I’m told it’s one of the best in the series.

Sadly, my two favorite film versions of Richard III are unavailable. In 1995, MGM released a modern adaptation of the film starring Sir Ian McKellan as Richard, set in the 1930s. It has an all-star supporting cast that includes Annette Bening, Robert Downey Jr, and Jim Broadbent. Then in 1996, Al Pacino put out a docu-drama called Looking for Richard that includes clips from the play that are filmed in states from black-box rehearsal format to full-on film production. It also shows discussions about the academic elements of the play like character development, motive, and historical influence – all of which fascinate the theater enthusiasts. If you happen to have either of these films on your shelves already, I invite you to revisit them and share them with your patrons.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hot This Week: February 4

This week's top DVD titles remain largely the same from last week. In music, Gary Allan tops the charts for the first time with his ninth studio album. James Patterson's latest collaboration jumps to the top of the fiction list, with Robert Crais and Kim Harrison also debuting. And, with football season ending and spring training just around the corner, Terry Francona's story of managing the Boston Red Sox for eight years makes its debut at #2 on the non-fiction list.

  1. Looper
  2. Ted
  3. The Bourne Legacy
  4. The Dark Knight Rises
  5. Ice Age: Continental Drift
  6. Total Recall
  7. Trouble with the Curve
  8. Dredd
  9. Pitch Perfect
  10. The Watch
  1. Gary Allan, Set You Free
  2. The Lumineers, The Lumineers
  3. Pitch Perfect Soundtrack
  4. 2013 Grammy Nominees
  5. Kidz Bop 23
  6. Mumford & Sons, Babel
  7. A$AP Rocky, Long.Live.A$AP
  8. Bruno Mars, Unorthodox Jukebox
  9. Taylor Swift, Red
  10. Les Miserables Soundtrack
  1. Private Berlin, James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
  2. A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  3. Suspect, Robert Crais
  4. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  5. Ever After, Kim Harrison
  6. Tenth of December, George Saunders
  7. The Fifth Assassin, Brad Meltzer
  8. The Third Bullet, Stephen Hunter
  9. The Racketeer, John Grisham
  10. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, Ayana Mathis
  1. My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor
  2. Francona, Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy
  3. Going Clear, Lawrence Wright
  4. Killing Kennedy, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  5. Killing Lincoln, Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
  6. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham
  7. No Easy Day, Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer
  8. To Sell Is Human, Daniel H. Pink
  9. A Higher Call, Adam Makos
  10. The World Until Yesterday, Jared Diamond

Friday, February 1, 2013

New Season, TV Special for Doctor Who’s 50th Year

Written by Jon Williams

I’ll admit up front that my research for this post was as minimal as possible. Doctor Who is a fairly recent interest of mine—my wife and I just finished watching the 2006 season (the finale of which was absolutely heartbreaking)—so I didn’t want to accidentally come across any spoilers for what’s to come.

For those unfamiliar, Doctor Who centers on a character known only as “The Doctor,” an alien (in human form) known as a Time Lord. He travels throughout time and space, getting into various adventures, via his craft, the TARDIS, which is shaped like a 1960s-era London police call box. His travels frequently bring him to Earth, where he generally befriends a female companion to accompany him for a time.

The British series has long been a staple of BBC programming. The first episode aired on November 23, 1963. The original series ran until 1989; it was revived in 2005 and has been going strong ever since. The new season, starring Matt Smith in his fourth season playing the Doctor, premieres on the BBC and BBC America on March 30. In addition, a television special, An Adventure in Space in Time, is filming this year to document the beginnings of the character and the series.

Doctor Who’s popularity isn’t contained just within one long-running television series. One spinoff series, Torchwood, deals with a small team of alien hunters operating out of the Torchwood Institute, which was established following one of the Doctor’s visits to Earth. Another, The Sarah Jane Adventures, follows the exploits of Sarah Jane Smith, a former companion who finds that she can’t settle into a regular life after traveling the universe with the Doctor. There are also a number of books that detail the Doctor’s adventures, in addition to these TV shows.

In the series’ 50th year, it’s still attracting new fans (I’m evidence of that), while longtime fans will want to revisit old favorites and discover the spinoffs. Make sure the Doctor is available at your library.