Fun at Foster's blog

"The World's End" Gang

Of the two “end of the world” comedies released last year, This Is the End is set in L.A. and features the current Hollywood comedy brat pack, while The World’s End is set in a small British garden town and features a slightly more mature—but no less manic—guy group.

The World’s End is the latest film from director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nicholas Frost, who produced such bizarre classics as Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007). These films often also feature a kind of stock company of fellow actors, and as a staunch Anglophile I thought it would be interesting to see what other films from the group’s members are in the Ventura County Library collections (as are both The World’s End and This Is the End).

One of the most amusing Pegg/Frost comedies is Paul (2011), which is about two aging British fanboys who attend a science fiction convention in L.A. and end up having a bizarre close encounter of their own on a road trip to find Area 51.

Pegg, also a screenwriter, is a regular in the recent Star Trek and Mission Impossible films, and does a lot of animation voice work, as does Frost.

Probably the most well-known other guy is the Hobbit himself, Martin Freeman. He has the lead in The Good Night (2007), a film about a relationship-impaired musician who can only be with his dream love in dreams. The ironic conclusion gives new meaning to all those song lyrics about dreaming forever.

Freeman is also Watson in the recent Sherlock TV series, and stars in the new FX series Fargo, which premieres April 15.

One of the more prolific members of this group is Irish actor/writer/director Paddy Considine, best known for The Bourne Ultimatum (2007).

Surprisingly, considering his comic turns in the Pegg/Frost films, Considine has been involved with some of the most serious (and seriously depressing) recent films. Pu-239 (2006) is an HBO drama about a worker caught in a deadly accident in a Russian nuclear plant who steals a stash of weapons-grade plutonium in a botched attempt to sell it to provide for his wife and child when he is written off by the plant managers.

In director Jim Sherman’s In America (2002), Considine is the father of a poor Irish family who emigrates to America, ending up in an impoverished apartment in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. The film won three Academy Awards and features amazing performances by the two young actresses who portray the family’s daughters.

Considine is also in a remake of French director Claude Chabrol’s Hitchcockian thriller, The Cry of the Owl (2009), based on a novel by Patricia Highsmith. Considine also wrote and directed Tyrannosaur (2011), which unfortunately is not in the Ventura collections. Perhaps that’s just as well, as reviews have cited it as—though excellently done—one of the most disturbing films about male rage ever made.

It’s interesting how a mainstream feature such as the well-publicized The World’s End can lead you to explore your friendly local library’s film vaults to discover a variety of lesser-known but interesting, off-beat (and free!) film discoveries.

Happy hunting.


Ross Care

David's Dish: Blueberry Surprise

European Cookies for Every Occasion, by Krisztina Maksai, is a wonderful and challenging cookie cookbook. The photography is outstanding and the recipes are precise with limited ingredients. With patience and determination this book will bring you to another level of cookie baking. With some practice your cookies will be miniature masterpieces, reeking of elegance and panache!

I took on the Blueberry Surprise recipe. I love blueberries, as noted in an earlier entry, and chocolate is another favorite of mine, so Blueberry Surprise it was! The recipe was relatively easy, rolling the blueberries up into cookie dough was quite fun. I learned a great way to melt chocolate in a microwave oven from this recipe: just do it in ten-second increments, ten seconds then stir. In about 20 seconds I had creamy, melted chocolate to top the cookies off with.

The results of my effort were quite tasty, I must admit. My Blueberry Surprise cookies were a bit rough-hewn and a little bit of the surprise was exposed; however, they were yummy! So, check this book out and astound your family and friends with your cookie-baking skills.

 

*****David's Dish

 

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put it on hold—we will send it to you.

If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking!

Read Me A Story & More @ Foster Library

Susan Mikula, Children’s Services Manager, will be presenting Read Me A Story & More, an early literacy educational workshop for parents and/or caregivers of children ages 0-5 on April 30 at 6 p.m. in the E.P. Foster Library Topping Room.

Modeling reading to parents and caregivers during a weekly storytime is just the beginning to help children develop early literacy skills. This early literacy education workshop will give parents and caregivers more tools to become totally engaged with their children.

Susan will share research, developed methods, and the basic supplies needed to take this information home and actually be able to share it with your child. In this workshop, you will learn the value of reading to your child, including the six early literacy skills and five practices. Not only will you learn why it is important to read to your child but how to select materials that include dialogic reading.

This workshop will take parents and caregivers beyond books with activities incorporating art and creativity, discovering the world, language development, exploring concepts, playtime, and oral storytelling. Susan will demonstrate how to transform your child’s favorite book into a flannel board story. Each participant will receive a free bag filled with information, activities, flannel figures, a flannel board, and a free book.

The Read Me A Story & More workshop is limited to ten participants per session. Sign up for this session by calling Star Soto at (805) 648-2716.

Font to Film: "Fantastic Mr. Fox"

Typically when a book is adapted for the screen the general tone and thematic content remain the same, even if specific events or characters are shuffled around. Fantastic Mr. Fox is a rare exception to this rule. Originally a children’s book written in 1970 by Roald Dahl, it was adapted to film by Wes Anderson nearly forty years later—and anyone who is familiar with Anderson’s other works will be unsurprised with how his version turned out.

Roald Dahl’s story is fairly straightforward: Mr. Fox makes his living by stealing chickens and other delicacies from three local farmers who despise him as a result. The farmers begin to hunt Mr. Fox, who must use his fantastic wit to protect his family and the other inhabitants of the forest. Bearing in mind that this is a book for children, there are still a couple of pretty strong themes present which merit some discussion. For instance, while Dahl’s farmers are presented as disgusting, vindictive men clearly destined to be the antagonists of any narrative, the fact remains that Mr. Fox is, at the end of the day, a thief. Concerns over whether glorifying such a lifestyle is appropriate for a young audience tend to be dismissed on the grounds that stealing is not, in fact, all that bad if it is a.) done to feed one’s family and b.) the victims are bad people. But Fantastic Mr. Fox is also a book about obsession, specifically on the part of the farmers, whose actions not only drive the plot but solidify their position as corrupt—or at least corruptible—characters. From a child’s perspective, it’s easy to see that they are villains, and to believe that villains deserve to be bested by heroes as clever and capable as Mr. Fox.
It should be mentioned right off the bat that Wes Anderson’s version of Fantastic Mr. Fox expands the narrative substantially, taking a children’s book of under a hundred pages and turning it into a fairly intricate and frantically-paced comedy. A simple example of this expansion is the portrayal of Mr. Fox—voiced by George Clooney—as a far more complex character, one who struggles to support his family while wrestling with an overblown sense of pride. Anderson interprets the book’s title ironically; Mr. Fox is less fantastic than flawed, leaving room for a significant transformation that simply wasn’t present in Dahl’s version. The supporting characters are fleshed out as well; Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) is no longer one-dimensionally unwavering in her devotion to her husband, and the four fox children are replaced by one brooding son and a curiously-enlightened nephew. Overall, the plot is the same: Mr. Fox makes his living stealing from three farmers who make it their mission to eradicate him and his family from their property. However, the addition of several new scenes and a more fleshed-out cast allows for the exploration of a few additional themes, such as coming to terms with one’s nature and intrinsic value while trying to develop a place in the world relative to those around you—be they friend or foe. 

Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library as part of the second-floor juvenile fiction collection. Wes Anderson’s film version is available at several branches of the Ventura County Library; if the book or DVD is not on the shelf at your local branch, you can request for it to be delivered to the branch of your choosing in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.

 

Released into the wild by Ronald Martin.

Eastern and Western Perspectives on Health and Well-being

Visit the Topping Room on April 16, 2014, for the next installment of the E.P. Foster Library and CSU Channel Islands Lecture Series!

This event will feature a talk by Dr. Christy Teranishi Martinez, who will examine happiness and well-being from Eastern and Western perspectives.

The talk begins at 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

The Month of the Military Child

In 1986, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger designated each April as “The Month of the Military Child” to celebrate the contributions and inspiration of military children. There are approximately two million military children ranging in age from newborn to 18 years old; 1.3 million military children are school-aged. April is a time to acknowledge the strength and resilience of children who grow up in a unique and often changing environment and to reinforce that the health and well-being of military children contributes to the strength of our Armed Forces as a whole.

As the daughter of a lifetime Army veteran, I know how challenging, as well as rewarding, it can be to grow up as an “Army Brat.” We only saw our extended family in between deployments, if we had enough time. The longest time I ever lived in any one place was three-and-a-half years. I attended three different high schools in three years. This was “normal” for us. I look at the photos from my childhood and I see loving parents who did their best to create a home, no matter where we lived. As long as we were together, we were home.

Military children have a unique heritage and may not always understand civilian life. When asked about our “hometown” we may choose a location where we particularly enjoyed living, the place we lived the longest, or one of our parents’ hometowns. Today’s military children have different dilemmas to deal with than when I was growing up. My mom was a WAC, but she left the service when she married my dad. Today, many military children may have both parents in the service.

Ventura County is home to two military bases, Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station and Port Hueneme Navy Base. There are many families who make use of our libraries, including E.P. Foster. We have a number of materials available that focus on military children and their families.

Resident Photographer Aleta A. Rodriguez

Haiku Poetry Contest @ Foster Library

Come celebrate National Haiku Day with E.P. Foster Library by entering our Haiku Poetry Contest! You can enter at the library or by visiting this link between April 2 and April 16.

Entries should follow the traditional haiku structure: three lines of five, seven, and five syllables. There will be prizes for the winners! Call or visit the library for more details.

For inspiration, check out last year’s winners!

Book Appetit: Sunflowers on the Square

Join us at E.P. Foster Library on Saturday, April 5, in the Topping Room for our next Book Appetit event!

The owner of Sunflowers on the Square, a local Ventura bakery, will be at the event to provide tips on creating delicious treats as well as give a live baking demonstration!

It all starts at 5 p.m. Call or visit the library for details!

The Big Read @ Foster: Captain Luis Carlos Montalván

On April 15, 2014, come by E.P. Foster Library to listen to a talk by Captain Luis Carlos Montalván, author of Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him.

Captain Montalván will be discussing the “war after the war,” the human-animal bond, and an inspirational story of healing and hope.

The event is at 6 p.m. in the Topping Room. We look forward to seeing you there!

The Veterans Home of California—Ventura

On March 7, 2014, Foster Library opened its Veterans Resource Center inside the library. Its purpose is to assist veterans in finding resources they may not be aware are available. The Veterans Home of California—Ventura, which opened in December 2010, is just one of the resources available to veterans who may need assisted-living accommodations. The Veterans Home provides California veterans with a living environment that protects their dignity and contributes to their sense of self-reliance as well as self-worth.


As part of its commitment to provide materials to educate and enlighten, E. P. Foster Library has many items available for veterans.


Resident Photographer Aleta A. Rodriguez

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