Blogs

Font to Film: "Water for Elephants"

Originally a draft created as part of National Novel Writing Month, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants was published in 2006, and has since been quite well-received. The novel’s setting is a traveling circus during the Great Depression, and it is essentially a love story steeped in rich historical detail. Gruen manages to make the Depression a significant presence in the novel, more a character in its own right than a mere backdrop. As a result the reader truly gets a sense of the oppressive, constant dread driving the actions of the working men and women of the period, and from the start we see how drastically economic forces can shape a person’s destiny.

The story is told in flashback by Jacob Jankowski, presently 93 years old and living a life all but estranged from a family that no longer has much time for him. He spends his empty, unfulfilling days in a nursing home, in danger of never having anything to look forward to again—until the circus comes to town. Its presence invigorates Jacob, and he begins to recount his life as a young man who, waylaid by tragedy, took his chances hopping a circus train during one of the darkest periods of American history.

Gruen uses Jacob’s experiences to showcase an incredible juxtaposition of the wondrous spectacle put on by the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth and the often horrifying circumstances in which the laborers and performers—both human and animal—live. The Depression has fostered desperation and madness, encouraging opportunists who have managed to succeed only on the backs of those less fortunate, exploiting them when possible and discarding them otherwise. In the midst of all this, Jacob finds beauty—in the circus, the menagerie, and the animal trainer’s wife, Marlena. The development of this love triangle is the meat of the plot; at its heart,Water for Elephants is a very conventional—almost to the point of being predictable—romance that is elevated primarily by the care and detail put into its setting.

One might imagine that such a vibrant and compelling world would make the novel ripe for adaptation to film. However, the screen version of Water for Elephants—released in 2011—received mixed reviews. Of chief concern to many was the fact that Jacob and Marlena, played by Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, had little chemistry on screen. This led to their romance having a very told-not-shown feel, particularly when viewed alongside the passionate performance given by Christoph Waltz, who plays Marlena’s husband. Unfortunately, the film plays up the love triangle at the expense of many of the supporting elements that made the book feel unique. What results is a relatively shallow and not-entirely-convincing love story. Despite this shortcoming, the film does a fair job of visually representing the shoddy grandeur of the Most Spectacular Show on Earth; as is true with the novel, the richness of the setting ends up being the film’s saving grace.

Water for Elephants is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library in both book and audiobook form. The film is also available through the library; if it is not on the shelf at your local branch, you can request for it to be delivered to the branch of your choosing. In addition, you can borrow a digital copy of the novel from the Ventura County Library through OverDrive. OverDrive eBooks are available to download to a wide variety of devices, and will automatically be returned at the conclusion of your loan period. If you need assistance with setting up your device and account to borrow eBooks, check out the OverDrive help page, which links to a number of useful, device-specific articles and videos, or stop by the library.

 

Brought to life by Ronald Martin.

Are you ready for Daylight Saving Time (DST)?

Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. According to World Book Online Info Finder, the chief purpose of daylight saving time is to save energy by reducing evening use of lighting.¹

Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as favoring daylight saving time in summer. 'It struck him as silly and wasteful that people should 'live much by candle-light and sleep by sunshine.'"²

However, Wikipedia and National Geographic call DST "controversial". They too cite its origins in ancient civilizations' adjustment of schedules to sunlight.

What do you think about daylight savings?  Does it still make sense today?

¹Petrie, J. (2014). Daylight saving time. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from World Book Online Info Finder 3-2014
² Waldstreicher, D. (2014). Franklin, Benjamin. In Public Libraries. Retrieved from World Book Online Info Finder 3-2014

David's Dish: Date Shake

The New Persian Kitchen, by Louisa Shafia, made my foodie imagination run wild, filled with exotic recipes and interesting insights on ingredients used in Persian cooking. I was excited about delving into uncharted territory, the culinary delights of Persia, only to discover my once dodgy oven is now a completely non-functioning oven. The top burners don’t work either.

Big dilemma: do I make a Persian salad or sour plum pickles? I think not. But I did see a recipe for a date shake. I haven't had a date shake in quite a while, since my brief summer stay in Indio, California. The memory of the delicious date shake on that hot summer day came flooding back to me; the kebabs and other delicacies will have to wait till the oven is replaced.

The date shake recipe is your average milkshake recipe, except with yogurt. One powerful lesson learned was “don’t freeze bananas with the peel on,” unless you have a hammer handy. The “Dish” is in need of a tall, cool beverage, not a construction tool! I stuffed the ingredients into the blender and let it do its thing. Result: sweet, heavenly date shake!


*****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 Faceboook page and I’ll get cooking!

Ukulele Jam Sessions at Foster!

Come join us at
E.P. Foster Library every second and fourth Monday
for our new
Ukulele Jam Sessions!

All skill levels are welcome to come by the Topping Room and strum, sing, and learn more about this amazing instrument. Don’t own a ukulele? Ask about borrowing one from the library!

The first session will be on Monday, March 10, from 7 to 10 p.m. Stay for as little or as much time as you’d like.
We hope to see you there!

make! Media Night

  • Media Night
  • Tuesday March 11 at 7:30pm in the E.P. Foster Library Topping Room
  • Presented by Ventura County Library, CAPS TV, Ventura Area Makers/Builders/Hackers
 

Come tonight and learn about 3-D printing!

  • Open Tech Night at make!
  • 3D Printing, 3D Modeling, Microcontrollers and whatever you are working on.
  • Tonight, Tuesday March 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm in the E.P. Foster Library Topping Room
  • Presented by Ventura County Library, CAPS TV, Ventura Area Makers/Builders/Hackers

March is Women's History Month

This year's Women's History Month theme recognizes women's tenacity, courage, and creativity throughout the centuries.

Explore the history of generations of women whose commitment to nature and humanity have proved invaluable to society.

Gale PowerSearch on our eLibrary page is a great place to start along with Biography In Context, Gale Virtual Reference Library and World Book.

 


Our photo is of athlete Wilma Rudolph (LOC).

The Bionic Woman, Volume 1: Mission Control

I know I’m dating myself, but when I was a young girl I used to watch The Bionic Woman with Lindsay Wagner. I’m not talking reruns, either, I mean when it originally aired. As a kid growing up in the seventies, Jamie Summers was a role model for me and other young girls. She showed us that we could be strong, independent, and more than just a pretty face.

Now, Jamie Summers is back and re-imagined for a new generation of young women, with the new release of The Bionic Woman, Volume 1: Mission Control. Jamie Summers seems tailor-made for this modern era of computers and cell phones. Along with her bionic arm, legs, and hearing, she also has the ability to change her appearance and access the internet without ever using an actual computer. The first half of the story deals with bionic parts being stolen from their living recipients and the black market that sells them to the wealthy. The second half involves female robot clones being used as soldiers and slaves, their blossoming sentience, and their fight for independence.

While there is some similarity to the Jamie Summers I grew up with, this current incarnation is definitely different. Her relationship with Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man, for those who remember) is over; she has no memory of her previous life, and there are so many people trying to steal her technology that she neither has a real home nor a social life. In spite of that, Jamie is tough and determined. She does get roughed up a lot, but she proves to be a tough contender, and kicks some major butt. She still shows that a woman can be just as strong and capable as a man, and is as much of a role model today as she was when I was a little girl.

 

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

New Veterans Resource Center Opening at Foster Library

Next Friday, E.P. Foster Library will be revealing its new Veterans Resource Center! Join us at 4 p.m. on March 7, 2014, for the grand opening ceremony and light refreshments.

Following the ceremony, the Big Read kickoff event will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Bell Arts Factory.

Stop by Foster to check out this exciting new community resource!

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