Posted in Adult

What Have I Done?!

Back in 2018, or at least that’s when I created the recordset, I did a book display on quarter-life crises. A quarter-life crisis is when a person gets racked with anxiety about where their life is going. Essentially, a quarter-life crisis is a midlife crisis, but in your mid-twenties to early thirties. If you want to restart your work-life, these books should help you get started. As with my other list posts, I’ve included a summary of the book from its publisher.

The Quarter-Life Breakthrough by Adam Smiley Poswolsky

“How do you actually find meaning in the workplace? How do you find work that makes your heart sing, creates impact, and pays your rent?

After realizing that his well-paying, prestigious job was actually making him miserable, Adam “Smiley” Poswolsky started asking these big questions. The Quarter-Life Breakthrough provides fresh, honest, counterintuitive, and inspiring career advice for anyone stuck in a quarter-life crisis (or third-life crisis), trying to figure out what to do with your life. Smiley shares the stories of many twenty- and thirty-somethings who are discovering how to work with purpose (and still pay the bills).

Brimming with practical exercises and advice, this book is essential reading for millennial career changers and anyone passionate about getting unstuck, pursuing work that matters, and changing the world.”

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Posted in Adult, Film

Movies at the End of the World

It might seem counterintuitive, but all I want to watch lately are apocalyptic movies. The country is literally on fire, civil unrest has reached a pre-Civil Right Act-era tenor, we’re in the middle of a century pandemic, bees are dying, and we lost King T’Challa. Why on earth would anyone want to watch apocalyptic cinema? What a bummer! Personally, I find it soothing. Our timeline is full of hardship, but at least we didn’t need to gamble on time travel to figure out how to avert a deadly virus from destroying most of humanity (12 Monkeys; 1996) or search for petrol while dealing with berserk motorcycle gangs (Mad Max; 1979). Apocalyptic movies are escapism, pure and simple. Plus, it’s September and if y’all get to celebrate Christmas for three months, I can get spooky a month before Halloween. Below, I listed four apocalyptic films that can be accessed on DVD and/or BluRay in the Monarch catalog. 

Akira (1988; R)

Regarded as one of the greatest animated films for adults as well as one of the best science fiction movies of all time, Akira set the bar for both in the subsequent 30 years since its release. Following a disaster that destroyed Tokyo, we find our protagonists, a group of aimless, motorcycle-riding teenagers, drifting through a world that is packed with visual stimulation and violence. One of the teenagers gets in a horrible accident after running afoul of another biker gang. Mysterious military men take him away to a facility where he develops powerful abilities he does not understand and has little control over, to disastrous effect. While this IS a cartoon, it is not for children. The animation is ahead of its time, the pacing is breakneck and the soundtrack is one of the all-time greats, but it is violent as hell! I still watch a couple scenes through my fingers because it’s too intense for my delicate sensibilities. 

Dr. Strangelove (1964; PG)

Stanley Kubrick’s finest, as far as I am concerned. This war farce is a must-see for anyone who loves film and cares about film history. Marvel at the towering performances of Peter Sellers as not one, not two, but THREE distinct roles in the film. His understated British liaison officer is a nice counterpoint to the bizarre titular Dr. Strangelove, who served under Hitler prior to WWII, and whose left hand acts independently of the rest of his body. A top-notch George C. Scott is not to be ignored, and rivals Seller’s portrayal of the Doctor in hilarity. What’s the brand of apocalypse in Dr. Strangelove? Nuclear annihilation, brought about by an American general’s paranoia surrounding the corruption of the nation’s water supply, and therefore our precious bodily fluids. 

Pontypool (2008; rated R)

Think you’ve seen all the zombie movies out there, and know all the possible premises? Think again! This under-the-radar horror gem came out to little fanfare, but discerning horror fans in-the-know were pleased to encounter a new take on an old favorite trope. Set mostly in the confines of a claustrophobic radio broadcast booth, Pontypool examines what would happen if zombification transmitted via speech as opposed to the classic bite. Is meaningless conversation a plague? Please watch to find out. 

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016; PG-13)

Where’s all the ladies at the end of the world? A lot of apocalyptic movies are really dude-centric, produced for men by men, so I try not to yeet my television out the window when the token lady has perfect hair, shaved armpits, and winged eyeliner? Like? What are they using, the reflection off a pool of stagnant water to see if the line is straight? Does one swing by the Walgreens while outrunning ravenous zombie hoards to stock up on one’s favorite Wet ‘n’ Wild eyeshadow? Bruh. Anyhoo, the protagonist of 10 Cloverfield Lane, played to perfection by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, gives us a depiction of what I think is a closer approximation to how a smart person would react in the face of the apocalypse. If you don’t know much about this movie, keep it that way and watch without reading criticism first to enjoy the surprises. A review at rogerebert.com sums it up nicely as “a cat and mouse game at the end of the world.”

Keep in mind, just like any genre, apocalyptic cinema varies wildly in quality and personal taste must always be considered. That being said, I absolutely hated The Road (2009) which is actually really depressing and affecting in a way I do not enjoy. What have you been watching lately? Do you need more movie recommendations? Let me know and I can help! Drop us a line at publicservices@meadpl.org. Happy watching!

Posted in Fantasy, Games, Horror

Roll for Adventure

Dungeons and Dragons is a fun game, whether as a player or a dungeon master. Being the dungeon master can be difficult, though. It’s part memorizing rules, acting, writing, and people wrangling. Writing an adventure or an entire campaign setting can sometimes be the most difficult part of being a dungeon master. That’s why this week’s blog post is all pre-written adventures, it won’t help with rule memorization or the voice acting, but I can’t do everything for you.

Curse of Strahd

Ravenloft has been a part of Dungeons and Dragons since the very first edition. Curse of Strahd is the fifth edition’s return to the lands that the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich rules over with an iron fist. This adventure has more of a gothic horror taste than the usual D&D adventure. The part that got this one on my radar was that it has rules for using a Tarokka deck, a pseudo-tarot deck, to influence where monsters and artifacts will show up in the adventure. I can’t promise that your party will survive Strahd once they enter Castle Ravenloft, though.

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Posted in Adult, Film, Staff Picks, Uncategorized

Loved This? Watch That!

When I finish watching an engaging, beloved movie or TV show I get a kind of emotional hangover. “Nothing will ever be as appealing and wonderful! Nothing will ever measure up to Cobra Kai. NOTHING! I will never watch television again so as to not break my heart thusly!” I cry while flinging myself onto the red velvet chaise longue we keep in the library employee break room (we do not, but I need it for some imaginary Victorian hysterics). And as always, after a few listless moments casting about on the various streaming services, I always manage to find something to watch that I love, rinse, repeat. Below, I listed several beloved movies and television shows along with media that will be similar in tone. The titles listed are all available on DVD in the Monarch catalog. 

If you liked Community (2009-2015) try Mystery Team (2009, rated R)

Although the final episode aired in 2015, Community remains one of the more imaginative and funny ensemble TV shows ever produced. It’s a personal favorite of mine and some episodes made me laugh so hard I cried. Community is a Dan Harmon joint, who is also the brains behind Rick and Morty, which is all well and good, but I would like to talk a little bit about the creative output of Community alum Donald Glover. Before Community there was “Derrick Comedy”; a comedy sketch group well-known for their YouTube skits. Check out their oeuvre HERE. (WARNING THEY ARE VERY SWEAR-Y).Their association culminated in the creation of the wonderful feature film Mystery Team (2009, rated R). The film explores what happens when a plucky bunch of Encyclopedia Brown-like mystery-solving grade schoolers reach high school and try to solve a grown-up crime. The Derrick Comedy crew wrote the script so expect campy surprises and funny twists. Be on the lookout for early screen appearances by Aubrey Plaza, Bobby Moynihan, John Lutz, and Ellie Kemper. Glover is also famous for writing on another beloved ensemble comedy, 30 Rock, so fans of this and Community would be well rewarded to give Mystery Team a go. Still need more Donald Glover action? You’re in luck; Glover wrote and starred in two seasons of Atlanta (2016-) which was just renewed for two additional seasons. Now’s the time to get caught up!

If you like Saturday Night Live (1975-present) try The Kids in the Hall (1989-1994)

Saturday Night Live has been a weekly comedy stalwart for 45 years, but what is one to do between Saturdays? You could watch cast compilations or holiday specials; Monarch has several in the catalog & the Chris Farley retrospective always cracks me up. But if you’re looking for something a little different, may I suggest legendary Canadian sketch show The Kids in the Hall? As founding member Dave Foley once said, if SNL is the Beatles of sketch comedy, then KITH is The Velvet Underground. Their surreal, fourth-wall-breaking comedy is often compared to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, as well. Both troupes were famous for their absurdism and dressing in drag when the sketch called for women characters. While they had recurring characters like SNL, such as a man with a cabbage for a head, a flying pig, and catty secretaries named Kathy and Cathy, unlike SNL, celebrity impersonations were limited to Scott Thompson’s hysterical Queen Elizabeth. The Kids in the Hall is the epitome of gen x humor, and I was pleased to find they hold up after all this time. If you are easily offended by queer humor, I feel bad for you, but also, you might want to stear clear of this series. For everyone else: prepare to die of laughter. 

If you liked Twin Peaks (1990-91, 2017) try Fargo (2014-2017)

Watching Twin Peaks as it first aired in 1990 was a foundational experience for me and shaped the way I now interact with media. As much as I loved it, I had to admit I had no idea what the hell was going on most of the time. It was visually stunning, the actors were compelling and watchable, and the comedy was black as pitch. For more of the same, but with a plot that makes sense, take a look at Fargo. Each season is a self-contained story, but the discerning viewer will notice that although time periods differ, each season’s plot relates to the others. The plot also relates to the 1996 film of the same name in clever ways. In addition to the stellar writing and gorgeous cinematography, get a load of the absurd cast list. Season one alone boasts Martin Freeman (an Englishman playing a Minnesotan; BRILLIANT!), Billy Bob Thorton, and Colin Hanks. Season two includes the best performance I have ever seen from the extremely talented Kirsten Dunst, as well as a fine turn by a top-notch Ted Danson. Season three features Ewan McGregor playing a set of feuding twins. Not compelled yet? Gosh, sorry you don’t like good television (winky face).

As stated earlier, all movies and television shows mentioned above can be found in the Monarch catalog on DVD. Need help searching the catalog or requesting materials? Call us at 920-459-3400 for troubleshooting help. Not too keen on the media I listed above? We can help with that too! Just give us a call and tell us what you like to watch. We can access literally thousands of different titles throughout the Monarch library system. Thanks for reading, and happy watching!

Posted in Adult, Poetry

A Poetry Sampler

I’ve pulled a few new poetry books from our shelves of new materials. Rather than try to describe the works themselves, I thought I’d give little samples instead; after all, these poets spent a lot of time choosing their words, so why not feature them! And more seriously, no amount of description of poetry will tell you whether you want to read it; only actually seeing the poetry can.

It’s also an opportunity to link to the area in our catalog that lists our new poetry, which you can now see as a list here!

The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns by Matty Weingast

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Posted in Biography & Memoir, DIY & How To, Nonfiction

Write Your Story

Pandemic journaling has become a bit of a fad these days. There’s no reason that you just have to write about your life during the pandemic, though! You could draw. Perhaps write about how nature is reacting to people running around less. (I for one recently found out that I had raccoons living in the storm drain near my home during a particularly hard rain.) Or maybe dive into Bullet Journaling to get more organized. I’ve included the description from the publishers for each of the listed books.

Creative Journal Writing: The Art and Heart of Reflection by Stephanie Dowrick

“In this exceptionally positive and encouraging book, Dr Stephanie Dowrick frees the journal writer she believes is in virtually everyone, showing through stories and highly engaging examples that a genuine sense of possibility can be revived on every page.

Creative journal writing goes way beyond just recording events on paper. Without needing any rigid formula to gain success, it is the companion that supports but does not judge. It can be a place of unparalleled discovery and a creative playground where the everyday rules no longer count. Proven benefits of journal writing include reduced stress and anxiety, increased self-awareness, sharpened mental skills, genuine psychological insight, creative inspiration and motivation, strengthened ability to cope during difficult times, and overall physical and emotional well-being.

Combining a rich choice of ideas with wonderful stories, quotes, and her refreshingly intimate thoughts gained through a lifetime of professional and creative writing, Dowrick’s insights and confidence in the process make journal writing irresistible. She also makes your own experiences and life far more enchanting. Included in Creative Journal Writing are:

True stories of how people have used journal writing to transform their lives;

· inspirational instructions, guidelines, and quotes;
· key principles, practical suggestions, and helpful hints;
· 125 starter topics, designed to help even the most reluctant journal writer;
· more than forty powerful exercises;
· and much more!”

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Posted in Fiction, Kids 0-5, Uncategorized

Shake This Book!

Interactive picture books provide an engaging reading experience. They are fun for young listeners/readers, and are an especially great option for those not ready to sit for a full story. These books require active participation in the story by encouraging readers to complete a small task before turning the page. The story may request for you to shake or tilt the book, blow on or trace a picture with your finger, spin the book or your body, clap your hands, or even count to a certain number to help move the story along. Once you’ve completed your task, turn the page to see the effect your action had on the story! There are many entertaining interactive children’s books available in our library. I’ve listed some of my favorites below!

The Cat Book by Silvia Borando

You will be busy taking care of your cat in this fun book. Once you’ve woken him up, you will have to pet him, squish some fleas, dry him off after he gets wet, try to scare away a bird so he doesn’t eat it, and then help him go to sleep. Readers of all ages will enjoy interacting with this cute kitty!

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Posted in Magazines

Forgotten Magazines

In my last post I blogged about the great magazines available through RBDigital. Today I want to tell you about a resource for magazines that is often forgotten about- Badgerlink!

Everyone who lives in Wisconsin has access to Badgerlink. It is a great place to find journal articles, but they also have some popular magazines. The people from Badgerlink have created a list of those popular titles. The interface isn’t as nice as RBDigital BUT you you can access magazine from further back in time. And they have…

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Posted in Adult, eBooks & eAudio, Mystery

MEAD MURDER MEDIA

While there is never a bad time to dig into a mystery, summertime is when I want to break out some Agatha Christie while basking in the sun to enjoy the off-screen demise of a country squire or unsuspecting rich auntie. This summer, escapism is more important than ever, so listed below is a brief breakdown of how to access some excellent murder mystery media at Mead. While I have highlighted some personal favorites, these searches can be adjusted to any particular genre of your liking. 

What’s the best thing about Hoopla besides access to thousands of books, movies, and music CDs? NO WAIT TIME! Another thing I like about Hoopla is the intuitive search features. Click on “Browse” to the left of the search bar and select “Television”. The next screen will list all the subject categories so naturally, I chose “Mystery” which is listed as a “Top Category”. The top result was Death in Paradise Season One (2011) which is a great top result because the show is fabulous. Who wouldn’t love a fish-out-of-water cozy in a lush, tropical setting? Make yourself a pina colada to drink while you watch for verisimilitude. What if I’ve already seen this show and want to see more like it? Click on the thumbnail and from the next screen click on “BBC Studios”. This will take you to a new list of results; all media produced by BBC Studios. There’s also a way to search by publisher, which can be found under “Advanced Search” at the top of the page. Try searching “Acorn” in that field to get an astonishing list of BBC mystery series. There’s tons of Agatha Christie-inspired media like Marple and Poirot as well as more modern, gritty series like Wire in the Blood and Vera. Everyone should take some time to explore the wide range of television content Hoopla has on offer. You might be surprised because it is A LOT. 

Not looking for a TV show or movie? Select “Audiobooks” from the “Browse” menu. From the next page it’s fun to see what everyone else has been reading, so under “SORT BY” select “Popularity” and feast your eyes. Lucy Foley’s excellent The Hunting Party (2018) appears near the top of this list, with good reason. Fans of locked-room, or snowed-in mysteries will get a kick out of the unreliable narrators and the sense that you are overhearing something not meant for your ears.

I also like to use the “User Ratings” setting of the “SORT BY” drop-down menu. Not everyone rates their checkouts on Hoopla so the results don’t line up with “Popularity”. Apparently, users really like The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Anthony Boucher. Will someone please read one of these to tell me if they’re any good? 

Folks, I do not enjoy camping because in my mind, that is how one gets murdered by some unkillable psychopath who thirsts for the blood of co-ed campers. Confusingly, I cannot stop listening to true crime audiobooks that describe the psychology and pathology of the worst sorts of criminals. Hop on over to RBDigital to download some of the finest true crime you’ll ever encounter. First, there’s Robert Hare’s Without Conscience (1993). Hare is the man credited with creating the Psychopath Checklist and therefore a giant in his field. He’s also interviewed in Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test (2011) which is available on Hoopla. Now that some context has been laid, read Whoever Fights Monsters (1992) by Robert K. Ressler. This fella, right here, is credited with coining the term “serial killer” in the late 1970s. He also acted as a consultant to Thomas Harris while he wrote The Silence of the Lambs. More recently, he was fictionalized as Agent Bill Tench on the popular Netflix series Mindhunter. Quite the career! 

Too much murderer talk? Check out Death’s Acre (2004) by William M. Bass. This man is responsible for the creation of the so-called Body Farm located at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Bass’ contributions to the field of forensic science are pretty staggering. His research facility allowed scientists to study the decomposition of human bodies in open air, buried in barrels, submerged in water, and on and on. This research has been extrapolated to aid in murder investigations around the world. Death’s Acre focuses on the science behind crime scenes as opposed to the psychology of the criminal which I thought made the content less graphic. Plus, Bass seems like a big old sweety and I enjoyed his tone.

Once again, if murder mysteries or true crime are not your favorite things, rest easy in the knowledge that all three of our digital book platforms have thousands upon thousands of titles to choose from. If that is a daunting task, I will let you in on a little secret: librarians LOVE the chance to provide old-school library services such as reader’s advisory in this ever-modernizing library landscape. Please do not hesitate to reach out for book picks, or for help using our array of super awesome digital services. 

Posted in Nonfiction, Science

Epidemiology: Containing What Ails Us

Epidemiology has been pushed to the forefront of conversations since the coronavirus pandemic began. Epidemiologists identify emerging diseases, how they spread, and how best to prevent people from getting ill. For my blog post this week, I’ve found some books that cover how epidemiologists work and about past pandemics. As with my other list posts, I’ve included a summary of the book from its publisher.

Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction by Rodolfo Saracci

“Epidemiology plays an all-important role in many areas of medicine, from discovering the relationship between tobacco smoking and lung cancer, to documenting the impact of diet, the environment, and exercise on general health, to tracking the origin and spread of new epidemics such as Swine Flu. It is truly a vital field, central to the health of society, but it is often poorly understood, largely due to misrepresentations in the media. In this Very Short Introduction, an internationally recognized authority on epidemiology, Dr. Rodolfo Saracci, provides a wealth of information on this key field, dispelling some of the myths surrounding the study of epidemiology, and explaining what epidemiology is and how vital it is to the discovery, control, and prevention of disease in world populations. Dr. Saracci provides a general explanation of the principles behind clinical trials, and explains the nature of basic statistics concerning disease. He also looks at the ethical and political issues related to obtaining and using information concerning patients, and trials involving placebos.”

Continue reading “Epidemiology: Containing What Ails Us”