Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A brother and sister take on "Eclipse"...........

A Skeptical Writer And His Twi-Hard Sister Hit The Cinema

Posted on

I didn't trust myself to see "Eclipse" alone and be able to come back with a fair-minded assessment of what I'd witnessed.

Having yawned my way through the first two flicks in the vampire series, I know that when it comes to all things "Twilight," I just...don't get it. Luckily, my sister is a committed fan: she's read all the books, watched "Twilight" and "New Moon" multiple times, even rushed out to get "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner," though it was available for free online, because she needed to add the volume to her collection.

I asked her to escort me to a Monday screening, and she was only too happy to accept the offer. My plan was simple: she would be my Twi-barometer, my finger on the pulse of Edward, my wolf pack interpreter.

And — whaddya know! — we were on the same page after an opening scene that follows the brutal conversion of Riley from an innocent kid into the eventual leader of Victoria's newborn vampire army. The soot-smoked back alleys of rainy Seattle set the sinister mood as Riley is hunted by the unseen Victoria, as he flees in terror, as he ultimately succumbs in agony to her bite. It is as gritty and, in its own way, realistic as anything we've ever seen from the big screen franchise, and it left me hoping director David Slade was going to do something with his source material that his predecessors had not, something magical and transporting: turning Stephenie Meyer's prose into a movie I could actually care about. My sister? The opener left her literally on the edge of her seat, palms sweaty, a satisfied smile on her face.

The screen faded to black...and then opened on a field of flowers upon which Edward and Bella sprawl. She reads aloud the Robert Frost poem, "Fire and Ice," which Meyer employs as her book's epigraph. No disrespect to Mr. Frost, but 90 years after those lines were written, his poem has become an undeniable cliché, the stuff of elementary school poetry units. To hear Bella intoning, "From what I've tasted of desire," was to know that Slade's sinister opening scene was an aberration, and I was in for two hours of straining teen angst, stilted dialogue and a romantic rapture I'd simply never be able to understand. Because it is Edward and Bella in the field with their Intro to Poetry seminar, rather than Riley and his cruel transformation, that sets the tone for what is to come.

What follows, then, is beautiful to look at — "Eclipse" is easily the most technically proficient and lovingly composed film in the series — but in the end only amounts to a whole lot of chattering. Bella talks about how she wants Edward to change her into a vampire. Edward talks about how he won't have sex with her until they're married. Jacob talks about how much he loves Bella. Bella talks about how she doesn't love Jacob. Bella's dad talks about how he doesn't trust Edward. And the Cullens talk about Victoria's nefarious plans to wipe them out.

Exposition is a necessary part of storytelling, but when I'm constantly told things without seeing them put into action, well, I strain to believe them. And that, I suppose, is one of my big "Twilight" problems. I'm a skeptic, whereas my sister is content to take all of this on faith. Of course Bella and Edward are soul mates; of course Bella and Jacob have a simmering romantic bond; of course Victoria and her army really have a chance of destroying the Cullens and the human girl about to join their clan.

As "Eclipse" pushed on, I kept glancing over at my sister. Her eyes were riveted to the screen when Edward finally asks Bella to marry him. She gasped as Bella hitched her leg around Edward during that much-discussed bedroom bump-and-grind. I even think I heard her tee-hee as the love triangle reached a steamy climax in the snowy tent scene. And there, so it seems, is your fire and your ice: Edward the cold-blooded vampire, Jacob the hot-blooded werewolf.

Yet I was left not caring how "the world will end," as the Frost poem goes. Perhaps it's not merely a result of the film's storytelling shortcomings. The actors must bear responsibility too. As Jacob, Taylor Lautner has no setting except to turn his emotional dial to 10: I'm angry! I'm hurt! I'm tough! There is nothing subtle about his acting style, and it left me all too aware I was watching fiction. Robert Pattinson is simply done a disservice here, as he really has nothing to do; his sole directive is to keep Bella safe, and it leaves him without a character arc of his own. You could say this is his finest performance of the series, except that only leaves you wondering how much he would have excelled had his character been given anything interesting to accomplish. Kristen Stewart, meanwhile, is saddled with easily the worst wig that the big screen has had to offer in the 21st century. I've watched Stewart at her finest — see my Sundance review of "Welcome to the Rileys" — but she has nothing to dig her teeth into in these "Twilight" movies.

The most genuine moment of the movie comes when Bella and her father are talking in the kitchen about Edward. Her dad tries to tell her to use protection, Bella gets embarrassed, her dad gets even more embarrassed and finally Bella exclaims, "I'm a virgin!" It's funny and, even more important, it's real. And it serves to highlight how artificially constructed so much in "Eclipse" really is.

And so it goes. As I became increasingly bored, my sister only became more sucked into the movie's romantic machinations. She readily acknowledges the franchise's shortcomings, its occasional cheesiness, its incongruities, and she loves it nonetheless. "Eclipse" took her on a love-filled journey, and she was delighted with the results. The first thing she said as we got out of our seats to leave was, "I can't wait to get the DVD."

For my part, I couldn't wait to get home. Yet as we parted ways at the subway, I had a feeling we both could be right. Goodness knows how she suffered her way through "Iron Man 2" with me, a film I loved but which similarly strains logic, presents paint-by-numbers caricatures and delivers an anticlimactic final battle. I'll side with Tony Stark and she'll be happy to have Edward Cullen all for herself. And we can both continue to go to the movies together.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

River Rhythms @ Park Behind Library!

2010 WATERFORD RIVER RHYTHMS - "Cooler by the River" 1ST AND 3RD THURSDAYS, JUNE 3 - SEPT. 2, 6:30PM to 8:30PM

Join us this summer for Waterford River Rhythms at Village Hall Park. We will have "seven shows" this year, June thru September. Our Mission is: "To continually provide an Upscale Event that will Enhance the Community." TDS Telecom has once again been gracious enough to be a WRR sponsor. We have also added a sponsor this year, Lauer Financial Services. Our shows would not be possible without their support. Please say thank you whenever you can.
The 2009 shirts are $15.00 and come in men's and women's sizes, black and teal respectively. Limited Men's sizes available. FREE SHIPPING!
You're not just buying a shirt! You're helping support our FREE concerts in Village Hall Park. Limited quantities available, Purchase Now!
2010 shirts will be available at the shows.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So Cold the River......

Courtesy of French Lick Resort
In 1902, the dome that lay atop West Baden Springs Hotel was thought to be the largest in the world.
So Cold The River
By Michael KorytaHardcover, 528 pagesLittle, Brown and CompanyList price: $24.99
Read An Excerpt

June 15, 2010
When crime novelist Michael Koryta was 8 years old, his father took him to visit the ruins of the nearby West Baden Springs Hotel in Indiana — a hotel that was once so magnificent it was called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was a visit he wouldn't soon forget.
"It stands out as a very vivid memory because even in that state of disrepair, you could sense the grandeur that had been there," Koryta tells NPR's Michele Norris. "With that arose this question of why had it ever been here, and then why did it disappear? From that point on, I was very interested in the history."
The former reporter and private detective was so interested that he took his time finding the right way to write about it.
"I'd tried for a while to work that setting and that history into a traditional crime novel plot, and it just never worked," he says. "Everything was always returning to a casino heist novel — which I did not want to write."
It wasn't until he decided to go in a completely new — and supernatural — direction that a novel began to take shape.
That novel, So Cold the River, follows filmmaker Eric Shaw as he's hired to uncover and record the history of a dying man who has left precious little information about his roots, save for the name of his hometown — West Baden Springs — and a bottle of Pluto Water — a substance manufactured in nearby French Lick, Ind., around the turn of the century that claimed to cure any affliction known to man.
Shaw's search takes him to a newly restored West Baden Springs Hotel and the mysterious Lost River — an evil force that flows around and under the hotel — to confront the ghosts of his client's past.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Free Internet Safety Guide for Parents

via Publisher's Weekly:

In the booklet Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online, OnGuard Online (a federal government website) gives adults practical tips to help teens and children navigate the online world. This guide encourages parents to reduce the risks by talking to kids about how they communicate-online and off-and helping kids engage in appropriate conduct. Net Cetera covers what parents need to know, where to go for more information, and issues to raise with kids about living their lives online.
Feel free to order as many free copies as you'd like, put your own sticker on them, reprint sections in a newsletter or on a website, download a button or link to it, or even reprint them with your own logo. These materials are in the public domain. To order free copies of Net Cetera, visit To view and print from the web, go to

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Publisher's Weekly Summer Picks

Staff Picks

'PW' makes some suggestions for summer readingSummer's here. Or there. Or on its way. And that means summer books, because there's always more time to read when the weather warms up. On the beach. On the lawn. In the park. The roof? Find your sweet spot and try some of our favorites.

AX: A Collection of Alternative Manga, Vol. 1 Edited by Sean Michael Wilson (Top Shelf)This fascinating 400-page anthology collects work by more than 33 artists published in Japan's acclaimed bimonthly magazine of alternative manga and shows there's a lot more to manga than magical school girls and robots. More like American indie comics than mainstream manga, these works are edgy, wildly imaginative, and just plain weird, and open a whole new window on Japanese comics. —Calvin Reid

Dark Harbor: The War for the New York Waterfront Nathan Ward (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)Following the footsteps of New York Sun reporter Mike Johnson, Ward beautifully evokes the glory days of newspapers as they covered the seedy and deadly mob-run New York City waterfront of the 1930s and '40s, where graft was the norm and dead bodies turned up monthly. -Mark RotellaCity Dog, Country FrogMo Willems, illus. by Jon J Muth (Disney-Hyperion)In this pitch-perfect picture book collaboration, Willems and Muth follow two animal friends throughout an entire year, with the arc of their friendship paralleling the changing seasons. An understated yet wonderfully evocative rumination on friendship and loss, highlighted by Muth's glorious watercolors. —Diane RobackSuper Sad

True Love Story Gary Shteyngart (Random)The latest whirlwind satire from Shteyngart is a grim, knockout vision of the near future, in which an aging New York hipster struggles to win love and eternal life, celebrates the small pleasures of living (like his smelly book collection and hip Staten Island friends), and learns just how far those in power will go to break the back of an unruly underclass. Enormously funny and frighteningly closeto-home. —Marc Schultz

Subway Christoph Niemann (Greenwillow)Niemann puts aside the agony of service cuts and track work to revel in the joys of the New York City subway system, territory he's also covered in his Abstract City blog for the New York Times. His exuberant picture book is full of details that will ring true for commuters of any age—the first breeze of an approaching train, the “world-class view” on a Q trip over the Manhattan Bridge, or the fact that rats on the tracks can be both disgusting and entertaining. —John A. Sellers

The King's Best Highway Eric Jaffe (Scribner)If you've ever lived near or driven on U.S. Route 1 (aka the Boston Post Road), you will be enthralled by Jaffe's (no relation) account of American history through the lens of this landmark highway. From its origins as a Native American trail through its near replacement by 19th-century railroads to the rise of the interstate system (I-95, anyone?), the Post Road has registered signal changes in American life, and its story is told engagingly. —Sonia Jaffe Robbins

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ten Best Cookbooks of 2010

I found this on NPR's website and thought I'd pass it along:

Whenever I'm in a farmers market, I always find myself wishing I were one of those cooks who buy "what looks good" and then go home and ... improvise. Alas, the fount of my invention does not run so deep. For years, I've thought there ought to be a farmers market cookbook organized by ingredient — a portable index you could take with you so you're not scared to buy the Japanese eggplant when it's sitting there, looking like a movie star — so perfect, so glamorous, but so unapproachable.
Well, guess what? After literally years of anticipation, the eat-local revolution has hit the mainstream. You can't turn around in the cookbook section without being photographically bombarded by wheelbarrows and market carts of zaftig, color-saturated summer produce.
There are books that look at produce by the season. There are books organized by the techniques you use to cook them. And needless to say, there are books organized by ingredient — just as I wished for once upon a time. We could have used these books years ago, but now that we have them it's dang near impossible to choose. Still, I'm going to try:
F Is For Fennel, F Is For Fig

Melissa's Everyday Cooking with Organic Produce: A Guide to Easy-to-Make Dishes with Fresh Organic Fruits & Vegetables, by Cathy Thomas, hardcover, 336 pages, Wiley, list price: $29.95
The eat-local revolution is about eating the best of what there is, when you can get it. And Melissa's, the California-based international specialty produce distributor, does its best to push the limits of season and geography so you can have your kumquats and your Valencia oranges just when they're available. But for this book, Melissa's concentrated on more commonly available fruits and vegetables. It's more like an alphabetical, quick-reference greatest hits of produce than a complete works. If you're browsing a spring market, you won't find any help here for your ramps and fiddleheads, but you'll do fine with A for Asparagus (Rosemary Spaghetti with Roasted Asparagus.)
There are a few protein recipes, such as Grilled Pork tenderloin with Fresh Cherry Relish, each designed to highlight a fruit or vegetable. In general, the book lives up to its promise of "everyday" food; these are homey, easygoing recipes of the sort that you might see in a community cookbook. You might see a sorbet or stir-fry or fruit salsa, but you won't find a tagine, gravlax or anything cooked sous-vide.
Local Farm Tour, Couch-Potato Style

Eating Local: The Cookbook Inspired by America's Farmers, by Sur La Table and Janet Fletcher, hardcover, 320 pages, Andrews McMeel Universal, list price: $35
This one is the book you give as a gift to your locavore friends when they invite you to the beach house for a week. Like most Sur La Table books, it's a feast for the eyes: lushly photographed, and somehow both elegant and earthy. Haven't got any friends with a beach house? Yeah, me neither, actually. Fortunately, Eating Local cooks as good as it looks. Most of these recipes use strong seasonings (lemon zest, caraway seed) in smart little combinations you wouldn't have thought of yourself (at least not on a hot summer day when you're sweating in some parking lot next to the farmers market). Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Sauce and Summer Squash Carpaccio with Arugula, Pecorino, and Almonds are good examples of the kind of fancy-looking food that actually isn't all that hard to make that you find in this book.
Of course, the nice thing about not actually being a farmer is that you don't have to knock yourself out every day for the sake of some fussy little brassica. For those afternoons when you're feeling very "let's not and say we did," you could do worse than to lie around reading about the small farms that inspired the book, like Red Fire Farm with its yearly heirloom tomato festival, and Full Belly Farm in California with its 360!-day harvest. (You just know they're painting their toenails on those 5 days off.)
Count To Three

Fast, Fresh and Green: More than 90 Delicious Recipes for Veggie Lovers, by Susie Middleton, paperback, 224 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $24.95
Among the many outstanding produce books you'll find this year, this one's the sleeper hit. With its understated cover and nondescript title, you could easily walk right past it on the bookshelf. Pretty much every recipe in this book subscribes to the format "X with Y and Z." What Middleton does, with spectacular success, is take an ingredient and pair it with two, maybe three, complementary flavors. How many times have you found yourself cluelessly eyeing a heap of vegetables 10 minutes before dinner and hoping it tastes good sauteed with garlic? For those kinds of situations, this book is a godsend. Whether it's Warm Parmesan Fava Beans with Shallots and Mint or Sesame-Ginger Marinated Grilled Shiitakes, these recipes show that sometimes a few flavorful gestures — not all of them smelling of garlic — are all you need.
Not only is Middleton an exquisite matchmaker, but she's quick about it. The book is organized by technique: "quick-roasting," "quick-braising," "no cooking," "two-stepping" (a fast blanch followed by a flash in the pan). You save time on cooking, and maybe you won't wake up with garlic breath quite so often, either.
Yes, I Dare To Eat A Peach!

Farmer's Market Desserts, by Jennie Schacht, paperback, 208 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $24.95
Fresh fruits of the season — swarms of strawberries, piles of peaches, armies of apples. Do you really need a book just to help you use them up? I know I do. There's nothing sadder than a pint of berries going moldy in your fridge because you had every intention of making a tart, but couldn't get motivated to hunt down a recipe. I mean, it's summer — who wants to cook something extra, never mind turn on the oven?
But the recipes in Farmer's Market Desserts make a convincing case for planning ahead. Make a Black & Blue Buckle in high summer, when blueberries and blackberries are in season. And when apriums — the babies of the pluots-plumcot family — hit the market, you can tuck them into a pillowy Aprium Almond Tart. When your overripe fruit starts to go soft, turn it into Berry Sauce for Lemon Verbena Buttermilk Ice Cream. Now your fridge is a haven for scrumptious leftovers, instead of an old-fruit penitentiary.
Mix Me A Julep, Would You? I'll Be Here In The Hammock

Porch Parties: Cocktail Recipes and Easy Ideas for Outdoor Entertaining, by Denise Gee, hardcover, 144 pages, Chronicle Books, list price: $16.95
Every summer brings a dizzy fleet of cocktail books — with their fruit garnishes, their shapely glasses, their cute little paper umbrellas, you can get a beach buzz from these books just looking at them. Porch Parties, though every bit as tempting, sells itself closer to home. These are summer drinks to sip at leisure, at 5 o'clock on the veranda, to the tune of distant thunder. Some are juicy variations on the classics, like a Pomegranate Pimm's Cup. Others — a whole chapter full — have no alcohol whatsoever, like Minted Raspberry Ice Tea.
There's an abundance of rustic, easygoing drinks, with names like June Bug and Blackberry Smash. Many feature summer fruit, and several would be entirely at home served in a Mason jar, which is apt since they are something you can do with the fruit you know you're too lazy to pickle or preserve.
The Faraway Nearby, On A Stick

Planet Barbecue!: 309 Recipes, 60 Countries, by Steven Raichlen, paperback, 656 pages, Workman Publishing Co., list price: $22.95
Steven Raichlen, who bills himself as "live-fire cooking's foremost authority, ambassador, and author," has a grill show on PBS, a sprawling website, and millions of copies of books in print. Now this modestly ambitious grillmeister has gone literally global, with a book that undertakes to investigate the art of cooking over fire in every corner of the world.
These are not shy recipes — but I think we can agree that's a good thing in a grill book. The Best Beef Sates in Singapore shouts with Southeast Asian spice-rub flavor and is worth every minute you have to spend dicing the beef into tiny 1/2-inch cubes. You'll recognize Ginger, Garlic, and Honey-grilled Baby Back Ribs immediately for the sort of food that siblings have fought over since our cave days. In addition to accessible recipes like these, there are weird offerings from the remotest corners of barbecue: Azerbaijani grilled ice cream, South African grilled snook, Kurdish grilled pumpkin dip. This is a raucous, flame-kissed joyride filled with trivia, tips and postcards from the fringe — if there is any flaw in the plan here, it's that summer isn't long enough to try every recipe.
Show And Tell, With Meat

BBQ 25, by Adam Perry Lang, hardcover, 68 pages, Harper Studio, list price: $19.99
If Planet Barbecue! is the kitchen-sink approach to grilling, BBQ25 is the minimalist side of the coin. There are only 25 recipes in this book, but the publishers have made a virtue out of austerity by using an innovative design that is, as far as I know, unique among cookbooks.
BBQ 25 is a 66-page board book — sort of a Goodnight Moon for grown-ups who like to cook — with one graphics-rich recipe per spread. Iconic little line drawings show what tools and techniques you'll use, color photographs show the most crucial aspects of prep, and the text is laconic but clear.
These are only the most popular cuts of meat — sorry, no goat spleens — but Lang has chosen a single, fairly easy, flavor-forward recipe for each. Thanks to brining and a huge dose of herbs, chicken breast is a far cry from its usual bland self. For grilled fish steaks, Lang demonstrates how to get the protein to set, briefly, on a griddle — ensuring that you don't end up leaving half the fish stuck to the grill grates. Already won over by the wipe-clean pages and user-friendly format, I'm ready and waiting for Noodles 25, Eggs 25, and Pan-Fried 25. Are you listening, Harper Studio?
Orange Clogs, Green Vegetables

Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking, by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner, hardcover, 272 pages, Ecco, list price: $29.99
I never feel quite right promoting the books of star chefs — goodness knows, they don't need my help! — but Mario Batali's latest book is hard to resist. I think it was the huge vegetable section that sold me on it. Every recipe had something new to add to my vegetable repertoire, and every page looks like a centerfold. As a frequent sufferer of the green bean blues, I was really happy to vary my routine by trying Green Beans with Charred Onions. If you can get the special Tuscan cheese, Zach's Escarole Salad is a good solution for an underappreciated green. And even my 3-year-old liked Broccoli Rabe with Mozzarella Crema.
There's more to the book, of course — mostly easy food like salads, pasta, pizza. They're a mix of the familiar (penne all'arrabiata) and the less so (linguine with zucchini and bottarga), but most are within reach of a good supermarket. If you live near a good Italian importer, the sky's the limit.
Read The Fine Print

The Big Summer Cookbook: 300 fresh, flavorful recipes for those lazy, hazy days, by Jeff Cox, paperback, 352 pages, Wiley, list price: $24.95
The Big Summer Cookbook looks kind of like a no-nonsense telephone directory of stuff you can cook when it's hot. There's no mouthwatering photography, no glamour shots of oozing figs, and zero rhapsodizing about biodynamic farms, just page after page of cramped type. But it's chock-full of useful information for the pragmatic summer cook, from indexes sorted by ingredient, to comprehensive lists of wild summer berries or herbs for summer salads. Mostly, the recipes are unfussy classics like potato salad, gazpacho, burgers, with a few mild excursions (Easy Tomato Tarts) and casual-restaurant staples (Carrot-Ginger Dressing.) You may have similar recipes for many of these favorites, but there is something to be said for having them all in one place, along with some interesting variations.
Odd, though not entirely disagreeable, are the snippets of memoir interspersed throughout the book in that same 8-point type I challenge anyone past 40 to read with ease. (Such digressions are meant to be savored, surely; as they are, it's like trying to read a Rilke sonnet on the nutrition info panel of a cereal box.)
Omnivore On Holiday

The Vegetarian Option, by Simon Hopkinson, hardcover, 224 pages, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, list price: $24.95
The British nonvegetarian Simon Hopkinson has charmed readers more or less yearly since the American release of his very popular Roast Chicken and Other Stories, so even strict readers will probably forgive his nondogmatic, quirky, part-time attitude toward vegetarianism. His latest book is an English-looking volume with a Francophile sensibility, inspired by a meal thrown together from leftover vegetables in his fridge. The book is long on last-minute, kitchen-garden dishes like Tagliatelle with Scarlet Runner Beans, Basil and Mint, and short on raw foods and yogurt smoothies. Many recipes lean toward the savory, cheesy end of the spectrum — don't look for "The Vegan Option" or "The Fat-Free Option" to be Hopkinson's next book — but he makes an occasional, sure-footed foray into non-European modes, such as Carrot Salad with Cilantro and Green Chili.
Desserts are warm, fruity, rich, or all three — pies, crisps, an Orange Brulee. No question, Hopkinson is a sybarite, and the delights of this book lie as much in its unblushing prose as in its recipes: "When a freshly harvested cauliflower is in the peak of condition I gain great pleasure in running my hand over its creamy white curds, almost completely enclosed by sturdy green leafy ribs, still wet with rainwater or morning dew." I beg your pardon

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Liz Salander Trilogy....

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Steig Larsson's "Girl with a Dragon Tattoo" trilogy has consistently climbed the besteller's charts the past few years. His third (and last-- sadly, he passed last year), "Girl Who Kicked The Hornest's Nest" is another heart-stopping, chilling read from the master of mystery.

Set in Sweden, these thrillers are not "easy" readers, but they're definitely worth the extra effort. The female protagonist, Liz Salander is "the most original heroine to emerge in crime fiction for many years" says the Independent.

In the new book of the series, Liz is set to face murder charges. Officially under police guard, she is allowed contact with only her surgeon or her lawyer. But Mikael Blomkvist, editor at Millenium magazine and Salander's self-appointed guardian angel, will not give up on this strangely compelling girl.

With the covert aid of Blomkvist and his journalists, Salander must first prove her innocence. The survivor of institutionalized abuse and violence, Salander, even in hospital, is spoiling for another fight.

Pick up a copy at the library today!! This one is not to be missed!