What I’ve Been Watching…

Angel DVD set

After watching all the available seasons of Supernatural, I needed to find something to fill the Winchester void. Many positive recommendations later I decided to watch Angel, a show that finished airing on television so I wouldn’t have to wait for the DVDs to be released. I wanted something with a paranormal element, lots of action, and writing filled with wit and sarcasm and I found it! Being a fan of Bones, I already knew I was going to like watching David Boreanaz as the lead character. He plays Angel, a 250-year-old vampire who is trying to redeem his soul by “helping the hopeless.” He forms an agency in Los Angeles and recruits employees from his past to help clients plagued by demons, ghosts, and other creatures of the night. Important questions like, “Did you ever wonder what would happen if you were turned into a puppet?” and “What does Mad Men’s Pete Campbell look like with long hair?” and “Why do I hate Rita from Dexter so much?” are answered throughout the five season series.

smile time puppet

 

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who will be going back even further in time to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

What I’ve Been Reading

Tana French Series

Tana French writes a set of psychological thrillers that take place in Ireland. She’s up to five so far and each one centers on a different detective in the “Dublin Murder Squad.” Not a traditional series, her books always delight and surprise with complex plots, rich characters, and a murder mystery that has more layers than a really good Superbowl dip. Her characters have flaws and childhoods that leave them with lingering baggage that they carry with them while on the job. The best thing about these is that you don’t have to read them in order since they don’t overlap in any way. If you’re looking for a meaty story for a snowy day you’ve found one. Pick one up (any one) before they’re developed into a movie series!

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is listening to Irish music after putting French’s books down.

What I’ve Been Watching

mentalist

The Mentalist‘s main character, Patrick Jane, is a charming and suave man with a brain reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. The television series chronicles a police department located in San Francisco that uses Jane as a consultant to solve murders. His acute powers of observation and “magic” tricks help solve crimes without forensic evidence and are a delight to watch. His team gels together midway through the first season when he forms a true partnership with team captain Teresa Lisbon. This show can be added to your binge watching list for the winter months! Throughout the series you can see character flashback episodes, learn how Jane sharpened his skills growing up as a Carney, and best of all watch all the gag reels on the six seasons which are available on DVD at OWL.

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who can’t wait to see who Red John turns out to be!

What I’ve Been Watching

bones (1)

My husband and I started watching the television show based on Kathy Reichs’ book series, Bones. It has all the good ingredients of a successful, long lasting show (now in its tenth season): great chemistry between main characters, love triangles galore, and bizarre murder mysteries that you hope never happen to anyone you know! The two main characters, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan and FBI special agent Seeley Booth, have the same sexual chemistry that Mulder and Scully had throughout the X-Files. Most episodes end with my husband and me yelling at the TV telling the characters to just take the plunge already. Their props department does a fantastic job of creating skeletons that have exploded, melted, and decayed after endless murder scenarios. We even watch the DVD extras about how the special effects department makes some scenes come to life. And, no binge watching season is complete without a gag reel where you get to see the stars of the show grasp for words and try not to giggle through an autopsy.

 

What I’ve Been Watching

Jack Bauer

With the resurgence of action hero Jack Bauer in the new release of 24: Live Another Day, I’ve decided to give the television show “24” a shot (pun intended!). The original show ran for eight seasons and was groundbreaking in terms of filming scenes in “real time” (one-hour of television equals one-hour of “real life”). Each season equals one day in counter intelligence officer Jack Bauer’s life. His mission is to save the world and he does so again and again battling terrorists and nuclear weapons, while becoming close with American Presidents. The action, suspense, betrayal and intrigue set the bar for an action show. Give it a try, but don’t watch too close to bedtime. Your heart will be racing too much to go to sleep!

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is counting down the days for 24: Live Another Day to be released on DVD.

My Dear Watson

Watson actors

One of the first series I remember reading was the Sherlock Holmes stories. By the time I was 11, I had read everything in the children’s section at my local library (remember that the publishing field in children’s and teens wasn’t nearly as prolific as it is now). It was the first time I went into the adult stacks. I felt so grown up, especially when I started reading the stories. I think it was the first time I used a dictionary while reading for pleasure. I loved the complex plots, Dr. Watson’s observations, and most of all Sherlock’s power of deduction. After watching a few new re-inventions of Sherlock, I remembered when I tried to become Sherlock’s protégé. I observed details about relatives and said them aloud. As you can imagine, my observations went over like a lead balloon. I concocted my own recipe for lifting fingerprints, which consisted of shoe polish and baby powder. I think it took me two whole weekends to clean up my mess. I recruited my little sister to be my Watson, keeping a journal of my witty remarks. My mother had enough and I was told to read something else. I don’t know how happy she was when I brought home Stephen King, but at least I didn’t ask for a dog!

My favorite things about the Sherlock stories haven’t changed over the years. In fact, with new Sherlock stories being made into movies, mini-series, and television series I’m ready to rediscover the original stories. If you haven’t tried any of the new Sherlock’s, I urge you to give them a try:

Elementary

There are many twists and turns in the television series, Elementary, featuring Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock and Lucy Liu as Watson. Miller’s Sherlock is a recovering addict who fled to New York City to begin anew. His Dr. Watson, played by a woman, is his live-in sober companion who keeps him on the straight and narrow. Their chemistry reminds me of Mulder and Scully in the X-Files days. Their cop partner is played by Aidan Quinn, who is fabulous as always! The storylines in NYC are never dull. Plus, they develop the arch-enemy Moriarty plot line throughout the season. It builds to a climax in the final episode of the season with a twist you will never expect! I keep waiting for Lucy Liu to whip up one of her Kill Bill fight scenes, but it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe when the second season comes out on DVD.

Sherlock Holmes character posters of Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock and Jude Law and Watson

Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and Game of Shadows features Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock and Jude Law as Watson. These movies are highly entertaining on so many levels. The signature highlight being the slow-motion fight scenes. Sherlock, being a student of martial arts, gets himself into physical danger at every turn down a dark alley. Of course, you can’t help but laugh at the banter between two A-list actors in every scene they appear together. The endings of the two films are always surprising, with an Ocean’s 11-style recap.

Sherlock Benedict

The BBC’s hit mini-series features Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson. My husband and I were apprehensive in watching this series. We loved Elementary so much, we didn’t think that another version of the story could compare. I’m glad we decided to watch this after much coaxing from my fellow librarians! The BBC version has its own trademark on the classic stories and in no way diminishes or competes with the American television series. The close-up camera details of the murder scene and victim bring details to the viewer as Sherlock is observing them. I can never quite figure out how Sherlock is going to solve the case, but he inevitably does.

OWL has all the original Sherlock stories. If you’re looking for a place to start reading the classics, here are a few ideas:

Scandal in Bohemia“: This story is the one and only where Irene Adler makes an appearance. Irene has been magnified in my favorite films to be Sherlock’s love interest / girlfriend / wife, though in the original story she outwits Sherlock and never returns into his life.

The Adventure of the Final Problem“: This is only one of two stories that have Sherlock’s nemesis, Moriarty, in it. Sherlock refers to him often, but he only appears in two stories. You meet him in the flesh and see him for his true “Napoleon of Crime” self, as Sherlock describes him.

The Adventure of the Speckled Band“: Author, Conan Doyle, identified this as his favorite story. He loved it so much, he wrote and produced a play based on this story. The plot is very complex and involves a “cold-case” murder that was committed two years prior.

With four novels, and 56 stories I think I’m going to be busy a while!

JLM HolmesLisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who will be watching other Jonny Lee Miller films over the weekend.

 

Supernatural

Supernatural xfiles

Even though the show has been running for the past eight years, I recently discovered the television series Supernatural. The premise is simple: two brothers take over the family business of hunting demons, vampires, and other supernatural creatures. The brothers, Sam and Dean, travel cross country saving lives in a ’67 Impala nicked named Baby. My younger self is staring at me as I type this with her mouth hanging open in shock and disbelief…but this show is better than The X-Files. I know, I know, I didn’t think it was possible either, but it is!

My husband normally doesn’t watch anything that isn’t firmly grounded in reality. His favorite shows involve cops and lawyers. Every time I have this show on when he comes home from work, he gets sucked right in! I think it was their classic car that originally caught his attention, but he’s equally enjoying this show with me now. He joins Dean in his ’80’s ballad sing-alongs on their long journeys, including Bon Jovi‘s “Wanted Dead or Alive,” REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore,” and Asia’s “Heat of the Moment.”

If the witty dialogue and acting isn’t a good enough reason for you to take a look, try keeping up with pop culture references in each forty-two minute episode. I’m constantly pausing and Googling as I watch to make sure I’m not missing anything. Even the show titles crack me up: “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding,” “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo,” “Dog Dean Afternoon.” So, before you begin reading the official Wiki page, I have a list of my top-five episodes that will make you start watching. This is really hard for me, kind of like choosing my favorite children:

supernatural teddy bear

Season 4, episode 8: Wishful Thinking

Word gets out that a wishing fountain actually works, and soon a tiny town is overrun with life-size teddy bears contemplating what the meaning of life is, and very odd couples in love. Of course, when magic is involved there is always a high price to pay for it. Still, it made me wonder what I would wish for. (Is anybody else thinking Sam and Dean clones?)

Supernatural books

Season 4, episode 18: The Monster at the End of This Book

Sam and Dean interview a comic book shop owner and find out that they are characters in a cult series. Every detail about their lives (and near future lives) is chronicled in a book series called Supernatural. There’s a fan club and Cosplay group that centers around their exciting lives, and they join in on the fun for one murder mystery evening. They are surrounded by men who are dressed like them and look-a-likes of their past girlfriends. Creepy, yes; funny, hell yes!

Supernatural tv

Season 5, episode 8: Changing Channels

The brothers get caught in a TV version of hell, channel surfing their way through a Japanese game show, a forensics drama, a sitcom, and a sexy medical series. They have to “act” the roles they are assigned in order to get back to their normal lives. The best part of this episode is that they are thrown into a show similar to “Grey’s Anatomy” where they meet a patient, Denny Duquette, who is in desperate need of a heart transplant. Denny’s character was played by actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan who also played Sam and Dean’s father in the series’ first season. I told you, you needed to keep up!

supernatural french

Season 6, episode 15: The French Mistake

Sam and Dean are put into an alternate universe where they are Jared Padalecki (the actor who plays Sam) and Jensen Ackles (the actor who plays Dean). They jump through a window and are transported to the set of a television series called Supernatural. In this world, supernatural beings are fictional and there is no such thing as hunters. They find out the history of their alter egos and are horrified when they learn about their pasts. Jared is married to the actress who played a demon in season 4, and Jensen began his acting career on a soap opera! They try everything to get out of their Hollywood personas, and boy is it great to watch.

supernatural gun

Season 8, episode 8: Hunteri Heroici

This slapstick episode is where Supernatural meets Looney Tunes. A murder investigation begins with a man whose heart literally came out of his chest at the sight of his true love. A robber drops an anvil on a bank teller, and then draws a black hole to leave the scene of the crime. This made me check out old episodes of Bugs and Road Runner.

So who’s coming with me to Comic Con next year?

supernatural bobbyLisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who’s re-watching the best death episode ever filmed from Season 7, episode 10 called Death’s Door.

Literary Destinations

Living in our neck of the woods is the perfect location. We’re just a couple of hours from New York or Boston and have so many opportunities for awesome day trips! My husband and I have been taking advantage on the weekends and going on literary adventures. The children’s librarian in me is delighted with all there is to offer for picture book lovers:

Eric Carle Pigeon

The Eric Carle Picture Book Museum (Amherst, MA) is just about an hour and a half drive. (OWL’s pass admits two adults and four children into the museum for free.) In addition to housing Eric Carle’s art from various picture books, their exhibitions change about every six months and feature a mix of prolific and new picture book artists. This is one museum where I feel right at home, not having to worry too much about whispering and acting proper. Recently there was a Mo Willems exhibit that I had to see! I had fun with Pigeon (even though neither of us got to drive the bus), Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant and Piggie. In addition to being an art museum, there is a craft room to try out different art techniques. Even adults get to play with all of their fun art tools! Their library is full of Caldecott honors and winners, and the newest additions to the picture book medium. They have a regularly scheduled storytime for families, featuring new and classic picture books for all to enjoy. Their gift shop is expansive and has lots of signed books for gift giving, baby literacy-related toys, and even literacy-related clothes! (I had to buy myself a Pigeon shirt!)

Boston Public Courtyard

After spending a recent fall weekend in Boston, I went to the Boston Public Library (Boston, MA) for the first time. The library is amazing in size, offerings, and collections. The children’s room is named after the writer and illustrator of the Curious George series: Margret and H.A. Rey. But the most amazing thing about the library was the outdoor courtyard. Everyone was outside, eating snacks, on their laptops using the Wi-Fi, and reading various types of publications. If my husband and I lived in Boston, we agreed that lots of our spare time would be spent here!

Make Way for Ducklings

A short walk from the Boston Public Library is the Boston Public Gardens (Boston, MA). The park has a Make Way for Ducklings statue. If you’re not familiar with this classic children’s book it tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who can’t decide on the perfect place to start a family. The ducklings hatch and Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack follow Mama on a great adventure until they finally decide to live in the Gardens. This was the fifth book to win the Caldecott Medal in 1942 for most distinguished picture book. There’s always a line to have your picture taken with the family, but it’s well worth it.

Wild Things

My first visit to the New York Public Library (New York City, NY) was just one month ago. They were having a special exhibit called Why Children’s Books Matter. You can poke around for hours in this amazing exhibit. You can stomp through a Wild Things doorway, pause to read in the Goodnight Moon window, follow Harold’s Purple Crayon around the room, and walk through the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland. It was so neat to see where the first children’s room was created and where the first storytime was done in the world. I paid my tribute to Anne Carroll Moore, the first children’s librarian, on my way out the door.

Good Night Moon Room

The Children’s Museum  (New Haven, CT) also has a Goodnight Moon Room. Each room in the Children’s Museum is based on one of the theories of multiple intelligences. The Goodnight Room is the “linguistic” room and features the classic book in many different languages including Spanish, French, Korean, Japanese, Hebrew, and Braille. I just want to curl up and listen to a bedtime story in this peaceful space.

There are plenty of other day trips to take in the area to visit some “grownup” authors. We plan on making these visits, too:

Mark Twain House exterior

Mark Twain House (Hartford, CT) (OWL’s pass admits one complimentary adult admission with the purchase of one adult admission OR two complimentary child admissions with the purchase of one adult admission.)

Emily Dickinson House

Emily Dickinson Museum (Amherst, MA)

The Mount Edith Wharton

The Mount (Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox, MA)

Alcott House

Alcott House (in Concord, MA where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women)

New Bedford Whaling

New Bedford Whaling Museum (New Bedford, MA where Herman Melville left on the voyage that inspired Moby Dick)

What’s your favorite literary destination?

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is adding The Art Institute of Chicago to her Someday List to see the sixty-eight miniature rooms that inspired the children’s series The 68 Rooms.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Take me out to the ballgame

From April to October my main hobby is watching baseball. My house looks like a shrine to Fenway Park, with photographs my husband and I have taken while attending games over the years. We even have warning track dirt from the field in a baseball shaped container! When we’re not watching the Red Sox we enjoy attending games at Fuessenich Park to support our local collegiate team, the Torrington Titans.

It’s hard to describe just exactly why I love baseball so much. I love the concentration required to play the game, whether fielding, hitting, or pitching. I love that no matter what the odds are going into a game, the final score doesn’t always reflect the previous stats. I love that the cheer of the crowd can energize players so they have a chance to score one more run. And most of all, I love being outside and enjoying the weather as I chew on sunflower seeds.

Now that I’m about to settle into my winter hobbies, like crafting away in my chilly home office, I’ll watch films of hot, summer days. Here’s the list to warm me up:

Angels in the outfield

A young Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in Angels in the Outfield. He has trouble at home and prays that the L.A. Angels will win the World Series. As any fan dreams, his wish comes true. Angels, played by Danny Glover and Christopher Lloyd, keep the team from making too many mistakes.

Rookie and Little

Imagine that a freak accident gives you the power to be a major league pitcher at the age of 12. That’s the plot of Rookie of the Year. Henry enjoys the roar of the crowd and all the perks that come with being a starting pitcher.

In a different but similar film, Billy inherits the Minnesota Twins when his grandfather dies and bequeaths the team to him in Little Big League. Imagine being twelve and managing a professional baseball team. These movies can be enjoyed at any age, channeling your 12-year-old self, dreaming of making it big!

30 for 30

My sister got me hooked on ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series. This series covers all sports (not just baseball). There are 30 different filmmakers who made one-hour films about issues, trends, and rivalries from 1979-2009 that transformed the sports landscape. Of course, my favorite is called “Four Days in October,” which features the four games in the American League Championship series between the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox trailed 0-3, and came back to win 4-3 games to go to the World Series. This hour is truly emotional so get your tissues ready! I remember these games in real-time, as my husband and I were newlyweds. We thought we had something to do with the team winning because of our nuptials (you never know, right?!).

Field of Dreams

Kevin Costner hears voices in Field of Dreams. He decides to build a baseball field after listening to, “If you build it, they will come.” Ghosts of the Chicago White Sox team come to play. If you haven’t seen this classic, it’s a must-add to your list! Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, and Timothy Busfield create a winning team.

Sandlot

Sandlot soxI remember watching The Sandlot when I was young. I still quote lines from the film to this day! It has the perfect mix of baseball, rivalry, nicknames, dares, and scary neighbors. This film really resonates with my generation. It helps me remember my days of youth when my sister and I played with the neighborhood kids all day long and had to be called back inside to get ready for bed. Recently Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury (of the Red Sox) posed with “Ham” and “Squints” from the film.

Trouble with the Curve

I put off watching this film for so long because Clint Eastwood plays his usual role in Trouble with the Curve. Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake balance his burly, gruff attitude and make this movie about baseball scouting quite enjoyable. I never really thought about scouting until I watched this film.

Moneyball

My current favorite television writer, Aaron Sorkin, wrote the screenplay for Moneyball. This biography about Billy Beane features his struggle to assemble a team on one of the lowest budgets in the MLB based solely on statistical data. My favorite parts of the film include watching the actors analyze Red Sox alums including Johnny Damon and Kevin Youkilis.

42

The newest addition to my list is 42; the story of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American major league baseball player. This biography tells the tale of Robinson’s life and rise in the big leagues. It’s no wonder why every team in the MLB retired number 42 after watching this film!

I know I only covered a fraction of the baseball films out there. What’s your favorite?

soxLisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who will be watching the playoffs and keeping her fingers crossed!

What’s in a Name?

Sheila

I was a journalism major in college. I took a lot of fiction writing courses that focused on the importance of minute details; one of them being character names. We dove into names for at least a month. We would do exercises by writing a sketch based on a character’s first and last name. We would draw pictures of characters based on their nicknames. We had to guess a character’s name based on what was in his trash can. I have to admit it was really quite fun! (Better than doing labs that some of my biology friends spent their free time doing!). I even bought a baby name dictionary to consult during these exercises.

These games came back to me recently when my husband and I were watching a television series called Shameless. One of the supporting character’s names is Sheila. She is quirky and eccentric, and reminded me of another supporting character named Sheila in a different series called Rescue Me. I went straight to my trusty dictionary and looked up the name “Sheila.” It’s an Irish variation of Cecelia and it means “blind.” I decided to go on a mission to see if television writers and book authors took their jobs as seriously as I once took mine. Here are some Sheila’s I found in OWL’s collection who fit the namesake:

sheila keefe

Rescue Me’s Sheila Keefe is blinded by her grief over the death of her husband. Jimmy, a New York City Firefighter, was killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack. I won’t ruin anything for you, but she slowly deals with his death over the seven seasons of the show. Snippets of their relationship are revealed over time through flashbacks, dream sequences, and home video clips.

Sheila Jackson

Shameless’ Sheila Jackson turns a blind eye to the world. She is an extreme agoraphobic, never leaving her house. She asks all house guests to remove their shoes and stick them in a Ziploc bag before entering. She has groceries delivered, orders everything online, and sends her husband to every parent-teacher conference. She even has a virtual game where she can practice going to the grocery store that her therapist brings over for home visits.

Sheila Brooks

West Wing’s Sheila Brooks is a chief of staff/campaign manager extraordinaire in the show’s final two seasons. Her commitment to the job and duties of being a public servant is so blinding she offers herself as a scapegoat when a sticky situation unfolds.

Sheila Tubman

Judy Blume’s Sheila Tubman first made an appearance in the Fudge series, then broke out with her own children’s story Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great. This Sheila is blinded by fear. She suffers from arachnophobia (fear of spiders), cynophobia (fear of dogs), and hydrophobia (fear of water), to name a few. Over the course of her summer vacation she needs to confront each fear.

Sheila Murder

Grace Kelly’s character in Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder was named Sheila in its original stage play. The character’s name was changed in the screenplay to Margot Mary. (If you can find the answer, please post!) Her character fits her native name, being blinded by her extra-marital affair to see who her husband truly is. I have to admit that I just watched this movie because of the Sheila reference, but was pleasantly surprised by the storyline. It’s a little slow by today’s suspense standards, but still full of twists and surprising moments.

Sheila Waiting for Guffman

Sheila Albertson is portrayed by Catherina O’Hara in “mock-umentary” Waiting for Guffman. This 2001 film must have inspired the creators of the television series The Office, with its style of filming and deadpan humor. This Sheila is blinded by her passion of acting as she pursues a part in a local play that might be seen by a Broadway producer. Once she catches the acting bug, she lets her travel agency fall to pieces to follow her dream.

Do you know of any other fictional Sheila’s who fit the namesake?

Lisa Shaia is the children’s librarian who is on the lookout for Sheila’s this weekend while watching The Last Mimzy and Stir of Echoes.