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by Moe - 4 Comment(s)

I had the pleasure of attending the Comic Expo held April 27-29 at the BMO Centre as a representative at the library booth. The Event was a huge success with an estimated attendance at the three day event in the 45,000 + range. At one point on Saturday afternoon Calgary’s Fire Marshall actually closed the event to further entry as maximum saturation had been reached. And boy was it saturated.

The crowds were amazing, the costumes dazzling, and the atmosphere electric.

We engaged with hundreds of people and once again I am struck with how responsive people are to public libraries and their presence at such events. I talked to people from Fredericton, Houston, Los Angeles, Wyoming, a lot from Vancouver and Edmonton and one lady who had travelled all the way from Pool, England to see James Marsters- and who can blame her. She is a librarian and was thrilled to hear that libraries are alive and well in Calgary as she herself had recently been made redundant as a “soft target” of England’s budget cuts.

I asked dozens of attendees to pose for pictures in front of our “EVERYTHING YOU'RE INTO“ banner, and without exception, everyone agreed. They loved the banner and thought it really spoke to their own wide variety of interests.

If there was ever an event that more readily embraces the diversity of people’s interests, I have yet to find it. Steam Punk, Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Anime, Graphix, Gothic, cartoonists, animators, illustrators, self-publishers, all very enthusiastic and ready to share what Public Libraries mean to them. There was one very charming young lady, Melissa, who along with her entire family had a wildly successful, heavily-attended ‘Steam Punk’ booth. She had an amazing hand-made costume and I asked if she would be willing to come over and let me take her picture in front of our banner. She did, stayed for around 10 minutes, drew a huge crowd, and proclaimed "Reading is Sexy, Libraries are wonderful, Support your local library.” She makes costumes, jewelry, accessories and specializes in the most amazing steam punk goggles, monocles, field glasses etc-- she does her research at her local library -- and yes, I bought a pair- I LOVE the steam punk look.

Freddy Kruger, Q , Skeletor, Wolverine (old and new versions), an entire family of Superman[s], Lady Galadriel, Orcs from the White Tower, The Fly, Rorschach, Darth Maul, Spider-Man, Red Skull, The Mad Hatter, Star Trek, and Steam Punk galore --- all happy to stop and pose with our banner. One of the people who I asked to pose, Red Skull, was on his way to the judging for best costume, but agreed to take the time for a picture with us. He went on to become one of the finalists. What an amazing costume! Thanks Skull. Freddy K, who I have always found to have one of the most disturbing faces ever, took a little bit of the edge off for me when he said "Who doesn't like libraries!" My Darth Maul guy actually physically implanted his horns; that's an amazing degree of committment...

And if you are wondering if I sprung for my own big photoshoot with the entire Star Trek- Next Generation cast- the answer is--- sadly not. At $495.00 it was a little too rich for my blood.

6 Degrees of Separation

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Thanks to guest blogger Alex who does another tremendous job stringing a '6 degrees post' together.

I was wondering how I could possibly write a post about “Real Steel” without losing the respect of every Movie Maniac out there… I mean, really? Hugh Jackman as an ex-UFC fighter and gambling addict, whose estranged 10-year-old son helps him revamp an old robot and enter the popular Automaton Boxing competitions of the not-so-distant future? It’s ridiculous! It’s juvenile! It panders to an audience that revels in video games and violence and not much else!

And… it’s AWESOME. I’m serious. This movie was fun, visually compelling, the plot followed a perfect (if predictable) arc, the acting was fine, the soundtrack was catchy… I even think I cried a little!

And let’s be honest. You could put Hugh Jackman in a poncho, wrestling tights, and a Ronald MacDonald wig, and the man would still be worth the price of admission.

So starting with Hugh Jackman in “Real Steel” and a 2ndgeneration sparring-Bot named “Atom” let's use Robots as our common denominator and see how this 6 degrees rolls out.

"I, Robot” is RIFE with Androids trying to take over the world, but we like Sonny, the main one. It stars Will Smith (another perfect human specimen), but, much better for my purposes, Shia LaBeouf has a bit part as a character named Farber.

LaBeouf, is, of course, the headliner for the hugely popular (though-no-one-knows-why) “Transformers” series, which stars more robots than it does humans. See him here with Optimus Prime.

The 2005 revamp of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” had a star-studded cast, least of which were the robots. Of the human actors, the brilliant Bill Nighy appears as Slartibartfast. (I had to sneak Marvin in the background there... but there are still TONS of robots in this movie...)

Now… here’s my only bridge that doesn’t include Bots… and I’d label it cheating if it wasn’t such an awesome movie. Bill Nighy and Kate Beckinsale star in “Underworld", a kick-butt romp through the age-old Lycan vs. Vamp family feud. (There's a lot of technology in this movie... that counts, right?)

Kate Beckinsale, who was a Vampire in “Underworld”, turns Vamp HUNTER in “Van Helsing”, which brings us back to Beefcake Hugh Jackman, AND an especially robotic monster of Frankenstein.

Not quite making the cut are some of my fave Artificial Intelligence movies, where the robot is played by an actor (and not just say, voiced by one), and therefore doesn’t count as a robot. You could say the same for Shuler Hensley in "Van Helsing", but there was a LOT of CG in that one.

A.I.- from 2001 and directed by Steven Spielberg, with the talented young Haley Joel Osmont and Jude Law.

Bicentennial Man- like "I,Robot", this is based on an Issac Asimov story and features Robin Williams in the tin suit.

Star Trek- I had to check with MM Moe because I am not the Trekkie that she is---she says while S.T. has a proliferation of robots, androids, cyborgs, and automotons, her own personal faves are any episodes that have The Borgs: 'the scourge of the Alpha and Delta quadrants and the cybernetically-enhanced humanoids that everybody loves to hate' (yeah- she actually said that!). In fact she is such a fan she has previously given Star Trek it's own featured spot (actually more than one!).

Attention Trekkies

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Since the post of July 20th we have had several new additions to the Star Trek family. In the original post I had a hard time narrowing down what to watch if you didn't have around 800 spare hours for all of them. But these latest dvd's have made the choice a little simpler. Whether you are new to the phenom or want to revisit some of your favorites, try these thematically based collections. The fun thing about them is because they are based on a theme they pull from all of the different series to make the compilation---you get a nice cross section from all the series.

Star Trek Fan Collective:

Alternative Realities; Captain's Log; Borg (this is my own personal favorite- as previously stated, I love to hate the Borg!); Q (my next favourite Star Trek protagonist); Klingon; Best of The Next Generation; Best of the Original Series; Time Travel.

LeVar Burton, the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning actor and huge literacy advocate is coming to CPL. Join us in celebrating the best of Alberta’s literary community on Thursday, September 24, 2009 at Sun Life Plaza for the Calgary Public Library Foundation Literary Awards. The evening includes a special cocktail reception, ‘The Art of the Book’ art show and auction, and the awards program featuring a keynote address by Mr. Burton.

To boldy go...

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Just in case you aren't in the habit of regularly searching our catalogue to see what's new, this is to let you know that CPL now has the entire Star Trek collection. This includes Star Trek: the Original Series (1966-69), The Next Generation (1987-94), Deep Space Nine (1993-99), Voyager (1995-2001), and Enterprise (2001-2005). We also have all 10 of the feature length films that have been released to date---being Star Trek the Motion Picture (79), Wrath of Khan (82), The Search for Spock (84), The Voyage Home (86), The Final Frontier (89), The Undiscovered Country (91), Generations (94), First Contact (96), Insurrection (98), and Nemesis (2002).

If you are a die hard fan you may be eager to rewatch them all, although to do so you will have to set aside an astonishing 716 hours for just the series (by my calcualations this Trekkie has logged 1.3 years of her life watching Trek!!). If you are new to the whole Star Trek phenom due to the recent theatrical release, I'd suggest any of TOS (the Original series), TNG (The Next generation) and Voyager. For the feature length films go with Wrath of Khan, Search for Spock, First Contact (how I love to hate those Borgs! ) and Nemesis.

Star Trek is one of the most successful franchises ever, and is a multi billion dollar industry. In addition to the various series running from 1966 to 2005, and movie productions from 1979 up, there are also books, games, comics, cartoons, fan clubs, conventions and websites galore. In May of this year the latest movie was released (actually a prequel)- one of its tag lines is 'this is not your father's Star Trek'. They hoped it would appeal not just to its old fan base, but to a new generation, and it has done a great job. It has proved the most financially successful Star Trek release to date, and will bring in a gazillion more once the movie hits DVD (date unknown at the time of this post). There are two more sequels planned with this new cast and as someone who cut her teeth on the franchise, I can't wait! Keep an eye on the catalogue so you can get your hold placed for this one- the demand will be out of this world!!


Space-Time Continuum

by Maureen May - 0 Comment(s)

Ah that quirky old conundrum---if I could time travel back and change an event in the past, would it alter the present enough that I am now not able to go back and change that event in the past? In other words, can I be my own grandmother? A common movie theme for decades (even the 3 Stooges had a time travel episode), there are almost too many to mention but here are some of my favorites. All you have to do is suspend disbelief, and go along for the ride---and if it starts to break apart plot-wise, remember, this isn't an astrophysics lesson- this is just fun.

Deja Vu from 2006 with Denzel Washington. What starts out seemingly as a murder investigation quickly becomes so much more. I quite enjoyed this, even though visually I occassionally got overloaded with everything happening on the screen.

Final Countdown A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. From 1980 with Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen.

Groundhog Day " He's having the worst day of his life... over, and over." Bill Murray stars is this 1993 offering from Harold Ramis. Lots of good goofy fun- watch this one with the whole family.

Back to the Future 1-2-3. Anybody out there who hasn't seen at least the first installment? Grab the 3-pack and go everywhere with Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd---the past, the present and of course, back to the future. Number one is my fave.

Somewhere in Time-1980. So far we've had tragedy and comedy, so how about weep into your hankies sad? With Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. This is lovely to look at---a quiet, gentle movie that tells a sweet, sad story. It has a wonderful instrumental sound track featuring the haunting 'Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini'.

Kate and Leopold---time travel is often used to bring star crossed lovers together, as in this offering from 2001. Starring the ever adorable Meg Ryan and the ever hunky Hugh Jackman. No serious plot twists to follow here- just a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

For the serious Sci-fi devotee who likes to see all the loose ends tied up (as if that is possible in time travel), we have all 1-2-3-4 of the Terminator series, wherein Arnie utters those famous three words "I'll be back". The first two are directed by James Cameron of Titanic and Avatar fame. Violent, gory, and bleak, they still manage to be fun !??. A Cameron trademark , they showcase some pretty ground breaking CGI's. One is good, two is better, three is just okay, and four features our favorite maggot eating, yo-yo dieting uber-intense method actor, Christian Bale.

We have two very different interpretations of H G Wells' classic tale The Time Machine---the 1960 version with Rod Taylor and the 2002 with Guy Pearce. My money is on the Rod Taylor version---which as a child scared the milk and cookies out of me! Although hokey monsters by today's standards, I rewatched this within the past month, and am happy to report it still has a lot of appeal. This version is on a Turner Classic Movies sci-fi compilation that also includes Solyent Green (Charlton Heston), Forbidden Planet (Leslie Nielsen), and 2001: A Space Odyssey, which depending on your way of thinking is either deeply profound or highly inscrutable. It is considered by many to be the ultimate space-time movie.

Of course, almost any sci-fi series will heavily feature the space-time continuum as a recurring theme. Star Trek did it often and did it well, as in the latest release, Star Trek. Also check out Star Trek fan collective:time travel which pulls all the best of this theme from across all the series into one 4 disc (644) min) set.

Two previously reviewed space-time movies arePeggy Sue got Married and Next (see Mel's earlier post by clicking on Nicholas Cage found on left hand side of screen under TAGS).

Check out 1995's 12 Monkeys. This is a very good time travel movie with Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt. Again, depressing and dark, but it has my favorite performances by both these actors. Brad Pitt in particular is excellent playing a crazy eco-warrior.

Well---these 20 plus recommendations took up a lot of space---I just hope you can find the time!