Showing posts from September, 2018

Getting Out and About with Your Kids This Fall

As the warm days of summer fade away, it can be easy to slip back into the daily routine of classes, homework assignments, and school activities.  While some children are history fanatics and can page through book after book with great excitement, others find themselves beyond bored when reading about people who are dead, wars that are long over, and inventions that seem quaint by today’s standards.

Many children become more engaged in learning when they are surrounded by things they can touch and feel, places they can explore, and opportunities to look at their world in a new way.  Children who do not like competitive sports can still enjoy the outdoors through family activities.  The autumn weekends can be a great time to explore New Jersey together.

Located conveniently close to us is Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville.  As the names states, this is where Washington’s troops crossed the Delaware in 1776.  There is a Visitor’s Center Museum, where kids can learn about that…

Celebrate Teachers with the Mercer County Library

Public libraries and local schools go hand in hand. Since October 5th is World Teachers’ Day, now is a great time to celebrate the importance of our educators! Check out these materials available at the Mercer County Library System that tell a great story and help to remind us of how hard teachers work to make our communities better.
amMalala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban By Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. “Cowritten with journalist Lamb, this work is much more than the story of Yousafzai's young life. Her narrative examines and elaborates on politics, Pakistan's history, friendship, faith, and, above all else, the need for education for girls.”—Library Journal
Teacher Man: A Memoir By Frank McCourt
In bold and spirited prose featuring his irreverent wit and heartbreaking honesty, McCourt record…

Caregiver Backpack

Caring for a loved one is one of the most rewarding, yet often challenging responsibilities individuals can face. Very frequently family members are completely unprepared for the financial, legal, medical, and moral obligations associated with care giving, and feel overwhelmed by the urgent nature of the learning curve.
I know I did, when my mother fell, breaking her hip and shoulder, leaving my siblings and I to care for my father, who had been diagnosed the year before with dementia. Our lives changed immeasurably as we waded through hiring in-home caregivers, placing my father in an assisted living facility, finding an appropriate rehabilitation center for my mother, first cleaning out their home of 60+ years, then selling it, shuttling them both to doctor appointments, reading through complicated trusts, living wills, power of attorney documents, and medical authorization representative paperwork. In those early days the library proved to be an invaluable source of reliable, easy …

Urban Legends and Halloween

When John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath was translated into Japanese, the title was mistranslated as The Angry Raisins.A woman who works with the American Bar Association called Mrs. Fields Cookies and asked for the chocolate chip cookie recipe. She was told there was a two-fifty charge for the recipe. She assumed it was $2.50 and charged it to her VISA.  When she got her bill, she discovered it was not $2.50 but $250.00. In order to get her money’s worth, she passed the recipe out to everyone, telling them to “take a copy and give it to a friend with her blessing.”It was found that consuming Pop Rocks and drinking a carbonated beverage at the same time can cause your stomach to explode. Remember “Little Mikey” from Quaker Oat’s LIFE cereal commercials? He died from eating Pop Rocks and drinking a Coke.  

These are examples of urban legends, or urban myths, and they are not true. The Cambridge Dictionary defines urban legend as a “story or statement that is not true but is of…

The Coming of Age

We plan for everything: for significant moments such as births and weddings, the many rites of passage such as Bar Mitzvahs, Baptisms and Confirmations. Birthdays, high school graduations and anniversaries are all significant moments in our lives that are marked by celebrations that require planning. We plan vacations, we plan for retirement by tending to our 401ks, and some of us even plan for future events such as our funerals. 

But, how many of us plan for old age?  Simone de Beauvoir, in her book The Coming of Age - written at the age of 62 - wrote “Old age is particularly difficult to assume because we have always regarded it as something alien, a foreign species.” My customary way of dealing with aging is to just ignore it, as if disregarding it would make it go away or not happen. To quote the venerable Mark Twin “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” I glibly mouth trite platitudes such as: you are as old as you think you are, it (age) i…

Frankenstein at 200

The summer of 1816 was unusually rainy in the Swiss Alps. A young woman, on the run with her married lover, is stuck in a cabin. Their neighbor is a British nobleman - a poet - and the creator of a writing challenge for the small group.He assigned them to write the best horror story. The young woman wrote a story about a scientist who brought a being to life and then became horrified by what he had created. This story would grow to become the novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley. The novel was published in January of 1818, making it the first modern science fiction novel.
When you think about Frankenstein, I am sure many of you are really picturing Frankenstein’s Monster, and not Doctor Frankenstein.I am going to take another guess and say you are picturing Boris Karloff’s iconic depiction from the Universal Monster Movies of the 1920’s and 1930’s. 

Karloff’s Frankenstein’s Monster would go on to influence many other adaptations, however it is not faithful to …

Play It Again Sam

A colleague and I had a recent discussion about movie remakes.  Coming to theaters earlier this year, was a remake of Tomb Raider, originally released in 2001. A Star is Born, originally made in 1937 (and subsequently remade in 1954 and 1976), starring Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, is coming out in theaters on October 5th.  Additionally, there are a slew of other remakes rumored to make it to theaters in the next year or two (e.g., The Crow, Mulan, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, etc.).

Often, when people hear a movie is being remade, they start ranting how Hollywood is out of original ideas.  When discussing the “remake phenomenon” however, my colleague and I talked about how sometimes the remake is better than the original.  I first thought of Cape Fear. I can appreciate J. Lee Thompson’s 1962 production, especially the boldness of the subject matter for a mainstream film of that time.  In my opinion, Martin Scorsese’s 1991 version is a better overall production. My co-worker finds…