Featured Book: “How To Decorate”

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If you’re looking for a book with beautiful photos, watercolor typography, and tons of do-it-yourself ideas, How To Decorate is the right choice for you. The book’s author, Shannon Fricke, leads workshops on decorating for beginners, and How To Decorate collects her wisdom from these events and presents them in an easy-to-access format. Along with Fricke’s advice, the book is packed with full-color photos from photographer Prue Ruscoe.

How To Decorate starts off by emphasizing the importance of your own workspace. Before you can begin to decorate your house or workplace, you need a personal space to begin brainstorming and collecting supplies. Fricke writes:

Fashion your workspace exactly as you need it to operate for you. Always underpin it with a degree of order, and then layer it as colourfully and creatively as you like.

Fricke encourages her readers to take it slow, and to develop a plan before just buying furniture to fill up a room. Decorating your home is about telling your story- and that may look different for each individual. While decorating according to what’s currently in fashion can be fun, it is not necessarily long-lasting. Fricke suggests instead to decorate with people in mind: who will use this space? What do they require to feel comfortable or inspired?

Once you’ve begun answering questions about your lifestyle, you can move on to more hands-on brainstorming. By gathering different items- color swatches that you’re drawn to, pieces of ribbon or cloth, etc.- you can create a moodboard. Moodboards help set the tone of your decorating, and can bring together disparate ideas into one cohesive brand. They can also be made virtually, whether on Pinterest, Microsoft Publisher, or a blog.

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Finally, Fricke elaborates on how to make a floor plan for each room of your home and how to use the existing architecture to your advantage. Everything from color theory to floor types is examined and explained. Fricke warns the reader to cull items before bringing in new concepts, since it’s easier to work with less.

How To Decorate ends on a positive note, with the mantra “When we decorate our home thoughtfully and with love (not necessarily with large funds), we’re creating a space we love living in, a home with meaning, a house that feels comfortable, a place to feel at peace with ourselves.” Pick up this book if you’re looking to feel refreshed in your space!

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”

If I was to be asked, “What is one film that meets nearly every qualification you would need to earn the title of a perfect action adventure film?,” I could think of none better than Raiders of the Lost Ark.  When it was first written by George Lucas, the origin and character concept behind Indiana Jones was paying homage to the campy adventure serials of the 30’s and 40’s. Lucas sought out Steven Spielberg to direct the film, who would go on to direct the rest of the  franchise.

The film begins as we are introduced to our protagonist: Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford). Jones is an adventuring archeologist, professor, and explorer with a vast knowledge of history and various cultures. His iconic outfit of choice includes a leather jacket, a weathered fedora, a satchel, and a bullwhip. Jones is hunting a lost Peruvian treasure and must brave the dangers of booby traps and betrayal. Upon his apparent successes at acquiring the treasure, he is met by a rival archeologist: Rene Belloq (played by Paul Freeman). Belloq believes himself to be the superior to Jones in every way- constantly one step ahead, always ready to capitalize on Jones successes. Belloq acknowledges the nature of his character when he compares himself to Jones:

You and I are very much alike. Archeology is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the pure faith. Our methods have not differed as much as you pretend. I am but a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me. To push you out of the light.

After escaping, Indiana Jones returns home to America only to be met by U.S military intelligence officers. They proceed to inform him that Nazis, at Hitler’s order, have been seeking out all manner of occultist and religious artifacts and are currently attempting to find Jones’s mentor Abner Ravenwood, who possesses an Egyptian artifact that may hold the key to finding the lost Ark of the Covenant. Jones comes to the conclusion that the Nazis want the Ark in hopes of making them invincible. He agrees to seek out his to find his old friend and keep the Nazis from obtaining the Ark.

Upon learning the location of his friend, Jones learns that Abner had died and the amulet he needs is in the possession of Abner’s daughter, Marion.  Marion Ravenwood is played by Karen Allen. Jones and Marion were once romantically involved, but he ended up abandoning her, which she resents. Marion demands that Jones leave her alone.

At this point we are introduced to a sinister Nazi officer, Arnold Toht (played by Ronald Lacey). Jones springs to help Marion escape Toht, and the two decide to travel together to search for the Ark. Upon reaching Cairo, Egypt, Jones reaches out to his friend Sallah, a well known digger who has information on where the Nazis are searching for the Ark. Sallah is played by John Rhys-Davies. The rest of the film is a back and forth struggle to locate the Ark and keep the Nazis at bay, leading to fantastic action sequences and one after another heart-pounding close calls.  The film’s dynamic conclusion will leave you satisfied and awed. Harrison Ford’s performance stands out with his ability to play a no-nonsense, “man’s man” character.  Jones’s character growth in the film is subtle but noticeable. He starts out as an overconfident skeptic but, as the story progresses, he rekindles his love for Marion and gains a new found reverence for holy relics.

This film began a beloved franchise that would include three more feature films. Raiders of the Lost Ark, in my opinion, is the gold standard of how to do an adventure film right. Adventure films should have a simple but pragmatic protagonist who is thrust into an ever increasing series of puzzles and dangers. Indiana Jones relies on his background knowledge and expertise in history and archeology to overcome many pitfalls both figuratively and quite literally at times. He is quite well-versed in old fashioned fisticuffs and is not above using a gun when needed. His use of brains, brawn, and no small amount of luck make him the iconic character that he is.

Raiders of the Lost Ark went on to be nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best picture. Its innovative practical effects as well as its set design and sound are superb. The film’s score is by John Williams and is unforgettable. Along with Star Wars, this franchise was always one of my favorites growing up.  This movie is rated PG, but please be warned: the rating system was different at the time and it’s closer to PG-13 for modern audiences (mostly due to some violence with in the film).  Raiders of the Lost Ark is available at the Union University Library.

Brennan’s Brainstorms: Cirque du Soleil

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Over winter break, I had the privilege of taking a long eleven-day vacation with my immediate family. We journeyed west (further west than I had ever been) to Los Angeles. We spent several days there, before spending one day in San Diego (to see the zoo) and the last few days of the trip in Las Vegas. I was blessed to be able to see much that those three cities had to offer.

 

One of the highlights of the trip was certainly attending Cirque du Soleil at the MGM in Las Vegas. Specifically, I went to see their show Ká. I can say without a doubt that Ká is the greatest show I have ever seen.

 

Ká is one of the first performances by Cirque du Soleil that features one continuous storyline. The story centers around two siblings, a prince and a princess, who are split from each other when a rival kingdom invades their own. The performance depicts their journey to reunite, while also showing their conflict and close escapes with the rival kingdom. Landscapes vary from dangerous jungles, treacherous mountains, tumultuous seas, and even the dark lair of the rival kingdom. These transitions are done through amazing sets, stages (more on that later) and incredible non-verbal communication through costumes, dances, and stunts.

 

Ká opened in February of 2005 and has been seen by more than a million people over the course of its tenure. Though Ká is the first performance by Cirque du Soleil to have a concrete, cohesive storyline, it is not only the story that makes the performance so breathtaking. Having sat only four rows from the front of the stage, I can say it is the most technologically advanced theatrical show of all time. And that’s not just me; The Los Angeles Times said the same thing when they wrote about its debut.

 

There are actually two stages (and five smaller platforms) that are used throughout the course of the show. Having been there I can explain it like this; there is a small ring that goes around like a stage, and with what looks like a bottomless abyss behind it. Once the show begins a platform is raised up from that pit. This machine is by far the most innovative stage of all time. It can rotate 360 degrees around and can become almost completely vertical (around 100 degrees). It moves throughout the show as the athletes perform death-defying stunts. I could hardly believe my eyes as I watched the artists run up and down an ever-moving stage.

 

However, the most breathtaking feats came when the acrobats used one of the most dangerous circus constructions of all time, the wheel of death. The wheel of death is a large metal structure balanced like a beam with two open spherical cages on each end. The performers start inside these cages, though they later move outside them and on top of them. The catch is that the structure is constantly spinning and the performers must balance on it as they are turned around like a clock head. Describing such a structure is difficult, but there are plenty of YouTube videos depicting this kind of performance, including the scene straight from Ká itself. The artists ran up and down the wheel, including one performer who used a jump rope as the wheel spun underneath him. The audience could hardly react with each motion becoming more and more dangerous and equally more exciting.

 

Overall the performance took my breath away. The stunts, performed with such precision, made the audience gasp in awe with every twist and turn. Yet underneath the insane tricks rests a heartwarming tale of the reunion of two siblings and the salvation of an entire kingdom. So, if you are ever in Las Vegas and want to see a quality Cirque Du Soleil performance, Ká is certainly the one to see. There is never a dull moment and there is nothing like it in the world.

(The Union library currently has a documentary entitled, “Another Kind of Circus,” on the history of Cirque Du Soleil if you would like to learn more about their origins. You can find access to this documentary from the library page on Union’s website.)

 

*written by Brennan Kress

 

How To Make An Appointment With A Research Coach

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Did you know that the library has professional Research Coaches who can help you with your assignments? These Coaches can assist you in finding resources for papers, projects, theses, etc. When you go to a Research Coach, you will leave with an increased knowledge of how to use our databases, where to find the books you need for your topic(s), and how to use the citation style that your professor requires!

So, how can you visit a Research Coach?

One way is to find a Research Coach at the Research Desk, located on the first floor of the library near the inside stairwells. However, if a Research Coach is not available at that time, you can make an appointment with them for another day.

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To make an appointment with a Research Coach:

  1. Go to the library website, www.uu.edu/library.
  2. Click on the “Research Coach” link under the “Quick Links” tab.
  3. Once you’re on the Research Coach page, click the red button that says “Make An Appointment With A Research Coach.”
  4. Select the time and date that works for you.
  5. Show up to your Research Coach appointment and get the help you need!

Featured Author: Toni Morrison

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Toni Morrison was born on February 18th, 1931. She grew up in Loraine, Ohio, and went on to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. Morrison has been a professor, editor, and a writer. Her writing themes include profound thoughts on race, justice, family ties, infidelity, love, jealousy, and personal freedom.

Morrison has also won the distinguished awards of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for her intense novel, Beloved. Further, in 2012, President Barack Obama presented Morrison with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In fact, Morrison has won so many awards for her accomplishments that this blog post doesn’t quite do her justice- visit her Wikipedia page for a full list of the awards.

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Some of Morrison’s most famous books include:

Each of these books are available in the library- you can learn more about them by clicking on the links above.

 

 

 

Spotlight On The American Poetry Review

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The American Poetry Review is a journal that publishes original literary work. Readers can view poetry and literary criticism from various resources, and they can also submit their own work under the APR’s guidelines.

The Union University library provides access to older editions of the APR via JSTOR, Academic OneFile, General OneFile, and Literature Resource Center. Newer submissions can be read online at the APR website.

 

FAQs about The American Poetry Review:

 

Is the APR also in print?

Yes, they do have print versions of APR for a price, here.

 

How often is the APR published?

Bimonthly.

 

How far back can I see APR entries, using the library databases?

We have 3 databases that carry APR from 1989 to the present. You can find access to the APR by conducting a general search on the library website or by searching for it by title using the “Journals” tab.

 

What kind of writing can I find in the APR?

Poetry translations, critical essays, articles, poems, and interviews.

Matthew’s Valentine Movie: “The Princess Bride”

There are few films that can easily appeal to such a wide general audience in its portrayal of a fantasy, romance and comedy. One that does it flawlessly is The Princess Bride. This film would go on to be so applauded by critics and its fans (gaining a cult following) that in 2016 it was inducted into the National Film Registry for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.” The film was adapted from a novel by William Goldman that shares the same name.

The story begins with a young boy sick and in bed while his grandfather offers to read him a book in hopes that it will make him feel better.  The boy is played by a young Fred Savage, who would go on to gain notoriety in The Wonder Years. His grandfather is played by Peter Falk, who in turn was famous for his ongoing role in the series Colombo.  The young boy is apprehensive and initially dissatisfied that his grandfather has chosen to read him a love story but the book soon captivates him.

The plot of the book first revolves around a young farm girl named Buttercup played by Robin Wright. Buttercup and a local farm hand Westley (Cary Elwes) live a simple and normal life and slowly come to realize they are in love with one another. Westley seeks to marry her but first ventures out to sea, hoping to return with a fortune, and is never heard from again (as he has been presumably killed by pirates).

Years pass and Buttercup has agreed to marry Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon). Humperdinck seems to be a noble and chivalrous Prince but later proves to be much more sinister. On the road, Buttercup is kidnapped by three brigands who hope to ransom her back to the kingdom. They are led by Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), a cold and calculating Sicilian mastermind. His two cohorts are Inigo Montoya, a Spanish Swordsmen played by Mandy Patinkin, and Frezzik the Giant, played by the most famous pro wrestler of the time: Andre the Giant.

The three brigands soon find themselves hunted by a masked man dressed in all black. He proves their equal in strength, skill, and cunning. After this mysterious stranger bests the three, he then proceeds to abduct Buttercup. While traveling together it is revealed that this masked marauder is actually Westley whom Buttercup had long feared dead. Upon this realization the two are at once overjoyed that their love for one another has maintained through the years apart.

Unfortunately, Prince Humperdinck and his men catch up and Buttercup pleads for Westley’s life. Humperdinck agrees only if she will marry him, but secretly he has his second-in-command take Westley to be killed. Westley is then subjected to unspeakable torture and is left for dead. All seems lost until Inigo and Frezzik, now repentant in their ways, find Westley’s body and successfully bring him back from near death with the help of local healer Miracle Max (Billy Crystal). The three then set off to free Buttercup from the evil Prince Humperdinck. The film features a classic ending with our two protagonists, together at last, riding off into the sunset.  As the story is finished, the young boy begs his grandfather to tell him the story again on the next day and the grandfather happily agrees.

This is a timeless film that audiences of all ages can appreciate and enjoy. Its simple and well-known themes of adventure, fantasy, and true love are a hallmark of any fairy tale, and The Princesses Bride stands at the top of the list in my book.

This film is available at Union University Library and is rated PG. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!

 

 

*written by Matthew Beyer

Library Staff Picks For Valentine’s Day

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Looking for a romantic movie to watch on Valentine’s Day? Or maybe you don’t like Valentine’s Day too much and would rather watch something completely different. Either way, the library has plenty of entertainment for this holiday! Here are a few of our recommendations.

 

Olivia Chin recommends:

  • Romantic Movie Pick: La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle; starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Music, dancing, LA, and romance- what’s not to love? I’ve watched this about 10 times since it came out, and it never gets old to me.
  • Non-Romantic Movie Pick: BlacKkKlansman, directed by Spike Lee; starring John David Washington and Adam Driver. This true story is both horrific and hilarious as a black police detective infiltrates the KKK. There’s a small romantic sublot, but it’s definitely not the main part of the movie; plus, this is a great movie for Black History Month.
  • Romantic Book Pick: North of Beautiful by Justina Chen. If you enjoy young adult novels with travel, realistic families and problems, and teenage romance, then North of Beautiful is the perfect read for you. It’s well-written with noticeable and validating character development; you’ll want to stick with these characters to the end (and will probably want to know more about them afterward).
  • Non-Romantic Book Pick: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. The true crime genre often gets about as far away from romantic as you can get. Before her untimely death, author Michelle McNamara chronicled her research journey as she tried to figure out the identity of the Golden State Killer. This book dives deep into the crimes he committed, the people who were affected, and the investigations that occurred.

Of course, I also have to plug our Blind Date with a Book program. It’s super easy: just walk up to the Circulation Desk, pick a mystery book from our cart, and go on a “blind date” with it!

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Rachel Bloomingburg recommends:

  • Romantic Book Pick: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. This charming YA novel about a teenage girl whose love letters cause high school chaos (and spark romance) has also recently been made into a popular Netflix movie!
  • Non-Romantic Book Pick: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Another YA novel, this book dives into the culture of World War II espionage.

 

Hannah Shea recommends:

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  • Romantic Movie Pick: Killers directed by Robert Luketic; starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher. Watch what happens when a former hitman, who is trying to keep this a secret from his wife, has to go on the run! This movie is available via Prime Video.

 

Cara Stevenson recommends:

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  • Romantic Movie Pick: The Big Sick, directed by Michael Showalter; starring Kumail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan. Loosely based on the real life romance of starring actor (and writer) Nanjiani and his wife, this story follows an inter-ethnic couple who faces cultural challenges. This movie is also available via Prime.

 

Lakreasha Scharcklet recommends:

Romantic Movie Pick: A Walk To Remember, directed by Adam Shankman; starring Mandy Moore and Shane West. This is a true tear-jerker and a classic romance story!

Non-Romantic Movie Pick: Same Kind Of Different As Me, directed by Michael Carney; starring Greg Kinnear, Renée Zellweger, and Djimon Hounsou. Same Kind Of Different As Me is about unlikely friendship and overcoming racial barriers. You can read the book here.

Book Review: “The Terminal Man” by Michael Crichton

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If you’ve been watching popular movies for the last few years, you’ll know that the Jurassic Park franchise continues to inspire and terrify millions of viewers. But did you know that the Jurassic Park movies were based on books by Michael Crichton?

Michael Crichton was a Harvard Medical School graduate who started writing books (and later directing films) instead of practicing medicine. Due to his scientific background, many of his books include detailed accounts of medical procedures and the science behind genetics, psychological disorders, and new technology. While not as popular as the Jurassic Park series, Crichton’s 1972 novel, The Terminal Man, is still a great example of Crichton’s medical knowledge and his writing expertise.

The Terminal Man is the curious story of Harry Benson, a man who suffers from intense seizures where he attacks others and mental delusions as the result of an accident. Benson is taken to a hospital for a new “stage three” procedure, where eager Doctor Ellis will perform surgery to implant a computer in Benson. This computer is expected to calm Benson’s seizures. However, there is great concern from his psychiatrist, Doctor Ross, that Benson will not be cured and may in fact grow more violent and mentally ill than before. To complicate things even further, Benson’s specific delusions are that computers and technology are actively trying to take over mankind- yet he agrees to having a computer placed in his body.

The “stage three” procedure is described in detail, but Crichton’s writing makes it easy to read and understand even if you’re not a Harvard Medical School student. Crichton also writes from the the third person omniscient point of view, so you can catch a glimpse of several characters’ motivations and worries throughout. It’s a fast-paced read, and the sense of dread surrounding Benson’s odd situation will keep you turning each page until the end. What will happen to Benson? Could his violence have an agenda? What are the philosophical implications of making a computer’s terminal out of a man? Will the new technology help or hurt others?

If you’re interested in this science fiction thriller, you can check it out from the library. View our catalog to see if it’s available!

Matthew’s Monday Movie: “The Last Samurai”

When it comes to historical dramas and period pieces, The Last Samurai bridges the gap between the two genres. This film, which was released in 2003, seeks to tell the story of Japan’s aggressive leap forward from a traditional, non-industrial society into an advanced, organized world power. The background is set in part in the Satsuma Rebellion and also involves aspects of the Boshin War. These conflicts were the result of Japan’s attempt to restore the Emperor as the supreme leader of Japan and would cause the abolition of the Samurai warrior.

The Last Samurai has an amazing roster of American, British, and Japanese cast members that all do a wonderful job of bringing the story to life. Tom Cruise stars as Captain Nathan Algren, who served in the infamous 7th Calvary. At the start of this film, we find our protagonist as a depressed alcoholic who is ridden with guilt over his actions during the American Indian Wars. He is offered a job by his ruthless former commanding officer, Colonel Bagley (played by Tony Goldwyn), to travel to Japan to help train and modernize their armies along Western models.

Algren is joined by his longtime friend, Zebulon Gant (played by Billy Connolly), a gruff Scotsman who served with Algren in the Calvary. Next we are introduced to Simon Graham (Timothy Spall). Graham acts as an English liaison for the Japanese government. Graham is fascinated by the unique and traditional way of life of the Samurai in Japan.  While engaging the rebellious Samurai in battle, Nathan Algren is defeated and taken prisoner by Lord Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe). Katsumoto is intrigued by this strange foreigner and hopes to learn more about his enemy. Katsumoto was once the emperor Meiji’s teacher and mentor; however, he believes the emperor is being led astray by corrupt industrialists like that of Mr. Omura (Masato Harada) who want to modernize Japan at all costs, regardless of the damage to their cultures and heritage.

The last character who helps to change Nathan Algren’s view of Japanese society is Taka, a widow of a Samurai killed in battle against Nathan and sister of Katsumoto. Taka is played by Shin Koyamada; she portrays a devastated woman who is attempting to raise her now fatherless son. Slowly, she grows to understand that Nathan is just a warrior much like her husband was.

This film received wide acclaim both in the U.S and Japan. It takes the stories of several historical figures and combines them for a dramatic take on several wars that brought about Japan as we know it. This film romanticizes the nostalgic era of when Japan was sealed off from the rest of the world; however, this time came to an end as the allure of modernization proved too strong.

The climatic end sees Algren falling in love with the traditional society that has brought him peace and meaning once again to his life. Algren joins with Katsumoto in an attempt to make the Emperor rethink his progressive reforms and maintain the soul and identity of the Japanese people.

The Last Samurai is an excellent film full of action and drama and it is available at the  Union University Library.

* Please note it is rated R for strong violence and battle scenes.