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Listen, Learn, Remember Their Names

By: Maggie Riney

Think of the strongest person you know. What characteristics does he or she possess? Do they face adversity without doubt? Do they stand alongside the oppressed when the world seemingly turned its back? Do they stand firm in their beliefs? Holocaust survivor and author Fred Gross contains all of these qualities and many more.

In his moving memoir, One Step Ahead of Hitler: A Jewish Child’s Journey through France, Gross recants his family’s chilling tale of fleeing Nazi Germany’s invasion into Belgium. We are lucky enough to have him speak at the Daviess County Public Library on February 2nd at 6:00 PM.

If one would like further information Holocaust survivors, below are several downloadable resources.

New York Time’s bestselling author Leon Leyson tells his heart wrenching account of being forced to relocate from Poland to the Krakow ghetto in The Boy on the Wooden Box. In his story he experiences immensurable horror and, thankfully, meets a smart and clever man by the name of Oskar Schindler who saves his life.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom follows an incredibly influential heroine of the Resistance. Beginning as a Dutch watchmaker, Boom and her family risk their lives helping rescue Jews from capture. For their bravery they were punished in one the Nazi death camps, themselves.

In the film As Seen Through These Eyes, see the artwork that Holocaust survivors created during their time in the Concentration Camps and after. Narrated by Maya Angelou, these brave souls fought against the Third Reich using their memory and pencil to paper.

All of the above titles, as well as hundreds of others, are available on the Hoopla App using your library card information.

Please take this tremendous opportunity to come and listen to Fred Gross on February 2nd and 6:00 PM.

Freegal: open your soul to free music

By: Christy V. Temple

Music is the ultimate way of helping us to define any situation or milestone in our lives. You can walk up to most people and ask them about particular aspects of their pasts and what was playing on the radio at that time. Generally speaking, they can probably answer in the affirmative that a particular song was popular during that moment in life.

I truly tend to believe the phrase that I’ve heard years ago that music soothes the savage beast. I know most of us tend to have very busy lives and hectic schedules and sometimes we need to just be able to stop, be still in the moment and find that special piece of music that calls to our inner being. I know that music can come to the forefront in the most amazing ways too.

For instance, the other night I was looking at Facebook and I tend to follow several different types of musicians or genres of music. As I was scrolling through, I noticed a mention of a group that I really liked back in the 80s when I was teenager. I opened the story about this group and it soon lead me to Youtube where I suddenly became fully entrenched in looking up and trying to remember songs from that time period by that band.

Once I exhausted that list of music then soon I saw something about Sting and The Police. I was again transported to another time in my life when all that mattered was the music and the way it summoned up certain feelings that beckoned me to explore further. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I had heard some of these songs and the different emotions that they stirred up within me.

In any event, I believe we all have a desire to listen to some sort of music that transports us away from the mundane and takes us to a higher plane of realization and wonder. If you are like me and love music and are always looking for the next interesting piece of music then I have a great deal for you.

If you haven’t heard of Freegal then you need to listen up. Freegal is a huge music database that runs the gamut from everything to rock, reggae, country, new age, pop, soul, and, drumroll please….Christmas music. Yes, you heard me right. The holiday season is upon us and if want the opportunity to get some free Christmas music that will be yours to keep forever, or until you get rid of the device you are using, then listen up for directions on how to use this wonderful database.

First, go to Second, click on the tab in the middle of the page that says: Online Resources. Once you are on the resources page you will need to enter your 14-digit library barcode number to authenticate your account. Now, scroll down to Freegal Music and click on that link. Third, now you are on a page that will ask you to type in some general information. Once you have done this, click Find Libraries. Fourth, now you will click on the library name that appears to the right of the page. Once you have done this you will now be on the DCPL Freegal Music library page. All you have to do now is type in your 14-digit library barcode number again to access this vast music catalog.

Okay, are you still with me? Good. Now that you have logged in you can just start searching for various artists, songs, genres, etc. Once you find a song you are interested in then you click on the arrow to the right of it and it will ask you if you are sure you want to download the song. Once you click “yes” then you are on your way to owning a copy of this piece of music. The library limit per user for downloads is 5 songs per week. Once you have reached that limit, then you have to wait until the following Sunday night at midnight before it resets to allow you another 5 downloads.

The next time you are in the mood for music but you don’t want to have to pay those pesky prices per song then you have access to a catalog holding over 9 million songs from over 28,000 different record labels including Sony. Oh, you can also download the Freegal music app and as long as you keep the app then you can keep the music.

So, set your soul free with some powerful music and let your cares drift away.

Handling the Holi-Daze!

By: Maggie Riney

Ah, the holidays. The holidays are a time of generosity, a time of family, and a time to avoid sitting by Aunt Bertha because “No, I’m not dating anyone,” and, “Yes, I did hear that cousin Allie is engaged to a nice investment banker.”

While in between sips (who am I kidding, GLASSES) of your mom’s boxed wine and Uncle Kenny’s heated political debate with Great-Aunt Muriel that climate change does, in fact, exist, you may want get away. You may want to hide underneath your childhood twin bed and have a good laugh. And that, my fellow conflict-avoidance friends, I can help you with.

The best way to endure the craziness one’s family brings during the holidays is to find a household that is much more hectic than yours. The uproarious Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs is guaranteed to make your kin seem as calm as the untouched Brussels sprouts casserole created by next-door neighbor Nancy. Inside you’ll find a dysfunctional psychiatrist, a self-taught veterinarian, and a delicious amount of mommy issues. You will only want to put this down if you are certain there is a new batch of Sister Schubert rolls coming from the oven.

                If you are looking for a film to bring a smile to your face after being forced to sit at the kid’s table for the twenty-fifth consecutive year, perhaps try the movie Wild Oats. The perfect Jessica Lange and Shirley MacLaine show that desire and adventures come at every age, and perhaps that growing up is a lifelong process. (Take that Grandma Harriet for saying “When I was your age…”.)

Finally, is it time for Aunt Vivian to pull out her iPhone 3G to show pictures of her annual vacation to Sheboygan? Maybe you will need a little more time in your hideout (along with two slices of pumpkin pie and whatever is left in Grandpa Carl’s hip flask). For this, I suggest the amazingly witty show Shameless. You can relish in the fact that within the one hour it takes to watch your purse wasn’t stolen, you didn’t meet someone with a secret identity, and you didn’t walk in on an affair, and that is just the first episode.

While you cannot pick the family you are born into, you can pick your downloads (and just how much “cheer” you put in your eggnog). All of the content above, as well as hundreds of books, graphic novels, audiobooks, music, movies, and television shows are available for free on the Hoopla app with your library card information. Perhaps your hiding place will become a home for hibernating all winter long, or at least during the holiday season.

Colonel Sanders, Talking Cats, and an Oedipus Complex: a review of Kafka on the Shore

by John Beemer

“If you remember me, then I don’t care if everyone else forgets.”

“Beautiful” and “strange”—two words I use to describe Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami. Published in 2002 and translated from Japanese to English in 2005, it’s the most memorable thing I’ve read in years. Few books have haunted me like this.

It’s a weird, surreal book. An old man talks with cats. Eternal soldiers, who decided to step outside of time to avoid WWII, guard a forest passage to a secret, timeless village. A mysterious, other-worldly being adopts the form of Colonel Sanders, and, operating in this world as a pimp, decides to guide the main characters. Not too far into the book, we also encounter the sinister Johnnie Walker (yes, of Scotch whiskey fame), who rounds up neighborhood cats and eats their hearts to harness their souls so he can construct a magic flute capable of stealing larger human souls. It gets stranger, but none of these oddities seem hokey or forced. They are woven seamlessly into the very fabric of the tale. This is a world where weird stuff happens, where something can be both true and false simultaneously, where the consequences of actions echo a hundred miles away. Yet the characters deal with all this the best they can.

Murakami reveals his plot gradually, focusing on the two main characters in alternating chapters. First we have Kafka, a resourceful 15-year-old who hunkers down in a library, fleeing not only his hometown but also an Oedipal prophecy. He meets some interesting characters: Oshima, a transgender librarian who becomes Kafka’s closest friend, and Miss Saeki, an ethereal, one-hit wonder pop singer resigned to spending the rest of her days lamenting lost love and managing the library. Kafka may—or may not—have killed his father. He may—or may not—have slept with his sister and his mother. We don’t know, and I’m not sure if Kafka knows, either.

Nakata is our other main character. He’s an older man, left mentally impaired by some sort of flashing-light-in-the-sky during his childhood in the midst of WWII. This strange occurrence also gave him the ability to communicate with cats around his neighborhood. He lives a peaceful existence as a professional finder of lost cats, eventually leading him far from home. Nakata is fascinating. His humility hides great inner strength. Supremely kind and gentle, he is also capable of supernatural powers he doesn’t seem to understand (e.g., he has a habit of making fish fall from the sky like rain). Trusting some sort of intuitive force, he leaves home to fulfill a mission, along the way befriending a rough young truck driver and forming an unlikely but endearing friendship.

At first, I wondered how on earth these characters and their story arcs would converge. Honestly, even on the last page, I wasn’t sure how everything managed to come together, but I certainly enjoyed the ride. Kafka on the Shore isn’t a hard read. It’s a love story. It’s a bildungsroman. But it is also an enigma; complete understanding of the novel seems to drift just out of reach. Most questions here don’t have answers—most mysteries remain unsolved. No two readers will have the same interpretations. It can be confusing, even mind-bending. Yet Murakami’s style is so effortless and simple that it belies his underlying riddles. If you want someone to spell it out, plain and logical—if you’re uncomfortable with drawing your own conclusions, making sense of untied plot threads, or accepting magical realism, this probably won’t be an enjoyable book for you. But if you enjoy that sort of thing, I’m sure this story and these characters will stick with you for a long, long time.

My Freegal Five

One of my favorite television shows is the British comedy series The IT Crowd.  A friend of mine introduced me to it a few years back, and I was immediately hooked.    It follows an IT department team in a large company, and the wacky situations in which they become entangled.  Perhaps the highlight of the show for me was the CEO character played by actor Matt Berry.  He was arrogant, clueless and absolutely hysterical.  This set me on a path of trying to locate other shows featuring Berry.  Since then I’ve discovered the joys of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, The Mighty Boosh, and Snuff Box.  Unlike the more straightforward IT Crowd, these are all surreal and unconventional.  As such, they take a little time getting used to, but once you catch the drift they’re addictive.

In watching these and looking into Berry’s filmography, I also came across the factoid that he performs music.  He does some light (and hilarious) musical numbers in Darkplace and Snuff Box, so I was pretty excited to check out his musical stylings.  I wasted no time in flying through the two albums he had released at that point, Opium and Witchazel, which were described as “progressive/psychedelic folk.”  To be honest, that genre is not one in which I typically travel, but it was Matt Berry so I gave it a chance.  Long story short I was pleasantly surprised by some catchy tunes and amusing lyrics (my favorite being “Accident at a Harvest Festival” on Witchazel).

I’m happy to report that both of these albums are on Freegal if you’re curious and want to check them out!  This is the Freegal 5 though, and I’m here to expound on my downloads for this week.

First up, it turns out that Berry has released another album called Kill the Wolf, which takes British horror movies as its inspiration.  In particular it appears to recall the 70’s classic The Wicker Man.  As we speak, Freegal is offering a two fantastic singles from the album!  These are “Medicine” and “Gather Up,” and both carry on the vibe from the previous albums.  “Medicine” is my favorite of the two.  It’s an upbeat tune which one could easily imagine being intended as the album’s breakout hit single.  The slow and ethereal “Gather Up” clearly reveals The Wicker Man influence, as it talks about gathering items for the harvest.  The track would definitely fit on a Wicker Man soundtrack album.

In addition to these two gems, I also picked up a few other Berry singles that I hadn’t run across before.  “An Electronic Hero” and “Ukenwhistle” are both instrumental pieces featured on the Medicine single release.  I enjoyed both, as they reminded me of the excellent soundtrack music from Snuff Box.  Speaking of which, my 5th and final download is an alternate take of the “Theme From Snuff Box” featuring soul singer and Evansville, Indiana native Geno Washington.  I love the “Theme From Snuff Box,” which is endlessly riffed on throughout the show.  Once it gets stuck in your head it will never leave!  Washington does a great job with his rendition, adding yet another version for fans to enjoy.  Oddly, the cover of the Snuff Box single release hypes the fact that the song is featured in the movie Dredd.  I guess the folks who made Dredd must be big Matt Berry fans – go figure!

Jim Blanton, Library Director


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