John Waite had a song out recently that had a line, “Don’t you remember me? I sang that song you liked, way back in ’83.” The same could be said for Harry Nilsson. Most people may not remember the name but most will remember the music. He sang, Fred Neil’s , Everybody’s Talkin, and a cover of Badfingers, Without You. His own work includes the epic Coconut, Jump into the fire, Gotta Get up. His work can be heard in moves like, You Got Mail, Goodfellas and Practical Magic. I remember two of his songs that are from my childhood, Cuddly Toy by The Monkees and The theme from The Courtship of Eddies Father. His music is still being used today but Harry seemed to be falling through the cracks until this last year when a great documentary, Who is Harry Nilson (and why is everybody talkin about him?) came out. I thought this was one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. We get to see what shaped him and who changed him. Here is a hint for those of you who know about John Lennon and the lost weekend Harry was there. The stories are told by his friends and family and just like any good biography you really get interested in the subject. Legendary record producer Richard Perry talks about working with him on a Grammy winning record of the year only to follow it up with The Break- Up Song, which includes one of those words they don’t like on radio. Harry was complex and loved. Unappreciated during his life and in death worshiped by some. You can see that in the people who were interviewed, Yoko Ono, Jimmy Webb, Micky Dolenz and many others all have unique stories and memories and they are all revealed with a degree of respect. Finally, there is a lot of music in this film and as you watch you may remember him. I know I did. Check this out you won’t be sorry.
Author Archive for Terri
Infidelity, an unusual topic for a book? Actually it is not. Maybe it’s been the Tiger, Sandra and John Edwards events recently, but whatever it is infidelity is a pretty popular topic. If you look at the ICPL’s catalog listings there are as many fiction titles as there are non fiction titles for this topic. Today I am going to talk about this subject. It seems basic, two people are in a committed relationship, both seem on the surface to be in the same place and then boom it happens one of the partners strays. The act itself is often not the important part of the story . The before and after are what seem to be the most vital. In three books, two fiction, Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart, Mercy by Jodi Picoult and one non fiction , Perfection by Julie Mertz. We can see what the act of infidelity does to the relationship and the two people involved. Mercy, which is my favorite Picoult book, has two stories running through its prose. The first is that a man so loves his wife that when she is dying he kills her to stop her pain. He goes on trial and the sheriff in town arrests and testifies in court. That man is part of the second story which involves Cal, his wife Allie and a stranger named Mia who changes their lives. In Husband and Wife, Sarah, works outside of the home and is the breadwinner for the family. Nathan is a househusband and a semi successful writer who raises their young children. In both of these well written books we see the stories of pretty normal yet flawed people who live their lives by the assumptions they have made about their relationships. The actual act of infidelity in both of these novels is not what the stories are about. It simply pulls the reader in to see what will happen and what led to it happening. Perfection, is even more disturbing because it is true. The author finds out that her late husband led a very private life that she knew nothing about. Her reaction to this information combined with her grieving process lead to some heartbreaking actions that alter not only her life but her daughters and many of those around them. Written like a good novel, this book takes you on this woman’s journey and makes you wonder about your own. You would think that after I read these three books I would think that no one can trust anyone. But what I learned was that we all have a responsibility to maintain the relationships we have . That trust is something that evolves and that if we know ourselves we are at our best to relate to others.
Who would have thought a book about addiction , poverty and music could be so funny? I have been aware of Ozzy Osbourne for many years and while not a fan of his type of music I do realize that he did have a special gift. Born in a family that was very poor, Osbourne grew up listening to the radio and through a lot of hard work found himself on the radio with his own group Black Sabbath. Sabbath, was one of the pioneering groups that performed Heavy Metal Rock andRoll. Sabbath is in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for their importance and how that group started is just one of the many stories outlined in I am Ozzy, by Ozzy Osbourne. Osbourne is a addict. You will read a number of stories about his adventures and while they are sad Osbourne along with co author Chris Ayers, writes them as if you are having a conversation. Osbourne covers it all. From his childhood to the Sabbath years to meeting the woman who saw the potential in him, Sharon. Their over 30 year relationship is the backbone of this book. Yes, Ozzy bit the head off a bat in Des Moines. Yes, he urinated on the Alamo, one of the funniest stories in the book by the way. Yes, he almost died a few years ago in a ridding accident. And he has ingested every mind altering substance there is. But beyond all that is the tale of a man who loves his five children, is totally devoted to his wife and who is a very very talented song writer. You may not like his music but you find after reading this book that you like the man and am stymied about how he remembered it all.
It’s that time of year for many of us when we actually have a little time to spend on ourselves. I have been indulging myself on several new items here at the Iowa City Public Library. First, I have been reading two wonderful book the last few weeks. Cheever by Blake Bailey is a long but wonderful biography of writer John Cheever. I have talked about my love of Cheever in this blog before but I also like to read about the lives of people who create. Cheever was troubled and talented and this is one of the best biographies I have ever read. Pick it up and do take the time because it is worth it. The second book I want to talk about is The Girls From Ames by Jeffery Zaslow. Zaslow is a writer who also helped write, The Last Lecture and has taken 11 women who grew up in Ames and looks at their lives as they are in mid life. I will admit I was leary about this book for you see I grew up in Iowa, graduating the same year as these woman and am the same age as they are. This book is about 11 friends but its also about me and many of my friends who have had very similar journeys over the years. This book will make you laugh and cry. I know I will be giving it as a gift to many of my friends this year. Another addition to the collection that made me smile is the addition of the classic television series, All In The Family, to our DVD collection. Just to see the episode where Edith Bunker send a coupon into a prune company to get a quarter back and they keep sending her more and more money and to watch how Archie responds to it sent me back to childhood and sitting with my grandmother on Saturday nights watching this classic program. Be warned that much of what made this show so special probably would not be allowed on politically correct televison today. And finally I have been listening to two CDs. Morning Glory The Tim Buckley Anthology, has been out for a few years but to hear the beauty of the mans voice and the poetry of his lyrics makes me sad that we never got to hear him as he aged. The other CD I am listening to is ear and eye candy of another sort, Defying Gravity by Keith Urban is a nice effort not his best work but it contains one the best songs he has ever written the haunting and sad, Til Summer comes Around, if he could write every song like this he would leave Country Music behind and be a bigger player in the music world. So there is where I have been I”ll be back with more picks soon.
I know I don’t like change. Think about how a child feels. Once upon a time there was a little girl Guinea pig named Chloe and she had a magical relationship with her Uncle Bobby. Uncle Bobby would take Chloe places and do special things with her. Then Uncle Bobby met Jamie and decided to marry him. What happens to Chloe is told in a wonderful children’s book called, Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah Brannen. Chloe and her issues with the changes to her relationship are the backbone of this tale. However, a number of people have felt that what this story really is is a "safe" introduction to homosexual marriage and the book has been challenged in Colorado. This book isn’t about gay marriage its about changes in relationships that happen all the time. You can be six or forty six and those changes will effect you. This book shows that not all changes are bad they can in fact make relationships better.
Take it from me there are no men like Edward Cullen in the world. That’s what I said recently to my 14 year old niece when we were discussing the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer. If you have never heard of this series of four books, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, you soon will be as the first of the films based on the books will hit theaters in mid November and will be a hit. I generally do not read fiction, but after placing all four of these books on the reserve shelves over and over again I got curious and so I started to read them. Well they do suck you in. That was a very bad pun but very apt for you see this romance is about a 16 year old girl named Bella, who moves to the northwest to live with her father and meets the boy who will suck the life out of her, Edward Cullen. Cullen is 17, rich, beautiful and a vampire. The books talk about Bella, Edward and their love and all that mixes with that. This really is fiction and Meyer has been criticized for being unrealistic about vampires and young love. My issues are two fold. First, Bella is very young and very naive. Secondly, as a feminist the character of Edward is very sexist. Bella is never given the opportunity to take time to mature. The only time she even has the opportunity to see something beyond the fate she is bullied into choosing is when she gets involved with a character named Jacob, who has his own secrets. Its a well written book and many many people love these characters but in the end, it left me as cold as Edward and his skin. Maybe that is why I don’t read fiction?
A long time ago back when the ICPL still had videos, a purchase request came in for the movies of Henry Jaglom. Our film librarian was stumped and had not heard of this Jaglom person. I was sitting there and ventured forth the statement that I had not only heard of Jaglom but owned a couple of his films. Jaglom’s films for me are a delight. I like the humor and the humanity in them. For many, his films are like fingernails on a chalk board. He is too verbal. The films are all centered on women. He doesn’t like women. He is a bigger blow hard than Woody Allen. He reminds many of the new wave directors. All of these statements are valid. I like the films you may not but how we got the first collection is a story onto itself. While the library purchases our items from vendors I was curious if the stories about how different Jaglom was were true so I became a detective. I called his production office in Santa Monica and explained my situation. We had a request for his films but they were hard to find and expensive could they give me some advise about how to get some of the titles that were requested. The woman I was talking to turned out to be Jagloms right hand person and head of his office. She answered my request with," well he is here right now why don’t you talk to him." He was all over the place asking me questions about all kinds of things not just about the library but about Iowa City and about film. He was a great interviewer and I probably was on the phone with him for close to an hour. When I hung up I really didn’t know what had happened but I thought well I gave it a try. Sure enough around three weeks later I got a box with every Jaglom movie available not just for the library but a duplicate copy for myself. I have heard from the office on and off over the years and I get post cards about the newest releases. Jaglom is a warm and funny man and not quite like the man you see in some of his films. He was an actor before he was a director, you can find him as a regular on Gidget. He was good friends with Natalie Wood and Orson Wells and he has a ton of tales about them. But I have talked enough here go look at some of his films, seems we got most of them donated to the ICPL when they came out on DVD, and see for yourself. Babyfever, Last Summer in the Hamptons, Eating, Can She Bake a Cherry Pie, Someone to love, Always. A word of warning these are intense and you might might get angry at some of the situations but those films I mentioned and the others we have by Jaglom are all worth a look.
If you look up the word fanatic you will see that an abbreviated version of that is the word fan. I could be defined by both terms in regards to my devotion to R.E.M. I have seen the mighty men from Athens more than a hundred times. Now before you think I might be defined by that g word (groupie), these concerts have happened over a period of twenty four years. For me each new release of music makes me warm inside as it reminds me of why this music from this band is so important to me. Can I explain that? No. It’s the feeling some get at the start of a sports season or others when it is warm enough to garden. R.E.M happened for me at a time when I had quit listening to music and the radio in particular and was concentrating on school. I was up late one night and just happened to turn on the radio for company. The station KFMH, used to play entire LPs and the night I tuned in they were playing this record, Reckoning, by this group called R.E.M. I listened and from that night on I was hooked. Maybe because the lead guy mumbled or maybe because I found out they were my age but something touched me and I have been a fan ever since. Being an R.E.M. fan has been a wonderful experience. To watch the struggle for wider success with LPs like, Fables of the Reconstruction/Reconstruction of the Fables, Life’s Rich Pageant and Document. Discovering earlier works, Chronic Town and Murmur. I was excited by their growing popularity and shared their social outlook with Green. 1991 brought world wide fame with Out of Time and added to their mantle with the splendid efforts, Automatic for the People and Monster. It seemed that the future was limitless. Then the 1994 tour that resulted in several illnesses and the almost death of drummer Bill Berry. After that they released the CD New Adventures in Hi-Fi and little did we know it but it marked the end of one era. Bill "retired" from the band in 1997 just before the start of recording, Up. Several more Cd’s were released Reveal and Around the Sun. It was hard after Bill left, but the music was still good although many had written them off as part of the past. Seeing them in concert showed that they were still vibrant but would the world see it again? Two weeks ago Accelerate, was released to critical and popular acclaim. At a mere 35 minutes this recording connected the past to the present and made this long term fan smile. As Bono said at a dinner in Dublin last year, "only a few of us of a certain age understand where we were and where we are going R.E.M. always knew." I guess thats why I am still a fan. Check the ICPL R.E.M. collection out.
I was pulling books yesterday and ventured into an area that for me is like the island of lost toys, the 500′s. Most of you have heard of Albert Einstein, right? Have you ever read his actual words? I picked up, The World as I See It, and dove in and learned the man wasn’t just theories and formulas. He had some pretty keen ideas , "The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion." That is certainly something to think about today. Looking around that section I stumbled upon the books on math. Math and I have a love hate relationship. Yes, I can do the basic stuff. I can make change. No worries for you about me and your fine money on the Circulation Desk. It is that other stuff like algebra and calculus that I have trouble with. If you are like me there are a lot of books up there that can explain this stuff so that it kinda makes sense. Well I still don’t know why its important to learn in school but some questions will never be answered. Still browsing up there I found the nature books. Every kind of living being is featured in some volume. I was pleased to see, Fly by Steven Connor. Connor tells the tale of the cultural, social and ecological importance of that pesky summertime companion. Americas Neighborhood Bats is a truly riveting tome about those critters that I have only seen at three in the morning flapping around my bed as I stumble for a tennis racket. Bats do have value as this book points out, so perhaps next time I will use the butterfly net. I love sea life, whales and dolphins in particular. To Touch a Wild Dolphin by Rachel Smolker is a book I urge you to pick up.
People devote their lives to animals and their stories are so inspiring. Time-Life’s The Sahara has great photos and on the other end of that dial, Michael Grunwald’s, The Swamp, told of the importance of the swamp and what the loss of it would mean to all of us. The past and the future, figuring out and thinking about . What we have and can lose its all found upstairs in the 500′s. Even bats and flies become fascinating.
One of the best times to be in the library is when it isn’t open. I get that privilege because I am often working before opening occasionally I take advantage of my luck and go up to a section of the library few know but I wish more would discover, the poetry section, 811. In that area on the second floor you will find a wealth of treasure you may have never known existed. Poetry isn’t just something to deal with in school. Poetry is something that can truly move your soul. Much like a song, but in a lot of ways a lot stronger, poetic verse can change or bring meaning to your life. On a day when I have already had a bad morning, going upstairs and selecting a poetry book can take me to a place that is secure and stable. If the only poets you know are Tupac and Jim Morrison let me suggest for you some of my favorites, Allen Ginsberg, Anne Sexton, Audre Lorde are all quite moving and thought provoking. I would also suggest newer works by Laura Moriarty, Mark Strand and Adrienne Rich. My go-to poets are Walt Whitman, Robert Lowell and my favorite Ogden Nash. Did you wonder about the title of this blog ? That’s a poem by Nikki Giovanni found in her collection called, Love Poems. Let me recommend two other collections, Allen Ginsberg Selected Poems 1947-1995 and a brand new collection, The Best of Ogden Nash. Whoever you choose give poetry a try I promise you won’t be disappointed.