Monday, October 18, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
There are some minor spoilers below, so if you have not read The Lost Symbol and still plan to, I will first encourage you not to waste your time and second note that you may learn more about the book than you wish to know in the review below.
The first of Dan Brown's books that I read, The Da Vinci Code, was fairly entertaining and rather clever. It was also somewhat preachy in parts and you definitely got the feeling that Mr. Brown wanted you to know that he is a terribly clever fellow who isn't afraid to drop names. But I enjoyed it.
Angels and Demons was my second read, though it is actually the predecessor to The Da Vinci Code. Angels and Demons was still somewhat entertaining, but the heavy-handed anti-Catholicism wore on me as the book progressed and the "gotcha" Hitchcockian twist at the end was fairly absurd and really stretched my ability to suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy the story. I didn't regret reading it, but I wouldn't really recommend it to anyone, either.
The Lost Symbol has all of the flaws of the other two books and almost none of their pleasures. About the only thing I really liked about The Lost Symbol was that Brown set the novel in Washington, D.C., a city that truly is full of marvels and which very rarely receives its due as a great tourist destination.
So, why didn't I like Symbol? Well, the most obvious answer, and the one that grated on me throughout, is that the writing is really quite poor. There are over 100 chapters in the book and I would guess that over half of them end with a "cliffhanger" similar to the following: "What he saw chilled him to his bones," or "Then, like an oncoming truck, it hit her." Do this once or twice and it can be an effective literary device. Do it a half dozen times, but spread them out over the course of a 500+ page novel and they won't really register as more than a minor annoyance. Stuff several hundred of them (no, I didn't count, but many chapters had more than one of these "oh my gosh" non-surprising "revelations") and you start to dread the next time someone in the book sees something or learns something "startling" that the reader is not privy to until much later. Or, to quote from this review by Samuel F. Lytal, "The purpose of a cliffhanger is not for you to realize it is a cliffhanger, but instead to compel you to turn the page, not laugh at the author's lack of subtlety."
There is far, far too much laughing at Dan Brown's lack of subtlety in The Lost Symbol.
Other annoyances: The pacing is lousy. The puzzles are rather dull. The supposedly clever people are far too often incredibly stupid. The villain is both unbelievable and two-dimensional. The big "thing that will shake our democracy and our world to its core" turns out to be rather trivial and banal.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
You can't miss the display, as it is in the front lobby of the library, so check it out the next time you visit. We'll have the photos here through Friday, November 12. Details on the annual photo contest can be found here. Details on Old World Wisconsin can be found here. It's a fabulous place-- beautiful, fun and educational. A rare combination outside of your local public library.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
So come out to Field Park this weekend-- the weather should be fine-- and have a great time while supporting two great causes. The event runs from 6-10 pm both nights. Further details on Jack-O-Lantern Jaunt can be found here. All of the pumpkins are carved by local organizations and individuals. Here are a few examples from previous Jaunts:
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
My kids don't remember a time when phones weren't wireless. They were shocked the first time they came to my office and saw a phone that was limited in how far it could go by the wires sticking out of it. Well, not actually shocked. But certainly surprised. Will their kids be surprised to find tvs and lights and other electrical devices that actually have to be plugged in? My money is on yes.
For good or ill, we do live in interesting times.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wear your costume and
come trick-or-treating at the Library.
Tuesday, October 26, 6:30 PM
An evening storytime for families of all ages.
A SOMEWHAT SCARY
Wednesday, October 27, 10:00 AM
A preschool storytime for ages 3-6 years.
Thursday, October 28, 10:00 AM
A lapsit storytime for ages newborn to 36 months.
Thursday, October 28, 2:00 PM
For grades 4-8.
Previous experience helpful but not required.
Friday, October 29, 2:00 PM
A story and a craft for grades K-3. Please register.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Or, just click on the video. =)
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
You may have seen it in the paper, or heard about it around town, but if not-- please mark your calendars for Sunday, Sept. 26. The Library is holding A Night on the Town, a fundraiser for the expansion project featuring John McGivern. All proceeds will benefit our expansion fund, and the night should be a lot of fun.
- A pre-performance gathering at Heaven City. It will feature gourmet hors d'oeuvres and a wine tasting, with a separate cash bar available. This "opening act" kicks off at 5:45.
- Doors at the Mukwonago High School Auditorium open at 7:15, with material on the expansion available for viewing. The Blood Street Blues Band, a local jazz group, will provide entertainment until the curtain is ready to go up on the main event.
- 8:00-- the Main Event. Jim "Lips" LaBelle will be your host, and he will introduce the Premiere, an award-winning female quartet that are part of the Sweet Adelines.
- John McGivern, local storyteller, actor and radio personality will take the stage after Premiere is done to bring you some of his one-of-kind stories and reminiscences.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
The Super-Dooper, Splendid, Spectacular, Stupendous, Simply Sensational, End-of-Summer Scavenger Hunt is HERE!
- #6: Fly Swatter
- #17: Stick of White Chalk
- #33: Steel Wool
- #39: Blue Crayon
- #47: Coin Purse
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
- It is written entirely in the form of diary entries, newspaper articles and personal narratives. There is no "omniscient author". It gives the novel a very different feel than we are used to today, and also provides a fascinating glimpse into turn-of-the-century British mores and customs.
- In addition to introducing the concept of vampires into popular culture, as well as the singularly evil Count Dracula, the novel also introduced the world to the stereotypical insane asylum resident, often caricatured in cartoons. In the novel, the patient Renfield plays a significant role, and Stoker's depiction of his psychosis and reaction to the proximity of the Count are clearly the inspiration for many portrayals of a "typical" madman on stage and screen.
- Dracula also introduced the character of Van Helsing to the world. A dutch doctor who also happens to be familiar with the legends and myths of the eastern European lands. Van Helsing, though physically vibrant for his age, is far more intellectual and philosophical in Dracula than he is often portrayed as in later movies. Certainly NOT like the ripped, action-figuresque Hugh Jackman from the 2004 film.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
- Tonight, Tuesday April 6: Job Hunting Workshop; 6:30-7:45
- Tomorrow, Wednesday April 7: Pigeon Party-- fun and games for K-2nd graders; 2:00 pm
- Thursday, April 8: Mad Hatter Tea Party-- enjoy tea and crumpets while make a mad creation; grades 7-12, 2:00 pm
- Friday, April 9: Game day-- we'll have a Wii station (but only one), and a variety of board games.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
- It was the best-selling novel of the 19th Century, selling over 300,000 copies in its first year of publication, and the second-best selling book to the Bible.
- It was made into a multitude of different plays and dramatic performances during the second half of the 19th Century, none of them authorized by Harriet Beecher Stowe.
- That there was a controversy regarding Stowe's descriptions of southern slave life since she never actually visited any southern plantations, relying instead on written narratives and interviews with escaped slaves.
- My understanding that the Uncle Tom character of the book was a race traitor, a figure to be scorned, even a villain, came from the unauthorized plays and 20th Century literary criticism, not from the book itself.