Prep for Intelligent Conversations at the library! A PATH APPEARS Book Discussion with Regina Haddock

a path appears

In preparation for WVIK’s Intelligent Conversations event featuring author Nicholas Kristof, Dress for Success Quad Cities Director, Regina Haddock, will facilitate a book discussion of Kristof’s book, A Path Appears:  Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity.

In addition to print and audio copies of the book being available from PrairieCat libraries, Moline Public Library patrons can check out an e copy of this title via Overdrive and access a corresponding e video via Hoopla!

Space is limited and registration is required. 

‘American Gods’ Is Back For Season 2, Awash In Style, Color And Blood

In the American Gods season 2 opener, Shadow (Ricky Whittle) approaches The Carousel, which will … you know what, it’s tough to explain. Myles Aronowitz/Starz

“He doesn’t tell me anything.”

That’s something the burly, perpetually befuddled, improbably named bodyguard Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) says to … someone … in the second episode of American Gods‘ second season. (Not important to whom, for now — that’d be a spoiler.)

The tight-lipped “he” in question is Mr. Wednesday, aka Odin the All-Father, played with a knowing smirk and a kind of sidelong, Ian McShane-y brio … by Ian McShane. And that “never tells me anything” bit is … pretty much the central, overriding concept around which the first season of American Gods revolved.

Over the course of those first eight episodes, Shadow found himself drawn into a conflict between the gods of the Old World and the New. The old gods, led by Odin, marshaled their forces, while the gods born on American soil like the mysterious Mr. World (Crispin Glover) and the callow Technical Boy (Bruce Langley) observed and plotted. And all the while, Shadow allowed himself to be led along on an extended, discursive road trip, only occasionally glimpsing the bleeding edges of true reality — namely, the fomenting cosmic battle — shuddering just below the surface.

We, the viewers, were let in on the show’s whole pantheon-vs.-pantheon schmear from the get-go, but Odin kept Shadow in the dark. Oh sure, McShane kept up a stream of coy hints, smirking clues and single-entendres, but never told Whittle’s Shadow anything of substance. And Shadow just … went along with it, muttering about how he didn’t know what he believes, despite spending serious hang-time with a pugnacious leprechaun (Pablo Schreiber), the reanimated corpse of his dead wife Laura (Emily Browning), a handful of gods Old and New, recurring visions of a badass-looking Yggdrasil, the World Tree and a giant ghost-buffalo with flames flickering from its eye sockets.

This is one reason that, despite season one’s clever dialogue and many visually arresting set-pieces, the impression many viewers were left with was one of frustration. When the audience figures something out shortly before the main characters does, we feel smart. When we figure it out 10 minutes into the 8 hours it takes the guy to finally twig that hey, yeah, I guess buffaloes don’t have eyes like Zippo lighters, we grow increasingly impatient.

There is “skeptical,” and there is “worrisomely slow on the uptake”; Shadow belongs in the latter camp.

Or at least, belonged: Season one ended with the first out-and-out skirmish in the god-war, in which Wednesday revealed himself to Shadow as Odin.

Viewers hoping this change to the show’s status quo would effect a palpable change in Shadow’s character will not be pleased to hear that while season two sees Shadow fully clued in, he’s still going around in a fog of angry bewilderment — at least in the first two episodes made available to press.

That Shadow is consistently, and by far, the least interesting thing in any given episode of American Gods is not the actor’s fault; he’s written to be the audience surrogate, the grounded, dull-as-dishwater hub around which much more colorful and fascinating characters, events and images revolve. Perhaps sensing this, season one showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green took the Shadow-centric story of the Neil Gaiman novel and smartly shifted the focus to Shadow’s compatriots (Schreiber and Browning have great onscreen chemistry), other gods (Orlando Jones swanning around as spider-trickster-dandy-god Mr. Nancy! Mousa Kraish and Omid Abtahi as a mismatched but literally hot gay couple! Kristin Chenoweth as … Kristin Chenoweth, basically! Cloris Leachman as … the Evening Star of Slavic mythology, I think! Look, it’s a weird show!), and the various villains of the piece (Glover, Langley and — most strikingly — Gillian Anderson as the shape-shifting, copyright-infringing god, Media!).

Between production of season one and the (delayed) season two, there’s been a series of showrunner shakeups. Fuller and Green left, as did their replacement, Jesse Alexander. Speaking to reporters in January, executive producer Gaiman strove to downplay this behind-the-scenes drama, and assured the gathered press that season two will look and feel like season one. McShane, at the same event, mentioned that season two will hew closer to the novel, specifically by getting “back to the line of the book which is Shadow and his story.”

… Ulp.

He’s not wrong about that: Just as season one saw deep dives into the backstories of Browning’s Laura and Schreiber’s Mad Sweeney, the second episode of season two is filled with flashbacks to Shadow’s youth. It’s a game attempt, and it’s entirely possible that those flashbacks will enrich the character in episodes to come. But there is a dogged repetitiveness about them — they don’t reveal much that’s particularly revelatory, they simply reinforce what’s already been established.

So, Shadow still boring: Check.

Everything else about the show still gorgeous, strange and clever: Check plus.

Season two kicks off with a gathering of the old gods at Wisconsin’s House on the Rock, a tourist attraction as eclectic and confounding as American Gods itself. It’s filmed inventively, with the same glowing warmth that marked many of season one’s most striking scenes and images. (Many of those scenes and images involved graphic depictions of violence; at times, the producers seem so besotted with their admittedly exquisite cinematography and art direction they indulge in tableaux of questionable taste: Season one’s attempted lynching of Shadow, this season’s lovingly filmed mass shooting.)

Viewers will detect some measure of course-correction, last season to this one. The love goddess Bilquis (Yetide Badaki), criminally underused in season one, gets more to do, and say. Mama-ji (the great Sakina Jaffrey), a Hindu war goddess, makes for an intriguing addition to the cast. (Another addition, the mysterious Mr. Town, played by Dean Winters, comes off less sinister than intended, due largely to Winters’ prominent side hustle in a series of inescapable insurance commercials.) Also new this season, though they do not appear in the first two episodes: Devery Jacobs’ Sam Black Crow and Kahyun Kim’s New Media (replacing the sorely missed Gillian Anderson).

We get a welcome re-statement of principles to let viewers get up to speed (it has been two years, for us), and then — just as in season one — a sundering of the cast that, amid all of McShane’s dire pronouncements of the coming war, can’t help but seem like a series of side quests — diverting, in every sense of the word, but inessential.

There’s a crowded quality to season two’s opening episodes, which teem with characters and locales, if not events. But at least when nothing happens on this show, it manages to do so gorgeously. Example: The wisdom of sending Mad Sweeney and Laura off on what’s shaping up to be a series of fetch quests seems ill-advised, even if it does give the two charismatic actors shared scenes that highlight how well they click.

Literally and figuratively, American Gods is building to something — an apocalyptic clash of ideas about who we are, what we believe and what defines us. The thing is: It’s looking to be a long trip. And the show’s eagerness to pull over to gawp at every roadside attraction along the way is only gonna make it seem even longer.

But man, the scenery is pretty.

By March 8, 2019, first appearing on Books : NPR

Happy “Frankenstein Was Published Today” Day

Image result for mary shelley

Portrait of Mary Shelley. (Photo: Culture Club/Getty Images)

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” – Mary Shelley

Okay, so it might not be a real, recognized holiday, and yes, the big 200th anniversary was last year, but 201st is still pretty cool.

Mary Shelley published Frankenstein on March 11, 1818 and the worlds of literature, horror and story-telling haven’t been the same since. Few stories or characters have occupied the cultural imagination as long or as pervasively as Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstien and his monster.

How do you celebrate? You could…

  • Read Frankenstein
  • Write your own story (gothic horror optional)
  • Read up on Mary Shelley
  • Read something else that features her famous monster (there’s a lot to choose from)
  • Stitch together your own unholy abomination and bring it to life with chemical cocktails, lightning and hubris

We’re not telling you what to do, but all but the last of those you can do at the library… and we wouldn’t really recommend the last one. It didn’t work out well for the good doctor.

WATCH THE FIRST FULL-LENGTH TRAILER FOR NEIL GAIMAN’S GOOD OMENS

Good Omens, the hilarious and irreverent novel collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, is headed to Amazon on May 31 as a mini-series. It’s about the forces of Good and Evil joining up to stop the end of the world. Which is coming next Saturday, just before dinner. They must work together to find an 11-year-old boy named Brian, who happens to be the Antichrist.

The show stars Michael Sheen as Aziraphale, an angel, and David Tennant as the demon Crowley. And they are backed up by such star power as Frances McDormand, Brian Cox, Jon Hamm, Nick Offerman, Miranda Richardson, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Michael McKean.

To the world! See the just-released full trailer in all its glory for yourself:

 

By , March 

NETFLIX TO ADAPT GABRIEL GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ’S ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE

Netflix has announced that it has acquired the rights to develop Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Originally published in 1967, One Hundred Years of Solitude is widely regarded as the Nobel Prize winning author’s greatest work and as one of the most significant works in the modern literary canon. This is the first time the novel will be adapted for screen.

García Márquez was often approached for film rights during his lifetime but refused all offers, citing his concerns that the large, multi-generational novel would not adapt well into a single film. García Márquez was also committed to his story being told in Spanish.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Netflix to Adapt Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of SolitudeNetflix has changed the game though and García Márquez’s two sons, who will both be executive producers on the project, have decided to open a new “great chapter” stating that, “In the last three or four years, the level and prestige and success of series and limited series has grown so much . . . Netflix was among the first to prove that people are more willing than ever to see series that are produced in foreign languages with subtitles. All that seems to be a problem that is no longer a problem.”

Francisco Ramos, the vice president for Spanish language originals at Netflix, “noted the success of series like Narcos and movies like Roma, which recently won the Oscar for best foreign language film, that have shown ‘we can make Spanish-language content for the world.’”

No details, as of yet, about who will be writing or starring in the series.

By , March 

Valentine’s Day Ditto, Just for You!

And all the other people who read this blog post…

If Not For You Shelf End Ditto NU