Thursday, May 31, 2012

There's rules to this game son, I'm justified

A lawman has come to town: Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, quick with his temper and his gun.

This isn’t a western: it’s the TV series Justified, set in modern-day eastern Kentucky.  The show just finished its third season on FX and the Ocean Books Library System has the first two seasons on DVD. It’s terrific.

Raylan is played with raspy, furrow-brow charm by Timothy Olyphant. He left Kentucky behind when he joined the Marshals, but his bad reputation got him transferred back to his home town.

There’s plenty of crime in this poor, coal-mining section of Kentucky, from methamphetamine-cookers to protection-men to homegrown local terrorists. Raylan’s own daddy Arlo seems to be up to something, and the prettiest woman in Harlan County, Ava, is newly single since she put her husband in the ground with a deer rifle.

Justified is an entertaining, violent slice of rural noir, based on characters created by Elmore Leonard (almost always a good sign). I just finished watching Season One, and I’m looking forward to deepening backwoods unpleasantness in Season Two. If you’ve missed this great show, put it on hold today.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gatsby, still great

Whenever a new film version of a good book comes out, I almost always decide I want to read or reread the book before I see the movie.

That's how I feel about the new Baz Luhrmann production of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which will be released sometime this year.  I'm pretty excited about the movie, especially since I thought the 1974 version failed to capture the book's magic.

And what is that magic?  It's a book about moneyed people who went to the right schools and have the right bloodlines; and about a newcomer trying to break into their midst.  He too has lots of money, but remains an outsider.  None of the characters in the novel inspire any affection in the reader, because they are all shallow jerks.  Do you root for Gatsby and Daisy to have a happy ending?  Why?  It's not like they deserve one.

And yet, The Great Gatsby is beautiful.  It's not just about rich people behaving badly; it's also about longing for the impossible, striving for something you don't realize you can't have until it's too late.  It's about the way people attempt to reinvent themselves, not always with perfect success.  These characters search for meaning in a post-war world that's cynical, materialistic, and corrupt.

The movie certainly seems to have captured the "rich people" part of the novel; but will it succeed in evoking the ache behind the glitz?  Who knows?

One thing the movie won't do is capture the power of F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing.  If you haven't read Gatsby since high school, you might not remember Fitzgerald's amazing ability to string together wonderful sentences.  Take my advice and read it again before heading out to the theater.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Creating lists in Oceanbooks

One of the many useful features of our new Oceanbooks catalog is the ability to make lists. You can make lists by categories, such as 'Detective stories set in Sweden,' 'Books with dragons,' or 'Strong female characters.' Or you can make lists of books to read, books you've read, or your favorite books or movies.

How do you make a list?  First go to and log in to your account. If you haven't created a new PIN yet, follow the steps to do so or give us a call for assistance.  Next, perform a search in Oceanbooks. Once you get the search results you want, you can add one or more items to a cart.

After you have added everything you want to the cart, open your cart and click on 'Save to list.'

You can add items to an existing list, or create a new list.

Once you've saved items to a list, you can check them at any time by going to 'My Account' then to 'My Lists.'

By the way, if you want a list of everything you check out, go to 'My Account,' 'Reading History,' and click on 'Opt In.'  Your past checkouts won't show up, but everything you check out from now on will display.  You can always delete titles or change your setting to 'Opt Out' if want to.

Enjoy browsing through our new catalog and its features, and be sure to call us if you need help with anything!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


In the 2008 film Son of Rambow, young Will lost his father to a stroke in the recent past and he fantasizes that he can somehow rescue him from death and make the world right again.

When he’s thrown together with school troublemaker Lee Carter in a fishbowl-breaking incident, the boys unexpectedly hit it off.  Will’s family belongs to a religious group called “The Brethren” which strives to isolate its members from the influence of popular culture, partly by forbidding television or films of any kind.  Will is quiet, shy, always an outsider who at first obediently accepts that he's not allowed to participate in the things the other schoolchildren do. Outwardly, Lee seems to be everything Will is not— aggressive, confident, disobedient, rude. But he’s making a movie to submit to a “Young Filmmakers” competition, and he discovers that Will is a great partner in crime, willing to do any crazy, dangerous stunt Lee can imagine. For his part, Will finds an eager audience for his heroic fantasies, and a window into the world forbidden by his religion.

This is a movie about true friendship and growing up. Both boys share a deep loneliness and alienation from the adult world which they bridge together, through their friendship and through their film-making. Son of Rambow is not schmaltzy and Disneyfied—on top of both kids’ emotional and psychological issues, there’s a bit of ‘adult’ language and a couple of intense scenes when the boys are in life-threatening danger. Nevertheless, I would consider this a quality family movie for many 5th or 6th graders on up.

Son of Rambow played at several film festivals, including Sundance, and, according to Wikipedia, made the top ten list of several film critics for the year 2008.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Coming Soon to a Catalog Near You -- Oceanbooks

Over the years, patrons have asked if they can save “to do” or “wish” lists on our catalog. Their intent is to make lists of materials they want to read, or movies they want to watch. Patrons have also asked if there is a way to review a history of items they’ve checked out. Unfortunately, our answer to these questions has always been, “ no” … up until now, that is.

That “no” will change to “yes” on May 15, when Newport Public Library, in partnership with Driftwood Public Library and Tillamook County Library, introduces its new Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC). With this new OPAC, patrons will – at their choosing – have the ability to save lists and histories of their library use. And while they won’t be able to go back and retrospectively capture a history of everything they’ve checked out, they will be able to start keeping track of materials they check out from May 15th and beyond.

 Also, patrons will no longer need to search a separate database for magazine articles. Books, DVDs, CDs AND full-text magazine and journal articles will all show up in the results list. Patrons doing in-depth research will find this to be a great time-saving feature. These are just a few of the new features that will be available to patrons. To use our new OPAC, go to

Monday, May 7, 2012

Move me onto any black square

Myfanwy Thomas opens her eyes to find herself surrounded by corpses, with no idea who she is or how she got there. She finds a letter in her pocket, from the person she was before she was struck with amnesia, giving her instructions.

That’s the opening of The Rook, a very entertaining action-adventure-fantasy novel from Daniel O’Malley. Myfanwy (rhymes with Tiffany) is a Rook in the chess-themed top-secret agency whose mission is to protect Great Britain from supernatural peril. The old Myfanwy learned that she was going to be betrayed by one of her colleagues and struck with amnesia, so she began to make detailed notes and instructions for the new Myfanwy to follow. The narrative of the novel alternates between new Myfanwy’s experiences and old Myfanwy’s letters.

Myfanwy must cope with the normal challenges of her job - England is under constant assault by all sorts of horrors - along with maintaining the secret of her amnesia, and finding out who is responsible. Matters are made more difficult by the fact that the old Myfanwy was a tearful wimp, respected by no one.

The problem with amnesia books - this one included - is that what the amnesiac does and does not remember sometimes seems awfully convenient. Myfanwy doesn’t remember that vampires and sentient purple fungi are real, but she does remember how to use a cell phone, drive, and check her bank balance at an ATM.

If you can accept that, The Rook is packed with action and often very funny. The idea of a secret organization tasked with combating monsters is not very new -- hello, The Initiative from season four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But I bet fans of Buffy would really enjoy The Rook, with its smart-mouthed heroine and constant onslaught of slime-oozing bad guys. It has the same sense of whimsy amid the gore.

I got interested in The Rook when I read an interview with Daniel O’Malley, who described his method of coping with boring work meetings: he would pretend he wasn’t really himself. This got him to thinking: How would you go about impersonating yourself? What would you need to know to pull it off successfully?

The Rook was the result of these somewhat unprofessional musings, and it is great fun.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The strange case of Dr. Wilbur and Miss Mason

I was fascinated by Sybil when I was a teenager.

I read the influential book by Flora Schreiber, about a young woman with multiple personality disorder (also called dissociative identity disorder), for a high school psychology class. I loved the made-for-TV movie, starring Sally Field as the fractured Sybil and Joanne Woodward as her therapist, Dr. Connie Wilbur.

The idea that a person could have separate lives of which she was unaware was tantalizing, and the detailed scenes of child abuse inspired a thrill of voyeuristic horror. And of course, it all ends happily, thanks to science and the stern kindness of a heroic psychiatrist.

Now a new book, Sybil Exposed by Debbie Nathan, comprehensively tears this story to shreds.

Sybil, says Nathan, is the story of an undoubtedly troubled young woman whose real name was Shirley Mason. She intensely longed for the approval and attention of Dr. Wilbur, so she concocted a story so fascinating that Dr. Wilbur wouldn’t be able to turn her away. It worked - this would be the case that defined Connie Wilbur’s career.

Using the original transcripts and tapes of interviews, Nathan shows how Dr. Wilbur, convinced that multiple personalities could only be caused by childhood trauma, asked leading questions that elicited ever-worsening tales of abuse from her patient. She used hypnosis and drugs – a lot of drugs – to help Shirley “remember.” This was the beginning of an intense mutual obsession between the two women, one that lasted all their lives and eradicated the boundaries about the ethical relationship between doctor and patient.

Nathan also examines Flora Schreiber, the author of Sybil. An intelligent and skeptical woman, Schreiber had her doubts about the veracity of the story - but with a fat advance in the bank, she ignored them.

The psychological technique of eliciting “lost memories” with drugs and hypnosis has been criticized. If Nathan is right, poor Shirley Mason is a textbook example of why.

So what’s really true? Healing, fraud, or a deep co-dependent sickness, a disorder quite different from the one reenacted by Sally Field and Joanne Woodward? Read Sybil Exposed, and decide for yourself.