Did you know…about Frankenstein?

wp_20180626_14_25_24_proDid you know that this year, 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of the novel Frankenstein?

Written by Mary Shelley and published when she was just 20 years old, the novel grew out of a writing challenge proposed by Lord Byron when Mary and her future husband Percy Shelley were staying with him at Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. This challenge would also produce the first modern vampire story (The Vampyre by John Polidori, published in 1819). Encouraged by Percy, Mary expanded her short story into a full novel, which was published as Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1818 with a first print run of just 500 copies. Curiously, it was published annonymously and Shelley’s name would not appear on the novel until its 1823 printing.

Regarded as one of the break out Gothic Horror novels and one of the first Science Fiction stories, the book has been adapted to both stage and screen numerous times, including the 1931 Frankenstein (and its two sequels, The Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein) staring Boris Karloff as the monster and a series of films by British studio Hammer Films which stared Peter Cushing as the infamous Doctor Frankenstein.

A common mistake is the belief that the name Frankenstein refers to the creature itself, something perpetuated in some adaptions (for example: the the Japanese film Frankenstein Conquers the World and the animated Hotel Transylvania film series). In truth it is actually the name of the main character: Doctor Victor Frankenstein.

Why not celebrate the bicentenary of this classic by reading the novel or perhaps enjoying one of the many film adaptions or even read about the author and the books impact on literature.

Avengers: Infinity War – a staff review

Avengers VS ThanosGreetings library land,

Last week, I had the opportunity to go to an advanced screening of Avengers: Infinity War. The follow up to Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, this movie is directed by the Russo brothers (Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War) this movie is the culmination of everything Marvel have done with their Cinematic Universe to this point.

Please note, I shall try and avoid spoilers as much as possible.

Based on Thanos Quest, The Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity graphic novels, the movie picks up where the mid credit sequence from Thor: Ragnarok ended and sets you off on an incredible journey, culminating in one of the largest cinematic battles since Lord of The Rings!

All of the cast are great, but the standout has to be Thanos, portrayed by Josh Brolin. One of my big concerns going into this moview was Thanos’ portrayal. In the comics, it often seems that there are two versions of The Mad Titan: highly intelligent, calculating and capable of character growth (as written by his creator Jim Starlin and to a lesser extent Dan Abnett and Keith Giffen) or a meglomaniacle destroyer and conqueror (most other writers and the Avengers Assemble cartoon). Thankfully, Brolin plays Thanos closer to his creators writing than others. You can almost, almost understand where Thanos is coming from and the justifacation of his actions (as horrific as they are). In many ways, this is Thanos’ movie and he owns the screen.

The interplay between the vast cast is really good, particulary Tony Stark, Doctor Strange and Star Lord of the Guardians of the Galaxy. There are many touching moments, particularly in the final act.Infinity Wars Insta pic

If I have a complaint, it is that Adam Warlock, a character who (in the comics) is intimatly linked to the Infinity Stones was not introduced in time to play a roll in this film. In the original Infinity Gauntlet story, Warlock was an essential part of the plot, rallying not only Earth’s heroes, but the various cosmic abstracts (such as Eternity, Chaos, Order and Galactus) against Thanos.

A solid 9/10 and don’t forget to stay until the very end of the credits!

Did you know…about video-game movies?

A new film based on the Tomb Raider series of games was released today. A reboot of the franchise that previously featured Angelina Jolie, it will be interesting to see how it performs both at the box office and with the critics.

You see, 2018 marks 25 years since Hollywood began tapping video games for movie plots, of which very few have been successful. That first film based on Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers series of games stared Bob Hoskins in the role of Mario and was a box office failure, costing more than $40 million to make but returning only $20 million. It was also panned by critics and today only has a 15% approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes review site.

Financially, the most successful video game film to date is Warcraft by Legendary Pictures. Adapted from Blizzard Entertainment’s Strategy and online Roleplaying game, the film failed to break even in its US release and was only saved by the Chinese market despite the online game boasting more than 100 million active accounts. Critically, the most successful video game film is Prince of Persia with a rating of 36% on Rotten Tomatoes (Warcraft recieved 28%). On average the video game films recieve a 16% approval rating on the review site.

Will the new Tomb Raider finally break this trend?

Only time will tell…

In the meantime, why not check out the history of the Tomb Raider franchise or check out the Angelina Jolie incarnation of the character. Or, if you are brave, see if you can find some other video game movies on the library catalogue

Did you know…about Chinese New Year?

Tomorrow, February the 16th will be Chinese New Year for 2018 and herald in the Year of the Dog. known as Sheng Xiao, the Chinese Zodiak is based on a twelve year cycle, with each year of the cycle represented by an animal and is calaculated based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

The twelve animals are (in order of the calendar) the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Why these animals, you may ask?

As the calendar dates back to the Han Dynasty (and possibly earlier) the truth may have been lost, but there are several legends.

One ancient tale tells the story of the great race. The Jade Emperor (the head of the Chinese pantheon of gods) had called a meeting of the animals and had decreed that the years of the zodiac would be named according to the order in which the animals arrived. To reach the emperor, all of the animals would have to cross a wide river. Now, the Rat and the Cat were not very good swimmers, so they asked the Ox if they could ride on his back. The Ox (who was very kind) agreed to carry them, but half way across the river, the Rat pushed the Cat in! He then jumped of the Ox and ran to the emperor’s side, becoming the first animal of the Zodiac. It is said that this is the reason Cats hate Rats.

Conversely, a Buddhist story tells of the Buddha summoning all of the animals of the earth to come before him before he departed, but only twelve came to bid him farewell. As a reward, the Buddha named the years for these twelve.

Would you like to know more about Chinese New Year? Why not check out some of the library resources on the subject? Or, if you have pre-school aged children, why not come to a special Storytime in the library tomorrow at 10:15am?

 

Did you know…what to do with your Christmas leftovers?

If you are anything like me, you will no doubt have over-catered for Christmas. I actually believe that if you haven’t over catered, you are not catering properly! But after everyone has eaten their fill, what do you do with all those leftovers?

Here is one idea:

Christmas Leftover Risotto

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 heaped of thyme leaves
  • 200g of leftover turkey (shredded)
  • 200g of leftover ham (diced)
  • 300g Arborio rice
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan (or any cheese you may have)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 tablespoon of cream cheese (optional)
  • Olive oil

Method

Heat the stock.

Chop up the leak, onion and garlic.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the leak, onion, garlic and thyme.

Once the leak and onion starts to turn transparent, add the white wine and bring to the boil before adding the rice and meat.

Reduce the heat and begin to ladle in the stock, stirring continuously. Cook for about 20 minutes, continuing to add stock as it is absorbed. It is important to keep the dish ‘wet’.

Once the rice is soft and the butter and cheese and stir through.

Serve immediately with some crusty bread.

Delicious!

Did you know…about Passchendaele?

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle…
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells…
This paraphrasing of the opening stanza of Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen sums up the tragedy that was the battle of Passchendaele.
ChateauwoodFought in Belgium, the goal of the campaign was to gain control of the ridges south and east of the city of Ypres, putting the Allies  within striking distance of the vital rail junction at Roulers.
Also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, the campaign began on the 31st July, 1917, making  Monday this week its centenary. The battle saw approximately fifty Divisions from Britain and her Empire, support by a further six French Divisions engage more than eighty German Divisions and lasted until mid-November 1917 with the capture of the village of Passchendaele before being called off, having failed to produce the breakthrough desired.
Both sides suffered huge casualties for very little gain. Though there are conflicting reports on the final casualty figures, the minimum figure given is in excess of half a million with the higher estimates approaching 900 000 killed and wounded for an advance of less than 10km.
Along with the Somme and Verdun, Passchendaele has become synonymous with the ‘blood and mud’ misery of the First World War.
Want to know more? Check out the books on the Passchendaele Campaign or other accounts of the First World War.

Did you know….about Harry Potter

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_Stone_Book_CoverWell…who doesn’t know about Harry Potter, right?

Seriously though, did you know that Monday June 26th 2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone? That’s right, the series about the boy wizard is turning 20!

The book was author JK Rowling’s debut novel and was far from an overnight success. Indeed, Rowling began writing the novel in 1990 while riding on a train. According to an interview the author gave in 2009, the idea just hit her of a boy riding a train to wizard school. The death of her mother influenced much of the writing process.

The book was not well received by publishers and agents who felt that it was too long for a children’s book. That is, until Barry Cunningham of Bloomsbury recommended the publishers accept the book based on the recommendation of his eight-year-old daughter.

With seven books, eight films, a stage play and now a spin-off series of films, the rest, as they say, is history.

The library will be holding events from 10:00-1:00 this Saturday to celebrate the occasion so why not come along or maybe re-read the books, play or films.

BTW – Did you know that the books are actually set in the early-to-mid 1990s? You can work this out from information provided by Gryffindor ghost Nearly Headless Nick. In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of  Secrets, he celebrates his 500th ‘Death Day’ which occurred on October 31st, 1492, meaning that book takes place during 1992-1993!