With its explosive success at the box office, it’s safe to say that you may have already seen Jurassic World.  It’s a fun popcorn movie, and managed to bring the monster movie chills that are few and far between in modern Hollywood.  However, for me the draw is always going to be the dinosaurs.  There is nothing that brings out my inner child more than these saurian movie stars, and the original Jurassic Park was the first film to tackle them in a way that gave a true presence to the prehistoric beasts beyond stop-motion armatures or men in rubber suits.  In light of some new additions to the park, I thought I’d don the hat of the armchair paleontologist and share a few interesting facts about some creatures making their debut to the franchise in this film.


LouisaeSauropods have been a staple of the Jurassic Park franchise ever since Grant and Sattler’s jeep crested a hill in the first film and brought them upon a herd of Brachiosaurus whose heads were perched on giraffe-like necks, nearly 100 feet off the ground.  This time around, the long-necked beasts are represented by the Apatosaurus.  This titan measured up to 75 feet from tip to tale, which puts it just short of the great blue whale.  However, as a land-dwelling creature, this makes its immense size another feat altogether.  One way it managed this Continue Reading »

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One of my favorite library services is Freegal, which lets me download five pieces of music every week for free. I like to listen to music when I am working in the house or yard and when driving, and now I’ve got more than 100 of my favorite pieces available on my phone. (OK, it’s tiny compared to my son’s iPod music collection, but let me repeat the word “free.”) It’s almost all old rock, old Broadway or old classical, with an emphasis on the old, but if you happen to actually live in the 21st century there’s also music by Ciara, Dillon Francis, Meghan Trainor and many other young entertainers.

You can’t get every piece of music ever recorded. Give up right now on The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. But there should be plenty to keep you humming. “Purple Haze, ” “I Could Have Danced All Night,” the first movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony — I mean, what more do I really need?

One of the librarians most expert about Freegal discourages people from downloading directly to their phones, as I have.  Evidently it’s better to download all those megabytes to a computer and then transfer them to your phone as desired. But I’m happy with what I’ve got. I encourage you to find your own bliss, courtesy of Freegal. As I said, it’s free.

DroneDid you know that ACPL’s Access Fort Wayne has a drone? This drone helicopter has a GoPro HD camera mounted on it and can film events in places that are not easily accessible by foot or vehicle! It runs on rechargeable batteries and can fly for up to 20 minutes on one charge.

We’ve had the camera for about a year; our first flights were in parks and we discovered kids love to chase it! It has been used to film our Rock the Plaza series and Fort4Fitness races. Access Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation are planning some aerial videos of parks facilities.

Conditions must be right to film — wind of 10 miles per hour and full sunlight is ideal. Below you can view the Dragon Boat races in downtown Fort Wayne as captured by our drone. You’ll find more drone videos on our YouTube channel. Where would you like to see our drone fly?

adas-rulesBook Review:  Ada’s Rules by Alice Randall

When she receives an invitation to her 25 year college reunion, signed with a wink by her first love, Ada starts comparing her life then and now.  For years she’s been taking care of everyone but herself: her husband, his congregation, her daycare, her parents, her daughters.  She’s gained 100 pounds or so since her college days and she’s lost 3 sisters to diabetes; she also suspects her husband is cheating on her.  Ada decides it’s time for a health and beauty revival and starts listing some rules, the first being Don’t Keep Doing What You’ve Always Been Doing.

The grammar drove me nuts at times but I adore Ada.  It was all too easy for me to identify with her sense of having somehow lost herself over the years.  It was also all too easy for me to identify with her body image/health concerns.  I loved witnessing her journey as she sets goals for herself, makes progress, stumbles, and gets right back on track.  I loved that her transformation wasn’t simply about weight; it was really more about learning to make herself a priority and learning to assert herself.  Part Fiction, part Self Help, Ada’s Rules is an inspirational look at one woman’s year of self-discovery.

image via Wikimedia CommonsWe now stand on the downhill side of the Near-Pulitzer year of 1954, having earned this moment to catch our breath and enjoy the bird’s nest view of the surrounding geography.  This moment of survey and meditation is much like the bookend moments of Jack Farris’s Near-Pulitzer, Ramey, in which the 12 year-old Ramey looks down from the high country fringing his hometown of Bentfield, Arkansas.  The book between those bookends tracks the course of Ramey’s change from boy into man through the acquisition of his first real job and an immense bout of suffering and crisis of faith.  I wonder if the reading of Farris’s novel changed me in any degree comparable to the change his main character goes through.  To be honest, I hope not.  The pain contained in this story is more than I’d like to bear.  But if I’m not careful I’ll say too much.

At our story’s opening, Ramey’s father is a preacher of the Baptist persuasion,  his mother is a constantly laboring homemaker, his little sister is sickly, and Ramey is about to become the owner of his first squirrel rifle.  The Depression-era logging town of Bentfield is a place where life can be cruel and explosively violent, but also a place kept vital with deep-running … loyalties?  Yeah, that’s probably the right word, but the truth is, to be able to have found the right word I probably needed to be drawn into it all more.  See, the novel didn’t really get going until page 175, about 75 pages from the end, and by then … “too little too late”?  Yeah, that seems like the right cliche.  That said, much of the story does ring satisfyingly true with details surely supplied by Farris’ own boyhood in Texas and Arkansas, and I have been entertaining some high hopes for another of Mr. Farris’s books, Me and Gallagher, which deals with vigilantism in 1860s Montana.  Farris seems as if he might write about such a topic in an interesting way … as long as he can keep from becoming too torpid and lachrymose.  But then, I suppose that’s a challenge for all of us.  Life can wear you out … sometimes.  Or perhaps that’s only me.

“Craig is reading all of the Pulitzer-prize winning novels in chronological order.  See the origins of this journey here.”

If you are going to read this series here is the order you should read it in: The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes A Bride and The Scoundrel and the Debutante by Julia London. I didn’t. If I had, I may not have finished the entire series.

Road trip! Road trip! This book comes with a warning — you are either going to like this book or not. Why, pray tell, would that be? 9780373779512_p0_v2_s260x420Well, because The Scoundrel and the Debutante covers a period of only four days tops — at least the road trip falling in love part. So, there is a bit of a suspension of disbelief involved in this particular story. While this book worked for me, it may not work for others. But hey! This is about me, and I loved this story! Let’s take a gander, shall we?

If you have been following this series, it is the third installment of the Cabot sisters and it seems that even though I purchased the other two books for some reason I didn’t read them. Oh dear! Although, now that I go back and look at the covers, there seems to have been some adjusting of original covers vs. released covers and some last minute change of titles — which I didn’t catch. So, I when I go back and read those missed books  I will probably learn a valuable lesson about things that change. This also might explain why I couldn’t recall a single thing about the previous books when I was reading The Scoundrel and the Debutante. I digress.

In this story we have Prudence Cabot, the straight arrow sister who is sad (sniff) because she’s not married. She blames her scandalous sisters for this; she pouts, she crumbles, she resents. She just doesn’t understand why men are not flocking around her — she is the beauty of the family after all. She actually sounds a little stuck on herself, doesn’t she? Well, anyway she’s decided to visit a friend in the countryside who has just had a baby, which will make her even more depressed because she doesn’t like to be around happily married people. She is waiting for her carriage to pick her up. By the way, this was when I knew I would have to leave historical accuracy behind — a young unmarried woman waiting for a carriage unchaperoned, puleese. Anyway, she’s waiting for the carriage and what should happen while she’s waiting? The public coach pulls up and who should disembark? The biggest, brawniest, handsomest man she’s ever seen, and he’s lost. You see, he’s American and he doesn’t understand English, or at least the English that’s spoken in England. After assisting him in finding his proper direction, Prudence has some kind of epiphany. This is not a small gentle epiphany, but more of a giant lightning bolt. She decides to chuck it all for an adventure with this man who has stunned her senseless, our hero, Roan Matheson.

By the way, isn’t Roan another name for a horse? Ummm, I wonder — horse — stallion — big — ummmm. Roan Matheson is on a mission. He’s searching for his sister Aurora who seems to be quite a bother. She’s left her fiancé in America and came to England to — I don’t know — hang out with the rich people and parrrrr-ty. Roan also has an almost fiancée back home, but he doesn’t really know her and she doesn’t really light any bulbs, trip any triggers, send any shivers through him. Nope, when he gets back home he intends to marry her and seal a business proposition between her family and his. You see, Roan’s family has money, but they want more. And, now he’s in this country where the city of West Lee is actually Weslay and he’s headed south when he should be going north. He’s grumpy. Then he is saved by a gorgeous angel, Prudence, and thoughts of his sister seem to just fly out of his head.

Well, it isn’t too long before these two people who are so wrong for each other are on a road trip adventure. A romp through the countryside where all the standard Romanceville things happen to them. Thanks to Julia London’s remarkable writing this standard romance yarn rises above the rest. This journey seemed longer than the few days it actually was. And, even though Prudence did things that were not at all in her character, I didn’t mind. Prudence and Roan shared adventures, they shared stories, they shared truths and they shared a good time. They even admit their love for each other.  The road adventure is bright, shiny, fun; but as they continue there is a growing bleakness that takes place because they know that when their adventure ends they will separate. This was one time when a marriage proposal is turned down, I found the rejection understandable.

There was a lot more to this book, but I’m not going to go into everything except to say Aurora was a really self-centered girl. There were some other secondary characters, but they didn’t overwhelm any of the storytelling. The Scoundrel and the Debutante is first and foremost a tale about Roan and Prudence. If you can get past the four day fall in love thing, you should enjoy this book. And, obviously you don’t need to read the other two to read this one.
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