Halloween is right around the corner! Treat yourself to a night of thrills with the 31 Days of Horror on Kanopy. From spooky classics to to current chilling films, there’s plenty to choose from on Kanopy. Stream away, if you dare.
Looking for something not as scary to watch?You might want to check out the Halloween for Kids section on Hoopla. Happy Hallowstream!
Looking for your next book to read? We can help! Take a look at a few of the latest books available at the Pratt Library. Reserve your copy through Sidewalk Service or download your eBook on Overdrive and Hoopla.
In 1987, science writer Tom Horton quit his job with the Baltimore Sun and moved with his wife and children to Tylerton, one of three small towns on Smith Island in the Chesapeake, Maryland’s only inhabited Bay island. Horton spent two years in Tylerton, working as an environmental educator with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Horton’s book, An Island Out of Time: A Memoir of Smith Island in the Chesapeake (W.W. Norton & Co., 1996), is part memoir, part oral history, part ethnography, and part elegy.
The book’s title is doubly suggestive. It captures the sense that Smith Island is an island out of time, a time capsule where some 17th Century folkways and speech patterns persist. Yet the book’s title also conveys a sense of impending loss. With multiple environmental pressures bearing down on them — overfishing, climate change, pollution — Smith Islanders don’t have much time left. They are almost out of time. In 1994, the population of Tylerton was 90, a 41% decline from 1980. Currently around 50 people live in Tylerton. During Horton’s stay, the young people were leaving, going to college or taking jobs at the mainland prison, opting out of the waterman’s trade that had been handed down for centuries.
Horton sends tapes of Smith Island speech to a British linguist and determines that the speech patterns of the Islanders are very similar to those of nineteenth century Devon in southwestern England. Some have claimed that the Island speech patterns are Elizabethan, but the linguist tells Horton that it is not really known how ordinary people spoke in Elizabethan times. The nineteenth century Devon speech patterns were, however, at least three centuries old.
However far back the speech patterns and folkways of Smith Islanders can be traced, Horton paints a picture of an eccentric people. Most Smith Islanders are highly religious, steeped in a traditional form of Methodism, which has much more in common with contemporary evangelicalism than with today’s Methodist Church. At the same time, the conversation of Smith Islanders, both men and women, is peppered with bawdy sexual references, enough to make even a cosmopolitan mainlander blush (once their meaning is understood, that is). One Smith Islander, for example, refers to her daughter as Boss Tippet (see page 106 for a translation).
Horton paints Smith Islanders as what he terms “Christian outlaws.” They have lived off the bounty of the Island for so long that encounters with various environmental police forces have not always been amicable. Who are the Game and Wildlife Police to tell them they can’t shoot or trap the waterfowl that they have been harvesting for centuries?
Islanders still talk about an incident in which a young Smith Islander was shot and killed by a Virginia fisheries patrolman as if it occurred yesterday. Horton is surprised when he finds out the shooting occurred around 1900. In a part of Maryland where the sea and the land blend indistinctly, borders are not an easy concept to grasp, and the border between the grassy, shallow waters of Maryland and Virginia, abundant with blue crabs, was once fraught with conflict.
The state regulatory apparatus impinged more and more on the traditional way of life of the Smith Islanders as the twentieth century wound down. While soft crabs were the main source of income on Smith Island, wives of the Island watermen had for many years supplemented their incomes by picking hard crabs in their homes. In the early 1990s, Maryland made it clear that it would no longer tolerate crab picking as a cottage industry and that if the picking was to continue, it would have to be in a modern facility with state of the art hygiene and food safety features.
Next, Somerset County, approached the Islanders about installing a modern water treatment plant. All of this regulation seemed unnecessary to the Islanders who had been drinking water directly from the well and picking crabmeat at home for many a year seemingly without problems. The environmental regulation seemed unfair as well. The Islanders saw themselves as a critical part of the Chesapeake ecology. Their harvesting of nature’s bounty, whether it be hunting for waterfowl, fishing, crab scraping, or oyster dredging, seemed to them essential to the health of the ecosystem. They couldn’t quite explain exactly how this was true. Yet they seemed to accept it as an article of faith as true as the ones brought to the Island by Joshua Thomas, the Methodist preacher who converted the Chesapeake Bay islands in the early nineteenth century.
When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016, it cemented his legacy not only as a celebrated rock & roll lyricist but as a legitimate poet, period. Lauded for having created “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” Dylan’s achievement no doubt inspired many other pop musicians who aspired to have their words taken just as seriously as their music. One of those bands isFontaines D.C., who hail from across the pond in Ireland, “the land of poets and legends, of dreamers and rebels,” as author Nora Roberts famously described the Emerald Isle. “All of these have music woven through and around them. Tunes for dancing and for weeping, for battle or for love.”
Roberts’ description aptly describes Fontaines D.C., so if post-punk pop from the land of poetry and legend appeals to you, you’re in luck because you can use your library card to stream or download (mobile device only) both of Fontaines D.C.’s albums to-date,Dogrel(2019) andA Hero’s Death (2020), through Hoopla!
Fontaines D.C. are a young post-punk band from Dublin (the D.C. is for Dublin City, a suffix the group added to their name when it turned out there was a band from Los Angeles also named The Fontaines) that formed in 2017 while the lads were attending music college at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMMI). Taking their name from a fictional character portrayed by Al Martino in the movie The Godfather (Vito Corleone’s godson, the Sinatra-styled singer “Johnny Fontaine”), the musicians – singer Grian Chatten, guitarists Carlos O’Connell and Conor Curley, bassist Conor Deegan III and drummer Tom Coll – first bonded over a shared love of poetry. In fact, they collectively released two collections of poetry – Vroom (inspired by American Beat poets) and Wingding (inspired by Irish poets) – before recording their critically acclaimed debut album,Dogrelin 2019.
The title of the band’s debut is a self-deprecating homage to “Doggerel,” the working-class “poetry of the people” popularized by so-called “bad” poets like William McGonagall and later by the playful light verse of Baltimore’s own Ogden Nash that made a virtue of the trivial. Dogrel was released to critical acclaim in April 2019: it was voted Album of the Year by record label Rough Trade and BBC Radio 6 Music, and was nominated for both the Mercury Prize and the Choice Music Prize. “Shouty post-punk bands are making a surprise comeback in 2019,” hailed The Irish Times, crediting “this brutal but articulate Irish bunch” with capturing “the feeling of living in Dublin as it balances historical weight with financial upheaval.” The opening rant “Big” sets the template for the band’s sound – equal parts Mark E. Smith and The Fall vitriol, pounding beats and driving Gang of Four guitars – with lyrics reflecting the group’s upbringing in Dublin’s historically working-class southwest neighborhood, “The Liberties”: “Dublin in the rain is mine, a pregnant city with a Catholic mind”. “Chequeless Reckless” and “Liberty Belle” continue the overcast mood, but sunny pop shines through to save the day on tunes like the Smiths-friendly “Television Screen” and the album’s best song, the breakthrough single “Boys In the Better Land,” a tour-de-force of melodic pop and verbal assault that even gives a shout-out to a famous Dubliner muse: “The radio is all about a runway model, with a face like sin and a heart like a James Joyce novel.” But be forewarned: singer Grian Chatte’s brogue is as thick and heavy as a bowl of split-pea soup and at times as hard to decipher as a James Joyce novel!Intrigued? Then give a listen to “Boys in the Better Land” (YouTube)
The band’s second studio album,A Hero’s Death, was written and recorded in the midst of extensive touring for their debut, and was only released last month – yet here it is on Hoopla already (hooray!). Despite titles such as “Sunny,” “Oh Such a Spring,” and “Love Is the Thing,” the mood is mostly brooding and reserved, as if the band didn’t want to be pigeon-holed by the blunt punk format of their initial offering. In fact, Grian Chatten went so far as to call the songs “a dismissal of expectations.” Thus, the quietly hypnotic “You Said” – sounding like a slow-tempo Smiths song, with Grian Chatten playing Morrissey to a beautiful, lilting guitar solo lifted from Johnny Marr’s playbook – gives way to “Living In America,” wherein Chatten channels the spirit of Ian Curtis in a Joy Division dirge. Clearly, this a sophomore effort that shows growth and maturity, trading the driving punk assault of their debut for what one critic called “a series of existential mantras set to broody post-punk anthems.” So feel free to dismiss your expectations but don’t dismiss Fontaines D.C. just yet; you may find yourself embracing some unpredictably exciting new sounds worth exploring.The debut single from the album is the titular “A Hero’s Death.” To watch the official video, starring Aiden Gillen (“Littlefinger” on HBO’s Game of Thrones), click here.
The chill of the autumn is here and that means Halloween is right around the corner. Get in the mood to celebrate with mysteries and thrillers in Overdrive’s Lucky Day collection. Don’t forget, the Lucky Day collection offers many bestselling eBooks and eAudiobooks that are available to download with no holds and no renewals.