Music for your Mind

So, music. It can range from soothing lotion for your senses, or a truly horrifying rash your doctor can’t explain. Around this time of year, we could all use some of that nice music for the soundtrack of Finals Week. So if you don’t have time right now to sit down for a whole movie for a pick-me-up, here are some musical choices you can find in the library right now to soothe your inner savage student!  CDs are on the main floor, around the corner from the copiers.

Sarah McLachlan-  Surfacing   [M1630.18.M335 S8 1997]

I swear, Sarah McLachlan really does do other things besides make sad shelter doggie commercials that can ruin your whole day. Her voice, which is often rather sad and haunting, can also be pretty calming given the right mood. Her 1997 album Surfacing is pretty much the ultimate “chill” CD. It`s songs are not always super happy, but they have a very analgesic effect, especially when you’re just sitting there, trying to make yourself get up to go grab your books. Plug in some Sarah, and just let it flow. Just don’t watch anything with sad puppies while it`s on.

Janis Joplin-  Super Hits [M1630.18.J656 S8 2000]
Well, sometimes you don’t need your music to be mellow. Sometimes you need it to be angry. Or at least loud. And that’s where Janis Joplin comes in. Janis has one of the most emotional, soulful voices you’re going to hear, or at least one of the most well known. This CD has many of her biggest hits, like Cry Baby, One Good Man, and my personal favorite, Piece of My Heart. If you’re already a big Joplin fan, this CD might seem a little repetitive, especially if you like her more obscure stuff. However, if you want her biggest hits all together, or are just getting into her music, check it out. It’s filled with anger and pain and emotion, and is just the kind of music you can scream along to in your car when finals stress is threatening to explode your head.

A Celtic Tapestry   [M1744.C452 1997] 

Maybe it’s just me, but there is something about Celtic music that just takes me to my happy place. Maybe it’s the quick changes in pace, maybe it’s the way it can be infused with so many other genres I love, like blues, rock, or ska. Or maybe I just love a good flute solo, I don’t know. But the point is, the whole genre just makes my worries go away, at least for the 3-ish minutes the song lasts. Luckily, the library has a really big collection of Celtic music. Maybe not the most recent collection (most of it recorded in the 90s,) but it’s hard to call any Celtic tunes dated when they’re based on music that’s maybe thousands of years old, going back to the days of oral tradition! If you’re interested in going Celtic, this CD, with a good mix of sounds and instrumentals, is a good place to start. Especially if you want to try to find that happy place.


Fight Finals with Film!

Ah, finals season. Projects due, papers to be written, endless study guides to memorize. And to make matters worse, there’s already holiday shopping to do and it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon! Yes, it’s a gloomy, depressing time of year when teachers and stores and even NATURE ITSELF have all teamed up to make the next few weeks aggressively unpleasant. But never fear! There is relief! In those rare moments of free time, here are some movies for you to pick up right here at the library to cure those finals blues! Or at least make you feel better about that paper you were supposed to do yesterday.
The Muppet Movie [DVD PN1997 .M877 2005] 
Remember The Muppets, which came out last year? With the dynamic duo of Jason Segal and Kermit the Frog? Well here’s the movie that started it all! The Muppet Moviewas released in 1979, and was the first time the Muppets were ever seen on the big screen! The movie shows (approximately) how Kermit left his home in the swamp, with dreams of making it in the film business. As he travels across the country, he picks up other Muppets who have similar dreams, including Fozzie Bear, (The Great) Gonzo, and the ever-ambitious Miss Piggy. Basically, it’s a road trip movie. With songs (like its most famous, “Rainbow Connection”), an evil frog hunter, a crooked fast food entrepreneur, and celebrity cameos. And by celebrity cameos, I mean people like Steve Martin, Bob Hope, Mel Brooks, and Orson freaking Welles! That’s enough reason to pick up the DVD on its own- but really what makes this movie are its endless laughs, and its endless optimism. No matter what, Kermit and friends never give up on their dreams, and it all pays off in the end. Just like we will, hopefully, make it through these finals and get to see the rainbow (and good holidays) on the other side.


8 ½   [DVD PN1997 .O886 2010]

 Brain feeling drained? Want to feel smart and sophisticated and artsy? Then try this classic 1963 art house film directed by Federico Fellini, a movie basically about how crazy it is to be Federico Fellini. Part of a film movement going on in the 60s that loved experimenting in tones, visual style, and narrative -oh boy does this movie seem experimental. It’s basically a story about an Italian director named Guido Anselmi, who is clearly a stand in for Fellini, trying to get past his writers block and get his increasingly out-of-control life in order(sound familiar?) Anselmi/Fellini is attempting to finish his latest project, a big budget sci-fi epic, despite the fact that he has no idea what he wants to do with the movie. To make matters worse, his wife and his mistress both end up staying at the same spa/resort where he is shooting his film. To escape all this, the film starts going slightly bonkers, flashing between Anselmi’s imagination and his memories. It’s a strange, surreal movie, sometimes more like a dreamy musical than an actual story. It’s pure, bizarre escapism. While it does seem rather 60s at times, it’s aged well, mainly due to its surreal nature, and its basic plot, something that I think we can all relate to right now: inability to keep your entire schedule (and maybe your life) from spinning out of control.
It’s a Wonderful Life   [DVD PN1997 .I8722 2006]

Well, we needed at least one holiday flick here, and what better movie to erase the Finals blues than one about overcoming adversity just in time for Christmas! While most people remember the big happy ending, the first parts of the movie are filled with almost shifting genres, starting with angels in the heavens chatting amongst themselves, and going from there to a coming of age story to romance to comedy to drama to crushing tragedy to overwhelming happiness at the end. Lead actor Jimmy Stewart is great from beginning to end, playing a nice guy who’s pushed to the breaking point, but with divine helpcomes back from the brink. So many Christmas movies just seem to be a combo of wacky misunderstandings, “heartwarming” children, and everyone coming together at the end to learn some phoned-in message about the “True Meaning of Christmas”. This movie actually has all those things, but they’re played with such heart, and such pathos, you totally believe all of it. As George Bailey [Stewart] is put through the ringer, you really feel for him, so when he realizes how wonderful his life really is, and that with the help of the people he loves, he can make it through all the hard times, it does feel like you have learned the True Meaning of Christmas, whatever that is to you. It’s basically about the light at the end of the tunnel, the light many of us are hoping to see very soon. 

Happy viewing-  and here’s a good thing: the library’s DVDs may be checked out over the winter break!



The Life, Times, and Library Blog of Clare

Hi there, library public! Interested in learning more about what USI’s library can do for you? Want to find new books and movies to enjoy right in your very own backyard (quad)? Did you just randomly stumble upon this page looking for Blackboard again? Well either way, you’re here now, so welcome! My name is Clare Pratt and I am the new Rice Library Blogger! I’ll be using this blog to tell you all about what’s going on in the library, all the things offered here, and more or less whatever pops into my mind that I can somehow make relevant to the library. But first, let me tell you a little bit about me!  I am a (super) senior from Greensburg, Indiana. I am an English major with an emphasis in rhetoric and composition, and I love reading. A lot.  It tends to come up in conversation if you hang out with me for a while.  I also love movies, music, TV, internet comics, pretty much anything. But to make a long profile short, here are a few quick facts about me:

    1.       I partially run on coffee
    2.       I spend way too much time on Pinterest these days
    3.       My favorite stress relievers are tennis, Mumford and Sons, and videos of cats on the internet
    4.     If you tell me you hate movies that are in black and white, be warned: I will waste a ton of your time listing movies that I am sure will change your mind
    5.       I love mint chocolate ice cream. Nothing else really. I just really like mint chocolate ice cream. Thought you might want to know.
Well that’s me, more or less. But what am I actually doing here? Well, the library has recently created a brand new job in which a student writer is a major contributor to the library blog. I will share information about what’s going on in the library, and about how recent events, whether they be local, national, or global, can be tied back to resources we have here in the library. We will look at books, movies, music, services, library programs, digital collections from University Archives, and basically anything else that will increase my word count. I have a lot of ideas for using this blog to interest you in the library, so I hope you like reading it as much as I’ll like writing it.  Feel free to make comments or suggestions if you think of something you might be interested in!   

But the Book is Better!

Like the sun rising, and the summer turning into fall, some things are inevitable. They have happened for eons, and they will surely continue. Another inevitable part of life is that when a book is fairly popular, there will be an adaptation. There are various ways to adapt a book to a different medium, and some are done better than others. Every time you watch a movie, play, or TV show based on a book, one of the first things you will hear from many people is how the book is “SO much better than that silly adaptation.”  But is that always true? Well, you won’t know until you actually try the books! Here are three books in Rice Library that have been adapted into film, TV, or theater. Check them out and see how they match up!


1.      A Walk to Remember– Nicholas Sparks  [PS3569.P363 W35 1999]

       You might remember this movie from around 2002, it’s one of the first Nick Sparks movies I remember people being into. It’s a typical Sparks love story. Boy meets girl. They don’t much care for each other, but eventually fall in love, despite their differences in class and personality. Then tragic death. The movie follows the book loosely, with the major plot being the same, while the plot details and the time period are different. But the shameless tear jerking is the same. If you liked the movie, pure sweet Mandy Moore and all, you will probably like the book as well. It’s sweet and nostalgic and tragically romantic, thus everything you would expect from Nicholas Sparks.

           2.      Bag of Bones– Stephen King  [PS3561.I483 B34 1998]
                              One of the less famous of Stephen King’s books, Bag of Bones is a novel about two of King’s favorite things: writers and ghosts. It is also filled with betrayal, towns in Maine with dark secrets, family relationships, and lost love. More of Stephen King’s favorite things! But it really is a good read, especially if you’re interested in history, the writing process, or just like a good ghost story. It’s not always the happiest story, and takes some pretty disturbing turns, but it is Stephen King after all. It’s sort of expected. There was, of course, a mini-series based on it made just last year in 2011. I remember being excited, as a fan of the book, to check it out. As far as adaptations go, it’s not bad, but if you have only seen the TV movie, definitely check out the book. It’s similar, but goes far deeper into the history of the characters, and gives the story a lot more atmosphere than the movie does. If you’re still missing Halloween and looking for something creepy, check it out.

3. Wicked Gregory Maguire  [PS3563.A3535 W5 1996]

         Now here’s one you have probably heard of. The play, with its epic musical numbers and lavish production and endless run on Broadway, has become a major theatrical piece, and probably one of the more famous modern musicals. It tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, back when she was just Elphaba, a socially awkward green skinned girl, meeting and eventually befriending Glinda the good witch, back in their college days. But, did you know it was a book first? It’s not only a book, its actually part of a big series, expanding the story of The Wizard of Oz, told from multiple points of view. So how does the play stand up next to the books? Well, the book is darker. A lot darker. While the play is hardly all rainbows and butterflies, it is much more family friendly then the book, which deals more with politics and the nature of good and evil, and is just generally a darker story. But does that make it better? Or worse? You should check out the book (and the play) to find out!