A Night in the Lonesome October, aka “The Perfect Spooky Book for Autumn”

October’s not over, and if you’re looking for the perfect book to read in these last chilly evenings as Halloween draws near, I have a suggestion. In fact, if you were to ask me, Hey, what’s the perfect book to read each October?, I’d gladly reply, Hey, thanks for asking, that means a lot. Well, I’m no expert, but the answer is probably A Night in the Lonesome October by renowned sci-fi and fantasy author Roger Zelazny.

If you’re like me when I first read A Night in the Lonesome October a few years ago, and you’ve never heard of Roger Zelazny, fear not. Here’s a primer:

He was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction who won the Nebula Award three times (14 nominations) and the Hugo Award six times (14 nominations). Maybe awards don’t matter much to you, and that’s just fine, but it’s hard to deny this guy knew what he was doing.

Anyway! A Night in the Lonesome October was the last novel Zelazny published before he died in 1995. And I’m really glad he wrote it.

Over thirty-one chapters, you follow the story of Snuff, a big, shaggy guard dog, as he assists his master Jack in preparing for a battle of supernatural will (on Halloween, of course) to either contain or release unthinkable Eldridge horrors upon the world. Snuff and Jack—along with a creepy cast of strange characters and their animal familiars—have descended upon a small town outside of London, England. This will be the site of their big event, and everyone has much to do. Told from Snuff’s perspective (he’s the narrator), you meet everyone through his nightly outings to spy, sabotage, and make alliances.

Most of the characters are directly based on famous literary personalities. (Dr. Frankenstein, anyone? Jack the Ripper? Sherlock Holmes?) But the heart of the story rests with their animal companions who seem smarter than any of the humans (and almost-humans) involved.

The book is just wonderful. It’s dark and mysterious and quirky and fun. There’s no gore and nary a jump scare, but you’ll find twists and tension and terror and did I mention the main character is a really cool dog?

See if you can find a copy before Halloween and dig in.

And one more thing: don’t let the cover sway you one way or another. It’s got a very slick ’90s look to it, and it doesn’t really capture the vibe of the story. However, the weird, wobbly illustrations by Gahan Wilson found throughout the book more than make up for the cover.

Photo of David Bowie

Jethro Tull, Part II

In April of 2019, I wrote a blog about how musicians and bands came up with their names titled “Who is Jethro Tull”? Our world-famous webmaster told me that for some odd reason, people still look at this. So here is part two.

As a teenager in the late 1960s, The Monkees were a hot TV show and group. Frontman and lead singer of The Monkees? Davy Jones? His real name was David Thomas Jones.

David Robert Jones was also an English singer-songwriter in the 1960s. Because the aforementioned Davy Jones of the Monkees had just become popular, this singer then changed his name to David Bowie.

As a tribute to our long time circulation employee Greg G., who is a huge Rolling Stones fan, and has seen them in concert several times, this is for you:

In June of 1962, when Brian Jones was still a member and asked by a journalist for the band’s name, he saw a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor, and one of the tracks was “Rollin’ Stone.” The The Rolling Stones performing in Hyde Parkgroup played their first show billed as ‘The Rolling Stones’ on July 12, 1962. Shortly after, the band began their first tour of the UK, gaining popularity, and by 1964 two separate polls rated the band as England’s most popular, even over The Beatles. Fond memories of Charlie Watts, longtime drummer who passed away last month. Who knew Mick Jagger went to the London School of Economics?

Roger Daltrey, leader of The Who, started a group called The Detours in 1959. In 1964, with Pete Townshend now on board, he and his roommate Richard Barnes spent a night considering names, focusing on a theme of joke announcements, including ‘No One’ and ‘The Group’. Townshend preferred ‘The Hair,” and Barnes liked ‘The Who’ because it “had a pop punch.” Daltrey chose The Who the next morning.

Before they became a ‘70s pop sensation, the Doobies were a bunch of hippies living together in a house in Northern California. When they were in search of a name for their band, a non-musical housemate suggested the Doobie Brothers because of the members’ penchant for smoking weed. (“Doobie” was slang for a joint at the time.)

Buffalo Springfield? Stephen Stills and fellow band member Richie Furay chose their name from a random brand of steamroller seen parked outside their home at the time.

Chicago was initially ‘The Big Thing,’ but manager Jimmy Guercio changed it to ‘Chicago Transit Authority,’ honoring the bus line he took to school. Shortened to ‘Chicago’ after their first album.

Bernie Leadon is often credited with coining the name ‘Eagles’ during a drug- and alcohol-enhanced group trip to the Mojave Desert. There, Leadon recalled reading about the Native American Hopi tribe’s reverence for the eagle. However, J.D. Souther suggested the name stuck after Glenn Frey shouted out “eagles!” when they saw some flying above them in the desert.

Unsurprisingly, The Grateful Dead came up with their name while tripping. Paging through a folklore dictionary, Jerry Garcia stumbled upon the term, which related to the soul of an unburied dead person expressing karmic gratitude to someone who arranged for their eventual burial.

While attending Ealing Art College, Farrokh Bulsara became friends with Tim Staffell of the local band Smile. Bulsara, who’d later call himself Freddie Mercury, shared a common taste in music with Tim and became a fan of Smile. In 1970, Bulsara joined the group after Staffell left for another gig. He then encouraged the remaining Smile members to change their name to Queen. They performed their first gig that July. Check out the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Awesome performance by Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury.

Named for manufacturer Ransom Eli Olds, the REO Speed Wagon was introduced in 1915 as a groundbreaking predecessor of the pickup truck. Fast forward to 1967, and keyboardist Neal Doughty learns of the name, taking it for his newly formed band.

Steppenwolf producer Gabriel Mekler reportedly suggested that The Sparrows change their name to the title of Herman Hesse’s 1927 novel, and the archetypal biker-rock band was born. The German author’s book details a struggle between his human and animal dual natures, making “Born to be Wild” a perfect song to listen to while reading.

Pink was born Alecia Beth Moore. She started performing in clubs when she was about 14, and adopted that stage name about that time. That had been her nickname for some time, and initially it was a “mean thing.” She took the name from the Mr. Pink character (played by Steve Buscemi) in Quentin Tarantino’s movie Reservoir Dogs.

My all-time favorite group is Earth, Wind, & Fire.  Leader Maurice White led a group called Salty Pepper (his astrological sign being Sagittarius). With that sign having the seasonal and elemental qualities of earth, wind, and fire, the name was born in 1970.

Do your own research on Steely Dan. Not sure if it is fit for this family publication.

Remember, many of these musicians groups and musicians have CDs you can checkout from your library. Also, take a look at our digital music services, Freegal, which has access to over 15 million songs (you can download 5 FREE per week and stream music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your Eau Claire library card) and don’t forget about Sawdust City Sounds, our library’s platform for your local favorites.

Sweater Weather in the Chippewa Valley

It’s that time of the year again… The time of cozy drinks, oversized sweaters, crisp air… and of course, tacky Halloween decorations. In fact, September 22nd is the first official day of autumn!

Fall is my favorite, and no matter how much I do during this season, I always feel like it’s not enough. This time however, I decided to take it upon myself to ask library staff what their most treasured traditions are when the leaves are golden.

For starters, have you considered browsing our DVD/BLU RAY/4K collection of horror movies and cozy fall TV shows? I might not be a kid anymore, but I’m not too old for a sleepover. You can always invite some friends over, bake some seasonable snacks with one of our cookbooks, and spend a rainy night on the couch. Halloween pajamas are a plus! For younger audiences I’d recommend Over the Garden Wall or Gravity Falls, and for adults, The Haunting of Hill House and CastleRock are both equally binge worthy.

Or you can take it one step up from film and see one of the seasonal performances at the Children’s Theater. This year, the ECCT is having productions of “Jekyll and Hyde” (Oct 1-3) “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Oct. 14-17) and ”Evil Dead” (Oct 28th-30th). The performances are conveniently located near a riverside bike trail and the Brewing Projekt – a great opportunity to take a scenic walk through colored leaves, or have a drink before the show! Other beautiful areas for enjoying the foliage include Pinehurst Park, Putnam Trail, the Northwest Community Park, Chippewa River Trail… the list goes on. For a full list of bike trails of the Chippewa Valley, feel free to find maps to keep here at the public library.

Finally, my favorite fall tradition is to take a Saturday and hit up the very last of the garage sales around town. Afterwards, we end the day at Autumn Harvest winery where we enjoy a sunset over hills of red trees and a bottle of wine. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a live music performance while you’re there! Other popular locations could include the Glass Orchard, which is a unique glass studio and orchard combined. It also happens to be right across from Ferguson’s Orchard, which has a lot less glass art and a lot more giant inflatable pumpkin jumping pads. And by a lot, I mean one. But really, isn’t one enough?

For more ideas, you can visit Volume One’s local event Calendar, or you can always pop into the library! If you have your own that you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

GREAT FALL STUFF

Cook Books 
https://more.bibliocommons.com/v2/search?query=recipe%2C%20halloween&searchType=smart&locale=en-US

Over the Garden Wall
https://more.bibliocommons.com/v2/record/S164C2274221

Gravity Falls 
https://more.bibliocommons.com/v2/search?query=gravity%20falls&searchType=keyword&f_FORMAT=DVD

Haunting of Hill House
https://more.bibliocommons.com/v2/record/S164C2459413

Castle Rock, Season 1
https://more.bibliocommons.com/v2/record/S164C2435150

Castle Rock, Season 2
https://more.bibliocommons.com/v2/record/S164C2480450

ECCT Shows
https://ecct.org/tickets/ols/products

Glass Orchard
https://volumeone.org/sites/autumn/articles/2019/09/13/208851-the-glass-orchard-is-exactly-what-it-sounds-like

Ferguson’s Orchard
https://www.fergusonsorchard.com/eau-claire

Volume One Event Calendar
https://volumeone.org/events/calendar

Depicts an old filmstrip projector

Celluloid Tear Releasers

People who know me well know that beneath my thin veneer of cynicism lurks a person who cries easily. I’m talking bursting into tears when a female vice president is sworn in, when finding out that the very first Hmong American gymnast wins the all-around in gymnastics, or when she finds out that her favorite Chicago Cub is going to play for the loathed Yankees (all true stories – there are witnesses). But sometimes, when the tears won’t flow and I know what I really need is a good cry, I turn to the movies.

Now I could fill this list of recommendations with movies that might make you want to eat an entire pint of non-dairy Americone Dream®  and hide in bed for a few hours but I’m not going to do that to you. Instead, I’ve populated this list with movies that are guaranteed to make you “pretty cry” instead of “ugly cry” and should leave you with a sense of hope, optimism, and inspiration to dream big and keep trying.

1 Hoosiers (1986) Outside of Bambi, this is the first movie I recall bringing me to tears in the theatre. Just hearing the synthesized (check the production date) soundtrack makes my tears well up. It’s all about forgiveness and second chances. Oh, and it has a bit of Indiana basketball thrown in for good measure.

Tearjerker moment: Shooter (one of Dennis Hopper’s best performances) talking to his son about drying up in the rehab facility.

2 Breaking Away (1979) This gem about the big dreams of a young cyclist in Bloomington, IN won for “Best Writing, Screenplay: Written Directly for the Screen” in 1980. This is another underdog movie (see no. 1) that features a young Dennis Christopher, Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, and Jackie Earle Haley as a misfit group of townies, or “Cutters,” seeking to find their place in the community.

Tearjerker moment: When the Italians put a bar in Dave’s spokes.

3 Billy Elliot (2000) A young boy from County Durham, which is deep in the violent coal mine strike of 1984, discovers his passion for ballet. The honesty of the characters drive this coming-of-age tale as they struggle with scarcity and emotional growth.

Tearjerker moment: When the father breaks down to return to the mine and the older brother stops him.

4 Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) How many Nicolas Cage movies can you name that have made you cry? (Aside from Leaving Las Vegas, which is definitely an “ugly cry” movie). Anyway, this movie has yet another soundtrack with songs that make me tear up after hearing just a phrase. When Peggy Sue faints at her high school reunion, she wakes up to find herself back in her senior year of high school and is given a second chance to evaluate some of her choices.

Tearjerker moment: When Peggy answers the phone and her grandmother is on the other end.

5 Coco (2017) I love Pixar’s depiction of the Day of the Dead  (Día de los Muertos) traditions in this Oscar winner for “Best Animated Feature Film” and “Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)” for “Remember Me.” This very colorful ode to Mexican culture and family values is heartbreakingly delightful and a definite “must see.”

Tearjerker moment: Miguel whisper singing to Coco.

Granted, there is plenty to cry about right now, but when the tears won’t flow or you’ve been holding them back because you’ve been told they are a sign of weakness, or you don’t want to cry in front of the kids or your partner or at work, OR because there’s no crying in baseball, give one of these celluloid tear releasers a try. If you have any suggestions of your own for films that guarantee a cathartic release, please share in the comments below!

Honorable Mentions:

E.T.

Good Will Hunting

Kubo and the Two Strings

Endgame

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Field of Dreams

Up

Stand by Me

The Sound of Music

Big

Live Music Performance in Phoenix Park, Eau Claire, WI

Outdoor Music is Back

In so many ways, 2020 was a bust, right?  Certainly, the larger issues of death, illnesses, jobs lost, and businesses closing were the big picture but who did not miss their favorite outdoor activities?

For me, it is all of the free outdoor music events that are so well attended in the Chippewa Valley.  All of these are free and open to the public through the summer, weather permitting of course.

In Altoona, at the River Prairie Center, they have the Kickin’ It Country on Monday night, and Rock’n on the River Concert Series on Wednesday evenings.

Eau Claire offers Tuesday Night Blues at Owen Park on Tuesdays, the Eau Claire Municipal Band at Owen Park on Wednesday, and the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series at Phoenix Park on Thursday evenings.

Last, at the new Riverfront Park in Chippewa Falls, they offer their Music at the Riverfront on Sunday evenings.

That is not all! Of course there are several bars, restaurants, and coffee shops with free music group offerings that go on all year long.

Your best bet to check out who is performing at each event?  Volume One is the areas go-to place for this information, with their free publications all over the city, plus their website at www.volumeone.org.  Phone is 715-552-0457.  Or call the Reference Team at the library at 715-839-5004, cuz we know, well, almost everything.

I get it. Now it is August, and summer is rapidly ending. So forget the chores for a night. Do not work later. Do the laundry or garden another day.  Summer is always way too short, so get out and enjoy the wonderful local offerings. Food trucks are an option at each venue, but feel free to bring your own beverage, food, and yes, dog. On a leash, please!

Want to listen to the local music artists that are featured at these events?  We have many CDs here at the library, or you can enjoy them to stream, or even download, through our free digital service, Sawdust City Sounds.

Sorry Eau Claire, but my favorite?  Wednesday night at River Prairie in Altoona.  There is better seating, suits my music taste better, and the dance floor is often packed.

Enjoy!

Let’s Get Ready to Roleplay!!!

So, what is roleplaying all about? We have all found ourselves in some sort of roleplay scenario at some point in our lives, whether it’s acting out a customer interaction at work with your coworkers, pretending to be in a certain role while playing house as a kid, or while playing roleplaying games of the tabletop or videogame variety. Maybe you’re familiar with tabletop roleplaying games already, but for those who are not aware, it’s a game of imagination and calculation where a gamemaster, the storyteller/referee/moderator, describes the setting and story as it unfolds while considering each of the players’ characters and how they are interacting with the world around them. The most famous of these is D&D, or Dungeons & Dragons. It’s currently on D&D 5th Edition commonly referred to simply as 5E. Thanks to the popularity of the Netflix show, Stranger Things, there has been a resurgence of interest in the genre. And, if you think D&D is for the nerds, I dare you to say that to the face of Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson or Vin Diesel. You could also incur the witty wrath of the likes of Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt who have all credited D&D with being an influential part of their lives. If you’ve never played a tabletop roleplaying game or if you’re a nostalgic veteran looking to get back into it, here are some resources to get you started.

Though it’s referred to as a “tabletop” roleplaying game, you are not limited to sitting at a table with close friends to play. The onset of technology since the days of pen & paper roleplaying, a synonymous name for the genre, has made it possible to use smart devices and computers to replace the need for the pens, paper, and even dice. That means a group can sit around a campfire with their phones or tablets in hand and still participate. You can also connect with long-distance friends and family, or even some random people, and play a game online. Here’s how…

  • Roll20 – Roll20 is arguably the most popular web-based resource for tabletop roleplaying. It contains all of the tools you need to play including GM resources, maps, character sheets, dice rolling, and more. It also has content for hundreds, yes hundreds, of different roleplay systems, including the ever-popular D&D 5E. There are pay-to-use features but offers plenty of free content to appease the average player.
  • Astral – A recent competitor to Roll20, Astral offers similar web-based features with a little more polish and pizazz, but lacks in the content variety. Like Roll20, it hides some of its content behind a paywall but functions well in its free state.
  • D&D Beyond – If you’re planning on doing 5E specifically, you can use D&D Beyond to maintain your character sheets. It has a wonderful interface with automated features making the maintenance of your character a little less rigorous.
  • Discord – Discord is a popular chat and VoIP software that many gamers use to communicate. It offers live vocal interaction for communication while playing as well as chat interfaces for sharing information that is retained indefinitely.
  • Zoom – If COVID brought us anything great, it would be the popularity of video conferencing software like Zoom. Zoom may be used to make the interactions in tabletop roleplaying more personable or to share that amazing costume you assembled for your character. 
  • DriveThru RPG – An incredible catalog of content for many tabletop roleplaying systems, DriveThru RPG offers cost-effective content, frequent sales, and even some free material for anyone looking to delve into the world of tabletop roleplay.
  • RPG Table Finder – If you’re looking for people to play with, check out RPG Table Finder. It’s a website dedicated to posting as either players or GMs who are looking to play games.
  • RPG Geek – RPG Geek is an informative website on tabletop roleplaying games that connects a community of players and GMs to many resources and provides forums for communication and even a market for buying, selling, and trading tabletop roleplaying resources.

Though we have a limited selection on the MORE catalog, there are some libraries that are carrying various books for a few popular tabletop roleplaying systems including D&D 5E, Pathfinder, and various RPG Kits from the Cadott Community Library. For GMs who are looking for some help, Table Fables books are a great resource that offers various randomization tables for just about anything you could think of for a fantasy-themed roleplaying system. If you want to take a gander at the general roleplaying content in the MORE catalog, you should try the call number 793.93. There are a few other materials included such as Minecraft, but most of the books are tabletop roleplaying related.

Banner reads Graphic Novels in Libraries Month

Graphic Novels in Libraries Month

This July marks Booklist’s third annual “Graphic Novels in Libraries Month,” and we want you to join us in celebrating! Whether it is your very first time reading a graphic novel, or you know more about the genre than library staff, here are a few new staff picks from our collection of graphic novels you are sure to enjoy:

 

This graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 sci-fi novel Parable of the Sower was adapted by the award-winning team of Damian Duffy and John Jennings. The year is 2024 and the country is suffering from massive climate disasters, economic and social inequalities, and corporate greed. Amidst the chaos, a preacher’s daughter living in a gated community in Los Angeles is faced with a series of horrors that force her into a fight for survival.

 

Rebecca Burgess’ 2020 memoir about growing up asexual was selected as a 2020 LGBTQIA+ Graphic Novel for Young Readers by Publishers Weekly. Growing up, Rebecca just assumes that sex is something Cover art for How to be ACEthey will “grow into,” but as they continue to be baffled by the sex obsessed teenagers around them, they learn to understand and embrace their own asexuality. Burgess’ charming and funny insights into their asexuality and asexual relationships empowers readers to embrace their own identities. “Like every other sexuality, asexuality is just a simple, shorthand label to help someone express their much more individual and unique experience!”

 

Cover art for graphic novel FangsLooking for a little supernatural romance involving a 300-year-old vampire and a werewolf? Filled with humor and puns and really fun illustrations, Sarah Andersen’s graphic novel Fangs is a Too Good to Miss title that might be just your blood type. (ha ha ha)

 

Rounding out my list of recent graphic novel recommendations is I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Mannie Murphy. What starts as a reminiscence about the author’s infatuation with River Phoenix Cover art for I Never Promised You a Rose Gardenmorphs into a history of white supremacy in the Pacific Northwest. Murphy deftly weaves alternative culture icons, including William S. Burroughs, Keanu Reeves, Phoenix, and Gus Van Sant, with local history about the Whitman Massacre of 1847, the Ku Klux Klan’s involvement in Portland’s city planning, and the “Rose City” street kids who made their way onto the screen in some of Van Sant’s films.

 

World map on two hands with doves flying into a blue sky with fluffy white clouds

Be the change you wish to see in the world

It’s time for a check in. It is a wonderful time for us to remind ourselves that we are all on a journey to better understanding ourselves and others. This is the journey we are all on, living and learning throughout life. I believe that the library can be an integral part of this journey for each and every person, here is why.

This last weekend I was reflecting on the wonderful opportunity to observe Juneteenth. Juneteenth is meant to be a day of jubilation, a day to celebrate significant turning point for the rights of people who are racially black in the United States. It is also meant to be a day to honor and remember those who have been lost or had their lives disrupted by enslavement. Lastly, it is a day for us to ignite action in individuals to make changes. Action, it is a word of intention, of movement, and change. Yes, there has been so many things that have progressed, but there is still a long ways to go and you can be a part of it.

Today I encourage you to take time to set intentions to first seek to understand before seeking to be understood. This may seem simple, but it takes putting ourselves aside for a moment to better hear and understand others and that can be a really hard skill. We can do this by being intentional about our listening, and focusing not on our own thoughts or responses while we take time to listen to others.

Next, I encourage you to consider that individuals are experts in their own lives. How do we best learn from these experts? By listening, reading, and talking to others about their stories. Pick up a book from an author that is of a different background than yourself, go someplace new that might challenge you to meet new people, or have a conversation with a friend about something new you learned. We can take steps regularly to expose ourselves to new ideas and new people. Here are some programs through the library that might help you find something to enhance your journey.

One Book, One Community https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/onebook/

Tough Topics Book Club https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/toughtopics

Anti-Racism Resources and Book Lists https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/antiracism/tools/2021

Diversify Your Reading Challenge https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/challenge/

Today I encourage you to take a moment and set intentions. Take a moment and consider one step that you can take to move forward in your journey. Right now I am striving to be a better listener and learner about other’s stories, and how I can be a part of the change. Will you join me?

Rosa Parks at the front of a classroom speaking to students

Black History Reads

While February and Black History Month comes to end this week, it’s never too late to dive into the rich literature about many important African Americans who have helped shape our nation. Officially being recognized in the United States in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, Black History Month is a time to celebrate the endless contributions in politics, education, entertainment, etc. by African Americans.

For the Chippewa Valley, one of our proudest achievements is having the legendary Hank Aaron play in Eau Claire. Assigned to the team in 1952, Aaron played for the Eau Claire Bears before eventually moving up to the major leagues to play for the Milwaukee Braves. He would go on to break the long-standing home run record by Babe Ruth, which he would then hold for another 33 years. Our library has some great reads about Hank Aaron, you can check out A Summer Up North or a whole host of others.

For more Black History Month reads, check out these links for suggestions:

Black History Month: A reading list of books by Black UCLA faculty

Ten Books to Read during Black History Month

Black History Month Reads

2021 Black History Month

14 books to read during Black History Month

Several Christmas movies on a book shelf with the movie, Elf, faced out.

Favorite Christmas Movies

I admit it! I love movies! My wife and I miss going to an actual movie theater, but what can you do?

When it comes to Christmas movies, I certainly do have my favorites. However, to me, a Christmas movie has to do with the actual holiday, and the wonderful ideas of family, friendship, love, giving, hope, and peace on earth. For Christians, the birth of Jesus is a significant event.

Searching for the most popular Christmas movies, there are several that come up that are not really about the Christmas Holiday, but only take place during the season. Home Alone was a riot with Macaulay Culkin, Bruce Willis was my hero in Die Hard, and Ben Affleck wearing a Santa outfit at the end of Reindeer Game was a hoot. But each of these was more about the story and characters, than about Christmas.

There are many classic Holiday movies out that I have truly enjoyed over the years. Some of these are It’s a Wonderful Life, The Polar Express, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, plus several Grinch productions, with Jim Carrey as my winner. Also, Scrooge has had many different lead actors, but I think Patrick Stewart portrayed Ebenezer the best in the 1999 Christmas Carol production.

Some newer comedic movies I also enjoyed were Christmas with the Kranks, Four Christmases, and The Christmas Chronicles on Netflix.

Here are my five favorites:

5. The Holiday, with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black. Wonderful story about four lonely and flawed people that meet over the Holidays after the two women in the story swap houses from Los Angeles and small-town England.

4. A Christmas Story. Who has not seen Ralphie almost shoot his eye out with his new Red Rider BB gun? Or stuck their tongue to a flagpole on a cold winter day? How many of you have a leg lamp as a Christmas ornament?

3. Elf. You may have to be a Will Ferrell fan, but Buddy is just so cute, loveable, and innocent that you just have to pull for him. Zooey Deschanel is simply adorable as Buddy’s friend, and Ed Asner looks and sounds, well, just like Santa!

2. The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen. He plays an ordinary man, Scott Calvin (same initials as Santa Claus), who accidentally causes Santa to fall off his roof on Christmas Eve. Scott then must assume the role of Santa, and delivers presents around the world with his son Charlie, played superbly by Eric Lloyd. The drastic transformations Scott goes through the next year, such as weight gain and a beard, are magic special effects. It is a funny and heartwarming story about believing not only in Santa but family as well.

And #1 on my list? Love Actually. This sexy romantic comedy starts five weeks before Christmas, delving into the different aspects of love from a variety of individuals, many are shown to be interlinked at the end. Bill Nighy as an aging rock star is hilarious, Hugh Grant as a serious, love-struck Prime Minister, and Liam Neeson’s son Sam, played by Thomas Sangster, flawlessly plays a tween boy who falls in love with a classmate. With several other intertwining stories and characters, it is a must-see. There are several other well-played parts of the story by Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, and Rowan Atkinson. Like life itself, not all the stories have happy endings.

Love Actually movie posterAs always, the library has many of these available to check out. With our new hold pickup service, library staff want to help all of us get past what has been a challenging 2020 for many people. Our only goal is to help you get the movies, books, and music you love into your hands.

The Reference Team is here to help 10-5, Monday-Friday. Please give us a call at 715-839-5004, send an email to librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us, or contact us via our new chat window.

Merry Christmas, and Blessed New Year to all!