Holiday ornaments are once again for sale from the Friends of the Library. This iconic ceramic ornament features an image of the Morrill Memorial Library on one side, and a little historical information on the other. These ornaments make great gifts, and can be purchased at the first floor Circulation Desk for $15.
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 at 7:00-8:30 pm (Program is full)
The Morrill Memorial Library is pleased to offer a Japanese Paper Embroidery workshop on Wednesday, December 7 at 7 p.m. Graduate school intern Kirstie David will lead a workshop in which participants create holiday cards or decorations using embroidery on paper, a craft that can be traced back hundreds of years. Free and open to the public, age 14+. No experience needed. All materials provided, and light refreshments will be served. Registration is required, and class size is limited.
My holiday movie-watching tradition starts Thanksgiving weekend, the four-day holiday during which I usually have some pleasant and relaxing down-time. These days, it happens when the grown children and their children have left for their own homes after some chaotic few days of high chairs, potty chairs, sippy cups, and Sesame Street.
I nestle on a couch with my knitting needles and yarn, the remote and the dozen or so of my holiday favorites. It’s a contest to see how many I can watch in one marathon sitting. Call me a sap, but there is nothing better than a few sobs and tears at the end of The Family Stone or Love Affair (the remake with Warren Beatty and Annette Benning.) I smile broadly each and with every last scene of The Holiday or Love Actually (even after crying each and every time Emma Thompson’s heart breaks.)
There is no better movie, though, to begin my marathon than Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy, and written, directed and produced by John Hughes. It’s hilarious, it’s emotional, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s uplifting. As Roger Ebert once said, this movie is an arrow “straight to the heart”.
I’ve probably watched Planes, Trains and Automobiles 25 times. I didn’t discover it in the movie theater when it was released on the day before Thanksgiving in 1987. It the time, we were raising young daughters who were not even in school yet. We certainly didn’t spend much time or money at the movies that year unless it was Benji: The Hunted or The Great Mouse Detective.
So it was several years later that my daughters and I discovered Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Simply because of its R rating, we waited until they were older when the video made it to our home. (The movie earned its R rating for its funniest scene where Martin’s character is more than a bit frustrated with the car rental clerk. There are 18 F-bombs in the one monologue, certainly inappropriate for younger children.)
I’ve loved Steve Martin in many things, particularly his role as the dentist in Little Shop of Horrors. Like most of my peers, I chuckled through the Smothers Brothers, the Carol Burnett Show, and Saturday Night Live watching Steve’s comedic routines. I enjoyed The Lonely Guy, Pennies from Heaven, and Roxanne but sometimes his slapstick was a bit awkward for my taste. It wasn’t until his roles in Parenthood, Grand Canyon, Father of the Bride and A Simple Twist of Fate that I began to truly appreciate him.
My favorite John Candy movie was Cool Runnings (1993), one my daughters loved, as well. We watched the movie over and over in the years after his death of a heart attack in 1994. Candy was only 43 when he died and Cool Runnings was the last movie released during his lifetime.
The beautiful irony in Planes, Trains and Automobiles (and don’t forget that New York City cab, Chicago Transit Authority commuter rail, and the back of several trucks) is that while both men appear to be caught in a nightmarish attempt to get home for Thanksgiving, it is only Martin’s character (Neal Page) who has anywhere to go. Clumsy and clownish Del Griffith (John Candy’s character) is genuinely trying to help, yet he can’t escape the disastrous results in each attempt.
I was a bit disappointed to learn that John Hughes, the producer, director and writer of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, originally wrote and filmed a different ending. I simply can’t imagine an ending that leaves out the perfect and poignant Scrooge Awakening when Neal Page reflects and discovers that Del Griffith actually has nowhere to go for Thanksgiving.
I adore this movie for its comedic moments, but I love it for its pain, heart and truth. Martin plays the extremely uptight Neal Page which, apparently, is more like Steve Martin’s true personality (much more serious and quiet.) Candy’s role as Del Griffith as a clumsy, obnoxious, ridiculous and sloppy salesman is sometimes achingly uncomfortable to watch. But he is real and he wins our hearts in most scenes because he tries so hard despite his sweet and honest self.
There are some fantastic cameos in the film. One is Kevin Bacon as Martin’s nemesis hailing a cab on the New York streets. Two days before Thanksgiving. In rush hour. In real life, Kevin Bacon was hanging around after just shooting another John Hughes film and he volunteered for the uncredited role. William Windom begins the movie in the very first scene as a terribly confused executive who can’t make a decision. If you watch the credits all the way through, you’ll find Windom still trying to make up his mind on Thanksgiving in his boardroom, surrounded by his turkey dinner. In my childhood, Windom was a favorite TV actor of mine starring in Farmer’s Daughter opposite Inger Stevens. Edie McClurg plays the sassy and clueless rental car clerk and Ben Stein is the Wichita airport employee who broadcasts the cancelled flight that begins Neal’s and Del’s three-day saga.
In the beginning of his career, John Hughes was best known for writing, directing, and producing a handful of teenage angst movies (Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). It was the moralistic Planes, Trains and Automobiles that earned Hughes great respect.
John Candy acted in eight of John Hughes’ films and Candy’s death at an early age deeply affected Hughes who stopped directing after Candy died. Although he continued to write and produce, Hughes was involved in only eight films after Candy’s death from 1994 until his own death in 2009. Hughes died fairly young himself of a heart attack at age 59.
Of course, the Minuteman Library Network has most, if not all, of Hughes’, Martin’s and Candy’s films on DVD to borrow. Morrill Memorial Library cardholders can download and watch some of Martin’s comedic antics with Carol Burnett and Johnny Carson on hoopla, our streaming video, audiobook and music service. One of my favorite Martin movies is A Simple Twist of Fate (1993) in which Martin has a very serious role as the adoptive father of a seemingly orphaned child. It is available on DVD or on hoopla – a must-see for the holiday viewing season.
Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte’s column in the December 1, 2016 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Need a gift for that person who loves being on the cutting edge? Trying to reduce the clutter by going digital? Or maybe you simply want to talk to your house! Yes, really. Forget the Joneses, we’re keeping up with the Jetsons. 2016 has been that kind of year. So, we’ve made a list to help you manage all the new tech. Consider it our holiday present to you:
For the athlete or the fitness fanatic, a fitness tracker will measure each stride toward healthy living. These devices most often come in the form of a wristband/watch, and measure one’s activity throughout the day.
Price range: $30-130
Suggested brands: Fitbit, TomTom Touch, Samsung GearFit
Tablets are great for all ages; even small children are able to make use of educational apps on tablets. These devices work with wifi and allow you to check email, watch (or stream) movies, music, tv shows, books, and more. They’re a great way to stay in touch through video chatting with far-away family.
Price range: $45-750
Suggested brands: iPad, Amazon Fire Tablet, Microsoft Surface Pro
E-readers are amazing tools for all ages of people. These devices help you cut down on the physical space your books take up–ideal for students and those with limited storage. Highly transportable, with long battery life, you can store thousands of titles in an e-reader. You can even borrow books (for free) from the library!
Price range: $50-300
Suggested brands: Kindle, Nook
Smart home speaker:
Smart home speakers are for those wanting to spice up their homes with a fun new gadget. These devices are voice operated, and they allow you to add items to your grocery-list, play music, listen to the news, order items directly from the internet, and even turn household appliances on and off!
Price range: $129-180
Suggested brands: Amazon Alexa, Google Home
Movie-buffs, busy parents, and couch potatoes rejoice! Streaming video and television is not new to the tech scene, and its popularity is an indicator of its longevity. These devices allow you watch your favorite television shows, movies from services like HBOGo, Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube on one simple device.
Price range: $30-130
Suggested Brands: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Chromecast
If you’re unsure of how something here works, or if you want to try it before you buy it, then please let us know. Roku is available for borrowing at the library. And we’re happy to teach you how to stream, download, and maneuver any device listed here.