Archive | October, 2015

Pack Up Your Native Soil: Traveling the World with Vampires

28 Oct

In Dracula, a vampire must bring boxes of his or her native soil from where they were born to be buried in to protect them from the sun during the day.  He would certainly be lugging it around a lot, if he went all of the places the vampire myth has traveled.  Here are a few films to checkout this Halloween to see how vampires have translated across the world.

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

I had been hearing a lot of buzz online about A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night from fans of horror as being one of the most original and interesting vampire movies in years.  Technically this is an American film, however, it is set in a spooky Iranian ghost town called Bad City and the film is in Farsi with English subtitles.  A sweet love story emerges between a young Iranian man, who is overwhelmed by taking care of his drug addicted father, and a mysterious young woman who glides about town in something that resembles at times a chador and other’s Dracula’s cape.  The black and white film is visually stunning.  A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is available from several BCCLS libraries and online from Hoopla.  I’m interested to check out other things by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour in the future.

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is a Swedish vampire film that centers around two children who form a strong bond over their outsider status: Oskar, a boy who is bullied at school, and Eli, who needs to drink blood to survive.  Vampire children are always extra creepy.  In Anne Rice’s and Stephenie Meyer’s vampire mythologies the creation of vampire children is forbidden.  In Poppy Z. Brite’s world of born vampires they literally absorb the life from their mothers.  Yet there is something vulnerable and touching about Eli. This is another film for those looking for something a bit more unusual than the typical Dracula retread.  An English version of the film was released in 2010 with the title Let Me In and moved the setting of the film from Sweden to New Mexico.  The book by John Ajvide Lindqvist that the films are based on is available from the Hoboken Public Library (the first English translation was published under the title Let Me In, subsequent editions are titled Let the Right One In).  Both film versions, Let Me In and Let the Right One In, are available from the Hoboken Public Library and Hoopla.

Vampire Party

Vampire Party is a funny light French film for those looking for a bit of slap stick absurd comedy with their horror.  It is available online from Hoopla.  Three best friends Sam, Alice, and Prune think they are incredibly lucky when they manage to get invites to Medici Night a legendary party at a remote castle, but it turns out that they haven’t just been added to the guest list, they are on the menu for an elite group of vampires.  The French title for the film is Les Dents de la Nuit, which translates to teeth of the night, which alludes not only to vampires, but also to one of the silly running gags of the film that a VIP at the event is a dentist.  If you thought films like Bridesmaids and The Hangover would have been better with vampires than you should find Vampire Party a bloody good treat.

Vampire Hunter D

Vampire Hunter D was one of the first animes (Japanese animation) I encountered.  As someone that was used to animation that was either only aimed at children or comedic like The Simpsons for adult audiences, I was surprised and intrigued by the complex and dramatic story line.  The 1985 film was based on a series of Manga (Japanese graphic novels). D is a half vampire/half human who fights vampires in a post-apocalyptic future.  Some unique details include D’s cybernetic horse and a symbiotic hand whose wise cracks add some levity to the story.  Although I’ve seen a great deal of anime since then, this remains one of my favorite with its cool blend of gothic horror with science fiction.  A second film Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was released in 2000.  Check the films and manga out from BCCLS libraries.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

Uncorking the Secrets of the World of Wine: Somm, American Wine Story, Beginner’s Guide to Wine, The Science of Wine, & Land and Wine

26 Oct

My grandmother and father were born in France and whenever there was a special family gathering, wine was always a part of the celebration whether Beaujolais Nouveau that made an appearance at Thanksgiving or the Champagne that toasted in the new year.  It was a special experience when I graduated from my Shirley Temples (ginger ale with maraschino cherries) to be given a glass of wine at these family gathering.  Because of our heritage I was primarily exposed to French wines, but I have grown to appreciate vintages from around the world.  Two of my favorite varietals are Syrah/Shiraz wines with their blackberry richness and peppery kick and the floral Gewürztraminers with their lychee bouquet.  If you live in this area, there are wine trails in both New York and New Jersey where you can meet local wine makers and sample their wines.  Some even give tours of the property and hold special events featuring music and food. One of my husband and my favorite local wineries is Cream Ridge Winery here in New Jersey, but there are so many to explore.  If you are a wine novice or an oenophile (wine connoisseur) there are many great documentaries and books on wine available to you with your Hoboken Library Card; here are a few to sample.


Somm, a documentary from 2013, gives an insider look into the Court of the Master Sommeliers and the Master Sommelier Exam.  Somm shows that job of the sommelier (somm) is very serious.  Those studying the art must learn about regions, grape varietals, methodologies for production, and more to understand the complexities of flavor in wine.  The exam requires all of this knowledge, plus the ability to develop a palate to determine the type of wine during blind tastings.  On the other hand Somm also showed that wine can be fun and some of my favorite moments in Somm were seeing the sommeliers gentle joshing as they prepared for the test and the funny comments of their partners, who had become wine widows to all their studying.  Somm is available on DVD from several BCCLS libraries.

Universal Class: Beginner’s Guide to Wine

For our Hoboken patrons who are just beginning to learn about wine and looking to learn more for themselves, you can take a free Beginner’s Guide to Wine course online from Universal Class.  You will learn about American and European Wines with a brief overview of some other regions as well.  You will also learn about the aging and tasting process.  The course is self-paced and you have up to 6 months to complete it.  There are other great courses available from Universal Class on everything from Fashion Design to Excel.

And don’t forget as mentioned in a previous blog you can check out each month Wine Enthusiast Magazine and Food and Wine Magazine to get suggestions on new wines and food pairings/recipes.

American Wine Story

American Wine Story is a charming 2014 documentary focusing on several West Coast winemakers.  At the heart of the story in one vineyard, where the sister of the departed founder had stepped in to take over, wanting to preserve his legacy for his young son.  I found it really touching how the community came together to help continue the vineyard.  One of the things I have noticed when visiting local vineyards is the sense of camaraderie that the winemakers share.  It seems in America the small nascent community of winemakers are often not only colleagues, but also friends and one definitely had that feeling in American Wine Story.  You can borrow American Wine Story through Hoopla Digital (now BCCLS patrons can borrow 20 items per month from Hoopla including books, movies, music, comics, and TV shows)!

Wine, Women & Friends

Wine, Women & Friends is another documentary that gives an inside look at the wine making process at a small French vineyard and the strong bonds of community that accompany the wine making process.  Carole LeBlanc and Jo Béfort, are a nurse and veterinarian for their “day jobs,” but the couple is very passionate about creating quality wines.  Wine, Women & Friends looks at a year in the life cycle of their wine’s production.  It also gives an interesting look at their experience of being women in what is often still a male dominated field in France.  Wine, Women & Friends is available on DVD from the Hoboken Public Library or through Hoopla Digital.

The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass, by Jamie Goode

You may remember from a previous post I discussed The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart (BCCLS October Author of the Month) which discussed the plants used to create a wide variety of alcoholic beverages including grapes used for wine.  I find learning the science behind every day things interesting and insightful.  For those wanting to delve deeper into how wine is created and enjoyed check out The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode, which is available in its second edition from the Hoboken Public Library. The first section focuses on the vineyard and looks at things such as irrigation and how grapes develop.  The second section focuses on the winery and things like use of oak barrels and why cork is used for sealing bottles.  In the third section The Science of Wine focuses not just on the wine itself, but also on the tasting of wine, for example discussing a study that showed how sommeliers brains are activated differently than an average person when tasting a wine.  It includes engaging full color pictures throughout.

Land and Wine: the French Terroir, by Charles Frankel with a foreword by John Varriano

Terroir is a term used to describe how the land and environment the food we eat or drink grows in effects its character.  The Science of Wine covers terroir briefly, but for an in depth look at how the terroir in France effects different wines, check out Charles Frankel’s Land and Wine.  Frankel merges his love of wine with his training as a planetary geologist to look at how the land itself effects different type of French wines.  The book is setup moving through the different regions of France based on their historic age geologically, but also provides an index of region, wine names, and grape varieties so you can jump to your favorite.  It is wild to think about how dinosaur fossils in the ground may have impacted the wine you are drinking with your meal.  Land and Wine is available from the Hoboken Public Library.

-Written by Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

%d bloggers like this: