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Discover New Music with Great Music Documentaries Available from Kanopy

14 Aug

JohnFahey
I love discovering new music, especially stuff that is strange and forgotten. I’ve spent hours countless digging through the crates of record stores looking for the weirdest albums I can get my hands on. Kanopy has a ton of great music documentaries that have exposed me to artists I would have never heard of otherwise. If you are looking to expand your musical palette to new realms, I highly recommend the following three music documentaries.

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll
Very few people will go into John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten knowing anything about the vibrant rock and pop music scene in that existed in Cambodia in the 1950s and 60s. Much like how the U.S. and Europe celebrated The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Cambodia had its own mega-succesful stars during this time who turned the city of Phnom Penh into a flourishing center of the arts. I had previously known absolutely nothing about Cambodian rock music and was blown away by the talent of the performers showcased at the beginning of the film, leaving me to quickly wonder why all of the country’s biggest stars are so unknown.
The modern history of Cambodia is one of tragedy. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. carried out a secret bombing campaign of the country that killed tens of thousands and devastated the rural countryside. Out of the rubble rose the Khmer Rouge, an extremist group who systematically killed artists, musicians, and intellectuals. The Khmer Rouge almost entirely wiped out any memory of the Cambodian rock scene. Many of the most talented performers died in the notorious Killing Fields and the only surviving recordings were ones that were hidden or smuggled out of the country. While the film is ultimately a tragedy, the fact that the legacy of these incredible musicians has finally been resurrected is nothing short of a miracle.

THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESIDENTS
Are The Residents the strangest band to ever exist? Are they even a band or are they something else entirely? Theory of Obscurity documents the Resident’s 40+ year career as closely as you can follow a group whose members conceal their identities with giant eyeball masks and top hats. The Residents have always thrived on anonymity and experimentation, creating elaborate performances that appear more like avant-garde theater than a rock show. Playing a Residents album at a party could quickly clear the room. They are the type of band that takes many listens to “get” if it is ever possible to get them at all. With that said, I think everyone should at least experience this film to see if they are one of the “weirdos” who might be strange (or cool) enough to enjoy the Residents.

In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey
John Fahey was an acoustic guitarist who influenced everyone from Pete Townshend of the Who to Sonic Youth. While lots of famous musicians cite his influence, he is little known to mainstream culture, some of which can be attributed to his style of playing called “American Primitivism” which harkens back to the early delta blues and ragtime. Even though he started making records around the same time that rock music was breaking out, Fahey’s playing sounded so rustic that he liked tricking people into thinking he was forgotten early 1900s blues musician named Blind Joe Death. Fahey was also notorious for self-sabotage. He was an alcoholic who was too eccentric, too difficult to work with, and too out of step with the modern world to have material success. Despite his shortcomings, one cannot deny that Fahey was a breathtaking guitar player and entertaining personality. There’s a reason so many musicians talk about him in reverence and In Search of Blind Joe Death makes a compelling case for his importance.  BCCLS patrons also have access to the documentary on DVD.

Written by:
Karl Schwartz
Young Adult Librarian

Celebrate International Tabletop Gaming Day: Books, Movies, and More that will get you Gaming!

29 May

June 1st is International Tabletop Gaming Day. With our modern world where technology feels like it can isolate as well as connect us, now seems the perfect time to gather round and spend time bonding with family and friends while gaming.

Role Playing Games: Dungeons and Dragons
Dungeons and Dragons Art
One of my favorite bonding activities as a kid was playing Dungeons and Dragons with my dad and my sister on the weekends. It was like getting to take part in some of my favorite fantasy novels. I’ve been brushing up on the basics and look forward to playing the game with my son and husband. In the Elfish Gene: Dungeons and Dragons and Growing Up Strange, Mark Barrowcliff looks back at his own youth and his role playing experiences; you can borrow it from Hoopla.

If you are interested in playing D&D yourself, BCCLS libraries have you covered with  Guides and Monster Manuals. Plus you can borrow items looking back on D&D’s history such as Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History which looks at the evolving artwork associated with the game. You can also borrow the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon series (sweet Saturday Morning Nostalgia) on DVD. A few BCCLS Libraries also have the live action film adaptation, but like many critics and fans, I found the movie disappointing and not an accurate representation of the game.

Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy: Raiding the Temple of Wisdom edited by Jon Cogburn and Mark Silcox contains essays on different philosophical concepts that can be understood through and about the game including topics like ethics, morality, and metaphysical questions on topics like the boundary between magic and science. The final section focuses on game theory. If you enjoy this pop culture take on philosophy you can checkout others in the series which uses everything Monty Python to Zelda to deepen our understanding of the things we love and the world around us.

If you’ve never played an RPG before you can get insight (and entertainment) from the many web series that are now online such as the extremely popular Critical Role featuring the high fantasy of Dungeon and Dragons.  Sirens of the Realm is a lot of fun; imagine if the Go-Go’s  or the Bangles were fantasy bards. My current personal favorite is the urban fantasy of Vampire The Masquerade: LA Nights; its third season starts streaming on Twitch on June 1, but you can watch previous episodes from season one and two on YouTube; watch the first episode now.

If you like D&D than you should love the book we are reading for our next Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Group here at the library, Nicholas Eames’s Kings of the Wyld!  Eames even drew some inspiration from the game.  Stop by the Reference Desk to pick up a copy or Hoboken Residents checkout an ebook version from eLibraryNJ; join us for the discussion on June 17 at 6 PM.  Before hand we will be watching episodes of a fun classic fantasy series starting at 4 PM.

Board Games: Clue and Monopoly
clue Monopoly
Lacking the competitive gene, unlike my younger sister a Monopoly fanatic, I wasn’t as much of a board game fan as a kid. There were a few exceptions though and my hands down favorite game was always Clue. I’ve always loved mysteries even at a young age and Clue for me was less about winning than getting to play detective and figure out which of the characters was guilty.  Now I enjoy playing board games with my son, many of which I’m pleased to see now are more about team work than winning.

My sister and I both loved the Clue movie adaptation which we watched probably about 50 times at least; you can borrow it on DVD from BCCLS Libraries. When it was shown in the theaters it had one of three different endings; you can view them all. You can also borrow a Clue comic book adaptation from Hoopla.

If you are more a Monopoly fan you can check out the Emmy Award winning documentary, Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story on DVD or streaming from Kanopy.

During the Teen Department’s Games in the Garden event, our beautiful garden space is open to teens every Thursday from 4 PM-5 PM where they can play a variety of our board games.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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