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Looking for a New Hobby for the New Year?: Birdwatching

23 Dec

The pandemic has changed us in a lot of ways. Some of us have become aware of the things we took for granted, some of us have experienced a great shift in our priorities, many of us have gone through great grief and anxiety. This period has been very unsettling for me, but one positive thing it brought me has been a new appreciation for nature. 

When we began quarantining way back in March, I began paying more attention to what was out my window. I noticed birds that I had never seen before. Where had they come from? How come I had never noticed them before? Suddenly, I found myself interested in birdwatching. 

When you get a new hobby, you often get obsessed with finding new information on the subject, and the library has a ton of resources for this pursuit in particular! 

On Kanopy, Birders: The Central Park Effect is a great look into activity of birdwatching. Kanopy also has a very informative series entitled The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America, which is part of The Great Courses. This means you won’t spend any credits watching videos from this series! 

The Bird Watching Answer Book, available on eBCCLS, is a great resource if you’re starting out with backyard birds and feeders. Then, hop onto Hoopla for an enormous variety of resources! A few titles you can check out from Hoopla include The Birds of New Jersey, The Warbler Guide, Birdsong for the Seasons, Identifying Birds of Prey, and that’s just the beginning of it! The Hoboken Library also carries the Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America, which is a wonderfully illustrated and enlightening field guide. 

Birding has really helped me get my mind off of these stressful times and it has made me feel more connected to our planet than ever before. If you want to give it a try, a lack of resources is no excuse. The library’s got you covered! 

Written by:
Sam Evaristo
Circulation Assistant, Grand Street Branch

Captivating Visual Dystopias: Paradise Hills and Equals

9 Dec

Recently I watched two dystopian films, Paradise Hills and Equals, that were visually enthralling with their use of color and visual metaphors. 

Paradise Hills
Paradise Hills (2019) starts with vibrant floral hues and then ends in darkness as the characters discover the truth about the facilities on a remote island that is supposed to turn the daughters of Uppers (the wealthy elite) into perfect ladies.  While the story is derivative of other feminist works such as The Stepford Wives, it use of colors and visuals is stunning and had me enthralled by this dark whimsical futuristic fairy-tale.  Emma Roberts stars as Uma and the film also features a stellar Awkwafina as Yu.  Mila Jovovich plays the mysterious Duchess who runs the facility.  The outfits the girls wear reminded me of Alice in Wonderland mixed with Clockwork Orange with the look of a whimsical white dress made out of a straitjacket.  Being oneself and speaking your mind are ideals for us all and yet too often women are still made to feel that good girls should just stay quiet and look pretty. You can borrow it on DVD from BCCLS libraries or stream it on Kanopy.

The 2016 film, Equals also use color to effect in this case primarily a lack of colors with only white being prominently featured in costuming.  Peoples’ dress and mannerisms are solely utilitarian in Equals.  The story draws its inspiration from 1984, but focuses primarily on the suppression of emotions and a forbidden love story between Nia (Kristen Stewart) and Silas (Nicholas Hoult).  It is considered a serious medical condition if people encounter Switched on Syndrome (SOS) and begin to have emotional responses to things.  As with Paradise Hills the story works best in its visuals.  The main characters work for a division that must illustrate news stories of outside conflicts, which unlike the world around them often appear in vivid color.  The film moved at a slow pace at time lingering over visual metaphors like Nia and Silas briefly holding hands, this like the monotone deliveries from the actors captures life in a world where along with negative emotions, feelings of happiness and joy are also suppressed. It is available to stream from Hoopla or to borrow on DVD from BCCLS Libraries.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Information and Digital Services

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