Welcome to the Audio/Visual Blog!

Hello and welcome to the Berwyn Public Library’s Audio Visual Department Blog!

Here you can keep up to date with our programs, new releases, and even get reviews on old favorites! Please feel free to leave a comment below on what you’d like to see us post about. We hope you’ll follow us!





Tom Petty

Singer, Songwriter, Music Producer, Guitarist

October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017

By: Sandie Neri

You know how you can tell you’re a Rock legend? Almost twenty days after your death, well established musicians, and journalists are still writing lengthy articles praising your creative genius. Fans like myself are still getting weepy just thinking about hits like ‘Free Falling’. Petty’s voice, slightly nasal but very distinct, has always had a very calming effect on me personally. Petty collapsed at his home, was rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest and remained on life support. He passed away on October 2, 2017.

On October 7,2017, Petty’s hometown of Gainesville, Florida paid tribute during a Gator’s game against LSU, when 88,000 attendees sang ‘I won’t Back Down’ (link below).


On Friday October 20th, Petty fans clad in goth apparel marched up Ventura Boulevard (a nod to a line in a Petty song –“ All the vampires, walking through the Valley/Move west down Ventura Boulevard” – ‘Free Fallin’). Some journalist believe Petty was making a reference to consumerism or record executives. Hash tags popped up all over Twitter;









The music blog austin360 reports that the Austin City Limits Music Festival paid several tributes to Tom Petty on October 6th. Asleep at the Wheel kicked of the fest with Petty’s “I won’t Back Down”. The Revivalists played “Wildflowers”, and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real played “American Girl”. On Saturday night of the fest, a large screen showed Petty performing “Free Fallin”, while skydivers from the Red Bull Air Force Skydiving Team fell from the sky. The Killers also covered Petty’s “American Girl”. (Link below)


Twitter Reactions

Immediately after the news of Tom Petty’s death, Twitter was full of tributes from his fellow artists, as well as countless fans.

“Down here on E Street, we’re devastated and heartbroken over the death of Tom Petty…A great songwriter and performer, whenever we saw each other it was like running into a long lost brother. Our world will be a sadder place without him.” – Bruce Springsteen

“God bless Tom Petty peace and love to his family I’m sure going to miss you Tom”-Ringo Starr

“Shocked & upset 2 hear about #tompetty ‘we got lucky when we found u…’ …RIP twitter.com/billboard/stat… – Billy Idol

“Tom Petty’s music and songs are timeless. He was a wonderful writer, musician and singer. Irreplaceable and unique. #RIPTomPetty” – Elton John

“Tom was a tender southern gent in life, a poet and a music master on stage. He had a rocking chair wisdom that brought everything back down to earth. We will love and miss him for the rest of our days. Our thoughts are with his family…” – George Harrison

The Early Years

Born in Gainesville, Florida on October 20, 1950, Tom Petty was the first born to Earl and Kitty Petty. While Petty got along well with his mom and younger brother Bruce, his father was often physically and verbally abusive. Petty turned to music, and idolized artists such as Elvis Presley, and the Beatles as he learned guitar. In fact, Elvis was filming near him, and he saw him up-close, he was 10 years old. This left a big impression. He joined his first band by age 14, and left high school by 17 to perform with a band called Mudcrutch. They amassed a devoted local fan base.

In 1974 Petty married his girlfriend Jane Benyo, and they moved to Los Angeles with their daughter (Kimberly) whom they had before their marriage. Then came their second daughter, Adria. Shelter Records recognized Petty’s talent, and offered him a solo contract, he signed as his former band did not really appreciate his musical genius. Petty got back together with his Mudcrutch members, Mike Campbell (guitar) and Benmont Tench (keyboards). The two former band mates had been playing with Ron Blair (bassist) and Stan Lynch (drummer). They formed and became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and signed as such with Shelter Records. They released a self-titled album in November of 1976. In the 80’s, a self-inflicted wound (fist through the wall in anger) almost ended his guitar playing career. The doctor told him he would never play again, he was playing within the following year. Tom battled heroin addiction in the 90’s, a fact he kept quiet about until recently. During his career, Petty collaborated with other rock icons, including Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, George Harrison and Johnny Cash (just to name a few). He also earned three Grammy Awards. In 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released their 11th album, and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Friday, October 20th would have been Tom’s 67th Birthday.

Tom Petty is survived by his second wife Dana York, his daughters Adria and Kimberly, and a granddaughter. Thankfully, his music forever lives on ….


YouTube link below is for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers performance of ‘Free Fallin’ at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show – 2008


Facts and photos gathered from:





Disc Repair Services

Among the many services offered here at the Berwyn Public Library, the Audio Visual Department offers disc repair services.

If you have a disc that is scratched and won’t play, you can bring it into the library and we will fix it. Bring your scratched DVD, CD, or video game disc to our desk on the first floor. There you will be helped as you fill out a simple slip with your name, phone number, and address and drop off the disc. There is a charge of $2 due at the time you pick up your discs. We will call you once the repairs are done.

And that’s it! It’s not a lengthy process for you and beats out having to completely replace a disc that only has a simple scratch on it.

written by: kassie

International Day of the Girl

International Day of the Girl is not one of the more well known holidays but it is an important one. Taking place on October 11th, Day of the Girl was started to bring awareness to the trials faced by girls. Yes of course steps have been taken to equal the playing field, but the fact is that many girls still face incredible obstacles and barriers. The day started as a youth lead movement to shed light on things such as underage marriage, inaccessibility of education, and barriers in the job market. The activists that organize the events – all ranging around 17 years old but some are even younger – work to emphasize raising girls in healthy environments and with a supportive community.

So how does that affect the average little girl in Berwyn? Well, it’s important for girls to know they can be heroes, can stand up for themselves, that they can be weird or sporty or heroic or vulnerable or strong. It’s important to show little girls that they can be whatever they want to be, no matter how odd what they want may seem to you. And since it has been studied that movies impact our sense of the world and our sense of self, maybe taking a day to watch a movie about a brave hero who also happens to be a girl could go a long way to helping your own girl believe in herself. When it comes to brave girls and heroes, these movies are fun to pop in and kid friendly – and may even inspire a conversation about what your little girl wants from her life.

Lilo and Stitch

lilo and stitch
The main characters of Lilo and Stitch surfing together.

This classic Disney movie about an alien looking for a family is also an important study in girlhood. The movie hinges around the importance of family, so naturally, when Stitch crash lands on Earth, he is immediately adopted. The movie makes an interesting choice to drop Stitch into a family that is only made up of two orphaned sister: older sister Nani and young Lilo. Lilo, for all her charm and love, is an outcast among the girls her age. She does things like keeping voodoo dolls of her friends in a pickle jar, locking herself in her home and blasting Elvis Presley music to feel better, and coming up with a tragic backstory for a doll. Despite how over-dramatic Lilo’s oddities are Nani never tries to change Lilo and often celebrates her uniqueness. Nani, for her part, is hard working and honest. She puts Lilo before everything and works hard to keep her small family together. When celebrating girlhood, Lilo and Stitch is a fantastic movie to look to, a movie that makes it clear that it’s ok for girls to be silly and odd and strong and to value the bonds of family.

Annie (2015)

The foster girls featured in Annie, with the titular character played by Quvenzhané Wallis front and center.

A modern day retelling of the classic radio show and musical, Annie is just as important now as she was decades ago. This version of Annie, starring trailblazer Quvenzhané Wallis, puts a focus on the impact the foster system has on young girls. At one point in the movie, Annie is prompted to read a speech aloud and storms off. She reveals to a heart broken Mr. Stacks that because of her time in foster care, she fell through the cracks in school and never learned to read. Considering the fact that girls still face barriers to education even today – the attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai being the most popular example – it’s an important topic. Mr. Stacks and Miss Grace raise Annie and all the foster girls in her home up, allowing them to flourish and thrive and ultimately find families. On top of that, well – it’s just a really cute movie and Quvenzhané and Jamie Foxx play off each other fantastically.

Bend it Like Beckham

The women’s soccer team in Bend It Like Beckham, with main characters Jess and Jules, played by Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley, holding the trophy.

It’s easy to overlook this movie as nothing but a silly sports movie, but Bend It Like Beckham actually focuses on important topics relating to girlhood. Namely, the treatment of girls in sports. It’s true many women have broken into the the sports world but there are still barriers. In this comedy, the focus is put on the struggles of Jess as she navigates playing soccer and her desire to go to college. Jess faces much backlash from a cultural standpoint because of her family’s views on how a woman she act. Added to this are her struggles and the struggle of her father to be accepted in the world of sports because of their race. The movie focuses on the changing landscape and how many conservative views of sports and women were forced to change as women started making a mark for themselves in the world. The ending is, naturally, a happy one, where Jess’s parents start to accept that they must change for the sake of their daughter’s happiness.

Whale Rider

Pai, played by Keisha Castle-Hughes, wearing traditional Maori facepaint.

Easily the most serious look at sexism in this list, Whale Rider is a modern day classic and enjoyable movie nonetheless. While it’s not exactly the most obvious pick for a movie night with your young daughter, it is still kid friendly. At the very least, this writer enjoyed it a lot as a girl, if only because of my unhealthy obsession with whales. The movie focuses on a girl named Pai, whose family was killed several years before the movie takes place. Pai is the heir apparent of her people’s clan as she is descended from the whale rider Paikea, but cannot inherit this title because she is a girl. Pai spends much of the movie fighting with her grandfather over what she views as her destiny. Her grandfather blames her for many things including the deaths of her family, being better than the boys around her, and a whole host of things that aren’t actually Pai’s fault. The constant criticism weighs on Pai and she moves out of her grandfather’s home. Despite this, Pai remains determined to prove that she is a capable leader. The movie earned lead actress Keisha Castle-Hughes an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. At age 13, she was the youngest person ever nominated for the award – until Quvenzhane Wallis broke the record a few years later at age 9.

written by: kassie

IT (2017)



Movie Review

Director: Andy Muschietti

Screenplay: Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, and Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise

Based on the novel by Stephen King

Thirty-one years ago, the novel It was published by Viking Press, the year was 1986. This was Stephen King’s 18th novel, and is an impressive 1,138 pages. I read this book as a teenager, as Stephen King novels were always in my house thanks to my older brother and sister. The story takes place in small town Derry, Maine, and revolves around seven childhood friends.

In 1990, Hollywood made a valiant attempt to produce a made-for-tv, two-episode version of It. While this tv version was cast with a lot of very talented actors (Tim Reid, Harry Anderson, Richard Thomas, John Ritter just to name a few), this was a flop. Taking the lead as the unforgettable Pennywise the clown (the menacing evil that takes over Derry Maine), Actor Tim Curry turned in a brilliant performance.

Just like the monster that dwells in Derry, Maine, It has returned, in a shiny new re-boot. It (2017) is creepy and scary in all the right places. The fact that I read the book didn’t save me from jumping at a few scenes, but I liked it. The seven childhood friends; Bill, Ben, Beverly, Richie, Mike, Eddie and Stan are the “Losers”. Not a name they picked for themselves, but one thrust upon them by the bullies who have it in for them. The Losers have all had an encounter with the evil that has come to their town, as if they didn’t have enough to deal with. The Losers have figured out what It is, but It is not easy to get rid of. The characters are likable, and the story keeps you engaged. This film is only half of the book, and at this writing part two is scheduled be released in 2018. It’s a good scare, but if you are not a fan of clowns, you may want to skip this one.

By: Sandie


Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October marks the 36th year of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The month was first started as a single day, called Day of Unity, that was meant to create connections across the country between abuse survivors and their advocates. In 1989 Congress passed legislation marking October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Since abusive situations flourish due to silence, much of the month is dedicated to spreading awareness and bringing the subject into the public eye. There is also an emphasize on helping survivors deal with a situation rather than shaming them for falling into the situation. Fresh off the heels of Nicole Kidman using her Emmy speech to dedicate her award to survivors, this October it is especially important to listen to the stories of abuse survivors and uplift their voices.

Big Little Lies

big litte lies
Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright, in a scene with Celeste’s husband Perry. Perry is played by Alexander Skarsgård.

The HBO miniseries, Big Little Lies, has been winning awards left and right this season. Nicole Kidman, for her part as Celeste Wright, has gained particular critics praise. Celeste, along with her husband Perry, seems to be the perfect suburban couple. The truth is that Perry is psychically and emotionally abusive of Celeste. Kidman and the writers for the show contacted domestic violence shelters when writing. They aimed to be as accurate as possible in their portrayal of an abusive relationship. This allowed them to explore the complexities of an abusive relationship and added to the nuanced portrayal. For her moving portrayal of Celeste, Kidman won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress.

No Way Out But One

Chronicling the true journey of the first American woman granted asylum in the Netherlands, No Way Out But One is a documentary where domestic violence is at the forefront. The film centers around Holly Collins who, in 1994, attempted to get custody of her children. Despite medical and legal documentation of the abuse she and her children faced the courts awarded her husband full custody. The abuse continued and the Collins children were even forced to hide their bruises by visitation supervisors. In desperation, Holly took her children and fled the country. They lived on the run for a few years before taking refuge in the Netherlands. Eleven years later the FBI came looking for them, expecting the Collins children to cooperate with the kidnapping charges. Instead, the children gave an impassioned story about how their mother was a hero, not a kidnapper.


Penelope Cruz as Raimunda, pictured right, with Yohana Cobo as Raimunda’s daughter Paula.

The Spanish film Volver touches on many serious themes, combining elements of tragedy and magical realism to tell the story. The film starts with Raimunda coming home to find her daughter Paula has killed Raimunda’s husband. When Paula reveals she acted in self defense after he tried to rape her, Raimunda sets into action to cover up the murder and protect her daughter. As the movie goes on, it is revealed that this is only the next link in a cycle of abuse and death in their family that Raimunda tried so hard to escape. Raimunda and Paula, along with a cast of other women attempt to heal and repair their relationships with each other. The film is a look at how death affects a community culturally, from the point of view of women who have spent a lifetime coping with domestic violence.

Gimme Shelter

gimme shelter
Apple, played by Vanessa Hudgens, in an embrace with her estranged father Tom, played by Brendan Fraser.

Generally speaking, when people think of domestic violence, they tend to think of a husband abusing his wife. In Gimme Shelter, based off the true story of a group of runaway teens, the violence is not between spouses but between parents and their child. Apple Bailey, the main character, lives with her mother June, who is abusive and cruel. She escapes to her estranged father’s home, but he is ill-prepared to help his traumatized daughter. The movie chronicles Apple’s attempt to find a home despite a system that involves too much red tape and a family that is not supportive. The writer of the movie put years of research into the movie, going so far as to live at the shelter he based the characters around. Vanessa Hudgens, who plays Apple, also talked with the girls to prepare for the role.

written by: kassie

Digital Services at The Berwyn Public Library

Here at the Berwyn Public Library we aspire to move with the times instead of against them. Technology changes every day and it’s important for public services like libraries to change as well.

To help patrons who prefer streaming services over hard copies of DVDs and CDs, we allow access to the streaming sites Hoopla, Freegal, and Overdrive through a Berwyn Public Library Card.

If you need help logging into these services or are confused about what they offer, look no further!



Hoopla lets you watch movies and listen to CDs online instead of having to come into the library. You can “check out” a max of eight rentals. These rentals are checked out for a certain amount of time – it ranges from 72 hours to two weeks – and then returns them automatically so there’s no worry of late fees.

Each library gets its own page and its own number of max rentals, but every library has access to the Hoopla database. These movies can be watched on any desktop, tablet, or mobile phone. The CDs and audio books can be streamed right through the site itself.



Freegal is a music streaming website. You can search its system to find the music you want and then download or stream to your heart’s desire. Each patron is allowed up to three hours of streaming per week and three downloads per week. The search engine is also easy to use so finding music isn’t difficult.

A stat counter at the top right hand corner helps you keep track of how long you have been listening and how many songs you have downloaded. It will reset every week.



Overdrive is our free digital library. Here is where you can get access to any of our e-books and audio-books.   There is a ten book limit to how many books you can have checked out at one time.

Accessing Streaming Sites

The first would be through the library website itself. To do it this way, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Berwyn Public Library website and click the “eLibrary” tab.
  2. Click the second link on the page. It should say “Digital Media Services.”
  3. Scroll down until you see the logo of the site you want and then click the logo.
  4. Follow the directions to log in. All four sites will all ask for your library card number and your home library if this is the first time you have used them, so have that at the ready!
  5. Freegal will ask for your pin. This is the last four numbers on your library card.

If you are browsing through our swan catalog, you can also access the sites through there. Say you are searching the name of an author you like. Once the search results come back there will be a number of categories on the left hand side to help limit search results. Under Downloadable Format and Vendor there will be options such as “Hoopla Audiobook” or “Overdrive.”

Checking the box next to one of these options and then clicking “include” will refresh the search results with these limits. Then on the right side next to each item there will be two dark grey buttons on top of each other. The bottom one should say, “Download.”

If you click this, another box will come up prompting you to pick a format such as .pdf or html. Simply choose the one you prefer, and voila, you have your book.

If the box comes up and says “Redirecting” you simply click “Open Content” and your browser will direct you to that page on Hoopla.

written by: kassie

Banned Books Week

To honor banned books week, we in the Audio/Visual Department have decided to honor some of the movies made that were based off of banned books. Some of these movies, despite being based off of controversial books, went on to soaring box office sales and even to win Academy Awards.

A Streetcar Named Desire


The critically acclaimed play-turned-movie by Tennessee Williams is unique to this list because it was never technically banned, despite being on almost every “banned books” list floating around the internet. The reason it hits so many lists is because of film censorship and bans. The play features a number of references to domestic violence, rape, and homosexuality. While this may not be something out of the ordinary for our own time it was considered immoral to show on screen under the Hays Code of the 1950s. To comply with the strict code, many scenes that were violent or sexual in nature were cut, as well as all references to homosexuality. Over the years, as the Hays Code fell out of favor compared to the more forgiving MPAA rating, special editions of the movie have come out to include many of the scenes that were cut initially.

Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

bury my heart2

Banned when it first came to print all the way back in the 1970s for being “controversial,” Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee was a milestone in history; it marked one of the first books to paint Native Americans as victims of the United States expansion and not as savages or aggressors. When it was first put on school reading lists, the rationale used to ban it was rather frustrating; they believed it should be banned because it could cause controversy. The teachers pushed back against the ban to allow it in classrooms and eventually won their case. The book was made into an HBO movie, making it the first of two on this particular list, and went on to be nominated for seventeen Emmys, of which it won six.

The Lord of the Rings


Lord of the Rings falls under an interesting reason for being banned: it is considered irreligious. Of course, plenty of books are banned because people feel they are irreligious or Satan-worshiping. Lord of the Rings is special because the author, JRR Tolkien, was in fact a devout Catholic and considered the trilogy to be religious in nature. Despite being considered literary classics, the trilogy places in at #40 for most banned books in America. That didn’t stop director Peter Jackson from taking on the epic fantasy series to adapt into a trilogy of movies. Considered to be on of the most ambitious film projects ever taken on and ultimately costing anywhere from $281-$330 million to make, the trilogy was nominated for 30 total Academy Awards and won 17 of them. The final film, Return of the King, was nominated for 11 awards and won all of them, tying it with Ben-Hurr and Titanic for most Academy Award wins on a film.

Fun Home

fun home

Fun Home is unique item on this list for more than one reason.  It is the only CD on the list, the only musical on the list, and the only item based off of graphic novel. The book it’s based off of is a memoir written and illustrated by Alison Bechdel. Released in 2006, the book was the 7th most challenged book in 2015. The reasons for being banned included violence, homosexuality, graphic images, and nudity. In 2015, the memoir was turned into a musical, opening on Broadway in April. The musical was nominated for a whopping 10 Tony Awards and won five of them including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

the immortal life

The biography based on the tragic story of an African-American woman whose cancer cells were used against her knowledge in medical experiments has been challenged more than once for its graphic descriptions. Many who have challenged the book believe it to be bordering on the pornographic. Despite the attempted ban, many schools have stood behind the book and its author for its important message of medical ethics. The biography was made into an HBO movie in April of this year. Despite being fairly new, it has managed to pick up a nomination already at the Emmy’s for Outstanding Television Movie.

The Namesake


This award winning book about the cultural divide between first and second generation immigrants was banned by a notoriously narrow-minded school committee in Idaho back in 2015. The cited offense? Sexual references and language. The committee also pushed to ban John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men several years earlier although this move ultimately failed after much heated debate. Like Steinbeck’s classic novel, The Namesake managed to win its case after a community wide debate was arranged which would include the voices of parents outside of the school committee. The movie was made long before this debate, in 2006. It received overwhelmingly positive reviews and made a number of top ten lists and won a several acting awards at various film festivals.

The Kite Runner

kite runner

Considered one of the most banned books in the country, The Kite Runner has faced challenges and bans as recently as April of this year. Yanked from the curriculum of an Arizona high school with no warning, protests from students and parents alike followed. No word has been given as to whether the book will be re-included in the curriculum for the current school year. This is naturally not the first time the controversial book has been banned; reasons such as violence, sexually explicit content, language, religious viewpoints, and homosexuality have all been cited. Despite these challenges and bans, the book remains a favorite to teach in classrooms across the country and was even made into a film in 2007. The movie picked up a number of awards, largely for its beautiful score, and remains a popular and critically acclaimed movie.

written by: kassie marie

Hispanic Heritage Month

Actors, directors, and producers are not always simply celebrities. They are human beings and citizens as well. This may seem like a no-brainer but the truth is many celebrities get push-back for taking stances on anything from politics to whether they like Marvel or DC better. Despite push-back, especially when it comes to politics, many celebrities feel the backlash is worth it when it comes to taking a stand.

To honor this year’s theme for Hispanic Heritage Month, we could take a look at celebrities that have taken a stance. Some pushed for better representation of Latinos in film and TV, some are activists outside of their acting jobs, and some broke new ground in their fields through innovation. All have shaped the industry into what it is today and continue to push for change in the future.


Gina Torres, leading actress in Serenity

Born to Cuban parents in the Bronx, actress Gina Torres is outspoken about how she is continually denied roles because of stereotypes surrounding Latinos. Despite being fluent in Spanish and identifying as a proud Latina, Torres is often denied roles because she does not look like a stereotypical Latina due to her mixed ancestry. This combined with a physical form many over the years have called Amazonian – she is 5’10” and works out a lot –  has made it difficult for her to find decent roles over the years. As she has found her voice in the industry, Torres has continued to speak out about the diversity found in the Latino community as well as diversity found among women. Despite her problems, she carved a niche for herself in scifi acting with roles in Xena, Angel, and her iconic role as ex-soldier Zoe Washburne in Serenity before branching out into hit TV shows such as Hannibal and Suits.

Jorge R. Gutiérrez,  co-writer and director of The Book of Life

Born and raised in Mexico before coming to the U.S. to study animation, Gutiérrez is well-known for exploring his love of Mexican culture through his work.. The Book of Life, his first animated movie, was born out of the idea that the writing and production teams of movies should be just as diverse as the actors and characters. Being Mexican-American, he desperately wanted to write a movie centered around Dia de los Muertos. Gutiérrez was rejected by four different animation companies because the companies felt a story about a Mexican holiday wasn’t universal. Gutiérrez finally convinced Dreamworks to fund him, along with help from producer Guillermo del Toro, and got his story off the ground. As The Book of Life went on to be a box office hit, Gutiérrez helped propel Mexican-Americans to the forefront of entertainment, proving that stories starring people from all walks of life can have universal appeal.

Guillermo del Toro, producer of The Book of Life and screenplay writer, producer, and director of El Laberinto del Fauno

Famous for his amazing and complex creatures in film, Guillermo del Toro has long been a pioneer behind the camera. He writes often from his point of view as a Mexican immigrant to the United States, as evident in the world building behind his film El Laberinto del Fauno or the story behind The Shape of Water. In addition to these types of stories, he also tends to feature main characters that seek redemption through love and heroism but in a unique way; many of his heroes feature complex makeups and prosthetics to make them look monstrous such as Hellboy or the kaiju aliens and jaeger robots in Pacific Rim. His optimism has always fueled his writing and directing style, as has his love of special effects and monsters.  Not only has he shaped the special effects industry’s past, but he strives to push the limits of the industry going forwards as well.

Sandra Cisneros, author of Caramelo which is available through hoopla

Sandra Cisneros is perhaps one of the most well known Latino authors. Born right nearby in Chicago, she was one of 7 children brought up in a very impoverished home. Leading a very lonely and isolated life due to the constant moving around that her family did, Cisneros developed a passion for writing at a young age. Much of her work is inspired by her own life and deals with poverty, the cultural hybridity of being Mexican-American, and the isolation of being the only girl among seven children. Despite her stories centering around her own culture and her heritage, Cisneros is known all over the world. Many of her books have been translated into dozens of different languages and are sold all over the world. Her words gave a voice to Latinos and specifically to Chicanos, putting their struggle and culture in the forefront of literature. Caramelo, while not her most famous book, is semi-autobiographical and award-winning.

John Leguizamo, supporting actor in Moulin Rouge and recurring actor in season 12 of ER

Colombian born actor John Leguizamo is a prolific artist and activist who has appeared in over 100 films over the course of his career. Despite this long list of credits to his name, Leguizamo ran into issues gaining parts because he is Latino. Frustrated by the stereotyped roles he was forced into, Leguizamo started writing and producing his own plays and scripts such as “Latin History for Morons” and “Ghetto Klown.” Additionally, Leguizamo has founded a number of projects to help break stereotypes against Latinos such as the Break the Mold Project and was chosen as Global Ambassador for the Arts for the Puerto Rican Day Parade. He has come under fire many times for this project as well as his comments against racism in Hollywood, politics, and real life but continues speaking out for Latinos.

New Music Review: The National – Sleep Well Beast


Release Date: September 8, 2017

Label: 4AD

Not really acquainted with the music of The National? Yeah, me neither, not until I heard their newest album, Sleep Well Beast . The National is an Indie Rock band out of Cincinnati, Ohio, but are currently based in Brooklyn, and have been around since 1999. The members are; Matt Berninger (vocals), Aaron Dessner (guitar, keyboards), Bryce Dessner (guitar), Scott Devendorf (bass) and Bryan Devendorf (drums).

The first track, Nobody Else Will Be There, is a very chill and dreamy tune, with beautiful piano, and vocals full of emotion. Track two, Day I Die, has a retro feel to it (love the guitar), like the ‘New Wave’ music I listened to in the 80’s. Walk It Back, track three, is full of sultry vocals. The fifth track, Born to Beg, is a slow song that flows like a long, scenic drive in the country. Track six, Turtleneck is lacking in something, it just doesn’t connect with me.

Guilty Party, track nine, is smooth and tells a familiar tale of a rocky relationship. Dark side of the Gym is a slow song, like the ones that played at high school dances, when you hoped to be asked to dance, then remembered that you don’t know how to slow dance, so then you hoped no one would ask you to slow dance. I just love the lyrics “I’m gonna keep you in love with me…for a while”. The last track, Sleep Well Beast, sounds like someone explaining something to you, but they are half asleep. Not a terrible thing altogether, just a very groggy sound (for lack of a better term). Overall, the album is very easy on the ears, superb vocals. I already gave away my age, so I can tell you that this band has a sound similar to The Psychedelic Furs, and O.M.D. I enjoyed this album, and I know you will to.

Track List:

  1. Nobody Else Will Be There
  2. Day I Die
  3. Walk It Back
  4. The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness
  5. Born to Beg
  6. Turtleneck
  7. Empire Line
  8. I’ll Still Destroy You
  9. Guilty Party
  10. Carin at the Liquor Store
  11. Dark Side of the Gym
  12. Sleep Well Beast

By: Sandie Neri

The Holidays In Film: Labor Day

Over the years, Labor Day has been associated with barbecues and pool parties, as a way to throw one last hurrah before school starts and summer is officially over. However, Labor Day started as a way to honor working class people in the US.

In the late 1800’s, many people lived in “company towns.” This was when a town is essentially owned by one employer. One such town was Pullman, located on the South Side of Chicago. Pullman was owned by George Pullman and employees of his Pullman Palace Car Company lived in the town with their families. There he provided decent housing, public services, and entertainment – though he did charge rent for his housing. The Panic of 1893, an economic depression that eventually caused great civil upheaval, caused people to forego the luxury railroad cars. As Pullman started losing money, he made up the losses by firing many workers and slashing the wages of workers that were left – without lowering rent.

The workers formed a union, The American Railway Union, and called for a strike. Clashes between the union and Pullman occurred as the strike spread to a total of 27 states. Eventually federal troops were brought in and violence broke out. 34 union workers were killed during the ensuing riots and the ARU leader was arrested. As a way to smooth things over with the angry union workers, President Cleveland pushed legislation through that would make Labor Day a national holiday. The date was set for the first Monday in September and the legislation was passed within a week.

So when you’re cooking out and settling in for a movie and some s’mores, maybe take a moment to remember the struggle of the workers that came before. Here are some interesting movies that deal with the class struggle of workers that came before us.

The Grapes of Wrath

grapes of wrath

The 1940 drama based on John Steinbeck’s moving novel details the struggle of a family of migrant workers. As the Joads move all over the south looking for paying jobs, they face many hardships and often much exploitation at the hands of their employers. Towards the end of the novel, the Joads find themselves living in a number of company towns, similar to Pullman. They are paid nickels and dimes a day; just enough to buy food at the company town grocer but not enough to find a house of their own with better living and working conditions.

Norma Rae

norma rae

Selected for inclusion into the Library of Congress in 2011 for cultural and historical significance, Norma Rae tells the story of a single mother who fights for better working conditions the cotton mill she works at. The story is partially true; inspired by the protesting of real life Crystal Lee Sutton, the iconic scene where Norma Rae holds up a white board that says “UNION” until all the machines fall silent is directly taken from Sutton’s own activism. This sort of fight for better conditions is exactly the sort of work that Labor Day is meant to commemorate.



In this harrowing biographically film, viewers get a disturbing image of the health risks many workers face. Karen Silkwood (played by Meryl Streep) was a union leader at a plutonium plant who noticed that the company was cutting corners in safety protocols. After she tested positive for plutonium poisoning, Silkwood starts building a case against the company before dying under suspicious circumstances. In real life, Silkwood’s father sued the company for their practices and the case was taken all the way to the Supreme Court – where her family won the case. They were awarded $10 million, the highest amount of money a person had ever been awarded in a case like this.

César Chávez


Based on the real life activists who co-founded the United Farm Workers union, César Chávez chronicles farm workers fight for safety practices as well as his nonviolent protests. The film focuses in particular on the plight of braceros or migrant workers who are only allowed int he USA so long as they have a farming job. These workers often face racism and brutality and were not given much of a voice. Chavez co-founded the union along with Dolores Huerta, and the two eventually merged unions with a majority Filipino union to form the United Farm Workers that still exists today.

The Pajama Game

the pajama game

In a more lighthearted take on labor disputes, the popular musical The Pajama Game chronicles the fight of employees at a pajama factory striking for a higher wage. The strike comes when union leader Babe Williams realizes that the employees are being paid seven and one half cents less than the industry standard. Complications arise when Babe and a new manager, Sid Sorokin, become romantically entangled. Of course, being a musical, the ending finds the employees winning their raise and Sid and Babe finding happiness in each other. It’s an optimistic take to be sure but it is also a relatively realistic look at some of the disputes, corruption issues, and fights that Labor Day honors.

written by: kassie and sandie