Darwin Porter, Those Glamorous Gabors: Bombshells from Budapest

2017-01-21-025Title: Those Glamorous Gabors: Bombshells from Budapest

Author: Darwin Porter

Publication Information: [United States?]: Blood Moon Productions, c2013

ISBN: 978-1-936003-35-8

Library of Congress Classification:

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Gabor, Zsa Zsa, 1917-2016
Gabor, Eva, 1921-1995
Gabor, Magda, 1915-1997

The caption on the cover is, “Great courtesans of the 20th century,” which should give you an idea of what type of book this is.

Darwin Porter writes tomes, big ones, hundreds of pages long. I’ve read one other book of his, Hollywood’s Silent Closet: a Novel, and this book is as big as the one on the Gabors.

Porter primarily centers on Zsa Zsa, but covers all three Gabor sisters and their mother, Jolie. All three sisters took chances with the men they were allowing to woo them. All three were raped at one point in their lives, Magda by Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi in control of Budapest, even though she was married to the Portuguese attaché at the time.

This is a tell-all book about who slept with who, who was lying about their bedroom partners in their autobiographies, who was passed between the sisters, and who got away. The information about their movies and their interactions with the stars at the time is gossipy, but nonetheless entertaining. Porter primarily spends most of the time in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, when the Gabors were young and vibrant. It is interesting to read about the competitiveness of the Gabor sisters, particularly Zsa Zsa and Eva.

What does emerge is how these sisters were shaped by the desires of their mother, who wanted them to make rich marriages. Zsa Zsa was married more times (9) than her two sisters (Eva, 5; Magda, 6). At the time the book was written (2013), Zsa Zsa was still alive, and Porter dedicated the book to her.

Like I said, it’s a big book at 752 pages (including the index). If you were a Gabor watcher or if you like the gossip of old Hollywood, you might want to read this book.


Look What’s in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of new books added to the library collection.

(2016-07-08 001)Title: Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Author: Brian Fies

Publication Information: New York: Abrams Comicarts, c2009

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9636-6

Library of Congress Classification: PN6727.F483

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Technological innovations–Comic books, strips, etc.
Fathers and sons–Comic books, strips, etc.
Comic books, strips, etc.–United States

The book centers on a father and son. The timeline of father and son is distorted; the son and father age far slower than in the real world. The son is the narrator, and the book begins with them going to the New York World’s Fair in 1939 at Flushing Meadows in Queens. From here, the book walks through the decades of the 20th century, as we see the son (very slowly) growing up. He is a teenager in the 1950s through the 1970s.

What people of the time saw in terms of the advancement of science and technology–flying cars, living on other planets, super cities, etc.–would better life. It all started at the World’s Fair. Father and son, very close at that time, slowly grow apart as the 1950s give way to the 1960s and the distrust of government, which reaches a zenith with Watergate in the 1970s.

The abandonment of exploring space with the end of the Apollo Program was the most glaring error made by the United States. However, even by criticizing the Earth-centered Space Shuttle Program, author Fies reveals the advances in technology that happened from the experiments made on the shuttle missions: computers, cell phones, new appliances, medical advances, etc. So, even though the future did not look like what people in the 1930s envisioned, there have been great technological advances that subtly (or maybe not so subtly) changed our lives. None was as exciting as the flying car or living in houses in the sky a la The Jetsons, but technology nonetheless has had major impacts and has reshaped society–for better or worse.

As each decade is shown with the father-son interaction, there’s the evolution also taking place in a comic book–a comic book within a comic book (graphic novel): Space Age Adventures, starring Commander Cap Crater and Cosmic Boy. Changes in attitudes over time are mirrored here as well. For example, women begin as being visible with little or no power in a minor role and end up in important command positions.

Perhaps the most astounding–and thought-provoking–change in the comic book is the transformation that Cap and Cosmic Boy’s arch-enemy, Xandra, goes through. In the 1930s Xandra is the typical mad scientist out to conquer the world, By the early 21st century, Xandra accepts and becomes part of the status quo. In what was the final issue of Space Age Adventures, Cap confronts Xandra. Xandra tells Cap that he can become a capitalist, sell his inventions legitimately, make billions and take over the world. Infuriated, Cap tries to arrest him only to be stopped by his former allies in authority. Cap is told that Xandra has paid for his crimes and that no one who follows the law can be arrested. Even Cosmic Boy, now finding that he has groupies, decides to stay around on Earth. Demoralized, Cap returns to his Moon base. Food for thought in this world of runaway capitalism.

(2016-05-18 008)The book ends with a young girl being talked to by her grandfather–the former father–and her father–who was the son–about technology and the future. They do this from a city on the Moon.

An enjoyable book.

Bruce Eric Kaplan, Edmund and Rosemary go to Hell

(2016-04-28 001)Title: Edmund and Rosemary go to Hell

Author: Bruce Eric Kaplan

Publication Information: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007

ISBN: 1-4165-4549-2 (978-1-4165-4549-1)

Library of Congress Classification: PS3561.A5534

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Life–Comic books, strips, etc.
Hell–Comic books, strips, etc.

This is brilliant.

Edmund and Rosemary are a married couple that decide to go for a walk one Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. They come to the conclusion that the world is truly an ugly, unhappy place. People on cell phones, lousy movies, chain stores offering no health care, evil corporations, traffic everywhere–there was no respite. It is at this point that Edmund and Rosemary conclude that they are living in Hell.

Of course everyone assures them that they are not, in fact, living in Hell. They contact their governmental representatives and end up talking to a spineless, top governmental official in D.C. who confirms that they are, indeed, in Hell. Anyone who discovers that we live is Hell is given a huge lottery win as hush money. And so Edmund and Rosemary start their new lives, but find that they still aren’t happy.

This is a wonderful little book to read on those days when the world seems worse than usual. Edmund and Rosemary are those of us who just get fed up with the world and want a way to escape–but there is no escape, so what do we do to make ourselves feel better?

Read the book. The line drawings only add to the fun.

Dan Piraro, Bizarro Heroes

(2016-04-19 001)Title: Bizarro Heroes

Author: Dan Piraro

Publication Information: San Francisco, CA: Last Gasp, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-867-19756-3

Library of Congress Classification: PN6727.P47

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Superheroes–Comic books, strips, etc.
American wit and humor, Pictorial

I found this book in P!Q in Grand Central Terminal on the way to work. I laughed my head off.

Cartoonist Dan Piraro draws a comic online called Bizarro. This book must be cartoons culled from the title. I had never heard of Bizarro, but the book has some great cartoons in it. One captioned “Spiderman Walking His Dog” (2016-04-19 002)shows an ordinary street scene with people walking down the street. Up in the right hand corner is a dog on a least who is choking. Apparently Spiderman doesn’t “walk” his dog but zips around on his webs, dragging poor Fido with him. In another, the Joker strikes again at the diner, where Batman and Robin are eating and Batman has discovered that the top of the salt shaker has been loosened.

I liked the book so much that I bought one for a friend of mine. This is just a fun book that will make you laugh.

John Palfrey, Biblio Tech: Why Libraries Matter More than Ever in the Age of Google

(2016-01-08 001)Title: Biblio Tech: Why Libraries Matter More than Ever in the Age of Google

Author: John Palfrey

Publication Information: New York: Basic Books, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-465-04299-9

Library of Congress Classification: Z674.75 .I58

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Libraries and the Internet.
Libraries–Social aspects–United States.
Library information networks.
Libraries and electronic publishing.
Library users–Effect of technological innovations on.
Librarians–Effect of technological innovations on.
Digital preservation.

Here’s another book by a non-librarian telling us how valuable librarians and libraries are if they’d just change what they are doing.

There is no denial that technology is changing the world. Where it used to be changing computers every 5 years was a necessity, it is now every 3 years or even sooner. How things are being done now will probably be different in another 5 or even 10 years. Library science has been one of the hardest hit professions by technology.

The reality is that librarians have been doing lots with nothing for decades. Since I started in the library field as a page in the 1980s, I’ve watched positions be eliminated; job titles are merged with people with other jobs, so that for every two or three positions eliminated, maybe one would be created. Now the jobs that are created did not even exist five years ago. All over the country, colleges and universes are being corporatized; what doesn’t make money is not important.

And here is where libraries find themselves, like others in the non-profit sector: what functions libraries perform does not make money. Libraries are not self-sustaining and only take tax money to provide services to everyone in the community. This is the idea behind libraries. In the corporate view, providing services with no remuneration makes no sense.

Palfrey mentions the Digital Public Library (DPLA) and how the digitization of so many image and written works has caused some people to fear that libraries truly will disappear because the support for them will erode when faced with the DPLA (p. 103-105). What Palfrey is saying is that libraries will not disappear, but that they must start cooperating more than ever and evolve into platforms that will make them even more indispensable. And this is his whole argument: libraries must change to not only survive but thrive and fill a necessary niche in the future.

Librarians know that the printed book will not remain the be-all and end-all of libraries. That idea went out two decades ago. Just what, exactly, the library of the future will be is the big question. Palfrey does make the case for the librarian as helpful researcher for patrons in the future.

What Palfrey is arguing isn’t bad, but how do we “reinvent” libraries? Who will do it? The administrators who have no idea what the value of libraries are, or people who truly value what libraries have to offer? He offers ten points to redefine libraries (p. 226-228), which are food for thought.

This book has certainly got me thinking.


Jenn McKinlay, On Borrowed Time

(2015-01-17 005)Title: On Borrowed Time

Author: Jenn McKinlay

Series: A Library Lover’s Mystery, book 5

Publication Information: New York: Berkeley Prime Crime, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-425-26073-9

Library of Congress Classification: PS3556.R45

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Norris, Lindsay (Fictitious character)—Fiction
Briar Creek (Conn. :  Fictitious place)—Fiction
Library directors—Fiction
Public libraries—Fiction
Man-woman relationships–Fiction

This is the fifth book in A Library Lover’s Mystery series.

Lindsay Norris is the public library director of Briar Creek, Connecticut, a small New England town. She lives in an apartment with her dog, Heathcliff, and is part of a love triangle with local taxi boat captain, Mike Sullivan, and recently arrived (and married) British actor, Robbie Vine.

The town is preparing for Christmas. The library is decorated, and we get to meet the locals as the book progresses. Beth, the children’s librarian, is one of Lindsay’s best friends. Unfortunately, Beth also has a thing for Lindsay’s brother, Jack. Jack is an economist; he travels the world having one adventure (or misadventure, depending on your point of view) after another as he helps companies across the globe.

Jack sneaks into the library through and open window and Lindsay discovers him. Of course Jack doesn’t come right out and tell her that he’s in trouble. That would be too easy. He promises to tell her everything after he takes a nap. Lindsay was going to use the room for her library book club, but Jack’s presence causes her to move the meeting to another room.

Lindsay later finds the body of someone she doesn’t know in the room, and Jack is now missing. She does not tell the police the entire story of what happened, and she ends up getting Mike and–to a lesser extent–Robbie involved in the case. Mike and Lindsay witness Jack’s abduction by speedboat. Then Lindsay is threatened not to tell the police or her brother would be killed.

Beth is an interesting character. As a librarian responsible for teenage programming, she gets dressed up in a steampunk outfit to lead a teenage group in a get-together at the local restaurant. She’ a bit eclectic, and these are the types of characters that I like. To an extent she marches to her own drum and doesn’t care what others think. The book includes book club members’ recipes, one of which is Beth’s.

The love triangle isn’t something that I can relate to, since I’ve never been in one. Mike and Robbie do compete for Lindsay’s attention, and try to one-up each other. Robbie is only married for convenience and promises to divorce his wife.

It’s Christmas time and the library is decorated, but there really isn’t a feel for the holiday. The only time that Christmas comes into the picture is when Lindsay debates on whether or not to tell her parents what happened to Jack; the family is supposed to get together for the holiday.

As for Jack, eh. He’s just another pretty boy. It’s stretching reality to believe that archaeologists could live the life of Indiana Jones let alone economists. I sympathize with poor Beth, who’s bound to get burned in one of the upcoming novels.

Gary Denis, Sleepy Hollow: Birth of a Legend

(2015-11-24 001)Title: Sleepy Hollow: Birth of a Legend

Author: Gary Denis

Publication Information: Patuxent River, MD: The Author, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-511-64546-1

Library of Congress Classification: PS2067 .A1

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Irving, Washington, 1783-1859. Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow (N.Y.)—History
Tarrytown (N.Y.)—History

Note: I was sent a copy of this book by the author for review. I had hoped to get this review out before Halloween, but I have been swamped with school work.

This book was researched at the Historical Society. I mentioned it to Sara and she told me that Denis had come in to do extensive research. It has historical photographs and drawings to illustrate the text. This is about the background of Irving’s story, the real locations mentioned as well as the real people whom Irving might have based his characters upon. This is a book for true fans, like me,  of Irving’s story.

I had written blog entries (here, here. and here) about my search for the possible locations where the original Headless Horseman Bridge had been located. This generated a bit of interest. Denis discusses the location as well as pointing out that there were bridges built before the current bridge, constructed in 1912 with funds from William Rockefeller. Denis uses a different map than I did, but the bend in the Pocantico River that curved up and around the Old Dutch Church, is also on it, indicating that the old bridge was further east. When Route 9 was straightened, the course of the Pocantico was also changed.

Denis discusses many local landmarks, including: Andre’s tree, Sunnyside (Irving’s home), the Headless Horseman’s grave (an aerial photo with an X marking the spot where he might be buried), the mill pond at Philipsburg Manor, and mills and mill stones along the Pocantico. There are other topics discussed, among them: the Van Tassels, Ichabod Crane (the colonel whose name Irving used for his schoolmaster), Ichabod’s flight on Gunpowder, Brom Bones and the person (or persons) he was based upon, and the local families whose surnames start with Van.

This is a fun book. I enjoyed reading it. It gets you thinking about what Irving used to craft his tale, and the changes he made–which today would be called “literary license.”