An Embarrassment of Riches

An Embarrassment of Riches is a blog about the best the library has to offer. From audio books to movies, from novels to zines, library staff and guest bloggers will tell you about their latest library discoveries. Read. Watch. Listen. Chat.

Oregon sign

Photo: Oregon Department of Transportation

I visited again and again. I loved it.  I moved. 

People move to Portland for an assortment of reasons.  Access to nature, food, a slower pace from larger cities, and for some, the opportunity to grow a beard without abandon. Personally, I can't grow a beard, but three out of four isn't bad.

Chuck Palahniuk's Fugitives and Refugees fueled my early Rose City explorations. However, I quickly discovered there was so much more.  The stories of Oregon have something for everyone.  Want a true crime thriller? Try Sky Jack by Geoffery Gray.  It reopens the case of  hijacker D.B. Cooper who, in 1971, parachuted from a Northwest Orient Airlines jet with $200,000 cash. For a fictionalized version of the story, there's William Sullivan's The Case of D.B. Cooper's Parachute. How about a trip down to Corvallis to investigate the fascinating life of Edmund Creffield and fanatical following that would rather be forgotten in Holy Rollers?  Perhaps settling in with an Oregon classic is more your taste? Below is a sampling of interesting Oregon histories.  If you'd like more like these or any other recommendations you can always ask me.

The stack by the bedOh, hello. Remember my stack thing from last month? This is my friend Joanna's stack by her bed.  She is one of the kindest and most generous people I know. When my then teenaged daughter went away to college leaving a gigantic mess of a bedroom behind, Joanna helped me excavate for an entire day. We quit when we got to the almost empty bottle of raspberry vodka. Here's what Joanna says about the stack by her bed:

I have an obsessive thing happening now with infographics. Information that is presented in ways that are visually pleasing is, um, pleasing. Entertaining is Fun!  is a reprint from 1941. I love advice books about entertaining, particularly from past decades. I was kind of disappointed by Swan Gondola. I loved How About Never --Is Never Good for You?  (so irreverent) and Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?  (surprisingly sad). It's extremely rare that there's not a single young adult fiction title in my stack. But [confession time] I bought an   e-reader a few months ago and have Code Name Verity and More All-of-a-Kind Family downloaded and ready to read. [E-reader not included in stack.]

 

bungalow1928. Our Portland house was built in 1928. As an east coast girl growing up in the suburbs, I couldn't imagine living in a house that was built in 1928. That's just so OLD. Then life brought me to Portland, and to the lovely story book cottage that we now call home. It was already a work in progress when I arrived, and the finishing touches are being added as I type. The house has special meaning to my partner, and it has been his labor of love for ten years now. 

The move from the suburbs to the city has been challenging, invigorating, and enlightening in so many ways, but none so much, I think, than making the transition from newer house to older. Our house has great character. I know some of the history of who has lived in the house, and I love to sit in the living room in front of the fireplace on a cold winter's day imagining the daily interactions that used to take place in that very room. We are fortunate enough to have photos of the house in its earlier days, both inside and out, and those only fuel my imagination. Yes, we work hard to keep our home period correct, and it is an ongoing (and sometimes messy and expensive) project, but the feeling that I get when I walk in the door at the end of the day is nothing I ever experienced in my homes in the suburbs. This old house welcomes me with its sturdy and strong arms, and I look forward to keeping them strong for decades to come.

Looking for more great old house resources? Uncover the history of your home at the library's House History page. You might enjoy Craftsman Bungalows: Designs from the Pacific Northwest. You can place a hold on that title here . And after doing all of that legwork, get busy renovating with our Do it yourself reading lists. Happy hunting!

Recently, I recommended some bead jewelry making books to a patron.  This inspired me to write about them.

Beads called my name back in 1992. They beckoned me over to look at them and dress them up with wire, filigree and clasps or earhooks. They are a comfort to me. Hours of joy is bestowed upon me when I spend time with them.  A friend taught me how to manipulate wire, beads and findings together to make necklaces and earrings when I visited her in San Francisco.

Over the years I have heard people talk about their bead obsession: they call it an addiction, a hobby, and a disease. I think of it as a healthy hobby. A hobby that lets the mind relax and stay in the present moment while crafting.

I am mostly a jewelry maker that likes to wire wrap. I essentially connect beads together with wire and connectors. I have also worked with crimp beads and soft flex wire (a type of string) and strung beads together.  And the newest thing I have tried with beads is bead embroidery which is stitching or hand sewing beads onto fabric or fabric forms.  

So of course, I have a list for you if you want to explore the world of beading and wire-wrapping. Have fun!

book image of victorian chaise longueMarghanita Laski is an author not much talked about, but who has an enormous talent for writing a gripping novel. Her books vary in their subject, but all keep you turning pages. If you are looking for an emotional thriller, you will find Little Boy Lost will do a fine job of suspense while pulling at your heart. But if psychological thriller is more your bag, try Multnomah County Library’s new acquisition The Victorian Chaise-Longue. And yes America, it is longue and not lounge—see here for explanation. It is similar to that Charlotte Perkins Gilman classic The Yellow Wallpaper. A well-kept wife decides to take a nap on the newly obtained antique only to find herself waking in a very different world. At first she tries to believe she is dreaming, but then the terror grows when she realizes she is awake and not in her own body. Will she wake from this nightmare? How will she cope? How will it end?

Like Laski, there are other grande dames of the psychological thriller genre who have been quietly ignored by history. Rediscover them here.

Plover bookjacket"I think everything that ever happened to us is resident inside your head and heart and often you just need the right key to get it out -- a snatch of song, and angle of light, a taste, a smell, a tone of laughter..."

This quote by Brian Doyle aptly describes what happens in his latest book The Plover. Though one reviewer accused the book of being 'plotless', really the main character's thoughts, the accumulation of all that he learns and sees as he floats around on his sailboat, seemingly aimlessly, is the plot.

The Plover is the story of Declan, who flees society to sail around the world with only his thoughts and his beloved author, Edmund Burke, for company. Starting with a persistent gull (yes, another sentient bird!) he is obliged to take on passenger after passenger and has to adjust both his physical and mental space to make room for each one. From a father and his injured daughter to a larger-than-life woman and a singing shiphand, each subsequent passenger challenges Declan to emerge from his introspective life.

The storyline is often meandering, evoking the meditative state of being on water, of being on long journey and having time to ponder whatever comes to mind. There were many times when a plot point was introduced, and I thought with a certain dread, 'this isn't going to end well'; but Doyle resists cliche. Even though the people on board are tormented, Doyle treats both them and the reader with compassion.

If you enjoy meditative reads that make you think, stories rich in language and a sense of place and all things sea and sailing, this might be the book for you.

The Illusion of Separateness book jacketOn a muddy World War II battlefield a young soldier happens upon the enemy, shoving a gun in the terrified man’s mouth. In 2010 Los Angeles a newly arrived nursing home resident drops dead at his welcome party. In 1960’s rural France a young boy excitedly shows his classmate the ruins of a burned-out German plane. A pair of young lovers has their picture taken at Coney Island in 1942. A blind woman in the Hamptons in 2005 yearns for someone to love.

What do these people have in common? Nothing at first glance but then again that is the illusion of separateness. In a world that is vast and often alienating it is comforting to think we are somehow all connected – that like the idea of six degrees of separation we don’t have to go too far to find our footing or to appreciate the intricate twists and turns that got us here. More than a series of linked short stories, Simon Van Booy’s delicate novel is a world slowly revealed, where discoveries are made, connections are forged and the reader is part detective, part voyeur and part conspirator.

Beautifully written, with fascinating characters readers will grow increasingly attached to, The Illusion of Separateness depicts a world that will stay in the reader’s mind long after the book is closed.

Kitty cats. We love them. They power the internet (proof). The little dears surely deserve their crystal goblets of Fancy Feast, don’t they?  Or is that a more malign glint I see in that crescent-pupiled eye?

House dvd coverThe most unhinged, bats-in-the-belfry-surreal cat movie of all time has to be House (Hausu), a must-see for all crazy cat ladies (and men) in training. In this cult film from Japan, high school girl Gorgeous is upset when her father introduces her to his new fiancee - perhaps understandably so, since the fiancee enters in a white dress that conveniently streams in the wind every time the camera settles on her. Outraged at this soft-focus replacement for her dearly departed mother, Gorgeous plans a summer vacation to her aunt’s country house instead of with her father. She takes comfort in the companionship of a white cat named Blanche who has mysteriously appeared in her room at the same time as her aunt agrees to host her.  All her friends, who have unlikely names like Fantasy, Prof, Mac, Kung-Fu, Melody, and Sweet, are invited, and they think nothing of it when Blanche appears on the train. But when they arrive at the aunt’s house, she is a little too eager to see them, and they begin to be killed off one by one.  The cat starts shooting green lasers from its eyes, pianos eat people, mattresses swallow others, and then things really get weird.

Part of the joy of the film is in its unabashed use of the most cheesy, improbable special effects - it really must be seen to be believed, and even then you still won’t believe it. What’s that, Puff? You need me to bike home from Fred Meyer with a can of tuna and 20 lbs of litter on my back? At your service, my feline overlord, at your service.

You know how it feels when you are in love with new music or a book, and you feel all exultant that this is yours, yours, yours? That’s how I am loving the new tUnE-yArDs CD, Nikki Nack, like a dragon loves his treasure, like cookie monster loves his cookies. The only reason I’m  telling you about it is that I actually bought it, because otherwise I wouldn’t want you to put it on hold and take it away from me.

The tUnE-yArDs is largely the work of one person, Merrill Garbus. She plays most of the instruments and does all the singing, including back-up vocals. You can hear the single here.

The music is amazingly interesting, a wild and free mix of R & B, Haitian rhythms, children’s music (with a dark side), pop, punk, and a lot of sampling and repetitive sounds. It sometimes veers close to Captain Beefheart’s and Ornette Coleman’s disjointedness-- which I actually don’t like-- but it doesn’t quite cross that line. It’s unusual, but catchy, even in its strangeness, and you know what?-- you can dance to it, too. Garbus’s  voice is the most powerful instrument she has. It sounds to me like my own voice in my head, sometimes sweet and melodic, sometimes ragged and atonal, and sometimes a roar. She’s playful, brave, and astonishing. There’s even an interlude in the middle, a sweet little story about eating children which comes to a much quicker and more hedonistic rationale for cannibalism than Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal.

Have a listen!

Lan Su Chinese GardenLan Su Chinese Garden is on a city block downtown. Most of us only go there when we have out of town visitors, traipsing through and taking photos. I have a membership and love to go there often. A visit to Lan Su truly complements a reader’s life.*  Here’s what you might do in the garden:

1. Sit in a cozy spot and read.

Benches in gazebos or rocks by a pool are so cozy, and everyone else will ignore you. When you get up, rest your eyes on the many shapes and textures, and breathe deeply--fragrant plants are in bloom year round.

2. Get the feel of the inner courtyards, gardens and rocky landscapes featured in books about China.

I just finished Amy Tan’s Valley of Amazement, which sweeps through several settings in old China and sometimes takes place in a scholar’s quarters.  The Garden is also known as a scholar’s garden and has many of the objects I read about on display.

3. Enjoy the brush paintings, script and poetry on the walls and even inscribed in the wood.

Maples in the Mist is a great intro to contemplative poetry for kids and adults. There are also occasional live demos of brush painting and poetry readings.

4. Enjoy music, tea, and treats in the teahouse.

Perhaps you’ll be reading The Garden of Evening Mists, a moving story set on a tea plantation, as you sample the many varieties available. Check the calendar for music times.

5. Find wonderful Chinese-themed books for children and adults in the bookstore.

And, as a bonus, if you love to read cookbooks, look for the cooking demos throughout June.

*There are usually a few free days in January.

Still Point of the Turning WorldI recently read The Still Point of the Turning World and was blown away by it. It's a memoir by Emily Rapp whose son was born suffering from Tay-Sachs disease, a horrible, rare genetic disease that causes a progressive deterioration of nerve cells and mental and physical abilities resulting in death before a child turns four. The author has written a powerful, beautiful, devastating book about every parent's worst fear. Actually devastating doesn't even begin to describe how it felt to read this book. In many parts, I had a difficult time deciphering the words through my tears. Even now as I write this, I find myself with tears in my eyes. This book is the story of Emily's son, Ronan, and so much more. It's about philosophy, poetry, literature, and the question of how to live a mortal life.

I was totally immersed in The Still Point of the Turning World and when I finished it in one afternoon, I came up gasping for air and thought about my own son. He's 24-years old and just moved away last December to start his new post-college life in Ann Arbor. I'm happy and sad about it. And I know how lucky I am to be able to still have a son no matter how far away he might be living. . .

[Emily Rapp has also written Poster Child, her story about being born with a congenital defect that required the amputation of her entire leg below the knee; it's at Poster Childthe top of the stack of books by my bed that I'll be reading soon. On a brighter note - Emily gave birth to a baby daughter on March 8th. I hope that she won't need to write a heartbreaking memoir ever again.]

 

 

 

woman in front of nyc public library

Can you recommend a good book?  

This may seem like a contrived ploy to plug our My Librarian and Reading suggestion services, but I'm serious.  Everything I pick up these days misses the mark.

At the moment a so-so mystery/thriller is filling in for the right title. However, that's not enough. I need an inspired, page turning book.  One that makes me cling to every page with the hope that more will magically appear to give more time with the characters. A bit dramatic? Sure, but you get the point.  

Luckily, there’s an answer to such dark literary times.  Nothing new, borrowed, or blue is gonna fix this.  Something old?  I think so. It's time for a  book so good, so familiar, that only the magic of the emotional bond between reader and a beloved story will do.  Perhaps an old favorite will jump start my book rut.

Hello old friend.

 One of my favorite sub-genres is a secret no longer. What was once a small specific mash-up of genre fiction sprinkled among a few authors and anthologies has blossomed into a renaissance of books, comics, and films. The Weird Western has its roots in classic pulp paperbacks and magazines (Robert E. Howard, Lon Williams, and Charles G. Finney) where authors who wrote with familiar tropes and themes of the western tale started to incorporate supernatural, speculative, ancient mythological, and even robotic fibers into their yarns. Unfortunately, in terms of content and what is available today with the e-boom of self-publishing, there are quite a few six-guns that should have remained holstered. This gold rush of stories has also expanded the arm of steampunk fiction, which has usually been contained within the constantly fluctuating threshold of science-fiction-fantasy. I’ve never been a huge fan of steampunk. I’ve read and liked a few original authors, but there is no denying that when it comes to Weird Westerns, that universe and it’s facets, without question, adds flair and substance to many creations on the Ranch.

So, every other month, in order to get you through the shutter doors of the saloon slinging the best whiskey, I’ll help you wade through the muck that has appeared near the hitchin’ post right outside...This month on the Ranch I highlight two collections that share the same title.

Just released is the anthology Dead Man’s Hand, edited by John Joseph Adams. Short stories are the backbone of the genre despite many successful and original novels and this new title has some heavyweights including Joe Lansdale, one of the patriarchs of the Weird Western tale, Alastair Reynolds, Orson Scott Card, Kelley Armstrong, and Jonathan Maberry. The Tad Williams story “Strong Medicine” recalls the enjoyable stop-motion film Valley of the Gwangi.  Despite leaning more towards fantasy and alternate history over horror, Adams has nonetheless roped some wonderful tales.

The other Dead Man’s Hand, by Nancy A. Collins, was published in 2004 and contains three novellas, two short stories, and an intro by, who else? Joe Lansdale. Known for her Sonja Blue series and most recent Golgotham books, Collins adds old and new elements to her offerings. I particularly liked “Lynch,” with its contribution to the Frankenstein legacy, and I have a personal attachment to the darker Dia De Los Muertos story “Calaverada.” This title is a softer addition to the canon but a worthy collection and perfect for the entry-level Weird Western reader.

If you like these titles or the booklists below, send me a message and I will provide a more thorough bibliography (or filmography) of other great Weird Westerns. Other booklists and reviews in the next roundup, happy reading!

"Donald Harington is not an unkown author.  He is an undiscovered continent."- Fred Chappell

Just as with the early settlers who arrived on saddle bagged mules, only to say with a shrug, ‘Pears lak this here road don't go no further' and start falling trees, the mythical Ozark hamlet of Stay More was not my planned travel destination. I love books that take me places, but the Arkansas Ozarks just wasn’t on my itinerary. All it took however, was one chance encounter with a book titled With to quickly realize that this was a travel destination beyond compare.

The town of Stay More is strongly rooted in the real history and folklore of the Ozarks and just as solidly established in the vast imagination of little-known author, Donald Harington. Harington has written thirteen novels set in this town where animals talk, ghosts provide companionship to the living and the local doctor, who despite his lack of formal medical training, is able to cure patients in their dreams.

I recently traveled back to Stay More with The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks. Using architecture as a marker, the novel lays out the history of Stay More from the founding of the town by the Ingledew brothers in the 1830s, through six generations of Stay Morons up to the 1970s. Along the way, Harington's voice, like Waylon Jennings narrating the Dukes of Hazzard, injects countless lessons in folklore, history and linguistics; some of them true, some appropriated, some entirely made up and all of them fantastically entertaining.

Donald Harington's Stay More might not be everyone's ideal travel destination, but if you enjoy masterful storytelling, bawdy humor and philosophical conversation written in a dialogue that you really must read aloud, (preferably with a swig of Arkansas sour mash whiskey), then you will most certainly find yourself stayin' more.

I was born in 1954. 

Here is Elvis bookjacketa snapshot of that year:

Elvis Presley paid to have his first two songs recorded in Memphis.                                                                                                                                    

The average cost of gas was twenty two cents and Lassie and Rin Tin Tin were keeping us safe from the bad guys.                                                                              

There was a new trend called DIY that encouraged citizens to decorate their own homes and fix own their cars through magazines like Popular Mechanics and Better Homes and Gardens .

It was also an exceptional  publishing year with modern classics likeHorton Hears a Who by Dr.Seuss and Live and Let Die by ex-British Spy Ian Fleming.

When I read the list of books that were published the year I was born it was like seeing a snapshot of my own personal history. For example, my dad carried a copy of Ian Fleming's books in his black metal lunch box to read at work. Among the piles of book we brought home from the library every week there were always at least one or two by Dr. Seuss. The families we knew traded stories and ideas for fixing up their hoHorton bookjacketuses and gardens and cooking with new and interesting ingredients, among them Jello.

Wondering what books were published the year you were born and what they might tell about your personal history snapshot? I would love to make you a list.

cover image of year of pleasuresI just read Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg for the third time. What books do you re-read? Is it a yearly thing or on an as-needed basis?

I read Year of Pleasures when I am feeling sad. Betta Nolan, the main character, is a recent widow (which you find out in the first few pages). She and her husband had planned to move from Boston Massachusetts to the midwest. John, her husband, requests that she still move to the midwest after he passes. Betta doesn’t disappoint and moves to a small midwestern town.

Elizabeth Berg is a bestselling writer because she knows how to tell a story. She finds all the intimate places of a character's mind. She knows what makes them tick. And what makes them ticked off! Her characters start over or refurbish their lives. At the same time they notice the simple pleasures of life. She is one of my most favorite authors. I look forward to her books every year. While Year of Pleasures is sad, it honors and celebrates those beautiful parts of the parade of life. Check it out!

Portland author Nicole Mones’ novels are so interesting. You get well-developed characters, a bit of romance, and good writing, but you also get to share in her wealth of knowledge including, but not limited to, all things Chinese. Ms. Mones owned a textile business for many years that required her to spend a lot of time in China. Between that and the research she's done for her books, she is such an expert on China that she’s now a member of  the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Her novel, A Cup of Light is full of information about Chinese porcelain, and The Last Chinese Chef offers an introduction to the fascinating philosophy that guides Chinese cuisine.

Her new book, Night in Shanghai, introduced me to an astonishingly interesting and vivid city. Shanghai in the 1930s was an open port, with a thriving International District. It was full of money, jazz clubs, dangerous women and political intrigue. Communists jockeyed for position against Chiang Kai-Shek’s Nationalist party, powerful crime gangs fought each other, and the Japanese army had long been an increasingly menacing presence in the city. Black American jazz musicians came in multitudes because in China, they could escape from the racism and segregation they left behind in the United States and could earn a fair living. Shanghai also came to be a haven for Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, mostly because of one man, Ho Feng-Shan, a Chinese diplomat in Vienna. Jews were desperate to flee Austria, but no one was issuing visas for Jews anymore, and they were not allowed to leave without a visa. Shanghai, as an open port, did not require visas, but in order to help thousands of Jews escape, Ho set his staff to creating fake ones, as fast as they could, in spite of the fact that his superiors were ordering him to stop. His heroic actions didn’t do much for his career, but he is still honored in Israel for them.

In this exciting city, a  romance blossoms between Thomas Greene, a classically trained pianist turned jazz musician, and Song, an indentured servant and secret communist.  It’s ever more obvious that World War II is coming, and as Japan allies with Germany against the United States, we wonder if Greene will get out in time, and will Song go with him, or if she’ll stay in China to fight with the communists. And what will happen to all those Jews who have found refuge in Shanghai now that Germany is demanding that the "Jewish Problem" is addressed there?

Mones writes beautifully in this book about music, how it feels to improvise, and how music can change the world. More Portlanders should know about this local author. Give her books a try!

Remember Mary Stewart?  She may be best known for her Merlin Trilogy, which I devoured in school.  Recently however, her other novels have been re-released as rediscovered classics. These rediscovered classics involve a female heroine, an exotic locale, a little bit of mystery, and a gentle romance. They are just the thing for reading whilst on holiday, commuting on mass transit, are something fun and light for those summer days, and cozy enough for a winter evening.  In short, they are just about perfect anytime, anywhere. cover image of Wildfire at Midnight

Several of these novels are now available with new cover designs, but my current favorite is Wildfire at Midnight. A young divorcée from London escapes to a remote hotel in Scotland for a much needed break and discovers that not only has there been a strange murder on the nearby mountain Blaven, but one of the hotel’s guests is none other than her estranged husband. Some holiday!

Look into the futureI have friends who are political junkies who count the days between each Presidential election. That’s four years of waiting filled with competitive yet non-athletic bluster, bloated hypocrisy, and stagnant idealism, not including the Congressional races. But I do know how they feel, because the cruel disappointment and heartbreak forced onto me by twenty-one years of loyalty to Newcastle United FC, fractured Yugoslavian teams, and U.S.A. soccer is lifted every four years with the angelic arrival of the holiest of holies in all of sport: the World Cup. Somehow, before, during, and after this soccer celebration, politics, both governmental and athletic (FIFA is no secret to controversy) always seem to pervade the social and cultural unification of the games no matter the host country. In 2014, inside the fascinating world of Brazil, this impending party-crasher will be no different.

Government corruption, political demonstrations, martial law, election scandals, destructive floods, terrorist bombings, and kidnapping. These issues are everyday and commonplace around the globe. For twenty-five days this summer, however, these same problems currently presenting hardship in nations represented within the Cup will briefly stand aside to the enthusiasm, optimism, and allegiance of the Beautiful Game. Floods and landslides in the Balkans will further motivate Croatia and first-timers Bosnia-Herzegovina. The mass kidnapping and subsequent bombings in Nigeria should emphatically inspire the Super Eagles. Russia will undoubtedly be playing harder than ever in proud fashion to prove they can adequately host the next Cup. Yet it is Brazil and it’s society’s turbulent clashes over the expenditures of hosting both the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics versus the lack of basic human social programs that face the toughest scrutiny. If ever the host country was to win it all at home, the Canarinho would be wise to do it this year. Teams representing countries in the news, especially negative news, tend to play harder with more passion and a greater sense of urgency. That’s when timeless moments occur and with one kick, an exhale or a blink, the entire conscience of an impoverished nation can be instantaneously and collectively transformed into pure hope and bliss. This is the power that gives names to snapshots such as “The Hand of God,” “Goal of the Century,” and the “Miracle of Bern.” Slayer of Lions

It seems that each day the news is consistently full of sorrow rather than smiles, but teams such as Nigeria, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and flamboyant host Brazil will all be trying to erase the crushing adversity pervading their societies (as of this post) for at least a brief ninety minutes. And every team desires as many successive ninety minute chances as possible, for each match pulls them one step closer to lifting not only the World Cup trophy, but glory for their country and symbolic spiritual triumph over the perpetual numbness of suffering. So soak it in as much as possible I say, it goes by quickly. Samba till you just can’t stand up anymore.

 

Adventure Time, a cartoon series created by Pendleton Ward on Cartoon Network, could easily be a favorite for all members of your family. Your kids might like how creative and goofy it is and you might appreciate some of the positive messages and varied references. Watch Finn, a human boy, and his shape-shifting brother/dog, Jake, save or be saved by friends in the land of Oo and other dimensions.

One of my favorite episodes,“Box Prince,” is about how Finn and Jake project their views of an ordered society onto a group of cats that appear to be living in the Box Kingdom. Who is the true Box Prince? If you look closely you might catch references to My Neighbor Totoro and the internet cat celebrity Maru. That season hasn't been released yet on DVD, but seasons one, two, and three, are ready to go.

I love the range of immature (fart) jokes to adult-ish jokes (Jake calls sweat pants "'give up on life' pants.") I can appreciate that it's a kid’s show with strong female characters and endless amounts of cute and colorful animation. Watching an episode of Adventure Time can be some of the best 11 minutes of my life.

If you’re just starting the first season, why not also read the first volume of the comic at the same time? The comic is cleverly written by Ryan North, author of Dinosaur Comics, whose humor remains true to AT style.

The DVD Adventure Time: It Came from the Nightosphere is a must watch for people who want to hear some indie pop. Sure, Finn can auto-tune like the best of them, but don’t miss out on one of Marceline the Vampire Queen’s best hits, “The Fry Song.”

If you could use a shake up, check out the graphic novel, Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake, a comic based off the episode “Fionna & Cake.” In this alternate version, all the main characters change genders and the characters are so good you wish it was a regular thing.

Whether want to share something with your kid/teen or you want to nurture your inner child, Adventure Time is worth checking out.

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