Blogs: Adults

I love the screwball, slapstick, fast-talking romantic comedies of the first half of the 20th Century. Wild dream sequences? Triangles? Ridiculous misunderstandings? Yes please!

The Miracle of Morgans Creek poster

I’m slowly working my way through a perhaps-too-academic study of the genre, Romantic Comedy in Hollywood from Lubitsch to Sturges by James Harvey. It relates what I always suspected: the best directors of the era felt duty-bound to “get really dirty jokes into [their] script or picture, and to get away with them.”

Lubitsch and Sturges were probably the all-time champions of this sneaky ribaldry. The 1944 New York Times review of the wartime comedy The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek begins by marvelling that Sturges got its “irrepressible impudence” past the Hays office, and, after relating the bold content of the film, concludes that “he made the film so innocently amusing, so full of candor, that no one could take offense.”

What might this bold content be? Betty Hutton plays Trudy Kockenlocker (that's right, Kockenlocker), who goes out for a night on the town to support the troops and gets hit on the head, then gets married. The next day she can't remember the name of the soldier who she got hitched to. And she's pregnant.

So, in less coy terms, this is a frothy 1944 comedy about a small town girl who gets drunk and knocked up. The performances are excellent, with Eddie Bracken and William Demarest rounding out the cast as Hutton’s hapless paramour and harried father, respectively.

We own The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek in our streaming video service Hoopla. So while we don’t have the DVD, you can watch it right this second. New to Hoopla? Check out our Getting started page.

And for more in sophisticated risqué viewing, from the falling of walls of Jericho between Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable to the wholesome sexiness of Doris Day bottling ketchup, take a look at the list Romantic comedies with a double dash of sass.

Parlor Games book jacketWelcome to our new blogger Carol, who says this about herself: I read widely and profusely, propelled by a natural curiosity about everything under the sun and the belief that for me there is no better place to be than living inside a good book.  I have deep love for all things fiction and could not imagine my life without any of the works of Nevil Shute, Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited or Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, just to name a few.

It’s 1917 and May Dugas is on trial for extortion. Did she take the money? Well, May Dugas has been taking money all her life! From her early years working in a Chicago bordello to her financially rewarding marriage to a Dutch baron, May has earned her living being the arm candy of some very rich men. May is the ultimate social climber, blackmailer and seductress, skills she developed and utilized in the name of supporting her family. But despite all her scheming, May doesn't plan on the dogged determination of Reed Doherty, a Pinkerton detective who has tracked her across the globe, from Chicago to San Francisco, to Tokyo and London and parts in-between and finally to a Wisconsin courtroom where May must finally answer for her supposed crimes.

Based on an extraordinary true story, Portland writer Maryka Biaggio’s Parlor Games is a non-stop global chase, a thrill ride whose last stop isn’t revealed until the very last second. Cold-hearted grifter or resourceful family provider. When the gavel comes down in that courtroom, will May Dugas finally meet her match?

Profile picture, ReadWomen2014When writer and artist Joanna Walsh created a set of women author bookmarks she was surprised by the positive response from friends. In a Buzzfeed article, "#ReadWomen2014 Aims To Bring Gender Equality To The Literary World" Walsh said, "the bookmarks were created because I’d been too lazy to send Christmas cards, and was shamed into it by the beautiful cards I was sent, especially by illustrator friends.” As her project gained fans, she went on to create a twitter hashtag, #ReadWomen2014, to promote a year of reading women authors.

Since Walsh published her original list, many people have added their own spin to #ReadWomen2014. Here at Multnomah County Library, we decided to make a list with a selection of Northwest women authors, and Laural, a librarian here, created a list of women who create comics. Whose on your list?

 

 

Coraline Blu-rayMultnomah County Library now offers Blu-ray Discs for check-out. You can find a complete list by searching bluray as a keyword in My MCL. You can check out a combined total of 15 DVDs and Blu-ray Discs.

Blu-ray Discs are different from DVDs:

  • You will need a Blu-ray player or a computer with a Blu-ray drive to watch a Blu-ray Disc. Some game consoles (e.g. Xbox One, PS3 and PS4) support Blu-ray discs as well. Blu-ray Discs will not play in a DVD player.
  • Blu-rays are a high-definition (HD) format, but you must be using HDTV or a HD monitor to watch in HD. Blu-rays can be viewed on a conventional monitor, but quality will not be high-definition.

Are you looking for a specific title, but you can't find it? Ask the Librarian.

Do you own a small-business? One of the best ways to get tax information and help for your small business is by visiting the IRS Small Business Tax Center where you can learn everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online to how to best navigate an audit.

You can also call the IRS Business & Specialty Toll Free number at 1-800-829-4933, open Monday – Friday, 7:00 am – 7:00 pm.

The IRS began accepting 2013 business tax returns on Monday, January 13, 2014. This start date applies to both electronically-filed and paper-filed returns. The only exception is Form 1041 for Estates and Trusts, which cannot be filed until January 31. More information can be found in the IRS’ press release titled “Starting Jan. 13, 2014, Business Tax Filers Can File 2013 Returns.”

Once again, the library is here to help small businesses, so go ahead and contact us!

Every once in a while I come across a book that makes me feel as though the years I spent before reading it were half lived. Here are three books that were published long before I was born that opened my eyes up a little wider this year.

Dandelion Wine cover

Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine is sweet, brave, and precious. I use all three adjectives in the fullest sense of their meanings, and feel as though if anyone less honest and skilled than Bradbury had written this it would be treacle. In his hands, it's the magic and fear of childhood distilled.

In the 1935 noir novel about the era's dance marathons, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? what should be a pleasure becomes a horrific ordeal. Both a peek into a world that existed briefly and a point on a continuum of exploitation extending from Roman gladiators to Honey Boo Boo.

 

When I picked up Eugénie Grandet I expected exuberance and humor.

Instead I found something beautifully constrained and subtle. Balzac wrote with uncharacteristic somberness to tell the story of a girl whose life is stunted by her greedy father. This was only the second Balzac novel that I have read, and it revealed the scope of La Comédie humaine.

Welcome to our new blogger Azalea, who says this about herself: I have been a Multnomah County Library fanatic since moving to Portland in 2006 from San Diego, California. I love cookbooks, the author Elena Ferrante, books with kitty pictures, and that moment when I pick up a brand new or overwhelmingly popular item from the holds shelf.
 
Adobo Road Cookbook bookjacket
Like lots of Asian-American kids growing up, sometimes I got tired of eating rice at home and loved novelties like hamburgers and pizza. It was only when I moved away for college that I found myself missing comfort foods like arroz caldo, pancit palabok, and chicken barbecue. I missed those garlicky, savory, sour, and sweet flavors that exist somewhere near, but are not quite Chinese or Thai food. 
 
Years of making disappointing or unremarkable Filipino food ended the day I picked up The Adobo Road Cookbook by Marvin Gapultos. I found recipes that looked like they were just for me: Filipino spaghetti, homemade longanisa (breakfast sausage), a cocktail with calamansi juice, and more. So far, I'm most proud of becoming an expert at making some amazing lumpiang shanghai, which are egg rolls.
 
Browsing the new cookbooks page and discovering Adobo Road brought me closer to my culture and improved my culinary abilities. If you enjoy the complex flavors in Thai cuisine, want to explore a new food, or earn some bragging rights through cooking, check out Adobo Road.

 

Guest Blog Post by Janet Hawkins, Community Action Coordinator, Department of County Human ServicesTax Filing Services Can Save You Big $

It's tax time again!  And lots of consumers go into the marketplace looking for commercial tax preparation services or expensive on-line software for completing their tax forms. Unfortunately, it’s definitely a buyer beware situation out there. 

Don’t pay for expensive tax preparation software you may not need. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers free tax preparation software to individuals whose income is less than $58,000. Visit the IRS website at irs.gov to learn more about accessing the brand-name software that can be downloaded for e-filing. 

Be sure to avoid tax preparation companies that charge high fees or emphasize predatory tax refund offers. The National Consumer Law Center’s “2013 Report on Tax-Time Financial Products” reports that over 80% of American households receive a tax refund when they file their tax returns. This high refund rate has generated an industry geared toward taking advantage of low-income, working households. Many tax preparation companies have developed financial products like “refund anticipation” checks or loans as well as tax refund buying schemes to prey upon taxpayers who need immediate cash. Fees or interest charges for these financial services or products, which are typically deducted from the taxpayer’s refund, may end up costing hundreds of dollars.     

The National Consumer Law Center report also documents classic “bait and switch” practices like the company that charged twice as much for their services as had been advertised to consumers. Households with bank accounts are much better off to forgo the refund anticipation checks or refund buying schemes and wait for the IRS to electronically deposit their tax refund. The IRS refunds normally take only 21 days or less from the date of e-filing your tax return. 

What’s a taxpayer to do?  There are two reliable options for receiving free tax assistance in Multnomah County.

  • CASH Oregon is a non-profit organization that provides free tax assistance to consumers.  Worried about quality?  Their volunteer tax preparers are IRS trained and certified.  Visit their website to learn more: www.cashoregon.org
  • AARP Tax-Aide serves people of all ages.  They have a contract with IRS to provide tax preparation services in library branches, community centers, and other locations. Their volunteer preparers are also IRS trained and certified.  Call AARP at 1-888-227-7669 to find a free tax preparation site near you or visit www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide to learn more.

Need more information on local tax preparation resources?  Contact 211info, a local information and referral service, by calling 2-1-1. 211’s staff can provide more details on local services.

 

Recently Livemocha discontinued its service to libraries. The site lives on at livemocha.com but we no longer are able to offer free access to the higher-level lessons.

Are you looking for a new online resource for your intermediate or advanced language learning? 

You may want to look again at Mango, which you can access through our site with your library card. While many languages only have ‘Basic’ courses — introductions to common words and phrases — more and more include ‘Complete’ courses, with in-depth and comprehensive language and grammar exercises. Click on a languages to find out what is available. Yes, the popular languages of French and Spanish include the Complete option, but so do the not-so-widely studied languages of Farsi and Norwegian, so it is always worth checking your language of interest! There is also a Mango app that you can find in iTunes and Google Play. The app is convenient and fun, but does not offer the full range of Mango’s offerings.


Open Culture - Learn 46 languages

Many web sites include impressively advanced and helpful language learning resources. For a high-quality list of sites and podcasts by language, check out Open Culture’s Learn 46 Languages Online for Free.’ 

Looking for more, or for a language that is not listed there? Ask us, we can help!

When I was on a tour in Germany about ten years ago, we stopped at a viewpoint overlooking Nuremberg. While I was admiring the red roofs and the medieval architecture, I was surprised to learn that many of the buildings we were looking at had been bombed during World War II, but had been rebuilt to match the pre-war structures. In The Aftermath, a new historical novel by Rhidian Brook, Colonel Lewis Morgan is in charge of rebuilding Hamburg, a city that was heavily bombed during WWII. The British government has requisitioned a beautiful home for him in an unscathed area of the city and has informed the current owner, Stefan Lubert, that he and his daughter must move out. Lubert, an architect before the war, is now working at a menial job while he waits to be cleared as a "good German", one who was not heavily involved with the Nazis.  While Colonel Lewis is awaiting his wife and son's arrival in Germany, he decides that Lubert should stay and share the house with his family. His wife is NOT happy with that decision. Their older son was killed by a German bomb while playing in a house in Wales, and she is not ready to forgive the Germans or her husband, whom she partially blames, for that tragedy.  I was fascinated by Rhidian's stories of people in immediate post-war Germany, both the Germans and the British, and was touched by the humanity and forgiveness that shines through the characters. This novel, based on the post-war experiences of the author's grandfather, will stay with me for a long time.

For another historical novel featuring strange bedfellows, check out Burial Rites by Hannah Kent.  Based on the life of the last woman executed for a crime in Iceland, Kent tells the story of Agnes who, along with two others, is accused of murdering a man.  Because there are no suitable prisons in Iceland in the early 1800s, she is sent to live with a family on a remote farm until the time of her execution.  The waiting period of several months gives the characters a chance to adjust to each other and move from anger and resentment to acceptance.  Burial Rites is a quieter, more slow-moving book than The Aftermath, but is similarly compelling.  Both novels made me want to delve into other historical events that I know little about (and there are many)!

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