A Visit from Curious George

Curious George had a great time visiting with children, parents, and staff at the Headquarters Library during National Library Week. He waved hello, patted some heads, and played a little peek-a-boo with some of the younger kids. Fortunately, he was on his best behavior and did not get into any trouble like he usually does in his books. Thank you Curious George!” – Bea
Curious George
Curious George
Curious George
Curious George
Curious George

Published in: on April 27, 2007 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Seven Days of Film

AFF 07

This week kicks off the 31st Atlanta Film Festival, seven days of films from around the world, sponsored by the IMAGE Film and Video Center.

Never heard of it, you say? Or you have, but never had the chance to go? Please allow me to tell you what it is and why this year’s a good time to go check it out.


Since 1977, IMAGE has sponsored the Atlanta Film Festival, providing the venue for local and international filmmakers to exhibit shorts, documentaries and feature films, some of which would not normally play in mainstream movie theatres, here in metro-Atlanta. Many films have gone on to play in mainstream theatres, and even win Academy Awards. Many filmmakers who’ve had works screened have gone on to the big time, like Steven Spielberg, whose short film Amblin screened in 1969.

Two big changes to the AFF this year make it ideal attend. The festival previously ran during the month of June at various theatres and venues around Atlanta. The festival now takes place in April, giving students a chance to attend, and enabling the entire festival to run from a single convenient location. The Landmark Midtown Art Cinema is a pleasant and comfortable place to enjoy the wide variety of films, with plenty of places to dine nearby.

As mentioned before, a majority of the films scheduled for the AFF are ones that you might hear about but not likely to see at the local AMC. This year’s selection includes The Last Days of Left Eye, a documentary on the final month in the life of Lisa Lopes, the most notable and outspoken member of R&B trio TLC; films will be screened from countries as far away as Australia, Kenya, Guatemala, Tibet and Iceland; teens show off their talents at the Teen Screen; documentaries touch on diverse subjects like Katrina survivors, conscientious objectors serving in Iraq, Marlon Brando and milk; comedy, drama and romance are there for good measure. Best of all, 22 films made by Georgia filmmakers will be featured throughout the festival. This is a significant increase from previous years: Only 5 Georgia films played when my student film screened in 1999! Screenings are often attended by the films’ directors and/or producers, giving the audience an opportunity to ask questions about the film from the filmmakers themselves.

So the AFF is more than just a good time at the movies (and it is that). It’s an opportunity to experience and learn through film, a chance for entertainment that’s off the beaten path, and a place to discuss movies with other movie lovers and movie makers in a chilled atmosphere. Ticket prices are no more than the cost of a regular theatre admission (and discounted for students and seniors), and with parking free and less stressful (yea!), this may be one of the best Atlanta Film Festivals yet.

For the festival lineup, schedule, venues, tickets and more information, visit the AFF website: www.atlantafilmfestival.com.

CinemATL.com has been given unprecedented access to the AFF for the second year in a row. Check out this e-zine for previews, reviews and articles on AFF films and festival events: www.cinematl.com.

The IMAGE Film and Video Center, a non-profit organization that supports the independent media arts community in Atlanta, sponsors monthly screenings and the Out on Film Festival, as well as workshops and Salons for filmmakers: www.imagefv.org.

Interested in films made in Atlanta by Atlantans? Watch Atlanta Shorts on PBA30 on Saturdays at 10 or 10:30pm, and Sundays at 11am. Check the Atlanta Films website for films and content information: www.pba.org/programming/programs/atlshorts/


Published in: on April 19, 2007 at 7:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Interview with famed Children’s Book illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon

In this 5 minute clip from TeachingBooks.net, the award winning husband and wife illustrator team Leo and Diane Dillon discuss the creative process, the spiritual nature of their work, their distinctive style and specific titles they have collaborated on, including Earth Mother (held at Headquarters Branch), Her stories : African American folktales, fairy tales, and true tales (also at Headquarters) and others.

To see a list of titles illustrated by the Dillons’ held at CCLS, click here – PINES catalog holdings

Earth Mother which is a fabulous tale of acceptance is a great title to read for Earth Day. Earth Day is April 22nd.



Published in: on April 18, 2007 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jazz Appreciation Month – A Great Day in Harlem

Harlem 1958
Harlem 1958 first appeared in Esquire Magazine in January 1959.


CCLS does not have any jazz related media materials in its collection, except for one item. And it’s a jewel!

A Great Day in Harlem is a sixty-minute documentary about the day in 1958 when photographer Art Kane gathered about 57 jazz greats of the era together for a group photograph. I saw this film at the Clark Atlanta University Film Festival around 1995, and was one of the most memorable films that I saw. This was about the time that my interest in filmmaking was growing, and I listened to jazz regularly. It was a great thrill to see my favorite subject told on a medium of which I was starting to love.

A Great Day in Harlem details how Kane was commissioned by Esquire magazine to shoot the photo, and interviews the surviving musicians who give their recollections of the day. Also included are archival performance and home movie footage and interviews with the neighborhood kids who sat in the photo along with the musicians. Quincy Jones, who at the time was an up and coming composer/band leader, narrates.

On the same videocassette is a second documentary. The Spitball Story chronicles Dizzy Gillespie’s antics that lead to his firing from Cab Calloway’s band. It seems that Gillespie was as big on practical jokes as he was on talent: In A Great Day, he recounts how his teasing fellow trumpeter Roy Eldridge caused him to turn away just as Kane snapped the picture (Eldridge and Gillespie are on the far right in the photo). The Spitball Story also features musician interviews and performance footage.

A Great Day in Harlem has been called “one of the best documentaries on jazz music.” Not only are the events leading to this iconic photograph documented, but the relationships, musical styles and even work habits of the jazz giants are told directly from their mouths: A history of the era by the people who lived it. Director Jean Bach garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary, Features in 1995 for A Great Day.

CCLS’s holdings are on VHS videocassette only, and just a few copies are available. Act fast to reserve and view this superb film.

Link to A Great Day in Harlem in PINES: http://gapines.org/opac/en-US/skin/default/xml/rdetail.xml?r=2043575&ol=126&t=great%20day%20in%20harlem&tp=keyword&l=126&d=1&hc=1&rt=keyword

Related websites:

www.harlem.org – A great site to see and learn about the musicians in the photograph.

www.a-great-day-in-harlem.com is the site for the DVD release of the movie (available through online vendors), along with biographies of the musicians and little known facts.

www.artkane.com – The website for the Art Kane Archives.



Published in: on April 13, 2007 at 5:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jazz Appreciation Month – Jackie Paris

Jackie Paris

I thought I’d share with you a blog I wrote for CinemATL Magazine about the documentary “‘Tis Autumn : The Search for Jackie Paris,” that screened at the Rome International Film Festival this past September (The film documents the life of Jackie Paris, who showed great promise as a jazz singer/guitarist then vanished into obscurity):

I had not heard of Jackie Paris prior to seeing the posting for the film ‘Tis Autumn: The Search for Jackie Paris in the RIFF program. And being a jazz lover, I decided to give it a look and discover who Jackie Paris is.

Unfortunately, the search continues: For me, and the film’s director Raymond De Felitta.

I arrived in Rome on Saturday behind schedule. I had to skip our gathering at the Waterfront Bar and Grill and go straight to the DeSoto to pick up my pass and head over to the first film I was assigned to cover. After that, I hooked up with some of the CinemATL staff for a minute, then rushed off to a second screening. Leaving that screening, I thought I had enough down time to compose and post my first write up before ‘Tis Autumn began. I was not finished by the time the film started, and opted to finish my write up and go into screening late: A complete disregard for my personal doctrine of punctuality. As it turned out, I was not five or ten minutes late – as I was for the other screenings, but forty minutes late.

In that, I missed De Felitta’s examination of Paris’ early life and rise to the height of his career success before a change in the music scene brought on his premature downfall. I could only make a guess about it based on subsequent interviews with friends, critics and others: Paris grew up in a rough environment that brought out in him a nasty temper that possibly hampered his chances and opportunities for commercial success. But I didn’t miss [displays of] his musicianship: The ability to elicit the cool, soothing sounds from the jazz guitar, and vocal stylings that I can only liken to a dish smartly seasoned as to accent the main ingredient rather than overtake it. And the voice: Smooth like Sinatra or King Cole’s, with a suggestion of roughness that gives it its distinction, and that can blend with another singer’s so beautifully that you think it was one singer. It’s a mystery why Paris never became as well known as his contemporaries like Sinatra and Cole.

But watching that last hour of the documentary, I got the impression that it was a mystery to De Felitta as well. In fact, everything about Paris’ life was mysterious. De Felitta was deeply affected by Paris’ music from the first time he heard it, but could find virtually nothing about the man himself. In March of 2004, De Felitta learned that Paris was doing a few club dates in Manhattan, and work on ‘Tis Autumn began. Paris would live only twelve weeks after the first of the interviews.

De Felitta admits that he had trouble finding answers to many of his questions about Paris, even in talking to the man himself. One example is De Felitta’s attempt to verify that Paris had a child from his first marriage (which De Felitta learned unexpectedly) When asked point blank, Paris denied any children. Yet after Paris’ death, De Felitta was able to track down the first wife, and the son whom Paris never met but knew he had. De Felitta and Paris seemed to have a relationship that reminds me of the friendship shared by filmmaker Clay Walker (The Cole Nobody Knows) and his subject Freddie Cole. But where I believe Cole was open with Walker, Paris seemed at times to hold back, staring off into space. In his eyes, anything from regret, pain, anger to sorrow was evident. De Felitta says that many questions were unanswered during those twelve weeks.

When all is said and done, De Felitta quotes Orson Welles: “It’s good that we know little of artists like Shakespeare and Cervantes, so that we can appreciate their art all the more.” For De Felitta, he has learned all he can and still knows nothing, but still has the body of Paris’ music to appreciate. For me, I have a still incomplete knowledge of Paris. But even with the little of his music that I heard in the last hour of the film, I have in that ignorance an appreciation for Jackie Paris. I’m more likely to seek the music – fortunately, some of his music is available on CD – than the knowledge. Yeah, I’ll Google him or look for him in some books at work. But the music – his art – is more likely to pull a smile from this gloomy writer than a few factoids.

Related web sites:

www.cinematl.com – CinemATL Magazine. An e-zine reporting on film in Atlanta, Georgia and the southeast, to which I’m a contributing writer.

http://www.hangoverlounge.com/ – “‘Tis Autumn : The Search for Jackie Paris” website. Latest news on the documentary.

http://www.riff.tv/ – Rome International Film Festival. Well worth the drive and weekend!

http://www.planbproductions.com/Freddy_Cole.html – “The Cole Nobody Knows” website. An excellent short documentary about Freddy Cole, the younger and overlooked brother of Nat “King” Cole who’s finally getting his place in the sun. Made by Atlanta filmmaker Clay Walker.

www.jackieparis.com – A website dedicated to the man himself. Contains biographical information, discography, and a downloadable sample of Paris’ singing and guitar playing.

Unfortunately, there are no materials on Jackie Paris available through PINES.

Published in: on April 12, 2007 at 3:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Visit From Flat Stanley


We were so excited, at the Clayton County Headquarters Library, to be paid a visit by Flat Stanley! Flat Stanley is the star character, in the book of the same title, written by Jeff Brown. Often students in various parts of the country mail him (that’s right, he is flat enough to mail) to other locations around the world. He was sent to us from a student all the way in Mississippi! Who knows where he will end up next.

While Flat Stanley was at the library, he looked up his book in our online catalog. He then asked Ms. Bea Mengel (that would be me), the Youth Services Librarian, where to find the book. After locating it in the fiction section, he posed for a picture with Ms. Bea. Happy travels Flat Stanley!

Published in: on April 4, 2007 at 6:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

April Displays at Forest Park

The Easter Bunny Parade!


Imagined several years ago, built in roughly two weeks and just in time for spring, our Easter Bunny Parade diorama is now on display at the Branch Library!

The inspiration for the diorama was a set of little rabbit finger puppets made the Folkmanis Company (http://www.folkmanis.com/fingerpuppets.htm). The little critters have a curious and whimsical look about them, but also an air of dignity. As such, I imagined a group of the rabbits marching down a lane and carrying banners to usher in the season. Around them would be other rabbits and chicks, watching and cheering the parade.

Using our puppets, some chicks that I purchased, four little lambs made by our Youth Assistant and other items on hand, I built a scene — on a greater level than I originally conceived — that celebrates spring and captures the whimsy of those mini puppets!

Our neighborhood florist, Theresa of Powers Flowers, contributed to the display with some needed supplies and decorative butterflies! Our thanks to her for her generosity!

All That Jazz

smithsonian jazz 07

We will have our display board decorated for Jazz Appreciation Month by week’s end. Jazz Appreciation Month happens in the month of April: A good time to read up on composers and musicians and their contributions to what is called one of
America’s true original art forms. The CCLS has many books on jazz music and musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Billy Holliday, Quincy Jones, and two of my favorites: Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Just check the PINES catalog for available titles, or ask a staff member for assistance. The Smithsonian Jazz website is one of many on-line sources for the history of jazz and biographies of great jazz musicians: http://www.smithsonianjazz.org/.

Published in: on April 4, 2007 at 4:28 pm  Comments (1)