Shelfish: The Blog of Answers

2018 Oscar Contest

How's your knowledge of current Hollywood hits?

Look for entry forms in the library or download below. Check off your selections from this year’s nominees. Entries with the most correct answers will be eligible to win prizes. In the event of a tie, prizes will be awarded by means of a random drawing. One entry per person please. Entries will be accepted at the Answers Desk until 5:00 pm on Sunday, March 4th or at our After Hours Awards Party.

Download Entry Form

20th Anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The story of a teenage girl destined to repeatedly save the world from monsters, witches, demons, and (obviously) vampires is celebrating its twenty-year anniversary today.

Created by Joss Whedon (who later wrote and directed the Avengers movies) Buffy the Vampire Slayer used monsters as metaphors for real life issues facing kids growing up in America. He mixed genres to create a show that was by turns, scary, hilarious, and heartbreaking, often all within the same episode. He created characters that defied expectations and stereotypes. He invented a formula that is still influencing television twenty years later. And according to an article at, he turned the word Google into a verb.

All seven seasons of Buffy are available on DVD at Eisenhower and they’re all worth your time.

Season One | Season Two | Season Three | Season Four | Season Five | Season Six | Season Seven

What to Read after Watching Logan

After ten movies featuring the gruff but lovable Wolverine, it seems like they’ve finally gotten the character right with the new movie Logan, which opened this weekend.

In the near future, Mutant-kind has been almost totally wiped out. A world-weary Logan has lost all hope. All the X-Men are long dead, he’s struggling to care for an aged, dementia-stricken Professor Xavier, and various groups are trying to track him down. Some need help from the one-time superhero, others have less savory reasons. Into this disastrous life enters Laura a new Mutant with claws, healing powers, and anger issues eerily similar to Logan’s. Against his best judgement, Logan agrees to help her get to Eden, the Canadian mutant sanctuary that may not even exist.

Logan is a grown-up superhero movie with all the violence and language to prove it. It’s a heavy movie, but it’s also an uplifting one that reminds us that it’s never too late to make up for past mistakes.

If you’re looking for more Logan action, here’s a few graphic novels that seem to have inspired the movie:

Old Man Logan by Mark Millar
In a future world savaged and sundered by super villains, the United States ain’t what it used to be. In California, now a wasteland controlled by an evil gang, the former Wolverine seeks to live in peace. He’s retired, finally free from the violence of his former existence as an X-Man, and he wants to keep it that way. If only they’d let him. Can Old Man Logan maintain his pacifist vow, and make his last stand without doing what he does best?
Complete Collection

X-Men: Mutant Massacre by Chris Claremont
The Morlocks: a community of mutant outcasts living beneath the streets of Manhattan. The Marauders: professional mutant assassins, employed by a mysterious evil to wipe the Morlocks out. In between the two stands some of Marvel’s most heroic: X-Men, X-Factor, the New Mutants, Power Pack, Daredevil and event the Mighty Thor.
Complete Collection

X-23 by Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, Jay Faerber, and Marjorie Liu
Laura Kinney never knew a life free from her harsh captors. But now she has broken loose at last, and must forge her own path in the world. Free of her chains and determined to live, Laura will write the next chapter of her story herself. But can X-23 escape her training and her instincts, or will the gallons of blood spilled in her violent past drag her down?
Volume One | Volume Two

Game Over, Man!

In the early 2000s, Roger Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign was an event I really looked forward to. Each year, over the course of a long weekend, I’d see a bunch of incredible movies, perfectly projected, in a beautiful theater.

I have memories that I’ll never forget from each year I attended. Ignoring the discomfort of my cramped balcony seat during a 70 mm screening of Lawrence of Arabia. Feeling sympathy for HAL, begging Dave to spare his life in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Being inspired by Mark Borchardt in American Movie to work harder and be more creative. Standing at a urinal next to Kris Kristofferson.

One of my greatest memories is seeing Bill Paxton at the festival to discuss his performance in A Simple Plan. An audience member asked a question about his role in Aliens and Paxton’s eyes lit up. Without prompting, he stood up from his seat and shouted his iconic line, “Game over man. Game over.” The room erupted in applause. This audience of erudite film fans, at the festival to see heady art films like 3 Women, foreign films like King of Masks, and silent classics like Noseratu, loved mainstream, sci-fi action movies, too. Bill Paxton knew it, and took the opportunity to give everyone what they wanted. It was exciting, sweet and, somehow moving.

Life got in the way and I haven’t been back to Ebertfest since 2004, but when I heard Bill Paxton died today, the first thing I did was check to see if I could get passes for this year’s festival. I hope I can make it. In the meantime, I’m just going to watch some of my favorite movies.

Edge of Tomorrow
An inexperienced soldier relives a single day repeatedly, dying violently each time, as he slowly learns how to defeat the alien creatures that have invaded Earth.
DVD | Blu-Ray

A Simple Plan
In the snowy Minnesota woods three men come across a downed plane with a rotting corpse inside & over $4 million stuffed inside a duffel bag.

Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton play scientists pursuing the most destructive weather front to sweep through mid-America’s Tornado Alley in 50 years.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Apollo 13
Stranded in a crippled spacecraft 205,000 miles from Earth, astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert fight a desperate battle to survive. Meanwhile, at Mission Control, astronaut Ken Mattingly, flight director Gene Kranz and the efforts of a heroic ground crew race against time – and the odds – to bring the men home.
DVD | Blu-Ray

U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday team up to bring law to the lawless in a showdown with ruthless outlaws at the O.K. Corrall.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Near Dark
A naive young country boy who is lured into a secret clan of savage vampires who prowl the night seeking victims.
DVD | Blu-Ray

After escaping an encounter with aliens, the only survivor is asked to return to the scene as an advisor for a group of disbelieving Marines.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Weird Science
Teen life is full of mysteries and problems, so a socially challenged, nerdy computer whiz and his best friend set out to create the perfect woman with their computer.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Two people from different worlds meet and fall in love on the brief, tragic maiden voyage of the grand ocean liner.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Seed Exchange

For over 12,000 years, humans have been farming.

Today we have access to thousands of varieties of useful, life sustaining plants that exist only because farmers and gardeners have grown them, saved the seeds, and grown them again. Our favorite fruits and vegetables are the result of a long chain of seed savers. But that chain may be breaking. Over the last hundred years, advances in commercial farming, hybridization, and the corporate patenting of vegetable strains has resulted in a loss of plant diversity. Thousands of years of horticultural knowledge is disappearing. By growing your own plants and saving the seeds for next year's planting, you are helping to mitigate our dependence on agricultural businesses, keeping old strains that are not commercially available alive, developing seed stock that is well suited to our environment, and keeping alive the heritage of plant knowledge that might be critical for future generations.

At Eisenhower, we're adding a link to the chain with our Seed Exchange project. Participating is simple. If you need seeds, we have a few heirloom and commercial varieties available to you free of charge. In exchange, we ask that you plant the seeds and document their growth. After the harvest, save the seeds and return a portion of the seeds for another gardener to plant next season. If you already have saved seeds, we're happy to take donations. The more seeds we have in our collection, the more community members can experience the joy of growing their own food.

Through this Seed Exchange project, we hope to foster a sense of community, self-reliance, and a culture of sharing. For more info, ask at the Answers Desk or call 708-867-2299.

2017 Grammy Winners

The 2017 Grammy Award ceremony just ended and Adele was the woman of the evening, taking home awards for the top three honors, Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year among others. For those of us not in the music industry those categories can be confusing.

Of course, Album of the Year refers to the entire winning album, including all of its songs. Record of the Year singles out one individual song and is awarded to the recording artist. Song of the Year also goes to a single song, but recognizes the songwriter rather than the performer, unless they happen to be the same person, as is the case with Adele.

Album of the year nominees:
Adele, 25Compact Disc
Beyoncé, LemonadeCompact Disc
Justin Bieber, PurposeCompact Disc | Download or Stream
Drake, ViewsCompact Disc | Download or Stream
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to EarthCompact Disc | Download or Stream

The Woman Next Door

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbors in Katterjin, an exclusive, wealthy subdivision in post-Apartheid South Africa. Katterjin’s predominantly white status quo is broken when Hortensia, a hugely successful, black designer, purchases the first house that Marion, an equally successful, white architect, ever designed.

Twenty years later, Marion’s history of nonchalant, unthinking racism and Hortensia’s bitter inability to suffer fools lightly have led to a relationship built on distrust, dislike, and intentional antagonism. But when a freak accident leaves Hortensia in need of a nurse and Marion, a place to live, the two attempt to put their differences aside. For a pair of women in their 80s, who have lived lives of anger and superiority, this truce proves to be very difficult.

Like Hortensia and Marion, I began this book judgmentally. The two protagonists were so off-putting, so toxic, I doubted I would finish the book. But after a few chapters, Marion and Hortensia each begin to recount the circumstances from their past that led them to live such angry lives. Their bitterness is revealed as a symptom of  deeper sadnesses, loneliness, and disappointment. I began by disliking the two women, but soon I was rooting for them, hoping they could move past their differences and find some solace in this potential friendship.

Though race is central to the conflict in Yewande Omotoso’s second novel (the first published in the U.S.,) it is more complex than a simple story of black and white disharmony. Its backdrop of South African apartheid and the suffering of previous generations is reflected in the women’s relationship. The past is always there, but there is hope for the future.

Find The Woman Next Door in the library catalog.

Hidden Figures Kids

These kids at Milwaukee College Prep in Wisconsin totally nailed their Black History Month school project by dressing up as the characters from Hidden Figures, the book and movie that tells the nearly forgotten story of the African American women who helped to make NASA’s trip to the moon possible.

Hidden Figures has been a surprise hit. The book by Margot Lee Shetterly hit #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List and the movie knocked Star Wars: Rogue One out of the top spot at the box office before being nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars.

Book | eBook | Audiobook CD | Download Audiobook | Young Reader’s Edition

Eight Best Football Movies for Super Bowl Sunday

No matter who wins this Sunday, one thing’s for sure, once the Super Bowl is over there’s still going to be a lot of adrenaline flowing. Why not wind down with a great movie.

Jerry Maguire
A sports agent suddenly discovers his scruples and promptly loses his job. But with the help of one loyal colleague and one outrageous football player, he learns that loving well is the best revenge.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Friday Night Lights
Odessa, Texas is home to the Permian High School Panthers, the football team with the best winning record. The city’s economy is in a tailspin, but football is the one thing that brings all the people of Odessa together.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Draft Day
On the day of the NFL Draft, general manager Sonny Weaver has the opportunity to save football in Cleveland when he trades for the number one pick. He must quickly decide what he’s willing to sacrifice in pursuit of perfection as the lines between his personal and professional life become blurred on a life-changing day for a few hundred young men with dreams of playing in the NFL.
DVD | Blu-Ray

The Blind Side
Homeless African-American teenager Michael Oher is taken in by the Touhys, a well-to-do white family who help him fulfill his potential to become an All-American offensive left tackle.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Remember the Titans
After leading his team to fifteen winning seasons, white football coach Bill Yoast is demoted and replaced by African-American Herman Boone, tough, opinionated, and as different from Yoast as could be. The two men overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions.
DVD | Blu-Ray

The Longest Yard
A former pro football quarterback suddenly lands in a maximum security prison. Using fellow inmates, he must put together a motley group of convicts to play a no-holds-barred grudge game against the sadistic guards.

Any Given Sunday
Tony D’Amato, the embattled Sharks coach, faces a full-on blitz of team strife plus a new, marketing-savvy Sharks owner who’s sure Tony is way behind the times.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Although people have told Rudy all his life he’s not good enough, smart enough, or big enough, nothing can stop his impossible dream of playing football for Notre Dame.
DVD | Blu-Ray

Valentine’s Day Giveway

For many of us Valentine’s Day is one of the best days of the year. A time to express and receive love from those most important to us. For others, it’s a horrific day, a cynical, made-up holiday designed to make us buy flowers or feel sorry for ourselves.

This year, we’re letting you decide. Visit our Facebook page and let us know what you think of Valentine’s Day. Two lucky commenters will be chosen at random to receive a bag of books. One bag is full of romance novels, the other, thrillers and horror novels.

To be eligible to win, comment on our Valentine’s Day Facebook post with “Horrific” or “Romantic” and tell us where you live. After February 19th, we’ll pick two names at random to win.