World Dracula Day

“I never drink…wine.”

Bela Lugosi, Dracula (1931)

WORLD DRACULA DAY May 26

          It now seems fitting that on May 26, 2012 The Whitby Dracula Society initiated World Dracula Day to commemorate the publication in 1897 of Bram Stoker’s extremely influential novel.  Whitby, on the east coast of England, was the site of the running aground of the schooner Demeter, on which the Transylvanian vampire had made his way to Britain.

          A first edition of the novel can go for up to $45,000.

          World Dracula Day has gained in popularity worldwide.  It’s now “a thing.” 

“You would play your brains against mine?  Against me who has commanded nations!”

By Kim

Rags to Riches: the compelling life story of Julie Henning

Chester Springs at Henrietta Hankin Branch Library — This spring marks 90 years since author Pearl S. Buck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her moving story of the joys and hardships of the Chinese peasant farmer Wang Lung and his family in her classic novel The Good Earth.  The celebrated author and humanitarian spent the last 40 years of her life living in Perkasie, PA.  During this time, she used her fame to shed light on the rights of marginalized communities including people of color, people with disabilities, women, biracial children, and immigrants.  Through her establishment of Pearl S. Buck International, many actions have, and continue to be made to help those affected by these issues.

On May 23rd from 6:30-7:30, the Henrietta Hankin Library will welcome the adopted daughter of Pearl S. Buck, Julie Henning, to give a talk on her life’s journey from an existence of hardship and poverty in the streets of Busan, South Korea, to a world of plenty, both spiritually and materially, in a house with a white picket fence in Souderton, Pennsylvania.  Ms. Henning gives her own unique perspective on Pearl Buck as a mother and guiding light.  As the daughter of an American G.I., whom she never knew, and her South Korean mother, Ms. Henning has also addressed issues faced by Amerasians through newspaper articles, radio interviews, national television, and U.S. Congressional hearings. 

At the urging of friends and family, Ms. Henning has documented her life story in a book, A Rose in a Ditch, which was published in 2019.  This book, which is now being made into a movie, will be available for purchase and signing at the event!  Come to hear the compelling story of Julie Henning’s life.  This program will be accessible virtually as well as in person in the Annex of the library.

We hope you will join us for this special event.  Register here. This event supports PA Forward Civic and Social Literacy.

April Staff Picks

Felicia’s Picks

The Whole Story (Kate Bush)

A fantastic compilation album from the experimental British pop icon!

What We Do in the Shadows

A super fun vampire mockumentary! Definitely check out if you enjoyed HBO’s Our Flag Means Death.

Eric’s Picks

April Fool’s Day (1986)

A hidden MASTERPIECE from the teen slasher Renaissance of the 80s! Though it often gets lumped in with other Holiday themed slashers that were in vogue at the time, April Fool’s Day is far funnier, more ambitious and more clever than any of its peers! If you consider yourself a fan of horror films or “who dunnit” murder mysteries you owe it to yourself to check out this film!

Tropical Paradise/ La Roux

With summertime right around the corner, this album by English synthpop sensation “La Roux” is the perfect soundtrack to get you in the mood for some sun and surf and maybe a Mojito or two! Tropical Paradise is, top to bottom, all-killer/no-filler. Every song on this album is an absolute banger that would be the hit single and best track on anyone else’s album. As a musical act, La Roux remains criminally underrated and this album is one of her absolute best!

Kim’s Picks

Eden:  Untamed Planet  

For BBC Earth, Actress Helena Bonham Carter narrates beautifully this 2-disc documentary about five of the world’s still pristine locales:  Borneo, Patagonia, the Galapagos Islands, Africa’s Namib Desert, Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago.

The Code Breaker:  Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of Humanity  

The author of many exemplary biographies, (Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Einstein), Isaacson delves into the modern technology of gene editing, specifically CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspersed Short Palindromic Repeats).  Jennifer Doudna and collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for pioneering this technique.  Despite the complicated science involved, Isaacson makes it intelligible and thrilling as he interviews a plethora of biochemists, bioethicists, and microbiologists to track the discovery, advances, and ethical disputes involved in the new world of genome editing that promises cures for disease as well as enhanced human beings.   

Jessie’s Picks

Free Guy

This hilarious movie is a must-watch for video game fans! Ryan Reynolds is unaware that he is a character in a video game, and that he might be essential in saving his world and exposing a greedy video game developer.

City of Brass

Narrator Nankani brings this Middle Eastern set fantasy to life.  Nahri flees Cairo for the djinn city of Daevabad with an ancient warrior that she accidentally summoned.  But she faces new dangers due to Daevabad’s palace intrigue.

Hidden Gems: April Fool’s Day (1986)

On October 27th, 1978, a low-budget slasher film hit movie theatres and became an overnight success, sending cultural shock waves that forever changed the landscape of the genre. No, the movie I’m referring to is not April Fool’s Day, but rather John Carpenter’s beloved horror classic: Halloween; a film whose massive success inspired a wave of holiday-themed slashers, all trying to cash in on the latest trend. This fad gave birth to such films as: Silent Night, Deadly Night, My Bloody Valentine, The Leprechaun, Prom Night, Happy Birthday to Me, Bloody New Year, Graduation Day, Home Sweet Home and, most notably, the Friday the 13th films. Near the tail end of this craze, a film called April Fool’s Day was released into theatres and, even though it sold generally well at the box office, horror fans initially regarded its subversion of the slasher formula and lack of overt gore as too far a departure for the genre.

Here are just some of the many Halloween-inspired holiday slashers that came to pass…

This dismissal by fans definitely impacted the movie’s reputation, causing it to age into relative obscurity. Whenever the film was discussed, it was most often as another footnote from the era of Halloween knock offs. While there is no doubt that April Fool’s Day was sold to audiences as another feature of this ilk, the film itself uses the familiar formula of these movies as a Trojan Horse, sneaking in a far more clever and unique experience than was expected from the standard slasher fare of the times.

On the surface, April Fool’s Day sounds like your run-of-the-mill horror movie. During the spring break weekend that leads up to April Fool’s Day, a group of rowdy, oversexed, college kids gather at an island mansion owned by their old friend, Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman). Once on the island, it turns out that Muffy has set up a variety of April Fool’s Day pranks throughout the mansion. What begins with simple gags like whoopee cushions and dribble glasses, quickly escalates to more disturbingly dark pranks. The gang tries to stay in the spirit of the holiday and laugh everything off but this becomes hard to do once members of their party start turning up dead.

Pictured from left to right: (Amy Steel as Kit, Tom Wilson as Arch, Leah Pinsett as Nan, Clayton Rohner as Chaz)

While, this synopsis is accurate to the series of events that befall the characters in the movie, it is only a singular part of a larger story; one which I dare not spoil to any readers who have not yet seen the film. Suffice it to say, April Fool’s Day does something so original with its premise, so radical for the genre of story its telling, that it has not appeared in a slasher film before or since. However, even without its twists and turns, April Fool’s Day would still be a movie well deserving of considerable reappraisal. Upon watching the film, I instantly noticed that, while the familiar character archetypes were all well on display, a lot of them are given more depth and feel a bit more naturalistic as people than you come to expect from the genre. This is especially of note considering that it was released in 1986.

In a clever directorial choice from film maker Fred Walton, a handheld camera is introduced early on as a possession of one of the college kids. Through this premise, the movie gets permission to directly introduce us to each of the characters, as it establishes that it is for the purpose of a home movie. While this is an efficient way to squeeze in exposition at the beginning of the film, the movie also uses it for moments of extremely naturalistic acting that audiences wouldn’t become accustomed to until well into the 1990s with films such as The Blair Witch Project. Watching everyone in these early moments, performatively acting up for their friend’s home movie feels so genuinely real and unscripted that it immediately adds an extra layer to all of the characters. This narrative device pops up intermittently throughout the film, adding a level of truly unexpected authenticity that makes the characters feel more well-rounded and a bit savvier, at moments showing early shades of Wes Craven’s teenagers from Scream. In particular, Thomas F. Wilson, whom audiences will know as the mean spirited Biff from Back to the Future, steals the show as the jovial, prankster Arch. It is really fun getting to see him play a fun-loving, good-natured character after identifying him so much with Biff. In addition to Wilson, Deborah Foreman who plays the dual roles of Muffy St. John and her mysterious and haunted twin sister Buffy, shows great range and pulls off both characters effortlessly.

Deborah Foreman as Muffy (left) and Buffy (right)

Much like Muffy and her twin sister Buffy, who often feel like two halves of a whole, April Fool’s Day is actually two films in one. One of these films is a straight-forward holiday horror slasher, delivering audiences exactly what they came for, while the other is almost a satire of those kinds of films. I say “almost” because the film in no way operates as satire, at least not overtly so. What is perhaps a better description is that, while April Fool’s Day exists as one of those formulaic slasher films of its time, it always feels highly aware of itself and when it gives in to those expected conventions, it does so in pursuit of an ultimate end-goal. To speak to this “end-goal” any more, would be to give away the secret behind the mystery killer of the film. Suffice it to say, the reveal of the killer was such a radical choice that it was ultimately one which led to audiences initial rejection of the film.

By the time April Fool’s Day hit theatres in 1986, almost a full decade after the original Halloween, the market was over saturated with teen slashers (both holiday themed and non-holiday themed alike). Even though it did relatively well at the box office, April Fool’s Day never received any of the critical acclaim or lasting memory that many of its peers did. Then again, when your peers of the decade are such horror titans as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Child’s Play, and The Evil Dead, it can be pretty easy to get lost in the shuffle. With time and distance, however, it was the film’s ambition and unwillingness to follow the formula of its predecessors that gave this film something truly unique and has helped it build a cult fan base that still grows to this day (something which cannot be said for Silent Night, Deadly Night). If you consider yourself a fan of slasher films or “whodunnit” murder mysteries, you owe it to yourself to check out April Fool’s Day, because I can almost guarantee, you’ve never seen one which ends like this!

By Eric

Library Volunteers Celebrated During National Volunteer Week!

(EXTON, PA) April 17th – 23rd is National Volunteer Week.  Here at Chester County Library and Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, we are honoring all of our volunteers who so generously shared their time and talent with us during the last year.

This community of volunteers contributes daily to the efficient and smooth running of both libraries. Many volunteers have over twenty years of service, a tribute to library volunteerism. They are, indeed, the backbone of the libraries. This year we are celebrating 26 volunteers who have achieved 500, 1,000, and 2,500 hours of volunteer service for 2019 and 2021.  Many of them worked alongside staff throughout the pandemic – a testament to their dedication and service.

500-hour recipients have selected a book that is special to each of them and we have inserted a bookplate in their names; 1,000-hour recipients have received the much-coveted ‘Share the Gift of Reading’ pin; and last but certainly not least, those who have served 2,500 hours will receive a brass plate on the 2,500 Hour Plaque of Fame that can be found at new Reference/Multimedia Desk on the first floor of the library.  We have also created a special wall display in the Lobby Area at Chester County Library in Exton honoring these volunteers which will be up until April 30th.

We are fortunate to have such a strong service-oriented community and the Library Staff and the Board of Trustees are grateful for the enduring service of all its volunteers. For more information about the Chester County Library & Henrietta Hankin Branch Library volunteer program, email the Volunteer Coordinator at volunteerprgm@ccls.org.

A Celebration of Pearl S. Buck at Henrietta Hankin Branch Library

CHESTER SPRINGSThis spring marks 90 years since author Pearl S. Buck was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her moving story of the joys and hardships of the Chinese peasant farmer Wang Lung and his family in her classic novel The Good Earth.  The Henrietta Hankin Branch Library has two programs planned to celebrate the author and humanitarian, who spent the last 40 years of her life living in Perkasie, PA.  During this time, she used her fame to shed light on the rights of marginalized communities including people of color, people with disabilities, women, biracial children, and immigrants.  Through her establishment of Pearl S. Buck International, many actions have, and continue to be made to help those affected by these issues.

On Thursday, April 14th, from 7:00-8:30 p.m., the Page Turners will have a very special discussion of The Good Earth hosted by members of the Pearl S. Buck Book Discussion Group.  This group has been meeting since the 1970s at the Pearl S. Buck House museum in Perkasie. Cindy Louden serves as the Discussion Facilitator as well as Chair of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center.  Most of its members are House Docents and Volunteers who serve in many roles assisting Pearl S. Buck International to further the legacy of the organization’s founder, improve the lives of children, and promote international and cross-cultural understanding. Whether you’ve read the book recently, fifty years ago, or never quite got the chance, join us to learn more about Pearl S. Buck and the book that earned her both the Pulitzer and the Nobel prizes.

On May 23rd from 6:30-7:30 p.m., the Henrietta Hankin Library will welcome the adopted daughter of Pearl S. Buck, Julie Henning, to give a talk on her life’s journey from an existence of hardship and poverty in the streets of Busan, South Korea, to a world of plenty, both spiritually and materially, in a house with a white picket fence in Souderton, Pennsylvania.  Ms. Henning gives her own unique perspective on Pearl Buck as a mother and guiding light.  As the daughter of an American G.I., whom she never knew, and her South Korean mother, Ms. Henning has also addressed issues faced by Amerasians through newspaper articles, radio interviews, national television, and U.S. Congressional hearings.  At the urging of friends and family, Ms. Henning has documented her life story in a book, A Rose in a Ditch, which was published in 2019.  This book, which is now being made into a movie, will be available for purchase and signing at the event!  Come to hear the compelling story of Julie Henning’s life.  This program will be accessible virtually as well as in-person in the Annex of the library.

We hope you will join us at one or both of these events.  Register here.

This event supports PA Forward Civic and Social Literacy.

Celebrating Transgender Visibility in Media

When we think of our favorite stories, the ones which we form strong emotional bonds with are often the ones we see ourselves in. Stories like these are critical for our development and growth as individuals. They help us see ourselves in relation to the world and help us build connection and a sense of belonging. Often times, they help us to shape our own identity and build a sense of self-worth. At their simplest level, these stories communicate to an audience that they are not alone. It is the reason why representation in all forms of media is so important. For people in the transgender community, finding stories that provide representation has always proved difficult.

March 31st marks the annual celebration of the International Transgender Day of Visibility. For those who are unfamiliar, this day celebrates the existence, resilience, and accomplishments of transgender and non-gender conforming people all around the world. It is a day that can also serve to educate others on issues which the transgender community continues to face and the work which remains to be done for us to evolve into a trans-inclusive society. In honor of this day and the huge strides made by transgender artists who continue to push for the visibility of these stories, our Multimedia Department is putting a spotlight on items in our collection that represent different aspects and perspectives from the transgender experience. As trans artist and activist Janet Mock (Pose, Surpassing Certainty) puts it “Trans people are not a monolith. We come from many different experiences and backgrounds . . . (Mock J. as cited by Ifeany, K. C., 2016). We hope that in making these stories easier to find, so to can our transgender family and friends more easily find themselves.

Film & Television

Artist Spotlight:

The Wachowski Sisters

In 1999, the Wachowskis forever altered cinematic language with what was, at that time, only their second film. That film was The Matrix and, upon its release, it completely revolutionized filmmaking both through its technical approach as well as its screenplay, which presented radically new ideas and concepts film-goers had never before been exposed to. It was a clear game changer for the medium of film which broke down story telling barriers for years to come.
In 2010 they broke down barriers of different kind when Lana Wachowski came out to the world as a trans woman. Her sister, Lilly also came out publicly as a trans woman in 2016. As world-famous filmmakers, the Wachowski sisters’ transition was a journey which occurred under the spotlight of the media, which certainly helped wake up many outsiders to the narrative of the trans experience. Their established profiles as beloved blockbuster film-makers also made their public transition a tangible example which closeted or questioning trans people could identify and connect to. Because of their courage to live as their true selves, they have helped others to realize they are not alone, inspiring many to live out their truth.
Lilly and Lana Wachowski are both, in a word: uncompromising. It is what continues to make them such boundary breaking figures. They continue to push the boundaries of film-making to this day, constantly fighting for the integrity of their artistic vision, even when it challenges the comfort of our pre-conceived notions of story-telling. Continuing on in their spirit of subverting expectations, Lana Wachowski shocked fans by announcing her plans to return to the Matrix with a fourth entry in the series, 18 years after closing out the original trilogy. Her fourth Matrix movie, aptly-dubbed The Matrix Resurrections, is a wholly unique film, especially among the current trend of studios reviving long dead properties. Using a clever narrative which re-sets the returning heroes into a completely new environment, Lana Wachowski creates a meta-textual commentary for her own career; one which grapples with the legacy of her original Matrix film. The Matrix Resurrections, which is now available to borrow from the Chester County Library, is a daring work of art that actually uses its existence to say something new. While much of their work has often been polarizing, whenever you watch a Wachowski film, you are watching someone’s full artistic vision.

The Filmography of The Wachowski Sisters

Audiobooks

& eBooks

Detransition, Baby
by Torrey Peters
Future Feeling
by Joss Lake
An Unkindness of Ghosts
by Rivers Solomon
Little Fish By Casey Pelt
Birthday by Meredith Russo

If I was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

By Eric

References

Ifeanyi, K. C. (2016, December 2). “trans people are not a monolith”: Janet Mock wants to introduce you to 11 new friends. Fast Company. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3066073/trans-people-are-not-a-monolith-janet-mock-wants-to-introduce-you-to-11-new-friends

March Staff Picks

Jessie’s Picks

Resident Alien

This is a humorous Sci-Fi show about an alien (played by Alan Tudyk) that crash lands near a small town in Colorado. He assumes the life of the town doctor and becomes involved in the lives of the quirky townsfolk.

Abbey Road/ The Beatles

This album deserves its #1 spot on WXPN’s All Time Greatest Albums list. There are so many great songs on it – “Something,” “Come Together,” “I Want You,” etc.

Eric’s Picks

Metroid Dread (Nintendo Switch)

The wait is over! After being in development since 2005, Metroid Dread finally hit the Nintendo Switch in 2021 and, shockingly, it managed to exceed over ten years of hype.

Combining the side-scrolling action of the earliest Metroid games with the fluid functionality, slick 3-D graphics, and versatile gaming mechanics of today, this highly anticipated game brings Samus’ story to an epic conclusion well worth the wait! While the Switch’s handheld mode is fun, gamers should definitely play Metroid Dread in TV mode to get the full experience!

The Last Duel

Ridley Scott, director of such iconic films as: Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), and Gladiator (2000) has made a big comeback in 2021 with two great films in one year: House of Gucci and, my personal pick for this month: The Last Duel

Not only does this film feel like a true return to form for filmmaker Scott, it also is the first film co-written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon since their Oscar winning screenplay for Good Will Hunting. Much like Hunting, Affleck and Damon do double duty, both writing and acting in The Last Duel where they join Adam Driver and Jodie Comer, all of whom turn in powerhouse performances!

This film has been compared most frequently to the film Rashoman, as both are films where characters tell the differing accounts of one event. However, what makes The Last Duel unique and worth watching, is that it doesn’t leave you questioning who is telling the truth. It gives you all the answers you will need to find the truth for yourself.

Kim’s Picks

Forever Young: A Memoir [Libby Audiobook]

The iconic child star of such Walt Disney Studios productions as Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, and That Darn Cat!, plus non-Disney films The Trouble with Angels and The Family Way, narrates her life story as the sister of actress Juliet (Avanti!, TV’s Nanny and the Professor), daughter of esteemed British actor John (Great Expectations, King Rat, Ryan’s Daughter) and writer Mary Hayley Bell (Whistle Down the Wind).  She does a superb job describing the glitz and glamour as well as the day-to-day joys and travails of filmmaking.  Equally fascinating and compelling is her tale of coming of age.  Making appearances are the Beatles, Judy Garland, and Hollywood columnist Sheilah Graham, who put Hayley onto great literature.  Her education at boarding schools and a Swiss “finishing school” had been haphazard

Season of the Osprey

Enthralling PBS NOVA documentary follows a male osprey from the Amazon Basin 4,000 miles to the Connecticut River Delta where he finds the previous year’s nest and welcomes back his mate.  During spring and summer their three hatchlings grow to adulthood while the parents fend off such interlopers as bald eagles, other osprey and cormorants.  The osprey has a 6-foot wingspan but weighs only 3 pounds, which makes it a master of the air.  Osprey eat fish only but there are plenty of those in the delta. 

Felicia’s Picks

Paddington

One of the most heartwarming movies ever made. I have cried multiple times over how much I love this bear.

For the First Time

A fantastic debut album from a striking seven-piece band, which includes a saxophone player! Definitely leans towards the angsty side of things, with multiple anxiety inducing songs and some sleazy british vocals.



Multimedia New Releases – March 2022



Music


February Staff Picks

Felicia’s picks

Fiona Apple/ Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple’s fifth album is a phenomenal culmination of her career, and an overall fantastic listen.

Ex Machina (2014)

This small-scale sci-fi focuses on a high-stakes turing test between a newly developed artificial intelligence and an unsuspecting office worker.

Kim’s Picks

Season of the Osprey (2021)

Another miraculous bird, the osprey flies 4,000 miles from the Amazon basin to the Connecticut River Delta to mate, brood, catch hundreds of fish, and fend off thieving cormorants and eagles. Illuminating, beautifully photographed PBS documentary.

Devotion:  An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice (2015)

Jessie Brown, a black sharecropper’s son from Mississippi and Tom Hubner, a white son of a hardware store chain owner from Rhode Island develop a close bond while flying Navy Corsairs, distinctly sketchy WW II fixed-wing fighters converted into ground attack planes during the Korean war.  Makos, author of the bestseller Spearhead:  An American Tank Gunner, His Enemy and a Collision of Lives in World War II (2019) originally envisioned his tale as a magazine article but it quickly became a story so big it demanded novel length.  The story moves back and forth between Jessie and Tom, air and land operations.  Oddly enough, rising Hollywood star Elizabeth Taylor has a small but significant role. Provides insight into the Cold War, carrier and ground warfare, and race.  

Eric’s Picks

Werewolves Within (2021)

A perfect comedic feast from beginning to end that is guaranteed to make you howl with laughter! Featuring the best ensemble of fresh, new comedic talent assembled in the last 10 years and masterfully directed by up-and-coming talent: Josh Rubin; this film is the unsung gem of 2021 and guaranteed to skyrocket to cult status! Rent it now so you can be that cool friend who heard about it first.

Pet (2019)

Set in a utopian future where all of society’s monsters have been vanquished, a transgender girl named Jam accidentally brings a creature named “Pet” to life from one of her mother’s paintings. Pet tells Jam that there are indeed still monsters living among them and that it is there to hunt one which resides within the family of her best friend. Wholly unique and raw, Pet serves as a commentary on abuse in many forms and the healing power of facing uncomfortable truths with those who love and support you. (Trigger warnings as the material does touch upon characters dealing with sexual abuse.)

Jessie’s Picks

So Far – The best of Sinéad O’Connor (1997)

This greatest hits compilation covers the Irish singer’s first eleven years (1986-1997) and four albums. It includes her biggest song, a cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” along with her overseas hits and some rarities. If you like her Prince cover, then check out this compilation to discover some more of her great songs.

42: The Jackie Robinson Story (2013)

Chadwick Boseman gave a great performance portraying Jackie Robinson. He brings to life the struggles and triumphs of Jackie Robinson’s race barrier breaking joining of the Brooklyn Dodgers.