Sunday, 26 April 2009

Sunday April 26th, 2009 Lecock Medal for Humour

On Thursday April 30th at the Stephen Leacock Museum in Orillia, Ontario, the 2009 winner of the Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour will be announced. Thunder Bay author Charles Wilkins’ book, In the Land of Long Fingernails, is one of the five short- listed for this prestigious award.

What is In the Land of Long Fingernails about?

In this book, Wilkins takes the reader back to the summer of ’69 when he worked as a gravedigger in a Toronto cemetery. Wilkins provides a unique and humorous look behind the scenes at this grim but vital job. In a recent CBC radio interview Wilkins mentioned he had pitched this book to his publisher several years ago, but it was felt the time wasn’t right for it. Following the popularity of the HBO series Six Feet Under, which had a similar theme, the climate was ripe for this book.

Has Charles Wilkins won any other literary awards?

According to the Writers’ Union Web site, Wilkins has won the following awards:

Listed, Globe and Mail 100 Best Books for Walk to New York, 2004.

Finalist, Writers' Trust of Canada Non-Fiction Prize for The Circus at the Edge of the Earth, 1998.

Listed, Globe and Mail 100 Best Books for The Circus at the Edge of the Earth, 1998.

Elizabeth Kouhi Award for a career contribution to the literature of northern Ontario.


Who was Stephen Leacock?

Stephen Leacock is the first immortal in the ranks of Canadian humorists, and even in his lifetime his popularity and reputation were international. His work has become a touchstone for some types of comic writing, even though modern readers and critics are largely unfamiliar with the sheer extent of his publications. Some of his best work is still in print in McClelland and Stewart's New Canadian Library series. His principal form was the sketch, the joke given its own metaphorical extension, in which he could exercise his talents for incongruity, irony, and wordplay. He was also gifted in his ability to parody popular conventions in literature, entertainment, and behavior. He was an accomplished storyteller, and his work often sounds as good as it looks. Still, no analysis of his humor has denied its most fundamental and generous effect: the ability to create laughter.

Source: Canadian Writers, 1890-1920. Ed. William H. New. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 92. Detroit: Gale Research, 1990. From Literature Resource Center in the Virtual Collection.

What is the history of the Leacock Medal?

Close friends, colleagues and supporters of Stephen Leacock were the original members of the Leacock Associates (originally the Stephen Leacock Memorial Committee) when it was formed in 1946 under the guidance of Packet Editor, C. H. Hale. Membership was Orillia-based, but quickly spread through North America and England. The Association had three immediate objectives: to set up a collection in the Orillia Public Library of books, letters and personal items relating to the life and works of Stephen Leacock; to commission a bronze bust of Leacock by Elizabeth Wyn Wood, a famous Canadian sculptor and native of Orillia; and most notably to establish a memorial Medal to be awarded annually for the best book of humour written in the previous year by a Canadian. Previous winners include Stuart McLean, Arthur Black, Roch Carrier, Paul Quarrington, Will Ferguson and W.O. Mitchell.


Joanna Aegard, Head of Virtual Library Services

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sunday April 19, 2009 The Tax Man Cometh

The more you earn, the less you keep,
And now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to take,
If the tax-collector hasn't got it before I wake.

~Ogden Nash

It's crunch time again, time to gather the T4's and T1's and Twhatevers and sit down and do your taxes. Every year as I struggle to get everything in on time; I vow to get organized and do my return in February, but each year the end of April and panic time approaches, I'm doing the scramble again. Whether it's sitting down with pen and forms, e-filing, going to a tax preparer or your local friendly accountant, the process of doing a yearly return causes stress, migraines and a sense of dread to many Canadians, even if the final result is a welcome refund.

This year in an attempt to get my act together, I grabbed some of the newest and best tax and financial planning books available at the library, so while it may be a little late for this year, hopefully, if all goes well, I'll be ready to roll at tax time next year.

Tax Tips for Canadians for Dummies, 2009 Edition by Christie Henderson and Campbell Lawless

A fun and informative guide that offers simple to use money saving shortcuts that should make doing your tax return less of a chore. The book offers tips on getting and staying organized, it explores what changes are in store for your 2008 return and shows you the best ways to pay less tax next year.

art Tax Tips: Winning Strategies to Reduce your Taxes by Karen Yull and Grant Thornton

Now in a tenth edition, Smart Tax Tips has become the authority that Canadians use when they are looking for tax saving ideas. With more than 150 practical tax tips on everything from alimony, asset management and charitable donations, this is a great guide to help you maximize your return. Whether you operate a small business, work for someone else, are thinking of retiring or are filing you first return, there is something here to help you keep more of your money.

Tackling the Taxman: How to Keep the CRA from Controlling your Investments and Your Life by Alex Doulis

Tackling the Taxman in a clear informative guide to your rights and obligations if you get audited or investigated by Revenue Canada, and offers legal precedents and anecdotes about what can and has happened during the process. The book also offers tips on why some people do get audited, and how to avoid the red flags on your return that increase your chances of an audit in the first place.

When Can I Retire? By Andrew Allentuck

Every year thousands of Canadians retire after long and productive work lives only to find that the financial crunch of the retirement years are not what they expected. To help make sense of the requirements of your retirement years, journalist Andrew Allentuck shows you how to navigate Old Age Security, Canadian Pension plan and its supplements, how to use your RRSP funds , and most importantly how to plan ahead to make your retirement years the best they can be.

My Blue Haven by Alex Doulis

Offshore investments, tax havens and numbered Swiss bank accounts are not only the available to the rich and infamous; many Canadians are taking advantage of the perfectly legal ways that you can use to protect your money from Federal and other taxes. Author Alex Doulis offers a step by step guide to ways to shelter your income from Canadian taxation.

Lori Kauzlarick, Public Services Assistant

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Sunday April 12th, 2009 Do you make lists?

Do you make lists? Lists can be simple reminders, incentives to accomplish great things or dreams we have yet to fulfill. At the library there are so many things to make lists of: favorite authors, songs from the fifties, plants for your garden or the names of your ancestors. Books of lists make great reading and can be just the enticement you need to create a list of your own. If you haven’t written your own personal to-do list, today’s titles may draw you into the list-making crowd.

What are the greatest places in the world to travel to?

Start with 1000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before You Die. This compendium includes historic homes, museums, parks, sports facilities, scenic drives, art and film festivals, adventure trails, and culinary experiences. Perhaps swimming with the manatees in Florida should be on your list, or maybe a polar bear safari is more to your taste. If you are taking a driving holiday this summer, reading this book will give you a list of great places to see.

For the history buff, 1001 Historic Sites You Must See Before You Die is just the ticket. Filled with colour photographs of the world’s heritage sites, you will be tempted to travel to India’s Palace of the Winds, Rapa Nui National Park in Chili, and Cachtice Castle in Slovakia.

Frommer’s 500 Places to See Before They Disappear is a celebration of fragile and beautiful natural wonders and crumbling man-made structures. The Michoacan Monarch Biosphere Reserve is the final stop for monarch butterflies in their 3220 km migration from North America to Mexico. Rotorua is the Land of Mists in New Zealand, where active volcanoes constantly change the landscape. These ecological wonders should surely be on your list of must see places.

What vacations do people enjoy most?

Often the best holidays are those tailored to your interests. Start with The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich your Life. From working on an organic farm, to learning the art of Thai cooking, to tracking mountain lions, these vacations will make your next vacation fun and meaningful. Hands-on learning can be a doorway to growth, volunteering whether for Habitat for Humanity building houses in Central America or taking inner city kids on a wilderness trek can leave you with the satisfaction of time well spent.

For a more relaxing holiday pick up 100 Best Cruise Vacations. For cruises around the world, or to a specific destination, this book gives in-depth descriptions including ports of call, dress code, and and level of service. For a more visual version, borrow our dvd series, Questar Cruises. These include the Panama Canal, Greece, Alaska, Tahiti and more. On the Caribbean cruise you are taken to the white-sand beaches, lush landscapes, and sea borne adventure opportunities associated with each island.

Are there suggestions for those of us who enjoy food and drink?

Two favorite list books in this area are 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die and 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die. From the finest of extra-virgin olive oils to exotic fare such as zebra jerky, you will be tempted by culinary delicacies from around the world. The photographs are mouth-watering, and the descriptions will inspire you to try these “must have treats.” 1001 Wines is a very browsable list of wines that offer an enjoyable tasting experience for novice and connoisseur alike. Be ready for strong opinions when you pick up this list of historical and up and coming wines. Pair this with The 500 Best Value Wines in the LCBO and the 50 Best Pub Crawls and you are ready to expand your horizons for enjoying wine and beer.

What are some great miscellaneous list books?

Test yourself with 101 Things Canadians Should Know About Canada. Based on the results of a national survey that asked Canadians to name the people, places, events, accomplishments, and symbols that define this country, a ranked list of 101 items was created. This quirky compendium will help you to define our national image. 1001 Paintings You Must See Before You Die is a visual timeline of great paintings and artists. Take a virtual trip to all the great galleries and stand before these works of art, just with this wonderful book. For other great list books, try 100 Weird Ways to Catch Fish, 13 Things that Don’t Make Sense or 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.

Whatever your interest, we have just the list for you!

This week’s column is submitted by Roberta Casella, Librarian

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Sunday April 5th, 2009 Little Book of Calm

Certain things really get my blood boiling and, just for the sake of it, I decided to construct a list. So, this is what I came up with, and it’s in no order of priority and it’s certainly by no means finite:

  • cell phones ringing at inappropriate times
  • people who insist on chewing gum noisily with their mouth open
  • Angelina and Brad
  • bad drivers
  • fair-weather friends
  • litter
  • people who insist on talking at meetings – (keep it short, keep it pithy, let’s get out of here!)
  • cruelty to animals
  • warm toilet seats
  • techo-dance music
  • self-absorbed, know-it-all, obnoxious, loud, rude people
  • bad grammar
  • Tom Cruise
  • warm beer
  • people who talk during movies
  • snobs
  • thinking of a witty comment when the moment has passed
  • bullies
  • sycophants
  • people who whine about the weather
  • sit-coms, and while we’re at it, reality TV and American rip-offs of British TV shows (they just don’t work, people!).
My brother once commented that Angela Lansbury from Murder, She Wrote would be the first person against the wall when the revolution came. I’m right with him on that one, but please have standing right next to her anyone guilty of any of the above.

Generally speaking, I’m a mild-mannered person, but as you may have gathered, I’m also in possession of a little-inner-angry-self. We all are: we wouldn’t be human if we weren’t, and we’d certainly be an extremely inhibited and boring lot if we didn’t vent a little frustration once in a while. In the same way that we come in all manner of shapes and sizes, we also come with a whole range of personality baggage.

Now, I’m not suggesting that an inner-angry-self is necessarily a good thing; I’m just saying that we all need to admit that we have one, and that some people are more competent at maintaining and controlling their wee angry friend than others. Basil Fawlty is certainly not one of them and neither was Henry the Eighth. Who knows, the whole royal lineage of England may have been totally altered had Henry sought out the Thunder Bay Public Library’s vast selection of self-help material. Similarly, Evander Holyfield may not be absent an ear, and a pigeon its head if Mike Tyson and Ozzy Osbourne, respectively, had just taken the time to browse our shelves.

TBPL has some interesting reading materials catering not only for the famous and the infamous, but for all of us whose personal aim is for self-improvement or who simply have an interest in the psychology, sociology or philosophy relating to personality types. A quick search of our library catalogue comes up with some interesting titles on the subjects of anger and stress management. A few of my favourites are:

Why is everyone so cranky?: The ten trends that are making us angry and how we can find peace of mind

60 ways to reduce stress in 60 seconds

Don’t eat the soup as hot as they cook it: The story of a family learning to manage stress effectively in today’s 24/7 world

You’ll also find such titles as:

Anxiety, phobias and panic: A step-by-step program for regaining control of your life

Feel 30 for the next 50 years

The highly sensitive person: How to thrive when the world overwhelms you

Anything listed as Digital Media will take you to NetLibrary where you can read whole books online or download them. You’ll need your library card and password handy if you access this database.

TBPL’s Virtual Collection also provides access to several databases where you can source articles on a variety of topics, ranging from peer-reviewed articles in academic journals to magazine and newspaper articles. The Health and Wellness database also provides information on lifestyle choices, nutrition and self-help. On the lighter side of things, though, Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler’s comedy movie, Anger Management, is also available from our collection and provides an entertaining look at the subject.

So, if like me, certain things in this world make you just that little bit antsy, help is out there to steer you off that angry road so well worn by history’s bad boys and girls.

Rosemary Melville, Library Technician