Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (2006)

This reference comes from Brian Fulton, Librarian at the Times-Tribune and webmaster of the Pages from the Past blog of their website. In a blog entry he wrote on May 18th, 2011, Brian wrote a great piece on the 2006 "nonfiction novel" Thunderstruck by Erik Larson and its connections to Scranton, PA. Click here to check it out.

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System in a variety of formats: standard book, large print, CD audiobook, and downloadable audiobook.

Much thanks to Brian Fulton for this reference.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pajama Diaries Comic Artist (and Kingston Native) Terri Libenson to Appear at B&N Friday, August 19th

Terri Libeson, a native of Kingston, PA and author/artist of the nationally syndicated comic strip The Pajama Diaries, will be signing copies of her new book The Pajama Diaries: Deja To-Do at Barnes & Noble at The Arena Hub in Wilkes-Barre on Friday, August 19th from 7 PM to 9 PM. Libeson's book commemorates the 5th anniversary of the debut of her comic strip.

The Pajama Diaries is narrated bythe fictional Jill Kaplan, a wife of a loving husband and working mom of two young girls in a Jewish family somewhere in Ohio. It is nationally syndicated by King Features Syndicate and is also included in the Comics section of The Citizens' Voice.

For more information on Friday's book signing at Barnes & Noble, click here.

Click here to read Patrick Sweet's article, "Kingston Native Taps the Humor of Modern Family Life," which appeared in Sunday's Citizens' Voice (August 14, 2011).

Much thanks to Evelyn Gibbons for this reference.

War by Sebastian Junger (2010)

Children's Librarian Elizabeth Davis emailed me this morning about a Scranton reference she discovered in a book she's currently reading -- War by Sebastian Junger.

In the nonfiction War, The Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat--the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley.

On page 168 of the book, Junger makes a reference to Scranton and soldier Brendan O'Byrne, who is a native of Milford, Pennsylvania:

"An ambulance finally arrived and O'Byrne was taken to a hospital in Scranton."

The Times-Tribune published an article about Brendan O'Byrne, titled "Former Milford Resident a Central Character in 'War'" by Josh McCauliffe, on October 10th, 2010. Click here to read the article.

War by Sebastian Junger is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. Click here to place a hold; to place a hold on the CD audiobook, click here.

Much thanks to Elizabeth Davis for this reference.

Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer (2011)

My wonderful colleague Michele L., an avid reader like myself, has read so many books where she came across local references for this blog. She just finished Kindred Spirits, the latest novel by Sarah Strohmeyer, which features references to both Scranton AND Wilkes-Barre in the text.

From the inside cover:

When life gives you lemons, call your best girlfriends and whip up some lemon martinis. Such is the mantra for the Ladies' Society for the Conservation of Martinis, which was established after one fateful PTA meeting, when four young mothers-Lynne, Mary Kay, Beth, and Carol- discovered they had more in common than they ever thought possible. Meeting once a month, the women would share laughs and secrets and toast to their blossoming friendship with a clink of their sacred martini glasses. The Society was their salvation, their refuge, but when life-shattering circumstances force the group to dissolve, their friendship is never quite the same...until two years later, when a tragic event puts the Society back in session.

When Lynne passes away suddenly, she leaves behind one simple request: that her old friends sort through her belongings. Reluctantly, the women reunite to rummage through her closets. There's nothing remarkable; no kinky sex toys, no embarrassing diary. But buried deep within Lynne's lingerie drawer is an envelope addressed to the Society. And inside they find a letter that reveals a shocking secret and a final wish that will send the women on a life-changing journey...proving that nothing is more powerful than the will of a true girlfriend and a good, strong martini.

Kindred Spirits includes one reference to Scranton on page 68, when the friends are reading Lynn's letter:

"I made it to Scranton, but from there could only afford to go as far as as Waterbury, Connecticut."

The three Wilkes-Barre references appear on the following pages of the novel:

p. 195

"'If you happen to be passing by Wilkes-Barre on your way back to Connecticut, you might want to check out the Crescent Hollow area.'"

p. 227

"Now, exhausted, they headed to a hotel near Wilkes-Barre to recoup."

p. 229

"She pumped the brakes and took a turn down the wooded serpentine road in what, according to her GPS, promised to be a shortcut to 1-84 that would bypass the hassle of going through Wilkes-Barre."

Kindred Spirits is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. Click here to place a hold; to place a hold on the large print edition, click here.

Much thanks to Michele L. for this reference.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wife Vs. Secretary (1936)

Don McKeon, one of the regular contributors to the blog, emailed me last night that he came across a Scranton reference in the 1936 classic Wife Vs. Secretary.

Directed by the legendary Clarence Brown (National Velvet, The Yearling, seven films with Greta Garbo--including 1930's Anna Christie, in which "Garbo Talks!"), the comedy Wife Vs. Secretary tells the story of hardworking magazine executive Van Stanhope (Clark Gable), who is happily married to Linda (Myrna Loy). Though the pair have unconditional trust, it doesn't stop the neighbors from cautioning Linda about Van's sexy blonde secretary Whitey (Jean Harlow) who, although she has a boyfriend, may be harboring a secret crush on her boss after all.

Don told me via email:

"Clark Gable mentions to his wife, played by Myrna Loy, that upon registering their names at the hotel they were staying at, that he said they were from Scranton, Pennsyltucky."

Wife Vs. Secretary
is available to borrow on DVD from the Lackawanna County Library System; click here to place a hold.

Much thanks to Don McKeon for this reference.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jay McCarroll, Season 1 Winner of Project Runway (1974 - )

This past Friday and Saturday, NEPA native Jay McCarroll was in Wilkes-Barre, PA for the Trunk Sale at the Outrageous boutique. My colleague Michele L. coincidentally told me a few days prior to his visit that McCarroll is actually a native of the Dallas, PA area.

Jay McCarroll was born October 11, 1974 in Lehman, PA in Luzerne County.

In addition to his work as a designer, McCarroll received nationwide exposure as the winner of the first season of the reality show Project Runway in 2004; McCarroll surprisingly refused to accept the prize money for winning, opting to be an independent designer with complete creative control.

McCarroll was also a contestant (and team captain of the Red Team) on Season Seven of the reality show Celebrity Fit Club: Boot Camp in 2010.

Click here to read an article from the Scranton Times-Tribune about McCarroll's visit to Outrageous; click here to read the article from Times Leader.

Much thanks to Michele L. for this reference.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jerry Orbach, Prince of the City by John Anthony Gilvey (2011)

LinkIn a previous blog entry, I highlighted the local roots of the late Jerry Orbach--star of stage (the original Billy Flynn in 1975's Chicago on Broadway; the original El Gallo in The Fantasticks; 1969 Tony winner for Broadway's original production of Promises, Promises), screen (Dirty Dancing, Woody Allen's Crimes & Misdemeanors, the candlestick Lumière in Disney's Beauty & The Beast) and TV (Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street).

A recently published (and excellent) biography on Mr. Orbach also includes information on his local roots--to Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and even Plymouth, PA. The book is titled Jerry Orbach, Prince of the City: His Way from The Fantasticks to Law & Order, written by John Anthony Gilvey (with a Foreword by Jane Alexander).

Chapter 1 (Entrance, 1935-1955)
features information on Orbach's parents residing in Plymouth, PA during the Great Depression, right before Orbach's birth:

p. 3 (description of Orbach's mother Emily)
"In 1932, Plymouth, a small town situated on the Susquehanna River four miles west of Wilkes-Barre in northeast Pennsylvania's Luzerne County, was not an easy place to earn a living, especially for a young woman."

p. 4
"Alexander (Emily's father), born in the village of Bartlovka, near the city of Bialstok in northeast Poland, immigrated to the United States as a young man...finally settling down in Plymouth."

p. 4
"Like Leo (Orbach's father), she (Emily) was fascinated by the stage and had already put her talents to the test as a singer on a weekly Wilkes-Barre radio program."

p. 4
"Unlike most Catholic parents of the day, Alexander and Susanne were surprisingly accepting of their daughter's Jewish boyfriend. There were two reasons for this: first, their own marriage ran counter to the bitter enmity between Polish and Lithuanian Catholics that dated back to the Middle Ages and as recently as 1889 had erupted violently on the streets of Plymouth..."

p. 5
"Weeks later, Jerome Bernard Orbach was baptized at St. Mary's Polish Catholic Church in Plymouth."

p. 7
"Months later, when he (Leo) returned, he took a position as banquet manager for the Sterling Hotel in Wilkes-Barre before landing what would be a permanent position managing lunch counters for Neisner Brothers, a national retail store chain. The nature of the job demanded that he relocates as the needs of the company demanded, so for the next seven years the family crisscrossed the country via stores in Scranton, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; and Waukegan, Illinois."

p. 7
"In Scranton, where the Orbachs' home sat atop one of the highest points of the city and across from a firehouse, seven-year-old Jerry immediately made friends with the firemen..."

p. 7
"Another significant experience came in May 1943, when he made his First Communion and Confirmation during Mass at St. Peter's Cathedral."

p. 8
"Back in Scranton, Emily put their furniture in storage and made preparations for the long train trek that would take her and Jerry to their new home where Leo waited...but before they could board the train, Jerry had to part with his first and only pet--a cocker spaniel that had been his constant companion during their time in Scranton. Brokenhearted, he returned the dog to the lady who had given it to him."

p. 8
"In May after an eight-hundred-route-mile, fourteen-hour train trip from springtime Scranton, they arrived in still-snowy Chicago..."

On p. 139 in Chapter 9 (Trenchant Defective/Living Landmark, 1944-2004), Wilkes-Barre, PA was a bonding topic for Jerry and fellow actor Ted Sod, when they appeared together on the TV drama Law & Order.

"Actor Ted Sod fondly remembers... :
'When I appeared on Law & Order...Jerry immediately made me feel as if I were welcome. He introduced himself and we spoke for a bit about my hometown, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he had relatives.'"

Jerry Orbach, Prince of the City is available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. To place a hold, click here.

Click here to read the previous blog entry on Jerry Orbach.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kill The Irishman DVD Available To Borrow From the Lackawanna County Library System

The DVD of the film Kill The Irishman, a 2011 film produced by Scranton native Eugene Musso, is now available to borrow from the Lackawanna County Library System. Click here to place a hold.

Click here for a previous blog entry on Kill the Irishman.

Scranton Native Walter Bobbie To Direct New Off-Broadway Play The Submission; Opening Night 9/27

Scranton native and Tony-winning Broadway director Walter Bobbie is going to be quite busy this Fall. In addition to directing the recently announced Broadway transfer of the play Venus in Fur (opening November 8th), it has been announced that he will also be directing the Off-Broadway debut of actor/playwright Jeff Talbott's play The Submission.

The Submission begins previews at the MMC's Lucille Lortel Theater on Thursday, September 8th, with an Opening Night scheduled for Monday, September 26th and a Closing scheduled for Saturday, October 22nd.

Below is a description of The Submission from the MCC's website:

"Shaleeha G'ntamobi's stirring new play about an alcoholic black mother and her card sharp son trying to get out of the projects has just been accepted into the nation's preeminent theater festival. Trouble is, Shaleeha G'ntamobi doesn't exist, except in the imagination of wannabe-playwright Danny Larsen, who created her as a kind of affirmative-action nom-de-plume. But a nom-de-guerre may prove more useful as the lies pile up, shaky alliances are forged, and everyone dear to Danny must decide whether or not to run for cover as the whole thing threatens to blow up in his lily white face.

New York-based actor Jeff Talbott makes an auspicious play-writing debut with The Submission after taking home the first-ever Laurents/Hatcher Award for the play earlier this year. Walter Bobbie (School for Lies, Chicago) directs four of today's hottest young stars - Jonathan Groff (Spring Awakening, "Glee"), Will Rogers (When the Rain Stops Falling), Eddie Kaye Thomas (The Bachelorette, American Pie), and Rutina Wesley (HBO's "True Blood") - in this funny and furiously intelligent new play. "

Click here to purchase tickets to the limited run of The Submission.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

It's Official! Lysistrata Jones, Written By Wilkes-Barre Native Douglas Carter Beane, Will Play Broadway This Fall

According to The New York Times, Wilkes-Barre native Douglas Carter Beane's latest musical Lysistrata Jones will transfer to Broadway and begin previews on Nov. 12, with an opening night set for Dec. 14 at the Walter Kerr Theater.

Beane, whose previous Broadway theater writing credits include Xanadu, The Little Dog Laughed, and Sister Act (each of which earned him Tony nominations), wrote the book of the new musical Lysistrata Jones, a modern day take on the classic Aristophanes play. The update, which played Off-Broadway at the Gym at Judson in New York City, tells the story of Lysistrata Jones, a spunky transfer student at the University of Athens, whose basketball team hasn't won a game in 30 years. In the name of team spirit, Jones dares the squad's fed-up girlfriends to stop "giving it up" to their boyfriends until they win a game so their legendary losing streak can come to an end.

The composer/lyricist of the show is Lewis Flinn (The Divine Sister), and it will be directed and choreographed by Tony nominee Dan Knechtges (Xanadu, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee).

Tickets will be available soon.

Click here to read the announcement from The New York Times.