The Umbrella Academy

the umbrella academy

Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy is the networks newest comic book superhero series.  Following a mysterious unexplained phenomenon in 1989, forty-three previously not pregnant women across the world spontaneously give birth at the same time.  Seven of these babies are adopted by eccentric billionaire Reginald Hargreeves as he founds the Umbrella Academy with the intent to train them to save the world from a coming apocalyptic event.TUA_101_Unit_00831.0

Hargreeves unfortunately, isn’t the best caregiver and his detached and uncaring personality leads to the children growing into very dysfunctional adults.  Each has their own problems and personal demons to overcome as they’re reunited for the first time in years following Hargreeves unexpected death.


It’s a series that combines good story writing, character development, and visuals.  It’s not your typical costumed superheroes beating up bad guys schtick.  It’s a broken family who happens to have super powers struggling to overcome their differences and their past to save the world together.  It’s a new and welcome addition to Netflix’s take on superhero TV shows and I hope for similar ventures in the future that bring to life more comics outside of DC and Marvel characters.




As Above, So Below Review

as above so below

As Above, So Below is a a 2014 horror/thriller movie about a group of explorers that venture into the catacombs of Paris in search of treasures.  The group is led by Dr. Scarlett Marlowe, who’s quest for Flamels legendary Philosophers Stone, leads the group to hell and back.

The story is unique and well executed.  The film takes place in a universe where Dante’s Divine Comedy, specifically the Inferno is proven to be real.  Hell exists and the entrance lies far within the catacombs beneath Paris.  Scarlett and her ragtag crew of explorers descend through several layers of hell in pursuit of treasure and their eventual freedom.  There hasn’t been a modern adaption of Dantes Inferno to my knowledge so I was really excited to see this film give its interpretation of Dantes Hell and I wasn’t disappointed, yet I wasn’t wowed by it.  Aside from the overlay of Dante’s Hell and the lore surrounding it over the overall story its kind of dragged down by the bland characters.  Scarlett is basically a Mary Sue, she has like three PhD’s, she knows everything about everything, and always comes out on top to the point where you never feel there’s any real danger to her character.  The rest of the crew are basically forgettable cannon fodder that don’t make an impression.  That’s not to say that it wasn’t well acted, just that the characters were generic.

The setting primarily takes place underground in the catacombs.  The cool thing about this movie was that it was actually filmed in the real catacombs, so everything around them is real for the most part.  As the group progressed deeper and deeper into the catacombs I liked how the atmosphere changes.  Things get darker and more tense among them as they’re forced to go deeper as they believe its the only way to reach freedom.  Down there they’re faced with their individual demons and must conquer them in order to absolve themselves and escape.  My favorite part was when they reached the final level and they see this figure in a black robe sitting in a chair with its back to them.  They take their eyes off of it and when they turn back it silently starts to approach them, leaving a smokey mist behind it as it moves, while similar creatures appear around it.

Overall, As Above, So Below is an average movie.  I tend to like it more because I’m a fan of Dantes Inferno and love seeing the lore of that story in a modern setting.  The story was good and unique, yet dragged down by the generic characters.  The setting was one of my favorite things about it.  Its worth a watch.



Archery Through the Pages II

Welcome to Part II! For readers who crave for purely traditional archery, they can look no further than the Ranger’s Apprentice series. For 150 years, the Kingdom of Araleun has employed an organization known as the Ranger Corp to protect the realm from her enemies, foreign and domestic. When 15 year old Will’s plans to become a knight falls through, he unknowingly proves himself to become one of Araleun’s secret protectors.

Ranger-s-apprentice-the-rangers-apprentice-10757786-1280-800Will advances with his recurve bow while Halt covers his apprentice with his longbow.

Throughout this book series, there are two types of bows that are known and used in the world of the Ranger’s Apprentice. The first is a recurve bow. This bow is given to apprentice rangers who are just starting their archery journey. Its appearance is similar to traditional Asiatic bows, particularly those used by the Crimean Tatars of the 16th century CE. These are composite or horn bows made of a wood core, layered sinew on the back of the bow, and horn on the belly of the bow. This combination of materials enables a bow of a short length to be used without breaking. In the book however, this bow is made of a lamination of several different kinds of woods to produce the same effect. It’s also said that while recurve bows produce high kinetic energy at lower weights, it cannot be made to higher draw weights which is why it’s only used by apprentices. This is contrasted by both horn and wood laminate bows of our world, which can be made to very high draw weights, in excess of 100 pounds if need be. Also in our world, horn bows are typically drawn using a thumb ring, which protects the thumb from harm as bow is only pulled with the thumb as compared to the three finger draw that is used both in our world and in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. When an apprentice is claimed worthy to be a Ranger, they put aside their recurve bow and is given another legendary weapon, the longbow.

Paragon Bows - 33-1500x1125Robert Pozderka using the thumb draw method with a Crimean Tatar bow. Note that the arrow is on the right side of the bow, rather than the left. This would be unusual when using the three finger method of drawing a bow, but is correct for the thumb draw.

While the recurve bow has taken inspiration from historical examples, the longbow of the Ranger’s Apprentice is identical the very same used by English and Welsh archers, to great effect, during the 100 Years War during the 14th century CE. These bows were typically 6 feet tall and made of a single piece of wood such as yew, elm, or ash. The wood is cut in such a way so that the natural features of it behaves similarly to a horn bow. The younger sapwood handles sheering or stretching force while the older heartwood handles compression. And the reason that the bow must be as tall is to allow the bow to be drawn as long as they typically do. Modern bows are usually measured to and only draw up to 28 inches. English longbows have been known to draw from 30 to 32 inches. If the bow is shorter, it cannot be drawn as far. That’s important because English longbows typically use heavy arrows that are three feet in length and are loosed at long distances. And to reach those distances, the draw weight of the bow must be heavy. 70 pound draw weight is typically considered the minimum for a military bow, but they go upwards of 100 pounds and more. Gloves or a leather tab for the fingers are a must as well as a bracer for the bow wrist for protection against the bow itself. For these reasons, the longbow is considered to be a bow only for fully fledged Rangers, as only with their experience and strength can they handle these types of bows.

Mark Stretton warbow archersMark Stretton, in the brown vest, is the Guinness World Record holder of pulling a 200 pound war bow back to 32 inches, the full length of a medieval English arrow. He and a fellow war bow archer are pulling heavy bows that were used by English archers of the 14th century CE and the Rangers of the Ranger’s Apprentice books.

Tony with a longbowThis post’s author with a Victorian style English longbow.

So now you’ve read a few books featuring some archers and you want to pick up a bow and loose some arrows of your own. I’d say it’s time for you to go to your local archery shop, which usually features a range for people to practice or to test any products they may want to try. Just in Bolingbrook, there is an archery range in the Bass Pro Shop. Being a big box outdoors store, their gear is primarily based towards hunting but you can get a decent start there. If you’re looking for a wider array of equipment styles, especially of the traditional leaning, Archery Custom Shop in Forest Park is a commonly cited place for that.

Nearby is also Chicago Bow Hunters, a private archery club that also has an indoor range and some property for field archery. They hold monthly events that are open to the public. Lastly if you’re willing to take a 30 minute drive to Warrenville, you’ll find the archery range inside the Blackwell Forest Preserve. It is an outdoor range that goes out to 100 meters and is totally free to the public. You just need to provide your own equipment. It’s my home range and during the warmer seasons, I’m usually found there on the weekends, but sometimes sporadically on the weekdays.

I hope that these books and the archers found inside them inspire you to read more stories about them and most of all, to pick up a bow yourself and become a part of a noble tradition that is as old as humanity itself.


Archery Through the Pages I

In an age when fearsome creatures like saber-toothed cats and dire wolves stalked the Earth, our prehistoric ancestors devised many tools that we owe our continued existence. Among them, only one keeps stirring our imagination across time. From ancient China and medieval England, to modern times and beyond, the bow and arrow continues to fascinate us. In this post, I’d like to highlight some of the books that we have in our collection that features archery prominently and the style and equipment featured in them.

Much like the Harry Potter series has done for magic, The Hunger Games series, written by Suzanne Collins, will come in most readers’ minds in regards to archery. In a post-apocalyptic North America, an annual reality TV competition pits teenage contestants from the twelve districts against each other in a deadly game of survival. When Katniss does the unthinkable and volunteers herself for the Hunger Games, she brings her skill with the bow to bear.

The style and equipment that Katniss uses in the books and movies are equivalent to barebow archery, our modern take on traditional archery. Barebow being a bow that does not feature modern accessories such as a target sight and stabilizer weights. Therefore, Katniss would use instinctive aiming, that is using muscle memory and proper joint alignment to place her shots. The bows usually features an arrow shelf for accuracy and a shaped handle for a consistent grip, which are common features of modern bows. And lastly, Katniss uses a Mediterranean or three finger draw, which uses the index, middle, and ring finger to pull the string back from the bow. This is the most common type of draw used in modern archery.

Hunger Games bowCredit: Lionsgate Films

Another interesting YA book is No Good Deed, by Kara Connolly. While this book isn’t held at Fountaindale Public Library, it is at the Joliet Public Library and that is part of the Pinnacle Library Consortium which means you can come to Fountaindale and request it! Ellie is a prospective archer for the US Olympic archery team. On her way to practice in England, she gets lost and finds that she’s no longer in the 21st century, but in the 12th century! Now Ellie will have to use her modern day knowledge and her Olympic skill with the bow to survive Medieval England and find her way back to our time.

Ellie’s training is that of Olympic archers and her equipment will reflect that. Before she accidentally went back in time, Ellie’s bow would be an advanced piece of equipment. Much like Katniss’s bows, they would be made of modern materials. The riser, which is the middle section of the bow with the grip and arrow rest, is typically made of aluminum. The limbs of the bow are removable from the riser. This gives the advantage of trying out limbs made of different materials as well as adjusting the draw weight of the bow. A target sight gives the archer enhanced accuracy and weighted rods known as stabilizers keeps the bow balanced in the archer’s hand. All of these allow Olympian and modern competitive archers to make pinpoint shots into the bulls-eye of the target from long distances. However, this modern equipment will not guarantee competition levels of accuracy. That is down to the skill of the archer, no matter what type of equipment they’re using.

vegas16_b16_6908Credit: World Archery

In Part II of this post, I’ll be talking about one more book series, the Ranger’s Apprentice, and the two types of bows that are found in their world and our own.





March Madness is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States that features 68 college basketball teams from the Division I level of the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), to determine the national championship. The tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was the idea of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen.  Played mostly during March, it has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States.

The tournament teams include champions from 32 Division I conferences (which receive automatic bids), and 36 teams which are awarded at-large berths. These “at-large” teams are chosen by an NCAA selection committee, then announced in a nationally televised event on the Sunday preceding the “First Four” play-in games, currently held in Dayton, Ohio, and dubbed Selection Sunday. The 68 teams are divided into four regions and organized into a single-elimination “bracket”, which pre-determines, when a team wins a game, which team it will face next. Each team is “seeded”, or ranked, within its region from 1 to 16. After the First Four, the tournament occurs during the course of three weekends, at pre-selected neutral sites across the United States. Teams, seeded by rank, proceed through a single-game elimination bracket beginning with a “first four” consisting of 8 low-seeded teams playing in 4 games for a position in the first round the Tuesday and Wednesday before the first round begins, a first round consisting of 64 teams playing in 32 games over the course of a week, the “Sweet Sixteen” and “Elite Eight” rounds the next week and weekend, respectively, and – for the last weekend of the tournament – the “Final Four” round. The Final Four is usually played during the first weekend of April. These four teams, one from each region (East, South, Midwest, and West), compete in a pre-selected location for the national championship.

The Fountaindale Public Library is proud to present this month’s lobby tree display in celebration of March Madness with a plethora of books to choose from as well as a smattering of DVDs and CDs that take a look at all aspects of this popular sporting event.


Here is a sampling of some of the titles that await you:

  1. Great Teams in College Basketball History by Luke DeCock
  2. Last Dance: Behind The Scenes at The Final Four by John Feinstein
  3. The Legends Club: Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Valvano, and an Epic College Basketball Rivalry by John Feinstein
  4. NCAA Basketball Championship by Annalise Bekkering
  5. When March Went Mad: The Game That Transformed Basketball by Seth Davis


…And, it’s all conveniently located for you on the 1st Floor, right when you first walk in!


So, come on in and celebrate this famous and popular annual sporting event.

Book Recommendation: UnF**k Your Habitat

unf__k your habitat


The library recently got this really awesome book by Rachel Hoffman, UnF*ck your Habitat: You’re Better than Your Mess. It’s based on her website of the same name! The book and website intentionally has a little bit of strong language, but it’s not to the point where it’s in bad taste. If that’s way too much of an (understandable) turn-off for you, let me point you out to Marie Kondo instead!

As I’ve been making my way through the book, Hoffman has some really great advice for people who struggle to keep up on the messes our daily lives bring us. It assumes nothing pertaining to cleaning ability. This gives you a chance to start fresh to learn and build new cleaning habits!

My favorite is her philosophy of 20/10s. I know that sounds like a really weird name, but bear with me while I explain. All 20/10 means is for every 20 minutes of cleaning, you take a 10 minute break. 20/10s are adjustable based on your cleaning endurance. Not quite ready for that? Try 10/5s. Are you ready to be a cleaning MONSTER? Try 45/15s! It’s workable to fit any kind of level. You can do as many 20/10s as you want. Do one a day, do several in a row, it’s your choice!

Check it out today (after I return it…whoops!)!


National Poetry Month



April is National Poetry Month.  Introduced in 1996 and organized by the Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month is a celebration of poetry as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. The Academy of American Poets’ website serves as a hub for information about local poetry events during the month. The organization also provides free educational resources for teachers in classroom celebrations and activities, and also commissions an annual festival poster.  The Fountaindale Public Library is proud to present this month’s lobby tree display in celebration of National Poetry Month with a plethora of books to choose from as well as a smattering of DVDs and CDs that take a look at all aspects of this unique and wonderful art form.

poetry 4


Here is a sampling of some of the titles that await you:

  1. The American Night by Jim Morrison
  2. Complete Poems 1904-1962 by e. e. cummings
  3. Ghost Tantras by Michael McClure
  4. The Roominghouse Madrigals by Charles Bukowski
  5. The Scripture of the Golden Eternity by Jack Kerouac


…And, it’s all conveniently located for you on the 1st Floor, right when you first walk in!

poetry 5


So, come on in and celebrate the art as well as the poets who have contributed immensely to the creative foundation of Poetry.