Posts Tagged ‘DVD’

To Begin the World Over Again: the life of Thomas Paine, call number DVD 791.4372 P165tb 2015, 74 minutes.

There is a theatrical tradition of one-person shows focused on historical figures, such as Mark Twain (Mark Twain Tonight!), Will Rogers and Harry Truman.

This video is Ian Ruskin’s one-man performance based on the life of American revolutionary and founding father Thomas Paine. This is an entertaining way to become acquainted with the sincere but flawed revolutionary writer. Paine was born in England, and after failing in business there, he went to the American colonies at the age of 37. His writings, most notably Common Sense (which he admits was not his original title), helped to ignite the American Revolution. He eventually went to France during the time of the French Revolution, and was a great advocate of the Age of Reason. Sadly, he died in poverty, ignored and disdained. His radical (and surprisingly modern) ideas about democracy, equality, slavery, the Bible, pensions, health-care, education, and morality are actually very different than his detractors would have had everyone believe. This video is of the staged one man performance in March of 2015 at the Lillian Theatre in Hollywood. Also included are audience comments in a separate section.


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Video Review: Uncensored science : Bill Nye debates Ken Ham : is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era? [videorecording on DVD] call number 576.8 Un16s 2014, Answers in Genesis, 2014.

uncensored_scienceKen Ham, an Australian immigrant and leader of the Answers in Genesis creationism program, debates Bill Nye “The Science Guy” in a televised event in 2014 that includes several back-and-forth debate sessions and finishes with questions submitted by the audience.

The topic: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?”

This DVD contains the actual, uncut statements, arguments, and audience reactions to these two leading spokespersons.

There was no “winner” declared — this was simply an opportunity for these two men to put their views out for consideration.  Nye lays out examples and data in favor of a scientific, old-earth, evolutionary approach, while Ham redefines scientific terms and refuses to accept events and processes that were not recorded while they were happening, in favor of Biblical explanations.

One of the most telling moments was the question from an audience member to Ken Ham, asking what would convince him that creationism was incorrect, to which he replied, “Nothing.”

This is also available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9yQEG7mlTU 


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Video Review: Cosmos, a spacetime odyssey, call number 530.11  C821so  2014, a videorecording on DVD, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2014.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson was inspired by the original Cosmos as hosted by Carl Sagan, and teamed up with Ann Druyan (the late Sagan’s wife) and Seth MacFarlane to create this up-to-date exploration of science, astronomy, life, the universe, and everything.

From famous and sometimes less-famous scientists, to the future end of time, Tyson gives us a view into how science works, corrects itself, and projects the past, present and future of the universe.

This is done in a popular, easy-to-follow manner that helps make the complexities of everything understandable.  Tyson admits what science hasn’t yet learned, what it has revised with new information, and what can be extrapolated about the universe.  The series was written by Ann Druyan and Steven Soter.

Using such computer-generated visual concepts as a Ship of the Imagination, and a Cosmic Calendar, he is able to help viewers visualize the details of cells, the vastness of time, and the immensity of galaxies.  Even the simple animations of historical events and people are intended to guide the recounting of events, without a lot of distractions.

This 4 disc set contains the expanded version of the series as shown on the National Geographic Channel.  The discs contain all 13 episodes, plus an audio commentary on the first episode, and three featurettes: “Celebrating Carl Sagan: A Selection from the Library of Congress Dedication”, “Cosmos at Comic-Con 2013″ and “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey – The Voyage Continues”.

This is a classic work of popular educational television, and this set is an opportunity to revisit, catch any episodes you missed, and hear the commentaries.


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Video Review: Hal Holbrook in the CBS Television network special Mark Twain tonight! [DVD] call number DVD 818.409 T911mtt 1999, Kultur, 1999, c1967. [request and check this out at the Circulation Desk]

marktwaintonightI openly proclaim it — this is an oldie but a goodie, and probably the role for which Hal Holbrook is — or should be — always remembered.  Based on Twain’s works, and considerable research, Holbrook began this as a Broadway show in the 1960s and it was filmed as a CBS television special in 1967, as one of the earliest and best examples of a one-person show on a noted personality.  (Regrettably, we don’t seem to have similar videos of James Whitmore doing his performances of Will Rogers and Harry Truman.)

Hal Holbrook won an Emmy award for his re-creation of a stage lecture and readings by the famous author, copying his voice from the few actual surviving recordings, and covering everything from readings from Huckleberry Finn to Twain’s cigar-smoking, with all the fascinating humor and insight you might have found in an actual Twain appearance on stage in the last decade of his life.  This is really funny, and still very relevant to our times now.

Television networks typically rerun certain shows every year, often seasonally.  We really need a season, in my opinion, when they rerun classic performances such as this one.

For more information on Twain’s lecture tours, you might also like to read The trouble begins at eight : Mark Twain’s lecture tours.


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The Boreham Library has been buying DVDs for several years now. It’s a more flexible and longer-lasting format than videocassettes. Of course, there are some questions that have come up.

1. Why won’t Windows Media Player play this DVD I checked out?

If you’re trying to play the DVD on a computer, you may run into a problem with Windows Media Player not being able to play certain ones. This is a limitation of Windows Media Player, and you could solve it by purchasing additional software to upgrade WMP (a “plug-in” or a “codec”). However, if you’ll check this page, you’ll find software that you can download as an alternative to WMP. It’s called Media Player Classic, and it usually can play those stubborn DVDs that WMP rejected on your computer. It’s just another way of accomplishing the same thing. Media Player Classic is free, by the way, and plays many other things beside DVDs.

2. Is the Library going to buy HD (high-definition) DVDs?

The battle between the two HD formats (HD DVD versus Blu-ray) is still going on at this time. Some DVDs are being published in both the older “Standard Definition” AND one of the high-definition formats together in the same package, but at this point, it would be a gamble to choose one or the other of the high-def formats and buy anything in that, since most of the Library’s DVDs are purchased to be around quite a while. The educational materials on DVDs in the Library are quite often much more expensive than the popular (and more widely distributed) DVDs of popular shows and movies, so it would be quite a big investment to try to obtain them in high-def, even if they become available — and very few of them are sold in high-def formats at this time.

The Library is keeping an eye on high-definition and DVD purchases, and will be waiting for the high-def industry and its customers to make their decisions. Those of us who remember the Betamax versus VHS format battle (“Betamax” — what’s that?) when videocassettes first came out tend to be very cautious about settling for one format over another until the dust settles a bit. At this point, quite a bit of educational video is not yet in the popular existing (SD: Standard Definition) DVD format, but still sells only in VHS videocassettes.

For a detailed discussion of the distance and size effects in high-def, you can read this article. It’s more relevant to the conditions in a home than in a classroom, if you’re considering buying a television, but it also implies that a fairly large screen would be necessary for all the students in a classroom to get the benefits of a high-def video, and would require high-def projectors and players (or computer DVD drives).

3. Does the Library have NTSC or PAL videos? And what does that mean, anyway?

Video formats differ between countries, for various reasons. NTSC (National Television System Committee) is the format used for videos (VHS videocassettes and DVDs) in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, and a number of other countries. However, Europe and many other parts of the world decided to use PAL (Phase Alternating Line) format instead. You can’t play one format on a DVD player or DVD drive meant for another, normally. The Library only collects videos in NTSC format, the one used in the United States, since this is the only one normally sold in the U.S. The Library does not have equipment which can play PAL format videos in the Library at this time, so there are no plans to purchase anything in PAL. While the newer PAL format does seem to have some advantages as a format, and fits the European electrical power system, NTSC is the older existing standard, despite fluctuations in colors when viewing (hence the nickname “Never Twice the Same Color”). See the articles linked to the terms for more information on these formats.

The Boreham Library is still purchasing videos in Standard Definition DVDs and in VHS format videocassettes at this time, as faculty request them. Donations of appropriate videos are also accepted for the collection or the biannual book sale (which also may sell other donated materials).

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