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The Suburbanite
  • PAGE, STAGE, SCREEN: Amish authors set for Lake library appearance

  • With authors Amanda Flower and Linda Castillo making appearances at the Lake and Perry Sippo branches of the Stark County Public Library this month, a Page Stage and Screen focusing on Amish culture seemed appropriate.

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  • With authors Amanda Flower and Linda Castillo making appearances at the Lake and Perry Sippo branches of the Stark County Public Library this month, a Page Stage and Screen focusing on Amish culture seemed appropriate. Particularly since the Amish are one of the area’s most misunderstood — and, thanks to brainless “reality” TV depictions, maligned — groups. Conversely, Flower’s Amish mystery series set in Appleseed Creek, Ohio, and Castillo’s Kate Burkholder mysteries are equally fascinating both in setting and plot — and they lead off this week’s selections, each available at your local Stark and Summit County branch library.
    PAGE
    Similar in plot to Flower’s “A Plain Death,” Castillo’s “Her Last Breath” (MacMillan, 2012) is set in Holmes County, Ohio, and has Amish-born investigator Burkholder on the trail of an apparent traffic accident caused by a drunk driver that leaves the husband and children of her childhood friend dead. What Burkholder uncovers, however, has her chasing a possible killer living among the residents of Painter’s Mill and makes her question everything she has ever known about Amish culture.
    Castillo will appear at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Lake Community Branch library, 11955 Market Avenue N.W. in Uniontown, and again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Perry Sippo Branch, 5710 12th Street N.W. in Canton.
    Flower will appear at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Lake Community Branch library.
    For more information on either appearance, contact the Lake Community Branch at 330-877-9975 and the Perry Sippo Branch at 330-477-8482.
    SCREEN
    While the realism of its character depictions could likely be questioned somewhat, the classic “Witness” (Paramount, 1985) remains one of the most convincing performances ever turned in by Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis and then-newcomer Lukas Haas.
    From the film’s timeless barn dancing scene between Ford, as Philadelphia Police detective John Book, and McGillis, as young widow Rachel Lapp, to the starkly eerie cinematography of its climax, “Witness” is a brilliant example of how Amish lifestyle can be effectively — and respectfully — used as a backdrop to a tense and fascinating story.
    STAGE
    While this might be stretching our Amish theme, when it comes to convincing live performances, few can compare (and I am not kidding here) with those turned in by the indomitable Mr. Weird Al Yankovic. And on record, of course, he is the author of “Amish Paradise,” the unforgettable 1996 parody of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” that got as much ink because of Coolio’s response to it — stating it “desecrated” his original — which itself was an admitted rip-off of Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise.”
    But we digress.
    As Al ramps up for live appearances July 11 at Newport Music Hall in Columbus and June 14 at Continental Terrace in Sylvania (the nearest this leg of his current tour gets to Northeast Ohio), we still have his latest, “Alpocalypse” (Volcano, 2011) to enjoy in the privacy of our own CD players.
    Page 2 of 2 - The 12-track collection does suffer some missteps — “Perform This Way,” a parody of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” commits the mortal comedy album sin of simply being boring, and the Miley Cyrus spoof “Party in the CIA,” while a hit, fails to rise to the creative level of classics like “Paradise” and the epic “The Saga Begins.”
    That being said, Weird more than makes up for it with the Doors-inspired “Craigslist,” the album’s second Gaga parody, “Polka Face” and the Charles Nelson Reilly ode “CNR” — perhaps the most brilliantly bent composition in the Yankovic catalog.