What’s happening at the Library

Published 6:30 pm Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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By James Gardner

Clark County Public Library

Wikipedia defines a leitmotif as “a ‘short, recurring musical phrase’ associated with a particular person, place, or idea.” You might not have heard the word leitmotif until reading this column (you’re welcome) but you have no doubt heard some famous examples if you watch movies. Hum the opening to the Imperial March from the “Star Wars” movies and your mind conjures the image of Darth Vader stalking down a hallway ready to Force choke some Rebels. Just two notes on the piano are enough to let readers know that Jaws is coming to eat some beach goers and ruin the tourist industry of Amity Island. However, there’s an even older leitmotif that signals one of cinema’s (and literature’s) most infamous villains. 

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Hear the name Norman Bates and a few images might pop into your mind. Perhaps the image of a shy but clean-cut young man. That image may be actor Anthony Hopkins from the original movie (DVD Classic PSYC) or Freddie Highmore if you’re a fan of the series “Bates Motel” (DVD Series BATE), but it’s Alfred Hitchcock’s classic that birthed the boy who really loved his mother. What helped cement Norman Bates into pop culture, other than the butcher knife or the interest in taxidermy is his leitmotif. The screeching string instruments are like a saw directly on one’s nerves. The discordant musical shriek accompanies the infamous silhouette of Norman dressed as his mother, complete with wig and dress, and holding a knife. However, Psycho’s infamous musical sting might not necessarily be for Norman Bates; rather, it’s for his mother who is, when inside Norman’s subconscious, is as harmless as a fly. 

People might know Norman Bates and his mother through Hitchcock’s classic film, but mother and son were actually created by author Robert Bloch, whose birthday is April 5th. Bloch actually began his writing career writing cosmic and supernatural horror before delving into crime and psychological horror, creating a character that has burrowed into the public imagination because he is a terror that can be encountered in the real world, a seemingly normal person who hides some very dark impulses. In 1960, his book was adapted into a movie by Hitchcock, but then book and movie narratively diverged. The movies Psycho II, III, and IV, which are featured in the “Psychos 4 Movie Midnight Marathon Pack” (DVD Horror PSYC), are vastly different from the sequel book that Bloch wrote. 

Many people might know Hitchcock more than Bloch, but the library is a great place to rediscover both artists. But if “Psycho” isn’t your thing, April 3rd is National Film Score Day. Check out a movie with a memorable soundtrack, one that you still find yourself humming when you’re riding a skateboard in the 1950’s like in the “Back to the Future Trilogy” (DVD Comedy BACK) or avoiding ancient traps like in “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” (DVD Action INDI). Or you might hum such songs while washing the dishes or doing laundry. You do you. 

But if you like movies and stories, check out some of our programs this week: 

  • Why should kids be the only ones to get storytime? On Thursday, April 4, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., the library will be having Adult Storytime. Sit, enjoy some snacks, have some fun, and listen to some classic and contemporary stories being read aloud. Feel free to bring your favorite short story to read and share with others. Napping is not allowed because you won’t be able to get to sleep later. 
  • Looking for a laid-back neighborhood game of Dungeons and Dragons? Want to make new friends while slaying monsters? This week is the monthly meeting of Clark County Public Library’s Saturday Dungeons and Dragons game. Join Reference Librarian (and Dungeon Master) James Gardner for a journey into an icy wasteland full of undead creatures and high adventures. For more information (and to begin making your higher-level character), email James at jgardner@clarkbooks.org. You can also sign up by contacting the library at (859) 744-5661.