No one has ever accused me of being a good businessman, or having great taste in movies, so it’s no surprise that a recent inspiration to locate a sufficiently boarded up movie theater, purchase it and inaugurate an annual Watergate Film Fest fell on uninterested, and possibly appalled, ears. However, the response I received to this suggestion–that it was a good thing my work in a library limits me from doing too much damage in the so-called “real world”–may not actually have been correct. To wit, the following is a list of movies recommended for anyone out there in the real world who may want to embark on personal Watergate Film Fests in their own homes. Read More..
In the Spotlight
True story: last fall I looked out my window and saw a coyote lounging in the shade of an apple tree, contentedly eating apples off the ground—the proverbial free lunch, a literal windfall.
Two years previously, at The Land Institute’s Prairie Festival in Salina, writer Naomi Klein gave a talk called “The Message”—meaning, the message of climate change. Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine, a powerful and important book with an ominous subtitle: “The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” My notes from her talk emphasize her point that, contrary to appearances, the right wing completely understands climate change, and, especially, its effects. Read More..
From printmaking innovator to social and sexual instigator, Andy Warhol was nothing if not a groundbreaker. “Popular opinion crowned Andy Warhol (1928-1987) as the ‘Prince of Pop’, an artist who created a pantheon of pictures that became icons of American consumer culture in the 1960’s.” Thus begins Andy Warhol by Joseph D. Ketner II, a thoroughly enjoyable glimpse into the life of a renowned and unusual celebrity artist. Raised in an immigrant, working class family during the Depression, Warhol rose through the echelons of New York art society to become one of the defining figures of the 60’s. “His eccentric personality and his entourage of acolytes captured media attention and altered the cult of celebrity.” A compact, accessible book with a nice sampling of Warhol’s works, Andy Warhol is a great place to dive into this artist’s complex history.
The book is part of a series published by Phaidon Press called Phaidon Focus. Phaidon lauds the series as offering “accessible, up-to-date, authoritative, enjoyable and thought-provoking books on internationally renowned modern masters.” Other artists featured in the series include Warhol contemporary Robert Rauschenberg, abstract sculptor David Smith, and figurative painter Francis Bacon. Phaidon itself has an interesting story as a publishing house that has focused on high quality, affordable books, especially art books, since its inception in 1923. Founded in Austria with an emphasis on history, philosophy and literature, the press was forced to move to England when the Nazis annexed Austria during World War II. Despite this setback, the press continued to thrive and expanded its operations to include a wider array titles focused on art and academia. According to Phaidon’s website, the press now has “over 1,500 titles in print, featuring the finest creative work from leading innovators in all areas of the arts, architecture, design, photography, cinema, travel and food.” Look for Georgia O’Keeffe, the latest in the Phaidon Focus Series, to be released in March.
If you’d like to peruse Warhol’s art instead of reading about his life, Andy Warhol Portraits, also published by Phaidon, boasts “the most comprehensive collection of Warhol’s portraits.” It’s a wonderfully big, glossy book that showcases well-known figures such as Jackie Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Truman Capote. Possession Obsession: Andy Warhol and Collecting, another beautiful book by Phaidon, documents Warhol’s art acquisitions and displays items from his $30 million dollar estate. For a great in-depth movie on Warhol’s life, the library also carries PBS’s Andy Warhol: a documentary film. And if you just can’t get enough, Warhol’s prolific legacy can be enjoyed at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the largest museum in the United States to focus on a single artist. – Rachael Perry, Adult Services
Don’t worry, we won’t get too romantic on you guys. This evening’s Nerd Nite is exploring the nature and myths of love. Whether it’s the myth of the perfect family, the perfect relationship, or questioning roots of violence against women (which is too often couched with the term love). For full bios and descriptions check out our local site. Grab a beverage and prepare to question the very nature of affection and romance.
The Myth of White Picket Fences: The American dream confronted in Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.
Housekeeping in all of it’s formats!
Idioms, currencies, and fantasies: An exploration into the tenants of relational satisfaction
Casing interpersonal communication: Case studies in personal and social relationships by Dawn O. Braithwaite
Why we love: The nature and chemistry of romantic love by Helen E. Fisher
Anthropologist Fisher argues that much of our romantic behavior is hard-wired in this provocative examination of love. Her case is bolstered by behavioral research into the effects of two crucial chemicals, norepinephrine and dopamine, and by surveys she conducted across broad populations. When we fall in love, she says, our brains create dramatic surges of energy that fuel such feelings as passion, obsessiveness, joy and jealousy. Fisher devotes a fascinating and substantial chapter to the appearance of romance and love among non-human animals, and composes careful theories about early humans in love. One of her many surprising conclusions suggests that, since “four-year birth intervals were the regular pattern of birth spacing during our long human prehistory,” our modern brains still deal with relationships in serially monogamous terms of about four years. Indeed, Fisher gathered data from around the world showing that divorce was most prevalent in the fourth year of marriage, when a couple had a single dependent child. Fisher also reports on the behaviors that lead to successful lifelong partnerships and offers, based on what she’s observed, numerous tips on staying in love. And though she’s certain that chemicals are at love’s heart, Fisher never loses her sense of the emotion’s power or poetry.
As women everywhere will attest, when it comes to understanding female sexuality, most guys know more about what’s under the hood of a car than under the hood of a clitoris. And while it seems that men have struggled valiantly since the dawn of time to find ways to reliably elicit the female orgasm, rare is the guy who has the modesty to ask: “What do I do?” Ironically, the answer has always been right there on the tip of his tongue. Welcome to the world of She Comes First, where the mystery of female satisfaction is solved and the tongue is proven mightier than the sword. According to Ian Kerner, clinical sexologist and evangelist of the female orgasm, oral sex has long been deemed an optional aspect of foreplay, but, in fact, it’s coreplay — simply the best way for leading a woman through the entire process of sexual response. Fun, informative, and easy to read, She Comes First is a virtual encyclopedia of female pleasure, detailing dozens of tried-and-true techniques for consistently satisfying a woman and illustrated step-by-step instructions to ensure success. These simple methods represent a new era in sexual intimacy, one in which the exchange of pleasure occurs on a level playing field and fulfillment is mutual. She Comes First exuberantly offers a fresh new sexual philosophy that inspires every man to make a mantra of Rhett Butler’s infamous line to Scarlett O’Hara, “You should be kissed, and often, and by someone who knows how.”
Against Love by Laura Kipnis
Against Love examines the meaning and cultural significance of adultery, arguing that perhaps the question concerns not only the private dilemma of whether or not to be faithful but also the purpose of this much-vaunted fidelity. It offers no easy answers. Rather, it intends to engage you in a commonsensical and brave examination of the plight of the modern personality, caught between the vicissitudes of desire and the decrees of social conformity.
Sex matters: The sexuality and society reader by Mindy Stombler
This anthology of more than 50 readings from contemporary scholarly literature, trade books, and popular media, looks at the dual forces of social construction and social control of sexuality.
Massage and Loving by Anne Hooper
Great sex: A man’s guide to the secret principles of total-body sex by Michael Castleman
Author Michael Castleman is the nation’s top journalist specializing in men’s sexuality. He has been a sex educator, counselor, and writer for 30 years, including 5 years as the expert who answered the sex questions submitted to the Playboy Advisor. Written with the help of an advisory board that includes some of the nation’s leading sex therapists, Great Sex is certain to help you overcome your sex problems; become a better, more confident lover; and enjoy the sex of your dreams.
No Means No: Shining light on violence against women and how hope and healing persevere
Gina Egan, PhD
Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn
New York Times columnist Kristof and his wife, WuDunn, a former Times reporter, make a brilliantly argued case for investing in the health and autonomy of women worldwide. “More girls have been killed in the last fifty years, precisely because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the twentieth century,” they write, detailing the rampant “gendercide” in the developing world, particularly in India and Pakistan. Far from merely making moral appeals, the authors posit that it is impossible for countries to climb out of poverty if only a fraction of women (9% in Pakistan, for example) participate in the labor force. China’s meteoric rise was due to women’s economic empowerment: 80% of the factory workers in the Guangdong province are female; six of the 10 richest self-made women in the world are Chinese. The authors reveal local women to be the most effective change agent.
The New Soft War on Women by Caryl Rivers
Rivers and Barnett’s (She Works/He Works) vital study of the state of women in the labor force draws upon statistics, interviews, and cultural analysis, to argue that, contrary to the widespread belief that women are outstripping men in the classroom and workforce (“the myth of female ascendance”), the situation is far from ideal. Moreover, the authors claim that gains that women have made since the early part of the 20th century, such as access to contraception, are in danger of disappearing. Although the copious use of statistics to debunk myths can become tiresome, it’s hard to ignore overwhelming evidence that shows the undesirable and unsustainable conditions women face in the 21st century. Though many struggles sound old hat-whether women are natural caretakers and subordinates, the struggle to balance career and family, the undue influence of a woman’s appearance, the disparity in wages-this book will move readers who believe that feminism is an outdated movement, or that gender discrimination is a thing of the past. Although the book doesn’t offer comprehensive strategies to win the “soft war,” it effectively shows how old ideas are still at work and unveils their contemporary manifestations.
Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick investigates the troubling epidemic of rape in the military while speaking with courageous victims who have refused to be intimidated into silence. In 2009 alone, 16,150 service members were sexually assaulted. Meanwhile, it’s estimated that female soldiers in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a male soldier than shot by an enemy combatant. Despite the overwhelming evidence presented by these victimized soldiers, however, only 2% of rape accusations in the military end in prosecution. In some cases, male soldiers have even been awarded medals for bravery and professionalism while being investigated for rape. In addition to hearing from women who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, we also learn how systemic corruption allows the vast majority of their attackers to walk free and what is now being done to ensure that no crime goes unpunished.
Jackson Katz’s TedTalk: Violence against women -it’s a men’s issue
Domestic violence and sexual abuse are often called “women’s issues.” But in this bold, blunt talk, Jackson Katz points out that these are intrinsically men’s issues — and shows how these violent behaviors are tied to definitions of manhood. A clarion call for us all — women and men — to call out unacceptable behavior and be leaders of change
Websites Gina recommends.
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Vday.org is their website.
Another website is A Call To Men aims to end violence towards women by educating men.
http://knowyourix.org/ educates students about their rights under title IX.
David Lisak & Paul M. Miller’s paper on Repeat Rape and Multiple Offending Among Undetected Rapists
At least here in Lawrence, Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction this year for 6 more weeks of winter seems to have been on the money. Not a Groundhog Day goes by without fond recollections of its namesake movie, a comedy which, due to the profundity of its central problem—a man doomed to repeat the same one day of his life until he gets it right—has arguably recast the meaning of the holiday itself. Just a month past New Year’s Day and its resolutions, Groundhog Day, as symbolized by Bill Murray’s struggle to break free of banality, is a day to reflect on how difficult it can be to change. It’s another testament to the movie that, for all its lightheartedness, the title itself has become shorthand for bad habits and repetitive situations.
Golden Globes. Oscars. Grammys. Awards season is upon us, folks!
While I love seeing celebrities walk the red carpet and discussing the best movies and music of the year with friends, family, and co-workers, the awards ceremony that I most look forward to is the Youth Media Awards at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference.
The YMAs include the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Morris awards, just to name a few. Each award seeks to highlight the best in books published for children and young adults during the previous year. The full list of honored titles can be found here, but I wanted to share some of my favorites from what I’ve read over the past year.
When you’re exploring a delicate or taboo subject, seeking out books for guidance and insight can be very helpful. I have recently come across Honoring Menstruation: A Time of Self-Renewal, and it has aided me immensely on my personal journey. Although author Lara Owen introduces it as “the story of my journey into the menstrual mysteries”, the book develops into a much more multifaceted attempt to understand the role menstruation plays in our collective psyche and the steps a woman can take to understand and embrace her moon-time. Read More..
What is nerd nite? Aside from awesome, it’s a monthly lecture event that strives for an “inebriated, salacious, yet deeply academic vibe.” (credit: Nerd Nite – San Francisco)
Check out our local chapter’s website to learn more.
After the lectures tonight, be sure and check out our resource lists if you want to get nerdier with games, puzzle and video ones alike.
From Heisenberg to Parker Brothers: Cracking the Soma Treasure Map
My Best Mathematical and Logic Puzzles by Martin Gardner
The noted expert and longtime author of Scientific American‘s Mathematical Games column selects 70 of his favorite “short” puzzles. Enthusiasts can challenge their skills with such mind-bogglers as The Returning Explorer, The Mutilated Chessboard, Scrambled Box Tops, Bronx vs. Brooklyn, and dozens more involving logic and basic math. Complete solutions included.
How to be a Genius by John Woodward
Taking a sometimes humorous approach, this heavily illustrated encyclopedic love letter to the human brain covers such topics as memory, the five senses, creativity tricks and illusions, and the brain’s evolution-not to mention how one’s gray matter actually works. One spread illuminates how the brain processes data, labels experience and creates stereotypes by using photographs of a grass snake (the brain associates the harmless grass snake with other venomous snakes); another section utilizes a cartoon robot in a discussion of the development of good and bad habits. Photographs, flowcharts and activities work in tandem to create an accessible, fast-paced and informative read. Ages 9-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Riddles of the Sphinx and other Mathematical Puzzle Tales By Martin Gardner
Solving these riddles is not simply a matter of logic and calculation, though these play a role. Luck and inspiration are factors as well, so beginners and experts alike may profitably exercise their wits on Gardner’s problems, whose subjects range from geometry to word play to questions relating to physics and geology. We guarantee that you will solve some of these riddles, be stumped by others, and be amused by almost all of the stories and settings that Gardner has devised to raise these questions.
How to Solve It By George Polya
In this best-selling classic, George Polya revealed how the mathematical method of demonstrating a proof or finding an unknown can be of help in attacking any problem that can be “reasoned” out–from building a bridge to winning a game of anagrams. Generations of readers have relished Polya’s deft instructions on stripping away irrelevancies and going straight to the heart of a problem. “How to Solve It” popularized heuristics, the art and science of discovery and invention.
Power-ups and Ammo Crates, or How I Saved the World Today: The Allure of Modern Video Games and How This Fringe Cultural Phenomenon Turned into a Titan of the Entertainment Industry
Extra Lives by Tom Bissell
Grand Theft Auto IV is both a waste of time and “the most colossal creative achievement of the last 25 years” according to this scintillating meditation on the promise and discontents of video games. Journalist Bissell (Chasing the Sea ) should know; the ultraviolent car-chase-and-hookers game was his constant pastime during a months-long intercontinental cocaine binge. He’s ashamed of his video habit, but also ashamed of being ashamed of the “dominant art form of our time”; by turning the eye of a literary critic on the gory, seemingly puerile genre of ultraviolent, open-ended “shooter” games, he finds unexpected riches. Bissell bemoans the “uncompromising stupidity” of their story lines, wafer-thin characters, and the moronic dialogue, but celebrates the button-pushing, mesmeric qualities and the subtle, profound depths these conceal-the catharses of teamwork and heroism in the zombie-fest Left for Dead, the squirmy moral dilemmas of Mass Effect, the “mood of wistful savagery” suffusing the rifles-and-chainsaws-bedecked denizens of Gears of War. Bissell excels both at intellectual commentary and evocative reportage on the experience of playing games, while serving up engrossing mise-en-scene narratives of the mayhem. If anyone can bridge the aesthetic chasm between readers and gamers, he can. (June 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal
As addictive as Tetris, McGonigal’s penetrating, entertaining look into gaming culture is a vibrant mix of technology, psychology, and sociology, told with the vision of a futurist and the deft touch of a storyteller. For the nearly 183 million Americans who will spend an average of 13 hours a week playing games, McGonigal’s book is a welcome validation of their pursuits. But for those who don’t understand, or who may worry that our growing preoccupation with games is detrimental to society and culture, McGonigal argues persuasively that games are in fact improving us. “Game design isn’t just technological craft,” she argues, “it’s a 21st Century way of thinking and leading.” And games, she argues, particularly the new wave of Alternative Reality Games, are not about escapism but a powerful new form of collaboration and community building. The book moves effortlessly from Herodotus to Halo, stitching together an intellectually stimulating view of human culture past, present, and future. And while not downplaying the potential for negative consequences, such as “gamer addiction,” McGonigal makes an inspiring case for the way games can both enhance our personal happiness and help society. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Game Boys by Michael Kane
Readers of a certain generation are surely thinking, video games hit the big time? Get serious. But their children or grandchildren know what the author is talking about. Today’s video games can be as exciting as movies; they can require as much skill as more traditional sports; and they are very big business. The author follows two video-gaming teams, Team 3D and CompLexity, as they battle for supremacy in the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), which was formed in 1997. For a sport that many consider to be marginal (if a sport at all), gaming is highly competitive and full of players who are just as idiosyncratic, determined, and flashy as any other pro athlete. Kane does a nice job of catching us up in the excitement—no easy task, as we are reading a book about people who play a game on a computer screen. Like any good sports book, this one is about the game and the personalities in equal measure.
All Your Base Are Belong To Us by Harold Goldberg
This highly informative book, written by veteran gaming columnist Goldberg, is billed as the first of its kind, spanning 50 years of video game history with its zany personalities, many trends, and marketing coups. The video game industry boasts revenues equaling that of Hollywood and a huge consumer base of 70% of Americans playing its games, Goldberg reveals. He details the ebb-and-flow of video game history and stories of its creators such as Ralph Baer, Nolan Bushnell, Hiroshi Yamauchi, William “Tripp” Hawkins, Dan and Sam Houser, Graeme Devine, and Jason Kapulka. His coverage of the development of games like Tennis for Two, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Dungeons & Dragons, Myst, Sims, and Grand Theft Auto will appeal not only to nerds and gamers in Goldberg’s easily accessible anecdotes but to those who grew up with these games through generations. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talk: Gaming can Make a Better World
Games like World of Warcraft give players the means to save worlds, and incentive to learn the habits of heroes. What if we could harness this gamer power to solve real-world problems? Jane McGonigal says we can, and explains how.
David Perry’s Ted Talk: Are Games Better than Life?
Game designer David Perry says tomorrow’s videogames will be more than mere fun to the next generation of gamers. They’ll be lush, complex, emotional experiences — more involving and meaningful to some than real life. With an excerpt from Michael Highland’s film “As Real as Your Life.”
What books make you, you? We asked staffer Fisher to pick the most significant books to him, from childhood to adulthood, and here they are!
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
According to my mom, this was the first major book that I fell in love with as a toddler. I used to ask her to read it 10, 20, or even 30 times in a single sitting. It must have made a huge impact on my early development if I wanted to hear it read to me that much. Looking back on it now, I feel bad that my mom had to make all those animal sounds over and over again. Read More..
As the old adage goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I have always been intrigued by items that carry a reminder of their past: a postcard with a hasty love note scrawled on the back, an antique photograph bearing the names of long forgotten family members. As a child I would pour over vintage Valentines, crumbling wedding certificates, and aged photo albums, imagining romantic scenarios and lives already lived. It seems I’m not alone in this interest: I first stumbled across author Ransom Riggs’ through his book Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past. Riggs, also a photo aficionado, crafted a book solely to celebrate found vintage photographs that bear some kind of written message from their past. I was transfixed by the book’s premise and enthralled by the combination of the photograph with its message. So imagine my delight upon learning that Riggs had recently written his first novel, combining found vintage photographs with an unusual, captivating storyline. Read More..