Posted On: Nov 28, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
I bought my first comic seven years ago.
Feeling unsure and out of place, I ventured up the steps to Lawrence’s local comic shop, Astro Kitty, to buy Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8. As a longtime devotee of Joss Whedon’s TV show, I was thrilled when I learned it was going to continue in comic form, even if I didn’t have any experience with the format and had grown up thinking that it was just superhero stories that were really meant for boys who didn’t like to read (oh, how naive my younger self was). Read More..
Posted On: Nov 19, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
For something different, I thought I would recommend a CD.
Growing up in Southern California, every Thanksgiving one of the Rock and Roll stations would always play all 23 minutes of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. I always enjoyed the satire and humor, as well as the powerful message of the song. Read More..
Posted On: Nov 17, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
Released in 2013, Flex is Kings is a documentary following the lives of young African-American flex dancers over a two-year period. Flex, an undulating, free-style street-dance, originated in Brooklyn, New York and is centered around Battlefest, where dancers face off to find out who flexes best. The filmmakers do an incredible job using artistic camera shots and beautiful staging to capture the evocative, athletic nature of flex dancing. Focusing on the community of dancers and the struggles they face, the movie is an elegant reminder of the power of dance. Read More..
Posted On: Nov 6, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
The stereotypical 20th century office secretary—taker of dictation, orderer of flowers for the boss’s wife, getter of coffee—was a silent participant in whatever glory or tragedy befell her employers. Such secretaries rarely found themselves subjects of historical interest, except perhaps in studies of the marginalization of women in the workplace, and characters like Mad Men’s Peggy Olson have portrayed the heartbreaking limitations of the job with an empowered twist hopefully more reflective of today’s female labor force. But in two of the best movies I’ve seen recently, real life secretaries quietly performing their duties became involved in the most momentous historic events of the last century. Read More..
Posted On: Oct 27, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
If you ventured to Merriam to see its nascent IKEA store, you’ve gotten a taste of furnishing-rabid hordes and the mega-store’s beguiling floor plans. Perhaps you felt grasped by the need for a low-price ARKELSTORP or POÄNG. I was convinced to brave the lines to see this phenomenon, and from my visit I concluded two things: one, IKEA is pretty creepy; and two, I can’t afford to not upgrade with a new set of ÅFJÄRDEN. Read More..
Posted On: Oct 17, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
It takes a certain kind of nerd to want to read the dictionary, and there’s even a name for it: logophile, or lover of words. I’m always been interested in obscure words and how definitions of certain words have changed over time. I was the kind of kid who read the dictionary for fun. Really.
I’m not quite ambitious enough to undertake reading the entire Oxford English Dictionary, but I was intrigued enough by the idea to read Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea. In 26 chapters, Shea shares his experience reading every single word in the dictionary and documents the amusing words he discovers during the process. It was an interesting and entertaining read.
About the time I finished, my friend, an acquisitions editor at Oxford University Press, said she got an email at work asking for suggestions on words to add to the OED as well as nominations for word of the year (last year’s was selfie) and asked for ideas. While I couldn’t think of a word I thought warranted such an honor, it did get me thinking about how a word enters a dictionary, as well as how early dictionaries were compiled. Turns out, it’s quite a tale, and is documented in The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester. Read More..
Posted On: Oct 10, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
What inspires the artist to create? Is it borne of a deep connection with the instrument or medium? Is it a need to connect one’s inner life with the outer world? Is making art about influencing change or creating beauty or making peace? As this process of creation is unique to each of us, the possibilities are endless. Self-Made Worlds: Visionary Folk Art Environments offers a glimpse into the world of artists whose works “challenge long-standing ideas about what art is and what it can be.” These artists, often self-taught, tend to focus on spiritual and mystical themes and have sometimes been categorized as outsider, visionary, or folk artists.
Posted On: Sep 26, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
2014 marks the double anniversary for the World’s Fairs that were held in New York City. The 1939 fair opened seventy-five years ago and the 1964 fair opened fifty years ago. The World of Tomorrow: The 1939 World’s Fair, by Larry Zim, Mel Lerner and Herbert Rolfes gives the reader a chance to relive the excitement of an event most of us did not have the opportunity to experience firsthand. Read More..
Posted On: Aug 22, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
Author Phyllis Rose wants to take you on a literary experiment like none other. The Shelf: From LEQ to LES opens in the stacks of the New York Society Library, where Rose has taken it upon herself to read across a single shelf of fiction in order to learn about a variety of novels in a completely arbitrary way. “Usually we choose our reading from a preselected list of books, compiled by reviewers, award panels, librarians, teachers, and professors,” Rose explains. “What about all those books that are never read at all, never even considered? Let me, I thought, if only for a change, choose my reading almost blindly. Who knows what I will find?” Read More..
Posted On: Jul 8, 2014 In: In the Spotlight, Staff Picks
One of the great joys of parenting toddlers for me has been the newly acquired skill to perform basic human functions while half asleep. Specifically, I’ve found much pleasure in recent years reading aloud to my kids, and silently to myself, in a state approaching unconsciousness. Having never come close to mastering the art of lucid dreaming, which always sounded so fun, this may be as close as I will get to operating in the plane of the surreal (unless you count an ill-conceived game my 3-year old and I play sometimes called “Food Coloring and Shaving Cream”). I find the benefits—strange connections between the text and various subconscious flights of my own weary, wandering mind—usually outweigh the drawbacks, which have included the replacement of P. D. Eastman’s deathless prose with my own inappropriate word salad. My biggest complaint about reading half asleep is the simple inevitability of falling totally asleep within a few paragraphs or pages, and frequently forgetting most of what I’ve read. But I figured there must be writing that lends itself to this mode of consumption, and after a brief quest for the perfect book to read in a half asleep state, I believe I’ve found it. Read More..