Blue Blood and the 99 Percent: La Révolution on Netflix

La Révolution is a strange beast. It’s French historical horror, and, while I’m not usually one for horror, it’s definitely my sort of show. It’s filled with violent class strife, and women striving to attain and (and maintain) power. It’s clogged with family secrets, and family lies corrode its halls. It’s exciting, generally. It’s violent as hell, blood arcing across the snow, staining walls, spattering … Continue reading Blue Blood and the 99 Percent: La Révolution on Netflix

Ghost Variations

Classical music is a world of love and death, often tangled together. In that world of love and death and passion, Robert and Clara Wieck Schumann and Johannes Brahms are, most likely, not the only love triangle to triangulate, but they are definitely one of the more intense. Tragic, passionate, dark: there are surely a lot of words to describe their triangle, which, as far … Continue reading Ghost Variations

that time my boss went through my holds

There’s an ongoing discussion, on library twitter,1 about the problems of privacy in libraries. It’s part of our core values, and one of the major ethical tenants of our profession, and we’re pretty much failing. It’s so great! Or, rather, so profoundly infuriating and depressing that it can sometimes feel insurmountable, but luckily we have some great folks who are, and will continue, to rage … Continue reading that time my boss went through my holds

CSO Sessions Episode Eighteen: Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

French modernist composer Olivier Messiaen wrote his Quartet for the End of Time—Quatuor pour la fin du temps—while imprisoned by the Nazis in Stalag VIII-a in Görlitz, Germany (now Poland). It’s a shocking, almost unbearble history, a testament to Messiaen and to his fellow musicians, Jean Lanier, Henri Akoka, and Étienne Pasquier, and to the defiance of the human spirit. (You should read about the … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Eighteen: Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time

thoughts on getting a library degree, part II

Two years ago I wrote a two-part series about getting a degree in librarianship (I didn’t exactly recommend it) and finding a job in the library and information science field (I suggested starting as soon as possible and looking outside the field). The year before, I’d written about my own job hunt, a miserable, soul-sucking four year quest. Today, I saw a question on Facebook … Continue reading thoughts on getting a library degree, part II

Michio Kaku and LeVar Burton at the Chicago Humanities Festival

My review of Michio Kaku and LeVar Burton’s Chicago Humanities Festival conversation is now live over at Third Coast Review. It was wildly different from Joy Harjo and Layli Long Soldier’s conversation, but, jeez, you guys, it was just as joyful. Do you remember Reading Rainbow? I adored it as a kid. It was, in fact, one of the few TV shows I was allowed … Continue reading Michio Kaku and LeVar Burton at the Chicago Humanities Festival

Heather McGhee and Helene Gayle in Conversation at the Chicago Humanities Festival

My review of Heather McGhee and Helene Gayle’s Chicago Humanities Festival conversation is now live over at Third Coast Review! McGhee is an economist, except it’s not Milton Friedman’s economics, and, as someone who grew up on the University of Chicago campus, I always assume all economics are Milton Friedman economics. But The Sum of Us isn’t Friedman! It’s even inspiring! I’ve heard McGhee speak … Continue reading Heather McGhee and Helene Gayle in Conversation at the Chicago Humanities Festival

software expertise requires time, training, & funds

On May 6, somebody on Twitter complained about how their students tend to use Google Docs rather than, say, Microsoft Word. The thread was pretty spectacular (often in a bad way), and it set off a discussion (to put it mildly) across academic and library Twitters. If it was the first time I’d seen such a discussion—or, you know, participated in it—I might let it … Continue reading software expertise requires time, training, & funds

CSO Sessions Episode Seventeen: Mozart’s Gran Partita

CSO Sessions Episode Seventeen is Mozart all the way through: his Gran Partita (also known as the Serenade No. 10 in B-flat Major, K. 361), written for winds (two oboes, two clarinets, two basset horns—named Fred and Ethel, of course—two bassoons, four horns) and one bass. It’s very Mozart, and it’s played wonderfully, with charming turns from, in particular, the oboes and the clarinets. It’s … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Seventeen: Mozart’s Gran Partita

The Liar’s Dice

The Liar’s Dice is part of Jeannie Lin’s Pingkang Li-Lotus Palace series, our introduction to Bai Huang’s sister Wei-Wei, actual name Wei-ling, except nobody calls her that. It’s small and almost haunting, a reminder of the constraints faced by upper-class women of Tang Dynasty Chang’an, and, of course, a solid reminder of the ways in which China has been outdoing us all at the whole … Continue reading The Liar’s Dice

The Jade Temptress

The Jade Temptress, the second book in the Pingkang Li series, has an action hero and a calculating courtesan heroine, a couple whose differences and similarities quite suite Jeannie Lin’s evocative writing and her interrogation of class and gender, all while racing toward a believable happy ending. Tortured action hero Wu Kaifeng and scheming, desperate courtesan Mingyu first appear in The Lotus Palace, Mingyu’s sister … Continue reading The Jade Temptress

Joy Harjo and Living Nations, Living Words at the Chicago Humanities Festival

I covered Joy Harjo and Layli Long Soldier’s discussion at the Chicago Humanities Festival for Third Coast Review, and, jeez louise, it wasn’t an easy review to write. I mean, how does one cover something that, in the face of almost insurmountable tech ish, is still the sweetest, warmest mutual admiration fest imaginable? I’ll confess something: I’ve read Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas, back for the … Continue reading Joy Harjo and Living Nations, Living Words at the Chicago Humanities Festival

CSO Sessions Episode Sixteen: Harberg, Gabrieli, & Bach

CSO Sessions Episode Sixteen, which disappears tonight, is an episode of contrasts: starting with melancholy and grief, moving from tenderness to clarion calls, and then to buoyancy. The program begins with a collaboration, and a very new piece: Amanda Harberg’s Hall of Ghosts, for solo piccolo and, in this performance, solo dancer. Jennifer Gunn’s piccolo, bright and lonely in the (almost) empty hall, brought a … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Sixteen: Harberg, Gabrieli, & Bach

CSO Sessions Episode Fifteen: Montgomery & Beethoven

The two pieces featured in CSO Sessions Episode Fifteen are, emotionally and technically, quite different, but they pair together well, frothy effervescence with intricate, emotional excitement. Composer and violinist Jessie Montgomery introduces Strum, written for string quintet—originally for two violins (here Yuan-Qing Yu and Simon Michal, half of the Michal brothers who performed the Chevalier de Saint-Georges for us), one viola (Weijing Wang), and two … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Fifteen: Montgomery & Beethoven

Cowboys of California: A Cowboy to Remember

I have never been fond of Stetson-wearing, harness-toting, cowboy covers. I’m not a country girl. I don’t do the boondocks, I do cities. (Dark allies, ritzy penthouses, neighborhood bungalows, walk-ups and elevator buildings and anonymous crowds of people—those are my spaces.) I also don’t do amnesia, because it just isn’t my trope. Give me long-simmering tensions and grudges spanning generations and memories like steel traps. … Continue reading Cowboys of California: A Cowboy to Remember

Sight Lines

though parallel lines touch in the infinite, the infinite is here— line from “Sight Lines” by Arthur Sze Arthur Sze’s Sight Lines is a difficult, layered book, haunting and beautiful and demanding, a text that requires more than one reading. I could not make it through even “Water Calligraphy,” the first time I tried. This time, reading in this second pandemic spring, I read Sight … Continue reading Sight Lines

CSO Sessions Episode Fourteen: Florence Price & Beethoven

CSO Sessions Episode Fourteen is an episode of warmth, of tenderness and beauty, loving and friendly and sometimes slyly funny music performed beautifully into the wilds of unknown homes by musicians longing to be in packed halls once more. Cellist Katinka Kleijn and violist Sunghee Choi open Episode Fourteen with their rendition of Ludwig van Beethoven’s charming Duet with Two Obligato Eyeglasses for Viola and … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Fourteen: Florence Price & Beethoven

Walter Isaacson on Jennifer Doudna and The Code Breakers at the Chicago Humanities Festival

Walter Isaacson and Steve Edwards discussed Isaacson’s newest biography The Code Breakers, its charismatic hero, biochemist Jennifer Doudna, the CRISPR technology she and research partner Emmanuelle Charpentier pioneered (and won the Nobel for!), and the possibilities and ethical considerations of gene editing in a conversation for the Chicago Humanities Festival. I covered it for Third Coast Review. It’s got a lot in common with the … Continue reading Walter Isaacson on Jennifer Doudna and The Code Breakers at the Chicago Humanities Festival

i really hate daylight saving time

Daylight Saving Time doesn’t really bring more daylight. The days are no longer. Time is, after all, artificial, a river without banks, a thing transfixed, a societal construction. What is real is the passage of the Earth around the sun, and that is what determines how much sun we have at any given season and at any particular part of the United States. Daylight Saving … Continue reading i really hate daylight saving time

CSO Sessions Episode Thirteen: Coleridge-Taylor & Bach

CSO Sessions Episode Thirteen, like Episode Twelve before it, brings with it two pieces, wildly different and yet, at the same time, both almost defiantly alive. Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp Minor, Op. 10 starts the program off strong. Clarinet Stephen Williamson, in his introduction, tells us he himself wasn’t familiar with the piece: he’s delighted to bring it to us, and clearly enthusiastic … Continue reading CSO Sessions Episode Thirteen: Coleridge-Taylor & Bach

Wolves, Gods, and Betrayal: Barbarians on Netflix

Sometimes Netflix recommends things that are “soapy and sentimental” to me, and I have no idea why they’d do so. Other times they recommend shows that are violent and gritty and filled with historical battle scenes, and I binge them. The German Netflix show Barbarians, in other words, might as well have been created for me: it’s dark and gritty and violent and filled with … Continue reading Wolves, Gods, and Betrayal: Barbarians on Netflix

Bill Gates on Climate Change at the Chicago Humanities Festival

I covered Bill Gates’ discussion with Dax Shepard and Monica Padman at the Chicago Humanities Festival for Third Coast Review. It’s a bit out of my wheelhouse—I don’t usually write about wealthy philanthropists talking about climate change—but it was an interesting presentation, and, believe it or not, quite enjoyable as well. Gates is a pretty optimistic guy, which is always interesting for someone like me—I’m … Continue reading Bill Gates on Climate Change at the Chicago Humanities Festival