Friday, October 14, 2011

Announcing a Database for Hobbyists and Crafters

The Lawrence Public Library now subscribes to a fun new database, the Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center!

The activities are separated into eight categories. You can choose to explore Arts & Crafts, Collecting, Games & Electronics, Home & Leisure, Model Building, Needlework, Outdoor & Nature, or Scrapbooking & Papercrafts. Over 200 topics are covered within these main sections. You might delve into Decorative Knotting, Mountain Biking, Woodburning, or Drum Playing, among the many possibilities.  There is something here for everyone.

Information provided by the database includes more than 1,200 magazines and books, 720 videos, and over 160 hobby profiles.

This database can be accessed by using the Research Databases link under Library Services on the left sidebar of the library homepage. You will then scroll down to the Special Interest databases. If you are outside of the library, you will need to enter your library card number (without leaving spaces).

Dian - Reference

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Marie Antoinette: Royally Frocked

From the masculine equestrian outfits that made her Louis XV’s favorite, to the regal counterrevolutionary gowns in green and violet that exposed her as an enemy of the state, Marie Antoinette’s fashion statements were unfailingly always both fabulous and controversial. In Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution, Caroline Weber paints a comprehensive portrait of the fashion icon, from Dauphine until death. Weber is not only a brainy Barnard scholar, but also a fashion connoisseur herself, and her fastidiously researched political fashion memoir satisfied both my inner Vogue subscriber and my inner history nerd.

Anyone who’s watched Sofia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette as many times as I have can easily rattle off the basics of her biography: born an Austrian, Marie Antoinette disavowed her native country in a political alliance with France to become its eventual Queen. A newcomer to the highly ritualized and chic court at Versailles, she navigated her tepid political reception as a suspect foreigner in the best way she knew how -- in impeccable style. And although it all started out as fun and games, eventually it cost the Autrichienne her head on the guillotine.  From her powdered, sky-high hairdos to her divine selection of costly satin footwear, Marie Antoinette won over her adoring public at first, but quickly became a lightning rod for criticism of the French monarchy’s decadence during a national economic recession (... sound familiar?).

 Weber takes her time cataloging the earlier, more playful era of Marie Antoinette’s youthful fashion exploits: her boyish redingotes (“riding coats”) and her architectural “poufs” that popularized towering ladies’ hairstyles in commemorative shapes such as naval ships and gigantic birds in flight.  Did you know that legislation was introduced to raise the standard height of a Parisian doorway to accommodate the hairstyles' extra footage?  But these playful themes take a somber--albeit fascinating-- tone in the latter half of Weber’s book, as she traces the onslaught of political tumult through the headwear of the ladies of Paris.  From the hat “au collier de la Reine” that signaled disapproval of Marie Antoinette’s role in the scandalous Diamond Necklace Affair, to the bonnet “a la Bastille“ that celebrated the pivotal revolutionary prison-siege, to the royalist “coiffure a la Reine” that belied fatal counterrevolutionary monarchist sympathies, Parisian women expressed the changing political tides via what they wore on their heads.

Page after page, Caroline Weber captivated me with arcane facts and insights into the symbolic weight of ladies’ fashions during a period of political upheaval.  As a scholar first and fashionista second, she drew me into the political saga of the French Revolution, but always faithfully brought it right back around to fashion and the ways women--especially Marie Antionette--leveraged their power by what they chose to wear on their bodies.  Ultimately, Marie Antionette was the consummate ‘Fashion Victim,' and ended her life with “the most brilliant fashion statement of her political career.”  What was it?  You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Rachel - Programs

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Unpasteurized, Unhomogenized, and Local

Raw by Steven Revare
This novel by Steven Revare presents an interesting story about a big city businessman who moves to Manhattan, Kansas to become a writer. I originally picked up the book because it was written by a Kansas author, and it was set in Manhattan (where I had previously lived for 4 years). The book definitely did give me a nostalgic feeling when it mentioned some of my favorite places in Manhattan. But I think more than that, it captures the feel of life in Kansas.

The story itself is also interesting. The main character, Carl, moves to Manhattan to become a K-State student under the tutelage of his mentor, a once famous writer. He ends up forming relationships with the characters around him, and situations arise that effect his original plans. The plot has some interesting twists and turns, and I even learned a few things about unprocessed milk along the way.

Jenny R - Reference

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shock Rock

Remember Tesla, the band and not the man?  It’s been 20 years since they released the Five Man Acoustical Jam.  To celebrate the anniversary they have released a new CD titled Twisted Wires.  It is new recordings of some of their classic hits done acoustically.  Even though this seems like a remake they have changed some of the lyrics to give it an updated feel.   Four of the songs like "Into the Now,"  "Hang Tough", and "Edison’s Medicine" were recorded in 2005 but the rest were done last year. They have even included "Song and Emotion" that they wrote in tribute to the late Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark.   Along with the classics they added a new song called "2nd Street" which I found myself humming later.   It features all but one of the original members of the band but the sound is the same.   Check it out!

Darla - Circulation

Monday, October 10, 2011

Shows: No Restraint

Where does one find the good sense to leave well enough alone? To quit while ahead? When it comes to producing television shows, I guess the answer is – one doesn’t. What I’m alluding to is the renewal of Arrested Development, which will include a new season and a film adaptation. And, yes, ostensibly it’s very exciting news (I had to pop a fistful of Teamocil when I first found out) but when you think about it, efforts to reprise a bygone series rarely end well. The show risks becoming a parody of its former self; with a parade of tired gags (chicken dance), guest reappearances, and winks to the audience. It’s like burying something cherished in a Pet Cemetery with the hope that the resurrected abomination will be as wonderful as you remember it – but that’s never the case, they come back homicidal, or even worse - not funny.

It brings to mind another favorite show, Absolutely Fabulous, which also concluded (briefly) after three perfect seasons. Then, what I imagine was an intoxicating cloud of greed and nostalgia, convinced the powers that be to dredge the show up for a few uninspired made-for-TV movies (the first of which was insincerely titled “The Last Shout”) and two totally forgettable additional seasons. I mean, it was nice to see them again – but their vibrancy had waned, their sweeties soured, their champagne and vodka cocktails had gone flat. Now, lo and behold, Joanne Lumley (Patsy Stone) is saying that the show will return for a few additional episodes. But why, darling?!

A friend of mine has a grisly expression to describe beating a dead horse to this extent: dead horse pudding.

Maybe overindulgence should be expected from AbFab, but it is downright profane that Roseanne Barr is developing a show that will sort-of bring the Conner family back to the air (a show that arguably overstayed its welcome in its first iteration, i.e. winning the lottery). The premise of the new sitcom Downwardly Mobile is a blue-collar family fighting to make ends meet – sounds familiar, right? Roseanne’s stance is that her eponymous series’ groundbreaking message - that there is inherent nobility in the working class struggle - is more relevant now than ever. And I wholeheartedly agree, but why water down the legacy of the original show, something that is widely considered one of the most important in the sitcom medium, with a new show that will probably be a pale reproduction? Besides, it’s not as if they ever stopped broadcasting her message. Roseanne has been airing in syndication on a half dozen different channels, often simultaneously, since the show ended its network run fifteen years ago.

The thing is, whatever ground these shows might break was long ago broken, and it has been tilled up, fertilized, and is growing a fresh crop of derivative young series.  I suppose that we should be resigned to the fact that the entertainment industry will squeeze every ounce of life out of any successful idea.  Let’s just kick back, relax, and wait patiently for the library to get a copy of Sex and the City Eight: Dead Horse Pudding.

Ransom - Reference