Hello from the Center of the Universe!

Your Fremont Branch team misses seeing you at the Center of the Universe and hearing about your latest Library discoveries. Here’s what we’ve enjoyed lately and think you might like, too.

While you’re waiting for the Seattle Reads There There events to happen later this year, try reading Lot by Bryan Washington. It’s also a set of interconnected stories, set in the sprawling neighborhoods of Houston. I’ve been reading up on all things Texas recently, partially because of idle thoughts of moving there, but mostly because you can’t really understand America’s future without coming to grips with it. Texas, and Houston in particular, is far more complicated and diverse than the caricature version you see in pop culture. Lot is a staccato blast of fiction. Its cast of young characters reflects its tangle of heritage in short set pieces that mix bravado and despair. ~ Daniel S. Continue reading “Hello from the Center of the Universe!”

Escapism Through the Documentary

Documentaries gives us a peek into the window of someone else’s reality, and in these very unusual times, a glimpse into a place where the real world is not upended and devastated by a global panic sounds quite comforting. While during “normal” times, one might escape through fantasy, sci-fi, or a very engrossing drama, during the era of COVID-19, why not try the documentary?

Nanook of the North movie poster

Documentary film first began as the creation of brief, informational videos and has evolved over time to become more observational, expository, and entertaining. One of the most significant early documentaries is Nanook of the North , a 1922 chronicle of an Inuit man and his family in Northern Canada. Often hailed as a significant cultural achievement, Nanook is an excellent example for critically thinking about the art of documentary filmmaking. Who is controlling the narrative, and how has the filmmaker influenced the audience’s response to what they’re seeing on screen? Continue reading “Escapism Through the Documentary”

Jazz in Seattle?! Jazz in Seattle!

While jazz has well-established reputations in New Orleans, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, you might be surprised to find that Seattle has long been a part of this rich music tradition. In an effort to capture and preserve this history, the Special Collections department of the Seattle Public Library created the Seattle Jazz Archive, which contains oral history interviews with many influential members of the community.

portrait of Overton Berry

Seattle Times ad for Overton Berry Trio, December 15, 1972From musicians who played in the 1940s to those still playing today, the Jazz Archive covers a deep range of his compelling history. Hear Overton Berry describe his experience of the racial integration of the AMF Local 76 and AMF Local 493 in 1958 or about his seminal extended stay at the Doubletree Inn, which produced the album, The Overton Berry Trio At Seattle’s Doubletree Inn, a classic in its own right but also a sought after “crate-digger” record for hip-hop and rap producers. Evan Flory-Barnes shares developing musically through Garfield High School’s nationally recognized music program to his experience as a constantly “gigging” artist, often playing with his band Industrial Revelation, winners of The Stranger’s Genius Award. Continue reading “Jazz in Seattle?! Jazz in Seattle!”

Freegal playlists to stay home and stay healthy with

Spending all day alone in a silent home isn’t easy. Luckily, you can stream plenty of music through Freegal – for free! – with your library card. What’s more, there are some fantastic mixes already curated and available on the platform to accompany your Stay Home, Stay Healthy experience, no matter what you have planned for the day. Let’s explore some Freegal playlists that are perfect for when you are staying home to stay healthy!

Work from Home: The Social Distancing Playlist from Freegal“Working from Home: The Social Distancing Playlist”

This aptly named playlist offers a truly eclectic music selection, featuring artists as diverse as The Backstreet Boys, Carole King, The Offspring, and A Tribe Called Quest. The one thing these 90 songs have in common? From “98.6” to “Wish You Were Here,” their titles share a certain resonance with the theme of social distancing.

“Spring Cleaning”Spring Cleaning playlist from Freegal

Whether or not you are working from home during this time, you may find yourself with far more free time than you know what to do with. If you are taking the opportunity to get some spring cleaning done, this is the playlist for you. At 5 hours, 34 minutes, 55 seconds, it has enough upbeat music from various genres to help you dance your way through a whole day of scrubbing, dusting, and re-organizing closets. Continue reading “Freegal playlists to stay home and stay healthy with”

Soundtrack: Chopin’s Ballades No. 1-4

“Portrait of Fryderyk Chopin” by Maria Wodzinska, 1836.

We live in a world with a barrage of information, very little of which is positive, especially right now. So I’m offering you all a bit of respite in the form of some classical piano music! The instrumental nature of this genre leaves plenty of room for interpretation, so please take whatever you need from this music. If you’d like, you can try creating an environment that helps you focus – dim the lights, wear some headphones, take a bath – whatever works for you!

Classical piano is a huge subject with centuries of history so, for the sake of this post, I decided to share some of my favorite pieces by one of my favorite composers. Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) was a Romantic-era composer who wrote almost exclusively for solo piano. Chopin created a new musical form, which he called the ballade, to write these four beautiful, dramatic, and emotional pieces of music:

          • Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23
          • Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38
          • Ballade No. 3 in Ab major, Op. 47
          • Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52

Continue reading “Soundtrack: Chopin’s Ballades No. 1-4”