Artist Oliver Herring at the Seattle Public Library

On Saturday June 28, The Seattle Public Library downtown hosts an all day group performance of TASK by Oliver Herring. Co-sponsored by the Frye Art Museum, On the Boards, and the Tacoma Art Museum, the piece revolves around spontaneous interactions between a group of volunteer local performers working to complete “tasks” assigned first by the artist, then by their fellow performers.

Performance art is just one aspect to the work of the New York artist. He was first noted for his ethereal sculptures knitted from Mylar, then moved on to work in video, photography and live performances mostly unscripted and often performed by strangers. Seattleites had an opportunity to view some of his previous work in 2005 at his show Continue reading “Artist Oliver Herring at the Seattle Public Library”

The Decoration of Houses

Here are some interesting books about interior design, plus some about unusual buildings:

The Elements of Style: an Encyclopedia of Domestic Architectural Detail (edited by Stephen Calloway)
For anyone who wants to restore their historic house, or for anyone interested in the history of house styles, this beautiful book is a goldmine of information and illustration. Each chapter covers one architectural style or period in the U.S. or Britain, ranging from Tudor in the Fifteenth Century to the present, providing a guide to the features of every part of a building: doors, windows, walls, ceilings, Continue reading “The Decoration of Houses”

Author crush: Ted Chiang

In my tween and teen years, I devoured science fiction like Godzilla devoured Tokyo train cars. I read all the great authors and all the classic titles until I found myself, around age 19, sated. No more science fiction for me. I got it. Space. Aliens. The Future.

A year or so ago, I subscribed to our Library’s NextReads newsletter service and decided to return to science fiction (or speculative fiction, in this case) to see what was new out there. While there were a few good choices, many reminded me of what I’d read so many years ago, just updated with things like the Internet and bioengineering. But there was one author who lit my mind on fire with stories that deal with the limits of our humanity in the face of the new and the unknown: Ted Chiang. He’s written just two books, and each one is a gem.

Ted Chiang Stories His first book, Stories of Your Life and Others, collects the ten stories he has written into one book. One follows one of the builders of the Tower of Babylon as he ascends the fabled tower and approaches heaven, only to discover that God has a surprise in store for humanity; another story considers what happens to a brilliant mathematician who discovers a glaring error in the equation that describes reality itself. Another premise is that golems, activated by Continue reading “Author crush: Ted Chiang”

Bringing the Ghosts to Life – Doing House History Part 2

Going back to the 1900 census to do similar searching, I learned that my house was not there at all, and so had apparently been built some time between 1900 and 1910. Useful information indeed! I focused now on the family I’d found, and now that I had a family name to go by, my search was much simpler.

The Seattle City Directories listed residents by name, and I could find out lots about the Nienau family, going back before the 1910 Census. I learned that Henry, the father, most often identified as a “laborer,” worked some years for bottling firms, and that his son, Herman, worked as a driver, a bottler, or a packer for a bottling company, sometimes Rainier Bottling. Looking backwards year by year, they showed up at my address, with varying family members there, until 1904, when they were listed but not at my address. In the years before 1904, they boarded at various places, sometimes together, sometimes not. Henry is listed as a laborer in the 1899 directory, and by 1894/95, there are no members of the family to be found.

I could imagine the family coming to live in Seattle, boarding in homes east of downtown (all the residences were just east of the business district), finding employment, and eventually Continue reading “Bringing the Ghosts to Life – Doing House History Part 2”

TV, TiVo or DVD?

Take your pick — which couch potato format would you prefer? After sampling all three formats, I choose TV on DVD for my maximum viewing pleasure.

The obvious virtues pertain — no commercial breaks, no need to skip activities that may occur and interfere with a television program and (for an addling brain) the ability to keep the script sequential and fresh in one’s memory. Seattle Public Library owns a number of award-winning television series on DVD — I have been able to discover and delve into Freaks and Geeks, The Gilmore Girls (after enough hours of the show I came to believe Stars Hollow was my real life and my real life was a television show), Grey’s Anatomy, 30 Rock, Weeds, Masterpiece Theatre, House of Eliott and My So-Called Life to name a few…

It’s easy to reserve DVDs. Here’s a handy short video that shows a simple trick that will put you in DVD heaven.

~ Susan F.