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.

David and Brutus

The gifts of a great artist can be used to further political ends. Jacques-Louis David, painter of the French revolutionary era, created several wonderful paintings that were fraught with political and social meaning, but are still notable on a purely artistic level.

One such painting tells a remarkable story. Called Brutus, or Lictors Returning the to Brutus the Bodies of his Sons, it is officially titled more grandly as “J. Brutus, first consul, has returned to his home after having condemned his two sons, who had joined the Tarquins and conspired against Roman liberty; lictors bring back the bodies so that they may be given burial.” David painted this during the first year of the French Revolution. King Louis XVI was beset with turmoil and there was a powerful political current to depose him. It was during this tumultuous time that David decided to illustrate an episode from Roman history.

Tarquin the Proud had been the King of Rome, and according to legend he was an abusive Continue reading “David and Brutus”

Buildings and Cities

The Seattle Public Library has a large and varied collection of books about architecture and city planning. Here are a few that I find interesting and useful. I hope you enjoy them too.

Death & Life of Great American CitiesThe Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs’ classic ground-breaking attack on the planning of American cities, published in 1961, is still widely read, and has great relevance for us today. What, she asked, makes cities and city neighborhoods work, and what makes them die? What can planners do to save our great cities? She presented what were at that time completely new principles of city planning, including dense population and diversity of uses, principles which are coming into favor today. She writes with passion as a city dweller; this is an exciting book.

 The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright: a Complete Catalog by William Allin Storrer
Among the many books available on Frank Lloyd Wright, this is the only Continue reading “Buildings and Cities”

Bringing the Ghosts to Life – Doing a House History

People who live in old houses must sometimes be aware of the residents who came before them. Just for the briefest time, there may be a shadow, or a current of air—something that suggests another presence or, perhaps, earlier residents. Sometimes they have left some physical object behind, tossed in a corner somewhere … that is how I came to own the drill bit.

Sitting in my (their) living room, I often wondered about the owners before me—what kind of people were they? How did they live? Living in their house, I felt curiosity, but only vague kinship, until the day I discovered, wedged in an unfinished basement wall, a carpenter’s bit from a brace and bit. Wedged pretty tight, too—I had to work to gouge it out. But holding it in my hand, I felt a very strong sense of the man who had worked there years ago, gotten it wedged into the wall, and finally abandoned it after some effort to remove it. (I could see very old chisel marks around where the bit had been.) This was so like something I might do, that I wanted to meet the man who had left the bit behind—but Continue reading “Bringing the Ghosts to Life – Doing a House History”

Metro Reads 2: What are you reading on the bus?

book cover for Roasting in Hell's KitchenDo you notice what people are reading? At a coffee shop? At the dentist’s office? On the bus? We notice — and not just because we work at a library. Sometimes we notice because we want a good book to read; sometimes we get excited because we read and loved that same book. Most of the time, though, we notice as a sort of exercise in urban anthropology.

Below are just a few of the titles Library staff members spied on their commutes home. Oh, your book isn’t on here? Your bus isn’t on here? Please let us know what you’re reading — and what you spy others reading on the bus.