Shelfish: The Blog of Answers

Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams

Coldplay: A Head Full of DreamsAfter 15 years in the public eye and more than 80 million records sold, Coldplay is back with what is being rumored to be their last album. Despite the inevitable, and perhaps earned, criticisms (predictable, middlebrow, populist, the poor man's U2), A Head Full of Dreams manages to be pretty appealing. It's a feel good record. Every song is optimistic and a theme of transcendence pervades.

Fans of Coldplay will not be disappointed. Fans of Beyoncé and Noel Gallagher might like the record too. They are on the list of guest performers that also includes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tove Lo, Khatia Buniatishvili, Merry Clayton, and, believe it or not, President Barack Obama.

Find A Head Full of Dreams on Compact Disc or download/stream it with Hoopla Digital.

Winter Eating to Keep Warm

Wow. The first snow of the year hit tonight. Tomorrow's going to be a great day to make a pot of piping hot chili. I usually just mix up whatever's in the fridge, but if you're a recipe-kind-of-person, a great place to start is Elizabeth Young's Chilli Cookbook, featuring 150 hot-and-spicy recipes and bunch of beautiful photos. Next, you might take a look at 240 Best-Ever Chilli Recipes featuring (you guessed it) 240 recipes for warm delicousness. If you still need more options, try Jane Stern's Chili Nation, a spicy roadtrip featuring recipes from all 50 states. If you can't get the kids to help in the kitchen, keep their attention occupied with The World's Greatest Underachiever and the Killer Chilli, the sixth installment of Henry Winkler's best selling Hank Zipzer children's book series. Yes, that Henry Winkler. You know ... The Fonz.

Once your chili's ready, you might want to bump up the heat with a little hot sauce. The Spilled Milk Podcast has a great taste-test episode with hosts Molly Wizenberg and Matthew Amster-Burton risking their tastebuds to tell you which hot sauces are the best. Molly also discusses making a Rick Bayless hot sauce recipe from scratch on her (James Beard Award-winning) food blog, Orangette.

While we're on the subject... Molly Wizenberg will be visiting Eisenhower this February to chat about her NY Times Best Selling books, Delancey and A Homemade Life. You can register for the discussion, and other winter programs, starting on Monday, December 7th.

-Chris, Marketing

National Book Award Winners

The National Book Award Winner's were announced yesterday. This year's top fiction award went to Adam Johnson for his short story collection Fortune Smiles. This is yet another prestigious win for Johnson after nabbing the Pulitizer for his last novel, The Orphan Master's Son. It's also the second year in a row that a short story collection has won one of America's most prestigious literary awards. Phil Klay won last year for Redeployment. The non-fiction award went to MacArthur Genius recipient Ta'Nehisi Coates for his book Between the World and Mea very moving open letter to Coates's son which Toni Morrison called "required reading."

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American heritage month; check out some of the offerings in the Chicago area to learn more about Native American history.

National Archives, Chicago: Several hundred cubic feet of records are housed in the Chicago facility that documents the day-to-day life of numerous Native American tribes who resided on reservations in our region. Most of the records are textual, but there are some photographs available as well—you can check here first if you’re looking for something specific. The National Archives also recently revised their homepage related to American Indians here. There are guidelines to visiting the National Archives, so check here first.

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Evanston: According to the museum, “The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is one of only a handful of museums across the country that focuses exclusively on the art, history, and culture of Native American and First Nation peoples from throughout the United States and Canada.  It promotes public understanding of cultural diversity through first voice perspectives.” Their current exhibit is entitled “The War of 1812: A Local American Indian History.” Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children, students, teachers and seniors. The museum has plenty of activities, exhibits, collections and programs throughout the year. You can find more information here.

American Indian Center, Chicago: Throughout its 50-year history, the American Indian Center has been a valuable resource to American Indians in the region. The Center hosts an annual powwow, potlucks, bingo, birthdays and other special occasions in the Indian community. They also help the community with healthcare, academics and other social programs. While the annual Powwow isn’t until September 2016, there are many other events throughout the year here

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is Carrie Brownstein’s latest project—a vivid memoir of her early life in the Pacific Northwest, and the creation (and eventual demise) of her band Sleater-Kinney.

She goes into detail on her early life with family – a mother who struggled with anorexia, leaving her and her sister to the care of their father who struggled with his identity. When she went to college, she knew she didn’t belong and sought a sense of home and identity throughout, eventually moving to Olympia, Washington, where she would meet Corin Tucker and form Sleater-Kinney. In Olympia, she says, she finds a sense of community and self-invention. Brownstein talks about her friends from the time including author/filmmaker Miranda July and other notable Riot Grrrl artists.

Formed in 1994, Sleater-Kinney was not the first band in the Riot Grrrl movement, an underground feminist punk-rock movement, but arguably they became the biggest. It wasn’t until 1996 that Janet Weiss became the final drummer, with four others preceding her. Once Weiss was on board, the band took off, redefining notions of gender in rock music.

Brownstein routinely talks about journalists asking what it’s like to be in an all-girl band, and how a man has never been asked what it’s like to be in an all-male band. There’s not a singular difference, she says, they struggle the same in the beginning, and face similar problems throughout their careers with band mates and record labels, etc…

Fans of Portlandia shouldn’t come looking in this book, it’s strictly about Brownstein’s early life and the rise and fall of Sleater-Kinney.  I highly recommend it if you’re a Sleater-Kinney/Riot Grrrl fan. It’s written beautifully and honestly. Find it in the library.

-Rebecca, Answers 

Do You Love A Capella Music?

Straight No Chaser's The New Old FashionedHave you noticed the surge in popularity of a capella music? Since The Sing-Off debuted on NBC in 2009, a capella has really hit the mainstream. The breakout stars of the singing comeptition show, Pentatonix, have won a grammy and performed sold out shows at Madison Square Garden. Their youtube channel has over eight million subscribers. That's more than Lady Gaga, Daft Punk and Beyoncé.

In 2012, Deke Saron, the vocal producer of The Sing Off turned his attention to the feature film Pitch Perfect starring Anna Kendrick as the newest member of an all-girl singing group taking on their male rivals in a college competition. The breakout success of that movie and its soundtrack led to the sequel, Pitch Perfect 2, another box office smash.

This week, one of the most popular music downloads on our digital media service, Hoopla, was The New Old Fashioned by Straight No Chaser an a capella group formed at Indiana University that rose to stardom (and earned a five album deal with Atlantic Records) thanks to its hilarious online video for The Twelve Days of Christmas.

So why is a capella so popular right now? Perhaps it's the authenticity. Audiences have become used to trickery, from autotune to lip syncing, in popular music. It feels good to hear talented people using just their voices to create something beautiful. A capella offers a sense of authenticity that you don’t get from the overproduced songs you typically hear on the radio.

Do you have a favorite singing group? Tell us about it on the Eisenhower facebook page.

Music to Start Your Day

According to music psychologist David M. Greenberg of the University of Cambridge and City University of New York, the best way to wake up in the morning is by listening to music that plays at a tempo of 100 to 130 beats per minute and brings you "through multiple stages from ... tiredness to being more alert and then getting energy from there." He put together a playlist of songs that meet these requirements. Many of the tracks are available at Eisenhower. A couple of my favorites are Cold Play's Viva Va Vida (on CD or digital download) and Bill Withers' Lovely Day .

Find the complete playlist at Music.Mic. and start your day off right.

The Artwork of Bruno Sowa

When next visiting Eisenhower, please take a minute to view the exhibit in our display case. It features artwork, including paintings and wood carvings by Bruno Sowa, the father of one of our patrons. It's beautiful work and we think you're really going to enjoy it.

From Hell

While certainly better known for the superhero masterpiece Watchmen, for my money, Alan Moore's best and most satisfying work might be From Hell, the obsessively-researched recounting of the Jack the Ripper murders. Of course, no one knows who the killer really was, but by combining together all the theories into one massive conspiracy involving the British royal family, the Freemasons, the Elephant Man, writer Oscar Wilde, and even occult magician Aleister Crowley, Moore makes a compelling (though almost certainly wrong) case for who Jack might have been.

From Hell is a dense, dark read, with beautifully grisly, scratchy, black and white artwork by Eddie Campbell that evokes the common horror of Victorian life. It's not for the faint of heart, but it is Halloween-time afterall.

From Hell is available in the library and as a digital comic on Hoopla Digital.

-Chris, Marketing

Halloween Reads

Here are some spooky reads and movies to get you in the Halloween spirit.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
William Peter Blatty's thrilling masterwork of faith and demonic possession. Raw and profane, shocking and blood-chilling, it remains a modern parable of good and evil and perhaps the most terrifying novel ever written. Find the eAudiobook and the movie in the library.

World War Z by Max Brooks
Love The Walking Dead? This is an oral history recorded after humankind was nearly wiped out after a zombie apocalypse. Try the audio version and catch some of the famous actors. Find the eAudiobook and the movie in the library.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
This is the story of a diabolical carnival that wreaks havoc on the lives of the people of a small Illinois town, much like the one in which Bradbury grew up. (Library Journal) Find the eAudiobook and the movie in the library.