An American Author…Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe, a best selling author and journalist, died today at the age of 88.  Mr. Wolfe authored many famous works.  The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, written in 1968, is a classic read on the 1960s hippie movement. The Right Stuff, a non-fiction book written in 1979, describes the first 15 years of America’s space program.  The Bonfire of the Vanities, a novel written in 1987,  gives a vivid picture of New York City in the 1980s.  Wolfe is credited with numerous colorful phrases that include “The Me Decade” and “Radical Chic”. “His decades of creativity with the written word have undoubtedly left an enduring impact.”

Check out the MVCC catalog or databases for more information on Tom Wolfe.

Fast Food History

Most of us have eaten at McDonald’s. Do you know how the company started? Two brothers in California developed a system in the 1950s to serve just a few quality items quickly at their hamburger stand. They were the McDonald brothers and, at the time, they were pretty satisfied with their company and product. But a shake machine salesman from Illinois saw a big future in the business.

The Founder is a movie from 2017 that tells how Ray Kroc got into business with the brothers. At first, he had the job of setting up McDonald’s franchises around the country. After a few years, he took over the company. He then called himself the founder of the company. You can decide if you agree. Check out the DVD and see the performances by Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, and John Carroll Lynch.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo

We finally have a print copy of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss. The book was announced (and released) on March 18th during an episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver with some controversy. Independent booksellers were blindsided by the release and questioned business ethics as the book was first made available to Amazon.¹ The larger conversation was around the fact that the book was published as a parody of Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President, written by Charlotte Pence and illustrated by Karen Pence. Both books star the Pence family pet, Marlon Bundo, but one is a biography of the Vice President, while the other is about same-sex marriage.

The release of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo was political, serving as Oliver’s response to Mike Pence’s indirect support of anti-gay organizations.² The plot is about gay marriage and pictures contain cues for adults. At the same time, the book introduces broader themes that go beyond this specific political situation. Twiss writes about the essentials of democracy and diversity, ideas that are universal regardless of who is in power. You can checkout the book in print or electronically from our library.

  1. Green, Alex. “Booksellers Outraged by Chronicle’s Rollout of John Oliver Book.” Publishers Weekly, 26 March 2018, https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/bookselling/article/76440-booksellers-outraged-by-chronicle-s-rollout-of-john-oliver-book.html. Accessed 26 April 2018.
  2. “Mike Pence: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO).” YouTube, uploaded by LastWeek Tonight, 18 March 2018, https://youtu.be/rs2RlZQVXBU.

New Name in Sports

Our local professional sports stadium is getting a new name. After the end of this current MLS season, Bridgeview’s Toyota Park will become SeatGeek Stadium. The 20,000 seat facility opened in 2006 and is the home to Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and to National Women’s Soccer League’s Chicago Red Stars. Besides the new naming rights, SeatGeek, the online ticket broker, will also work with the stadium’s management to bring more events to Bridgeview including concerts, music festivals, and international sporting events.

Naming stadiums after companies is nothing new. Chicago Cubs owner and chewing gum manufacturer William Wrigley named Wrigley Field back in 1926. But selling off just the right to name a stadium, without any other ownership involved, has become more and more common in recent years. While often very expensive for corporations, naming rights also garner lots of exposure for the brand through on-camera views and audio mentions.

If you are interested in reading more about this topic, here are few resources you might find helpful. To read more about naming rights in sports in general, have a look at these articles from our Academic Search Complete database. For a more Chicago area stadium focus, try these Chicago Tribune articles. Finally, to learn even more about sports stadiums, including some local Chicago ones, this search from our library catalog will be helpful.

 

 

 

The Salesman

Are you familiar with Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman? Watch Forushande (The Salesman) for a spin on the classic. The Persian film is about the private struggles of a young couple in Tehran, who happen to be working on a theatrical production of Death of a Salesman. The film won an Academy Award for the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year in 2017.

While no background reading is required, the movie had me revisiting the 1949 play about Willy Loman and the end of his career as a salesman. You can find the original play and the following motion picture and television adaptations at our library:

  • Death of a Salesman: 1966 television film starring Stanley Adams, Edward Andrews, and Lee J. Cobb. Winner of three Primetime Emmy Awards in 1967.
  • Death of a Salesman: 1985 television film starring Dustin Hoffman, Charles Durning, and Kate Reid.
  • Salesman: 1968 documentary following door-to-door salesmen at work.

Kathrine Switzer and the Boston Marathon

 

  • This year’s Boston Marathon will be on April 16.  This race began in 1897.  It has undergone many historical changes in the course of its history, some tragic and some reflecting the social transformations that have taken place in America over the last 50 years.

    I recently had the opportunity to hear Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, describe her experience in 1967. Her story mirrors the struggle that American women faced in the 1960s and in some cases still face in 2018.  It is important to be familiar with the historical female figures that helped change the lives of American women.

    To learn more about women and sports check out the MVCC catalog or the MVCC library databases.

Female Superheroes in Comic Books

This Women’s History Month, get inspired by the strength and leadership of female superheroes. Our library offers a diverse collection of graphic novels, featuring new and old female superhero characters like Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel. Find a complete list of Women Superheroes in our catalog, or select popular characters from the list below.


Maggs, Sam. “A Feminist Ranking of Female Superheroes.” Marie Claire, 25 July 2017, www.marieclaire.com/culture/news/a13588/a-feminist-ranking-of-todays-female-superheroes/. Accessed 26 Feb. 2018.

Ostroff, Joshua. “15 Fantastic Female-Fronted Comic Books for Your Kids.” Huffington Post, 28 Mar. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/03/28/female-comic-books_n_15494978.html. Accessed 26 Feb. 2018.

Right-hoofed Horses Don’t Win Races

 

Are you right-handed or left-handed? I’m a rightie, which is a pretty good thing to be for us humans. About 90 percent of humans are right-handed and we’ve built our world to favor that majority. Many things end up being more cumbersome if you are left-handed, since humans use hands quite a lot.

What about animals? Do they exhibit signs of handedness? Even ones that don’t use or even have hands? As it turns out, some animals do. Most horses have a preference for right-front, hind-left. This means that most horses prefer turning left and that is why horse races are run counter-clockwise. Marsupials are interesting. It seems that the ones that walk on all fours don’t show a preference for handedness. But, the ones that hop on their hind legs, like kangaroos, do show sidedness and most are lefties.

What is even more interesting is that some bees seem to exhibit a “handedness” preference when flying. About half of studied bees don’t seem to care either way and deal with obstacles going either to the left or to the right. But the other half seem to care quite a lot and will put up with greater hardship to stick to their preferred side.

You can read more about animals and handedness in the article “Bee Sides” in the February 2018 issue of Scientific American magazine. To find out more about handedness in humans these books from our library collection will come in handy.

THE FLU

The United States experienced a serious pandemic in 1918 and 1919. During the 1918 “Spanish flu”  that killed up to 50 million people, many were reported to have died within hours of showing their first symptoms. The virus caused between 20-40 million deaths worldwide. It infected over 28% of the U.S. population and almost 700,000 Americans died from the flu during this time period. Most of the victims were between the ages of 20 and 40.  The medical profession had no idea how to treat the disease. 

One hundred years later, the United States is faced with another alarming flu season. Flu deaths are on the rise, including children and young adults. Fortunately in 2018, the medical experts have more medical tools at their disposal.
For additional information on staying healthy as well as interesting facts about this seasonal disease, check out the following sites.

 

2017 National Book Award Winners

Check out the 2017 National Book Award winners in our collection:

Fiction winner: Sing, Unburied, Sing / by Jesmyn Ward; located on our main floor lounge area in our Afterclass collection.

 

 

Nonfiction winner: The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia / by Masha Gessen; temporarily located on our main floor in the lounge area.

 

Poetry winner: Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 / by Frank Bidart; temporarily located on our main floor in the lounge area.

 

 

 

Visit the National Book Foundation’s website to watch the National Book Awards ceremony and to see the other finalists.

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