Friday, September 12, 2014
As an actress, Heidi Swedberg is best known for playing George Costanza’s fiancée, Susan, on TV’s Seinfeld. But her roots as a musician run much deeper – to the morning when she got her first ukulele from the Easter Bunny as a 5-year-old living in Hawaii.
Swedberg has built a national reputation for her ukulele-inflected, highly interactive approach to family music-making, and returns to the Library with her unique, Sukey Jump style. Enjoy a family concert in which everyone in the family can participate. Pick up an instrument, clap your hands, sing, or just hum along.
Appropriate for all ages.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
From Kansas City’s signature Country Club Plaza to pristine shopping districts and neighborhoods across the country, J.C. Nichols’ imprint on the American landscape remains deep and far-reaching.
The famed real estate developer, who died a little more than 64 years ago, is spotlighted in the latest installment of the Library’s popular Meet the Past series. Nichols — as portrayed by historian and Meet the Past veteran Bill Worley — will be interviewed by Library Director Crosby Kemper III.
The program also includes introductory remarks about Nichols and the architectural legacy of the Country Club Plaza by Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Jonathan Kemper, president of the Library’s Board of Trustees and co-chair of the National Trust Council.
The presentation will be taped by KCPT for later broadcast.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Thirty years ago, there were no private military and security companies. Now PMSCs, as they’re known, are a vital part of American foreign and military policy, assisting in combat operations, replacing U.S. forces after their withdrawal from combat zones, and providing maritime security, police training, drone operations, cyber security, and intelligence analysis.
In a discussion of her new book, journalist Ann Hagedorn takes a worried look at this privatization of our national security – why it originated, how it operates, where it’s heading, and the dangers it poses.
Hagedorn is a former staff writer for The Wall Street Journal. Among her books are Wild Ride, Ransom, Beyond the River, and Savage Peace.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
An estimated 225,000 adults in Kansas City function at the lowest literacy level, denied some of the simplest and most important moments in life because they cannot read.
The nonprofit organization Literacy Kansas City targets that issue through tutoring and other direct services, advocacy, and collaboration. Its sixth annual event at the Library, The Power of Reading: A Celebration of the Written Word, emceed by KCPT-TV’s Nick Haines, commemorates the effort and the adult learners benefitting from it. A number of them share their stories. Local writers including bestselling author Candice Millard, poet and novelist Maija Rhee Devine, journalist Brian Burnes, and human rights activist Alvin Sykes also read personal stories and original writings.
Mayor Sly James will deliver opening remarks.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Jen Mann is, first, a suburban Johnson County, Kansas, wife and mother of two and, second, a witty, biting writer whose blog, People I Want to Punch in the Throat, has garnered a national following. Featured on The Huffington Post, the young parents’ online magazine Babble, and cable television’s Headline News, she has been described as Erma Bombeck – with f-bombs.
Mann appears at the Library to launch her new book, People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scourges, a laugh-out-loud collection of essays on suburban life, marriage, and motherhood. Subjects range from the politics of joining a play group to the thrill of a moms’ night out at the gun range.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Kansas City-area performer Rockin Rob has been delighting and educating young audiences for more than 15 years.
The Kansas City-area performer employs music, movement, and magic in promoting creativity, teamwork, discipline, and self-expression. You’ll clap your hands, stomp your feet, sing, dance – and learn.
Geared to 2- to 8-year-olds but appropriate for all ages.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The year 2012 was a watershed for the Hollywood movie industry, producing the likes of Silver Linings Playbook, Les Misérables, Lincoln, and Argo and delivering a record-breaking box office after two years of decline. But not everything was rosy. DVD sales continued to decline, production costs soared, and the digital revolution was forcing the industry to rethink how it made and marketed films.
Journalist Anne Thompson joins the Library’s Kaite Stover and UMKC film professor Mitch Brian for a public conversation based on Thompson’s new book, The $11 Billion Year, a chronicle of that landmark year at the movies.
Thompson writes the Thompson on Hollywood blog at Indiewire.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Two hundred years ago this month, during the War of 1812, the United States was in desperate straits. British forces had burned Washington, D.C. and threatened to do the same to other Eastern seaports. The enemy chose to attack Baltimore, the nation’s fourth-largest city.
America won an improbable victory at Fort McHenry, and Baltimore was saved. Washington lawyer Francis Scott Key – inspired by the sight of his country’s flag flying in defiance of 25 hours of British bombardment – scribbled a four-stanza poem: Oh say can you see ...
His “Defence of Fort McHenry” became a popular patriotic song, “The Star Spangled Banner,” and ultimately our national anthem.
Military historian Richard Barbuto of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth discusses the battle that stirred Key and underscored America’s resolve to preserve her sovereignty.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Forests produce lumber, shelter a dazzling variety of plant and animal life, and serve as our planet’s lungs, cleansing the atmosphere of carbon dioxide. But we’re losing them at an alarming rate.
The Smithsonian Institution’s Stuart Davies addresses their importance to the overall health of our planet in the third installment of Conserving Our Dynamic Planet, a series featuring talks by Smithsonian scientists and co-presented by the Linda Hall Library.
Davies, a tropical ecologist with 22 years of experience working throughout the tropics, is director of the Smithsonian’s Center for Tropical Forest Science.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Two thousand years after his death, the story of the founder of the Roman Empire is one of the most riveting in western history. Caesar Augustus evolved from an entitled teenager – heir of the murdered Julius Caesar – to a skillful politician and servant of the state who brought stability and peace to Rome and created a new, emperor-run system of government.
Adrian Goldsworthy, a leading ancient historian, examines the man for whom the month of August is named in a discussion of his highly anticipated biography, Augustus: First Emperor of Rome. He digs beneath the myths, revealing the Augustus who was a consummate manipulator, propagandist, and showman, both generous and ruthless.
The author of earlier biographies of Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, among many other books, Goldsworthy is a frequent lecturer and consultant on historical documentaries produced by the History Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC.