Archive for talk of the stacks

Talk of the Stacks: 2010 Finale- Einstein’s God.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 19, 2010 by toresimonsen

I am at Talk of the Stacks. Tonight the speaker is Krista Tippet. She is the final speaker in the 2010 series. She is talking about her new book, Einstein’s God. (Overshadowing the lecture is the stark reality that I will probably have to stay at Safe Bay tonight. I am on the wait list, but there is no room at the shelter tonight. I’m going to try to somehow put that out of my mind as the lecture begins). The crowd is packed. It is not clear that there are enough seats in the audience for all of the people who are here. A quick count reveals 7 seats are available, but they are going to be filled up as well. Afterwards, there will the book signing. Magers and Quinn donates a portion of sales of the books to the Talk of the Stacks efforts. Judging by the crowd, Krista Tippet is a much anticipated author. Her books included details about her own spiritual journal.

Krista Tippet takes the stage and begins to talk about the joy of libraries. She feels that a library is filled with treasures that anyone can enjoy for free. She relied heavily upon the libraries for resources in starting her show and finding diverse guests including muslim voices.

Krista Tippet is discussing the relationship between nature, science, and religion. She wants to avoid what she sees as a pointless tension between science and religion. Religion is re-emerging as a global issue. Krista Tippet sees religion as a linchpin of diverse identities.

Krista Tippet wants to talk about the issue of religion intelligently, with a focus on science. Tippet is talking about the diverse inspirations of scientists.

Tippets subject is Einstein and she begins to discuss Einstein’s religious perceptions. According to Tipppet, Einstein’s religious and philosophical statements have been overlooked. Einstein was attempting to look at past, present, and future as an illusion. Time, for Einstein, was subjective and cyclical. Einstein saw the past, present, and future as block time. (The idea appears to be that time is eternal.)

She makes an Einstein joke about God playing dice.

Tippet then talks about the dangers of “soundbite” arguments that reduce science and religion to soundbites. Tippet does not see any inherent tension between science and religion and feels that often reinforce each other.

Tippet feels that the cultural narrative that places science at odds with religion leads us astray.

Tippet also takes the time for some geek humor.

Spoofing Neibuhr, Tippets says she wants her show to have t-shirts that read, “I am my own most vexing problem.”

At the end of the night, I stand in a long line and hand Tippet my latest public advisory. I thank her for an interesting discussion, focusing on time but not making much sense owing to my own fatigue.

At a minimum, like other journalists, she is now aware of the campaign to save Dollhouse.

Grandmother’s Day

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 7, 2010 by toresimonsen

At talk of the stacks, the focus is on Barbara Graham’s anthology Eye of My Heart about being a grandmother. It includes 27 essays about being a grandmother. The event is timed with mother’s day.

The presentation featured readings by Sandra Benitez and Judith Guest.

I know nothing about being a grandmother, so this should be very interesting.

Each author will read excerpts for their book.

Barbara Graham never considered doing a book about being a grandmother. When she became a grandmother, she realized that being a grandmother is much harder than she thought.

Sandra Benitez is talking about her story about an “owie” tree. She also wrote a book called Bag Lady. The story seems very serious.

On a more light hearted note, Judith Guest speaks about a trip she took with her three granddaughters. Judith Guest’s trip is a humorous account of the trip. The audience laughs hysterically as she reads her essay. The audience adored her essay. When they had a chance to actually hear the essay, Judith Guest’s granddaughters were upset about the fact that she left out all the fun parts from the trip.

Barbara Graham then reads an excerpt from her book. It is far more serious and focuses on fitting in as a grandmother and on the pain of having a grandchild move far away.

The essays seem to focus on the joy and pain of being a grandmother. The authors talk about the pressure to be a grandparent and the challenges grandparents face when families change.

On the upside, they all talk about how the relationship is about love without responsibility.

Overall, the event was very successful. The post reading book signing did not have enough books for everyone. They sold out. There were some complaints about that fact.

I, of course, continued to conduct outreach to save Dollhouse.

Please sign the e-petition.


Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Please send emails.


Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

Please sign the Twitition.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!

PLEASE!!!! Let other people know about the efforts to save the show.

Anchee Min

Posted in Dollhouse and censorship with tags , , , on April 30, 2010 by toresimonsen

I am attending another Talk of the Stacks event at the Minneapolis Central Library.

Tonight’s speaker is author Anchee Min. Anchee Min runs onto stage and is filled with energy. She is discussing her new book Pearl of China. She was born in Shanghai and grew up in Mao’s China. She was recruited to perform in propaganda films for China before moving to the United States.

Today, Anchee Min’s books are not published in China although underground copies are available. Anchee Min lived for 27 years in China and is approaching her 27 years in America. For Anchee Min, she feels writing a novel is like singing a Chinese opera. She likes to live a life of heroes and heroines. Her motivation is to live as the heroine through her writing.

I have some brief excerpts of Anchee Min’s speech here. (Unfortunately since my digital camera mysteriously disappeared, my ability to shoot footage is more difficult now. I filed a report with the Minneapolis Police Department. The last time, they were able to recover my notebook. As an aside, I have been informed that you can store valuable items such as notebooks and digital cameras with the staff at Safe Harbor. This does not appear to be something widely known. I have entered many times with my equipment, and was never informed of the option until this most recent incident).

The podcast of Anchee Min may at some point be available online. Until then, here are two brief excerpts of her speech.

Anchee Min is writing about Pearl S. Buck. She is concerned that Pearl S. Buck is overlooked. Anchee Min encountered Pearl S. Buck in 1971. As a student, she was supposed to denounce Pearl S. Buck as an imperialist. She did not have to actually read Pearl Buck- merely criticize Pearl Buck. When Anchee finally actually read the Good Earth, she realized how wrong she was about Pearl S. Buck. Anchee Min wants to celebrate Pearl S. Buck.

Anchee Min shares the hard lessons her grandmother tried to share with her about a life of hardship. Anchee felt she was a rebellious youth, who embraced feminism. Her character, Willow, shares many of these traits.

Anchee Min’s past is colored by many bad experiences. She shares the sad stories of a classmate who died of tapeworm. Anchee Min ended up with a tapeworm and ended up with the nickname tapeworm. She also talks about her mother’s turberculosis.

She talks about the horrible mistake that the Chinese make with their emphasis on sacrifice for the greater good. Anchee Min then begins to discuss the labor camps. One third of China went to labor camps, which was the subject of her book Red Azalea. She summarizes the experience. She talks about working 16 hours in rice fields and not even having a bucket to use to go to the bathroom. She had to stand on a board and try to squat in order to go to the bathroom while avoiding mosquitoes.

Anchee Min talks about issues regarding the introduction of Christianity by Absalom (Pearl Buck’s father). Apparently, the Chinese suggestion was to “improve” Jesus with armor and more clothing. Anchee Min then says you cannot find God through formulas.

Anchee Min reads a second passage and has a bit of fun by breaking into Chinese opera, which she almost raps.

Anchee Min also rewards us with the reading of a poem.

Anchee Min’s presentation then focuses on love, but teases us a bit by withholding the love scene from us.

Anchee Min talks about Mao’s cultural revolution and its roots in fear, before circling back to her book. During the question and answer, she feels that western style democracy is impossible in China. Anchee Min says that while Mao’s portrait remains on the walls, the Chinese are now on their own path.

Anchee Min feels that we need to know where China is coming from in order to know where China is going. Anchee Min feels that China fears the west.

The presentation concludes with a short 3 ½ minute film about her new book and the celebration of Pearl S. Buck in China.

After the speech is over, Anchee Min engages in a book signing. There is an extremely long line for books.

I thank Anchee Min for coming and, of course, inform her about the efforts to save Dollhouse. I appreciate the fact that she shared her experiences of censorship.

Of course, I spend considerable time trying to save Dollhouse.

Please sign the e-petition.


Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Please send emails.


Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

Please sign the Twitition.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!

PLEASE!!!! Let other people know about the efforts to save the show.

David Lipsky on David Foster Wallace

Posted in 1 with tags , , , on April 16, 2010 by toresimonsen

Tonight I am covering a book event at the Hennepin County Central Library. The speaker is David Lipsky. Lipsky is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. He is promoting his book Although of Course You End up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace. The book provides an intimate portrayal fo David Foster Wallace during his 1996 book tour for Infinite Jest.

The crowd is buzzing. Moby is playing on the speakers prior to the speech. A few minute later, a speaker from US Bank introduces Lipsky.

Lipsky begins by discussing, in rather personal tones, his participation with Wallace on a road trip.

Lipsky is still shocked by the discovery that Wallace was suffering from mental illness. Lipsky feels that Wallace was a charming, alive, and awake individual. Lipsky feels that Wallace was the best writer for the last quarter century. He wants to share this with us.

Sadly, David Wallace kills himself. Lipsky begins with reading the afterward, which focuses on the death of David Wallace. I tried to record the lecture, but my battery ran dead. I guess if you want to know how the story goes, you’ll just have to buy the book.

More than anything, Lipsky wants to share with us, how alive and vibrant Wallace was.

The discussion is too detailed for distillation in a blog post. The conversations are funny. Despite the levity, the conversations also take dark turns into Wallace’s experiences with the mental health community and its negativity.

The interviews are intense, but illuminating.

In any case, I understand the podcast will be available online.

Afterwords, David Lipsky takes the time to sign copies of his books for fans. He really took the time to speak to each person who attended and seemed to write lengthy insets. David Lipsky strikes one as the kind of person who likes to make himself available to people.

I waited in line to speak with David Lipsky about my efforts to save Dollhouse. Hopefully, he will look into it. You can help too.

Please sign the e-petition.


Save Dollhouse by signing the TNT petition online to save Dollhouse.

Please send emails.


Save Dollhouse by sending TNT EMAILS to save Dollhouse.

Please sign the Twitition.

The twitition to save Dollhouse is here!

PLEASE!!!! Let other people know about the efforts to save the show.