Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I SO TOTALLY judge a book by its cover

The phrase "don't judge a book by its cover" is an excellent metaphorical maxim to live by, much like "all that glitters is not gold".  It is true that one should not accept the world at face value, and that many things are not what they seem upon first glance.  Some level of discretion is wise.  But taken literally, this phrase holds no water with me.  I judge books by their covers all the time, whether right or wrong.  When I browse shelves at the bookstore or library, I pick up books by authors I love, yes, but also because of beautiful dust jackets, interesting bindings, or titles splashed across the cover in cool fonts.  I'm willing to read a copy of a book with a hideous cover only if I know (somehow) that it's going to be a good read.  It's OK.  I don't feel bad.

Here are some AWFUL book covers from our school library.  Actually, these books are no longer part of our school library, but not because of their covers.  Well, maybe that's not entirely true.  The cover is a factor, but certainly not the only one.

Monday, October 29, 2012

US History Projects are Underway

The second year of Mr. Cramer's US History research projects is now in full swing. Students submitted their initial research proposals and there are some AMAZING topic ideas. We are so impressed with so many of the students' creativity and insight. Personally, I am really excited to help the girls find sources for their research. It's one of the best things about my job. I get to learn right along with our students!

The basic idea is this: Choose a topic of some personal interest and find a thematic link between early American history (pre-Civil War) and modern American history. Research the ways in which the topic/theme/idea is evident in American life/culture/society across time. How are two or more events linked? How did a concept evolve over time? Etc. and so on.

Some FABULOUS topic ideas include:
Spanish vaqueros, early American cowboys and modern cowboy culture
political mockery and political cartoons during two American presidencies
public punishment and humiliation, our fascination with criminals and law enforcement
women's roles in military operations
women's changing roles in the field of medicine
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among veterans of American wars
the slow advance of the acceptable age for marriage
the practicality vs. pageantry of military uniforms
the Industrial Revolution and its impact on cosmetics and beauty
photography's ability to reveal suffering and hardship
the power of literature to create social change

Aren't these fantastic? These are just a few of the inspiring ideas our juniors have decided to explore. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.

The Whiskey Rebellion
Unknown, attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer
circa 1795

Thursday, October 18, 2012

John M. Flaxman Library

At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (where alum Alex Bernstein is studying), the library collection focuses on "20th- and 21st-century visual arts, design, architecture, criticism, theory, and philosophy".  They have more than 350 magazines!  Imagine.

And OMG, they use LibGuides too!  Are you guys starting to feel like FSHA is awesome, or what?  Here are some of their LibGuides:
Art History

Anyone in contact with Alex?  I'd love to know if she's had reason to visit the library.....

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Teacher Feature #4: Mr. Coria

What do you most like to read?  (this could be a literary genre, or a type of material, like blogs, magazines, etc.)
I love reading the news.  I also like science-fiction.
What's the last great thing you read?
Anathem by Neal Stephenson.  He's my favorite author.  

Do you have a favorite book/author?
Neal Stephenson.  I think Cryptonomicon is my favorite.

Where do you most like to read?

When you were in high school, did you like to read?  If so, what?  
I didn't like to read too much, until I got into science fiction.  My first sci-fi experience was Ender's Game, which was an easy read.  I read the sequels immediately afterwards, along with the rest of Orson Scott-Card's books.  I had no idea sci-fi could be so though-provoking.
What is your most hated book?
I'm really struggling to finish the Game of Thrones series.  It puts me to sleep.  A dreamless sleep.

Los Angeles Public Library: Who Knew?

Ok, so I have been to the central library downtown a hundred times, and I have always noted its beauty, but I have never really looked closely at the amazing details the artists and architects included when designing this building.

Did you know that images of Herodotus, Virgil, Socrates, Justinian, Da Vinci, and Copernicus are included on the outside of the building?

Or that on one of the patios there are relief sculptures of scenes from Alice in Wonderland, Mother Goose, Arabian Nights, King Arthur, Robin Hood, and Ali Baba?

I love this library for so many reasons, but I think next time I'm there I'll pay closer attention to something other than the books.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

UCLA's Arts Library

image from latimes blog
The UCLA Arts Library "has more than 270,000 books in the fields of architecture, architectural history, art, art history, design, film, television, photography as art, theater, and allied disciplines."  They even use LibGuides, just like we do!  Can you believe it?  Personally, I am very impressed.  Here are links to some of their art LibGuides:

image from
Art and Art History
Contemporary Art and Artists
Theater Research Guide

(They have many more.  You can see them all by visiting the Arts Library link above.)

The Arts Library also has exhibits, including displays of student and faculty work.  They also have collections of TV and film scripts, movie stills, original artwork, and so many other fantastic resources that my mind is officially boggled.

Teacher Feature #3: Ms. Kent

  • What do you most like to read?   I read a lot of what I call 'junk food' books, things that are easy reads but entertaining (when I want to relax, i read instead of watching tv). So a little of everything: thrillers, sci-fi, romance, mystery. I tend to have multiple books going on at once, my 'junk food' book, something more intellectually stimulating (for when I've overloaded on 'junk food' books) an example of a book for this could be Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. Then I have some non-fiction going that i'll pick up on and off for months. I've just started Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
  • What's the last great thing you read? The Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Purcell 
  • Do you have a favorite book/author?  My all time favorite author, who's books I read over and over and over is JD Salinger. (I'm unsure I can choose a favorite from his work, I love them all). 
  • But it's hard to not mention: Anthony Bourdain, Tom Robbins, Richard Brautigan, Edward Gorey. Some specific books I love, and are not from the above authors are: The Terror, The Road, The Great Gatsby, Wurthering Heights, American Gods, Blood Bones and Butter 
  • Where do you most like to read? At home
  • When you were in high school, did you like to read?  If so, what?  I have always been an avid reader, in high school my favorite author was Francesca Lia Block (she is still a favorite of mine) 
  • What is your most hated book? I can't think of a specific book… 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Teacher Feature #2 : Ms. Lieskovsky

As part of our Teen Read Week featuring the Visual and Performing Arts department, I asked VAPA teachers about their personal reading habits.  Here's what Ms. Lieskovsky had to say....

I am a massive book worm.....narrowing down my books to be photographed with will be hard :-) But the two major books that influenced my reading the most were Lord of the Rings and Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. 

  • What do you most like to read?  (this could be a literary genre, or a type of material, like blogs, magazines, etc.) ------I am a massive book worm.  I tend towards the Urban fantasy books, or high  books.  I also enjoy SciFi books as well, but I read only series in this genre (like start trek and star wars)
  • What's the last great thing you read?---------Either Yamine Galenorn's "Shaded Vision" or Kim Harrison's "A Perfect Blood."  I also, in between these books digested the Hunger Games trilogy.
  • Do you have a favorite book/author?-----My favorite books of all time were The Lord of the Rings and Interview with the Vampire. However, my favorite authors at present are Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, Lurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Yasmine Galenorn, Carrie Vaugh, Rob Thurman, and Sherryln Kenyon just to name a few....(trust me I could go on).  The problem with me is I read so fast, that my authors can't keep up.  I have to wait usually a year or more for their next story of the series to come out, then in the meantime, I will look for "filler" books....and find a new favorite author who i now add to my growing list of "waiting for the next book."
  • Where do you most like to read?-----On my couch or in bed, and I usually loose track of time and stay up way too late, or forget to do other more pressing everyday items.
  • When you were in high school, did you like to read?  If so, what? ------I was just as big of a book worm in High School as I am today.  I read more SciFi then, as of now where it isn't as much.  Also, the genre of Urban Fantasy has become very very popular in the past 10 years, where when I was reading it in High School it was relatively a new concept.  I read alot of Start Wars and Star Trek novels, Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton. 
  • What is your most hated book?---------I know its a classic, but I really did not like Event Horizon.  I had to read it for school and I couldn't get into it or really understand it.  I felt like I wanted the hours I had to use to read the book back to be used on a story I would enjoy.

The Joy of Books

Yep, this about sums it up

USC's Fine Arts Library

Did you know most big universities have special library collections for the Fine Arts?  At USC, the Helen Topping Architecture and Fine Arts Library "houses more than 75,000 volumes of books and journals dedicated to the studies of art history, fine arts, and architecture, as well as a notable collection of rare titles and artists' books", according to the school's website. The library is located in Watt Hall, in the Roski School of Fine Arts.  The library was designed by Graeme Morland, a faculty member in the school of architecture.

images courtesy of