KeilerS02On January 6, 1955 contralto Marian Anderson became the first African American soloist to sing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. She appeared in the role of Ulrica (a Creole fortuneteller medium) in Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera.

Born in 1897, Anderson’s parents moved to Philadelphia from Virginia to escape the clutches of Jim Crow.

In the University of Illinois Press biography Marian Anderson: A Singer’s Journey, author Allan Keiler documents the economic hardship and bigotry that Anderson had to overcome before vaulting to international stardom.

In a Q&A about the UIP book Blackness in Opera, collection editors, Naomi André, Karen M. Bryan, and Eric Saylor highlighted Anderson’s importance in both art and the social history of the United States:

In the second half of the twentieth century, most people look to Marian Anderson’s career as reflecting the larger barometer of attitudes about race and opera. Though she was denied the right to sing in Constitution Hall in 1939 (owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution), through the support of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who resigned from the DAR in protest, Anderson sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to a crowd of 75,000.

Anderson, who died in 1993, told her own story in the UIP published My Lord, What a Morning. Her autobiography (originally published in 1956) has an entire chapter devoted to the 1939 Easter 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial.

The University of Illinois Press was honored with seven books named Choice Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014.

GoodallF13Eating Together: Food, Friendship, and Inequality, by Alice P. Julier

Asian Americans in Dixie: Race and Migration in the SouthEdited by Khyati Y. Joshi and Jigna Desai

The Sons of Westwood:John Wooden, UCLA, and the Dynasty That Changed College Basketball, by John Matthew Smith

Intelligently Designed: How Creationists Built the Campaign against Evolution, by Edward Caudill

Loyalty and Liberty: American Countersubversion from World War I to the McCarthy Era, by Alex Goodall

Ring Shout, Wheel About: The Racial Politics of Music and Dance in North American Slavery, by Katrina Dyonne Thompson

Anna Howard Shaw: The Work of Woman Suffrage, by Trisha Franzen

This year’s Outstanding Academic Title list includes 651 print books and 39 electronic resources chosen by the Choice editorial staff “for their excellence in scholarship and presentation, the significance of their contribution to the field, and their value as important—often the first—treatment of their subject.”

Congratulations to these authors and editors and to all the UIP staff who worked on these titles.

Two UIP titles are now available in paperback editions.

Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life

GreeneF12Called by Kenneth Rexroth “the most subtly skillful poet of her generation,” British-born Denise Levertov authored twenty-four volumes of poetry, four books of essays, and several translations before being nominated as America’s poet laureate before her death in 1997. This illuminating biography examines Levertov’s interviews, essays, and self-revelatory poetry to set her oeuvre within the framework of a tumultuous life lived vividly, passionately, and on a grand scale. Biographer Dana Greene lays bare the conflicts and torments the poet both endured and created in her personal relationships while following the creative arc of Levertov’s work from the dreamy lyricism of the early period to the luminous religious poetry of her last years.

The hardcover edition of Denise Levertov, A Poet’s Life was an Honorable Mention in the Biography category for the 2013 Georgia Author of the Year Awards.

 

 

Blackness in Opera

AndreS12Blackness in Opera examines the intersections of race and music in the multifaceted genre of opera. A diverse cross-section of scholars places well-known operas including Porgy and Bess, Aida and Treemonisha, alongside lesser-known works .

Contributors are Naomi André, Melinda Boyd, Gwynne Kuhner Brown, Karen M. Bryan, Melissa J. de Graaf, Christopher R. Gauthier, Jennifer McFarlane-Harris, Gayle Murchison, Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr., Eric Saylor, Sarah Schmalenberger, Ann Sears, George Shirley, and Jonathan O. Wipplinger.

In addition to essays by scholars, the book also features reflections by renowned American tenor George Shirley.

 

Christmas in Illinois, by James BalloweFrom the UIP release Christmas in Illinois, edited by James Ballowe:

Before sitting on Santa’s lap in department stores became the way children let Santa and their parents know what they wanted for Christmas, letter writing was common, and often post-office employees volunteered to answer the letters that might otherwise have wound up in the dead letter file. Today many children e-mail Santa. These handwritten letters to Santa from children of Vermilion County were printed in the Fairmount Review, December 6, 1909.

Dear Santa,
I would like a football and a game of fishpond, a bugle horn, and a drum. If it is not too much, bring a tool chest, a little ship, some nuts and oranges.

Goodwin Maxfield

Dear Santa,
I have tried to be a good boy all summer. For Christmas I thought it was time to write now. I want an air gun and an overcoat, of course I like candy and oranges and nuts. I think it is time to close. My stocking will be on the chair.

Your friend,
Dale Delaney

Dear Santa,
I am seven years old. I wish you would bring me a doll with pretty black hair and some doll clothes and bed and dresser, this is all, for you have so many to give to, only don’t forget my cousin Goldie. She is bad sick.

Thelma Snow

Dear Santa Claus,
I will tell you what I would like to have. I want a tablet, a pencil and pencil box; but if you have anything else for me you can bring it.

Grace L. Britt

Dear Santa Claus,
I am a little farmer boy, and I want for Christmas: a horn, a sweater, a rocking horse and a story book and a pair of mittens. I want lots of fruit, candy and nuts. That is all for this time.

Your little friend,
Edward Cheuvront

Dear Santa Claus,
I am a little boy three years old. I have been real good and would like for you to bring me a box of blocks, a little drum, a wagon, doll, a new overcoat and some peanuts and candy.

Your little boy,
Paul Steenbergen

Dear Santa Claus,
I have been a good girl and go to school every day. I would like to get a doll dresser, a ring and a pair of rubbers to keep my shoes clean. Helen wants a doll, a teddy bear and a purse. Don’t forget the fruit and nuts. Dear Santa, this is all for today so I will close, hoping to see you at our school house for we are going to have a Christmas tree.

Good-bye from
Theresa Hart

Dear Santa Claus,
I have been sick ever since the thirteenth of August and am partly crippled yet. If you have any presents for me please bring them. I will be glad of anything you bring.
Bernie Robert Britt

GuebertS15Alan Guebert’s book The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey may have been inspired by a little homemade wine.

Guebert, has been writing his nationally syndicated column “The Farm and Food File” since 1993. The first seed of what would become The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey was planted with a column written around 30 years ago.

A departure from his usual beat of covering the agribusiness issues facing farmers and consumers, Guebert’s holiday-themed column that week was a personal story. It began as follows…

The Christmas tree was a scrub cedar hacked from the edge of the woods that bordered our farm. Big-bulbed lights, strung in barber pole fashion, generated almost as much heat as the nearby woodstove. Yellowed Christmas cards, saved over the years and perched like doves on the untrimmed branches, served as ornaments.

“I believe this is the prettiest tree I’ve ever had,” Howard proclaimed as we stood in its glow. “And its smells good, too.”

The only scent evident to me was a mixture of wood smoke and the remains of a fried pork supper. But I lied and said, “Sure does.”

Howard beckoned me to sit. We had shared this Christmas Day in the dairy barn and it was his request that we share a bit of the night, also. He knew I was alone because my family, his employer, was visiting relatives in town. I knew he was alone because he was always alone, a bachelor for nearly forty years.

“I’ll get us some Christmas cheer,” he offered as I sank into the sofa. In untied work shoes, he shuffled toward the kitchen. A minute later, he returned with two water glasses filled with rhubarb wine. We raised them to the day.

The remembrance of Christmas with Howard, a hired hand on his family’s farm, saw twice the reader response that Guebert usually received. Over the years other personal stories made their way into “The Farm and Food File” as well, including some of the adventures of Guebert’s Uncle Honey, a force of both joy and destruction on the southern Illinois dairy farm.

The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey is Alan Guebert’s ode to “the good life at fifty cents an hour,” growing up on his family farm, with stories of Howard the herdsman, Uncle Honey and

In the video below the author talks about that first column with the personal touch, and about the simple joys found on the farm during the holidays.


The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey will be available in the Spring of 2015. The book can be pre-ordered here.

Christmas in Illinois, by James BalloweA few seasons ago, UIP released Christmas in Illinois, one of our more popular titles of recent years. A fruitcake of prose bursting with stories, songs, good cheer, and recipes, Christmas in Illinois features contributions by Illinoisians from across the fame spectrum. Mike Royko and Sandra Cisneros, frontiersmen and Vermilion County schoolchildren—a chorus of Prairie Staters chime in on Yules past and present.

Longtime Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, for example, laments the decline of singing carols:

But outside churches and the occasional party, collective Christmas caroling has fallen casualty to the peculiarities and sensitivities of our age. Many schools, fearful of offending non-Christians, have axed carols from the activities. In urban neighborhoods where people don’t know their neighbors, assembling a caroling crew is harder than ever. Who knows which cranky neighbor will call the cops complaining about a disturbance of the peace?

Add to that the omnipresence of recorded music. By saturating our lives with music made by others, I’m convinced, recorded music has deterred many of us from making our own.

As we all know, recorded music in public places is also a leading cause of holiday-related madness, right up there with lack of sunlight. To venture into a mall means exposure to the soaring assault of uplift that is Handel’s Messiah, or at least the “Hallelujah Chorus,” i.e. the “Hey Jude” of sacred classical music. But it’s the mall. We all accept that we take life and sanity into our hands the second we turn into the parking lot.

Yet even a Grinch-level aversion to manifestations of the holiday spirit provides no respite. Just leaving your house means accepting joy. “Jingle Bells” escorts you down the frozen food aisle at the grocery and blares from the gas pump. The Chipmunks make you long for rebirth on a virgin planet unsullied by electricity or rodents. Fragile songstresses named Zöe—isn’t it always Zöe? It seems like it’s always Zöe—murmur “Blue Christmas” from overhead at Starbuck’s.

Still, like any genre, holiday songs run the gamut from the classic to the unbearable. Only one thing is certain: the song you hate most will be the absolute favorite of your grandma, among your co-workers, or in the heart of your significant other. We present an unofficial music guide to distract, to comfort, to let you know you are not alone.

“Linus and Lucy,” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
This forty-megaton nostalgia delivery system, once a slightly transgressive choice for the in-store soundtrack, is now a part of Our Lives, with the related diminishing of joy that accompanies saturation airplay. Want to reclaim it? Concentrate on the dancing. Whether it’s that unnamed kid doing the Zombie, Pigpen pounding the upright bass, or Linus grooving in the white-person way you’d expect of Linus, this jazzy number gets the people out on the floor. Choose your Peanuts avatar, down some eggnog, and liven up the party.

“Little Drummer Boy,” by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
Long a document for hipster postmodernists, this duet plays it straight, confident that the mere sharing of space between these very different icons provides enough irony for fifty holiday seasons. Bing makes it look easy, as he had been doing since the Coolidge Administration. Bowie, already rock music’s premier chameleon, fits right in, though you wish he’d eat something.

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” by Brenda Lee
One of those songs that really doesn’t grow on you. Not that it stopped Little Miss Dynamite. A child prodigy—she’s only thirteen on this record, and already a seasoned pro—Lee escaped poverty to become one of the top hitmakers of the 1960s. Here she teamed with Boots “Yakety Sax” Randolph to record one of the most-played holiday hits, a dubious distinction no doubt attributable to the song’s aggressive non-offensiveness.

“Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” by Band Aid
You can’t expect a song recorded for famine relief to be a pick-me-up, and true enough, the cream of early Eighties talent from the British Isles put together a patronizing bummer of a tune redeemed by only two things. First, it raised a lot of money for starving people. Second, all the artists involved either became obscure (Paul Young, Bananarama) or subjects of derision (Sting, U2, Phil Collins), and it’s fun for the rest of us to revisit the vagaries of fame once per year.

“Jingle Bells,” by the Singing Dogs
The most literally-named showbiz act since the Five Lads, the Singing Dogs were a Danish (!) supergroup consisting of Pussy, Pearl, Dolly, King, and Caesar. With nominal human help, the canines put together the original “Jingle Bells” recording in 1955. Eighteen years later, it reentered the charts and now rises again every holiday season to amuse that year’s three year-olds.

Longing for that down home music? Looking for a shot of genius? Tryin’ to forget that you asked for water and your woman gave you gasoline? Order from our salesational The Best of Illinois: Vol. 1 catalog and get 40% off the good vibrations your UI Press throws down on a regular basis. Journeying from real gone to totally gear, these tuneful tomes surf the spectrum of America’s most boss music.

GoinsF14A solo hitmaker and Muddy Waters sideman, Jimmy Rogers pioneered a blues guitar style that launched a thousand songs and inspired many a rock band. Blues All Day Long tells the untold story of a revered legend who bridged generations.

“Great work. Long, long overdue.” —Taj Mahal

“A great read. I loved it. What a nice tribute to the great Jimmy Rogers.” —Charlie Musselwhite

 

RooneyS14Songwriter. Record producer. Storyteller. If it happened in music over the last fifty years, chances are Jim Rooney was nearby. In It for the Long Run tells the star-studded tale of Rooney’s life on the road and in the studio.

“Wonderful fellow with an interesting life equals great story.” —John Prine

“He always had a way of lifting us all up out of the everyday.  We never forgot that we were trying to make music that’d help people get THROUGH the everyday, but, ironically, you have to get on up out of it for awhile in order to do that. Jim always made that possible for me.” —Iris DeMent

For a limited time you can purchase our regional Best of Illinois titles at a 40% discount with the promo code BEST40. Sale ends December 31, 2014. View the Best of Illinois catalog here.

DowF14Bonnie J. Dow is an associate professor and chair of communication studies and an associate professor of women’s and gender studies at Vanderbilt University. She answered some questions about her book Watching Women’s Liberation, 1970: Feminism’s Pivotal Year on the Network News.

Q: You mark 1970 as the year that saw second wave feminism get significant national media coverage for the first time. Why was this year the turning point?

Bonnie Dow: 1970 was a huge turning point because that was the year that women’s liberation became a focus for the national television network news divisions. The national print coverage had been building since 1968, and the networks finally recognized that the movement was an important story. Starting in January 1970, with the very first nightly network news story on women’s liberation activity—a protest at the Senate’s hearings on the birth control pill—the Big 3 network new divisions did more than 20 separate stories on the movement and its activities over the course of the year. This coverage made women’s liberation truly national news in a whole new way. NBC and CBS both did a multi-part series on the movement, and ABC produced a half hour documentary about it, in addition to coverage of different feminist protests. Continue reading

Oft-imitated, rarely surpassed, The Best of Illinois: Vol. 1 catalog provides one-stop shopping for the best books on all facets of the ever-fascinating Land of Lincoln. Shrooms, the Mafia, music of every kind—BOIV1 offers the perfect gift for the hip reader in your life. But what about those un-hipsters who care about the world enough to want to fix it? Two words: you’re covered. The following titles finish top o’ the poll for anyone fascinated or frightened by that rough beast always slouching toward Springfield to be born: Illinois politics.

Available February 2015.GradelS15 Public funds spent on jets and horses. Shoeboxes stuffed with embezzled cash. Ghost payrolls and incarcerated ex-governors. Illinois’ culture of “Where’s mine?” and the public apathy it engenders has made our state and local politics a disgrace. Veteran political observers Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson take aim at business-as-usual by laying out a blueprint to transform our politics into an instrument of public good.

Corrupt Illinois is the most comprehensive account of corruption in our state ever published. It proposes cures, which will take decades to implement fully, but which deserve our attention now.” —Governor Jim Edgar

N--S14Hard-working, learned, utterly respectable: Jose Angel N. has built an honorable life. Yet he can’t get U.S. citizenship. A searing portrait of the indignities and petty political madness in the way of one man’s American dream, Illegal tells the story of living on the margins out of sheer necessity.

“There are ironies aplenty in this book. Perhaps the greatest irony is that he has been studying us and he knows us better than we know him.” —Richard Rodriguez, author of Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography

NowlanS14We hear the joke all the time. You have a book called Fixing Illinois? Is it 4,000,000 pages long? The answer: no, but that’s only because our crack editorial department can work miracles with space through the judicious use of long (if accurate) adjectives like “bloated,” “nefarious,” “foul-smelling,” “unscrupulous,” and “bamboozlicious.” James D. Nowlan and J. Thomas Johnson put aside cynicism to tackle the long list of problems plaguing the Prairie State. As Adlai E. Stevenson III said, “Fixing Illinois should be read by all concerned Illinois citizens and especially those who seek and occupy public office.” Invest now for a mere $11.97 and dare to see a new way ahead.

For a limited time you can purchase our regional Best of Illinois titles at a 40% discount with the promo code BEST40. Sale ends December 31, 2014. View the Best of Illinois catalog here.

Every December since 2007 we have posted an annual list of our pop culture faves. The University of Illinois Press Best of 2014 edition is in alphabetical order by staff member’s last name.

Jennifer Barbee, Account Tech I
Favorite Book: Veronica Roth Divergent Trilogy
Favorite CD/LP/Music Download: Aloe Blacc “Lift Your Spirit”

Favorite Film: Frozen; Feels as if this is the only movie I have seen this year!
Favorite TV Show: The Walking Dead and The 100
Favorite Live Performance: Winter Program at Kenwood (I have two kindergartners that were fantastic in this program!)
Website I visit every day: Facebook.com


Angela Burton, Rights & Permissions Manager

Favorite Book: Anthony Doerr – All the Light We Cannot See
Favorite CD/LP/music download: TV on the Radio – Seeds

Favorite Film I Watched This Year: Mud.  Director/writer Jeff Nichols has a unique voice, and I’m looking forward to his new film, Midnight Special, in 2015.
Favorite TV Show: Shameless
Favorite live performance: Blind Boys of Alabama, Illinois Blues Festival in Peoria. Incredible performance.
Favorite YouTuber:  The hilarious Tim Helbig at his channel TimWillDestroyYou  (one of my favorite TH videos: OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL READ ABOUT GOING!!)


Marika Christofides, Assistant Acquisitions Editor

Favorite Book: Caitlin R. Kiernan – The Drowning Girl
Favorite CD/LP/music download: SIA – 1000 Forms of Fear

Favorite Film: Gone Girl
Favorite TV Show: Broad City
Favorite live performance: Homo for the Holidays at Oddfellows in Seattle (this always happens just after this list comes out, but I know it will be just as good this year as it was last year!)
Favorite vegetarian chili slow-cooker recipe: Meatiest Vegetarian Chili From Your Slow Cooker
Favorite podcast:
Serial


Alexa Colella, Marketing Manager, Journals

Favorite Book: Not new, but I carry it everywhere, Gaston Bachelard, Poetics of Space. Another I carry around is David Foster Wallace, Life is Water
Favorite Music: Bronze Radio Return, Old Time Speaker

Favorite Film: Night Will Fall (a horrific documentary about Alfred Hitchcock’s documentary on the Holocaust), Days of Future Past was good, too
Favorite TV Show: Agents of Shield
Website I visit every day: sethgodin.typepad.com, design-is-fine.org


Kevin Cunningham, Copywriter and Catalog Coordinator

Favorite Book(s): Ian Morris – When Bad Things Happen to Rich People; Jennifer Michael Hecht – Stay; Carla Emery – The Encyclopedia of Country Living (an amazing book—I feel like I could butcher a pig with no problem now)
Favorite CD/LP/music download: Various 1950s-1960s hits for a friend’s birthday party
Favorite TV Show: Hockey games
Favorite live performance: Also hockey games; though my daughter’s dance interpretations of ABBA songs are growing on me
Favorite C-U pastry: Brownie at Pekara Bakery
Favorite scientific observation: The UIP staff prefers Entenmann’s glazed crullers to chocolate donnettes
Favorite line of marketing copy: “Acid Hype offers the untold tale of LSD’s wild journey from Brylcreem and Ivory soap to incense and peppermints.”


Dawn Durante, Acquisitions Editor

Favorite Books: Michael Agnew—A Perfect Pint’s Beer Guide to the Heartland, Margaret Atwood—MaddAddam (the third book in the MadAddam trilogy)
Favorite CD/LP/music download: Micah McKee and Little Maker’s Patrons of the Saint
Favorite Films: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1, The Lego Movie (because everything is awesome!)
Favorite TV Shows: Last Comic Standing season 8, Playing House, True Detective
Favorite Podcast: Serial hosted by Sarah Koenig
Favorite live performance: Yo-Yo Ma with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago at Christkindlmarket in The Loop
Websites I visit almost every day: Etsy, Lonely Planet


Steve Fast, Publicity Manager

Favorite Book: Jesse WalkerThe United States of Paranoia
Favorite CDs: Imelda May – Tribal, Spoon – They Want My Soul

Favorite display of Glam Rock Shoes: David Bowie Is exhibit at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art
Favorite TV Shows: Hannibal, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
Favorite live performances: The National at the Chicago Theater. Gord Downie and the Sadies at Lincoln Hall, Chicago. Old 97’s at the Castle Theater in Bloomington, IL. King Crimson at the Barrymore Theater in Madison, WI.
Website I visit every day: I visit the Puck Daddy blog for all of my NHL news.


Jennie Holzner, Book Designer
Favorite Book:
Chip Kidd: Work 1986–2006, Book One, Chip Kidd
Favorite Book Cover Designer: Chip Kidd. Not only is he a great designer, but he’s funny as heck. Here’s a link to his TED2012 talk, “Designing Books Is No Laughing Matter”
Favorite Films: August: Osage County, St. Vincent
Favorite TV Shows: Orange Is the New Black, The Walking Dead
Favorite Live Performance: Garth Brooks at Allstate Arena, Chicago (very first concert of his world tour)
Websites I Visit Every Day: (besides Facebook?) Designspiration


Bill Regier, Director

Favorite Book: In 2014 I read a lot of Erasmus. I’d gladly recommend books by and about him if you please, but suppose you’d be more pleased by something else. So I recommend another book, a real stunner, brought to my attention by UIP Art Director, Dustin Hubbart. If you see no other novel this year you will thank yourself lavishly if you take a long look at a book called S. S. is a novel in a novel and a book in a box. It is a unique book and a masterpiece of art direction. Inside its slipcase S. looks like a book published in 1947 and apparently long overdue from a high school library. It is, perhaps, a theft. The book is the “inner novel,” named Ship of Theseus, its hero an assassin named S., its heroine a woman of mystery, its ship a ramshackle ocean-going hulk run by a nameless crew. S. sails to different parts of the world killing evil overlords and their agents. Without Ship of Theseus S. would be an empty box. The 472 pages of Ship of Theseus carry a cargo: a map on a napkin, postcards, a decoder wheel, handwritten letters, and photocopies are inserted here and there. They’re loose paper; they fall out. The book’s margins have handwriting in different hands and different inks. These scripts and pieces present the “outer novel,” a series of messages between a man and a woman figuring out the inner novel, its author, and each other. Ask Dustin or me to show you S. I doubt you’ve seen anything like it. If you want to try some Erasmus, let me know.
Favorite CD: Once again, my favorite CD of the years is a Michael Roux recommendation. He thought I might like Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Wanderlust and I liked it a hundred times. She has had several earlier albums but this is the best by far. Try “Until the Stars Collide” and “Wrong Side of the Sun.” Another that got a lot of play is Vienna Teng’s AIMS, from 2013. It is her best in years. The CD can only be ordered from her Web site, though Amazon vends the MP3 version. Both albums are diverse in tone and genres.

Favorite Live Performance: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Nielsen’s Symphony #4 at Krannert. I had never heard this symphony live before and it was wonderful. It led me to play Nielsen symphonies for weeks. Lyle Lovett at the Virginia Theater was #2. I would have liked it even more if I could have seen it. I wore the wrong glasses, only good for reading.
Favorite TV Show: I loved Fargo, was again fascinated by Dancing with the Stars, complained about flaws in The Bridge, grew tired of Big Bang Theory, was glad I stuck with Gotham, welcomed Blackish, agreed with the Emmys about Modern Family, and remain stubbornly loyal to Justified as my favorite series. It wasn’t its best season, but still had terrific characters and amazing moments. The final season starts in January. I already mourn its passing.
Favorite Movie (aka = Film): Christopher Nolan may be my favorite living director (Memento, Inception, The Dark Knight), and despite its several problems, his Interstellar is my choice for the best film of 2014. The soundtrack is too loud, Matthew McConaughy is too often unintelligible, and wormholes in space is only slightly less incredible than magic beans, but the storyline was well paced (important for a long movie), and the bid screen made the most of the big scenery. Poor Casey Affleck got a bum role. For sheer skill in cinematography and sequencing, Birdman was stupendous, worth seeing for that reason if no other. It also happens to have an all-star cast, who live up to their reputations and improve them: Michael Keaton, Ed Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifianakis. Since much of the movie is about acting, it risked parodying itself; instead, it creates amusement with simple surprises and fabulous camera work.
Favorite 16th-Century Scholar: Erasmus, of course.


Tad Ringo, Senior Editor

Favorite Book: Russell Shorto – The Island at the Center of the World
Favorite CD/LP/music download: Christina Perri – Head or Heart

Favorite Film: Godzilla
Favorite TV Show: The Musketeers (BBC America)
Website I visit every day: Eurobricks (LEGO site)


Michael Roux, Marketing Manager

Favorite Book: Marisha Pessl – Night Film, Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch
Favorite CD: Temples – Sun Structures, favorite song from the album, “The Golden Throne”

Favorite music from 2013 that I discovered too late to make last year’s list: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Push the Sky Away, favorite song from the album, “Jubilee Street”
Favorite Sophie Ellis-Bextor song not on her recent album Wanderlust: “Catch You” from the album Trip the Light Fantastic

Favorite Film: Boyhood
Favorite TV Shows: True Detective
Favorite live performance: Ume at House of Blues, New Orleans, LA – Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull at Sangamon Auditorium, Springfield, IL
Website I visit every day: Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish


Sandy Sullivan, Account Tech II

Favorite Book:  The Shining
Favorite CD/LP/music download:  Kenny Chesney (all of them)

Favorite Film:  Heaven is For Real
Favorite TV Show:  Revenge
Favorite live performance, theater/music/comedy/etc.:  Kenny Chesney (maybe a theme developing here.)
Website I visit every day: IPAY website


Amanda Wicks, Assistant Acquisitions Editor

Favorite Book: History of the Rain – Niall Williams, A Girl if a Half-formed Thing – Eimear McBride
Favorite CD/LP/music download: Leif Vollebekk – North Americana, Jon Batiste & Stay Human – Social Music, Robert Ellis – The Lights from the Chemical Plant, and Beck – Morning Phase

Favorite Film: Birdman
Favorite live performance, theater/music/comedy/etc.: Ryan Adams at Chicago Theatre, Chicago. IL
Website I visit every day: Ask the Past