Women Who Rock

Veterinarian. Astronaut. Paleontologist. Actress. President. Everyone dreams up at least one career for themselves when they’re a kid or a teenager and the future stretches out in front of them like a vast, unending ocean. Me? You couldn’t tell from the basic Gap jeans and the guitars that lived mostly in the darkness of their cases, but I wanted to be a rock star.
I never ended up getting a record deal (big surprise), but I still enjoy music immensely. And lately, I find myself reading about music and thinking about the culture around music. It’s got me wondering where all the women are. Why are we so severely underrepresented in rock bands, and when we’re there, why are we only lead vocals or playing bass? Why do we often dress up in skirts and heels, but guys can throw on a black t-shirt and call it a day? Why aren’t more of us in the wake of #MeToo taking our anger to microphones and drum kits, screaming louder than those floppy-haired skinny emo boys whose photos plastered our bedroom walls before their predatory conduct towards underage female fans plastered the news? Or, perhaps more disturbingly, are we already screaming out to be heard, but the world just isn’t listening because a man hasn’t come along and validated our efforts yet?
On that distortion-pedaled, dropped-down-a-half-step note, here’s some titles to stoke your inner riot grrrl:
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon
Noise rockers Sonic Youth might be a tough listen for some folks (coughs, averts eyes), but this memoir by bassist Kim Gordon is not. She details her time in the band, her life as an artist in New York, and her marriage to frontman Thurston Moore.
Did you know that the title for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came from Bikini Kill’s lead singer, Kathleen Hanna? Never heard of Bikini Kill? Then give a listen to this history of riot grrrl, the radical feminist punk uprising in the 1990s, the waves of which can still be felt today.
You might go, “Oh, that’s the woman from Portlandia,” but before her foray into comedy, Carrie Brownstein was best known as the lead guitarist for punk band Sleater-Kinney. (IMHO, their 2005 album The Woods is one of the best rock albums of the oughts.) Her memoir presents a candid and deeply personal assessment of life in the rock-and-roll industry that reveals her struggles with rock’s double standards.
If you don’t know Amanda Palmer from the dark cabaret duo the Dresden Dolls, or her solo albums, or as a crowdfunding pioneer, you’ll know her as the wife of Neil Gaiman. (How I wish I could eavesdrop and hear the bedtime stories they tell their child!) Part manifesto, part revelation, this is the story of an artist struggling with the new rules of exchange in the twenty-first century, both on and off the Internet, meant to inspire readers to rethink their own ideas about asking, giving, art, and love. Available from us in print and audiobook formats.

 

The Amazing Short Stories of Ted Chiang

Our sci-fi guy, Harold, has an author recommendation for you:

If I could only recommend one science fiction author to read this year, it would be Ted Chiang. Though Chiang has written only 14 of short stories and one novella, his works have been critically acclaimed. His short story collections are Exhalation and Stories of Your Life.

Chiang has been the recipent  of four Nebula awards, four Hugo awards, and won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (for his short story, “Babylon”).  His short story, “Story of Your Life,” was the basis of the film Arrival (2016). Exhalation was a Goodreads Choice Award in 2019. The New York Times named Exhalation one of the 10 Best Books of 2019. That’s a lot of awards that are, in my opinion, well deserved!

Chiang’s works are hard to describe since they are not conventional science fiction, per se. It’s a subtle distinction, but they are more fiction based on science than science fiction. President Obama, via Facebook, said that they are “a collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.”

These are precisely articulated, well-crafted and thought-provoking stories. There are no rocket ships or cosmic battles. Instead, they expand upon and extend science, and technology that exists today. Two of my favorites from Exhalation are “Babylon”, a re-work of the Tower of Babel story, and “Merchant and the Alchemist’s Gate”,  about a merchant in ancient Persia who can travel through time to correct past mistakes.

Exhalation  and Stories of Your Life are available at the Cheshire Public Library as printed books.  Exhalation is also available as an ebook, and Stories of Your Life is also available as a downloadable audiobook. They are well worth reading. The film, Arrival, based on Chang’s “Story of Your Life”, is available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in November

There’s so much going on at CPL this month: two concerts, special programs honoring our veterans, a new Homeschool meetup, the big Fall Book Sale, and so much more!  Check out our Event Calendar for the full roster, here are some highlights:

Play & Learn

Saturday, November 2, 2019, 10:00-11:00am

Our new drop-in play group for children and their caregivers! Explore interactive and sensory activities, encouraging the development of early literacy skills.  We will have lots of movement, songs, and a short storytime during the last 20 minutes of the program. Recommended for ages 2 to 5 years old.  Younger and older siblings are also welcome to attend. No registration required.

College Financial Aid Seminar

Saturday, November 2, 2019, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Jennifer Philips’ seminar, “Simplifying the Financial Aid Process, “ will provide parents and students with tips on securing the best possible financial aid package from the college of their choice. Jennifer will describe the best student loans, grants and scholarships available, explain the critical financial aid forms and deadlines and the various components of a financial aid offer. Registration is required.

United States Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band

Sunday, November 3, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm

Performing classic jazz, blues, and rags with a “New Orleans” flavor. The Dixieland Jazz Band has entertained audiences across America and around the world.  Please join us for a very special concert! No registration required.

Author Talk – Formation: A Woman’s Memoir of Stepping Out of Line

Monday, November 4, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Ryan Dostie never imagined herself on the front lines of a war halfway around the world. But then a conversation with an Army recruiter in her high-school cafeteria changes the course of her life. Hired as a linguist, she quickly has to find a space for herself in the testosterone-filled world of the Army barracks, and has been holding her own until the unthinkable happens: she is attacked by a fellow soldier. Join us as the author discusses her powerful book. Registration is required.

Veterans’ Writing Group

Tuesday, November 5, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a short film and a panel discussion with members of the Veterans’ Writing Group. The Russell Library Veterans’ Writing Group has been meeting and writing stories of their incredible experiences for several years, which will be published by En Route Publishing this year. Come get a sneak peak of this fascinating book, and listen to true stories from veterans from all branches of service. Registration is required.

Veterans Day Concert with the Cheshire Community Band

Sunday, November 10, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm

The Cheshire Community Band will perform a variety of selections including historical and patriotic numbers in celebration of Veterans Day. No registration required.

Veterans Day Movie: They Shall Not Grow Old 

Tuesday, November 12, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm

On the centenary of the end of the First World War, experience the Great War as never before. Using state-of-the-art technology and materials from the BBC and Imperial War Museum, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson allows the story of World War I to be told by the men who were there. Life on the front is explored through the voices of the soldiers, who discuss their feelings about the conflict, the food they ate, the friends they made and their dreams of the future. Registration is required.

Homeschool Meetup (all ages)

Wednesday, November 3, 2019, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Meet other local families who are educating their children and teens at home while sharing tips, ideas, and educational materials. Toys and sensory play will be available for young children and crafts will be provided for older children and teens. Please register each child or teen separately.

Medicare Supplement and Advantage: Q & A

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 1:00 – 3:00pm

Staff from the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging will present this seminar and provide vital information about Medicare, Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage.  Their mission is to provide the information and assistance necessary for consumers to understand their rights, receive benefits to which they are entitled and make informed choices about health insurance concerns. Registration is required.

A Night with Georgia O’Keeffe ~ Craft night

Thursday, November 14, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a short film on the life of Georgia O’Keeffe and then create your own work of art in her style. All materials will be provided. Registration is required for this adult (18+)  program.

“Are You In Your Right Mind?” – A Joyce Saltman Workshop

Monday, November 18, 2019, 1:00 – 2:30pm

Interactive and fun, this lecture will explore individual differences through left-brain/right brain research, in an effort to understand and appreciate these differences in ourselves and others. Joyce Saltman is a professor Emeritus of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and a former Cheshire resident. Her experience in the areas of education, therapy, and comedy has provided an outstanding background for her research on The Therapeutic Value of Laughter. Registration is required.

Fall Book Sale!

Thursday, November 21  – Sunday, November 24, 2019

Bargains galore at the big Fall Book Sale! Browse more than 15,000 books of every possible genre. Stock up on audiobooks and DVDs. You never know what treasures you’ll find. Book sale hours:

  • Wednesday, November 20, 6:30-8:00pm (Preview Night for Friends’ Members only)
  • Thursday, November 21, 9:00am – 8:00pm
  • Friday, November 22, 9:00am – 4:30pm
  • Saturday, November 23, 9:00am – 4:30pm
  • Sunday, November 24, 12:00 – 3:00pm

Mysteries of St. Peter’s Basilica

Tuesday, November 26, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Did you know that St. Peter’s church at the Vatican has hidden geometry pinpointing certain locations? Robert Kerson will discuss this fascinating mystery. Learn details of the current basilica few people are aware of. Registration is required.

Books Over Coffee

Wednesday, November 27, 2019, 12:00 – 1:30pm

On the last Wednesday of every month from 12-1:30p we’ll meet in the Loft to discuss the selected title. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is our November selection. Books are available in print,  audio, & ebook format. You bring your lunch, we’ll provide the coffee and tea. Registration is required.

 

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in October

This October, we’re thrilled to welcome Joyce Saltman back to CPL for two programs about how to maintain our sense of humor as we age. We also have local authors coming to discuss their books and local artists sharing their processes and artwork. There’s always something interesting happening at CPL, take a look:

QPR Suicide Prevention Training

Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 1:00 – 2:30pm

Wednesday, October 9, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

QPR (Question, Persuade, and Refer) is a nationally recognized emergency mental health intervention for suicidal persons. This 90-minue training session is designed for anyone in the community who might be in a position to recognize a crisis and the warning signs that someone may be contemplating suicide. This class will be taught by Michelle Piccerillo, Director of Human Services for Cheshire, and Kate Glendon, Public Health Specialist for the Chesprocott Health District. Registration is required. For more information on QPR, go to https://qprinstitute.com/about-qpr.

Creating Abstract Art Using Oils and Cold Wax

Wednesday, October 2, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Artist Diane Brown produces abstract works by mixing oils and cold wax. She will discuss the process of layering color on top of color and working to create textures as well as the new and exciting directions this technique can take the artist. Sponsored by the Cheshire Art league, no registration required.

Drop-In Loft Knitters

Saturday, October 5, 2019, 10:00am – 12:00pm

Come socialize, learn, share your techniques with other knitters. All levels of adult knitters are welcome. (Please be advised that instruction on knitting will not be given for this adult program.) This event will meet the first Saturday of the month through April 2020. No registration required.

Joyce Saltman Returns to Cheshire Library!

A Humorous Look at Aging and Sex:

  • Monday, October 7, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Laughter: Rx for Survival:

  • Saturday, October 26, 2019, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Joyce Saltman, Professor Emeritus of Special Education at CCSU, international lecturer and ‘laughter consultant”,  brings two uniquely enlightening and entertaining talks to CPL this month. The October 7 program will deal (with a minimum of scientific data and a maximum of humor) with the trials and tribulations of being a Senior! Combining research about this important topic for the “senior citizen” set (those of us who are old but not dead!). The October 26 program will deal with the physiological benefits of laughter, studies on the mind-body connection, and practical (plus some not-so-practical!) suggestions on ways to bring more laughter into your life.  Seating is limited for this popular speaker, early registration is recommended for each program.

Care for Caregivers of the Aging

Tuesday, October 8, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Please join us as the Western Connecticut Area Agency on Aging discusses support services for caregivers.  Caregivers often find the task of caring for another person to be overwhelming. They often develop stress-related illnesses such as heart disease, hypertension, or ulcers. An occasional break from caregiving enables an exhausted caregiver to regroup both physically and emotionally, and find the strength to carry on. Registration is required.

Crafting Street Organs

Saturday, October 12, 2019, 2:00 – 3:00pm

Local resident Anatoly Zaya-Ruzo makes beautiful street organs, automatons and mechanical dolls.  During this presentation he will discuss the process he uses when crafting street organs. Mr Zaya-Ruzo’s workshop in Cheshire is the only place in the U.S. where street organs are fabricated. He will bring several organs, explain how they work, and talk about their history. Registration is required.

Greenwave – 3D Ocean Farming

Tuesday, October 15, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

As seen on “60 Minutes” come learn about 3D ocean farming: growing and harvesting kelp, seaweed, and shellfish in Long Island Sound and beyond. Can we restore our seas through ocean farming? Members of the non-profit organization GreenWave -right here in New Haven County – will explain what it’s like to be ocean farmers. Registration is required.

Author Talk –  Stephen King : American Master

Thursday, October 17, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for Stephen Spignesi’s, presentation on Stephen King: American Master illustrated lecture based on Spignesi’s new book. The program includes unique photographs Spignesi acquired from King’s family, and excerpts from little-known writings are read to the audience.  All attendees receive free a tri-fold, color, signed limited edition brochure commemorating the event, as well as other handouts. Registration is required.

Tony Falcone: Creating the Art for the United States Coast Guard Historical Murals Project

Saturday, October 19, 2019, 2:00 – 4:00pm

Connecticut Artist Tony Falcone will share his artistic process in the creation of the oversized, detailed and historically accurate oil paintings (each approximately 9’ x 11’) that comprise the Historical Murals Project commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, Class of ’62. Registration is required.

Tales from the Grave

Monday, October 21, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Did you miss the Spirits Alive Lantern Tour? Or did you attend and want to know more about the featured Spirits? This is your chance to Meet the Spirits and find out how their stories were unearthed and “fleshed out”! Registration is required.

The Mill River: Past and Present

Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Cheshire Historical Society President Diane Calabro will provide background on Cheshire’s connections with the Mill River, while the New Haven historical aspect will be presented by Mill River Watershed Association’s Malinda Hennes. Nicole Davis, Watershed Coordinator for Save the Sound will discuss the work done to improve the water quality of the Mill River in the past year. Registration is required.

Genealogy DNA

You did a DNA test and have a match list and some predicted relationships. How did the company do that, what does it mean, and what do you do next? Genealogist Nora Galvin will present this advanced lecture, which explains what the results mean, shows how we get “segments” and what to do with them. Registration is required.

Author Talk – One of Windsor: the Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging

Thursday, October 24, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm

Join us for a captivating lecture by Connecticut author Beth M. Caruso as she discusses the overwhelming factors that led to the beginning of the witch trials in colonial New England. Her well-researched novel, One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging, is based on the life of Alice “Alse” Young, the first colonial hanging victim, and explores certain events in Windsor, Connecticut that were precursors to Alice’s indictment and death. Copies of Beth’s book will be available for purchase and signing. Registration is required.

Books Over Coffee: The Death Instinct

Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 12:00 – 1:30pm

On the last Wednesday of every month we’ll meet from 12-1:30 in The Loft to discuss the selected title, “Death Instinct” by Jed Rubenfeld is our October selection. Books are available each month ahead of time, and will be available in audio & ebook format. You bring your lunch, we’ll provide the coffee and tea. Registration is required.

 

Three Outstanding Women of Science Fiction

Our sci-fi-guy, Harold Kramer, has some authors to recommend:

Ursula K. Le Guin

The world of science fiction and fantasy lost two of its best writers in recent years: Ursula K. Le Guin and Vonda McIntyre. Ursula K. Le Guin, who I consider one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy writers of the 20th century, died in 2018. She published over twenty-two novels, children’s books, and volumes of poetry and essays. Her works received many awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and National Book Award.

Her novels centered around two main themes: gender and political systems. Her 1969 novel, The Left Hand of Darkness is about the effect of gender on culture and society,  It won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel.  An example of novel based on political themes is The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia, also a winner of both a Hugo and a Nebula Award.  It is about two planets orbiting next to each other – that have almost no contact between them and that have totally different economic and political systems – and the scientist who tries to unite the two worlds. I recently re-read The Dispossessed and it is still relevant today, particularly in our current political environment.

The Dispossessed is the first of six books in Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle. These novels are loosely connected by a people called the Hainish, who colonized earth and other planets hundreds of thousands of years ago. The Left Hand of Darkness is a Hainish novel along with Rocannon’s World and Planet of Exile.

Le Guin also wrote The Books of Earthsea, a series that is decidedly more fantasy than science fiction. It full of magical events and it is the story of a young wizard – a sort of precursor to Harry Potter. The first book in the series, A Wizard of Earthsea, is still a great read. The Earthsea collection of novels and short stories won the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many other honors.

Vonda McIntyre

Vonda McIntyre passed away in 2019. She was a prolific writer of science fiction novels, novelizations, screenplays and short stories and she was an acclaimed teacher of writing.  

She was well known for her Star Trek novels that include The Entropy Effect and Enterprise: The First Adventure. She also wrote the novelizations of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Most readers agree that Dreamsnake is McIntyre’s greatest novel and it is based on her earlier novelette, Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand. It is about Snake, a female healer who possesses miraculous powers and a magical Dreamsnake.

Octavia Butler

My final recommendation is Kindred by Octavia Butler. Kindred has been acknowledged as the first widely known novel by a black, woman science fiction writer. It is a time travel story about Dana, a black woman, who in 1976 is abruptly transported back and forth, from her home in California to antebellum Maryland, where she encounters her ancestors and becomes enslaved. At its core, Kindred is about white supremacy, slavery, and, ultimately, survival. Butler is also the author of Lilith’s Brood, a collection of three works: DawnAdulthood Rites, and Imago. These dystopian novels were previously published in one volume called Xenogenesis. The New York Times said thatThe complete series is about an alien species that could save humanity after nuclear apocalypse—or destroy it”—from “one of science fiction’s finest writers.