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Showing posts from 2021

Some Like It Hot -- The next ARCLight Film!

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  Some Like It Hot is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, and one of the funniest. Set in 1929, Joe and Jerry (played by Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon) are jazz musicians who witness a prohibition-era mob killing (inspired by the St. Valentine's Day Massacre). When they are discovered as witnesses to the crime and the mob sends out hitmen to "off" the duo, they dress like women and join an all-female jazz ensemble.  And hilarity ensues, especially when they both try to win the attention of Sugar Kane (played by Marilyn Monroe), the band's lead vocalist and ukulele player -- while trying to keep their identities hidden. The film is critically acclaimed. Due to the themes, however, the film was made in 1958 outside of the "Hayes Code."  They Hayes Code was the prominent  self-censorship system that ruled Hollywood from the mid-30s to the late 60s.  The Hayes Code was strictly enforced for much of that time, and the filmmakers were afraid that t

Artist of the Month: Frank Sinatra

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Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915.  This month would have been his 106th birthday. I have been a Sinatra fan all my life. I am not sure where that came from, though. Sure, Sinatra was played at my house as a kid. My grandparents often had big band music playing at their house, too.  But it wasn't until college when I truly became a fan.  I even saw him in concert in 1991. When I first started teaching, I tried to impart my love of Sinatra's music onto my students. I placed extra credit Frank Sinatra questions on every test and distributed Frank Sinatra extra credit tokens for good work. Plus, I created the Frank Sinatra Detention Club. If a student got a detention, then they would have to listen to 30 minutes of Sinatra (and me, singing along).  It was a slow news day in September of 1992. A reporter had contacted me a few days earlier because there was a blurb put in the school board minutes about my detention club. Little did I know that my Frank Sinatra Detention C

ARCLight S01E6: Weasels, Blackouts and an Angel Named Clarence: A Conversation with John Jughead

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John Jughead Pierson is, among other things, a musician, podcaster, actor and novelist.  Plus, he is a 1985 Hersey graduate. On this podcast, we sat down to talk with him about his novel, The Last Temptation of Clarence Odbody . This novel reimagines the classic holiday movie, It's a Wonderful Life.  What if the angel, Clarence, did not save George Bailey on that Christmas Eve many years ago? We discuss how he came about to write such a novel and the difficulties in writing a novel based on a beloved holiday classic. We also discuss the various other things he has done since graduating Hersey: He formed the influential punk band, Screeching Weasel in 1986. After leaving Weasel in 2006, he formed Even in Blackouts and currently put out an album with the Mitochondriacs . He performed with the Neo Futurists and could be seen for over a decade in Chicago's longest-running play, T oo Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind . He has played the wizard Ollivander in the wand shop at Unive

Music Matters - Music of the Native American Music Awards

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The new episode of Music Matters is available, featuring winners of  Native American Music Awards . This show features a wide variety of music. From pop and rock, to hip hop and country, to gospel and traditional, the Native American Music Awards represents a cross-section of the diversity found in contemporary music of First Nation peoples. The Native American Music Awards were founded in 1998 to highlight and celebrate the music of contemporary Native musicians, artists and bands. This playlist on Music Matters has a wide variety of music, including tracks from Jim Boyd, Redbone, Twin Flames, Joanne Shenandoah and many, many more. Join us for this special episode, and then head on over to the NAMA website to dive further into the wonderful world Native music. Listen below, or on our  Mixcloud  channel.

Harold and Maude -- TONIGHT -- 7pm

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 Why come to see Harold and Maude ? This trailer has three great reasons: Harold and Maude was released in 1971. When it was released, people didn't know how to take the film. After all, it is essentially a love story between two people nearly 50 years apart in age. I remember renting it on VHS in high school in the 80s, and was really taken with its dark humor. By that time, public opinion had changed and Harold and Maude was considered a classic.  Despite all of its darkness, there is a tremendous amount of heart in Harold and Maude . Ruth Gordon is a treasure. And the soundtrack from Cat Stevens is a classic. The film screens as part of our ARCLight Film Series, bringing you classic films, cult films and films of cultural significance. Harold and Maude definitely fits that bill. The screening starts at 7pm. I will briefly introduce the film, talking about its historical place and a little about director Hal Ashby. Then, stay for a discussion. See you in the ARC!

The ARCLight Podcast Explores Native history on the Next Episode

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You ever wonder what is was like here before there was Arlington Heights, or Chicago for that matter? On the new episode of the ARCLight Podcast, Joe Podlasek, the founder and CEO of Trickster Cultural Center , talks about Native history and reminds us that Indigenous people are not just found in history, but continue to impact the region and country today. This area is home to the largest population of Native people outside of traditional Tribal lands. And the Trickster Cultural Center aims to raise awareness and place indigenous people rightfully in the present. Listen to the episode below or in your favorite podcast app. This short video is an introduction to the Trickster Cultural Center. Stop down and take a look at the ARC display case to see more videos from Trickster. Trickster Gallery from The Doc Unit on Vimeo .

Harold and Maude at the ARCLight November 9

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When it was released in 1971, Harold and Maude received mixed reviews and low box office attendance. People thought the film was weird. And a little too dark. However, within a decade--with the film getting a second life on VHS tape--attitudes changed. By the 80s, Harold and Maude was an acclaimed masterpiece.   Harold and Maude tells the story of two people, separated by over 50 years, making a connection. Harold, played by Burt Cort, is a morose young man, obsessed with death. Maude, played brilliantly by Ruth Gordon, is a nearly 80 year-old woman who meets Harold at a funeral. Her attitude and love of life is infectious, and Harold catches it and is changed.  Today, the film is critically acclaimed. Mark Caro, critic in Chicago, recently wrote about Harold and Maude in the New York Times .  "I’m sorry, "Harold and Maude,” for denying you for so long," he writes.  "You’re my favorite movie once again."  We will be screening Harold and Maude on Tuesday,

Artist of the Month: Jim Boyd

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  I first became acquainted with the music of  Jim Boyd when I saw the 1998 film, Smoke Signals . He contributed three songs to the soundtrack, and I was  immediately drawn to his voice, which to me seemed to have not just intensity, but an emotional fragility as well.  This is particularly true with "A Million Miles Away," which remains one of my favorite songs: When I see you read by the candlelight I wonder if you'll hurt your eyes Some people like happy endings But I've always liked a surprise And I've got a map here in my pocket That shows where Lucifer fell Ya I'll fall from Heaven If you guide me through Hell From that point on, I purchased every available album produced by Boyd. This was not easy, because Native artists are not necessarily carried by major suppliers or played on mainstream media outlets, even though someone like Boyd had the potential to reach a much larger audience, as his music is American music, plain and simple.  Although he oft

Native American Heritage Month

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It is Native American History Month , and the ARC is celebrating in several ways. First of all, check out our book selections that highlight Native American voices. These books span from non-fiction to fiction, poetry and graphic novels. You can browse the collection through our catalog or view these books in a downloadable pdf . This month, we are featuring the music of Jim Boyd, our artist of the month. His music can be streamed via our Spotify playlist . On an upcoming episode of the ARCLight Podcast , we sit down with Joe Podlasek, the founder fo the Trickster Cultural Center in Schaumburg. He talks with us about the work the center does in raising awareness of Native issues. We also touch on the people who lived in the area before European settlement. Finally, listen for the new episode of Music Matters , which will feature artists who have won Native American Music Awards, or "Nammies" as they are know. Coming soon!

Just in time for Halloween -- a Special Episode about Godzilla

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On the last episode of the ARCLight Podcast , we sat down with filmmaker and Hersey grad Jordan Graves. We talked about Hersey, his career and his favorite movie franchise, Godzilla .  We couldn't fit it all in the last episode, so here we are: a special bonus episode of the ARCLight Podcast. This episode is all about Godzilla.  Jordan is a wealth of knowledge about the history and significance of the franchise.  Just in time for Halloween. If you are looking to stream a bunch of Godzilla films, most of them can be found on HBOMax. Click here to go to Jordan's website.  Listen to the podcast below, on Spotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Here are the trailers for all of the must-see Godzilla movies on Jordan's "best" list:

Books and Music on the Next Episode of Music Matters

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You ever read a book that reminds you of a song, or vice versa? This week, members of Hersey's Book Club play the songs that they think best accompanies their favorite books.  This episode features songs by Adele, Evanescence, Tears for Fears, Gang of Youth, Mitski and many more! Listen below, on Mixcloud or download the Mixcloud app and listen on the go! The books discussed in this episode: The Gunslinger by Stephen King Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare A Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller The Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera The Lost History of Dreams by Kris Waldherr

Introducing Music Matters

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The ARC is now producing music shows!  Music Matters is a show devoted to music. Every episode features students and staff from Hersey High School, spinning their favorite songs and discussing the music that they play. Two episodes are available on Mixcloud . E02: Hersey Homecoming Special, 2021 Join Hersey staff members who are also graduates spin the songs that remind them of their time at Hersey. Featuring Mr. Gunther, Mr. Kuehn, Dr. Doman, Ms. Blazek, Ms. Mabry, Mr. White, Mr. Walton and many more! E01: The Top 10 Songs from 1968, the year Hersey Opened Hersey's librarian, Bruce Janu, counts down the top 10 songs of 1968, the year Hersey opened. Listen on Mixcloud or click below:

ARCLight Podcast -- S1E03 -- Jordan Graves

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Jordan Graves graduated from Hersey High School in 2013. After completing a film for his Contemporary American Texts class, he decided to major in film.  Since then, he has made numerous films wearing many filmmaker hats -- editor, producer, writer, director and actor. Plus, he co-founded a production company called Talus Films . On this episode of the ARCLight Podcast, Jordan discusses filmmaking and his career. Listen now, anywhere you get your podcasts. Below, you will find the film Jordan submitted for the final project for CAT class in 2013. It was submitted to the Chicagoland Student Film Festival, where it won Best Narrative Film.  It is called Ruin .

ARCLight Film Series -- GODZILLA, 1954

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  The ARCLight Film Series opens on October 12 with a showing of the original 1954 film, Godzilla . This new film series brings classic films, cult films and films of cultural significance to a wider audience. Open to the public, the ARCLight screens every month on the 2nd Tuesday at 7pm in the John Hersey Room (124F) of the Academic Resource Center. A short intro to the film will be given, with a discussion immediately following the screening for anyone wanting to stay.

Banned Books Week, 2021

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Banned Books Week was started by the American Library Association in 1982 as a means to fight censorship and raise awareness of the effort to censor, challenge or ban books in public spaces such as schools and libraries.  This year, the ALA theme for Banned Books Week is "Books Unite Us, Censorship Divides Us." Of course, books have always caused controversy.  Book challenges, book burnings, library destructions punctuate our past. Galileo was threatened with death for a book he wrote.  Controversial books in the past, like The Call of the Wild and The Grapes of Wrath are now considered classics. And some classics are now considered controversial, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby (To be fair, The Great Gatsby was controversial when it was published, gained classic status, and is still often challenged). Topics contained in books make some people uneasy. But does that mean that they should not be read? Over at Common Sense Media , author Regan McMahon argues

ARCLight Podcast S01E02: A Conversation about John Hersey With Lesley M. M. Blume

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Author Lesley M. M. Blume has a deep admiration for John Hersey. Her book,  Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up and the Reporter Who Revealed it to the World  is a fascinating behind-the-scenes account about how John Hersey wrote Hiroshima.  "When I came across Hersey's story, " she states, "it just seemed to me the purest example of journalistic integrity and journalistic effectiveness that one could possibly find." On August 10, just days after the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, and just days before the 75th anniversary of the publishing of  Hiroshima  in the pages of  The New Yorker Magazine , I sat down with Lesley Blume to discuss her book, John Hersey and the legacy of Hiroshima . It was a great conversation. Listen  to the new episode of the ARCLight Podcast today featuring that conversation, and check out the display case outside the ARC. There, you will find an original newspaper from 1945, plus the rare edition of The New Yorker magazine di

The Power of a Face

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I am not good with names. After teaching for 30 years, names drift in and out.  But faces I never forget. This week, we are remembering 9/11 and the sacrifices that many have made over the last 20 years. As part of this commemoration, the Hersey ARC was privileged to host the exhibit “Portrait of a Soldier.” The exhibit features the faces and names of all the service men and women from Illinois killed in action since 2001. On Tuesday, we were in the ARC attaching the banners to the ceiling so that students and staff could view the exhibit prior to our “Meaning of Service” Assembly with Governor Quinn, Gold Star Families and First Responders on Friday. And I saw a face.  A face I hadn’t seen in years. And there he was, in a beautiful hand-drawn picture. A face among hundreds. And it hit me in the gut.  Will Newgard was a student I had some twenty years ago. He was killed in action in Iraq on December 26, 2006. I think I knew that…but names are harder for me to visualize. I saw a face.

"Race Music" and the Beginning of Rock and Roll

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Last month we highlighted Elvis Presley. He may have been the “King of Rock and Roll,” but in no way did he invent the music. In fact, he merely copied the music that had been invented and played in the Black community for years.   Not to diminish the importance of Elvis, though. He would eventually develop his own style. But more importantly, he introduced Rock and Roll to a whole new audience. Billboard , January 1, 1949 Public Domain Like Blues and Jazz before it, Rock and Roll music was developed by Black musicians in Black communities. But it was not known as Rock and Roll, however. It was, at the time, called “rhythm and blues,” or “R & B.” Which, according to Little Richard , stood for “real Black.” To White America, however, it was called “Race Music.” Major record labels refused to record it. White-owned establishments did not put the music in their juke boxes. White performers did not record the music, either. At least, not yet. This was a pattern that had played out i

Post on the Summer Reading Wall -- Win Dairy Queen!

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We hope everyone had a great summer! Did you read? Let us know. Come down to the ARC to fill out your Summer Reading Card and post it on the wall -- Teak Godzilla or Team Kong. Then, we will randomly choose several cards in our Dairy Queen raffle!  Come down today!

Charlie Watts, 1941 - 2021

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Charlie Watts was more than just the drummer for the Rolling Stones. He was a man of many genres. The Rolling Stones, of course, were rooted in Blues music. That was what brought Mick Jagger and Keith Richards together to form the band in the first place. Charlie Watts worked in advertising at the time and had a degree in artistic design.  And he loved Jazz music. Poiseon Bild & Text (press photo by a photographer of the consulting company Poiseon AG in St. Gallen, Switzerland)), CC BY 2.0  via Wikimedia Commons His addition to the Rolling Stones line-up was what gave the band their unique sound. Always on the back beat, Charlie Watts' drum kit was never extensive. Unlike other rock and roll drummers, Charlie kept his equipment simple. Yet nothing he did was simple. Charlie Watts was, arguably, the best drummer in rock and roll. Stones' guitarist Ron Wood said it best in 2003:  “Charlie’s the engine. And we don’t go anywhere without the engine.” He wasn't your typical r

ARCLight Podcast: S1E01 "A Librarian's Confession"

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The new episode of the ARCLight Podcast is now available! In this season opener, Hersey's new librarian, Bruce Janu, recounts a time when he was a student at Hersey. In 1986, he took a book from the library and ended up keeping it for 35 years. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts , Google Podcasts , Spotify , or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Check out the ARC display case. There you will find the infamous book that was missing for 35 years. Plus, you can read an article about the Jack the Ripper killings from an original September 1888 issue of The London Times .  This month, we are featuring books about Victorian London --- check them out in the ARC.

Artist of the Month: Elvis Presley

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Elvis Presley, 1958 Uncredited, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Forty-four years ago, on August 16, 1977 Elvis Presley was found dead in his Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tennessee. Elvis got his start in 1956 and became a sensation after appearing on several televisions shows, most notably The Milton Berle Show in April, The Steve Allen Show in July and The Ed Sullivan Show in October. Each time he appeared on TV, the ratings for the shows shot up. He was censored because many thought the way he danced was obscene.  He became known as "Elvis the Pelvis" and on subsequent shows, he was only filmed from the waste up. The police chief of San Diego announced that if Elvis ever performed in his city, he would have him arrested for disorderly conduct. Elvis in 1973 RCA Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Over the course of his career, Elvis moved from a teenage rock star to a movie star to a unique, Vegas-style performer, complete with elaborate sequined jumpsuit

Summer Reading Book #6: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Alright. I've said this before. And I will say it again. This may be my favorite book so far this summer. (Sorry Pride ) To be honest, I haven’t read too many books like this---a book written in verse. And I loved how it looked on the page. I loved the cadence of it. It “sounded” good in my head, if that makes sense.  The Poet X is the story of Xiomara Batista, the daughter of Dominican immigrants. She lives in Harlem in a cramped apartment with her parents and twin brother, Xavier. She finds refuge in her poetry, and keeps her thoughts and poems secret in a journal.  Her poetry reveals a sensitivity and vulnerability that is absent from her tough exterior:  The other girls call me conceited. Ho. Thot. Fast.  When your body takes up more room than your voice  you are always the target of well-aimed rumors,  which is why I let my knuckles talk for me.  Which is why I learned to shrug when my name was replaced      by insults.  I’ve forced my skin to be as thick as I am. 

Summer Reading Book #5 -- "This One Summer" by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

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The first graphic novel I ever read was Maus back when I was in high school. I had read comics for years, and at the time, I didn’t see much difference between a “comic book” and a “graphic novel.” In fact, many “graphic novels” are collections of comics. My favorite was The Dark Knight book collections and, in 1994, The Crow . Man, I loved The Crow . Unlike during my time in high school, graphic novels today tend to be made as graphic novels from the start; they are not collected comic books. This One Summer is such a book. On first glance, the artwork is simple, and done in a single color. But the simplicity at first glance is misleading: the artwork is stunningly detailed and full of emotion. I found myself staring into the  panels, absorbing the composition and its elements. And, like all good graphic novels, the illustrations by Jillian Tamaki in This One Summer fully compliments the story written by her collaborator and cousin Mariko Tamaki. This One Summer tells the story R

Summer Reading Book #4 -- Pride by Ibi Zoboi

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Okay, this may be my favorite book so far this summer. Pride is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Instead of early 19th century England, this version is set in modern-day Brooklyn; the neighborhood of Bushwick , to be exact. The protagonist is 17-year-old Zuri Benitez. She has four sisters and lives in a cramped apartment with her parents, in a building owned by Madrina, a self-proclaimed SanterĂ­a priestess from San Juan who often advises on issues of love, fortune and future from her smoky basement. Zuri is fiercely proud of her Dominican and Haitian roots. She is proud of her neighborhood. She has her eyes on going to Howard University. She is also a poet, and the narrative is punctuation with her poems about Bushwick, her sisters, and life in the “hood.” She is also feisty and quick to judge, often pushing others away before knowing them. Her tough exterior, though, hides a fear of change and the unknown. This makes her very suspicious of the “bougie” family that

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