Blog Posts by rkong

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Richard Kong is the Digital Services Manager.


Posted on 08/16/13

Every parent knows how difficult it can be to look after and raise another human being, but imagine if you had to figure out parenthood while serving as one of the head honchos of the Galactic Empire! In Vader's Little Princess, artist and author Jeffrey Brown paints a hilarious and touching picture of what domestic life would be like for daddy Skywalker, including stresses stemming from Leia's choices in clothing and boyfriends. 
Adults and kids who are Star Wars fans will enjoy this book! Read it together and be sure to check out Brown's Darth Vader and Son, which depicts Vader's life raising young Luke. 
Need more convincing? Watch this book trailer for Vader's Little Princess!
Posted on 07/10/13

Raise your hand, or maybe just nod knowingly, if you’ve heard or read about 3-D printers or hackerspaces like the local Pumping Station One. It seems like everyone, including people working in libraries, is talking about the emerging maker culture and getting excited about how it could bring some positive change into the world.

Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Frauenfelder, Editor-in-Chief of MAKE magazine, speak about the history of making things and the modern maker movement. He pointed out that in 1900, 80% of Americans were living and working on farms, which means they were makers. This obviously changed as time passed, but now more people are re-discovering the joy and satisfaction of making, building, inventing, prototyping, creating (however you want to say it) something on your own and sharing it with others. Frauenfelder explores this DIY (do-it-yourself) way of life in his book, Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. He talks about his own family’s experience of embracing a new approach to life, one that involved a lot more learning, being self-sufficient, and connecting with your surroundings and others.
If you want to slow down your life, simplify things, and get back in touch with your creative side, I highly recommend Made by Hand or MAKE magazine, which can be found in our magazine section near the fireplace. And look for opportunities to get creative in the library, like in Kids’ World during our Summer Reading Program, in the teen Hub, or in the Studio, our new digital media lab!
Posted on 06/12/13

Well, Chicago is once again abuzz with the prospect of another major sports championship, and I find myself looking back on our past champions. I just finished Phil Jackson’s recently published memoir, Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, and I highly recommend it for anyone who witnessed the Jordan years and Jackson’s six championships with the Chicago Bulls.
Phil (we’re all on first name basis with him, right?) goes into great detail about his upbringing as the son of two ministers in Montana and also his own NBA playing career with the Knicks. But the best parts are when he discusses applying a number of psychological and spiritual approaches to the locker room dynamics of those Bulls teams. Anyone who has ever played or coached a sport will appreciate the challenges Phil faced with bringing Michael, Scottie, and other players together as one unit. Highlights include the time Michael fought Steve Kerr, not exactly the toughest guy on that team, during a heated practice and the way Phil handled the enigma that is Dennis Rodman.

Give Eleven Rings a chance if you’re a sports fan or even interested in leadership, psychology, or spirituality. And, yes, it is perfectly permissible and expected for Chicago fans to skip over the sections Phil talks about his time with Kobe, Shaq, and the rest of the Lakers. We all know his best years were with Chicago!
Posted on 05/12/13

Whether you're a fan of electronic music duo Daft Punk or you simply like robots with shiny helmets, you're probably counting down the days until their new album, Random Access Memories, is released later this month. While you're waiting, check out some of Daft Punk's previous albums like Discovery (2001), Human After All (2005) or the TRON Legacy soundtrack (2010). If that isn't enough to hold you over, you can also listen to Get Lucky, the first single released from the new album, and watch a series of revealing interviews with musicians who collaborated with Daft Punk on the upcoming album. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers are just some of the featured collaborators. Long live the robots!
Posted on 04/08/13

Although I don't get to play as often (nor as well) as I would like, I absolutely love golf and enjoy watching PGA and LPGA tournaments on television. I also can't resist a good book about golf, especially the ones that give me a glimpse into what life is like on one of the professional tours. John Feinstein has written a number of books about golf and there's no one who does it better in terms of getting inside the mind of a professional golfer. A few of his books you might want to check out include Moment of Glory: The Year Underdogs Ruled Golf, Tales from Q School, and A Good Walk Spoiled. Or, if you're like many and are still fascinated by all-things Tiger Woods, The Big Miss, Hank Haney's candid account of his six years coaching Tiger, is a book you won't be able to put down. Leave a comment below and share your favorite golf, or other sports, books!
Posted on 08/02/12

Ever wonder what library staff members read, watch, and listen to when they're not working? Well, here's your answer! We asked staff to go into our catalog and tag their favorite books, movies, music and more. You'll find suggestions like Firefly, the space western television series created by Joss Whedon after Buffy the Vampire Slayer and before the Avengers.

So, have a look at our favorites and let us know what you would add to the list in the comments below.

Posted on 07/15/12

"Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey To Ultramarathon Greatness" is written by Scott Jurek, who first came to widespread public attention in Christopher McDougall's hugely popular "Born to Run."  You may remember him as the ultramarathoner who lets out a loud howl before the start of every race. I had the pleasure of hearing McDougall and Jurek speak (and howl) a few months ago at Fleet Feet Sports in Chicago, where the duo was promoting Jurek's book. Because the authors were together, I was primed to think that these books were related. Excited for a narrower but deeper continuation of "Born to Run," I eagerly picked up "Eat & Run," only to find out that they were nothing alike.
"Eat & Run" is best described as a memoir with recipes. Jurek grew up a traditional Minnesota boy and through endurance running and changing life philosophies, became a vegan. He credits both his vegan diet and his mental toughness for his ability to regularly run 50 to to 100-mile races. For the memoir portion, he recounts his struggles with his mother, who suffered from multiple sclerosis; and his father, with whom Jurek has a tough relationship. And of course he tells stories of the difficulties he's faced on various ultra trails and overcoming them to achieve personal bests. The poignant memories of his parents are the most moving part of the book. A time or two, he gets philosophical to the point of being unrelatable. Regardless, it's still fascinating to get a glimpse into the mind of someone who can run nine-minute miles for a hundred miles straight.
The main difference between Jurek and McDougall is that McDougall is a writer and Jurek is not. McDougall often made compelling points whereas Jurek is simply an interesting person. Despite feeling mislead about how similar these books would be (am I the only one who thinks even the covers look similar?), I'd still say Jurek's book is worth reading. "Born to Run" made me want to get out and run a marathon despite not having run an entire mile since high-school gym class. And while Jurek's book did not inspire such a feat, it did at least make me feel I could give lentil burgers a chance.
Posted on 05/24/12

Parents have to make a lot of important choices throughout the course of a child's life, but very few carry the weight of deciding which Star Wars movie to allow your children to watch first. I just went through this decision-making process myself, so I thought I'd share what I did with the hopes of helping other parents.
The main question for me was whether to start with the original trilogy beginning with Episode IV: A New Hope or the prequel trilogy beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Do I want my child to get to know Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader first? Or would it be better to start with what some might call the more kid-friendly movie and introduce her to young Anakin, Queen Amidala, and Jar Jar Binks? Is it more important to watch them in real-world chronological order (by release date) or fake-universe chronological order?
In the end, I decided I was somewhat of a Star Wars purist and would start off with the original trilogy. It just felt wrong to do it any other way and I'm happy to say that Episode IV was a big hit with my daughter. She was really into the story and the entire Star Wars universe. She asked lots of questions (big surprise there!) and even got Obi Wan Kenobi's name right towards the end. 
So, what do we watch next? Well, a friend of mine suggested that I try what's known as Machete Order. Having read about it, I have to say that it really appeals to me and I think I'll try it. But ultimately it'll be up to my daughter to watch the rest of the movies when she's ready. Who knows, maybe she'll want to take a break from the real-life action and watch some of the animated Clone Wars first! 
I'm curious what others think. Leave a comment below telling me what you think the right approach is to introduce kids to Star Wars? What's your favorite Star Wars movie?
Posted on 05/18/12

One of my favorite directors for a long time now has been Steven Soderbergh. Everyone knows that Hollywood is tough, but director Steven Soderbergh is just one of those filmmakers who manages to find tons of success at the box office while also impressing the toughest film critics.
The other night I watched one of his more recent efforts called Haywire (2011), starring Gina Carano of MMA fame. From the looks of the trailers, I expected some mindless, yet entertaining, fast-paced action film, but I should have remembered that Soderbergh almost always marches to the beat of his own drummer and rarely delivers what you would expect from a big budget movie.
The movie was fine (definitely not his best in my opinion) but I honestly had a hard time focusing on it because I kept thinking back on an earlier movie of his called The Limey (1999), starringTerrence Stamp and written by Lem Dobbs, who also wrote the screenplay to Haywire. Both movies, but more so with The Limey, take on this pace that just makes you feel uneasy if you're accustomed to the standard Hollywood blockbuster. Some might call it slow, or even boring, but I would disagree. I appreciate how Soderbegh takes his time developing the characters and revealing the world in which they go about their business. 
If you've already seen Haywire or plan to see it soon, I would recommend that you also take a look at The Limey and look for similarities between the two. Let me know what you think. 
And, if you have a favorite film by Soderbergh, leave a comment and tell the rest of us why.
Posted on 03/13/12

An Evening of Family Secrets with Frank Calabrese, Jr.