Song of My Life: A Greek-American Voice

March 2nd, 2015

Moraine Valley faculty member, Spencer Farmans, has written a nice piece for the Chicago Sun Times about Greek American writer Harry Mark Petrakis. Farmans offers a review, “Weaving a morality tale of great depth and emotion,” of the book Song of my Life: A Memoir. Farmans does a great job getting to the heart of this text.

Award winning writer Harry Mark Petrakis is a great friend of Moraine Valley. He has been on campus several times to work with our students. You can listen to one of his lectures here: Award Winning Author Harry Mark Petrakis Podcast.

Marina City & Chicago’s Architecture

March 2nd, 2015

Chicago is famous for its architecture, and one landmark in the skyline and great achievement is Marina City. Here’s a short video about this building and how its creators thought to rethink urban living.

Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg’s Urban Vision
A conversation with Igor Marjanovic and Katerina Ruedi Ray about the inception, history, politics and design of Chicago’s Marina City.

What’s Prussia got to do with it?

February 25th, 2015

Today, February 25th marks 68 years since the official end to the Prussian Empire.  What is Prussia you ask?  It was the Empire that built Germany into a major political player in Europe and was the glue that made the German states hold together to become one German Empire.  When World War I came knocking at the doors of Europe, the Prussian Empire was one of the loudest knocking.  By the time the Treaty of Versailles was signed at the end of the war though Germany was in a state of havoc and ruins.  The harsh conditions of the treaty, stating Germany was the loser and must be pay for their actions,  sparked a flame of revenge that resulted in World War II twenty years later.   Alright, let me back up a bit and explain what Prussia was and why it’s actions help lead up to WWI.

Germany was not always unified, in fact before unification in 1871 Germany was 27 separate states  each with their own royal leader. Hard to get things done with so many people in charge.  In the decades leading up to 1871 Prussia and its leaders were picking battles and building the most rigid and respected military of its day.  After winning the Schleswig Wars, the Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War steps were made under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck to unite the German states once and for all.  Even though it was called the German Empire the leadership was given to the Prussian Empire.  Below is a map showing where the Prussians were and where the boarders were under their leadership of Germany.

prussian empire

Later in 1914 it was the close ties of the Prussian Empire with the Austro-Hungarian Empire that put the two countries along with the Ottoman Empire up against the Allied forces of Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and in 1917 the United States.

In building itself up to be a major political player in Europe, the Prussians made a lot of promises and treaties with other nations.  It was their treaty of alliance with the Austro-Hungarian Empire that officially engaged Prussia in the battle.


You see, the Austro-Hungarian’s Emperor Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian on June 28th of 1914.  On July 28th Austria- Hungary declared war on Serbia.  Serbia at the time had a treaty with Russia who was obligated to assist them in battle against the Austro-Hungarian military.  The Prussian Empire declared war on Russia shortly after on August 1st because they saw the mobilization of the Russian military as an act of war against their ally.  By the end of WWI all three of the Empires fell or changed politics and borders of Europe were changed dramatically.


In 1947 Germany officially called an end to the Prussian Empire.  The Prussians lost power in 1918 with the last Prussian Emperor, William II, being abdicated just 17 days after the war ended. He later died while exiled in the Netherlands in 1942.

Since 2014 to 2018 mark 100 years since WWI many special projects and resources are being made available to remember those that fought and those that gave their life.   On a national level the World War One Centennial Commission was approved by President Obama in 2013.  The project’s goal is to offer many resources, programs and events related to remembering the war. Locally here in Chicago we have the Pritzker Military Museum and Library which has virtual exhibits, photos and film from WWI, and both primary and secondary resources for studying not only WWI but all campaigns of United States military history.

Remember, if you want to learn more or find additional resources you can always ask a librarian!



Graphic Novel Series: Ghost World

February 24th, 2015

Today I’m going to be highlighting the cult classic Ghost World, which was published in 1997 by Daniel Clowes. This story focuses on Rebecca and Enid, who are best buddies preparing for life after graduation. The graphic novel follows their lives as they do what most teenagers do, which is go to the mall and pretend to be adults. Ghost World is known for its dark humor and examination of relationships.

In 2001, the graphic novel was adapted for the big screen by the graphic novel’s author Daniel Clowes and the director Terry Zwigoff. If you’re interested in seeing the film, you’ll find a very young (just 17 years old!) Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca. This film was made just a couple of years before Johansson starred in Lost in Translation, which won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 2004 among many other nominations and awards. Thora Birch plays the other angsty teenager Enid and Steve Buscemi who plays Enid’s quasi-love interest. We unfortunately don’t have the film in the library, but it’s worth viewing if you like the graphic novel. I’ll just leave the trailer below for your viewing pleasure.

Irish Film

February 23rd, 2015

The Chicago Irish Film Festival begins this weekend and runs through March 7th. This marks the 16th year of presenting the works of Irish filmmakers to the Chicagoland community. Since the festival’s inception, over 500 feature films, documentaries, and short films have been shown representing the very best in works by talented and award-winning Irish filmmakers. This year’s festival features 3 feature films and 34 short films that will be screened at one of the festival’s two venues. For a list and descriptions of this year’s films, as well as venue information, visit the festival’s website.

If you are looking to get yourself into an Irish film mood, you could enjoy some of these films in our collection covering Irish history and culture and stories featuring and taking place in Ireland.

Believing CRAZY Stuff and Ignoring Science

February 20th, 2015

Why do people ignore scientists? New research (see video below) is showing that the general public and scientists do not see key issues in the same way. The people doing the research and ingrained in the actual creation of knowledge have solid understandings on issues but the public does not follow. Understanding why this exists is an issue of information literacy that involves personal belief, understandings of science, the media, and the impact of technology.

PBS Newshour: Why we pick and choose which science to believe
Description: Climate change, vaccines, genetically modified foods — those topics are ripe for debate and disbelief among people of every political persuasion who aren’t convinced by scientific evidence. What accounts for the rift between scientists and the public? Gwen Ifill talks to Joel Achenbach of the Washington Post and Cary Funk of the Pew Research Center about whether the divide is here to stay.

Free tickets for Macbeth at the Dorothy Menker Theater!

February 20th, 2015

CaptureMacbeth is coming to the Dorothy Menker Theater on Monday March 2 at 7pm and will be FREE to all students and staff. This presentation is brought to you by Shakespeare Project of Chicago who work to bring the works of Shakespeare to the community. If you’d like to read more about the play, click here and if you’d like to see other events that will be held at the Dorothy Menker Theater, click here for more information.

In the library we have many different video versions of Macbeth available to check out. Thew newest Macbeth film in the collection stars Patrick Stewart and is set in the 20th century in an underground facility. We also have many versions of the play and literary criticisms available. Be sure to check out this FREE event!

Recognizing an Important Legal Scholar

February 19th, 2015

I stumbled across this article today and thought it was a perfect read for Black History Month as well as a good complement to our discussion earlier this week about James Baldwin in the Civil Rights movement. Ruth Bader Ginsburg credits Dr. Pauli Murray for the hard legal work that brought about one of her most important legal cases, the 1971 case Reed vs Reed.

Black, queer, feminist, erased from history: Meet the most important legal scholar you’ve likely never heard of

Black, queer, feminist, erased from history: Meet the most important legal scholar you've likely never heard of

Film Blog Series: New Marvel Movies Added!

February 19th, 2015

Today I’m featuring the latest Marvel movies added to our collection, which are Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, and The Avengers! But just in case you haven’t seen Iron Man, we have that film in the library as well! You could definitely make a weekend out of it especially considering the cold temperatures outside.

If you’re interested in learning more about Marvel, I would highly recommend checking out Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe.

This summer will be a big summer for Marvel, which will have TWO big films come out. Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out May 1st while Ant-Man comes out July 17th.  I’m going to leave you with a preview for both films below.


Tsuro: Ride the Winds of Fate

February 17th, 2015


Image result for tsuro

If you have not yet heard, your Moraine Valley Library has a new collection of games to check out!  They are available at our circulation desk to be loaned and played in the library!  We’re doing a series of blogs highlighting each new game, and this week we’ve got Tsuro on the docket.


Tsuro is as beautiful as it complex.  In it, you are a dragon riding on the winds of fate, and each player takes turns creating the path that these winds take.  Initially, you place your dragon on a tick along the border of the board.  Each player takes turns lying down tiles that set out a path before their token.  Your dragon must follow the path it is connected to.  If the path that is created leads your dragon off of the board, or into a collision with another token, you’re out of the game!  Be the last one on the board to claim your victory.


The game requires a bit of planning and strategy.  As the board becomes crowded with tiles, you must take care to keep your dragon from getting put on a path to destruction.  You must be aware of all the interconnected pathways and know their outcomes to make the right moves.  Other players are also affected by your tile placement, so if you play your tiles right, you can sweep someone off the board while moving yourself to safety.


The games can be short, lasting between 10-20 minutes depending on the number of players involved.  Each iteration of the game is unique, so it stays interesting even when played multiple times in a row!  It’s easy to learn, with very few rules, but figuring out all of the possible paths can be complex.  Come try it for yourself at the circulation desk in the library!


In case you missed some of the previous posts, we’ve covered Settlers of Catan and Hey, That’s My Fish!