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Calendar, Night&Day I'm Your Man

I'm Your Man

Sylvie Simmons' marvelous biography I'm Your Man: the Life of Leonard Cohen is written like a love letter, not with the servile fawning of a young devotee but the worldly temper of one who knows what is at stake.…
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Calendar, Night&Day Fond Tribute

Fond Tribute

While in actuality quite pragmatic, the title of tonight's Mechanics Institute event, Seamus Heaney: The Berkeley Days, seems to exude an impish whiff, as if auguring some chronicle of legendary debauchery. Maybe it's because Heaney always was and forever…
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Calendar, Night&Day It's Not The End of the World As We Know It

It's Not The End of the World As We Know It

In a world that’s chock-full of apocalyptic and tragic hypotheses about how the human race will come to its inevitable end, Annalee Newitz will be discussing her latest book, Scatter, Adapt and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction…
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Calendar, Night&Day Calling All Thaumaturges

Calling All Thaumaturges

How on earth did the word “silly” evolve from meaning “holy” to “goofy” in a mere thousand years? What do you call a twice-baked cake consumed by Roman soldiers? We clodhoppers may not know the answers (spoiler: the latter is…
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Calendar, Night&Day The Best of Times

The Best of Times

You might believe that people who attend yearly celebrations devoted to a single, dead European author — an event such as Bloomsday, Burns Night, or Dickens Day — are part of a ribald crew, raising glasses, shouting honorifics, and quoting…
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Calendar, Night&Day Ponder the Unthinkable

Ponder the Unthinkable

At 5:12 a.m., 106 years ago today, our city was leveled. The 1906 earthquake ran along 296 miles of the San Andreas Fault. (By comparison, 1989’s Loma Prieta quake ran along 25 miles.) It was felt in Oregon, Nevada, and…
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Calendar, Night&Day Obscured by Fame

Obscured by Fame

Hedy Lamarr may be best remembered as the glamorous, scandal-plagued star of such hits as White Cargo and Samson and Delilah. But there’s a largely forgotten aspect to Lamarr’s life that’s much more compelling: The Austrian-born actress, alongside avant-garde composer…
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Calendar, Night&Day Pencils Down

Pencils Down

As National Novel Writing Month draws to a close, some of you are quietly proofreading and rechecking verb tenses, while others are manically killing off characters and tamping down loose ends with the sealing wax of last resort (stream of…
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Calendar, Night&Day Hello, Cruel World

Hello, Cruel World

Consider the potato. It’s Irish, right? Or British? Both cultures eat chips with almost anything, and the potato was long a cash crop for Ireland. There was that potato famine in the 19th century that killed some 2 million people…
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Best of San Francisco, Arts & Entertainment

Best Movie Snacks

Every Friday night, the Mechanics' Institute Library hosts a classic movie in an intimate salon setting complete with cinéastes and chitchat, but what's especially noteworthy is the high quality of grub served up from the little back bar. No economy-size…
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Best of San Francisco, Arts & Entertainment

Best Chess Club

The chess aficionados who frequent the Fifth and Market Street tables presumably don't know about the Chess Club at the Mechanics' Institute Library. Why else would they suffer the clamor, panhandlers, hecklers, and tourists to play a match in the…
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Best of San Francisco, People & Places

Best Private Library

The Mechanics' Institute Library looks the way a library should look. It takes up two floors of the Mechanics' Institute building downtown, each floor tiered with a mezzanine or two of books on every conceivable subject. The setting is hushed,…
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Best of San Francisco, People & Places

Best Private Library

Recently the $100 million new Main Library released a report admitting that, yes, a floor is missing -- and also that it's frustratingly hard to locate books in this white elephant monument to socialite Charlotte Swig Shultz. (Of course, the…
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