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Jessica Fellowes: A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey

January 27th, 2016

Jessica Fellowes is an author and journalist, best known as the writer of the official companion books to Downton Abbey. Niece of Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey, Jessica will share her insights into the history of the period and the production of the enormously popular series, from the painstakingly historic accuracy of costumes and customs to the breathtaking location at Highclere Castle.


Maz Jobrani: I’m Not a Terrorist, but I’ve Played One on TV

October 21st, 2015

Maz Jobrani is a founding member of The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour. He performs stand-up comedy around the world, including in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East where he performed in front of the King of Jordan. He recently released his third comedy special, “I Come in Peace,” which aired on Showtime and Netflix. Jobrani starred in the films Friday After Next, 13 Going on 30, and The Interpreter. He was a series regular on ABC’s Better Off Ted, which had a cult following, and he has guest starred on Curb Your Enthusiasm24True Blood, and Shameless to name a few. Jobrani is currently a regular panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait...Don’t Tell Me! He has also given two TED talks, which can be viewed at TED.com. He has performed his stand-up on The Tonight ShowComedy Central, and Showtime, and is starring in the upcoming indie comedy feature, Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero, which he co-wrote and produced.


Marie Mutsuki Mockett: Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye

October 21st, 2015

Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s family owns a Buddhist temple 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather’s bones. As Japan mourned thousands of people lost in the disaster, Mockett also grieved for her American father, who had died unexpectedly.

Seeking consolation, Mockett is guided by a colorful cast of Zen priests and ordinary Japanese who perform rituals that disturb, haunt, and finally uplift her. Her journey leads her into the radiation zone in an intricate white hazmat suit; to Eiheiji, a school for Zen Buddhist monks; on a visit to a Crab Lady and Fuzzy-Headed Priest’s temple on Mount Doom; and into the “thick dark” of the subterranean labyrinth under Kiyomizu temple, among other twists and turns. From the ecstasy of a cherry blossom festival in the radiation zone to the ghosts inhabiting chopsticks, Mockett writes of both the earthly and the sublime with extraordinary sensitivity. Her unpretentious and engaging voice makes her the kind of companion a reader wants to stay with wherever she goes, even into the heart of grief itself.


Anne Perry: The Angel Court Affair

June 12th, 2015

Anne Perry is the international bestselling author of over fifty novels, which have sold over 25 million copies. The Times selected her as one of the 20th Century’s "100 Masters of Crime.” In 2015 she was awarded the Premio de Honor Aragón Negro.

Her first series of Victorian crime novels, featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt, began with The Cater Street Hangman. The latest of these, The Angel Court Affair, has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Perry’s Thomas Pitt character features in one of the longest sustained series by a living writer with 29 titles to date.

In 1990, Anne started a second series of detective novels with The Face of a Stranger. These are set about 35 years before the Pitt series, and feature the private detective William Monk and volatile nurse Hester Latterly. The most recent of these (21st in the series) is Corridors of the Night (April 2015).

Anne won an Edgar award in 2000 with her short story "Heroes.” The main character in the story features in an ambitious five-book series set during the First World War. Her other stand-alone novels include her French Revolution novel The One Thing More, and Sheen on the Silk, which is set in the dangerous and exotic city of Byzantium.


JenniferGranholm: The American Jobs Project: Creating Middle Class Jobs in America in a Global Economy

June 12th, 2015

Governor Jennifer Granholm led Michigan during the toughest economic times since the Great Depression – through auto bailouts and a global shift of manufacturing jobs. Through experience and stories, hear her perspective on how the nation can grow middle class jobs when technology and globalization make it easy for jobs to move elsewhere.


Daniel Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music

April 3rd, 2015

Daniel Levitin: This is Your Brain on Music

Dr. Daniel J. Levitin is a neuroscientist, musician and bestselling author of This Is Your Brain on Music, and most recently, The Organized Mind. He has spent a lifetime exploring how the brain works, and in particular, the brains of highly successful people and accomplished musicians.


Sandra Tsing Loh

February 23rd, 2015

From an “imaginatively twisted and fearless” writer (Los Angeles Times), comes a hilarious memoir of middle age. Madwoman in the Volvo is a wry and witty tale of “the change.” Please join us as author and entertainer Sandra Tsing Loh talks about her new work and assures us all that it does get better.


Dr. Lynn Ingram in conversation with Dr. Tim Bradley

June 25th, 2014

Lynn Ingram: The West Without Water

Professor Lynn Ingram
The West Without Water

Perhaps none of us can imagine the West without water, but Gov. Jerry Brown declared that our state is in a drought emergency and the issue is becoming hard to ignore. To address this critical issue, we invited Professor Lynn Ingram of UC Berkeley to speak about her book The West Without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and other Climactic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow. Dr. Ingram will be joined by Tim Bradley, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Irvine.

About Dr. Lynn Ingram
Professor of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, Dr. Ingram earned her Ph.D. at Stanford University. An expert on paleoclimatology, Ingram oversees the Laboratory for Environmental and Sedimentary Isotope Geochemistry (LESIG) at UC Berkeley. “The goal of my research is to assess how climates and environments have changed over the past several thousand years. These environments include estuaries, lakes, coasts, and coral reefs.” Dr. Ingram studies the history of climate change in California using sediment cores from lakes and estuaries, including San Francisco Bay. Dr. Ingram is a Fellow of the California Academy of Science, and is a Senior Fulbright recipient. She is the author of more than sixty published scientific articles on past climate change in California, the West, and other regions across the Pacific.

About Dr. Tim Bradley
Dr. Tim Bradley is the Director of the Salton Sea Initiative and a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the School of Biological Sciences at UC Irvine.


Graeme Simsion

June 25th, 2014

Graeme Simsion: The Rosie Project

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers.

Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

About the author

Graeme Simsion worked as a computer operator, programmer and database specialist before founding a consulting business in 1982. By the time he sold Simsion Bowles & Associates in 1999, it had grown to some seventy staff in three cities. Graeme had built an international reputation in data management and written the standard text on data modeling. Until the success of The Rosie Project enabled him to concentrate on his writing, he continued to deliver seminars around the world.

Graeme is a founder of Pinot Now, a wine importer and distributor and Roy’s Antiques in Melbourne. He recently resigned from his position as a Senior Research Fellow at Melbourne University. He is married to Anne, a professor of psychiatry who writes erotic fiction. They have two children.

In 2007, Graeme completed his PhD in information systems and enrolled in the professional screenwriting course at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He has made a number of short films and his screenplay, The Rosie Project, won the Australian Writers Guild / Inscription Award for Best Romantic Comedy Script in 2010. While waiting for The Rosie Project to be produced, he turned it into a novel which in June 2012 won the Victorian Premier’s award for an unpublished fiction manuscript.

Readers of The Rosie Project will know that Graeme Simsion has a first-class sense of humour. At professional conferences he has given addresses from on top of a ladder, dressed as a duck, and he once engaged a group of spellbound chartered accountants in community singing. Graeme Simsion won second prize in the 2013 Age short-story award for his account of a runner’s shattering experience in a marathon.


Frank Bruni

March 31st, 2014

Frank Bruni, an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times since 2011, joined the newspaper in 1995. During his years at The Times, he has worn a wide variety of hats, including chief restaurant critic (2004–2009) and Rome bureau chief (2002–2004).

He has also written two New York Times best sellers: a memoir, Born Round, and Ambling into History, a chronicle of George W. Bush’s campaign for the presidency. That same year, Harper Perennial reissued, in paperback, A Gospel of Shame: Children, Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church, of which he was a co-author.

Bruni’s restaurant-related articles for The New York Times and elsewhere have appeared in five consecutive editions of Best Food Writing in America. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for his work at the Detroit Free Press.  

Bruni will speak about current issues making the headlines.