Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Real Unreal Creatures

There are questions you field as a librarian that seem to have an obvious answer. Such as (real question) do you have a book with photographs of unicorns? The obvious answer being no. Then some entrepreneur comes along, glues a plastic horn to the forehead of a lovely white horse and takes misty photos of said horse gamboling about in the green. What to do, what to do. Fortunately the dragon question is easier to answer. No. But we do have several nonfiction books about dragons if you are interested in the legends. The books might even have pictures. But not photos. I don't think gluing wings on a lizard will do the trick.

By the way, the unicorn book was Unicorns I Have Known by Robert Vavra. Out of print, we don't own it. Back to the obvious answer.

Books About Dragons

Graphic source Dover Publications

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye FF and MJ

Michael Jackson and Farah, both dying June 25 2009. We were prepared for Farah, but Michael was a shock. I remember seeing him on television as a kid singing I Want You Back and dancing dancing in his fringed vest. I watched the Motown Special and got chills - you could tell the audience did too. The news items have noted the twin rise of Michael and MTV, but I haven't seen any mention of the fact that Michael helped break the color barrier on that channel. Before Billie Jean you rarely saw non-white artists' videos. But I guess they couldn't ignore him. He was hard to ignore.

Graphic Source: eLibrary
Source: Jet; 10/9/2006, Vol. 110 Issue 14, p16-54 per EbscoHost

Look Out!

Ever wanted to make your own warning labels? I have, for ages and ages. Now we have a generator for you folks who just want to make sure everyone is safe. You know all kinds of people are running around with no idea of the dangers that surround them. Splinters, for example. I had one in my left pinkie for who knows how long, not a clue as to how it got there. If only I'd been warned.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hello, Frank Lloyd Wright

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright will be the topic of speaker Myron A. Marty June 27th at the Central Library. In addition to showier pieces like Falling Water, Wright designed several buildings in Iowa. (Ever see Iowa comedy group Duck's Breath Theater? They did a lovely Falling Water impersonation.) Mason City is the proud home to several of Wright' s designs. Here's one listed in the Mason City Globe Gazette:
Stockman House, 1908, is the only middle class Frank Lloyd Wright house of his Prairie School design in the United States open to the public. Features include Arts and Crafts furnishings and Wright replicas of the period.

So Saturday you can take a break from being outdoors at the Arts Fest and stop in to hear Myron A. Marty at 2:30. It'll be nice and cool. And interesting!
Frank Lloyd Wright Books

Stockman House is open for tours 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday through Labor Day. Then 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday Labor Day through Oct. 31

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Red Pandas

Red Pandas at the zoo. I don't think I've ever seen one, so let's all go! I have trouble reconciling the name and the fact that they look nothing like Giant Pandas. But they're kind of related. Remember Kingdom Phylum Genus? Then here's a treat for you -

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Procyonidae
Genus: Ailurus
Species: Fulgens

Encyclopedia of Animals; 2006, p1, per EbscoHost

For more information, just search red pandas in EbscoHost. Be sure to check the 'Full Text' box so you can read the entire article. Or check out the Blank Park Zoo web site.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Movies

I myself have seen several summer blockbusters and I'm convinced you are dying to know what I think. Because there are just not enough unqualified movie reviewers publishing on the web.

Wolverine: Not as fun as I'd hoped. Managed to make Wolverine dull. But Sabretooth and the card guy were pretty lively.

Star Trek: loved it. I was a little surprised by the desert gorge in Iowa, but details, details. Great cast, and it captures the feel of the original show.

Land of the Lost: so bad we didn't see a movie the following weekend. We were that traumatized.

Angels and Demons: interesting puzzle, beautiful places, and man I would love to get into the Vatican Library! Check out the book cover - it has that text that reads the same upside-down.

Night at the Museum: fun overall. Amy Adams bears no resemblance to Amelia Earhart, but her rat-tat-tat delivery was delightful. Someone get this woman a '30's screwball comedy.

Up: Hi-larious! Didn't even bother to see it in 3-D because that might have distracted me from the fun. And pretty poignant for a movie about a man, a house, and a mess of balloons.
If none of these appeal, check out the HUGE selection of DVDs in the Des Moines Public Library system. Fifty cents for a Children's DVD, one thin dollar for all others, and you get to keep them a whole week. Click to go directly to a DVD/Video search.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dog Mixers

I've have finally noticed the random-dog-combination trend. And when I say trend, I mean a ubiquitous occurrence. As a species dogs have enormous variations - for a mammal anyway. There are simply HUGE dogs and then there are those called 'teacup' for a reason. How on earth does it all work? One of my sisters has a Bichon Frise/Yorkie mix, another a Bichon Frise/Welsh Terrier mix. Those breeds are fairly similar in size, so it's not too freaky. But neither of them have poodle mixes which, according to Newsweek, set the whole thing off. An early combination was between labradors and poodles. Then there are all these other poodle mixes: schnoodle, cockapoo, yorkiepoo, bichonpoo, shih tzu-poo, and even peekapoo. Overly-sentimental pet owners now have an excuse to call their dogs something that ends in poo. (One could argue that is the definition of a dog anyway. Ha!) And why do we want to get poodle DNA in an otherwise perfectly good dog breed? Apparently poodles don't shed. Aha! My sister had labs that shed like they had Jack Bauer's 24 hours to replace their entire coat or terrible consequences would befall the ENTIRE WORLD. Sweet dogs though. Hope the doodling doesn't cancel out any good stuff.

Read More:
Source: Newsweek; 7/8/2002, Vol. 140 Issue 2, p10, 1/3p, 1 color
Source: Brandweek; 2/27/2006, Vol. 47 Issue 9, p25-25, 3/4p

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day is Coming June 21

And maybe your Dad would like some tools. Or whatever this stuff is. This year's recommended gifts all appear to be electronic in nature: Kindles, Wiis, digital cameras. Probably not what Sonora Smart Dodd had in mind when the first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington, in 1910. Even when Lyndon Johnson proclaimed it a national holiday in 1966 there wasn't that much in the way of electronics for Dad. Maybe a radio with a wire that goes to your ear so you can listen to the ballgame broadcast while you're in the stands watching it. Kinda like an iPod with earbuds. Once again ladies and gentlemen we have come full circle. Don't forget the calipers.

Graphic Source: Dover

Resources:THE BEST GIFTS FOR YOUR DAD. Author: Sonnenfeld, Barry
Esquire; Jun2009, Vol. 151 Issue 6, p26-26, 1p as found in EbscoHost

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last Day Before Franklin Starts Move to Merle Hay

Dateline Des Moines, Iowa. Thursday June 18. Tomorrow will be the LAST DAY the Franklin Avenue branch of the Des Moines Public Library will be open UNTIL July 6th. On July 6th Franklin will open in the temporary location at Merle Hay Mall, near Target. The library will operate out of the mall for 18 months to 2 years. Actually, that should be really cool. Then the renovated Library at 5000 Franklin will be even cooler. Remember, you can still check out and return stuff at any of our 5 other buildings using the card you got at Franklin! It's good all over town! In the last few years all the buildings have been remodeled so this would be a great time to look them over and see what other parts of town have to offer. June 19th last day in the un-renovated building. July 6th first day at Merle Hay. It's not such a long time really. We'll all be OK.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


June 21 (2:00 PM) Omar Tyree will be speaking at the Forest Avenue Library. His talk will include a discussion of his latest novel, The Last Street Novel. A New York Times best selling author of many urban fiction novels, Tyree is also a sought-after public speaker. Tyree’s program is co-sponsored by Mid-City Vision and is scheduled to be part of this year’s Juneteenth celebration. A little tidbit from our index to the Des Moines Register:
Vilsack makes Juneteenth an official Iowa holiday
2002 4 12
This article is available on microfilm at the Central Library

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cheap Thrills

Need a parlor game? Anyone have a parlor? I played one this spring called Celebrities. It's fun and che-eap. You will have: 2 teams; several slips of paper; 3 ways to get your team to guess celebrity names; one winner.
Each person on each team writes down the name of one celebrity and puts the name in a hat.
The first round you get your teammates to guess by describing the person without using their name. Get as many as you can in one minute. Now pay attention: each round uses the same original celebrity names. Remember those and the game is much easier. Next round, you have to act out the names by using charades. I was unsuccessful at acting out Jane Fonda although I must say I do a mean folding-chair sit-up. Last round, describe the celebrity in one word. Oh, and I forgot (this is why I don't tell jokes) if you are stymied by a name you can put it back and take a different one. So go, laugh and make fools of yourselves. And if this game does not appeal you can find others in this book.
Games people play : the biggest and best book of party games and activities

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grill It

Look at it. Just staring at you. Maybe it's a juicy steak, a thick fresh portabello mushrom or my favorite, a ready-made kabob. You know what it wants. Only to sizzle on a grill and make the whole neighborhood smell like heaven. You can grill it any way you want. Beer or no beer. Steak sauce (philistine!) or a touch of fresh ground pepper. Just you and the heat and the food in the great outdoors. Make some extra for me?

Friday, June 12, 2009

What kind of cheese am I...

According to the Online Cheese Comparator Anthony Newley's cheese rating is: Dolcelatte "Dolcelatte is a very soft blue cheese from Italy, and melts in the mouth like ice cream. The name Dolcelatte means "sweet milk" in Italian, and this cheese has a corresponding sweet taste." You know, this doesn't describe Anthony Newley very well. As I recall he twitched when he sang. Or flopped. Not as vigorously as Joe Cocker, but you get the idea. What does Anthony Newley have to do with this? Boomers who read the title know. Ask one. So you're wondering what the heck a comparator is. According to Merriam, it's "a device for comparing something with a similar thing or with a standard measure". I guess 'comparer' isn't a word. Well ooo-wee. I myself am Oaxaca, "a stringy, semi-soft Mexican cheese, also known as Asadero. It is used in sandwiches, or melted on cooked foods such as pizza or nachos". So not fancy, but utilitarian. Appropriate. What kind of cheese are you? And what would happen if someone moved you? I'm guessing I'd melt, and it wouldn't be pretty.
Online Cheese Comparator

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Digital TV: this time they mean it

Really Really Really mean it. June 12th they stop messing around and those converter boxes will be absolutely necessary for households that rely on good old antennas. According to the usa.gov site about DTV, converter coupons are still available for eligible households. It typically takes nine business days to process and mail coupons, so it will be awhile before you can use them to get your converter. Coupons will expire within 90 days of the date they are mailed. And call ahead to confirm availability of coupon-eligible converter boxes on the day you plan to shop. That's all I know, (because that's all I copied down) but here's a link to the coupon application site: Apply for Coupons I used the word 'coupon(s)' six times in this paragraph. Impressed?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Spirited Photos

This photograph of a 'spirit' was taken by the aptly-named medium William Hope (1863-1933). Around 1905 he became interested in spirit photography after he decided some stuff on the photograph of a friend was actually a ghost! Not the first conclusion most people would reach. By 1922 Hope had moved to London and become a professional medium. Hah! Then the Society for Psychical Research sent one Harry Price to investigate. Price collected evidence that Hope was substituting glass plates bearing ghostly images in order to produce his spirit photographs. Huh. Go figure. Price published his findings exposing Hope as a fraud. But the believers still believed, including (sigh) Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. So being exposed as a total charlatan didn't even slow the man down until he died. And no one's seen hide nor ectoplasm of him since. Hope you enjoyed this 'snapshot' (ha!) of a spirit photographer. Where have all the good careers gone?

Since Houdini was a famous exposer of medium fraud, this would be a fun read:
Final séance : the strange friendship between Houdini and Conan Doyle

Source: National Media Museum

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


June 6th 1456 was the 23rd recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet. (Perihelion is the point in the path of a moving object at which it is closest to the sun. I looked it up.)

How many ways did Halley's freak people out? Let us count a few.
141 Comet is blamed for a plague.
451 Blamed as the cause of death of 150,000 soldiers at the Battle of Chalons when the Romans defeated Attila the Hun and Co. But they didn't get Attila.
470 The comet is blamed for a terrible winter. The comet came by in the spring. Go figure.
530 Plague 2
837 The death of King Louis of France is linked to Halley's.
Perhaps the oddest and least credible: in 1456 Pope Callixtus III is said to have excommunicated the comet. It's a wonder Halley's has had the nerve to show it's face since then.

Source: The official Halley's Comet book
Read more in these Books about Comets

Monday, June 8, 2009

There once was a girl

From Nantucket. And here she is. Anna Gardner (1816-1901) was a teacher, secretary of the New England Anti-Slavery Society and a worker for women's rights, universal suffrage, and temperance. That's not enough? She published the call for the first anti-slavery convention - in Nantucket, at which Frederick Douglass made his first public speech. When Gardner's pupil in the African School, Eunice Ross, was denied entrance to the new public Nantucket High School because of her race, Gardner resigned her position and became involved in the fight for desegregation. So when next you think of Nantucket females, show a little respect!

You can also read about the Grimke sisters, famous abolitionists.

Friday, June 5, 2009

If you hate to fly -

Maybe you're not taking a trip this year involving the big old metal bird. Maybe you're not taking a trip at all. But you can have fun pretending! Just for the entertainment value, your travel experts for those imaginary vacations offer this: a web site that lets you write your own ticket! Literally! Get yourself a free ticket from Windsor Heights to Luxembourg. It won't work, but think of all the travel brochures you can pore over uselessly! Just go to Ticket-O-Matic. As long as you're not traveling, get a ticket to Middle-Earth. Now that's an imaginary vacation.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ah, hindsight

Look at these! Just look at them! On the other hand, you do realize that 15 years from now we will look back at today's fashions and be appalled. The history of fashion is actually riveting. You look back at stuff like Marie Antoinette's 3-foot beehives and marvel at how inventively we torture ourselves. As if that wasn't enough, Marie wore a pannier, a device attached at the waist with extending wires to hold the skirt out at the sides. Like a hoop skirt, only goofier. See what we're missing? Hey, you can look through these books for clothing even less comfortable! We'll come out looking pretty good. Except for those 4-inch stillettos.

Books on the History of Fashion
Graphic source: Dover

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Historical Des Moines

We have the coolest maps on our website! They are named, euphoniously, Historic Tour 1 Map and Historic Tour 2 Map. Here is a link to the spot at which you can choose your tour: Historic Places in Des Moines. OK, let's start with Tour 1 Map because it's staring us right in the face. I see an aerial photo of part of Des Moines with the street names added...but wait! Now there are blue place markers on the map! What could it mean? Click on one of them and you get a description of the the historical site and sometimes a picture. Is that not amazing? You can even get directions if you want to see the the site with your very own peepers. Or you can zoom right in for some details. If I weren't middle aged, I'd say this rocks!!!! But I am so I won't. Go ahead, do a little armchair touring. It's easy safe and fun.
Pictured: The "Shops Building" at 5th and Walnut

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Elizabeth Berg Tonight!

Elizabeth Berg is speaking at the Central Library tonight at 7 PM. She wrote an Oprah book people! Open House was chosen by La Winfrey herself. So you know Berg's got something. For 10 years she was a registered nurse and learned a great deal about people and relationships. Many of her novels center on a major change in a woman's life and her latest, Home Safe, is no exception. Helen Ames: loses her husband; finds out she knew him not at all - he withdrew all their money before he died; and has a problematical relationship with her adult daughter. She has hit the wall, folks and Change is coming to get her. Read the book to find out how she copes with personal upheaval. Stop in tonight to hear the author. Who knows what tidbits you might pick up. Maybe she met Oprah! (OK, Maybe not. But still.)

Elizabeth Berg Books

Monday, June 1, 2009

Juggling Act

Find yourself handling too much in your life? Maybe you could Simplify, and yes, the S is capitalized. The whole Voluntary Simplicity movement started around the 80's but really hit the ground running in the 90's with the publication of Duane Elgin's Voluntary Simplicity in 1991, Vicki Robin's Your Money or Your Life in 1992, and Janet Luhrs' Simple Living Guide in 1997. Now you can't swing a bag of clothes for Goodwill without knocking over a book about clearing out, organizing, rightsizing. There are some good tips - many I should follow myself - about using what you have and stepping down from an over-stimulated life. Now if they'd only stop making big stupid fun summer movies. Can't resist them.

Books to assist you in your almost-spiritual quest for Simplicity

Graphic Scource: Dover