Wednesday, March 31, 2010


At one time Iowa was crawling with railroad depots.  You couldn't throw a cow catcher without hitting one even in the small, I mean small, towns.  From the amazing Iowa Heritage Digital Collections, Exhibit A here is a photo of a depot in Livermore, Iowa.  Population not so big.  It says MSTL under the picture and that stands for Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad.  I didn't even know that railroad ever existed! Not one of your top ten carriers, but hey, it stopped in Livermore.  Here's a fun book for you on the topic:  Regional railroads of the Midwest.  The pictures are in color!  Go nuts!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


So will today's 3-D movies be a short-term phenomenon like they were in the 50's?  How could those mid-century marvels have faded away when such cheesy productions as Bwana Devil, Cat Women of the Moon,  Robot Monster and  Gog dominated the field?  The Gog! Plus there were classy 3-D's as well.  Hondo which was a John Wayne Western! Dial M For Murder! Kiss Me Kate! I had no idea! There were tons of theaters where you could watch them - at one time over 5,000 American cinemas showed 3-D movies. 3-D films went away after the 1950's, with the exception of a few doozies like Jaws 3-D.  But they never pulled in the kind of money 3-D movies do today.  Prepare yourself for a Jane Austen 3-D renaissance.  Yikes.  P.S. The library owns only 2-D format.  So far....

Graphic source:  ERBzine

Monday, March 29, 2010

Is it Here Yet? Baseball Season

Yep, soon the fierce strains of "Take me out to the ball game" will be electrifying the masses.  You'll be seeing the odd baseball posting on this very blog. Today's amazement: it's Cy Young's birthday!   On This Day in 1867 Denton True "Cy" Young popped into the world.  Can't imagine why he didn't keep 'Denton' as his nom de life.   Oh, wait - he acquired the nickname 'Cyclone' in 1890 when he joined a minor league team in Canton Ohio. As of 2005 "Young left behind an unmatched record of 509 wins and 316 losses as a major league pitcher."  Now all strong-armed men hope to earn the Cy Young Award which has been presented from 1956 to the present.  That Cy nickname sure stuck.

Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition via EBSCOHost

Friday, March 26, 2010

My Top Picks for 2009 - TV

Fringe: Weird but not completely inscrutable. And riiiight up until the latest episode when Olivia broke down into "I'm frightened Auntie Em mode", one of the best female leads on TV.  Best mad scientist ever.
House: Relationships are all well and good, but medical mysteries are the real draw for me! I just don't want them to get too repetitive. I think we've had an-exotic-bug-passed-on-by-an-act-of-infidelity twice so far.
Medium: Love the family - I think it's the most realistic one on television. How odd is that?  Plus they get a billion bonus points for starring an actress who has gained weight and it's a complete non-issue.
Supernatural:  OK, Sam mopes too much but Dean is willing to make a complete fool of himself (pudding!) and I love monsters.
Aren't you relieved now?  All this time you've been wondering what I thought.  Happy watching!

Fringe. The complete first season
House M.D. Season one
Medium. The complete first season
Supernatural. The complete first season

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Phoning it In

For years and years and years, in the olden days when you picked up the phone to call someone an actual person said "Number please".  Is that a hoot?  But it all came to an end for Des Moines in July of 1929.  Northwest Bell made the big switch early on Sunday July 28th and it apparently involved a cast of thousands!  One and one-half years in the making!  The unheard-of budget reaching $4,000,000!  Thenceforth when one picked up the phone in Des Moines, one heard a dial tone.  Welcome to the world of automated services.  The future was then.

Source: Des Moines Tribune, 7/28/1929 p. 1-2
Available on microfilm at the Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave.
Graphic Source:  Old Picture of the Day

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Be the Boss of You

Are you interested in starting your own home-based business?  I know there's nothing like being your own boss!  Think of all the authority you'd have over you.  Sheer power! The East Side Library has added a nifty set of books to their collection, just for you.  They're targeted to specific businesses and will be more helpful than a general guide. 
How to start a home-based handyman business /
How to start a home-based housecleaning business /
How to start a home-based interior design business.
How to start a home-based jewelry making business /
How to start a home-based senior care business /

Monday, March 22, 2010

Book Sale at the East Side Library

Yay!  It's time for the Friends of the East Side Library's much-anticipated annual book sale.  It runs through Saturday March 27 and you can buy:  books, DVD's, videos, magazines, records! What are "records"?   Actually they're becoming collector's items rather than functioning as musical recordings. If you pick up some records at the sale you can check their value with this nifty item: Records & prices / edited by Peter Lindblad.  Now run along and have fun shopping for incredible, colossal  deals!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Fun - Words Words and did I mention Words?

Remember Reader's Digest's 'Increase Your Vocabulary' feature?  Old much?  For all I know they still have it, but this is a more entertaining method of increasing your vocabulary.  "Why would I want to learn new words?" I hear you ask.  It's a gameIt's fun. As a bonus, when you get words right the folks who run the site will donate a certain number of grains of rice to the World Food Programme.  There, you've learned something already.  Program can be spelled with two m's.  If you're British. Maybe if you're lucky you'll play on a day when 'spline' is one of the words!  Spline!  Where else do you get that kind of quality edification?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Late Late Craig

But he's still alive!  Remember when Craig Ferguson got the job as host of the Late Late Show?  We were all like, what's up with the guy from Drew Carey ? Where'd he come from? Turns out he came from interesting places.  He was born and raised on the mean streets of Glasgow, Scotland and they were really mean.  Gangs and lots of fighting and Ferguson in the thick of it.   Then there's the usual addiction and alcoholism, relationships ruined by the aforementioned; next the cleaning up and the finding true love as a reformed older guy.  The man fairly twinkles now.  Ferguson is very funny and candid which makes for a peppy biography.  You gotta love the cover!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day!

Oh, the festivities!  If you remember to do one thing today, here it is:  teach your friends to say "Iocfaidh mise don gach rud!"  It's pronounced "uck-igg misha dun gock rud"  and it means "I will pay for everything!"  This is from The Information about Ireland Site and I'm sure they would not lead us astray.  Just don't say it yourself.  Maybe write it down for your vict - I mean, friends!  For more fun with words like eibhrionnach (a gelded goat) and and tapaidheachd (See tapachd) we have for you the Gaelic Dictionaries.  You'll love 'em.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Ah, the fine art of taxidermy.  I know you don't hear about it as much as you used to. We can fix that with this. "Martha Dartt Maxwell (born 1831, died 1881) was one of the first American women field naturalists and among the first American women to collect and display her own animal specimens."  Let me translate that for you.  Maxwell, a lifelong vegetarian, shot the animals and mounted her own catches.  Just incidentally, she was 5 feet tall. "Maxwell is credited as the first taxidermist to pose specimens in a natural position, thus ensuring that natural history displays in museums had authenticity."  So this wee deadly vegetarian changed the course of taxidermical history.  Now that I have your attention, feast your eyes on our taxidermy books.  If for no other reason than to answer the eternal question, 'huh?'.
Still life : adventures in taxidermy
Other Delightful Taxidermy Books
Source:  Biography Resource Center
Suggested by Marci Behm

Monday, March 15, 2010

Marched Reading

Ah, the WPA.  What couldn't they do?  Here's a gorgeous poster from the talented hands of some nameless artist in the employ of the Works Progress Administration.  It was produced for an Illinois reading promotion, circa 1941.  And rightly depicts books we all mean to read.  Your Tolstoy, your Dumas, your Thackeray.  But there's so much fun reading material stacked on your nightstand.  So it's not a bad idea to set aside one month a year for books that take some effort.  Start with Thackeray.  He's only got one blockbuster, so knock off Vanity Fair and you're done!

Tolstoy, Leo
Dumas, Alexandre
Thackeray, William Makepeace

Source:  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division WPA

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Fun Name that Candy Bar

I thought this would be totally easy because I eat Lots of Candy.  But there are certain candy bars I don't like and some I've never heard of and some that look too much like the other ones.  They lure you in with easy selections then suddenly hit you with Take Five! Fast Break!  It's madness!  It gives you the munchies too, but I kind of like that part.
A good book to read whilst eating chocolaty treats:
The emperors of chocolate : inside the secret world of Hershey and Mars

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's WAY Too Soon - Daylight Savings Time

This Sunday, March 14 is the kickoff of Daylight Savings Time.  We're supposed to 'spring' forward in the middle of March.  It's just cruel.  How about a little factoid to go with.  Here's a quote from the Old Farmer's Almanac for gardeners, you eternal optimists:
"Planting by the Moon?  Above-ground crops are planted during the light of the Moon (new to full); below-ground crops are planted during the dark of the Moon (from the day it is full to the day before it is new again). Planting is done in the daytime; planting at night is optional!"
I hope this clears things up for you. 
The Old farmer's almanac
Old Farmer's

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Now Wait a Minute

It's National Procrastination Week!   And I didn't tell you until Wednesday - see how I did that?  Only one week set aside for procrastination.  And here I've been thinking of it as a lifestyle.  He who hesitates may be lost, or they may be looking at a map.  If procrastination is not your style - you can't wait to, say, clean out your closets - we are here for you.
Shop your closet : the ultimate guide to organizing your closet with style
The perfect closet : and other storage ideas

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's With the Hair? Gibson's Girl

Who was the Gibson Girl?  She was named for her creator Charles Dana Gibson, an American illustrator previously known for his ability to produce a drawing for publication in two hours. Whew!   Here are some of the 'dos acceptable for Gibsonality:  "Psyche knots to pompadours, to Bath Buns, to side waves with a bewitching part in the middle." A Psyche knot is a bun that projects out from the head.  (It's prettier than it sounds). A pompadour pushes the hair into a big wad on the forehead.  Side waves seem self-explanatory.  But I cannot find anything that describes Bath Buns. Hard not to envision a certain Princess from a galaxy far far away.  The cool thing about Gibson Girls is that while they were certainly beautiful, they were pictured as active females what with the bike riding and tennis playing and all.  But even when frolicking in the ocean the hair never budges. That's product!

Sources:  The undimmed appeal of the Gibson Girl; Agnes Rogers, American Heritage Magazine, December 1957 Volume 9, Issue 1
Biography Resource Center

Monday, March 8, 2010

Why me?

Dressing up pets. Apparently a long tradition as the picture to the right is from Victorian clip art.  It is a painting so maybe they didn't actually do this to the dog, but they thought about it!  Now it's not uncommon to see some pooch all dolled up. One Halloween I saw two dignified Westies strolling by wearing glowing bobble headbands.  My only thought when seeing a photo of Spot in a tutu?  That is one patient dog.  If you're going to make them wear something you might as well make it yourself.  I love the one with matching togs for dog and man.  It's only fair.
Doggie knits : sweaters & accessories for your best friend
Men who knit & the dogs who love them : 30 great-looking designs for man & his best friend

Friday, March 5, 2010

Joke Week: Suddenly and Without Warning

There were the Smothers Brothers.  They had been around in the 50's, when their humor came from making fun of brothers and folk singers.  Tom's ad-libbed "Mom always liked you best!" is so much a part of our national language it seems like it's always been around. The last verse of the folk classic "My Old Man's a Sailor" had Dick spitting out:  "My old man's a cotton-pickin, finger-lickin, chicken plucker." Just for fun.  Then everything changed, and the brothers produced humor that was critical of the establishment.
Tom: We spend over 50 billion dollars a year on defense. We don't need more allies.
Dick: Well, what do we need?
Tom: We need... more enemies.
Pretty mild, which is why it aired. They segued from the squeakiest of clean folk comedy to what was at the time unacceptably negative counter-culture comedy.  For more on the show and the brothers read:
Dangerously funny : the uncensored story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
For hilarity, listen to their classic comedy routines on:
 Sibling revelry: the best of the Smothers Brothers

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Old New Yorker Cartoons

They're all about what isn't said.  One of my favorites is this Charles Addams classic:  
On the beach a middle-aged woman is running beneath the shadow of a giant bird that is clutching a person.  The woman yells "George!  Drop the keys!"
This Peter Arno gem took me a minute:
At the opera, a Grande Dame turns to her husband and says "You have so got it turned off!"  
I cracked up when I finally got it.  We have several books with New Yorker cartoons, knock yourself out.  With laughter!
 NewYorker Cartoons

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Many Laughs

Many Laughs for Many Days.  These are less like jokes and more like anecdotes.  One of the shorter ones I could find:
Said the occasional imbiber to his friend:  "Had a long serious talk with a barkeeper in a blind tiger today.  Yep, I guess we must have talked half an hour."
"What did you find to say to him?" inquired the friend.
"Plenty.  As a matter of fact most of the conversation was on my side.  But he listened all right.  I poured arguments at him one right after the other."
"Well, what did he say when you got through?"
"He said 'NO'!"
Oh, the hilarity. Now my first question was "What the heck is a blind tiger"?  According to Webster's, it's "a place that sells intoxicants illegally."  The things you learn from joke books.
 p. 229 

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Old Puns?

Helen Hoke knows a pun when she sees one.  Or does she?  From her book Puns, puns, puns copyright 1958: 
1.  Dopey Dan is so dumb he thinks rhubarb is a French street.   
2.  When Papa Dionne found that he had quintuplets, he could hardly believe his own census.  (Are these really puns?)   
3.  Editor, picking the phone:  "City desk speaking."
    Astonished Caller:  "Yeah?  What drawer?" 
Ba dum pum. That's more like it.  Now if she'd just left out the word 'astonished...  A fun history lesson reading what passed for puns in the 50's. And hey!  It's Read Across America Day - hug a book.  Then crack it open and dive in. For more information, go here:  NEA's Read Across America.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Old Jokes Week

There's no stopping the cold, but we can still laugh, can't we?  A-heh.
The multi-talented Bennett Cerf was not only a mainstay of the TV game show What's My Line. Among his other accomplishments, he published several joke books.  Here's what passes for funny in Bennett Cerf's the sound of laughter:  Lucille Ball, watching Dean Martin do a full hour's show on TV without a single rehearsal marveled, "That so-and-so makes cooked spaghetti look tense!"  OK, that was a little funny. Is this one a knee-slapper?  Sign at railroad station at Sandusky: "The average time it takes a train to cross this intersection is twenty seconds -- whether your car is on it or not."  Ha!  Ha! That Bennett knew how to pick 'em.   This would be a lovely book for a day when you're looking for gentle relaxation.  Ahhh.

Quotes are from p.282 and p.376