Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Camel Identification Please

"Are you a camel, a flip-floppy camel
without any starch in your spine?
Do you sit at the table as well as you're able or
do you sit there and slump slump slump slump.... 
Are you a camel, a flip-floppy camel
without any starch in your spine?
Because if you are a camel, a flip-floppy camel,
please go somewhere else to dine."

Ah, the songs of childhood.  I thought I'd share this one since it's 'rare'.  Which means you're missing out!  We have a book with lots of classic (read: old) children's songs, but alas this one does not appear to be included.  Here are some of the beauties we do have:  Funiculi, funicula!    Looby loo!  (I always thought it was loopy. Go figure.)   Itiskit, itasket!    O sole mio!   All in:  Standard children's songs : containing more than one-hundred and fifty songs suitable for young folks of all ages.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not Pi

Bishops Chocolate French Silk Pie.  Never had the pleasure myself, but I understand it was a delicious treat.  Did you know it was invented by a guy who lived in Iowa?  Lester R. Hendrickson was not Iowa-born but he lived here for 40 years.  Not only is the Chocolate French Silk Pie to his credit, he also worked in one of the state's most famous bakeries.  Barbara's Bake Shop!  Can you believe it?  He died in West Des Moines in 1989, having made the world a better place.  Thank you, Lester.

Source: Des Moines Register October 8, 1989 p. 5B

Monday, June 28, 2010

Biiiiig Holiday Coming Up - Closed Friday through Monday

Yes, all 6 locations of your Des Moines Public Library will be closed 4 days for the 4th of July.  Of course Friday the 2nd is a furlough day and part of the budget cut, so staff will not be paid for that day.  And we're not open Sundays in the summer anyway. I'm not sure where I was going with that,  but I guess I'm there!  And now an important factor of our holiday closing:  the book returns will be closed.  Locked!  Unavailable! The good news is that we will not be charging fines for those days we are closed.  Whoohoo!   If you're headed out of town for vacation you'll want to return your stuff before 8 PM on Thursday July 1st. (6 PM at Central)  Last chance until we open back up on the 6th!  Our web site will remain accesssible, but we're all gone so no support for the web site.  You'll be on you're own.  You can do it!

Friday, June 25, 2010

We're Surrounded! Art Fest

The Central Library will be opening our usual hours this Friday and Saturday during the Art Fest. (9-6 Friday, 9-5 Saturday). You can get at all our entrances and the drive-up windows.  I know, Grand Avenue looks closed but there is a big sign that says it's open for library traffic.  If this means you, come on in! Glorious art is everywhere, but your library staff remains ready to serve, undistracted and steadfast. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Blockbusters II

You didn't think I was done, did you?  Here are more outstanding summer movies from the vault for you!

Jurassic Park!  I still get goosebumps when the water in the glass ripples.
Ghostbusters! Aim for the flattop! Don't cross the streams! Dogs and cats living together!
Men in Black! Vincent D'onfrio is a bug in a man suit. You will believe. 
Star Wars! Oh, that first shot of the never-ending spaceship. The crowd cheers. Your world has changed.
Raiders of the Lost Ark!  Feisty 40's dame! She can knock a guy out with her fist or a fabulous dress!  And is that really Alfred Moline in the opening scene?
Close Encounters of the Third Kind!  Goosebumps again, this time when the little UFO's whiz around the road at midnight.  Can you ever see Devil's Mountain and not think of mashed potatoes?  Me neither.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Human Caterpillar

Actually they called themselves The Ames Sisters, but really.  That's a butterfly waiting to happen if ever I saw one.  Next stop: Synchronized Swimming.  Assuming the sisters can swim.  Oh, and they don't have anything to do with Iowa, Ames is just their name.  They were a sister act that got a start just as vaudeville was coughing out its last breath.  We actually have books on synchronized swimming if you happen to come from a large family and like to swim.  Knock yourselves out.  But not really.
The Five Ames Sisters. Left to Right: Barbara, Mary Eloise, Marjorie, Alice and Dorothy.1929.

Synchro intro : a guide to coaching recreational synchronized swimming
Sport training manual for synchronized swimming
Graphic Source: flickr Vintage Photo Sharing

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ngaio Marsh

She was a mystery writer.  Bet you can't pronounce her name!  Not Marsh, the other one.  It's pronounced nye-oh. Wait, I just found out her real first name was Edith. I guess that was too pronounceable for her.  She was born in New Zealand and "ngaio" is the Maori word for, take your pick, a flowering tree; clever; light on the water;  a small insect.  She wrote 32 mysteries featuring DCI Roderick Alleyn, publishing from 1934 to 1982.   And managed to keep the later ones from seeming dated. Give her a go.

Ngaio Marsh Mysteries
Source: Biography Resource Center as accessed through Ebscohost

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fragment, a Favorite Book From 2009

Nothing I like better than a Mysterious Island Adventure.  Ooooooh.  In Fragment a ship full of the cast and crew from a 'sea life' reality show wind up at Henders Island.  Mayhem ensues.  The Henders'  inhabitants are all vicious species that want to eat you!  Now!  First there's the wheelie nasty on the beach. This innocuous-looking beast hurls itself  like a live Frisbee and when it hits you the zillions of babies on its exterior jump off  and eat you.  Well that's weird.  Turns out millions and millions of years ago evolution on Henders jogged on over to a different track and the island was isolated enough that it just kept perking along in an entirely new direction. Oh, and salt water kills them.  So no leaving the island! If you make it past the wheelies to the interior there are flying nasties, huge spidery nasties, ratty nasties, all really fast!  They will only stop trying to eat you if one of their own stumbles. Then they're all over that poor sucker.  And they reproduce like crazy so they have enough progeny to eat each other! The author actually backs up all this crazy with lots and lots of science. Lots. But not so much that it ruins the fabulous world he's constructed.   For extra value, toward the end there's one more creature that is totally unbelievable but buckets of fun.  You can read it in the comfort of your lawn chair, safe in the knowledge that you won't be eaten.  Except maybe by mosquitoes.

Fragment by Warren Fahy

Friday, June 18, 2010

Time Marches On

June 18, 1885.  The first "local library society" was organized. The New York Library Club had a mission. To gather librarians for, well, networking, and to "advance the interests of the libraries of New York".  The initial president was Richard Bowker, one of the founders of Library Journal!  Doesn't that just make your toes curl in excitement?  You can read more about Bowker, a genuinely remarkable man, in the Biography Resource Center.  Did I mention he was the first vice-president of the Edison Company?  Yup, that Edison. 

Source:  Biography Resource Center
Source: Famous First Facts

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Modigliani Who? Or Why?

As reported Tuesday, a Modigliani sculpture just sold at auction for $52.8 million. I mean it's not like the guy was Rembrandt or Picasso. One of the reasons the piece sold so high is that  Modigliani didn't produce very many sculptures. So don't bother checking your attic. You don't have one. Amedeo Modigliani (Rock me Amedeo! Sorry, 80's flashback.) died in a charity ward of tuberculosis on January 5th, 1920. The booze, drugs and carousing had ruined his health. Could he be more of a cliché? Fortunately that state didn't keep his art from being amazing.

Source: Biography Resource Center; Reuters

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Red Skelton's Pledge

On the January 1969 broadcast of his television show Red Skelton spoke of the way his teacher, Mr. Laswell, taught the Pledge of Allegiance to the class. Mr. Laswell felt the class was repeating the words by rote and he wanted the students to think about what they were saying. The words of the Pledge remained the same, but each word of phrase was explained. For example: "I -- me, an individual, a committee of one"; "Allegiance -- my love and my devotion". Skelton ended the monologue with his opinion that "Under God" should remain in the pledge. The show received 20,000 letters in response. I had no idea.

We have a DVD of The Red Skelton Show!
You can read the complete text of the monologue in the Des Moines Tribune, February 20, 1969 on page 16.
Graphic source; eLibrary

Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Blockbusters: Good Old Times

I'm not exactly overwhelmed by this year's slate of event movies.  Iron Man II was good, but it's no Secret of Kells.  Let's return to the excitement of Summer Blockbusters of Yore!
A Completely Subjective List. 
Jaws!  Every time I come across it while flipping channels I watch it again.  Even if it's at the point when Roy climbs the mast and gets out the shotgun.  Every bit is good.
Aliens! The best of series, due to its emotional heft.  Plus Sigourney and major armament.  (I was personally offended when Ms. Weaver did that commercial in the yellow robot suit, cheapening the whole movie.) P.S.  Ignore Alien 3 entirely as it negates what happens in Aliens.
Batman! (Burton & Keaton, 1989)  Michael Keaton.  Who knew?  And Jack Nicholson lets loose like we know he always wanted to.
Ah, The Lion King!  They had me at the 5 minute preview.  A single set piece and it's more exciting than the entirety of many films.
Independence Day!  All you need to bring down alien spaceships is a laptop.  What the heck is taking so long on'V' ?
Terminator 2!  Linda Hamilton was not only completely ripped, she was nuts.  Add in time paradoxes and you've got some fun. 
So if the new movies just aren't doing it for you, try out some of these classics.  And relive the magic.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Murdering the English Language

What's the difference between Old English (not Olde as I might have supposed) and Middle English?  Old English had a base of German, with some Celt and Latin mixed in.  Spoken circa 500 to 1100, it was the berries.  So why jump to the Middle?  Remember 1066?  It's the only date I can remember from the period but I can never remember it's significance. Ha!  That's when the Normans totally took over England.  They were from France, and due to that they spoke French.  William the Conqueror, French, became king. Now the English upper class learned French in order to schmooze effectively.  Soon French words were being incorporated into English.  Then the Normans started marrying the English people and the Normans began speaking more English than French.  And that mess is the basis for Modern English.  Aren't you glad you asked?

Graphic Source: Karen's Whimsey
Source:  World Book 2006 vol. 6

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Glendale Cemetery

Just south of the Franklin Avenue Library - you know, the one that is being hugely renovated and expanded - you'll find Glendale Cemetery.  It's a lovely place, and for you history buffs here are a few facts.  1. The first burial took place in 1904.  2. At that time it was less than 100 acres in size.  3. The cemetery's mausoleum, at 60 feet by 150 feet, was one of the largest in the country when built.  4. The mausoleum was finished in 1912.  5. Former Vice President Henry Wallace is buried in Glendale Cemetery.  Wasn't that exciting?  Something to ponder the next time you take a stroll there.

Source: Fun Facts

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fine Cooking. Just Fine

Cooking from the 1950’s.  I have nothing against it.  I liked Jello and goulash and I still think baking powder biscuits are the best for strawberry shortcake.   It’s the cookbooks that disturb me. The photos make the food look like it's made out of something other than food, or it's been sitting there a loooong time.  Pineapple slices do not look good once they’ve congealed, and apparently they were very popular in the 50’s. Pineapples and cherries together? Heaven! Here's a book that explains how it all happened:

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pay Fines Online! Yippee!

I know, you didn’t mean to keep The Eternal Beauty of Grout an extra 3 days, it just happened. It happens to all of us. What if you won’t have a chance to stop at one of our libraries for weeks, and the mail takes too long? How to clean up your library account so it sparkles again? Well, if you have a MasterCard or Visa credit card you can pay online. Here’s how: from our home page click on My Stuff in the gray bar towards the top. The My Stuff page has an option to the left that says PAY FEES. Click on that , then click on Pay fines and fees online now.   Sign in with your library card number and PIN. You are good to go! Pay away!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Gargoyle. One of the Best Books I Read in 2009.

I read some astounding books in 2009.  Over the next few weeks I think I'll review a few for you. Sharing time!   First up:
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
Start with a gorgeous but morally bankrupt man who gets roasted in a car accident.  Follow with a graphic account of the  horrific burn treatment he has to undergo in order to heal.  And of course after all this he ain't pretty. Or happy. Now you get a crazy but-of-course gorgeous sculptress who makes weird art in a very weird way.  Then what's all this about a medieval nun and love gone wrong? Not to mention the Viking and, well, the other Viking. They're victims of cruel cruel love. It all hangs together beautifully and the historical bits are juicy in their detail. Lousy cover, but we mustn't judge, must we?
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

Friday, June 4, 2010


I went in for a massage and Kelly, the wonderful masseuse, was wearing a Floppy T-shirt.  She said she had worked on the Floppy show.  I said no way. She said way, she worked at WHO-TV as a floor director.  Sometimes she'd be behind the camera, sometimes out giving cues to the talent.  Kelly's a native Des Moinesian and grew up with Floppy. She was even one of the kids on the show!  So Floppy is a person to her.  Just like Miss Piggy is a person to me.  Which explains why she occasionally gave the cues to Floppy.  The show was live so cues had to be given by hand signals and Duane would be talking to the kids so he wasn't paying attention.  But the puppet was looking right at her, so Floppy got the alert.  Until she remembered to catch Duane's eye. Just one of the pitfalls of puppet shows. If you'd like to read more about the Floppy Show and Duane Ellet, here is a list of newspaper articles.  You can just pop in to the Central Library and read these on our microfilm!
The Floppy Papers

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Death of a Flower. Not a Poem

Our peonies took a beating from the storms Tuesday night.  They were a sorry sight, and as I always say in such situations, "That is an Ex-Peony!"  Because it's all I can remember from Monty Python's Dead Parrot Sketch. But I know there are many many colorful ways to relate the demise of a mashed flower.  Let's share! To describe the condition of the peony:
1. Passed on!
2. Is no more!
3. Has ceased to be!
4. Expired and gone to meet 'is maker!
5. Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace!
6. Pushing up the daisies! (Oh the irony)
7. 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory!
8. E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisibile!
Ah, they save the best for last.  Are you missing Monty Python yet?  Re-aquaint yourself using our collection.

Monty Python Videos and DVDs

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Another Beautiful Iowa Bird

The great blue heron.  Is this not a lovely bird?  My husband took the photo while on a kayak on the Des Moines River.  He was waiting for the heron to take flight, but it ignored him completely and instead he got a nice close-up photo.  Before the river took him out of range.  My husband, not the heron.  If the bird had taken off, following would not have been an option as they can do 30 miles per hour.  According to the Iowa DNR, "An adult great blue heron is 42 to 52 inches long. ... It has a low call of “frahnk,frawnk, frawnk"."  I'm guessing that is not a thing of beauty.  For more on Iowa birds, take a look at our books!
Iowa Bird Books
Some of these books will have the word 'Iowa' under 'Collection'. These cannot be checked out but you can use them in-house. There are still lots of books that check out!

Photo Courtesy Gerry Rowland

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

We're Back! Plus New Hours Reminder

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library are open today.  Yay!

Today is the first day for the new hours at two of our locations.

North Side Library:
Mon-Fri: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Forest Avenue Library:
Mon -Thu: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

These hours will continue until September 7th.

 Summer Reading starts June 14!