Friday, October 29, 2010

Trilogy of...Scary Stuff!

My new reliable horror author is Alexandra Sokoloff. Her stuff is a bit old- fashioned, which is refreshing. Sokoloff is fond of college students who get in waaay over their heads. Some don't get to keep them!  Ha!  Ooooh, dabbling in ESP and Ouija Boards and all sorts of The Haunting of Hill House creepies.  The novel that isn't a Shirley Jackson homage involves college students drawn into a cult by a charismatic, if cowardly, guy. The third book revolves around a sick child....and a bad hospital!! Ahhh!  Bad hospitals are full of sick people who aren't strong enough to help themselves, and other people won't believe them about crazy goings-on because the patients are in a hospital and may be imagining things! Man, just the thought of a bad hospital leaves me twitchy. Here are the three titles:
The harrowing
The price
The unseen

Crossword Puzzle Word of the Day

Part of the fun of working crosswords is that you figure out some of the words they use regularly, ones containing an unusual string of letters.   I mentioned Yma Sumac in a previous post - those crossword puzzle writers loooove her first name.  Comic Emo Philips' first name is another fave. You have to memorize these because they don't exactly crop up in casual conversation. (Yma Sumac.  Emo Philips.)  There are a few words that I know they're gonna use and for the life of me I can never remember them. Aglet is one.  Guess what that means.  Ennnh!  Whatever you guessed wasn't right because it is actually the cover on the tip of your shoelace.  Not the tip of the shoelace itself, but the little plastic bit that goes over the end.  Yet another word for something that really doesn't seem to need its very own name.  Here's a good one:  a person who works crossword puzzles is called a cruciverbalist.  When 'crossword puzzle fan' just won't do.

Crossword Puzzle Books
*Meriam Webster Online 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat for other Kids

Trick or Treat for UNICEF!  2010 is the 60th anniversary of this program, can you believe it?  Back in 1950 one Mary Emma Allison witnessed a UNICEF parade with costumed children and a banner proclaiming that one penny would buy 20 glasses of milk.  The costumes brought to mind Halloween when kids went door-to-door getting handouts anyway.  Mary Emma thought the little ones should carry small milk cartons for the contributions. Penny = milk.   She collected the cartons from school, washed them up and attached an orange band.  Repurposing, we like to call it.  And a lot of work.  Now they use nifty orange boxes and UNICEF has been receiving $4 million annually.   We'll see what happens in the future because they're introducing an iPhone app for donations.  Will the kids be going door to door with their phones?  Long live the little orange boxes!  People can donate all year on their phones.  Yay!

Source:  Morning Edition (NPR); 10/25/2010 as accessed through EbscoHost Student

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Scaaaaaary Jokes

What do you call a skeleton cow with a guitar?  A moosician!  See what I did there?  The original joke didn't have 'skeleton' in it and had nothing to do with Halloween.  Add skeleton, spider, ghost, zombie, mummy, black cat - any of these words and voila!  You have a seasonal funny.  Just like in the old sci-fi TV shows in which they didn't change the names of stuff, just put the word 'space' in front.  "Johnny, be sure to use you space toothbrush before you get into your space jammies."  Oh! Speaking of ghosts, what do you call a ghost with a guitar?  A boooosician.  I just made that up!  Can you tell?  Why did the mummy cross the road twice?  It was a double crosser!   What do you call a zombie with a banana in each ear?  Nothing, it can't hear you!  So if you need fresh yuks for Beggars' Night, get a joke book and change the names. The books are under the subject heading Wit and Humor, Juvenile.   Kind of appropriate, isn't it?

Wit and Humor, Juvenile

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Words of Wacky

You know why 'jokes' is there.  And caramel apples, scarecrows, etc.  But why "Princess Mask", you ask?  They were  full-face 3-dimensional masks with rosy pink cheeks, blonde hair and blue eyes.  Guess who never got to wear one for Halloween.  The poor little brown-eyed brown-haired girl with the really thick glasses. I didn't care if I could see (in the dark, running down the side streets). I just wanted a princess mask.   One the one hand, disappointed. On the other hand, still alive.  Here's a book we could have used way back when:

Illegally easy Halloween costumes for kids : 100 costumes with simple patterns, no-sew shortcuts, last-minute solutions, treat bags & accessories
Graphic source:  Wordle

Monday, October 25, 2010

Geese V

Not the TV show. (Is that still on?) Although I think Alien Geese could be fun.  Their weapons would sound like quack-ack-ack-ack.  Back to our story!  It's the time of year when you see the geese flying overhead in the calm twilight and they just make me happy.  I do wonder why they fly in a V formation, aside from the fact that it looks snazzy.  Firstly it's easier on the flock in this formation as the geese in front do the heavy lifting and the others can glide a little with the wind resistance reduced. They take turns in the lead, there's no ubergoose. No one wants an ubergoose. It's also easier for them to see each other in a V rather than in a straight line or a cloud.  Because each goose flies a little above the one in front of it.  Trust me, it all makes sense.  To a goose.

This book looks amazing if you're into the whole bird movement:
The atlas of bird migration : tracing the great journeys of the world's birds
Graphic and Information Source:  Library of Congress

Friday, October 22, 2010

Yes, We Have NO Bedbugs, We Have NO Bedbugs Today! Or Ever!

Why would we even mention this, you ask?  Apparently there is concern out there in the metro that perhaps one of the libraries has been invaded.  Would you like a little reassurance about the six locations of the Des Moines Public Library?  We are clean as a whistle and fresh as a daisy.  Thank goodness as they completely freak me out.  In July the insects were found in the Armory Building (not City Hall) but that problem has been rectified.  As in the bedbugs are dead. You can visit your local library safe in the knowledge that, well, we have no bedbugs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Truth About Holds

 Using your awesome computer skills, you have put a reserve on I kissed a zombie, and I liked it, which is currently available at the South Side Library.  You jump on your scooter, speed to South Side, check the holds shelf and ...what?  Your book is not waiting for you!  What is up with that?  Here's how our hold process works: "we retrieve materials from our shelves at least twice per day and we deliver items among branches, but there may be a delay in getting your hold on the shelf waiting for you. Please wait until you have been notified the item is available. If you need something more immediately, please call (515) 283.4152, extension 3 and speak with one of our librarians about expedited service."  So if you don't need it right this second, go ahead and reserve your heart's desire online.  But if 'right this second' is your time frame, give us a call!
How do I reserve a title...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Not CD's with music.  How old can they be?  Mid-1980's?  No, we're talking about old Des Moines City Directories.  Then as now they were published by R. L. Polk and are stuffed with fun info.  In the 1911 edition occupations were listed alongside one's name, including occupations you don't see much anymore.  By browsing alone I found four people, including Ora B. Kinsell, who were wrappers at Younker Bros Inc.  They must have employed an army of them.  What on earth were they wrapping?  Margaret A. Corcoran's listing identifies her as a 'Corsetiere'.  At The Corset Shop, of course.  Then there's Chester L.Tish, Puncher at D M Bridge & Iron Wks. Clinton Taylor held the position of baggage man with the C R I & P Ry (Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railway)  Mrs. Emily Fike was an Osteopath!  Can't have been too many females in that profession in 1911.  It's all in the old City Directories, people.  Available at the Central Library, 1000 Grand Avenue.
Des Moines City Directories

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today in Arthur Godfrey History

Arthur Godfrey was chugging along, folksy darling of the airwaves.  He had seamlessly switched from radio to TV and was the only person to ever to have "two top-rated programs run simultaneously in prime time for an extended period.  Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts aired on Mondays and Arthur Godfrey and His Friends on Wednesdays for eight-and-a-half seasons."  Talent Scouts trotted out new entertainers, had them perform and then the audience rated them via an applause meter.  Sound familiar?  Only there hasn't been an Arthur Godfrey equivalent on American Idol because this guy was adored.  He wouldn't even endorse a sponsor's product if he didn't like it.  So folksy. Among the talents scouted:  Rosemary Clooney, Tony Bennett, Leslie Uggams and Patsy Cline. These people had careers. His variety show employed a stable of regulars including Pat Boone, the McGuire Sisters and Julius LaRosa.  Guess what?  On this date in 1953, Godfrey fired Julius LaRosa on air.  It's not like he thought they weren't broadcasting or that the mikes were off, he just got mad and fired the guy.  Said the singer lacked humility. Oh, how the mighty fell.  As you can guess this had an adverse effect on his career and he ended his days no longer adored. Current reality TV relies on contestants being berated at every turn.  Arthur Godfrey. Ahead of his time or just a guy who lost it on TV? 

Source: Gale Biography in Context
Graphic Source:  NASA

Monday, October 18, 2010


There are words you don't hear here in Des Moines.  Two of these are 'hosey' and 'do-funny'.  Guess what they mean.  Give up?  'Hosey' is an East Coast (Massachusetts anyway) term for 'call' or 'hog' when hog is used as a verb. Instead of 'I call a window seat'! and Don't hog the TV!' one would say 'hosey'.  I like that word.  It couldn't be mistaken for anything else.  Neither could 'do-funny'.  During my childhood whenever there were left-over pie crust pieces we would spread jam on them, fold them over and bake.  That was a do-funny. Dee-licious.  Haven't found anyone outside my family who uses that word.  Yet.  I know you're out there. Reading books like this:
Ballyhoo, buckaroo, and spuds : ingenious tales of words and their origins

Friday, October 15, 2010

Possibly the Best Horror Novel of which You've Never Heard

The Ceremonies!  T. E. D. Klein is not prolific but when he writes the result is extraordinary.  Inexplicable acts connect with unimaginable beings! The sense of doom -never spelled out, just implied - has you nervously hunched over the book waiting for disaster.  Like Lovecraft, to whom he owes a debt, this is truly American horror grounded in the national character. That is, we work hard and expect the visible to be solid and real.  The villain is a pleasant, reassuring old man named Rosie who was contacted as a boy by something nasty. He is cute as a button and setting things in motion for the emergence of his horrifying non-human master!  Fans of Peter Straub's supernatural works will enjoy this.  I only wish the man would write more often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The First All-Woman TV Show

You didn't even know there was one, did you?  That's OK, neither did I.  This one only caught my eye because of the nifty name.  "The Ina Ray Hutton Show"!  I realize there have been performers with less euphonious names, but Ina Ray Hutton is in a glamour-less category of its own. They weren't  kidding around with the all-female bit.  This variety show centered on Ina Ray Hutton and Her All-Girl Band.  Ina Ray conducted, sang, danced.  And you know all the guests were women, including Rose Marie and crossword mainstay Yma Sumac.  The show was subtitled 'No Men Allowed'.  That wouldn't fly today but neither would 'All-Girl Band'.  The show only lasted from July-September 1956 so you'd think its existence wouldn't even be noted.  But you have not met the mighty mighty Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows.  There may be no show too obscure for its pages.  Or too oddly named.

Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My Honey Forever

Why forever?  Because honey does not spoil.  You can buy it the latest Wii, Ipad, a shopping spree at the mall, doesn't matter.  Honey will take it all in stride and remain its sweet-natured self.  Are you ready for this?  They found honey in King Tut's tomb and it hadn't spoiled.  Crystallized maybe, but still edible.  Wonder who tasted it?  That lucky duck got a helping of the antioxidants which are prevalent in honey, especially the darker varieties.  Plus honey may decrease blood lipids!  It encourages the good bacteria in the digestive system!  King Tut!  Yeah, I knew I was losing you with the health stuff.  Tut!

Oklahoma Today; Nov/Dec2007, Vol. 57 Issue 6, p152-152,
Environmental Nutrition; Apr2005, Vol. 28 Issue 4, p8-8
as accessed through EBSCOhost

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We are back with a Generator

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library are open their usual hours today.  Plus I found a new sign generator!  If a tree holds a sign in the woods does anyone read it?   Think of the possibilities!  You could put 2 trees side by side - Duck Season!  Wabbit Season! 

Save a Tree Sign Generator

Monday, October 11, 2010

Closed Today for Inservice

We will open again tomorrow Tuesday October 12, our usual hours.  I was amazed to learn that there is a city in Georgia named Columbus!  Not only that, it's one of the Top 100 Places to Live in 2010.  Just like Des Moines!  Columbus Georgia boasts the headquarters of two companies you've heard of, one ad nauseum.  Carmike Cinemas and AFLAC.  Guess which one is ubiquitous?
RelocateAmerica's Top 100 Places to Live in 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Closed Monday October 11th

All six locations of the Des Moines Public Library will be closed Monday October 11 for a staff in-service day.  Plus it's Columbus Day. The Post Office and banks in general will also be closed.
By federal law Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October.  President Franklin Roosevelt declared Columbus Day a holiday in 1937.  But it was first celebrated in New York City in 1792. 
Source:  InfoPlease Almanac

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Knit? Why Knot? Haha!

It's going to get cold soon.  Very cold and for a long time. You know what you need? Scarves!  And lots of them!  It's time you learned how to make your own.  Pick out happy colors, weight, style, length.  Imagine wrapping up in a soft warm homemade scarf. Sigh. They also make lovely gifts!  When you get really proficient you can crank those babies out and have a year's worth of gifts made in no time.  I don't knit or crochet, but I'm sure you'll be a whiz!  Because you have hand-eye coordination!  Did I mention the holidays are on their way?  Plus scarves are oh-so au courant.  Have I talked you into it yet?  I'm getting close to talking me into it. Read some Scarf Books.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

There Once was a Girl Named Kate Shelley

And an amazing heroic girl she was. Near Boone, Iowa Kate risked life and limb to save the lives of a trainful of travelers. So incredible was she that one Eugene J. Hall was moved to write a poem about her.  Here are a few of the more colorful lines:

She was only eighteen, but a woman in size,
With a figure as graceful and lithe as a doe,
With peach-blossom cheeks, and with violet eyes,
And teeth and complexion like new-fallen snow; (Obviously her photos do not do her justice.)
The scream of a whistle; the rush of a train!  
A rumble! a roar! shrieks of human affright! This is the second use of the word 'shrieks' in the poem.)
She reaches the river--the water below
Whirls and seethes through the timbers.
She shudders again;"The bridge!
To Moingona, God help me to go!"

This (and much much more) appears in the book Poems Teachers Ask For which is available in its entirety online from the folks at Project Gutenberg.  The romantic nature of the poem threw me off but I have nothing but respect for Kate Shelley herself.  She's like Iowa's Amazon.  Only with more clothes.
Kate Shelley and the midnight express, a biography written for children.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Groovy Man

Vinyl records are groovy.  And 'cool' and 'sweet' and 'awesome' in my opinion.  But the groovy part is fact!  If you've seen really old record albums you might've noticed how thick the rings are.  The 'microgroove' was developed  in 1948 and its further refinement led to the shiny smooth vinyl we know and cherish today.  As of 1976, here's how many grooves they were sandwiching in:
Average: 250 grooves to the inch
7" record - 1,750 grooves
12" record - 3,000 grooves
After all this grooving don't you just feel like pulling out the old hip huggers, beads and... Oh. Right.  You can get all that at Penney's. Again.  I heard vinyl's making a comeback too. Wonder how many grooves there are now?

Monday, October 4, 2010


Kids these days.  What with their texting and their Twittering and running their lives through their phones.  Why, back in the day people got excited when they no longer had to go through a switchboard operator to be connected to the party with whom they wished to speak.  Speak, as in saying things out loud.  At approximately 2:30 A. M. on Sunday July 28, 1929, the telephones of all but 12,000 Des Moines Residents were switched to 'dial tone' service.  The 12,000 residents of "the old Drake area, or new fifth and seventh area"  were slated to receive their dial tones in 5 to 7 years. The project lasted one and one half years and cost $4,000,000. The telephone company at the time was Northwestern Bell.  A dial tone.  That was a thrill ride.
Source: Des Moines Tribune, 7/27/1929, p.1, p.2

Friday, October 1, 2010

My Hero!

What would your name be if you were a superhero?  There's a generator for that.  All the names are male but let's face it so are most B-Movie heroes.  Male, that is.  My name doesn't sound very action-packed:  Brewster Corbett.  How could they tell I'm a librarian?  Here are a few people I subjected to this process:
A.  Male Librarian:  Blake Chesthair
B.  One of My Sisters:  Sebastian Petitjean  (Okay, maybe it's my family not my profession.)
C.  Non-Librarian Library Employee:  Captain Fisthammer!  That one had to have an exclamation point!
D.  Retired Male Librarian:  Perry Bravethunder
E.  Vegetarian  Librarian:  Derak Beefgnaw
F.  Female School Librarian:  Bradley Vanderhuge
Of course they could tell I'm a librarian!  Everyone I know is a librarian!    Fortunately, terrific people work in libraries.
Now go get your very own name. Cape not included. Or batteries.
You can also gorge yourself on Superhero comic books, strips, etc.!