Monday, February 28, 2011

Who Knew They Had an Anthem?

OK, this is according to Mrs. J. L. Vaughter, a delegate to the International P.E.O. Convention in 1953. She reported that the following was printed in the convention program:
The PEO Anthem:
(Sing the below to the tune of “My Country ‘tis of Thee”.)
Two empires by the sea
Two nations great and free, one anthem raised
One race of ancient fame.
One tongue, one faith, we claim.
One god whose glorious name we love to praise.

It's not the secret handshake, but does the P.E.O. even have one? That's right, mysteries upon mysteries.
Here are some books about Secret Societies. And we let you check them out. But we're still a library so no yelling out of secrets. Take that stuff outside.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sports Talk

No, literally. Whilst researching a baseball question, I came across a book about words and phrases used in the world of sports. Most of them were pretty ordinary, "drag your feet", "vie for", and so on. But just for you I found some unusual entries.
1. Deke: to deke someone. (Aren't definitions helpful?) It's an odd little word for ' fake out'. And we're not even done! "See also: Juke". Deke comes from 'decoy', which makes sense. Juke means an evasive movement. And Juke comes from 'jouk' which means to bow or duck the head. Nice lineage.
2. Draw the collar: to have nothing to show for your efforts; to strike out. Get this - it comes from the shape of a horse's collar which is circular like a zero. So colorful! Or should I say collarful! No!  But I did anyway!
3. Rhubarb: a heated argument, a fight on the field that empties the bench. This use of the word was popularized by sportscaster Red Barber. OK it does just get better and better. The origin is from the theater, no less. Or maybe the movies. Actors in a crowd scene who are just supposed to sound like they are having a conversation walk around mumbling "rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb..." .
Sigh. I love words. You can find more in:

Dictionary of Sports Idioms

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mystery Novels of the Award-Winning Kind

Ah, The Edgar Awards.   Named for Edgar Allen Poe and presented in Spring by the Mystery Writers of America, these awards are considered the most prestigious in the field.  And I, not known as a high-class reader of literature, have actually picked some up. And opened them!  Here they are and I highly recommend these.

Best First Novel by an American Author: In the Woods by Tana French  2008
Three kids disappear in the Irish woods, only one is found.  Twenty years later he's a law officer working on a similar case.  At the end some questions remain unanswered, but overall it's satisfying.   Nice and weird.

Best Novel: Bones by Jan Burke (Simon & Schuster)   2000
My friend stopped reading it as soon as she got to the boot with the foot still in it.  Sign me up!  Lots of good characters offset the gore. Part of the Irene series - read them all!  The rest aren't as bloody.

Best Paperback Original: Fade Away by Harlan Coben (Dell)  1997
Third in the Myron Bolitar series, this deals with his painful past as a former athlete and the person who put him in the 'former' category.  Lots of snappy dialogue.

Best Novel: The Sculptress by Minette Walters (St. Martin's Press)    1994
Minette Walters!  She is the Queen of twisty mysteries.  In this case Olive is in prison for the ax murders of her mother and sister.  Rosalind is assigned to write a book about her and starts to doubt Olive's guilt.  But who's playing whom? Mwwa ha ha ha ha.

Best First Novel: The Black Echo by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown) 1993  In the first Harry Bosch novel, Harry investigates the death of a former fellow 'tunnel rat', a soldier sent to kill Viet Cong living and working underground.  Literally underground.  Starts simple, gets hairy.  Just the way I like it.

List of all The Edgar Award Winners

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Collectors and Collecting - Are You a Fan?

What do you collect?  Besides dust, I mean.  Har! Oh, the comedy.  Isn't it great when people you know collect things?  You never have to worry about what presents to get for them!  My mother was having nothing of it.   At one point she liked a particular style of gnome figurine but when she got three the edict was issued.  No more gnomes!  Stop it!   So I get a kick out of people who can't get enough snow globes, thimbles from foreign countries, novelty spoons. I leave you with a tale of a collection that caused considerable confusion.  A friend collected fans.  Cool, you say!  (Ha! Ha!)  One could buy her paper, lace,  folding fans, fans made for weddings that have the bride and groom's faces on it... except that she collected old electric fans.  They're ugly and they don't work.  Doesn't keep them from being collectible!
More scintillating objet d'art/tchocke posts to come.

Guide for a beginner's collection : Coin Collecting for Dummies

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ebooks - Bring 'em Back Alive!

You can return you ebooks before they are due! Is that not amazing? OK, it might not sound amazing but since you can't return downloadable audio books before they are due, this is a shiny new feature for us. And a bonus for you because you are limited in how many books can  be checked out and if one's returned you can get another book! Keep 'em coming. Returning takes a few steps, but it's worth it!

Step 1. Open the Adobe Digital Editions software on your computer. Make sure your device is connected, too.
Step 2. If necessary, navigate to the Library View, All Items. You want to see the book you are returning in the right-hand panel. Once it is there, click on it to make it active. You will see a small right-facing arrow next to your book.
Step 3. Drop down the menu and click.
Step 4. Click Return Borrowed Item.

For more information on ebooks, click on our Step-by-Step Guide

Monday, February 21, 2011

Closed Presidents' Day

All six locations of the Des Moines Pubic Library are closed today.  The staff's not being paid; it's a furlough day due to budget cuts.  Speaking of pay, George Washington made $25,000 per year as president.  Bill Clinton received $200,000.  George W. Bush made $400,000 per year as does President Obama today.  Of course these numbers do not include inflation.  Here is a sample from a few years ago:  President Henry Hoover's salary of $75,000 equaled approximately $1,000,000 in 2007 dollars.  Yowsah.

Sources:  National Park Service
Principles of Macroeconomics

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hey Lally Lally (Plus Closed Monday for Presidents' Day)

They use fun words in the construction biz.  I was describing a problem in our house to a friend and he said, "Yeah, I imagine they'll just put up your lally".  OK.  Turns out your lally would be: "a concrete-filled cylindrical steel structural column".  Huh.  At least there's no gagging.  Other entertaining construction terms:
Astragal- Not a Superhero.  "A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging double doors, against which the other door strikes."  Astragal would never allow herself to be struck in the manner!
Corbel- Not a misspelled alcoholic beverage.  "The triangular, decorative and supporting member that holds a mantel or horizontal shelf."  Both decorative and supporting.  That's a keeper.
Muntin- Not a resident of Oz.  "A small member which divides the glass or openings of sash or doors."  Actually a Munchkin could be a small member - of the Lollypop Guild!

Our books on Architectural Terms

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reba Whittle Tobiason Was the Only One

Reba Whittle Tobiason, a flight nurse, was the only military person of female persuasion to be held as a POW by the Germans in WWII after her evacuation flight was shot down in 1944. The imprisonment apparently flummoxed the U. S. government, as it did not acknowledge her status as a POW.  You'd think it would have been fairly straightforward since everyone agreed she had been held captive.  Whittle Tobiason was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart in 1945 soooo.... it's not like no one knew she existed. They even had an inkling of her heroism Finally in 1992 she was  recognized as a POW.  Unfortunately 2nd Lt. Reba WhittleTobiason died in January 1981.  Here's to you, Reba Whittle Tobiason.  You spent 4 months in Stalag Luft 9 and even managed to administer to the sick and wounded while detained.  And in 1992 you took your rightful place in history.
Des Moines Tribune 1/30/1981 p. 15

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More to Love

Have you declared your Love for Your Library yet?  Here's what you do: Tell us in twenty-five words or less why you love your library and you can be entered in a drawing for a dozen free cookies from Gateway Market! The first 1,000 entries will receive a free LOVE My DMPL decal to proudly display on your car, on your desk, or anywhere else you wish. Within reason. You can enter online or in print just click I Love DMPL for more information.
What is there to love?  Let's look at a total from all 6 locations. On February 7 if you added up all the books, magazine titles, movies, music, special collections, you arrive at the sizeable number of 559,688.  Of which 419,033 are books.  Printed. On paper.  And they check out like crazy!  Because you love us!  Never stop.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who Was That Guy?

Did you watch the Grammy show Sunday?  The performances were sizzlin'!   Who knew Cee Lo Green would literally take up Elton John's mantle?  For those of you wondering about the old dude who shuffled onstage, croaked out some unintelligible phrases and then played the harmonica a bit, it was Bob Dylan! Dylan was once so influential that the music scene went nuts when he switched from acoustic to electric guitar.  Nuts. Could you believe Mick Jagger!  The energy! The man jerked around the stage just like he did 40 years ago.  Quite the contrast between the two legends.  And not unlike Dylan, Jagger never really sang, well, melodiously.  So the change in vocal quality from their earlier performances wasn't unbearable. Quite the night.  We have many CD's of these two gentlemen's work.  Help yourself.
Bob Dylan
Jagger/Rolling Stones

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day to Everybody!

When I was a sprout in grade school, here's what happened.  You brought a shoebox to class, decorated it and put a slit in the top.  Then every child put a Valentine in every box.  Even if somebody cheated you still got lots of Valentines.  That was nice.  This is my Valentine To Everybody.
How lame is that?  Just like most Valentines!  Now you can have a great day not worrying about whether you get a card.  Because you just got one!  Yippee!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Looove Songs

What are your favorite looove songs?  Or are you lookin' for love songs in all the wrong places?  The library can fix you up.  Here are some of my favorites, in case you are overwhelmed by the options!

A House is not a Home  Dionne Warwick.   Lovely and melancholy. 

Since I Fell for You  Al Jarreau.   Lovely and less melancholy. 

I Would Die 4 U  Prince.   Bouncy!  Speedy!  Dancey!  I would make a dwarf joke but Prince is pretty short so out of my great sensitivity to the issue I will refrain. 

Maybe I'm Amazed  Paul McCartney.   So beautiful.  Deep in requited love. 

Total Eclipse of the Heart  Bonnie Tyler.   Yearning;  Belting;  Bonus Falsetto. 

Just the Way you Are  Bruno Mars.   Unabashedly Romantic. 

OK, now I have to go listen to I would Die 4 U.  By the man who was born to text.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Looove Poem???

Part of  A Love Poem from Ogden Nash:
To My Valentine
More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That's how much I love you.

I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than a gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.

Ah, the man could sweep a girl off her feet.  But only by using a broom. 

Ogden Nash Poetry

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Looove Poem

Ahem.  "To Celia" by Ben Johnson
Stanza the first:
Drink to me only with thine eyes
And I will pledge with mine.
Or leave a kiss within the cup
And I'll not ask for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sip,
I would not change for thine.

Lovely, isn't it?  Unfortunately I can't read it without the sound of a very sour young voice singing in my head.  You see, all I learned about the classics came from cartoons.  This one featured a young owl who had a chance to sing on the radio and he wanted to warble: "I love to singa, about the moona and the junea and the springa...".  But his classically inclined parents forced him to sing "Driiiink to me on-ly wi-ith thine eeeeeeeeyes..." He wasn't happy and sang it very badly.  As you can see this made quite an impression on me.  Warner Bros. Cartoons.  Teaching the classics one owl at a time.

Books of looove poems
Warner Bros. Cartoons

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Touch of Politics

Just a tiny one.  Plus religion!  Two subjects you are not supposed to discuss at the dinner table for the price of one.  In 1885 a Republican from Ft. Dodge, one state Senator Jonathan Dolliver, declared:  "When Iowa goes Democratic, hell will go Methodist".  I'm not sure how he defined 'go Democratic', but I do wonder if hell went Calvinistic?  Fun Dolliver fact: he was considered a candidate to run for the Vice-Presidency in 1900 but bowed out when he heard Teddy Roosevelt was willing to take the nomination.  Either way an impressive mustache would have been featured in the campaign.

Source:  Des Moines Register, 7/25/1998 p 1M
Amazing Iowa / Janice Beck Stock

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dawning of the Age of Confusion

Did your astrological sign change?  Yeah, whose didn't, those were pretty significant shifts. And there's a new one - Ophiuchus!   So exciting!  I even know how to pronounce it because years ago I read the Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley.  Great concept - suppose aliens didn't think humans were the smartest/best/coolest species on the planet?  Maybe because we believe in astrology.  Oh, it's pronounced o-FEE-oo-kus.  So I always thought my sign fit me pretty well.  I'm ready to look up the new one, let's see what the traits of a ... not even close.  Below find a link to a TIME site that will tell you if you have a new sign, then you can use our books to discover what it all means.  And when nothing matches up, ask yourself:  has the cosmos gone mad?????
TIME Newsfeed
Our Astrology Books

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just Guess What This Is

This, my friends, is one Coendou prehensilis or Prehensile-tailed Porcupine.  The coendu was photographed walking along a branch in 1928 on the Barro Colorado Island in Panama, minding its own business.  Given the extreme level of unattractiveness and the naked tail I would have guessed it for a relative of the opossum.   But coendus roll into a ball when threatened and they are nocturnal like our prettier but scary porcupines.  So I will have to concede the porcupine essence of the creature.  By the way "Little is known about courtship and mating interactions between the sexes."  I'm OK with that.  And who says 'opossum' anyway? 

Source:  University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
The Field Museum

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow What?

This looks familiar, right?  Someone drew a snowman in the snow and took a black and white picture. Nope.  It is an impact crater on Mars!  But are they sure?  Remember the whole Face-on-Mars thing?  This could totally be a message from a highly advanced race of snowpeople.  Or it could be what the caption describes: "Scientists ... have discovered a crater that appears to have formed on Mars in the past 20 or so Earth years, and have used it and several other similar craters to estimate the present cratering rate on Mars." I'm all for figuring out the cratering rate. I mean, we have to know!  But the alien snowman theory is way cooler.

NASA Planetary Photo Journal Collection
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/MSSS

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BIG STARS, small movies

These movies are small now anyway.  Entertaining, good plots, but not the first movie you think of when these names come up.  The stars are mighty 'o big though! 

The Gift   Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves  Finally the perfect use for Reeves' blank eyes.  He's terrifying as a bad guy.

Taking Lives   Angelina Jolie. Nice and twisty, and she isn't as scared as the DVD cover would have you believe.  C'mon, it's AJ!

The Game   Michael Douglas plays a powerful man (oh, the stretching!) but the game - or is it a game??? - may pull him down.

Fun films for staying indoors.  Which we may be doing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mayhem You May have Missed

These are thrillers from the silver screen that weren't your huge hits.  No blocks were busted.  No boffo to be had.  But they are very good. 

Frailty    Bill Paxton.  A father took his sons out demon-hunting.  But were the targets demons or just plain folks?  The effect on the brothers is devastating.

The forgotten    Julian Moore.  How could everyone forget she had a child?  But all evidence of her son is gone!  Imagination?  Or something more sinister...

The reckoning   Willem Dafoe and Paul Bettany. Ooooooh.  This is the coolest movie ever. In Medieval England a troupe of actors, including a runaway priest, pull a Hamlet before there was a Hamlet.  They solve a local murder and put on a play depicting the act.  Not exactly Judy and Mickey in a barn.  I should re-watch this.

Enjoy these strange, intense B-list movies!