Friday, May 30, 2008

Fun Last Names

We have a book, New Dictionary of American Family Names, that explains the meaning of last names. Some are obvious, connected to place names. Oxford, "one who came from Oxford". Colton, "one who came from Colton". You get the idea.
One the other hand, some meanings are less usual. In other words, my favorites:

Krupa "one with some real or imagined resemblance to a grain of barley." How do you look like barley?

Sikora "one with some real or fancied resemblance to a titmouse". Okay, looking like a titmouse seems a little more likely. Especially if it's 'fancied'.

Rau, Rauh "one who carried himself in a graceful manner OR one with unusual body hair" An unexpected pair of meanings.

Diduch "One likened to a good, helping gnome in Ukranian demonology". Cool!

There is nothing like having an interesting name, and congratulations to those of you who do! The Central Library has a copy of this entertaining book. It does not check out, but stop in and take a look. Or call us at 283-4152 and press 3 if you'd like to have us look up your name!

Source: New Dictionary of Family Names

Thursday, May 29, 2008

More Amazing Movie Stuff!

The American Film Institute tracks a variety of movie facts and/or opinions. Today's lesson is What are some of the 100 Winning Movie Quotes from some sort of survey they conducted. You've got you're "Toto, I've got a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore" and "You talking to me?", numbers 4 and 10 respectively. Let's scroll down the list... good golly! Even the bottom-of-the-barrel quotes are horribly familiar. Here's the closest I could find to 'lesser known'.

On Golden Pond
"Listen to me, mister. You're my knight in shining armor. Don't you forget it."

42nd Street
"Sawyer, you're going out a youngster, but you've got to come back a star!"
(Do they mean the guy from Lost?)

And here's what they list for Caddyshack ...
"Cinderella story. Outta nowhere. A former greenskeeper, now, about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac…It's in the hole! It's in the hole! It's in the hole!"
...when everybody knows the real quote from Caddyshack is "So I got that goin' for me. Which is nice."

Click here to connect to the AFI site. FYI, they want you to register:

Hey, why don't you comment with your favorite movie quotes? Surprise me!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sydney Pollack

I can't believe Sydney Pollack's gone. He was only 74. I just saw him in Michael Clayton, turning in his usual excellent performance. The film I most remember him from is Tootsie, it was hilarious watching him tangle with Dustin Hoffman. (Yeah, I'm old.) He just seemed like a regular guy, very relatable. Pollack earned Oscars for Best Film and Best Direction, for Out of Africa, 1986. He directed They Shoot Horses, Don't They?; 1969; The Way We Were 1973; The Firm 1993. What a range! He will be missed as both actor and director. Other movies of note:

Michael Clayton
This Property is Condemned
Three Days of the Condor
Absence of Malice

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Worst Movie with the Best Cast

Here's something fun for your first day back at work. Have you seen the 1998 movie The Avengers? If you haven't you must, if only to test your cinematic fortitude. We all know Uma and Sean have been in some stinkers, but for the most part they are respected actors. And Ralph Fiennes has an excellent track record. Either no one read the script or this seemed a lot better on paper. The acting is abysmally over-the-top or nonexistent. Poor Fiennes apparently decided to ignore the fact he was in the movie at all and went to his happy place. Thurman was confused, the plot made no sense, (even in a we-meant-to-do-that way) and-and- the bears...oh, the bears.
Mercifully we have it on VIDEO, not DVD. Full-screen might make your head explode. But maybe even the Video would have that effect. Try it!

The views expressed in this blog do not express those of the library. No kidding.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Merle Hay, the soldier

A Memorial Day Story

Merle Hay was only 21 years old when he died.

He was a sentry at a trench near Bathelmont, France on November 3, 1917 when a German raiding party attacked. Two other men, Bethel Greshem and Tom Enright, died in the same attack. The three men became the first Americans to die in World War I.

Hay's view that night was barbed wire stretched over a bare hillside. Another sentry spoke to him, asking Hay if he thought he'd last the night. Hay replied he didn't know.

He was killed hours later. Merle Hay had only enlisted in World War I six month earlier.

I'd always known the name Merle Hay, first American/Iowan to die in World War I. I had no idea he was so young.

Source: Des Moines Register 11/29/1967

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Last of All

The 'first' of something is usually not too hard to find. First airplane, first antibiotic, first appearance of the Beatles in the US. But what about the last of things? Aha! Hadn't thought of that, had you? Well-rounded library system that we are, we can work with the lasts as well as the firsts. Let's pick some at random. Last U.S. president to wear knee britches at his inauguration: James Monroe. Stylin' as usual. Last date of the comic strip Bloom County: August 6, 1989. Can it really be that long ago? Shirley Jackson's last completed novel (which I HIGHLY recommend): We Have Always Lived in the Castle 1963. And where did I find all this you ask? Why, in the handy-dandy reference book Notable Last Facts. So when you need to stump your know-it-all friends, give us a call and we'll find you something REALLY obscure. And I don't mean know-it-all in a bad way. I myself am a know-it-all. But on me it's funny.

Source: Notable last facts : a compendium of endings, conclusions, terminations, and final events throughout history. pps. 161; 70; 205

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One of My Favorite Books: The Anubis Gates

The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers.

How do I review this without giving away the whole thing? Oh wait. I can't give away the whole thing when the book is almost indescribable. So here goes: Brendan Doyle, a William Ashbless scholar, agrees to guide a tour on a secret trip back in time to the early 19th century. He immediately gets lost and discovers he does not have a clue about surviving on the streets of the England of 1810. He gets involved with a group of thieves whose leader is a clown on stilts, is pursued by the spoon sized boys, meets a body jumper and encounters fire elementals who are deeply interested in his shoes. Confused? Totally worth it. The Anubis Gates reads at a very fast pace, has a lovely time paradox at the end, and all this fits together exquisitely. Powers has a talent for making a twist in the real world and following the lines of change that explode outward. Imaginative and funny! Weird! What more could you ask for? Well you're going to get a lot more; this is guaranteed a reading experience like no other. In a good way.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Last Clown out of the Car

So you've had days like this, right? Shake off the feeling of being squished in the back of a toy car for hours. What you need is a good laugh. How about a Howard Hawks film festival?

His Girl Friday
I Was a Male War Bride
Bringing Up Baby
The Thing From Another World Ha! Just making sure you were paying attention. Howard Hawks did produce this film. It may not be hi-larious, but it is mighty entertaining. Lots of good tension throughout most of the movie, but the monster is sooo not scary. Have I talked you into seeing it yet? Don't make me tell you who plays the monster.

Monday, May 19, 2008

And Today's Link Is...

Scads of information await you, jewel-like, through our Web Page. Have you ever tried this? Click on 'Search', in the upper left of the home page. Click on 'Recommended Links'. Scroll down and you can see a gathering of our links by subject. Sports, Calendars, Grant Seeking, wowee! These links have been chosen by our librarians, they're all good stuff. Let's start with something near and dear to our hearts - Iowa Authors! Look at all of them! Sure, not all of them wrote best sellers, but by gorn they got published. A favorite is Charles Tazewell, who wrote The Small One: a Story for Those Who Love Christmas and Small Donkeys. Can you tell it's a children's book? The actual Disney film company made an actual film of it. Actually, it was a short film (25 minutes) but hey, it's a short book. If you see an author that piques your interest, just copy and paste their name into our catalog and see what we've got.
Click here to go directly to the Iowa Authors List.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

Time for summer shoes! If you can't wear wildly colorful shoes in the summer when can you? Look at that sparkle! As a bonus you'll be easy to find in the dark. And if you like white, did you know the no-white-shoes-before-memorial-day-or after-labor-day rule is kaput? No less an authority than Emily Post (the current incarnation) says you can wear white all year. Go nuts! You can wear white on Halloween and not even be in costume. Emily goes on to say the fabric is what matters; lighter in warm months and heavier in cold. It's just possible we may have been able to figure that part out for ourselves. Doesn't apply to shoes that much anyway. But you have to give the woman credit, she did let go of the white-shoes rule after all this time. Now she may have to give up the no-high-heels-with-jeans rule. Poor thing.

Source: Emily Post's Etiquette, 17th ed. p. 58

Friday, May 16, 2008

Nomade turns nomad

Have you see the sculpture on the grounds of the Pappajohn Education Center? Artist Juame Plensa's Nomade is a giant sitting man made of steel letters that have been painted white. The front is open - his legs don't meet, the head is not complete. You can walk inside him! When you see the sculpture, look at Nomade from several directions. From one it seems the head and legs are solid, from the other you can see they are open. Nomade leaves in about 5 months for a 4-month gig in Michigan, (here's where the nomad part comes in) so now is a good time to see him. If you get a chance, check it out both during the day and at night. Totally different.

Source: Des Moines Register

Photo credits Gerry Rowland

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Heston Connection

Back in the 80's the late Charleton Heston made an appearance in Des Moines. This Des Moines. He was promoting his movie, Mountain Men, and delighting the locals with his dapper self. This photo is from the Des Moines Register July 23, 1980. Heston is in the airport shaking the hand of one Amy Griggs, who is in turn supported by her father Keith. Speaking of Keiths, (segue!) Brian Keith was Heston's costar in the movie. So you know it was manly. On the other hand, Victory Jory had a minor part. Victor Jory? ?
Update: We do have Mountain Men in our DVD collection, and here are 3 other Heston Westerns:

Will Penny
Major Dundee
Three Violent People

Information provided by LuAnn Rowat, Circulation Department, East Side Library

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Aftermath of Senioritis

These are not the carefree seniors we know. What happened? Too many rounds of college visits? Too many skipped classes leaving them, well, not at their sharpest? Just try to get them a summer job! But you can bet that in the fall they will be rested and ready to have fun once more. After they've cleaned themselves up a bit. Because there is no Greek for Dowdy.

Petersen's Summer Opportunities for Kids and Teenagers
Summer Jobs in the USA
The Back Door Guide to Short-Term Job Adventures

Friday, May 9, 2008

For those who still call them record albums

The vinyl record album is not entirely dead. So says the January 21, 2008 issue of Time magazine. This is good news for those of us who cling desperately to our LP's and still have an honest-to-god record player. Apparently the sound is 'warmer' than that of a CD and the music industry likes vinyl because it's are harder to download. As for the consumer, if you're a garage sale fan you can often buy them for less then the cost of a latte. (Although now that Time has let the cat out of the bag, costs may go a bit higher. Way to go, Time.) Sure you get some crackles and skips in the used ones but that's part of the charm. Especially for those of us who played our Beatle records so often it's a wonder the albums just don't give up out of sheer exhaustion. Even if you don't have a record player, get those albums out and enjoy the cover art. Those tiny CD's just don't have the same impact. Long live hi-fi!

Ebscohost online: Time 1/21/2008, Vol. 171 Issue 3, p55-56

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Cliches, Less than Appealing

Here are some cliches from the Facts on File Dictionary of Cliches that you really don't want to dwell on. And these babies are just from the p's!

Put words in her mouth.
Put his nose out of joint.
Pick her brains.
Poke his nose into.
Press the flesh.
Put your foot in your mouth.
Pay through the nose.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Not all SF nerds are library staff and not all library staff members are SF nerds. (Stay with me now, it's like a Venn diagram. I love those things.) But library staff members who are SF nerds are proud of it! So say we all! And we'd like to let you know that we have a fine selection of SF DVD's. Wouldn't it be lovely to see your favorite shows without commercial interruption? And, in the case of Star Trek, to see the entire episode not the one they cut up so they could get more commercial time? DVD's rent for a dollar and you get to keep them a whole week. Not bad. So here is a sampling of our fine collection:

Battlestar Gallactica Season 1
Star Trek Enterprise Season 1
Firefly: the complete series
Stargate SG-1 Season 1
Doctor Who. The complete first series
(with Eccleston)
The Outer Limits Vol. 1 (1960's version)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Curse You Shakespeare!

So, are you a big fan of starlings? Who is! And those swarmers are not even a native American species. Want to know how they got here? Sure you do! A German immigrant, one Mr. Eugene Schieffelin, was greatly enamored of both his new home, (the U S of A), and of Shakespeare. How best to honor both? Why, by introducing into the United States every species that is mentioned somewhere, anywhere, in Shakespeare's works. Unfortunately Henry IV mentions - you guessed it - starlings. In 1890 Mr. Schieffelen released 40 pairs in Central Park. Not satisfied with this, he then released 20 pairs the next spring. Now there are more than 200 million starlings in the United States. Sigh. Shakespeare should have been more careful.

Source: American History, June 2002 p. 42

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Time For Tulips

Last day for Tulip Time! Note the photo to the left. Tulips - check. Windmill - check. Tulip tree - check. It's really some kind of magnolia tree, but you know what you call it. The picture was taken in the Sunken Gardens, a city park off Houston St. in Pella ( a pond is in the shape of a wooden shoe!). There is also the Pella Historical Village with a miniature Dutch village, including miniature train and trolley. When you've had your fill of the traditional delights of Tulip Time: the fields of yellow tulips! the Dutch letters! the very clean street! squeeze in a visit to these attractions.
Tulip Time activities today start with a 7 AM Fly-in Breakfast (I have no idea what that is. Don't ask me.) and begin to wind down at 8:30 PM when the lighted parade begins. Have a ball!
Photo Credit: Gerry Rowland

Friday, May 2, 2008

Historic North Des Moines

To the left is the actual mallet used in the test-your-strength game at the old Riverview Park. Cool, right? Well stop in at the North Side Library for a gander at a whole collection of historic artifacts and documents from the Highland Park - Oak Park neighborhoods.

Vintage photographs, turn of the century yearbooks, menus from area restaurants, and items from Hi-Lan Dairy are just a part of the memorabilia room. In the year 2000 the North Side Library staff, Friends of the North Side Library, and numerous other individual contributors established a Millennium book collection and a Parks Area Heritage collection. Get a preview of the goods by clicking here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Cinco de Mayo!

Can you feel the excitement? Cinco de Mayo is one of those great holidays that just spells F-U-N. Or F-U-N-I-D-O. Valley Junction in West Des Moines is having it's annual blowout from noon to 10 PM on Saturday May 3rd. OK, that's Tres de Mayo, but it works. You've got your music, your artwork, and food food food. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexican Army under General Ignacio Zaragoza, over a French Army 3 times its size, on May 5, 1862. So you must eat 3 times the amount of food you would ordinarily. You know which table I'll be at. If you are interested in learning more about the Latin community in general, contact:
Latinos Unidos of Iowa, Inc.
4119 27th Street
Des Moines, Iowa, 50310
(515) 279-6840