Friday, October 31, 2008

Scary Movies

Trick-or-treat is over, but by golly tonight is still Halloween. Looking for something spooky to watch? The American Film Institutes loves lists almost as much as I do. I was trying to find you a list of Horror Movies, but they lump them into the 100 Thrills category. These are the top-ten 'Thrills' movies that I would consider horror. Plus where they appear in the AFI list. Can you believe Alien is 29 years old? Still mighty unsettling - can't watch it when I'm home alone.

1. PSYCHO 1960

2. JAWS 1975


6. ALIEN 1979

7. THE BIRDS 1963


12. KING KONG 1933

29. THE SHINING 1980

46. CARRIE 1976


American Film Institute

Graphic: Kat Black's Film Noir

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tonight's the Night! Let the candy-flinging begin!

All ready? You've got candy, maybe something a little Halloween-y to wear, and a light turned on so everyone can tell you are one treat-giving machine. Plus, you are prepared to listen to the same joke over and over and laugh like a maniac each time. Now here's an idea. If you get a really little person who is terrified by the whole experience and incapable of telling a joke, why don't you tell them one? Here are a few to get you started:

How do you fix a jack-o-lantern? With a pumpkin patch.
What goes "Ha-ha-ha . . . THUD!" A monster laughing his head off.
Knock, Knock. Who's there? Olive. Olive who? Olive Halloween!!!!!
How can you tell that a vampire likes baseball? He turns into a bat every night.

So you've got some not-too-scary jokes with which to break the ice. Of course there's always the chance that the wee one just wants to get away from your door as soon as possible. In that case, just give 'em the candy.

Joke Source:Hickory Daily Record (NC); 10/17/2008 as reprinted in EBSCOHost (scroll down on page)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bad Candy

So once a year, at night, in the dark, you go to people's houses and knock on their door. Say the magic words and they give you candy! Free! As a child this was the most important holiday for me. Made even better by the fact that I trick-or-treated with lots of siblings and friends and we would go to the basement, dump everything out of our bags and start trading. I hated Chicken Bones, Boston Baked Beans and black licorice. Oh, and Heath Bars. Why would you put a slab of hard toffee inside perfectly good chocolate? If it was the only candy I had I would gnaw off the chocolate and toss the now-gooey toffee. No wonder I never got invited to dine with the Queen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

It's All the Apple's Fault

Bobbing for apples. Easy - dunk your head, get your teeth firmly buried and you're out, secure in the knowledge that you'll meet your true love or some such thing. If you want to spend a little more time there's all kinds of fun you can have with an apple. At midnight on Halloween stand in front of a mirror, eat an apple, comb your hair and you'll see your spouse-to-be in the mirror over your left shoulder. Want to kick it up a notch? You still have to wait for Halloween midnight. In front of a mirror, cut an apple into 9 pieces. One at a time, stick a knife in the pieces and hold them over your left shoulder. As soon as you see the ninth piece in the mirror - boom! There's the spouse-to-be. Seems like combing your hair would be a lot less work. The most entertaining method of apple divination involves taking the wet seeds out of the apple, naming them for all the people you're dating and sticking the wet seeds on your face. The last seed to fall off will be the person who gets serious. I don't care about the results, I just want to see somebody stick a bunch of apple seeds on their face. Any takers?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Des Moines - Haunted!

The ghost of University Avenue: it could show up in the shape of a man, or just a cloud that smelled like kerosene. Turned out in 1881 a man from Des Moines who was wearing kerosene-covered clothes went up in flames. Go figure. This apparition hasn’t been seen since 1945….or has it? Hahahahaha

The Terrifying Table of Francis Avenue. In 1937 Mr. and Mrs. James Weaver brought home a seemingly innocuous table. But no! It was a small table apparently inhabited by a ‘confused spirit’. And not a quiet one. The table kept making rapping noises! The horror! These shenanigans went on until Mrs. Weaver (whose first name has apparently been lost in the mists of time) grabbed the table and read it the Bible. Shenanigans ceased. Case closed. They kept the table.

For these and more exciting tales of metaphysical mayhem, stop in at the Central Library and take a look at our reference book The National Directory of Haunted Places.


Friday, October 24, 2008

October - Squirrel Awareness Month

There are black squirrels in the Council Bluffs area. And they are actually protected - or at least they were. Reports Field & Stream Oct 2004, p. 20: "Last April, a man in Council Bluffs, Iowa, was fined $325 for "annoying" a squirrel when his dog chased one.... Police cited the perpetrator for violating the town's Black Squirrel Ordinance, which makes it illegal to "annoy or worry" the Council Bluffs mascot." Don't mess with them.
Then there are those that find your garden variety squirrels a nuisance. An article in Countryside & Small Stock Journal; Jan/Feb 2008,p.80, provides a recipe for a homemade spray that includes Red Savina and orange Habanero peppers so hot the author advises you not to touch them with your bare hands. No wonder it deters squirrels. Now my husband likes to jump out from behind a tree and throw a bucket of water at the critters. Guess I'd better keep him out of Council Bluffs.

From the EBSCO Host MasterFILE Premier database:
Countryside & Small Stock Journal; Jan/Feb2008, Vol. 92 Issue 1, p80
Field & Stream; Oct 2004, Vol. 109 Issue 6, p20

Graphic courtesy Gerry Rowland

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October - Self Promotion Month

Me! Me! Me! Look at me! Pay attention to me! That's how a 2-year-old would do it. But adults have options, strategies, steps for getting across the notion that you are just the greatest while avoiding jumping up and down and screaming. Here are some books that might assist you in getting what you want. Now! Although 'now' may still be too late for this ray of sunshine and her sewing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October - National Roller Skating Month

Ah, roller skating. Couldn't work the key, and I have no sense of balance. Looked like fun though. According to the book Patents : ingenious inventions : how they work and how they came to be, the whole point of the side-by-side wheels was to allow the skater to turn by applying more pressure to one side of the skate. This was seen as a huge improvement over the earlier in-line(!) skates that required the skater to pick up their feet more often and turn in small increments. Since I was unable to go more than a few feet before crashing while on roller skates, I had no idea you could do this. Once again, ingenuity wasted on me.
Take a look at the book when you get a chance, great information and fun design - the cover of the book is swathed in bubble wrap. So you have something soft to land on when you fall off your skates.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

October - Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Not a celebration, but a time to pay attention to the issue of domestic violence in the U.S.
The Iowa Department of Justice Attorney General's Office Crime Victim Assistance Division 2007, provides some grim statistics:
180 Iowans have been killed in Domestic Abuse murders since 1995
22,317 Victims of domestic abuse were served in Iowa in FY 2007

Access to assistance may be the key for many who need to break away
from violent situations. Here are some sources:
Iowa Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-0333
Books on Domestic Violence
Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Children & Families of Iowa Programs

Monday, October 20, 2008

October Celebrations Week - Teeth

October is National Dental Hygiene Month! Whoohoo! Do you suppose this might have something to do with a night of unbridled free candy distribution and the massive accumulation of said sweets? Then the eatin'? Maybe. Not surprisingly, most of our books on tooth care are written for children, under the assumption that adults know enough to brush, floss, repeat. Endlessly. But here's one for all ages: Dental first aid for families.

OK, not a cheerful thought, but if it's the middle of the night and you know you'll have to spend approximately 3 months in the emergency room before they can get to you, I can see how this might be a handy little item. Check it out, make note of the important parts, and be secure in the knowledge that you can refrain from freaking out the next time you lose a cap. Unlike me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Horror books

Nowadays there are more vampire books than you can shake a stake at. But recently I've read a few that are remarkable. First, Fledging by Octavia Butler. Butler built a new vampire society set in our very real world, with a mysterious young woman protagonist. The ending is a set up for a sequel, but sadly Butler died soon after this book was published. The other novels also star a young woman, a teen raised with no idea as to who or what she is. The fresh view of complex vampire life and customs presented is engrossing. Society of S by Susan Hubbard, followed by The Year of Disappearances. Books to relish. Read slowly.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pre-Emptive Information: Boo!

Every year we get asked when Beggar's Night/Trick or Treating will be in the metro area. Thanks to the Des Moines Register we can get you this information before you even know you need it!

Beggar's Night is set for Thursday October 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at all these communities:

Adel, Ankeny, Altoona, Bondurant, Carlisle, Clive, Des Moines, Indianola, Johnston, Mitchellville, Norwalk, Perry, Pleasant Hill, Polk City, Runnells, Urbandale, Waukee, West Des Moines and Windsor Heights.

Plus the bonus mall events: Merle Hay, 6-7:30 p.m.; Southridge, 6-8 p.m.; Update on Valley West, trick-or treat will be 6-8 there.
Stop me if you've heard this one... How do witches keep their hair styled when they're flying?With scare spray! Should have stopped me.
Source: Des Moines Register online 10/07/08

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One of my favorite October Books

Something Wicked This Way Comes. Even the title gives the chills. Who knows, I may have to read Macbeth someday. But give me Ray Bradbury for the true flavor of an autumn night in the Midwest, especially as seen through the eyes of children. Compared to today's gooey horror novels the scares may be tame, but they mean something, real emotions are at work here. Best scary carnival story ever. If you want to just bathe yourself in October before the Thanksgiving/Winter Holidays onslaught begins, sit down with this one on some dark and windy night. Nothing like a little window rattling to go with a juicy book that captures the mystique of October.

Something wicked this way comes

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Terrible Non-Theme Songs from TV

We all get songs stuck in our heads. Ever get really awful ones from TV shows? I don't mean the theme songs, that's a given. Occasionally television programs have horrible original tunes imbedded in the show. Oh, Serena, Samantha's cousin on Bewitched. Maybe this will jog your memory: Elizabeth Montgomery in a black wig, talking 'hip'. Cringeworthy, right? Not as bad as the song: If'n, if'n, if'n, if'n if'n you wanna feel my embrace, don't cha ever wash your face, if'n you wanna make me weak and weepy, you gotta look wild and weird and creepy, if''n, if'n, if'n, if'n if'n! Yikes. On the Jetsons, Eep op ork A-aa apparently meant 'I love you'. H.R. Pufnstuff''s Witchiepoo sang the informational ditty Oranges poranges! Who said! There ain't no rhymes for oranges. Can you tell I watched waaay too much TV as a child? I guess the fact that I remember this stuff is my punishment.

Bewitched. The complete first season
Jetsons: the complete first season
4 of Sid & Marty's favorites from H.R. Pufnstuf

Monday, October 13, 2008

In-Service October 13

All six buildings of the Des Moines Public are closed today, Monday October 13th, for a staff in-service day. We promise to learn a lot. See you tomorrow!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sheer Poe-etry: Edgar Allan Poe - Live! October 14

Tuesday, October 14. The Central Library at 6:30 PM. Man, this is going to be good.
Duffy Hudson will present In the Shadow of the Raven, a one-man play about the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe. He dresses the part, he looks the part, he acts the part! Hear from the man who is credited with inventing the mystery genre. And look how popular those turned out to be. Bet he never in his wildest dreams - and you know they had to be wild - did he imagine Stephanie Plum.
You get dramatic interpretations of some of Poe's most famous works: Annabel Lee, The Raven, and The Tell-Tale Heart. Spooooooky. A separate program for teens begins at 3:30.

Poe, Poe and more Poe

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Icky Poem Parts

You wouldn't think the word 'beetles' would appear in many poems. Okay, any poems. However...

Have you dreaded these earth-beetles?
To Think of Time. Whitman, Walt. 1900. Leaves of Grass

Beetles black, approach not near;
Lullaby. William Shakespeare

The shining doors are busy, beetles run
From ‘Paracelsus’ by Robert Browning

Are you amazed? The things I do to keep you entertained.


Leaves of Grass editions

Complete poems / William Shakespeare.

By and about Robert Browning

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Candidate Headquarters

Access! We want access! And some of us are rather fond of phone numbers and (gasp!) street addresses. We went out and found these just for you.

John McCain
Midwest Regional Headquarters
2775 86th Street
Urbandale, IA 50322
Phone: 515-418-9270

Barack Obama
Polk County Headquarters
1408 Locust Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: 515-244-4798

List of Early Voting Sites
General Information on Voting from the Polk County Auditor

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Halloween and Adorable Moppets

Seen Meet Me in St Louis lately? Once you get over the horror of Judy Garland's bangs, there are plenty more chills. Tootie, Tootie, Tootie. She terrorized the town on Halloween by: putting a dummy in a dress on the street car tracks; telling everyone that nice Mr. Pruett had hit her when in fact he hid her from the police; and screaming "I hate you" at a perfectly harmless man then throwing flour in his face. And she's what, all of six? Never a bit of punishment, even when they find out the heinous accusations against Judy's potential boyfriend were just Tootie's way of entertaining herself. Sure she's cute, but she's a morbid little menace. Now where was I going with this? Oh yeah. You can find Halloween scares in the oddest places.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Speaking of Paul Newman

Richard Russo, who will be presenting 7 PM this evening at Hoyt Sherman, wrote Empire Falls and Nobody's Fool. Paul Newman was in the movie/TV versions of both! Coincidence? Sure, but what an opportunity for you. Newman was especially impressive in Nobody's Fool as Sully Sullivan, a man both more and less than he appears. Come hear the author who creates such interesting characters.

Paul Newman, Jan. 26, 1925 - Sept. 26, 2008

So who didn't like Paul Newman? Looking back, it was surprising to me how often he played an anti-hero. Surly, dumb, occasionally vicious - see Newman and Piper Laurie in The Hustler. And yet all I see when I think of him are the crinkles around his eyes from smiling, something he seemed to do alot in his actual life. Then there's the thing where he married a woman who's attractive, intelligent, warm and not gorgeous. And stayed married to her. Add in the charity food thing and he just seems like a classy guy. So make sure you watch the egg-eating scene in Cool Hand Luke. Wouldn't want to pigeonhole the man.

Paul Newman - some movies and at least 1 book

Friday, October 3, 2008

Craft Week - Taking a Beading

Next up on Making-Things-Hard-For-Yourself-Week, we highlight a craft that has just been going crazy lately. Beading! (Do I sound like a shopping channel yet?) Look at how easy it is! And your friends will love the bracelets, earrings, and yes, even purse straps you make for them! Although maybe they'd want a purse attached. But they'll be amazed! Did I capture the perkiness? Cause it doesn't come naturally. Beads are widely available now and they're prettier than ever. In the craft stores you can't swing a necklace without hitting some kind of beading supplies. So if you're looking for a craft that is pretty straightforward, all I am saying is give beads a chance.

Your highly anticipated link to bead books: Beadwork

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Craft Week - Using Scraps

Just kidding! Scrapbooking is the mother lode of supplies. They get bigger and more elaborate each year. If you want to make a small scrapbook for a gift, here's what you do. Buy a small album, stick in some pictures and write something about the picture on each page. Right. Then you casually pick up a magazine about scrapbooking. That's when the giant cartoon sledgehammer hits you right on the noggin. Chipboard! Archival ink! More patterned paper than you could possibly carry! At one time anyway. Die cutting machines, embossers, stickers, punches, embellishments, you'll be too tired from shopping to actually make the scrapbook. But remember, you can always keep it simple. Right. Good thing it's so much fun!

Here's some books that will help you not keep it simple when Scrapbooking.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Craft Week - Stay Sharp

Woodworking. Let's see, what to make today? A set of bookshelves? A lovely trellis? An exquisite inlaid table? A log home? A doghouse? Or the true classic, the birdhouse. You can take on a project as small or a enormous as you like with woodworking, it's a craft with no limits. Or very few, anyway. I don't thing there are wooden computers. My friend made this amazing fort for his son. It's so cool - big enough for adults to fit in, and on hot days the young owner could slide down directly into his backyard pool. Ingenious? I think so. Your turn.

Here's a link to a mess of books: Woodworking