Thursday, April 30, 2009

Josephine Baker just because.

For a woman with the most mundane of names, doesn’t she just define exotic? Although she apparently considered Josephine Baker an upgrade from her original name, Freda Josephine McDonald. Or Josephine Freda McDonald, depending on whom you ask. Already a mystery! Even without the bananas she's an art deco poster come to life. Born 1906 in St. Louis, Missouri - the Midwest for pity's sake - died 1975 in France. She achieved top billing as a dancer in the Folies-Bergere, and was a spy for the French Resistance during World War II. Spying. She and her fellow expatriate Julia Child had this in common. Hard to imagine, isn't it?
Josephine Baker Biographies

Graphic Source: eLibrary
You can access eLibrary from home with your Des Moines Public Library card and PIN. And you can limit your search to photos!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Constable Logan and the Permits

You never know what's going to escalate, even in the 19th century. Here's the first instance we know of an officer of the law in Des Moines being killed in the line of duty. Constable S.E. Logan was shot and killed on Monday March 7th, 1887 at the Corner of 4th and Walnut in Des Moines. He had requested delivery permits from the drivers of a wagon of goods at Hurlbut, Hess & Co. The permits were not brought forth and Constable Logan drew his gun and fired. One of the drivers, Mr. Joseph Rowe, returned fire and killed Constable Logan. Mr. Rowe was soon apprehended. He offered no resistance and confessed to the shooting. I wonder what they were delivering.

Source: Des Moines Register 3/8/1887 p. 3, 6
(The illustration is not a photo of Constable Logan)
Graphic Source: Flikr Commons

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rerun - Shiny and New

Hello, new book fans! Just for you, there is a way to look at a list of new books that we have on order - before they even arrive! Just go to our catalog and click on "Popular Lists". You can see New Mysteries, New Fiction, plus CD's and DVD's. You can even click on an item in the list and put a reserve on it immediately. So go on, get ahead of yourself!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Barking Spot

Have you met George Booth? If not, allow me to introduce him. Booth is best known for his cartoons in the New Yorker. Picture a group of oddly dressed people in a thread-bare room playing various instruments. An ancient woman flails away at the fiddle, scrawny arms and legs flying. The caption: "Mrs Rittenhouse is really cooking tonight". I find this hilarious. If this sort of humor appeals to you, check out his new book About Dogs. Dogs appear in most of his cartoons and as seen at right they're not pretty. They're grumpy, and they are prone to sudden alarming spasms of movement Since the book consists of about 100 cartoons it's easy on the eyes. Read it. Love it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Relaying Relay Facts

It's the 100th anniversary of the Drake Relays! Here's what I'm sure you're dying to know: According to Drake Relays: 75 years of excellence, in 1922 Drake had the first major track and field event to be broadcast live on radio. In 1953 the Relays were the first major track and field event to be broadcast live on television. The first year women competed was 1961 and Wilma Rudolph ran! Seven short years later she was the first woman inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame. Lastly, on the 50th anniversary of the Relays 13 major records were set. Let's see how this year shapes up.

Drake Relays: 75 years of excellence
This book cannot be checked out, but you are welcome to read it in the Franklin Avenue Library and the Central Library.

Graphic source: flickr

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Free Computer Class Today!

Admit it. You know people who have never touched a computer. There, was that so hard? They just need a little help to get started. We have free classes! Today's class focuses on the most basic skills, like touching the mouse for the first time. Mouses (mice? meeces?) are tricky to use. There are two sides you can click which is not clearly marked, and those two sides have entirely different functions. Don't get me started on the double-click. So send people who say they are computer-illiterate and really mean it to our Computer Basics class. The class will be held in the computer lab at the Central Library, 1000 Grand Avenue, Thursday April 23 from 3-4. The class is for adults, and will be repeated May 21 at the same time, same place. We can help conquer musophobia.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Today!

Remember back when this all started? We called it 'ecology' then. The closest thing to a carbon footprint - one of my high school friends had really cool oxfords with the ecology symbol on them. 1969 was the year the Cuyahoga River in Ohio was so polluted it caught fire. The river was on fire. Maybe that woke people up because 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970. It would be nice to say those were the bad old days and we're all better now. We can't. But we do have books with ideas for environmental responsibility.

Source: Time; 5/5/2008, Vol. 171 Issue 18, p13-13. Via EbscoHost

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jane Hamilton Speaks!

Author Jane Hamilton will be speaking at the Central Library,1000 Grand Avenue, on Wednesday April 22 at 7 PM. You may know her from The Book of Ruth, a novel touched by Oprah and therefore familiar to everyone in the universe who has a television. I exaggerate a smidge. I just finished her latest book, Laura Rider’s Masterpiece. A romance is manipulated by a woman without a romantic bone in her body, but she nevertheless wishes to write romance novels. Guess how well this goes.
More of Jane Hamilton's oeuvre.

Monday, April 20, 2009

East Side's Turn

Dismayed because you missed the annual North Side Book Sale? I'd say 'fear not' but that is just sad. So let's say instead that you get another chance at a fabulous sale, East Side style. The tables are loaded with books, magazines, vidoes, DVDs, compact discs, encyclopedia sets, and more. Cheap! The sale runs through Saturday, April 25 during normal business hours at the East Side Library. What could be more fun?

Graphic source: Dover Publishing

Friday, April 17, 2009

Soap Opera Redux

Had some people post their soap opera names last week, and I thought they deserved a narrative. (I threw in some of my friend's names. Not tellin' who.) The names: Chloe Harriman, Kyte Harriman, Perdy Astor, Dot Buchanan, Lucinda Worthington and Fletcher Berkeley. The story thus far: Kyte and Chloe are the spoiled-rotten stepchildren of patrician Lucinda Worthington. Fletcher Berkeley, a con man who conned sweet Dot Buchanan into marrying him, is making a move on Chloe hoping to get his hands on that money. But Chloe is a little schemer herself and strings him along, parading his uncouth charms in front of Lucinda just for kicks. Meanwhile Kyte uses the distraction to make his play for the dough. Dot stumbles on Fletcher's infidelity and goes looking for a divorce lawyer, but a lawyer finds her - preppy Perdy Astor, Kyte Harriman's best friend. Kyte finds himself drawn to Dot's fresh innocence... and it all comes together at Improbable Town's annual Fund Raiser for Disinherited Playboys. Right before the freeze ray hits. Want to write stuff better than this? OK, a 1-year-old pounding the keyboard with a spoon could write a story better than this. But if writing for television appeals here are some literary aids:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Iowa Cubs First Home Game

of the season is tomorrow Friday April 17, at 7:05 p.m! You can cheer on the Cubs as they furiously fight off Round Rock. Fireworks after the game! Aaaaah, there's nothing like baseball. No other sport can match its mystique and the warm place it holds in the American psyche. Definitely time to watch Field of Dreams again.
Other baseball movies that attempt to capture the magic:
Graphic source: Public Domain Clip Art

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Umbrellas, a not-so-modern marvel

Umbrellas. Bumbershoots. Brollys. Call them what you like, I love them. Umbrellas in the car, in my work locker, in my backpack, hanging by the door at home. I once astonished my husband by pulling an umbrella out of my purse when the sky suddenly opened up with the big rain. So I am indebted to Mr. Jonas Hanaway, who is credited with inventing the umbrella. In 1740 the citizens of Windsor CT mocked Mr. Hanaway's ingenuity by trailing an umbrella-user while carrying sieves stuck on broom handles. Mocking! The nerve! I'd propose a National Jonas Hathaway Day on which we would celebrate by wearing sieves as hats but what with the plethora of esoteric celebrations in America today, I suspect he's already taken care of.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Remember those dot matrix ...

pictures people used to make? They were kind of an ancestor to emoticons cause they used keyboard letters and symbols to make a picture. One that was laboriously typed letter by letter by letter, calculating how many characters per line to get the image right. Yikes! I thought they were really cool. But I was wearing boxy teal jackets with enormous shoulder pads, so there ya go. This generator takes a photo or graphic of your choosing and translates it into just such a picture. Of course it's much more sophisticated, and there's no typing involved. Now I wear cardigans and I think these are cool. I may be pathetic, but by golly I keep myself amused.

Click on ASCII text art and away you go!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bargain Books

And other stuff! The North Side Library's annual Gigantic Book Sale starts tomorrow, Saturday April 11th. You can buy books by Iowa Authors! Life and Look Magazines from the '50's and '60's! And these are so cool, they are delicious for the fashion and furnishing ads alone. Plus you won't believe the stars who touted joys and health benefits of smoking cigarettes! They must be seen to be believed. The sale runs through April 18th, and you can buy during the North Side Library's regular open hours: Monday through Thursday, 10-8, Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-5. We know you're watching your money, here's one way to stretch it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Named by Disney

Apropos of nothing, do you remember Peter and the Wolf, Sergey Prokofiev's kid-friendly orchestral suite? Did you know it was written in 1936? I had no idea it was so modern. But I digress. Specific instruments become select characters - a flute is the bird, a clarinet the cat and an oboe is the duck. Pretty elegant way to identify them. But you know how Disney likes to embellish the source material, what with giving Bambi's girlfriend a name and adding Jiminy Cricket to Pinocchio. So Peter and the Wolf fans get some Disney-ized characters too. The bird is Sasha, the duck is Sonja and the cat is Ivan. Cause this has been driving some of you crazy. You know who you are.
The Disney films / Leonard Maltin.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Full Moon April 9th

I was researching in the Old Farmer's Almanac 2009 edition and on page 268 it identified April's full moon as a 'Pink Moon'. I'd heard of a blue moon but not a pink one. The obvious association is female/male, but that's not it at all! Maybe because it's really lame! Apparently Algonquin tribes in the Northeast United States assigned names to the full moon of each month. April's full moon was pink "because it heralded the appearance of the grass pink,or wild ground phlox - one of the first spring flowers." That's lovely. May was the Flower Moon, June the Strawberry Moon, August the Sturgeon Moon! Good thing the name has nothing to do with how the moon looks, that last one would be pretty freaky. The things Old Farmers know.

Source: The Old Farmer's Almanac

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Rerun - So you want to research the local papers?

We have an online index to the Des Moines newspapers. Of course an index just says when an article appeared, it does not include the article itself. But it provides enough information that you can find the story in our microfilm at the Central Library. Only local news is indexed (but not sports scores, letters to the editor, or vital records). General articles are indexed back to 1986, obituaries to 1960. A few other years here and there are covered.

Say you’re looking for an obituary for Russ Van Dyke, former Channel 8 newscaster.
1. On our home page, click on the word ‘Search’ at the top right.
2. On the next screen, click on ‘News/Obit Index’ which is at the upper right.
3. In the 'Obituary Name' box type Van Dyke, Russ (always last name first).
4. You'll see his listing with other Van Dykes. There are 2 obituaries for Russ Van Dyke, click on the one from July 21.
5. Now you see that the obituary appeared in the Des Moines Register July 21, 1992, the Metro Section, Page 5, Column 4.
6. Armed with this information you can go straight to the microfilm, look it up and make a copy for 25 cents!
Easy, safe and fun. Here's a direct link to the index.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Edsel Unloved

Once again the Edsel takes a hit. The iconic bad car stars in Time magazine's "50 Worst Cars of All Time" list, lumped in with such jewels as the 1899 'Horsey Horseless', 1958 'Zunndapp Janus' and the just as improbably named 1966 'Peel Trident'. Who'd trust their life to a Horsey Horseless? It's too bad Ford put Edsel's name on the black sheep of their line - posthumously at that. According to the Dictionary of American Biography: "Edsel Ford had a particular flair for automobile styling, and was an early advocate of improvements in the Model T.... Edsel introduced improved brakes, balloon tires, all-steel bodies, enclosed cars, and a choice of colors instead of the standard black." Where would the modern car be without him? Yet he remains Edsel. Sigh.
Henry and Edsel : the creation of the Ford Empire / Richard Bak.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Join the Opera

Haven't you always wondered what character you'd play on a soap opera? I know I have! Now you can get your own 'Soap Opera Name' at this hand-dandy site. We took it for a test drive. My friend's name turned up as 'Dixie Fitgerald', so she's something of a minx, but with money. I'm 'Tiffany Howard', her best friend from the poor side of town who tries to keep Dixie on the straight and narrow. A second friend was bestowed the name 'Callum Vanderbilt'. So of course he is the new doctor in town - former male model, yacht club member, - and you just know where this is going! No, don't think of it as a waste of time! It's really an imagination exerciser! That's the one part of me that actually likes exercise. Soap Opera Name

For plot point ideas, check out these DVD's

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Economist Book of Obituaries

When you do a Google search for 'Economist magazine' you get: "Authoritative weekly newspaper focusing on international politics and business news and opinion." They publish books like China's Stockmarket - A Guide to its Progress, Players & Prospects. Ha! Ha! Just the title makes me laug...snooze. How then to explain the delight that is The Economist Book of Obituaries? I'll just take it as the gift it is. There's a dead parrot on the cover. It reflects the obituary of Alex the African Grey. Parrot. He was apparently to parrots what Koko was to gorillas, a ground breaker in the field of animal communication. And he died! Hence the reportage in the Economist. Obituaries describe their subjects thus: Kurt Waldheim, a diplomat with a selective memory; Bip, the world's quietest clown, died ... older than he seemed; Alistair Cooke, smoother of transatlantic tensions; Rosemary Brown, a musical psychic. Start with the joint obituary of Brooke Astor and Leona Helmsley. So different, yet so alike!

The Economist book of obituaries

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April the First

I love April Fools' Day! Gotcha! I really hate April Fools! Has something to do with being the most gullible person on the planet. Then there's the whole Iowa polite thing. At one of my workplaces a co-worker brought in cake on April 1. This was a nice, quiet co-worker mind you, not a jump-out-and-scare-you one. It was lovely cake except that the piece I ate had a chunk of plastic in it! Like the rubber on a home canning jar. Of course I didn't say anything, even though I couldn't imagine how it got in the cake. Turns out no one said anything. And all the pieces of cake had this stuff in it. She'd done it deliberately! April Fools'! At least I got some cake out of it. Enjoy yourself people. I'm not eating anything that wasn't factory sealed.
A Series of Mysteries by Alan Gordon based on Medieval Fools