Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dexter - yum?

I just finished the new Dexter book, “Dexter is Delicious”.  I love the premise but I’d given up on the series because I was so tired of his sister Deborah being a one-note annoyed/angry person. But the blurb for the new one said something about cannibals. Well.  Much better than the last book!  This installment is fun and it actually surprised me a few times. I like that in a mystery. They weren’t lying about the cannibals and it looks like there is hope for development of Deborah’s character.  Maybe next he’ll tackle Dexter’s wife Rita, who appears to be some kind of chicken.  The kind of chicken that flounders around and can’t finish her sentences.  Aside from that, I still have both my thumbs and they're up!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Money Madness II

Conspiracy theories and coins.  Once was not enough?   In 1946 the U. S. Mint released our familiar Franklin Delano Roosevelt dime, soon after Roosevelt's death.  They picked the dime because of FDR's support for the March of Dimes.  What a warm, kindly gesture.  Until you look at the initials under the portrait.  JS!  Shudder!  Rumor was JS stood for Joseph Stalin!  Once again the Mint has been infiltrated by... an artist.  The initials stand for the name of engraver John Sinnock.  Insidious, isn't it? 

Source: The Numismatist 2/1965 p. 188

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Money Madness Part I

Yes, there are Communists under your bed.  That is if you have a Kennedy half-dollar down there with the dust bunnies.  Or should I say dust comrades?  Apparently in the 1960's some folks thought there was a hammer and sickle on JFK's coin.  In actuality what you have is a stylized rendition of the artist's initials.  You can see it right above 'WE'.  Gilbert Roberts never meant for his mark to scare people.  Then again the Pop Rocks people never thought they'd be accused of producing a product that, when combined with soda pop, makes people explode.  Inexplicable.

Source:  Des Moines Public Library's FUN FACTS

Monday, March 28, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

Can she really be gone?  And with her the last link to Hollywood's glory days?     Elizabeth, soooooooooo beautiful.  Everyone talked about her violet eyes but I think she was lovier in black and white.  All those garish colors - red lipstick included - were just a distraction.  She was tiny, only 5' 2" but she didn't seem small in her movies.  Lot's of presence.  In addition to being stunning apparently she could act!  Two Oscars, baby!  Not to mention using her powers for good by raising awareness and money for AIDS victims. So there was more to Elizabeth Taylor than met the eye. Impossible as that seems. 

Books about Elizabeth Taylor

Friday, March 25, 2011

Women's History Month - Susan Glaspell

On December 20th in 1900 John Hassock was murdered at his home in Indianola, Iowa.  Young reporter Susan Glaspell covered the crime and the trial for the Daily News, a Des Moines newspaper of the time. Hassock was an abusive husband.  His wife Margaret was accused and convicted of the crime. These events were the inspirations for Glaspell's play Trifles and short story A Jury of her Peers. Both focus on the different ways men and women view the world, communicate, and make decisions. And in both the play and story, women hide evidence that might convict the accused wife. A Jury of her Peers refers to the personal verdict of the women rather than the legal one handed down by a jury of 12 men. Glaspell's work was a groundbreaking examination of gender roles and the impact they had in the justice system.  Powerful stuff.

Gale Biography in Context
Stanford Law Review, Patricia L. Bryan Copyright 1997:  "Stories in Fiction and in Fact: Susan Glaspell's "A Jury of Her Peers" and the 1901 Murder Trial of Margaret Hossack."

Susan Glaspell Books

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Women's History Month - Lynn Hall

Lynn Hall. Want to know how controversial her work is?  In 1972 she published Sticks and Stones, a Young-Adult book whose characters include a well-rounded, likable young gay man.  No less an author than Judy Blume, who has seen her own share of controversy, stated that in this book Hall "handled a difficult subject with intelligence and understanding." This was in the New York Times Book Review.  The Big Time. Sticks and Stones was also a Best Young Adult Book selected by the American Library Association in 1972.  Lynn Hall currently lives in the northeast Iowa countryside with lots of pets. Just check out her children's books, she looooves the pets. Oh, and she has been on the Garnavillo Library Board.  Libraries rule.

Source: 2010 Contemporary Authors Online accessed via Biography in Context

Lynn Hall Books   Once again, many can't be checked but can be read in the Central Library.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Women's History Month - Marjorie Holmes

Marjorie Holmes.  A lovely woman from Storm Lake, her work includes titles like Cherry Blossom Princess  and I've got to talk to somebody, God .  How could she write a book that could be the least bit controversial?  In 1972 her novel Two from Galilee : a love story was published.  The Two are Mary and Joseph and the book treated them like real people.  Holmes' fictionalization included characters who weren't in the Bible.  She portrayed Joseph's father as an alcoholic. You can see why this would not sit well with some.  This didn't keep Two from Galilee from the list of Top Ten bestsellers for 1972.  Holmes went on to write Three From Galilee: The Young Man From Nazareth in 1985, and The Messiah in 1987, filling out a trilogy.  Marjorie Holmes, once called "the patron saint of housewives" died in 2002.

Marjorie Holmes Books (some not available to be checked out, can be read in the Central Library)

Sources: Gale Biography in Context
Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Women's History Month - Jeanette Eyerly

This week we'll feature some Iowa Women Authors.  Now as far as we're concerned you don't have to be born in Iowa to be an Iowa author.  You just have to live here a long time.  Take Jeannette Eyerly.  She was born in Topeka Kansas but spent most of her life in our great state.  And died at her home in Des Moines August 18 2008, at the remarkable age of 100.   Eyerly, and the other authors we'll highlight, wrote books that were controversial or groundbreaking. Or both.  In Jeannette Eyerly's case that meant that in the 1970's she was writing books for teens that dealt with problems affecting their actual lives - teenage suicide, drug abuse, teen pregnancy.  The novel about teens having a child, He's My Baby, Now, became a TV movie entitled Schoolboy Father.  Starring Rob Lowe!  (Sorry, I was overcome by star power.)
A final note about Jeannette Eyerly:  from 1930-1932 she worked as the Publicity Director for the Des Moines Public Library.  That's right, we're cool.

Jeannette Eyerly Books Most of these are only available in the Iowa Collection, which means they can't be checked out.  But you can stop in and read them at the Central Library!

Source:  Gale Biography in Context

Monday, March 21, 2011

Louisa May or May Not but She Certainly Did

At the Civi War battle of Fredericksburg in November of 1863 12,000 Union soldiers fell in battle.  Louisa May Alcott, yes, the author of Little Women, made her contribution to the war effort by nursing the soldiers wounded in that battle.  She drove herself making the men comfortable, administering medicine, changing dressings.  Until Alcott herself fell ill with typhoid fever.  As was the custom of the time they treated her illness by having her swallow mercury.  She never regained her vigorous good health. All this before she wrote the masterpiece!  I had never heard of her brief occupation as a nurse but discovered it while reading a wonderful new book Louisa May Alcott : a personal biography by Susan Cheever.  Cheever's not kidding about the personal part.  That Louisa May Alcott was some kind of amazing. By the end of the book you just wanted the woman as a friend. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Painless Paper Cuts

I love to cut stuff out.  Who doesn't like the sound and feel of the blades crisping through the paper, ok it's just me.  If you want to craft with paper though you need patience and you have to pay attention.  Especially since the craft isn't limited to two dimensions anymore.  You know the 3-D 'craze' those wacky movieland folks are into these days?  The book pictured combines 3-D with trendy trendy cupcakes!  You will be the au courant-est crafter in your neighborhood when you've finished these projects.  Just be sure to have real cupcakes on hand when you have people over.  Or they'll be munching on paper.  Bleah.
Guess what!  The subject heading for these books is Cut-out craft.  Is that not adorable?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

World of Beer Craft

Hey, did you know there's something called Craft Breweries?  I'd heard of micro-breweries but this was new to me.  Most of these breweries only make a few thousand barrels a year.  Wasn't that the definition of a micro-brewery?  I can't keep up.  So anyway, you only have to produce thousands of barrels of beer to qualify as a craft brewer!  But there's no shame in making a few bottles for yourself and your friends.  No, really.  It's OK.

Home Brewing : self-sufficiency    Never run out!
Homebrewing for Dummies

Source:  San Diego Business Journal, 4/28/2008, Vol. 29 Issue 17, p1-23, 2p

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Heartbreak of Calligraphy

Oh, calligraphy. How many times have I tried and failed to learn your enchanting ways? OK not that many because I buy calligraphy books but never practice.  Yet calligraphy is soo beautiful.  And my handwriting soo grotesque.   There are two distinct types of calligraphy.  You've got your Western calligraphy which used quills and reeds to deliver the ink.  Your  Eastern calligraphy used brushes and controlled the appearance of the images by varying the pressure of the brush.  Can't do either.  But there's hope for you!  In the form of many helpful books.

Chinese Calligraphy
Western Calligraphy

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ARTificial Flowers

Ever thought of making your own artificial flowers?   Not drying real ones, I'm talking completely unnatural here.  Although I'm not sure that came out right. And we're not all about the tissue paper flowers either.  Although I do love those.  They're mighty purty.  But flowers made out of ribbons would be sturdier and, dare I say it, classier.  I said it!  Of course if you're using Lilo and Stitch ribbon ...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Craft Month - Have You Felt It?

Felting.  I didn't even know this was a craft until a few years ago when a friend made a felted purse.  Fuzzzzy.  Here's how it works.  You knit your wool into the object of your desire, using extra big needles because the whole thing's gonna shrink.  Then, in the most over-simplified explanation ever, you throw it in the washer and essentially shrink it in hot water. That's the most common method. Or, you can take a long strip (called 'roving') of wool that's been carded but not yet spun into yarn and felt it by hand or by using a sander.  I am so not crafty enough for that. The above narrative consists of descriptions only. Do not try this at home without waaay better information.  Which you can find in the books below! Then go nuts with felted wool purses, jewelry, stuffed animals, tea cozies, hairpieces, etcetera. 

Felting Books

Friday, March 11, 2011

Iowa Brilliance

Remember Gertrude Stein?  "a rose is a rose is a rose"?  Sure you do.  Here is what she had to say about Iowans:  "You are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and you are always very well taken care of if you come from Iowa."  So there.  Although this may be a little difficult to remember as a comeback when anyone is dissing Iowa.  Somehow we'll make it work.

Source: The Beacon Book of Quotations by Women 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I Didn't Even Know He Was Scottish

Aaaaand maybe he wasn't.  At any rate here is a photo of 5-year-old Franklin D. Roosevelt taken in Poughkeepsie, New York, January, 1887.  Lookin' good.  He was a descendant of many Mayflower passengers.  They include Richard Warren, Isaac and Mary Allerton, Degory Priest, Francis Cooke, John Howland, and Elizabeth Tilley. Mr. Roosevelt was Mayflowered up.  The man with the beyond-fabulous name Degory Priest was a signer of The Mayflower Compact in which the colonists pledged their loyalty to "the dread Sovereign Lord King James".  Any relation to "The Dread Pirate Robert"?  It had to be asked.

Graphic source:  U. S. National Archives
Mayflower Compact:  Essential Documents as accessed through EBSCOHost

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Iowa Eagles Live!

Two words.  Eagle webcam.  Brought to you by the fish hatchery in Decorah Iowa.  I love those guys!  Enjoy a gorgeous live feed of an eagle's nest with 3, count 'em, 3 eggs.  I watched the mother fidgeting with the eggs until she had them in a triangle.  She settled down on them slowly, making small adjustments, snuggling lower and lower into the nest.  It was all very loving.  Then she faced the camera and yikes!  I'd forgotten how ferocious they are up close.  So cool!  Here is a Link to the Eagle Cam that includes chat.  Huzzah to the Raptor Resource Project!

We have a DVD about Iowa eagles:  Listen to the eagles' message

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bestseller Express In Case You Forgot

In a hurry? Got a dollar? If you don't like waiting, the Des Moines Public Library is offering a service just for you - Bestseller Express. For the low low cost of $1 you can check out one of a number of bestselling titles and keep it a week. No renewals, this is a quick check-out service for you fast readers. So if you're busy busy busy and need it now, take a look at Best Seller Express titles. Read as fast as you live.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Reviews Right in Our Catalog!

Overall I like James Rollins.  He gives me adventure with a little something weird thrown in.  So I'm looking at The last oracle : a Sigma Force novel.  There's a nice summary with promising phrases like "ancient relic" and "Oracle of Delphi".  But is it good?  A review sure would be nice.  Hey!  What's that to the left of the book cover?  Among other options I see Library Journal Review and Publisher Weekly Review.  Let's take a look, shall we?  Library Journal describes plot plot plot... bingo!   "Rollins has outdone himself with this fabulous mix of history, science, and adventure..."  That's what I wanted to know.  You too can instantly access reviews of the books that have caught your fancy.  Just click and read.

Friday, March 4, 2011

'What's Next' Revealed

We love the staff of the Kent District Library.  They're like our bestest friends ever.  Why?  Because they have produced the beyond-useful, transcendent even, 'What's Next' resource.  Do you read Mysteries?  Romance?  Science Fiction?  These genres are crawling with series.  Loong series, into the double digits.  Who can keep track?  Our heroes, that's who.  What's the third book in Diane Gabaldon's series of door stops, Outlander? Voyager. Oh no, I don't remember anything but the characters name, aaaaaaaaaahhh!!! Wait.  Just type in 'Honor Harrington' and you can get the books in both series featuring her. I can't promise KDL (we can call them that; we're buds) covers everything, but yowsa. And for series they don't cover you can ask us! We have our ways. Just call 283-4152 and press 3.
KDL What's Next

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Need a Good Book?

Don't we all.  If you haven't checked out the DMPL'S READERS PAGE, now is a good time.  Remember, winter's not done with us yet.  To find this treasure go to our home page and in the lower left click on "Need  a Good Book?  You're in!  We're all adults here, let's click on Adults.  Want to know what library employees are reading?  Lots of different stuff, let me tell you.  Better yet, let the website tell you. Click on The Bookshelf.  Oooh, Des Moines's own Peter Bognanni's House of Tomorrow is listed, don't forget to read that one. Look, someone's slogging through The Federalist Papers!  Taking the hit for the rest of us, bless their heart.  American rose : a nation laid bare : the life and times of Gypsy Rose Lee looks good, I might have to reserve that one.  If you're reading this a few days from now, there may be all new books recommended! It's the mashed potato! (Egregious 1960's music reference.)
Tomorrow we'll talk about the mysterious "What's Next" link!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Soul Food Festival March 5 -- Yum!

Saturday, March 5 from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Forest Avenue Library comes round the annual Soul Food Festival!  Last year over 200 people participated and they had more fun than you can shake a stick at.  No lie.  Among the delights offered for a low low price are fried chicken, greens, red beans and rice, jambalaya, black eyed peas, corn, sweet potato pie, cakes and cookies, plus your bonus mac and cheese! And if your kids don't like that there are hot dogs. It's the best. All the food for this feast is donated and the money raised goes towards supporting the programs at Forest. Win and win and win again!

Forest Avenue Library
1326 Forest Avenue

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Years ago my sister and I were walking around the local college campus when we saw a big snake.  Not one of your little garter wigglers, it was big and black.  My sister announced it was a bull snake and asked me if I dared her to pick it up.  Well, sure.  She boldly grabbed it by the end, held the snake high and it peed on her.  Then she was mad at me. No justice. Now I'm not sure it was a bull snake.  According to Peterson's Field Guide, bull snakes are yellowish with brown and/or black patches.  The cool thing is that they are called bull snakes because of the sound they make.  There is a flap of cartilage in their throat that vibrates when they hiss and the sound comes out as kind of a snort, hence bull.  Did you know it's illegal to kill them in Iowa? 'Tis.  But is it OK to scare them so much they pee on you?  I don't think that is addressed by the code.
For more information on Iowa's indigenous snakes:
A field guide to reptiles and amphibians : eastern and central North America
Graphic Source: Dover