DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

May 2011

May 27 2011

Ahoy lasses and laddies!

by Amanda L

With the release of the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, there is renewed interest in all things pirate. Would you like to be able to speak in Pirate? One of the electronic resources that we  subscribe to is Mango Languages. The company is offering a free language course on how to speak Pirate. You have to go through this link to get to the course and leave your e-mail.  The course is available until June 30th. If you want to learn another language besides Pirate, Mango Languages offers a variety of languages including the standard ones such as Spanish, French, etc. They also have a few lesser known languages such as Irish, Tagalog, Urdu, etc.

Speakin’ pirate not your cup o’ tea? The library has movies and books about pirates.

Arrr, o’ course we have the Pirates o’ the Caribbean movies.

Ahoy, thar be se’eral stories that have been written about pirates. My favorite one is the Bloody Jack series. The story takes place in the early nineteenth century.  Mary Faber joins a pirate ship at the age of thirteen. The catch,  she joins dressed as a boy to get onto the high seas.  The first in the series is Bloody Jack: being an account of the curious adventure of  Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy

Aye, if a series is not what your lookin’ for, you might try Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton or the classic, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Ahoy, lookin’ for a book on the history o’ pirates? Try Pirates of Barbary by Adrian Tinniswood or Pirates: predators of the sea by Angus Konstam.  For true tales of modern day pirates try Terror on the Seas: true tales of modern day pirates by Daniel Sekulich.

Arrr, if you still have not gotten your pirate fill,  remember  Pirate Day is on September 19th.

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May 25 2011

Geek Pride

by Joseph M

Have you ever been called a geek? Would you consider yourself geeky in any way? Although traditionally considered a pejorative term, it is increasingly being used self-referentially in a more positive context. There is no universally accepted definition as to what makes someone a geek, but stereotypical geeky characteristics include an interest in video games, comic books, science fiction/fantasy, and other esoteric subjects.

Geek Pride Day is an initiative which claims the right of every person to be a nerd or a geek. It has been observed on May 25 since 2006, honoring the premiere of the first Star Wars film in 1977. The idea for a special day celebrating geekdom originated in Spain in 2006 as “Orgullo Friki” and spread around the world via the internet. In addition to commemorating the Star Wars anniversary, Geek Pride Day showcases the work of two beloved sci-fi/fantasy authors with additional “fan holidays”: Towel Day, for fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams, and the Glorious 25 May, for fans of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

What do you geek out about?

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May 23 2011

Doomsday Already?

by Greg H

By now most of us have probably heard of Harold Camping and his Family Radio Ministry. Mr. Camping has proclaimed that, through his expert study of scriptures, he can confidently state that Jesus is coming back to Earth on May 21st.  After a similar prediction in 1994  didn’t pan out Mr. Camping blamed a miscalculation.

I’ve had experience with only one other Doomsday deadline.  Back in 1973-74 my junior year of high school coincided with the arrival of the Comet Kohoutek. I was moderately excited because this was the first comet I was going to have a chance to see and, after hearing so many tales about the majesty of Haley’s comet, I expected that the night sky was going to be illuminated by a fiery ball with a long glowing tail.  I didn’t expect to hear that the comet was to be the end of us all.

Word came to us via some orange index-sized cards that someone was handing out to students as they arrived at the high school. Kohoutek equaled game over.  The halls buzzed with chatter the way they did when any unexpected shift in the routine, like an assembly, occurred.  The only thing that I remember beyond that is that, when the day of reckoning arrived, I felt a little giddy like some momentous finish line had been reached. If the world was going to end would it do so before I had to go to gym class?  Ultimately the day passed as we all really knew it would; tests were taken, cafeteria food was served, and homework assigned. Kohoutek, never much of a spectacle as a comet, was even less impressive as a portent.

End of the world prophecies are nothing new.  The following titles from our library system will help shed light on this tendency through history.

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May 20 2011

Food in Fantasy Literature

by Jesse M

This evening they had supped on oxtail soup, summer greens tossed with pecans, grapes, red fennel, and crumbled cheese, hot crab pie, spiced squash, and quails drowned in butter. Each dish had come with its own wine. Lord Janos allowed that he had never eaten half so well.
A Clash of Kings

Have you ever read a passage in a fantasy novel describing a hearty meal the characters are about to consume, and found your mouth watering? If so, you’re in good company. Many readers, intrigued (and hungry!) after learning what their favorite characters have been eating, have decided to try their hand at preparing the dishes referenced in books they’ve enjoyed. The passage quoted above, along with the spread of food pictured, is courtesy of a blog called The Inn at the Crossroads, a reference to an inn featured in the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. There are numerous descriptions of food throughout the books in the series, and the authors of the blog have featured over two dozen dishes thus far, each with mouth-watering illustrations and accompanied by the relevant passage from the book in addition to recipes for the dishes. In many cases, two recipes are presented; one medieval version along with a more modern variation.

The bloggers behind Inn at the Crossroads are the most recent in a long line of chefs who have prepared dishes inspired by their reading material. For instance, recipes for food from the seminal Lord of the Rings trilogy (such as Lembas, the highly nutritious elven bread) are featured on a number of websites, one of the best known of which is Middle-Earth recipes. Fans of the Dragonlance series of books by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman might like to try Otik’s spiced potatoes, a recipe for which can be found here. And no list of fantasy literature cuisine would be complete without mentioning the delectable descriptions of foodstuffs from Brian Jacques’ Redwall series. The meals described in the various books of the series were so appealing to fans that in 2005 Jacques published The Redwall Cookbook, which featured recipes for some of the most appetizing dishes.

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I recently paid a visit to a local bookstore.  I don’t visit them too often these days because I generally can be content with borrowing my reading material from the library (yeah, I know, go figure) but this was a huge sale and who can resist a bargain, right?  We made our selections, mostly things the junior member of the household—who holds an advanced degree in manipulation—begged for.  Her beautiful little face threatened to become tear streaked because we were talking about a copy of Llama Llama Misses Mama for her very own (oh, and a bunch of Disney Princess paperbacks she knew better than to mention)  and she actually said, “aren’t books the most  important thing in the world to buy?”  This is how I found myself buying more than I intended because truly, she can beg for a lot of things she’s not going to get (ponies, a BB gun, television in her room, a Mustang)  but she’ll get a book every time she asks.  The pain was lessened by the very pleasant woman at the cash register who chatted so knowledgeably about books.  Then she surprised me by saying that she was not looking forward to using the library once she was unemployed because library books “creeped” her out.  Turns out, she’s got a thing about handling books other people have used.  “You would not believe what people do to books and then try to return them to us,” she told me, shaking her head sadly.

Well, I would believe it because I’ve seen some strange things in books.  In every library system I have ever worked (six to date), I have kept a big envelope on my desk with all the stuff  found in returned books.  Let me tell you, it is staggering.  There are the usual things—money, postcards, fancy bookmarks, dried flora—and then there are the surprising things.  It’s astonishing how many people use their financial documents and family photos for bookmarks.  I once found a letter from the author (dead, highly collectible) tucked in between the flyleaf and the cover.  I’ve also found personal hygiene products, a bag of stuff I’m going to believe was parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, but that we flushed anyway, and one heartbreaking letter someone wrote to her mother, detailing the breakdown of her marriage. I’m not the only person in the world to do this.  Richard Davies has posted his own list.

Of course, along with finding interesting things in books I have handled items that are returned reeking of cigarette smoke, stained with what I will choose to believe is apple juice,  or are full of sand.  As the DCPL budget is now so tight the idea of starting an e-book collection is just a grand dream. I’m hoping everyone who shares the collection with everyone else in DeKalb County will remember that these are borrowed books, CDs, DVDs and magazines and will take a moment to shake out the sand,  clean off the spaghetti sauce and fan the pages to remove personal items before bringing the items back.  Maybe then we can lure in folks like the lady at the bookstore.

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May 13 2011

Strawberry Season

by Ardene W

It’s strawberry season! Strawberry shortcake, strawberry smoothies, angel food cake with strawberries . . . yum! I have fond memories of picking berries in my grandparents’ garden, and not-so-fond memories as an older child of picking them at home, where it became a chore to pick and freeze strawberries every day at the height of the season.

Strawberries grow wild in many places, but did you know that the ones we eat today are descendents of a cross between a flavorful North American native, Fragaria virginia, and a variety from Chile and Argentina, Fragaria chiloensis, with large fruit? And though it isn’t the reason I eat them, they are good sources of Vitamin C.

I eat strawberries, of course, because they taste good. And fresh ones taste better than the ones from the store. Every spring I wish I had planted some in my yard last fall. Luckily for me, there are pick-your -own farms nearby. Take a look at the Georgia Strawberry Growers web page to find a farm near you, or check out the list at this website. If your experience is like mine, it will take you longer to drive there and back than it will take to pick a bucket full.

And if you’re not sure what to do with the bounty, check out these resources at the library:

Although it’s late in the season for planting, you can find out more about growing strawberries at the library too.

Or check out the Georgia Extension Service’s guide to growing strawberries at home.

Finally, if you just don’t want to get out in the sun, here are a few books that feature strawberries:

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May 11 2011

Chess, Game Of Kings

by Joseph M

For centuries, the game of chess has provided entertainment for people all over the world. The game is widely thought to have originated in India and from there traveled first to Persia and then through the Arab world to Europe, evolving into its present form during the 15th century.

On this date in 1997, chess history was made when a chess-playing computer designed by IBM called Deep Blue won a six-game match by two wins to one (with three draws) against world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Kasparov had defeated a previous version of Deep Blue in 1996.

If you’re into chess, or just curious to learn more, the Library has a variety of books on the subject, both fiction and nonfiction.

A few of our fiction titles involving chess include: The Lüneburg variation, Chess Rumble, Zugzwang

As for nonfiction, we have books relating to how the game is played (rules etc), as well as nonfiction devoted to other aspects of the game.

Nonfiction—how to play: Learn Chess in 40 Hours!, Chess for Juniors A Complete Guide to the Beginner, U.S. Chess Federation’s Official Rules of Chess

Nonfiction—miscellaneous: Birth of the Chess Queen, Bobby Fischer Goes To War,
How Life Imitates Chess: Making the Right Moves From the Board to the Boardroom, Behind Deep Blue: Building the Computer that Defeated the World Chess Champion

Want to get in on the fun? A number of DCPL branches have chess clubs that will be meeting over the summer, including Decatur, Tucker-Reid H. Cofer, and Lithonia-Davidson. Contact participating branches for more information. Stone Mountain-Sue Kellogg also has a chess club, but it is on hiatus until September. Other branches will be hosting “Game Days” over the summer, so check our events calendar for more opportunities to get your game on!

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May 9 2011

Mark Your Calendar!

by Greg H

It’s human nature.  When one holiday passes, we’re quick to scan the calendar for when our next one will be, paying special attention to those holidays that mean a day off from work.  But what if you can’t wait a whole month for Memorial Day? Just do a quick search on the internet and you can find lots of other observances and minor holidays to celebrate in the  interim. Some last a day, some just a week, some get a  full month,  but  many are thought-provoking while others are funny and, no doubt intentionally, ridiculous.  For example, May 16-20 is National Bike to Work Week. All that extra bicycling may have led to the creation of  Cover the Uninsured Week, which follows from May 21-28.  Melanoma Monday is always the first Monday in May. I’m all for increased awareness of any serious disease but it is unfortunate that their big day sounds like a Bangles song.  My personal favorite is May 4th’s  Respect for Chickens Day. It turns out that chickens don’t at all mind winding up deep-fried and served up with cole slaw as long as we don’t take them for granted. May 4th is also Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you…get it?  Imagine Obiwan with a lisp.) The very next day is Martin Z. Mollusk Day in Ocean City.  Basically it’s Groundhog Day but with a hermit crab (which, FYI,  is not a mollusk) in place of Punxsutawney Phil.  May eleventh is Eat What You Want Day which, without knowing it, I observe every day.  Tuba Day and No Pants Day share the first Friday in May.   Be wary of anyone celebrating either but turn and run if you see anyone celebrating both!  So you see, there is no dearth of people, places and events to celebrate.  Just don’t expect your boss to green light  your leave request for National Sea Monkey Day (May 16).

May is also Get Caught Reading Month so be sure to visit your local library or your book shelves at home and read in plain sight.

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After reading this recent post about the innovative uses discarded print books were being put to, I decided to delve further into the world of recycled book art and see what I could find. To my delight, I discovered a number of projects that really push the creative envelope by turning old books into works of art.

The first artist whose work we’ll examine is Jacqueline Rushlee, who transforms used books “into sculptures that explore and redefine the book as familiar object, medium, and archetypal form. By scrambling the formal arrangement of the book and transposing its material and conceptual qualities, I aim to create evocative art forms that suggest an alternative narrative.”

Another used book artist is Alexander Korzer-Robinson. His method of book sculpting involves going through the book page by page, cutting around some of the illustrations while removing others.

The third artist we’ll look at is Ryan Novelline, who has constructed a “storybook gown” entirely out of recycled and discarded golden children’s books. Scroll down past the halfway point to see pictures of the construction process!

The final book artist we’ll discuss is also a published author; Jonathan Foer, who is probably most well known for his award winning novel Everything is Illuminated (later adapted into a film starring Elijah Wood). Foer utilized the technique of die-cutting on an old book titled The Street of Crocodiles, in essence sculpting his own new narrative from the older story. You can see pictures and watch videos to learn more about the process by going here.

What other non-traditional, artistic uses have you seen books put to?

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May 4 2011

Enchantment

by Dea Anne M

Born Audrey Kathleen Ruston on May 4 1929, Audrey Hepburn has remained a film icon, a decades long influence on fashion, and a model of humanitarian action. Born in Belgium, she was raised in Britain and in the Netherlands and experienced first-hand the privations and hardships brought on by World War II and Nazi occupation. Trained in classical ballet, she became an actress after being told that her height (she was 5’7″) would prevent her from becoming a prima ballerina. Hepburn began her career on the London stage before beginning to appear in films.

Hepburn’s first starring role in a film was in Roman Holiday (1953) which brought her near instant fame as well as that year’s Oscar for Best Actress. Arguably, her most famous role was as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. What lover of fashion can forget that nearly iconic “little black dress” and picture hat combination? The character’s style and sophistication became synonymous with Hepburn herself and so it seems more than a little odd that Truman Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the role and complained that Hepburn had been “grossly miscast.” Perhaps Hepburn’s most unforgettable portrayal is that of the cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, in My Fair Lady. Julie Andrews had originated the role on Broadway and Hepburn at first asked that Andrews be offered the film. She accepted the role after being told that either she or Elizabeth Taylor would get the part.

Here are other Hepburn films that you’ll find on the shelves at DCPL.

Sabrina (1954), Funny Face (1957), The Children’s Hour (1961), Charade (1963), Two For the Road (1967), and Wait Until Dark (1967).

Although she was modest about her acting talents, Audrey Hepburn is among a handful of people who have won the Academy, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award as well as three Golden Globe awards. In later life, Hepburn, who was fluent in several languages,  became  a dedicated and tireless worker for UNICEF as their Goodwill Ambassador. If you’d like to read more about this interesting and beloved film star and humanitarian, check out these titles from DCPL.

Audrey Hepburn by Barry Paris.

Audrey Hepburn: an elegant spirit written by Hepburn’s son Sean Hepburn Ferrer.

Enchantment: the life of Audrey Hepburn by Donald Spoto.

For a in-depth look at Breakfast at Tiffany’s and the film’s impact on fashion, sexual politics, and other areas of culture try Fifth Avenue, 5 AM: Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the dawn of the modern woman by Sam Wasson.

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