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


Several nights ago, I was doing some rapid-fire channel-surfing and happened upon the documentary Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, a great film about actress/writer Gertrude Berg.  Her groundbreaking radio and television show The Goldbergs was before my time but the story of her life and times had me glued to channel 30 in a way that I hadn’t been in ages or, at least, in a way I hadn’t been since almost a week before. I believe it was the previous Sunday when I’d flipped to channel 30 and landed on the Ken Burns documentary on baseball. It’s in these two instances that I am reminded of the wonders of PBS.

I remember spending many hours with family or on my own soaking in the quality programming of PBS. Whether I was watching the classic 1980s miniseries adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, catching episodes of Sesame Street before and after school or avidly following the early 90s tween show Ghostwriter (I could go into detail about this wonderful show but that’s kind of a whole separate blog post), PBS was the center of my childhood television viewing. Well, it was as long as we didn’t have cable.

In the age of 500 satellite or cable channels, internet and Netflix, it’s pretty easy to drift away from the classy, wholesome, enjoyable if unassuming Public Broadcasting Service. It keeps chugging away, bringing us magnificent programs like Downton Abbey, Antiques Roadshow and NOVA for free (even though they remain ever grateful to “Viewers Like You” for contributions).

So my hat remains doffed and my television remains set to PBS. Below is just a brief list of some of my favorite recent PBS documentaries, available for borrowing from the Library:

Black In Latin America: I was crestfallen for nearly a week as this fascinating series was airing first run on PBS. At the time I was living in an evil apartment complex that, for whatever reason, had the worst signal for PBA 30 and no signal at all for GPB Channel 8.  Several months later, I was able to borrow this series from the Library. The series follows as host Henry Louis Gates Jr. explores the African roots of several Latin American nations like Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

The Jewish Americans: This is an incredibly informative and insightful series that I intend to borrow again but next time with a pen and pad at the ready. Narrated by actor Liev Schreiber, this film follows the Jewish American experience and the community’s contributions to American history and culture. I highly recommend it.

Ken Burns…well, anything really: There isn’t a Ken Burns documentary that I’ve seen that I haven’t been hopelessly in the thrall of. I’ve spent six hours on a lazy Saturday glued to my computer screen watching the advent, the unfolding and unraveling of prohibition. I’ve watched the birth and growth of jazz as an American musical form. I watched a whole lot more of his documentary on the history and dominance of baseball than I’d intended to and I’m not even a casual fan of the game. Burns’ work is the gold standard of documentary series filmmaking.


Over the weeks and weeks that this blog post idea had been brewing in my head, amazing things have been happening. The city of Atlanta was in the throes of football hysteria as our Falcons were beating themselves a path to the NFC Championship and possibly the Super Bowl. Atlantans were buzzing with excitement, anxiety and expectation for their Falcons. Buses, billboards and houses were festooned with the home team’s paraphernalia. I’d even begun engaging folks with the simple “How ’bout them Falcons?” greeting, sometimes opening the door for an avid football fan to hold court about statistics, history and analysis of a sport that is still a bit of a mystery to me.

But I’m finding that not knowing all of the ins-and-outs of football isn’t an outright impediment to enjoying a Sunday afternoon in front of the t.v, watching the game. That is especially true if you can catch the game with friends and family who don’t mind explaining how it all works—as long as you don’t ask too many inane questions or make too many comments about how cute Tony Gonzales is.

Of course, there also are great books in the Library that extol the wonders of football to the uninitiated, the intimidated or the indifferent-until-the-Falcons-have-a-winning-season type of prospective fan. Football for Dummies by Howie Long and John Czarnecki is an obvious first choice for me—I don’t mind admitting to dummyhood. Plus, you can never go wrong with a For Dummies book if you’re in need of straight-forward, easily digestible information.

But another excellent book for football novices is the well-written, extremely entertaining and lovably titled Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching The Game: A Woman’s Guide To Loving Pro Footballby actress, author and football wife Holly Robinson Peete. I’m thoroughly enjoying this book in which Peete shares anecdotes of her love for football and offers her knowledge and insight into the sport.

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Jun 25 2012

I want to do that!

by Amanda L

I have a confession to make, I watch reality television. I love Ax Men, Wild Justice, Swamp People, American Pickers etc.  Recently, I realized that all of these shows are about the interaction between the people within a variety of careers. Watching Ax Men and Wild Justice it gives me a glimpse at what my life would have been like if I hadn’t changed my major in college at the end of my freshman year.

Swamp People and American Pickers fascinate me with how people can earn a learning. I never knew that people could earn a living hunting alligators or buying and selling old things.  There are so many careers out there that I never would have thought were available to people looking for a way to earn a living. What career did you aspire to be a part of when you were younger or what career would you like to pursue now? The library has many books that can give you a glimpse or information about a variety of careers.

Best green careers: explore opportunities in this rapid growing field by Jeffrey Dinsmore

The career chronicles: an insider’s guide to what jobs are really like: the good, the bad, and the ugly from over 750 professionals by Michael Gregory

 Odd jobs: 101 ways to make an extra buck by Abigail Gehring

The complete idiot’s guide to dream jobs by Brian O’Connell


Dec 9 2011

Learning from an Iron Chef and others

by Amanda L

Recently, I have been hooked on those contest cooking shows that seemed to have exploded on to the scene. You might know the ones I’m talking about… Iron Chef, Top Chef, Chopped, etc. It fascinates me that these chefs can make a delicious meal out of those most unusual ingredients. I mean who has ever seen an uni? (If you want to learn more about this ingredient check out this article from Star Chefs online magazine.)

Growing up, I always thought that you had to have a recipe in order to make specific dishes. These shows have shown me that you can make delicious food without a recipe by just knowing some basic techniques, principles and  food parings. When I watch these types of shows, especially the judging, it has reinforced that while cooking uses science to understand the interaction of ingredients it truly is an art in that it is in the eye of the beholder… I mean taster.

The library has several books written by the stars and participants of these shows. While the shows have enabled me to be creative in many of the dishes I make, I still enjoy books that not only inspire me but enhance the information I gather from watching these shows.

Mission Cook by Robert Irvine

Trained by the best European chefs, Robert also shares his cooking philosophy, his best recipes and tips on how to add that special twist to any dish.

The Soul of a new cuisine: a discovery of the foods and flavors of Africa by Marcus Samuelsson

In The Soul of a New Cuisine , Marcus returns to the land of his birth to explore the continent’s rich diversity of cultures and cuisines through recipes and stories from his travels in Africa.

New American Table by Marcus Samuelsson

From the winner of Top Chef Masters An affectionate, thoroughly diverse tribute to the modern American table “I’ll introduce you to friends I’ve met along the way who have shared their foods, told me their stories and inspired me with their passion.

Good Eats: the early years by Alton Brown

Contains more than 140 recipes and close to 1,000 photographs and illustrations from the Peabody Award-winning TV show, “Good Eats”, along with explanations of techniques, lots of food-science information (of course!) and more food puns, food jokes and food trivia than you can shake a wooden spoon at.

Michael Symon’s Live to Cook by Michael Symon

Michael tells the amazing story of his whirlwind rise to fame by sharing the food and incredible recipes that have marked his route.

Cooking from the Hip by Cat Cora

Iron Chef America, Cat Cora is used to improvising exciting dishes on a moment’s notice. In this book she shows you how to do it too, whether you want a spur-of-the-moment supper or a spectacular dinner that doesn’t require spending your whole Saturday in the kitchen.

Top Chef: the quickfire cookbook

Everything the home chef needs to assemble an impressive meal and channel the energy of the Quickfire kitchen is collected here, including advice on hosting a Quickfire Cocktail Party and staging Quickfire Challenges at home

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Aug 17 2011

King of the Wild Frontier

by Joseph M

Today marks the birth of Davy Crockett, one of the more iconic figures of the American frontier. When I was a kid, he was one of my favorite folk-heroes, and I have vague but fond memories of watching the TV miniseries. Growing up in San Antonio I had plenty of occasions to visit the Alamo, where Crockett died in battle, and I was the proud owner of a faux coonskin cap purchased at the giftshop there.

DCPL has a wealth of resources to help you explore the life and legends of Davy Crockett, including books for both children and adults. Try searching with his name in the catalog, or take a look at his entry on Biography in Context, one of our Reference Databases, which you can access with your library card.


Jul 19 2011

To Be Young, Gifted and Adored

by Veronica W

Just to give my eyes a rest from the six hundred plus pages novel I was reading, I picked up the television remote and started channel surfing—two hundred channels and I have perhaps four that I visit on a regular basis. In my travels I reached PBS and stopped.  An aria was in progress and the soaring rendition of Nessun Dorma grabbed me.  Please understand that I am not a huge opera fan, although I have some favorite songs, Nessun Dorma being one of them.   However this time, it wasn’t the song which caught my attention, but the singer.  She was 11-year-old Jackie Evancho.

Since her debut on America’s Got Talent, Miss Evancho has taken off like the proverbial house on fire.  It’s amusing to watch the faces of the audience as they sit, stunned by her voice.  Watching and listening to her, however, made me reflect on the lives of child stars. The annals of Hollywood are filled with tales of super talented kids who have taken off, soared high, then crashed and burned.  From Jackie Cooper, who was the first child star to win an Academy Award nomination, to Melissa Gilbert, who grew up on Little House on the Prairie and on to Jaden Smith, Dakota Fanning, Joey King and China Anne McClain, these are young lives which changed because of their gifts.   Sometimes I wonder, have we done these “mega minis” a disservice?  If fame is hard for adults to handle, will children fare any better?

Whether you believe all gifts, regardless of the gifted one’s age, belong to the world or instead, feel a “normal” childhood is best, there are a number of interesting books which address the issue.  My favorite title is Get That Cutie in Commercials, Television, Films and Videos.  Additional reading includes Teaching a Young Actor, Raising a Star and Shirley Temple: A Pictorial History of the World’s Greatest Child Star.  There are also countless articles addressing the pros and cons of child stardom.

When I read about the tortured lives of some of today’s Hollywood starlets, I am in one camp. However I loved Melissa Gilbert in Little House and along with countless others, am awed by Jackie Evancho.  Take a listen to her, then choose your camp:


Jul 6 2011

Getting Into The Game

by Joseph M

I have to admit that I’m not much of a sports fan, but I’ve always had a soft spot for soccer. Other than teeball, soccer (or football, to the rest of the world) was the only “league” sport I ever participated in, and while I was certainly not the best player around, I have fond memories of my experiences. That probably has a lot to do with my interest in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Normally I have little use for televised sports, but I can really get into these games. Right now we are right in the middle of the World Cup, which runs from June 26 through July 17 and is being hosted in Germany. You can find out more at the official FIFA website. You can also peruse our collection of books on the subject, such as The Simplest Game: The Intelligent Fan’s Guide to the World of Soccer by Paul Gardner, or The Best of Pro Soccer by Heather Adamson.

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Jun 24 2011

ShareReads: Talk Show

by Ken M

ShareReads appears on the DCPLive blog on Fridays. Each week, a different person will share a little about what they’re currently reading, and why they like or don’t like it. The heart of ShareReads will be responses from blog readers, and the window of opportunity here is wide. Feel free to respond and discuss the book or author being mentioned, ask or answer a question, or even take the conversation in a different direction: mention what you are currently reading, and how you feel about it. The point of ShareReads is to have an ongoing discussion about books and reading. Remember: posting a response also counts as an activity for the Summer Reading for Adults program.

A few years ago, I was driving home after visiting a friend, and happened to turn on the radio. I tuned in during a segment in which Dick Cavett was talking with an interviewer about the DVD release of some collections of episodes of the Dick Cavett Show. I didn’t watch his programs when they were on the air (I was too young), but I knew of his work. I was curious to see some of these episodes, and was delighted to find these collections available in the library catalog. Watching these, I became a new fan.

Not too long after that, I found that Mr. Cavett had a blog on the New York Times website. I don’t think it was promoted in the radio interview, and I can’t remember how I stumbled onto it. I followed the blog for several weeks, and then life got busier, as life tends to do, and I fell out of the habit of reading it. Recently, I was very happy to see the publication of Talk Show: Confrontations, Pointed Commentary and Off-Screen Secrets. This is a compilation of many of those blog entries, with some additional editing and comments from Mr. Cavett. Now I could catch up on what I missed, without the aid of an electronic device, enjoying it in comfy book form.

The book revisits some of his shows, and includes reflections on Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal, Groucho Marx, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Richard Burton, Bobby Fischer, Janis Joplin, and lots more. Some of the material about these famous folks is not from the shows at all; it comes from the author’s recollections of other conversations and encounters.

It’s not all about showbiz, rock stars and celebrities, however. There are articles on current events (well, current at the time they were written anyway), and topics which affect us all, like coincidence or depression. Laughter mixed with insight and intelligence can be found on most every page. In fact, I laughed at Mr. Cavett’s famous wit right to the very end of the book. Whether one chooses to dip into it an article at a time or read straight through, I hope there’s another reader out there who enjoys Talk Show as I did.


Jun 6 2011

Backing the Wrong Horse

by Greg H

I don’t come from horse country so none of the major thoroughbred races held in the spring are that important to me.  Unless some horse is closing in on something historic, like the Triple Crown, I’m content  to find out who the winners are after the fact.  This year, however, a friend decided to hold a Kentucky Derby Party so nine or ten of us gathered at her house, downed a complimentary mint julep and commenced picking our horses.  I knew right away that I would have a difficult time of it.  My first criteria is whether the horse has a cool name and none of these horses had a name that was very cool or clever.  Since a racing form looks like Martian calculus to me, I had to fall back on other means of choosing.  I’ve always enjoyed the Dos Equis beer commercials featuring the “Most Interesting Man in the World” so I picked Stay Thirsty to win.  I liked that Comma to the Top had a form of punctuation in his name so I picked him to finish second, willfully ignoring the fact that the name also sounded like complete gibberish.  Finally, I allowed sentiment to dictate my last pick. Jockey Calvin Borel had ridden the last two Kentucky Derby winners and had a chance to win his third in a row. Because of that I chose his horse, Twice the Appeal, for third place.  I wasn’t the only person to make my picks in a less than expert manner. At least a couple of people chose the horse whose trainer is a woman who underwent a heart transplant, while others picked the horse with the lone female jockey in the field.  In other words, there’s a lot to consider.

It took a while but, after much pageantry and parading, the horses were settled and then burst out of the starting gate.  I was thrilled to see that at the half way point Comma to the Top was holding on in second place, right where I’d picked him!  After that, however, all was a blur of horses surging forward and dropping back until the pack crossed the finish line.  Stay Thirsty finished in twelfth and Twice the Appeal in tenth.  Comma to the Top, the only horse I chose whose name had even been mentioned during the race, finished nineteenth, which is a nicer way of saying dead last.  I thought that his name might more accurately be changed to Period since he showed up at the very end of a long list of names.

Next year I’ll try making my selections based on the colors the jockey is wearing.  In the meantime, there is still one more big race coming up. Readers interested in more information about the races that make up the Triple Crown may want to consider checking out the following books:


Mar 11 2011

A Dance With Dragons

by Jesse M

Big news for fantasy fans: author George R. R. Martin has announced an official publication date for the long awaited fifth installment of his celebrated A Song of Ice and Fire series! Originally slated to be published in 2007, A Dance With Dragons will finally be on shelves by July 12 of this year.  But the good news doesn’t end there.
Martin has also been hard at work adapting a miniseries, “A Game of Thrones“, based on his novels for HBO. The first episode will debut in just over a month, on April 17. HBO has just released a trailer for the series, which you can watch here.

For those not in the know, George R. R. Martin is a prolific and acclaimed author of science fiction and fantasy. Dubbed “the American Tolkien” by TIME magazine, he also possesses the distinction of being my favorite fantasy writer of all time. You can read more about the author and his work at his website, and learn more about the world in which the novels are set here.