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


Jul 27 2011

Going to the dogs

by Dea Anne M

In case you haven’t been paying attention to the weather (which seems impossible I know) we are now in the midst of the dog days. A lot of folks think the the phrase “dog days” comes from the way domestic dogs will lay around during hot humid weather. I know I did. It turns out the term comes from the Latin “dies caniculares” which the Romans used to refer to the hottest days of summer usually falling between early July and early September in the northern hemisphere. The ancients believed that Sirius, the “Dog Star,” was responsible for the extreme heat and humidity. Apparently, Sirius was a pretty testy celestial body and prone to frequent fits of temper. According to John Brady’s Clavis Calendarium the dog days were a time when “the seas boiled” and “wine turned sour.” Also, “dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrenzies.”

So, best we all avoid our own hysterics by staying indoors, and passing the time with a book. In keeping with the seasonal theme, check out these offerings from DCPL.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the animal origins of common phrases, pick up a copy of  Dog Days and Dandelions: a lively guide to the animal meanings behind everyday words by Martha Barnette. Or you might enjoy Black Sheep and Lame Ducks: the origins of even more phrases we use everyday by Jack Albert.

Kids can keep cool and enjoy There’s a Frog In my Throat!: 440 animal sayings a little bird told me by Loreen Leedy and Pat Street.

If you’re in the mood for a movie, consider Dog Day Afternoon, Sidney Lumet’s 1975 drama about a bank robbery that goes about as wrong as it possibly can. Starring Al Pacino as a  first-time bank robber, the film garnered 6 Oscar nominations and won Best Original Screenplay. The cast is excellent particularly Pacino whose portrayal of Sonny is absolutely mesmerizing. Heavy on atmosphere, the movie perfectly captures the seediness and heat of an August day in 70’s era Brooklyn. One reviewer said “…you can almost smell the garbage baking” which I realize may not appeal, but this film is considered, quite rightly in my opinion, to be an American classic.

Stay cool!

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Jul 14 2010

I scream. You scream.

by Dea Anne M

Lately, I find myself having thoughts like “Whoever invented air conditioning should have received a prize.” (something on the order of a Nobel is what comes to mind). I also ask myself the idle question “How did people cool off before air conditioning?” knowing full well that most of the world’s population gets along without what many of us consider an utter necessity. Of course, what we eat and drink can go a long way toward making us feel more comfortable in sweltering weather. Much of the planet’s citizens know that hot peppers, due to their sweat inducing properties, can help conquer the heat. Many of us would put in a vote for a frosty bottle of beer. Of course, a lot of us hard-core Southerners will vow that nothing beats a tall glass of iced tea.

For me though, the supreme heat soother is ice cream.  What’s my favorite flavor? All of them! I maintain a fond nostalgia for the garish purple color and Nehi flavor of the grape ice cream that I always ordered at the ice cream parlor of my Orlando childhood. I remember too a more recent ice cream experience. The flavor was basil (unusual but delicious) and it followed a bouillabaisse that featured a tiny squid tentacle sticking up out of the bowl (unusual and not delicious).  But the ice creams I enjoy the most are the ones that I make at home.  Making ice cream is a straight forward procedure and most ice cream makers come with instructions plus simple recipes. To help with your more ambitious, and delicious, ice cream projects DCPL has some great resources.

For making ice cream, check out these titles.

The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks and More by Bruce Weinstein

The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas,  and Sweet Accompaniments by David Lebovitz

Do you like a little history with your ice cream?

A Month of Sundaes by Michael Turback

…and remember…kids love ice cream too.

Ice Cream Larry by Daniel Pinkwater

Give it a try! So what’s my favorite flavor today? It would have to be Brown Sugar Peaches and Cream.  I made a batch this weekend. It was delicious…if I do say so myself.

Maybe next time I’ll invite you over.