Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So Long and Thanks for All the.....

Fans of the late science fiction author Douglas Adams may think the next word in that title sentence should be "Fish," but they would be wrong. * (The aquarium on the second floor is nice, but it's not one of my favorite things at the library.) Instead I am saying so long and thanks for all the ... great books, wonderful co-workers, videos, music, magazines, and programs that I've enjoyed while working at the 3rd floor Readers' Services desk. So many good times, so many talented people. Work. Play. Learn. Create. Dream. and soon ... Remember. Anyway, the reason for the "so long" is that after 10 years here, and over 30 years in private industry, I've decided to retire at the end of October. While I will miss ordering the mystery books and interfacing with my co-workers, my second love is gardening. This year I became a Master Gardener with the University of Illinois Extension service and have made many new friends with lots of new volunteer opportunities that require free weekends. The picture above is me at one of our volunteer booths in front of the library, standing next to a vertical art project that two of my fellow Master Gardener interns created. We had a great time that weekend, following the extension service's motto of "teaching others to learn to grow." I hope to do more projects like this one, join a garden club or two, and take a few more classes.

Since I live in town you'll still see me around because I just can't stay away from books. (Thank goodness for the Mobile Library because it makes a stop every other week just a half a block from our house.) I'll also still be working with that great group of people who care about the future of the library, the Friends of the Des Plaines Library, and may show up at library board meetings from time to time to keep track of what the new board members have in store for my library. In other words... there's really no getting rid of me.

In addition to gardening I will also be spending more time with my husband Ken, and my gray tabby cat Maggie. (Maggie's picture has often been featured in my previous blog posts so of course, she must be in this one too.) It's been a great run and thanks for all the good times!

* So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is the
4th book in the Hitchhiker's Guide "trilogy" by Douglas Adams. If you haven't read it I would highly recommend it. Who knows? You may just discover the answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything!

Posted by Linda Knorr - formerly of Readers' Services

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"What Music They Make"

The spooky season is here and this Halloween I'm going retro. If, like me, you are appalled by the violence and lack of imagination of most of the scary movies of today, might I recommend a return to where it all began: the Universal Pictures monster films of the 1930's and 40's.

When Bela Lugosi, starring as Dracula in the self-titled 1931 Universal studios hit, noticed wolves howling outside of Castle Dracula and said, "Listen to them, the children of the night - what music they make" he ushered in an unforgettable era of film-making that still resonates today. Universal would pump out 23 films over the next 17 years featuring Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein's monster, the Invisible Man, and the Wolf Man. Using new camera techniques, cutting-edge special effects for the time, and innovative costuming and make-up ideas (masterminded by Jack Pierce, pictured above) these films leapt into the imagination of the general public.

Recently, Universal has put together DVD editions known as the Legacy series for each of these monsters. They all include the character's original movie, the sequels that followed, and a documentary on how the movies were made, plus special features that include commentary during the film (a must-watch for anyone interested in film history). Here at Des Plaines Public we have the following Legacy editions: Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, and The Wolf Man.

Have some fun experiencing the thrills of yesteryear.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chopping at the Frozen Sea

The author Franz Kafka once stated in a letter to a friend, "A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us". A Kenyan proverb says, "Having a good discussion is like having riches". In other words, if you feel like chipping away at your soul while learning about what others think and have it all feel like a million bucks, come to the Des Plaines Public Library where we have book discussions every month.

There are two book groups here at DPPL: one that meets the 1st Tuesday of every month at 10am and one that meets the second Thursday at 7.30pm. These are not exclusive book clubs, but ones where anyone is welcome to attend. The schedule of titles and books for the book group are at the 3rd floor Readers Services desk. You may also access the schedule on our website under the tab Events/Programs and then Adult Calendar or you can click here. The 2011 book group schedule will be coming soon.

For every discussion that is completed, we take copies of the book that were lent out to the registrants and add them into the Book Group collection, on the west side of the 3rd floor. So if you are looking to do your own personal book group, this is an excellent location to scout as we have multiples of many titles.

So, if you are free Tuesday mornings or Thursday evenings, feel like reading a book you can sink your teeth into, and delving into a hearty discussion about it: the library is the place for you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hollywood Goes to Washington

The Honorable Rufus T. Firefly, President of Freedonia

Turn off your phone, unplug your t.v. and do not answer your doorbell. It's election season.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating that you don't vote. The issues at stake in the upcoming elections are as serious as they have ever been, and I encourage everyone to exercise their constitutional privilege.

What I'm against are the so-called political campaigns. The issues are never discussed. Instead, we get a media barrage of name-calling and untruths. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent trying to confuse, distract and obfuscate.

Well, if I'm going to be lied to, I'd rather pay $10 and go to the movies. Or better yet, go to the library and borrow some movies for absolutely nothing. Plus, the actors who play the politicians are much more handsome.

Here's a list of some of my favorite movies featuring elections, campaigns and presidencies. None of them will call you on the phone, stuff up your mailbox and invade your television. And they're all free at the Des Plaines Public Library.

Comedies: Bulworth, Dave, Duck Soup, Primary Colors and Wag the Dog.

Dramas: All the King's Men, Frost/Nixon, JFK, The Manchurian Candidate (both versions), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Nixon, and Thirteen Days.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Born in 1759. Alive in 2010

Candide, he's a splendid character. And a character he is. That picture to the left is his creator, Voltaire, the French writer, poet, philosopher of the 18th century. Candide moves through his life of abandonment, treachery and brutality with a sense of wonder and optimism. He's searching for his one and only love Cunegonde as wars ravish Europe and pirates roam the high seas. As he suffers, he keeps repeating the mantra his teacher Pangloss professed "all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds."

Recommending a classic does not come easy to me, but Candide has it all: adventure, romance and great sardonic wit.

After reading the many reviews of the current Goodman Theater production, I approached Candide from various fronts. Printed book, audiobook, and Leonard Bernstein's music from the Broadway production. A multi-media event with items found at the library. Delightful and accessible. I invite you to find Candide the next time you are in the mood for something new (old) to read.

PS - Speaking of the classics, Barbara Brotman of the Chicago Tribune recently wrote an article providing tips to enjoy a Chicago Symphony Concert titled "Advice on etiquette at the orchestra." Turns out the atmospheric gallery seats are the best for the acoustics.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Getting Younger as I Get Older

I wise old friend of mine always used to say, "what's the point of growing old if you can't act like a kid?" Sometimes for a change of pace I enjoy reading a book aimed at young adults. It seems the best ones are a fast-paced interesting read that still address some serious life issues. But they don't bury the issues under a lot of literary devices like is often in adult literary fiction. I end up with the satisfaction of a serious book club book in a fast paced thriller that I can read in a day or two. All the grown-ups who enjoyed Harry Potter know what I mean.

One such book that I recently read was the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It is the first book in a series (the third book Mockingjay just came out earlier this year). Like Harry Potter, this has been an incredibly popular book, so much so that the library actually owns more than 20 copies.

Some other young adult books that I have read as an adult and enjoyed are:
Whirligig by Paul Fleischman
Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

We keep many of these books in the High School section on the third floor of the library. It is a good place to simply browse for a quality read even if you are a grown up. Are there some kids books you have liked reading as an adult?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Channeling Henry James and The Opposite Sex

Eilis Lacey is a young, working class Irishwoman who reluctantly immigrates to America, settling in Brooklyn in the 1950s, where she becomes a stronger, more independent woman. Henry James is born into a prominent American family in 1843 and becomes one of the great novelists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

What do these two have in common? Both are the richly imagined protagonists of novels by Irish writer Colm Toibin, who is blessed with what Willa Cather termed "the gift of sympathy."

In his novel based on the life of Henry James, aptly titled The Master, Toibin tunnels so deeply into the mind of his fictional Henry James that I felt as though, yes, this is exactly what James must have felt, though rationally, of course, I recognize that it's ultimately a fictional rendering of James.

Toibin is no less insightful in his latest novel, Brooklyn, which won the Costa Book Award and which is the selection of the Thursday evening book group on October 14th at 7:30. (You can register and pick up a copy of the book at the 3rd floor Readers' Services desk.) Especially impressive is Toibin's ability to view the world through the eyes of his young heroine; not every author can write convincingly from the point of view of the opposite sex. Willa Cather and Gustave Flaubert, in My Antonia and Madame Bovary, respectively, are two who excelled at this. Into which company I'd add Colm Toibin.

Here's a passage about the heroine of Brooklyn, Eilis: "She found herself thanking him in a tone that Rose might have used, a tone warm and private but also slightly distant though not shy either, a tone used by a woman in full possession of herself. It was something she could not have done in the town or in a place where any of her family or friends might have seen her."

What author has impressed you with his or her ability to write convincingly from the perspective of the opposite sex?

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Philologist's Dream

You can't buy ten-dollar words like these at a ten-cent store. But you can adopt the words ten-cent store at SaveTheWords.org. When you adopt a word on this website, you "promise to use this word, in conversation and correspondence, as frequently as possible to the very best of [your] ability."

Bringing words like
pication (n. - application of warm pitch to the skin as a medical treatment) back into daily use might be difficult -- unpleasant, even. But imagine all the preschool artists and margin doodlers who decorate with stars, or starrify. And unfortunately, the current economic and political climate seems to cry out for the return of words like ptochology (n. - study of beggars and unemployment), and -- I'm not making this up -- vampirarchy (n. - a set of rulers comparable to vampires).

Click on
Spread The Word for ways to keep these endangered words alive: challenge a friend to a game of scrabble, choose a unique name for your pet, or get a tattoo. You can even buy a T-shirt to support the cause.

So if you enjoy language and you sometimes find modern vocabulary to be vappous (adj. - flat or bland), or you are simply an inveteratist (n. - one who resists reform; one who holds on to tradition) seeking to appreciate earlier times, choose a word that suits you and use it. Who knows, it may catch on again.