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OCTOBER 31, 2010
This past week both of my co-workers posted blogs that capture some aspect of Halloween. Numerous other bloggers have polled their readers for votes for the scariest books, the spookiest films. So what's left for me to talk about? I've already confessed that the book that gave me the creeps was Stephen King's Pet Sematary, this is a post to Library Journal's Shelf Renewal. Yep, that Carol is me. I told Megan that the most frightening movie I ever watched was about a woman who goes undercover in an asylum and then can't prove she's not crazy. I thought Joan Crawford was in this one but it doesn't seem to be Straight Jacket , Berserk or The Caretakers. All I know is I saw it late night at a movie theater in my teens; had to walk home alone to an empty house and was scared to death. Any ideas?
Immediately what comes to mind is Bobby Boris Pickett & the Cryptkicker's classic, Monster Mash. Hey, this is my music and a mega hit in the 60's. It was released as a single and an LP called The Original Monster Mash, which contained lots of frightening diddies. Then there's Michael Jackson's 1982 Thriller, song and video with it's dancing dead. If this one doesn't ring creepy, I don't know what will? But what else? I've got soundtracks of music with creaky doors, bloody screams and things that go bump in the night. I used to play these for all the kiddies trick or treating to our door. This may explain why I haven't had a kid come calling for years. Must have scared them all away.
There's a great group called Midnight Syndicate out of Chardon, Ohio, who've got the right attitude for Halloween with their atmospheric Gothic music. Titles include Vampyre and Out of the Darkness among others.
You can't deny that music makes a horror movie a whole lot scarier. Think the themes to Jaws, Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, Poltergeist, Halloween, Rosemary's Baby, Phantom of the Opera and many, many more. If you do a search for horror movie composers you'll come up with certain names that connoisseurs of this genre mention over and over. Howard Shore (Twilight) Franz Reizenstein (The Mummy), Benjamin Frankel (Curse of the Werewolf, Malcolm Williamson (Brides of Dracula), Danny Elfman (Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas, Beetlejuice), Bernard Herrmann (Psycho), John Carpenter (Halloween). Paul Dunlap (I Was a Teenage Werewolf).
Halloween afternoon found me listening to a CBC Radio Canada presentation, Unsettling Scores, narrated by Howard Shore, composer and conductor. This was a very interesting hour exploring how music stimulates your emotions and is a catalyst for fear and terror. Bernard Herrmman tells how Hitchcock wanted no music in the movie Psycho. Herrmann showed the grand master of horror a few scenes without music and then with it. Hitchcock immediately wanted music When Herrmman pointed out Hitch's initial order for a movie without music, Hitchcock graciously admitted that he had made a poor suggestion. Imagine Psycho without that knife slashing music. In this film Herrmann used only strings to create the tension. In Journey to the Center of the Earth he used all instruments but strings.
Here's a few cd's on our shelves
Monsters, ghouls, goblins & demons : the essential Halloween party collection. ;
Andrew Gold's Halloween howls
Now it's your turn...know of any really great spooky music to scare us silly? Frighten us with your picks!
OCTOBER 29, 2010
Are you afraid of the dark?
I was scared of lots of things when I was little. I was really scared of E.T. For some reason I thought he would hide under my bed and then scare me by stretching his neck out like he did in the movie. I also went through a phase where I was sure that someone was going to break into our house while my family was sleeping, so for a while I was scared to go to bed. I was scared of dark, and I never liked being home alone. But, despite all this I LOVED scary stories. I owned and read all of Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in Dark books, and can still clearly remember the incredibly creepy illustrations. For example I never forgot the wolf girl, or the girl that had spiders crawl out of her face:
(BTW: These books often make their way onto banned and challenged book lists!)
I also remember reading Wait Till Helen Comes, by Mary Downing Hahn over and over in fourth grade. I still remember the final scenes where Helen, a ghost, tries to drown the main character. Hahn just came out with a new spooky story called, The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall.
Nowadays I am probably a bigger scaredy cat then when I was young. I never read scary stories and I never watch scary movies. I still hate being home alone and I am still scared of the dark. So come Halloween I am much more apt to promote our funny and silly Halloween stories, some of my favorites include:
Have a safe and happy Halloween!
Ewww. I still don’t like him.
OCTOBER 28, 2010
GREAT PUMPKIN IS COMING TO TOWN
Oh, you better not shriek,
You better not groan,
You better not howl,
You better not moan,
Great Pumpkin is comin' to town!
He's going to find out,
From folks that he meets,
Who deserves tricks,
And who deserves treats,
Great Pumpkin is comin' to town!
He'll search in every pumpkin patch,
Haunted houses far and near,
To see if you've been spreading gloom,
Or bringing lots of cheer.
So, you better not shriek,
You better not groan,
You better not howl,
You better not moan,
Great Pumpkin is comin' to town!
OCTOBER 25, 2010
I hear it all the time. Lots of New Englander’s love fall and I’ll have to agree. It’s a beautiful time of year with the changing colors of the leaves and the clean, crisp weather. It makes you want to get out in the good outdoors and do something. Jumping intopiles of leaves is a bit beyond me these days but there’s plenty more to do with all the wonderful festivals held this time of year.
One of my favorite fall places to go is to see the Annual Scarecrow Festival on the green at the Publick House, Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Considering this was the 21st year it amazes me that people can come up with new and creative scarecrows. It’s definitely a family event and fun to visit. The scarecrows are crafted by groups, families, businesses, artisans and individuals with visitors voting for their favorites in each of several categories and prizes awarded at The Harvest Festival.
My favorite creations this year are below. The flower is made of trace hands and includes each contributing child's name (hard to see in the photo). I wasn’t there for the vote this year so am not certain who won but they were all deserving as far as I’m concerned.
Another great event right in our own back yard is Haunted Happenings in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem claims there’s no place in the world who celebrates Halloween with such fun and magic as they do and I’d have to agree. Salem is an interesting place to visit anytime of year but October the city is besieged with visitors. Though some come to hear the story behind the 1692 trials and hangings of those accused of being witches, most are looking for the festive side of Halloween. Salem is rich in history. Besides the gruesome hangings of innocents accused of being witches, it has awesome architecture, an old maritime history, a beautiful harbor and of course, The House of Seven Gables which was built by a sea captain, John Turner by 1668. The house was the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name. Salem is home to many practicing witches but their numbers swell on October 31st when over a thousand witches come to Salem to march to Gallows Hill where the innocents were hanged. A Halloween visit is worth the trip at least once in a lifetime.
A couple of friends and I joined a bus tour out of Hampton this past weekend and joined the crowds of Halloween revelers. Here’s a picture of one of the best costumed people I saw. There were quite a few witches running around and I got a kick out of the different renditions of what witch looks like.
Last but not least I’d like to mention Roger Williams Zoo, Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. It is, well, spectacular! Thousands of carved, illuminated pumpkins are on view throughout a winding path in the zoo. Tickets are sold separately for this event held this year
October 7 – 31, 2010, nightly, rain or shine, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. (trail closes by 11 p.m.). It is not to be missed!
Want to find somewhere to go yourself? Check out these materials available at our library.
Yankee Magazine – always lists the best of the best of what’s happening in New England.
Historic festivals : a traveler's guide by George Cantor ; with foreword by Armando Moreno.
Though this is a 1996 edition, it’s still got lots of great suggestions.
USA 101 : a guide to America's iconic places, events, and festivals by Gary McKechnie.
OCTOBER 22, 2010
Thumbs up, Thumbs down
Great House, by Nicole Krauss
There has been a lot of buzz about this latest novel from Nicole Krauss, author of The History of Love, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you have already read a number of reviews or heard it reviewed on NPR. If you have, you know that in Great House, Kruass writes about the lives of seemingly unrelated people, their only tie being that they have all, at one time or another, been the owners of this large, old, wooden, desk.
As the stories move on along from desk owner to desk owner you can see another factor that ties all the characters together; they are all lonely. In this way the book has a depressing feel, but in spite of that I am really enjoying it. Each of the characters stories says something bigger about life, loneliness, and human nature. Krauss’s writing is smart, and the stories she weaves together are creative and interesting. She has managed to turn a large wooden desk into a character itself, so much so that just describing it as a ‘large, old, wooden, desk’ like I did above, doesn’t do it justice.
I should add that I have not finished the book yet, but I think I can see where the story is going. I don’t know that all the ‘loose ends’ of the book will get neatly wrapped up but that doesn’t bother me. If you want happy endings and no questions left unanswered I don’t think Great House is the book for you, but if you want to read meaningful, well crafted writing then stop by the library and give this book a try.
The Ape House, by Sara Gruen
I waited until a few weeks ago to read Sara Gruen’s novel Water for Elephants, which has been recommended to me more times than I can count. The main reason I was finally motivated to read it was that Carol was talking about the new book out by Sara Gruen, Ape House, where a group of apes that know sign language get stolen from the lab they live in and put on a reality TV show where they continue to communicate to the lab scientists over the airwaves. Great premise right? Weeeell, it could have been great, but in my humble opinion the story was executed poorly. Without giving too many spoilers, here are a few of my complaints:
The events following the ‘ape theft’ seemed really unrealistic to me for a number of reasons. Many of the characters are stereotypes and fall flat. And, there are a bunch of cheesy side stories, one being that the main characters seem like they are falling in love, another about a possible estranged child, and a story line where the reporters wife has a stint writing for a TV show in Hollywood, all of which seem to detract from the main story and fizzle out instead of being resolved. I liked (not loved) Water for Elephants, so I was pretty disappointed with Ape House.
I would love to hear someone else’s opinion of these two new books. If you have read either one please jump in and tell me what you think!
OCTOBER 20, 2010
Today is World Statistics Day! Who even knew that such a day existed? I must admit, I like statistics. I find them fascinating. A long time ago in a world far away, I taught statistics. I can say with complete confidence, ANY one can do statistics and understand statistics. Sure, there is a point where the formulas build to an extent that give most sane people a headache, but most people never, ever need to get to that point.
In fact, people use statistics all the time! We use them in cooking, we use them in conversation, we use them with our budgets, but we don’t often think about that way. Being a librarian, I like library statistics:
- There are more than 15,000 public libraries in the U.S., that’s more than McDonalds.
- Americans spend nine times as much on home video games (1.5 billion) as they do on school library materials for their children.
- Only 40% o the public access the Internet at home.
-Americans make some 3.5 billion visits to school, public, and college libraries each year, that’s about 3 times the attendance at movie theaters.
-U.S. public library cardholders outnumber Amazon customers by almost 5 to 1.
In Columbia, for 2009-2010,
- We circulated 6,925 items more than last year, that increase in circulation is more than the number of law suit’s filed against BP.
- Our total circulation for 09-10 was more than there are possible ways of playing the first two turns of a chess game. (There are 72,084 ways of playing the first two turns, our total circ. was 73,343.)
- We offered 6 book groups and 87 story times, that’s more story time days than Jules Verne suggested days to travel around the world.
I know not every one shares my interest in statistics. I also have heard, a lot, statistics lie. It’s true, one can lie with statistics, BUT only to people who don’t know statistics!
Want to know more statistics or more about statistics? You should check out the library!!
Calculated risks : how to know when numbers deceive you / Gerd Gigerenzer. ;
Math to know : a mathematics handbook / Mary C. Cavanagh.
The numbers game : the commonsense guide to understanding numbers in the news, in politics, and in life / by Michael Blastand, Andrew Dilnot. ;
OCTOBER 18, 2010
On the Road, Part 2
Elkhart, IN is home to beautiful farmland, a large Amish and Mennonite population and is the RV Capital of the World. Many brands of RV are manufactured and also sold in Elkhart. We had hopes that we would be able to visit some plants, see the RV's made, with possible purchase in mind for the future. The best laid plans...The major RV dealer, Keystone, had planned a dealer only trade show for the week of our visit. Many of the tours were suspended. Though dealers were invited for the show, there was no indication of this event on any of the RV websites prior to our trip. This also made lodging a premium as dealers from all over the country were converging on Elkhart. Fortunately two smaller dealers did hold tours. Believe it or not it is fascinating to see an RV built from trailer bed up. We also visited The National RV Hall of Fame which I didn't know existed until we decided to visit Elkhart. Even if you've never camped or considered a trailer or RV, this museum is worth the trip The senior ticket price of $6 is minimal to view this excellent display of trailers and RV's dating back to the early 1900's. Each trailer is presented in a natural setting and props are appropriate to the season; in this case, autumn. You can walk through most units and it really is a superior display. The museum also houses an excellent library and current showcase of new RV's. The second floor consists of pictures honoring the inductees to the Hall of Fame which is described as such"
"Shortly after the RV/MH Heritage Foundation was formed in March 1972, the Foundation honored the inaugural class of inductees into the RV/MH Hall of Fame. Since that time 322 industry pioneers and leaders have joined the elite group."
Elkhart and surrounding towns were also participating in a Quilt Garden Tour. This seasonal tour includes 17 large-scale living quilts gardens consisting of flowers that make up the quilt patterns and also 17 quilt murals. These have been on display since Memorial Day running through October 1st. The ones we saw were absolutely stunning. For instance the one at Das Dutchman Essenhaus Inn And Conference Center, Middlebury planted The Weathervane Garden Quilt which was 40'x60'. an area of 2,400 sq. feet. It contained over 8,688 flowers, Safari Mix Marigolds, Silver Lace Dusty Miller, Hawaii Blue Ageratum, Hot Line Red Salvia and Yellow Boy Marigolds. Das Dutchman's Mural was a Double Wedding Ring pattern and was 14'x14 and took 25 hours to create.
Eventually we made it to French Lick, Indiana, home of Pluto Water. Two grand resorts are located here, The French Lick Springs Resort: America's Grand Dame, and West Baden Hotel. In their heyday they were the place to go for many of the railroad barons. The wealthy and their families came to French Lick for rest and relaxation and the benefits of their mineral springs which turned out to have more of a laxative effect than a relaxing one. Pluto Water was like liquid gold. Both resorts have seen major renovations in part due to the Historic Landmarks Foundation and are quite stunning and opulent. It was Pumpkin Festival Time in French Lick and we had some of the best chili at The American Legion Hall which was a bargain at $2.00 but cost my husband the shirt off his back (he left his heavy outer shirt draped over a chair here).
This covers about one week of our two week vacation. Suffice it to say the balance of the 4400 miles was as entertaining. We visited The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, and the Wild Turkey Bourbon Distillery, where each person on tour got two small samples of bourbon. All I can say is I'm not a bourbon connoisseur and gladly drank the lemonade instead. We also hit the reopening, after flooding last May, of The Grand Ole' Opry,. In celebration tours were free that day.
You need to get the pass in person, so we stopped at Mammoth Caves National Park, Kentucky for me to sign up. Interestingly, this is the only National Park that does not charge an entry fee, part of an agreement made when the land was turned over to the park system. Tours have been conducted since 1816. Our tour was led by Jerry R. Bransford, a fifth generation guide and National Park Ranger. Jerry is the first free man in his family to do tours of the cave and is quite proud to be both guide and ranger.. He was excellent providing both history and stories throughout our tour. At the end he invited any who wanted to see pictures of his family just to ask. I was the only one who did. He brought me to the book store to proudly show me a book that outlines the history of his family and the other men who were slaves at Mammoth Cave. I bought the book, Making Their Mark: The Signature of Slavery at Mammoth Cave and had a nice chat with Mr. Bransford.
We traveled all the way south to Fairhope, AL, a town I have seen mentioned as a great retirement place several times. It surely seems to be with its proximity to Mobile, with artsy shops, lots of senior activities, a beautiful waterfront pier on the bay, a newly expanded Fairhope Public Library, plans for a new convention center, reasonable housing, and its tax friendly structure. Any town that boasts four books stores, including the excellent independent, Page and Palette, Inc., has my vote.
Last stop was Virginia Beach, one of my favorite spots to be. I love sitting on our waterfront balcony watching the dolphins and pelicans glide by or taking a walk or bike ride on the boardwalk. It's a great place any time of year!
There's much to see in our Untied States. Can't wait for the next adventure!
The great American attraction : two Brits discover the rollicking world of American festivals-Rich Smith
1,000 places to see in the U.S.A. & canada before you die-Patricia Schultz
OCTOBER 15, 2010
An unauthorized biography...
According to author Tanya Lee Stone, all you have to do is say the word and a debate will be sparked. Particularly from women, who often have strong feelings about Barbie, ranging from love and adoration to utter contempt. Tanya Lee Stone explores the history of Barbie and the range of opinions associated with the doll in her new book The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie; A Doll’s History and her Impact on Us. It came in an order of new books this week and the cover caught my eye. I brought it home out of curiosity and intended on browsing through it and bringing it right back. But, it’s fascinating! I can’t put it down, and I am on my way to reading it cover to cover.
The story behind Barbie’s inventor, Ruth Handler, is definitely inspiring. Born in 1916, she broke the mold as she collaborated with her artist husband to build the biggest toy company of all time. Also, many of the women interviewed (including author Meg Cabot in her introduction) argued that they used Barbie to act out the dreams they had for their own futures, by making their Barbie be a teacher, detective, veterinarian, or astronaut.
Of course many people interviewed feel that Barbie has a very negative influence on young girls, with her unrealistic, unattainable body. One little girl quoted in the book sums it up like this, “The real message [Barbie sends], is you can be who wanna be… if you’re pretty enough.” Of course, over the years Mattel has definitely spurred on some of this negative backlash with products like 1965’s ‘Slumber Party Barbie’ who came with a scale set at 110 and a book titled How to Lose Weight, Rule #1: Don’t eat!.
Personally, I’m torn about Barbie. I had Barbies when I was young and I liked them. I liked changing their clothes, changing their names, and I REALLY liked cutting their hair. However, I don’t know how I would feel about buying Barbie and all her accessories if I was a mother to a young girl. Maybe by the time I finish this book I’ll have a more definite opinion. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on Barbie – good, bad, or otherwise?
Immediately after posting this blog Carol, Su and I got into a discussion about Barbie. Su brought up the Skipper that 'grew a chest' when you raised her arm. Now, I did not remember this, but it's true! Su quickly sent me the link to 'Growing up Skipper.' Advertised as "Two dolls in One," when you turned the left arm she grew a modest bust line, slimmer waist and became 3/4" taller (turning the arm back again changed her into the previous shape doll). Here she is:
Maybe not one of their best ideas!
OCTOBER 13, 2010
A while ago there was quite a stir in Libraryland about tattoos. Younger librarians were coming up thru the ranks and with them a new sense of style. There were, like most things, two schools of thought. The traditional old school who were horrified at the thought that there might be a tattoo clad arm peeking out at the circulation desk. Some libraries created policies that said tat’s couldn’t be visible by their staff. Then there was the contemporary new school, who filed complaints, threatened law suits, formed groups, etc. Now, the Texas Library Associations offered ‘Tattooed Librarian Calendars” as fund raisers. But here’s a new twist: Literary Tattoos.
Have a favorite quote? Author? Character? Immortalize them forever. Or perhaps just check out the book, The Word Made Flesh: Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide by editors Eva Talmadge and Justin Taylor. Curiosity more immediate? Check here for pics! On Point with Tom Ashbrook
OCTOBER 11, 2010
On the Road
***Proceed with Caution***
The following blog post is long and windy and at times may even get boring so continue if you dare!
You've got to wonder if Henry Ford would be awed by the sheer numbers of his invention on the roads today. Did he fore-see this future world that the automobile made possible?
The past two weeks my husband and I have been on the road, traveling over 4400 miles on America's roads. We could have taken a plane and got there quicker but opted to see the great countryside of our United States by the scenic route.
Initial destination, Elkhart, Indiana. Elkhart, IN, what's there, you might ask? Family? Friends? No, but I'll get to that.
We left Columbia around 7:30 AM Friday morning, September 25th, a late start, but hey, we're on ivacation. We set out determined to make this a leisurely journey, stopping wherever, whenever. In the back of my mind my expectation was to arrive in Elkhart sometime Saturday. According to Indo.com,a great website to determine how far is it?, 706 miles to Elkhart seemed doable in a couple of days. Forget it! Construction bogged us down along Route 80. Eternal miles of stop-go, mostly stop, found us leaving the highway in search of lodging around 4:30PM Friday night. Who knew that the highway fiasco would drop us in Clarion, PA, a relatively small town with lots of colleges, and in the midst of its preparations for the annual The Farmers National Bank Autumn Leaf FestivalTM. Motels were filling up quickly as was not only the festival a draw, it was also parents weekend at Clarion University. But a room we did find and after filling our bellies at some long forgotten restaurant, we headed into town for a stroll around the historic district. And here is where the first delight unfolded. Clarion has what has to be the best planned and lovely Veteran's Parks I've ever seen. It has proud individual monuments honoring its own for every branch of the service including women in the armed forces, and monuments for all wars in our history beginning with The Civil War. Main Street boasts lots of shopping and interesting restaurants, Daddy's Main Street Hog Dog, being one we wished we had discovered prior to eating. A majestic clock tower adorns the court house. These pictures, better than any I took, come from Ewingjr98's posted photos of Clarion.
Saturday night found us sleeping in Sandusky, Ohio, along the shores of Lake Erie. Their claim to fame is Cedarpoint Amusement Park, The Roller Coaster Capitol of the World. I counted 17 coasters on their website. We were amazed at how few people were out and about until we asked and found out that at least half the town was at Cedarpoint's Halloweekends. We were sorry we had to miss this event but hunger drew us to a nice restaurant in the historic waterfront area. Can't remember the name of the place but it had healthy food and a varied menu and was just the right place to stop. Right across the street was The Sandusky State Theater, built in 1928. That night the half of the town not at the amusement park were going to the symphony. They were dressed to kill. Tickets were only $20 and still available when we ambled by. Though the impeccably dressed ushers assured us not to worry, and that we were welcome, we felt our under dressed jean finery wasn't appropriate for the event. I think we missed a great opportunity and I wish we had attended even if we would have gotten stares. We explored more of the area and found a do it yourselfer's delight in the store Menards, kind of like a Home Depot, Staples, mini grocer, rolled into one. Too bad it was closed but I knew in my heart of hearts that it would be on our list of places to check out and the very next day, we did.
It took us three days to get to Elkhart, IN...to be continued...
OCTOBER 1, 2010
Hang on to your dishes folks...
I have such fond memories of reading poetry as a kid. I LOVED Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutsky, and Jeff Moss, and I still have my old battered copies of their books on my bookshelf at home.
Considering its Banned Book Week this week, I can’t help but mention the fact that Shel Silverstein’s poetry books have been banned and challenged in the past. I just did some searching around to find out why, and here is what I found:
A Light in the Attic was banned in some schools and libraries because it contains a poem that “encourages children to break dishes so they won't have to dry them.” Well, even though I am sure this is going to cause a wave of dish-breaking across the land, I will dare to post the poem in question here:
How Not To Have To Dry the Dishes
By Shel Silverstein
If you have to dry the dishes
(Such an awful, boring chore)
If you have to dry the dishes
(‘Stead of going to the store)
If you have to dry the dishes
And you drop one on the floor—
Maybe they won’t let you
Dry the dishes anymore.
In other schools, Where the Sidewalk Ends was pulled from shelves because different poems, "suggest drug use, the occult, suicide, death, violence, disrespect for truth, disrespect for legitimate authority, and rebellion against parents.” There have been complaints that the poem Dreadful fromSidewalk “promotes cannibalism,” because of the line ‘someone ate the baby.’ And, that the poem Sick, in which a child lists his ailments which promptly disappear when he realizes it’s Saturday, has been accused of “supporting hypochondria.”
Wow. Crazy stuff huh? I can’t believe I survived a childhood where I was actually allowed to read what I wanted (thanks Mom & Dad!).
Viva la Banned Books!