Happy Birthday, National Park Service!
The weather is warming up, school is coming to a close, and we are making plans for the summer! What a great time to visit one of the National Park Service’s 411 sites, including 59 national parks. The National Park Service, under the Department of the Interior, manages memorials, seashores, historic sites and battlefields. They even manage the White House and four former prisons!
When I was a kid, I remember loading up in the back of our station wagon for vacation. No seat belts, y’all! We would go for a week or two and visit places like the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes or Estes Park in Colorado. We also visited Scott’s Bluff in Nebraska, as well as Mount Rushmore and the Badlands in South Dakota. The drives always seemed arduous, but they were made worth it by the thrill of whatever scene we came upon. I don’t think we were ever disappointed.
To celebrate this wonderful anniversary, I have been checking out a few books from the library collection. “The Wonder of it All: 100 Stories from the National Park Service” is a collection of stories from various parks employees and rangers about their experiences. I had no idea that the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was managed by the National Park Service. I also didn’t know that it had anything to do with the Scotts of the Dred Scott case. Continue reading “Happy 100th, National Park Service!”
“The Story of My Teeth” came into existence the way most novels do: at the behest of a Mexican juice company. But rather than merely extol the virtues of juice while spinning a tale about juice bandits who turned to a life of juice thievery due to being criminally deprived nature’s finest nectar during their formative years, Valeria Luiselli chose to tell a better, stranger tale.
The novel, in addition to being a “collaborative translation” with Christina MacSweeney, was also workshopped with workers at a juice factory. She would send a chapter, factor in their feedback, then write the next chapter. The novel’s quality makes it clear that more writers should seek the feedback of factory workers. Indeed, I’m so inspired by her tactics that I’ve taken the liberty of mailing this post to a number of factories. As you can tell, I’ve yet to hear back, but I imagine their feedback will transform this post into something nearly as magical as her novel, at which point I will use their suggested changes for the 10th anniversary edition of this blog post (“Now in 3-D and edited by factory workers!’). Continue reading “The Gentleman Recommends: Valeria Luiselli”
Here is a new DVD list highlighting various titles recently added to the library’s collection.
“How to Change the World”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing last year at the True/False Film Fest, this film is the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement. Discover how this group of like-minded and idealistic young friends in the ’70s would be instrumental in altering the way we now look at the world and our place within it.
“Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead”
Trailer / Website / Reviews
Playing at Ragtag Cinema last year, this film takes a look at the history of National Lampoon, from its beginning in the 1970s to 2010. There was no hipper, no more outrageous comedy in print than The National Lampoon, the groundbreaking humor magazine that pushed the limits of taste and acceptability — and then pushed them even harder. Continue reading “New DVD List: How to Change the World & More”
I am not an impulse shopper when it comes to clothes or everyday groceries. I’m a disciplined gal, sticking to my list. However, when it comes to farmers’ markets, I cannot resist the jewel-toned eggplants, the deep green and curling kale leaves, the delicate mushrooms. Many times a summer I find myself with a counter full of fruits and vegetables without a clue as to how to integrate them into my week’s meal planning.
We are lucky to have a number of farmers’ markets in Boone and Callaway Counties (see our local produce subject guide for details). If you, like me, want to make sure your locally sourced veggies don’t wind up rotting in your crisper drawer, check out some of these cookbooks for delicious inspiration.
Williams-Sonoma’s “Cooking From the Farmers’ Market” includes not only recipes but also helpful tips for picking the freshest produce and best ways to prepare various fruits and vegetables. The pictures are gorgeous, and there are three recipes provided for each ingredient highlighted. Many of the recipes are simple with minimal ingredient lists — when the produce is fresh, you can let that sun-ripened flavor be the star of the show. I can’t wait to try baked eggs with spinach and cream or sugar snap pea risotto! Continue reading “Feasts From Your Farmers' Market”
Imagine this: you are a citizen of a Democracy where individual rights and privacy are supposedly its most sacred principle, and yet 24/7 you may be tracked by the government, corporations and even the city in which you live. You constantly wear or use devices that send out signals and information transmitted to millions of different data-gathering entities. A future such as this, predicted by the likes of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, may have seemed very frightening little more than 20 years ago. Such a future, however, is in the here and now. Continue reading “Big Data and "Choose Privacy Week"”
A Charm for Spring Flowers
Who sees the first marsh marigold
Shall count more wealth than hands can hold.
Who bends a knee where violets grow
A hundred secret things shall know.
Who finds hepatica’s dim blue
Shall have his dearest wish come true.
Who spies on lady-slippers fair
Shall keep a heart as light as air.
But whosoever toucheth not
One petal, sets no root in pot,
He shall be blessed of earth and sky,
Till under them he, too, shall lie.
Oh, the magical charm of wildflowers, especially the earliest ones, which rise up through the woodland leaf litter to sing, when winter is gone. If you’ve spent any time in the woods hunting down or chancing upon these fleeting beauties (in our local area, bloodroot, wake robin, Dutchman’s breeches, etc.), you know how bewitching they can be. I was 15 years old when I found and identified wild columbine flowers. We were on a spring road trip, my mother and I, headed to Georgia via Skyline Drive to visit my grandmother, when we stopped for a break. I wandered off for a short walk and found columbine growing on a sunny hillside. The blossoms, with their complex structure formed in bright red and yellow, were stunningly beautiful and unlike any flower I had ever seen before. They most certainly cast a spell on me, propelling me on a lifelong quest to find and identify more wildflowers. It is a sweet and happy hobby.
The first week of May is National Wildflower Week, and what a worthy group to showcase and celebrate. Continue reading “Wildflower Enchantment”
I have vivid memories of sitting by my boom box listening to American Top 40 on the radio, my finger poised over the record button, so I could capture Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” on cassette tape. This legendary’s musician’s work was the soundtrack of my adolescence, and I was among the many shocked and saddened by his sudden death on April 21.
If you feel moved to revisit Prince’s music, the library has not only physical CDs for checkout, but also more than 15 albums you can stream or download from Hoopla. If you are new to this service, visit the library’s website for more information. You can be singing along to “Purple Rain” in no time if you have a library card. Continue reading “Celebrating – and Mourning – Prince”
Bringing endangered species back from the brink has long been a concern of scientists and conservationists. Check out these documentaries that not only explore several endangered species, but also explore some of the people interested in preserving them.
“The Chances of the World Changing” (2006)
An artist abandons his life’s work to build an ark filled with hundreds of endangered animals. But his growing “ark” and preservation efforts are threatening to exhaust him, both mentally and financially. A story about time, death, art, love and turtles. Continue reading “The Last of Us: Docs Featuring Endangered Species”