Thursday, July 31, 2008
The Advice Column mysteries are set in Connecticut, where Dr. Rebecca Butterman counsels her patients and is an adjunct psychology professor at Yale. In her free time she solves murders, naturally, and also writes an advice column for an online women's magazine. If you'd like to catch up on the series, the first two installments are Deadly Advice and Preaching to the Corpse (available in the large print section at BHPL under ISL).
I enjoyed all the little bits of information about psychology that you pick up as the story unfolds (like never sit between a patient and the door!). There is also a very funny part in Deadly Advice in which Dr. Butterman can predict what her own psychoanalyst will say during their sessions (which she needs because her own personal life and history is not neat and tidy).
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Plainfield Avenue will be closed for road resurfacing between Springfield Ave. and Mountain Ave. on or about Tuesday, August 5, between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., for about four days. You'll need to park on a nearby street and walk to the library. Or, plan your visit to the library between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesday, August 5 or Thursday, August 7.
On top of that, on or about Thursday, August 7, Plainfield Avenue will also be closed between Mountain Ave. and Drift Road for a couple of days.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Learned Ladies is about two sisters and their mother, a domineering bourgeois (i.e. non-noble, middle class) woman who runs a literary salon. One sister, Henriette, wants to marry her lover, Clitandre, and has the approval of her father. Henriette's sister Armande sides with her mother to oppose the marriage. If Henriette insists on getting married, they believe she should marry Trissotin, a poet from their salon. For more information about the plot, check out Wikipedia.
The choice of "Trissotin" as the name for the mediocre poet was a jab at Cotin, a writer that Moliere disliked. Originally Trissotin's name in the text was Tricotin (meaning "three times Cotin"), but then Moliere changed the c to an s. "Sot" means fool.
Just as Queen Elizabeth I admired Shakespeare's work, Moliere's plays were performed for Louis XIV of France. They weren't contemporaries though; Moliere was born and wrote 60 years later than Shakespeare.
Moliere's life was also the stuff of drama. He married the younger sister of his long-time lover late in life, and gossips said that his wife was actually his own daughter. On the last day of his life, despite feeling very ill and weak, he insisted on playing the part of the hypochondriac in the Imaginary Invalid, and had a fit on stage.
I don't know which English translation will be performed, but most theaters perform Richard Wilbur's verse translation. There is another translation that you can read online by Charles Heron Wall.
Friday, July 25, 2008
- "Fix a broken dishwasher with Tang."
- "Remove tree sap with Jif Peanut Butter."
- "Eliminate soap scum with Pam Cooking Spray."
The book is arranged alphabetically by the thing that needs to be fixed: barbecues, bathtubs, books, etc. In the Cats and Dogs section, Mr. Green claims that washing a pet with Alberto VO5 conditioner will kill fleas and make his coat shine beautifully. According to the biographical blurb, the author has been on Oprah's show and other TV shows persuading celebrities to shave with peanut butter, clean jewelry with Efferdent and other zany fixes.
Enjoy this book, but it might be a good idea to exercise some caution when fixing anything valuable.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The BHPL's children's librarian is now armed with a laptop and sturdy walking shoes, but no desk. She has become a roaming librarian, which happens to be a fad in library land. Her "reference rovering" is due to lack of desk space rather than idealogy though. She and her staff and teen volunteers and pages have done a yeoman's job of organizing the move and this involves carrying lots and lots of books upstairs. Imagine moving thousands of books, and recataloging them so that the location says upstairs (JUP) so that patrons know where to find them. In a nod to new signage and patron service training, a small, stuffed yellow dog (or maybe bear) has been plopped on the end of the children's bookshelves so that we can point and say, "see the yellow dog, hang a right to find the children's books." There are also conventional signs.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
According to ShakespeareNYC, Richard II was written at the same time as Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The ShakespeareNYC web site also credits Richard II (the real king) with the invention of the handkerchief. For more info on that, check out this site.
Your last fun fact of the day has to do with John of Gaunt. According to Shakespeare Online, Holinshed's Chronicles (the history that Shakespeare used as a source) portrayed him as a "disorderly and rapacious magnate". Shakespeare's queen, Elizabeth, traced her lineage directly to John of Gaunt, which is one of the reasons why Gaunt became a wise and noble patriot in the play.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
This brings me to an article in the Atlantic Is Google Making Us Stoopid? by Nicholas Carr. The gist is that people who use the internet a lot may be rewiring their brains to have shorter attention spans. I could make a bad joke about how I only skimmed the article and/or didn't finish it, but I did finish it and I tried to pay attention just to disprove what the author is trying to say about our changing level of literacy. I don't know if google is making internet users more stupid, but its convenience may be making people more intellectually lazy. So the question might be, is intellectually lazy the same as stupid? The discussion of how internet searching tends to lend itself to cursory research, skimming, jumping from one topic to another, shallow understanding of topics sounds a lot like the observations/criticisms of Sesame Street's format and how its choppy, fast-paced programming might be enabling attention deficit in its young viewers. There used to be a lot of that kind of commentary going on. As noted, reference librarians tend to jump from one topic to another all day long never lingering long enough to go in depth, so maybe our brains have already been rewired a la google.
Conclusion: if google makes us stupid and tv makes us guilty and both the internet and tv shorten our attention span, then...um, that puts librarians at the cutting edge of these phenomena and um, whatever...
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Why aren't these people just googling for the answers? There are two reasons I can think of: one, some people are not computer literate; two, we have access to databases and ways of searching that turn up better answers faster, or at least we hope so.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I learned this from The Story of Human Language, a Teaching Company course on CD which is a series of lectures by linguist John McWhorter. The Berkeley Heights Public Library has over 200 courses, on CD, DVD and audiocassette tapes by the Teaching Company and Recorded Book's Modern Scholar.
If linguistics isn't that interesting to you, there are science, religion, history, philosophy, art and music courses to choose from, like How to Listen To and Understand Opera (which is what my mom's listening to). You'll feel like you're in college again!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Percy and Books (Eight), by Mary Oliver
Percy does not like it when I read a book.
He puts his face over the top of it and moans.
He rolls his eyes, sometimes he sneezes.
The sun is up, he says, and the wind is down.
The tide is out and the neighbor's dogs are playing.
But Percy, I say, Ideas! The elegance of language!
The insights, the funniness, the beautiful stories
that rise and fall and turn into strength, or courage.
Books? says Percy. I ate one once, and it was enough. Let's go.
The poem is from Oliver's collection, Red Bird (2008)
I didn't mean to post poems two days in a row on the blog, but ironically, modern technology pushed me into into the world of poetry. Yesterday, I took a digital camera on my lunchtime walk, thinking I would make images that were absolutely copyright free to post on the blog. Then I used Grangers' Poetry database to find poems about (keyword) "woods" and chose a suitable poem to post, illustrated by my picture of the swampy area behind the library. Today, the New Jersey librarians' listserv brought me the usual array of notices, salespitches from publishers and bibliophilic chatter, some useful, but taken as a whole, mostly causing a strong feeling of Email Overload. Was it a reward to me for diligently going through my entire inbox, that one email brought this terrific poem? Proving that new means of communication are not incompatible with the old. Or maybe proving the adage, it's an ill wind that blows no good - even a surfeit of digital hot air in your inbox can bring a hidden gem.
PS: my Border Collie ate the dog obedience book that I borrowed from the first library I worked in.