Friday, February 29, 2008

To the White House with Book in Hand

"It's true you can't judge a book by its cover, but you can tell a lot about a person by what he or she reads."

That’s what Katie Couric said on her January 29, 2008 program of the CBS Evening News. With this questionable presumption in mind, she then went on to ask the presidential candidates what book, besides the Bible, they would bring with them to the White House. John McCain said Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Barak Obama picked Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. And Hillary Clinton said The Federalist Papers. There were other presidential candidates that were asked at the time, but it’s less relevant now that it appears they won’t be moving into the White House with their favorite book any time soon.

Inspired, or in some other way motivated, by Ms. Couric, Bill Moyers, on his February 8th program of Bill Moyers’ Journal, invited his viewers to recommend to his blog what book, other than the Bible, the next President, whomever they may be, should take to the White House. The response was robust, and Mr. Moyers’ blog received a horde of responses. The most popular recommendations were:
• Kim Michaels, THE ART OF NON-WAR
• Jared Diamond, COLLAPSE
• Chalmers Johnson, BLOWBACK triology
• David Cay Johnston, FREE LUNCH
• George Orwell, 1984/ANIMAL FARM
• Greg Mortenson, THREE CUPS OF TEA
• Barbara Ehrenreich, NICKLE AND DIMED
• Barbara Tuchman, MARCH OF FOLLY
• Doris Kearns Goodwin, TEAM OF RIVALS
• John Steinbeck, THE GRAPES OF WRATH
• James Carroll, HOUSE OF WAR
• Thomas Friedman, THE WORLD IS FLAT
The only book on this list that the Santa Fe Public Library does not own is the one by Kim Michaels, The Art of Non-War. We’ll order and try to get it for any presidential hopefuls in our midst. And there was a whole cart load of other titles recommended-- maybe you’d like to go to Moyers’ blog to see if there’s something you find inspiring. As for the next president, may s/he read well.
Posted by TG at Main Library

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sympathy for Tea

I admit it, when I read a good book I am influenced by what is being served to drink and eat. I first noticed it when I read a Miss Read book based on Thrush Green, an imaginary English village, where her answer to everything was to make a pot of tea, pull out the biscuit tin and enjoy. I went through many cups of tea reading that series one long, cold winter.

Anyone who read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes can understand that when his father comes home, on his rare visits, it is tea he asks for. Good Irish Breakfast tea with milk. It warms the soul.

Who could read Isak Dineson’s Out of Africa without purchasing a Kenya coffee just to experience a little of her world?

Recently I read Alexander McCall Smith’s series which starts with The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency set in Botswana. Tea makes the detective’s world go around, not just any British tea, but true Botswanian Bush Tea. Imagine to my surprise that even in Santa Fe you can purchase Botswanian Bush Red Tea. At Kaune’s, of course. I have now had the pleasure of several pots of the herb infused tea and can understand how as Mma Precious Ramtoswe says, it is best for contemplation and conversation. Much more satisfying than ordinary British tea.

There are many mystery writers who focus on tea and food—often laced with poison. Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs will tell you more about tea and tea mixing than you ever want to know—her heroine runs a tea room and sells tea. Then there is Death by Chocolate by G.A. McKevett and of course all of the Diane Mott Davidson mysteries from Killer Pancake to Double Shot. The food mystery writer with the best credentials is Lou Jane Temple, a Kansas City caterer and food and wine critic. Her clever titles include Bread on Arrival and Red Beans and Vice. She includes recipes in her books—not the poisoned recipes, just regular recipes that are prepared or served by the characters in the novels.

But it is tea that draws me in and makes me want to put the kettle on. Bush tea anyone?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why do some movies take so long to make it onto DVD?

In my last post on DVDs, I mentioned how the film Taras Bulba intrigued me, from the first time I saw it on NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies.

The making of this film is a story in itself, because it was released in 1962, way before the use of CGI special effects. Back then if you were a director and wanted 2,000 16th century Cossacks on horses galloping across the steppes of Ukraine, what you did was spend 6 months of location shooting in Salta, Argentina, hired out a regiment of the Argentine Army, and your costume dept. had to come up with 2,000 16th century Cossack outfits! Plus Polish knight oufits too! The scene in the latter part of the film where the Cossack cavalry gathers from all points on the compass remains a breathtaking piece of cinema. And Yul Brynner was excellent as Taras Bulba.

The last time I remember seeing Taras Bulba was in the 1980's. In 2008 MGM is finally doing a DVD release. Which brings up the question: Why do some movies take so long to make onto DVD, while others are released 3 months after theatrical release? You may indeed wonder why your library, or video store never seems to have some favorite movie from the 60s or earlier?

First of all don't blame your library or video store. We are all subject to the whims of distributors. And librarians tend to be inclusionists. We like the idea of all these old films being on a more permanent format, and becoming available somehow, to whoever wants to see them again. And Video stores, while favoring popular titles, do like having large collections; it keeps people browsing longer, so that they're bound to rent something.

The answer usually comes down to money, lawyers, and music rights. Older films tend to have legal issues, such as who owns the film now, or does some actor's or director's estate have a say in a re-release. And if the film was shot in Technicolor in the late 50's or 60's, the film stock may be over 40 years old now, requiring some restoration, which means money being put up front, for a good digital transfer.
If there is some dispute over which studio owns what after countless Hollywood mergers, lawyers tend to get involved. Lawyers also enter the picture if music rights have to be renegotiated
Older movies may have had music rights in place for the original theatrical release, and even the VHS release back in the 1980's. But for a DVD release, the music rights have lapsed, and renegotiation ensues. And suppose some music publisher of just one song, holds out for more money this time.

As to why it took so long for Taras Bulba to make it onto DVD, it's hard to uncover. It was released on VHS, and there have been poorly transferred DVD copies from Taiwan of questionable status. In searching I came across this press release from MGM:
"MGM has announced that three major action epics starring Yul Brynner will be released on DVD for the first time in February, 2008. The titles are Solomon and Sheba, Taras Bulba and Kings of the Sun. The latter two titles in particular have been on many action fan's "most wanted" lists in terms of films that should be released on DVD. The DVDs will be available on March 25. "
One person’s epic may be a potboiler to someone else, but at least such titles have now been released for film lovers to judge on their own.
Posted by JP at Southside

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Angelo Jaramillo’s latest book, stressing a young individual’s belief in freedom of speech and the troubles in our present society, will be launched at a reading/signing in the Community Room of the downtown main branch of the Santa Fe Public Library at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 2. Admission is free.

In Psalms of Anarchy, Jaramillo uses verse and prose to tell the story of a battle against depression and disenchantment with certain aspects of the present time. He says that his “language is often daring, dangerous and explosive” but the reader may find that it possesses a stark originality reminding one of the “beat” writers of the 1950s and 60s.

Angelo Jaramillo is also the author of The Darker: Tales of a City Different, published by Sunstone Press in 2006, and is currently working on a Masters at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In addition to his studies, he is a talented film and stage actor, a freelance cultural critic for the Santa Fe Reporter, and is currently finishing his first major creative nonfiction novel Alcaldeza: The Life and Tragedy of Debbie Jaramillo.

cover of book

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hoop Dancer in Action

One of the highlights of 2007 here at the Main Library was the Children of the Portal Holiday Sale, and the hoop and fancy shawl dances in the lobby by Micayla Johnson of Taos Pueblo. The last blog of the year in this space, “Dancing in the New Year,” (December 31) was a tribute to her dancing. You can now see videos of both dances on YouTube at


RG at Main

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

KNME Reading Rainbow Workshop

Reading Rainbow, the popular PBS television show is sponsoring Reading Rainbow Writers and Illustrators Workshops for Children in Grades K-3 at the Southside Branch of the Santa Fe Public Library, 6599 Jaguar Drive, on Saturday, February 23. The workshop is free and open to children in grades K-3 and will be held from 10:30a.m. until Noon. Children’s author Mary Saunders will lead the workshop and provide advice on how to create a story. The workshop is in conjunction with the Reading Rainbow Young Writers &.Illustrators contest.

Children may bring in an existing story or get ideas for a new one. Materials will be provided.

All entries into the Reading Rainbow Young Writers & Illustrators Contest need to be submitted by March 31. Entry forms are available at all Santa Fe Public Library Children’s Rooms. All entries will be judged by each grade level, separately.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Take a Vacation. Go to Work: Volunteer Traveler to Speak

Volunteer vacationing, or taking a vacation to do volunteer work, is not a particularly new practice. A Google search leads to a number of well-established, non-profit organizations that coordinate volunteer travel internationally and nationally. One such organization, Global Volunteers ,has been around since 1984. The guidebook, Volunteer Vacations: Short-term Adventures that Will Benefit You and Others,was released first in 1987 and is now in its 9th edition (the Library owns the 8th edition but we’ll fix that).

But volunteer vacationing does seem to be gaining in popularity these days. The Travel Industry Association of America found in a November 2006 survey that 24 percent of respondents were currently interested in taking a volunteer or service-based vacation. Travelocity, the online travel service, surveyed 1,017 people in late 2007 and found that 17.7 percent of respondents had previously taken a vacation with a volunteer or philanthropic component and 38 per cent will consider incorporating volunteer activities in their vacation in 2008.

This Wednesday night February 13 at the Main Library, 145 Washington Ave., one such volunteer traveler, Jane Stanfield, will present a slide presentation on her year of volunteering around the world. The title of the presentation is One Magical Year—Volunteer Vacationing Around the World and will include highlights of her travels through 11 countries on six continents. The program is at 7pm in the Library’s Community Room and is free and open to the public. Travel on down.
Posted by TG, Main Library

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thoughts on Jane Austen

Public Television has been showing Jane Austen movies on Masterpiece Theater lately. I love watching Jane Austen movies. I find her a little harder to read, but worth it. Recently a co-worker and I were discussing various film versions of some of Austen’s work. I expressed a disappointment with the last version of Persuasion that was recently shown on Public TV, but admitted that it was probably due to the fact that I loved the BBC production of the book released in 1995 and starring Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root (available of course at Santa Fe Public Library). We then had to discuss various versions of Pride and Prejudice, starting from the Laurence Olivier version of the 1940’s up to the last feature release starring Keira Knightly. My favorite stands as the award winning version done in 2001 and starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth (in a wet shirt….). My co-worker then recommended the Bollywood version Bride and Prejudice which unfortunately at the moment the library doesn’t have (but we will try to order!). She says she understood much better the relationship between characters after seeing the Bollywood version.

Several attempts have been made to add to the stories written by Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice has spawned several modern sequels or versions:

Jane Austen in Boca
by Paula Marantz Cohen
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series by Pamela Aidan
Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll
Mr.Darcy’s Daughter's by Elizabeth Aston
An Unequal Marriage by Emma Tennant
Presumption by Julia Barrett.

And some related books on the subject:The Jane Austen Book Club (another DVD we must order for the library!) by Karen Joy Fowler
Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece edited by Jennifer Crusie and Glen Yeffeth.

So enjoy a dose of Jane Austen, either in DVD, Video, Books on Cassette or CD or in the book form—readily available at the library.

Posted by KS @ La Farge

Friday, February 08, 2008

Santa Fe’s Doña Tules—A Snow Beauty

Because of this snowy weather, sometimes I miss out on things, like working on my garden, and always try to learn new things about Santa Fe, and its rich culture and diversity. Yesterday was my anniversary of having moved here a year ago from Silver City to work at the library at Southside. Last night as I watched the snow falling, I thought how much I missed making snowmen with my granddaughter. Then I came in to work, and there had been a two hour delay and a masterpiece was in the making on the employee patio.

A Circulation clerk and building maintenance staff member said they were piling snow up to make a snow woman! Yeah! Doña Tules. Who? Ok…I saw the book on the shelf. I check in the New book collection, which is extensive. Great, I found it. Hmm, so I asked other staff. She seemed to be an interesting woman. So with the information I had from staff, glancing through the new book Doña Tules: Santa Fe Courtesan and Gambler by Mary J. Straw Cook, and some websites,, I found many stories about Doña Maria Gertrudis Barcelõ.

I raided the craft closet in children’s. I grabbed tuile for Madam Tules, and of course, what is a girl without her eyelashes, and added the defining touches that might have made Doña Gertrudis Barcelo proud. Of course, I added a Library Card.

The three of us worked at paying homage to the entrepreneur extraodinaire. No matter. We had fun. And I want to know more about Santa Fe and its wonderful people past and present. Tonight I’ll talk to my granddaughter and tell her about the groovy snow woman we made. By the way, you have to read the book. Its awesome!
By TT at Southside
cover of book

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Affordable Housing in Santa Fe

My friend tells me that buying a house is kind of like a retirement account. It’s a forced savings that you can’t easily spend out and at the end you have something to show for all those monthly housing payments. It sounds pretty good, but as a single mom and a civil servant I didn’t expect to be able to afford to own a home, especially not here in Santa Fe where the cost of housing is notoriously high. Two non-profit organizations in town, however, assure me I can do just that.

The organizations are Homewise and the Santa Fe Community Housing Trust. These two agencies offer many similar services including an initial meeting with a financial counselor, home buying education classes, down payment assistance, access to houses that qualify as “affordable” (and are therefore not on the regular market), and mortgage options like low interest rates and special second mortgages through shared equity programs. The people at both agencies have been encouraging and helpful. You have to eventually pick one agency to take the classes with, and ultimately buy through, but they do differ slightly so it’s good to check out both.

I have been immersed in the process for several weeks now. Truth is, there really aren’t many houses out there for me to choose from. Still, I only need one. If you are looking ahead to doing all this one day in the future, it may behoove you to start the process now as some of the best “affordable” houses have two year waiting lists. We seem to have it narrowed down to a home that’s within walking distance of both my work and my son’s school. It even has a little yard for the dog. Keep your fingers crossed!

Posted by LW @ SSL

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Whose list are you on?

Sure you like to read. You probably wouldn’t be visiting the Library’s blog site if you didn’t.

But do you really like reading everything that comes your way? For instance, maybe you could do without some of the stuff that arrives unsolicited in your mailbox: catalogs from companies that you don’t buy from, random junk mail, pre-approved credit card offers. Maybe, upon reflection, you worry about the millions of trees or the energy used to generate these materials. Maybe you worrying about your postal carrier’s back.

If you want to eliminate this kind of reading material from the interiors of your mailbox, here’s a list of some innovative websites that may help.

This website will allow you to sign-up for a no-send list that will stop the mail order catalogs that you don’t want.

Sign-up here to get your name off commercial mailing lists.

Opt out of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers. Or you may dial 1-888-5-OPTOUT.
The EcoLogical Mail Coalition helps businesses stop mail addressed to former employees.

Native Forest Network’s Guide provides 5 easy steps to stop junk mail.

(These websites were identified by Nick Shiavo, the City of Santa Fe’ Energy Specialist, and were published in the City of Santa Fe Employee newsletter.)

Posted by TG, Main Library.