Information, Answers & Reviews



Nature, particularly trees are central to this lovely book of essays.  Several of the narratives were unusual enough that I wondered if they had been fictionalized. They seemed more like creative nonfiction than essays. For instance, “Moon Trees” begins with this sentence, “There are cinnabar trees growing on the moon. “ But soon the world of facts—and interesting ones—becomes paramount.

Did you know that astronaut Stuart Roosa brought lots of tree seeds—katsura, loblolly pine, sycamore, sweet gum, and redbud onto Apollo 14’s moon expedition?  Unfortunately, he did not get chosen to land on the moon so he brought these seeds back, and 450 of them were planted and studied by scientists. But they just grew normally like tree seeds that had never left Earth. However, for a brief while, Roosa got to combine his early career as a forest service Smoke Jumper (saving beautiful trees) and an astronaut whirling through space. Read more »

Cocoanuts and the Marx Brothers


Cocoanuts was the first feature film starring the four Marx Brothers: Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo.  It may also have the distinction of being the first true movie musical, that is, a movie where the musical numbers were meant to be part of the story telling process rather than a performance for audience within the movie. It wasn’t that the studio didn’t plan to have a band playing with the musical scenes.  A “band” was hired for the first day of shooting.  Apparently they were to follow the actors around ready to play whenever someone was tempted to burst into song, but the director soon realized there was no reason to have them around and that they would distract from the plot of the movie; something that the Marx Brothers were already managing to do pretty well on their own. Read more »

Joan Rivers 1933 - 2014


Joan Rivers passed away Thursday  September 4, 2014 after suffering complications from surgery.  Rivers was perhaps best known for her standup comedy and somewhat caustic wit.  In addition to her standup work she has been featured in a number of movies and authored a number of books.   The link below will produce a list of the many items in the MCPL collection that highlight her accomplishments


                   Joan Rivers

Babylon 5

Babylon 5 castOpening - Season One: It was the dawn of the third age of mankind, ten years after the Earth-Minbari War. The Babylon Project was a dream given form. Its goal: to prevent another war by creating a place where humans and aliens could work out their differences peacefully. It's a port of call, home away from home for diplomats, hustlers, entrepreneurs, and wanderers. Humans and aliens wrapped in two million, five hundred thousand tons of spinning metal, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last, best hope for peace. This is the story of the last of the Babylon stations. The year is 2258. The name of the place is Babylon 5.


Babylon 5, created by J. Michael Straczynski, came to our Televisions in the early 1990’s, about the same time as Star Trek’s Deep Space Nine.  The two are often compared.  Fans of each have called one a “rip-off” of the other.  The truth is they were both developed and planned independently of each other.  Babylon 5 did something that was amazing at the time; it got Trekkers and Trekkies alike talking about a new show.  Some of them even thought this new series was better than Star Trek.  Read more »

The New York Dog


There are dog people in this world and then there others! Sorry, cat afionados. But for you lovers of all things canine, this new book of photographs with New Yorker's "best friend" stories will charm you. When you think of it, what could be more counterintuitive than a Manhattan or Brooklynite pup? Imagine the crowds (homo sapien primarily), the honking horns, lights, and police and fire sirens. It's enough to set even a human howling.

The photos are lovely. They include: an endearing poodle with its mouth open leaning into the wind from a cab window, a Great Dane crossing a car-filled side street, and several mixed breeds running free past colorful graffitied walls. There's even a refreshing series of summer beach scenes with dogs coated in sand or racing into the surf. Famous photographer William Wegman is shown with four of his graceful dog models: Flo, Topper, Candy, and Bobbin. Read more »

Monroe County Public Library Adds More Sunday Hours

Monroe County Public Library's hours are changing for the first time in 25 years, highlighted by 2 additional open hours on Sundays at the Main Library in downtown Bloomington. Beginning September 2, the Library's new hours will be:

Main Library Hours

Monday–Thursday .... 9 a.m.–9 p.m.

Friday–Saturday .... 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Sunday .... Noon–6 p.m.

Ellettsville Branch Hours

Monday–Thursday .... 10 a.m.–9 p.m.

Friday–Saturday .... 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Sunday .... 1–5 p.m.

The Library's decision to increase Sunday hours at the Main Library is driven be three factors—the request for "expanded weekend hours" in the Library’s 2012 Community Survey, the recent addition of parking meters in downtown Bloomington that have created new barriers to Library service for many, and interest expressed by the Board of Trustees to review hours for the first time in 25 years. 

“Our goal with the hour shift is to make it easier for people to visit the library,” says Library Director, Sara Laughlin. “We’d like to see those people who have not been coming because of the parking or because of the schedule.”

With the expansion of Sunday hours, the Library also hopes to make downtown Bloomington a Sunday destination for community members. The new Sunday hours will provide more opportunities for community organizations to host meetings and events at the Library. Downtown businesses and community organizations can contact the Library for partnership opportunities and to book meeting rooms or the auditorium. 

With the newly renovated auditorium about to open, the Library will be hosting a greater variety of entertainers and programs. Sunday program highlights in the new auditorium this fall include:

  • Talk Like a Pirate, with The Pirate Flags from 4–5 p.m. on Sunday, September 21. Live music with Bloomington’s own band of scurrilous rogues, The Pirate Flags.
  • Silver Screen Sundays at 3 p.m. every fourth Sunday: 9/28, 10/26, 11/23. Classic movies on the big screen.
  • "Good Night and May God Bless" from 2–3:30 p.m. on Sunday, October 19. Storyteller Stephanie Holman on the early life of Hoosier Red Skelton.
  • Nutcracker Fantasy from 2–3 p.m. on Sunday, November 16. Dancers from IU Jacobs School of Music perform The Nutcracker ballet.
  • Gustafer Yellowgold's Show from 1:30–2:15 p.m. on Sunday, November 30. Morgan Taylor's multimedia performance featuring his character Gustafer.

In order to add the additional hours on Sunday, the Main Library shifted its Friday and Saturday hours to 10 a.m.–6 p.m.  The Ellettsville Branch hours also shifted slightly.  The branch will now be open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturdays.

Problems with People


This is Guterson’s first story collection in nearly twenty years. Ignore the bland title for these stories set in his native Northwest and in foreign countries including Germany, South Africa, and Nepal are muscular, well-written, and anchored with a deep sense of place.  An air of melancholy and of possible tragedy hangs over a few of them, especially two of my favorites, “Pilanesberg” and “Krassavitseh.”

In “Pilanesberg” a brother visits his sister in Africa to go wildlife viewing, but you soon discover that the sister has cancer and her favorite thing to do is “sleep.” They share a wonderful experience viewing big mammals: elephants, tigers, etc. but the trip is marred by the fact that they animals are fenced in, and the couple find themselves at dusk locked in as well.  Next follows a humorous and ludicrous conversation with the gatekeeper who says he cannot let them out. Read more »

Richard Attenborough: 1923 – 2014

Richard AttenboroughThis last Sunday brought us the passing of actor, producer and director Richard Attenborough.  He is perhaps most recently remembered today as John Hammond, the eccentric founder of Jurassic Park.    However, he has been involved in the movies since 1942.  Besides being on screen as an actor he has produced thirteen films, including Gandhi and Cry Freedom. He directed twelve films including Gandhi, A Chorus Line and A Bridge Too Far. The library has a nice collection of his films.  We hope you enjoy them.


     Richard Attenborough

From the color of Your Eyes to Your Type of Earwax


If the last thing you learned about genes was Gregor Mendel’s pea pod experiments, you might want to try this easy to read science book to get up to speed about many fascinating changes in hereditary theory.

For instance, humans have only 20,000 to 25,000 genes, downgraded from a previous estimate of 100,000.  In comparison, a tiny water flea--barely visible to our naked eye--has about 31,000.

You’ve heard the word genome in the news and on PBS. Your genome is your full set of genes. Every cell in your body gets a copy of the full set although each cell cannot read all of them.  By the way, the word “cell” came from Robert Hooke, the first person who saw them in the 1600s. When he first discovered them under a microscope, they reminded him of monks’ cells.

Other interesting facts about your genome.  The chromosomes scientists have discovered have something to do with either inherited diseases or traits. For instance, chromosome 1 is associated with deafness, schizophrenia and maple syrup disease.  (You read that right!) If you have red hair, thank chromosome 2.  Blue or green eyes?  Chromosome 19 is for you.  And yes, previously scientists thought that there were only two possibilities for eye color: brown or blue.  Those green eyes, they just tagged as a variant of blue. Read more »

The Book of Unknown Americans


With immigration a hot button issue both politically and in the news, it was interesting to read Cristina Henriquez’s second novel The Book of Unknown Americans. It tells the stories of various immigrants (from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries) who have all landed in Delaware.

The book opens with a family’s arrival at night from the border. A paid driver has brought Arturo, Alma, and their daughter Maribel to this immigrant enclave outside of Dover.  They are legal immigrants given papers to work on a mushroom farm.  Or at least Arturo will work there. They have come primarily to get special schooling for 15 year old Maribel who fell off a ladder at her father’s construction site in Mexico and has brain damage.

The story of this family is the heartwood of the novel. But woven in are life stories of other immigrants including a boxer, who came to the states to win matches but became instead a landlord, and an actress who worked hard to make it in New York City, but came to Delaware and formed her own theatre. 

This beautiful books gives you a feel of how hard it is to start life over in a new place, not understanding the language or culture.  It also explores issues of guilt and secrecy, and how they affect even the strongest of marriages. Read more »

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