Library Books of the Week

nice teeth!Still Life by Melissa Milgrom.  The best book about taxidermy you will read all year.  The best cover for a book about taxidermy you will ever see all year.

Interested in modern museum taxidermy?  You need to read this book.  Does the idea of a dead animal with glassy eyes looking right at you freak you out?  You need to read this book.

Some readers know that I take the kids to the Ecotarium all the time, and one of our favorite parts is the African animals exhibit.  A few months ago, we were in the exhibit, and I heard a woman tell her husband that seeing the animals like that really bothered her.  It doesn’t bother me (in the same way that wearing a forty-year-old leather jacket doesn’t bother me), but I suppose I sympathized more with that woman than with someone who decides to stuff a giant deer.

Until I read this book, that is.  Milgrom profiles various taxidermists, each with their own philosophies and techniques, and writes with such wit and verve that I could not put the book down.  The only complaint I have about this book is that there aren’t enough pictures, but I highly recommend this to anyone who’s interested in natural history museums in general and taxidermy in particular.

One of the books Millgrom recommended was The Heyday of Natural History by Lynn Barber, which is one of the best-designed books I’ve read in a long time; it looks like an old-fashioned natural history book from the late 1800s.  (Barber herself has been in the news recently.)  It’s also one of the best-written nonfiction books I’ve read in a long time.

This is the book to read if you’re interested in how ‘natural history’ developed, or if you want insight into some bizarre trends in Victorian behavior, or if you didn’t realize that Edward Lear (yes, that Edward Lear) was an extremely talented illustrator — on the order of Audubon — before having some vision loss, or if you want to spend nearly 300 pages marvelling that Michael Faraday (who, incidentally, was quite the babe when he was young) accomplished anything at all considering that the vast majority of the ‘natural history’ crowd had not the first inclination towards anything involving the scientific method.  This is such a great read that you’ll want to take it out immediately after I return it.

And — finally — for the kids, I’m recommending the works of Thornton Burgess.  Right now, my older son and I are in the middle of On the Green Meadows, and I just scored two more of his books at the library book sale, which you should really shop at this weekend!  (There are also quite a few of his books available on librivox; we’ve listened to this one straight through and highly recommend it.)

Hope Cemetery Happenings in May and June

The Friends of Hope Cemetery are sponsoring a Civil War Walk on Sunday, May 23 at 1:30 pm.

 The Friends will also be having their annual meeting on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 9.

Other items of interest for the two of you who might care:

1) The water spigots in most of the cemetery (the part along Webster Street and Fremont Street, as opposed to the part closer to Hope Avenue) are not operational.  The plumbing system is so deteriorated that it needs a complete plumbing redesign.  Engineers will be working on a design, including locations for new spigots, but the project would need to be reviewed, approved, and — considering the current budget situation — would likely take a long time to be completed.

In the meantime, water barrels with spigots have been placed at convenient locations for cemetery patrons.

2) Except for a few positions, all city employees are tested for drugs at the time of hire.  [I’m not sure if this is true for the School side of things, so perhaps Tracy can chime in.]  Employees with a CDL are selected for random drug and alcohol testing up to four times a year.  If you’re hired as a temporary worker (for instance, for summer work), you’ll be tested every time you’re hired.  (So, if you worked last summer, you’ll still need to be tested this summer.)

Lessons Learned

A few things:

If you’re going to equate people who make porn videos with pedophiles, you might also want to be worried that this quote will be taken out of context:  “If you wanna play choke, you play choke at the buffet line or outside, after the public meeting has been held. And you choke a tad more gently.”

If you’re going to say that Shaun Sutner misspelled DiLiddo during a phone call, perhaps you shouldn’t spell his name “S-E-A-N.”  Repeatedly.

It was a woman in the video.  Not that I’ve seen it, but, you know, I do read Dianne Williamson’s column on a regular basis.

There’s so much more, but, really, that’s enough.

Update: next time, I’m sending a bill for proofreading services rendered.

Local Links, of interest

Loree Griffin Burns, a local author who was recently profiled in the T&G, has a really good blog, and had a post about how her book signing benefitted the Beaman Public Library in West Boylston.  (If anyone is planning on going to the book signing in Holden, let me know, because this is a book I was planning on buying for my niece, so the whole book-signings-to-benefit-libraries thing is quite fortuitous.)  She also has a really sweet biography on her main website.

The Sprinkler Factory (mentioned in this article) is on Facebook.  (As previously mentioned, I don’t really like Facebook, but if a person or group has a public page, you can just paste their main Facebook link into Google Reader and follow them that way, which is what I also do with Twitter, about which I’m in denial as well.)

For general arts stuff, I like the Facebook page of the Worcester Cultural Commission (feel free to send this to the Mayor) and WorcesterWay on Twitter (from which you can see this, which is a great guide to cultural events this month). 

And — specific to all the events this weekend — this map (.pdf) is a great guide to the weekend.

(I know this is a pet peeve of Jeff’s, and it’s getting to be one of mine as well…Local Daily, please add links when you do online articles!)

Also — and this is for the City of Worcester — these are exactly the events we should be promoting on the main Worcester government website.  Let’s think about promoting the good parts of the city for those both within & without.