Friday, April 27, 2012

For Arbor Day: The Forest Where Ashley Lives

To commemorate Arbor Day, check out the free electronic version of The Forest Where Ashley Lives, an educational book about the value and care of urban forests, written by Mark A. and Ashley L. Vitosh, and illustrated by John L. Smith. Intended for elementary school readers, the text has won an Arbor Day Foundation Education Award.

The book is also available in print and as an interactive CD from the Iowa State University online store. The CD includes the text and illustrations of the book, plus additional features such as audio narration, web links, a glossary, “Did You Know?” facts about forests, and supplemental materials for teachers.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

NC Governor Opposes Amendment One

North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue has recently released a video urging a "no" vote on "Amendment One," or North Carolina Senate Bill 514 (2011), which is on the ballot for the 2012 Primary Election on May 8. The bill proposes that the North Carolina Constitution would be amended to include the following section: "Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State . . . . " Early voting is now underway throughout the state, and the State Board of Elections has also prepared a Voter Guide for candidates covered by the North Carolina Public Funding Programs. Register and vote!

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Sioux City Journal on Bullying

The entire front page of the April 22, 2012 edition of the Sioux City Journal was devoted to the issue of bullying in schools, precipitated by the recent death of a young student at South O'Brien High School in Paullina, Iowa. The text of the editorial board's statement can be read here; more information on bullying can be found at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services web site,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Surf Zombies Release "Lust for Rust"

Practitioners of the tsunami school of surf music, The Surf Zombies have recently issued their third album, Lust for Rust. Their self-titled first album, The Surf Zombies, appeared in 2008, followed by Something Weird in 2009. More on the band can be found at ReverbNation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

National Library Week 2012

Sponsored annually by the American Library Association, National Library Week promotes libraries of all types: school, public, academic, and special. In conjunction with this year's celebration (April 8-14, 2012), the ALA released its annual report, The State of America's Libraries, which details many current trends, including the growing use of e-books, continued budget cuts and diminished library services across the United States, and other issues such as book challenges and censorship.

Johnny Dowd Releases "No Regrets"

The redoubtable Johnny Dowd and band have just released the latest in a long series of sui generis albums, this one featuring a lucky 13 songs about women recorded with five female vocalists. A CD release party will take place on Record Store Day (April 21, 2012) at Lot 10 in Ithaca, New York, with a European Tour following in May. The video above is for the CD's first cut, "Betty," and was produced by Louk Voncken at Ummerfilm.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Master Printmaker: Mauricio Lasansky [1914-2012]

Mauricio Lasansky, who as a long-time professor of art developed the printmaking program at the University of Iowa into one of finest anywhere, died at 97 on April 2, 2012 in Iowa City. Best known for his series, The Nazi Drawings, Lasansky exhibited widely throughout the world, and extended his influence through his work as a teacher of countless artists and printmakers. "Lasansky: Inside the Image" documents his artistic methods, life, and philosophy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Is the Foolest Month

This spaghetti farmer from New Jersey is just one of many from around the world who strives year after year for a bountiful crop. Archival footage from the BBC documents that the spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland was especially good in 1957, while television station HSV-7 in Melbourne has reported that yields in Australia have been known to suffer from the dreaded Spag-Worm. Indeed, as T.S. Eliot observes at the very beginning of The Waste Land:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain . . . .

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead trees give no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water . . . .
For more on April Fools' Day, see this previous Common Curator post.