Tag Archives: biography

Pickling Pittsburghers

Pickle-loving Pittsburghers came in droves to the Rachel Carson Bridge this past July to celebrate all things pickle, pickled and soon-to-be pickled. Produced by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Picklesburgh included demonstrations on how to pickle various veggies, pickle-juice drinking competitions, and live music to boot! Favorites included Quick Pickled Dilly Green Tomatoes with Ryan from Whole Foods and the Vietnamese Pickled Veggies.

The only downside was that some of the demos ran out of their pickled delights before I could get my pickled mitts on them. To find out more about our own Pickled Piper (John Heinz-who gave over 1 million pickle pins out at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair) and all things pickle, make sure to pick up some of these library resources: Just try not to drink too much pickle juice while you do….

"Untitled," by Nancy Merkel. All rights reserved. Click through for artist's webpage.

“Untitled,” by Nancy Merkle. All rights reserved. Click through for artist’s webpage.

H. J. Heinz : A BiographyQuentin R. Skrabec. A great intro to H.J. Heinz and his Heinzenormous success as a businessman. This book is a quick read, but goes to great lengths to distinguish a man who has been over overshadowed by his contemporaries (Mellon, Fritz, and Carnegie). Unlike his contemporaries, Heinz was known to be a considerate employer, treating both his employees and suppliers with respect. A good introduction to a Pittsburgh’s famous son.

Pickled: From Curing Lemons to Fermenting Cabbage, the Gourmand’s Ultimate Guide to the World of Pickling, Kelly Carrolata. There are four parts to this book: Part I covers “How to Pickle”, Part II gets into the nitty gritty by giving the reader “Recipes for Pickling.” In the carrolattasecond half of the book, Part III covers “Meals with Pickles,” while Part IV deals not with food, but “Drinks with Pickles.” This book is an excellent how-go guide with a dash of pickling history . Lots of great pickle recipes if you’re the DIY type who wants a beginner’s guide to this process.

The Pickled Pantry, Andrea Chesman. Chesman is the author of over 20 cookbooks on Chesmanvarious topics. This book provides a pickle primer, with various pickling methods and techniques discussed. Examples include fermented, hot pack canned pickles, and refrigerator pickles. These are further examined with recipes and a quick history of pickles. Excellent for those of that love a challenge.

The Art of Fermentation : an In-depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes From Around the World, Sandor Ellix Katz. Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, this is a slightly more comprehensive and in-Katzdepth guide to fermentation. The author covers every imaginable food and beverage and gives the beginner and the foodie something both can appreciate: an extensive explanation of the concepts behind fermentation and how it applies to everything from agriculture to art (well, one more than the other). This book remains firmly entrenched in practicalities though and has information on effective preservation and safety techniques.

What’s your position on pickles? Let us know in the comments section!

–Whitney Z.

 

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Somewhere Inside the Rainbow: Pride 2014

Pride Pittsburgh is only a few days away, so this week the Eleventh Stack blog is highlighting selections from the Library’s LGBTQ collections. We’ll be covering a wide selection of materials, from movies to memoirs, written by, for, and about LGBTQ people and their families, friends, and other allies.

Pride week 2014

Of course, the term LGBTQ isn’t an end in itself, but a jumping-off point for exploration; there are millions of ways to be in the world, including pansexual, asexual, intersex, genderqueer, and androgynous (click here to see one blogger’s list of frequently used terms and definitions). You could say that LGBTQ is a continually evolving conversation from a chorus of voices, simultaneously complicated and enriched by considerations of race, religion, and class.

If you are–or would like to be–part of that conversation, there are as many points of entry in the Library as there are kinds of people in the world: comics, biography, short stories, history, theology, cultural studies, YA lit, wedding planners, you name it. Whether you’re reading to broaden your horizons, or to see your own experiences reflected in the literary/ cultural record, we’ll be happy to help you find the perfect title (or fifty).

Welcome inside the rainbow – we hope you’ll enjoy reading along with us this week.

–Leigh Anne

 

 

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Oh Dear, Richard III

Proving once again that truth is frequently stranger than fiction, the bones of King Richard III, of England (1452-1485), were recently found beneath a car park in Leicester. The internet greeted this news with the amusing memes it richly deserves. For example:

hideseek

Spotted on actress Dawn French‘s Facebook page.

See also:

Spotted on the Blackadder Facebook fan page.

Spotted on the Blackadder Facebook fan page.

(If you are not familiar with Rowan Atkinson’s comedic turns as Edmund Blackadder, you have some DVDs to request. Click here.)

Good fun all around! However, it would be a pity if the only thing we knew about history were that it’s often subject to creative hilarity. Therefore, I give you a short list of resources for learning more about Richard III.

Biography

Useful Websites

Cool Stuff We Keep Locked Up

(To see any of these nifty items up close, ask a librarian.)

Digital Resources Even Your Teacher Will Love

Working on an assignment? Not allowed to use “web resources”? We can get you behind the paywall for those journal articles. Visit our electronic history resources and browse through:

  • Biography in Context
  • Salem History
  • World History in Context

See also our electronic reference books–I’d suggest the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

That should be enough to get you started on your journey to understand a misunderstood monarch. I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed this little bit of…

Oh, you wacky internet. Spotted here

Oh, you wacky internet. Spotted here

Or would that be anti-Tudoring?  Hm.

Leigh Anne

who, admittedly, doesn’t know much about history, but knows where to look (and dearly loves to laugh).

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Literary Lives: Real and Imagined

I once heard the children’s non-fiction author Seymour Simon say that library books shouldn’t be labeled ‘fiction’ and ‘nonfiction’ but, rather, ‘true’ and ‘untrue.’* Indeed, many people get the labels mixed up thinking the ‘non’ in fiction means it’s untrue; well, some of it is!

Writers have always been fascinated by famous literary figures and it sometimes follows that they inspire fictional material written in novel form: a biographical novel. As an avid reader, I am intrigued by the possibilities as it allows me to get closer than I ever would to imagined scenes and emotions. Here are a few (along with a biographical non-fiction counterpart, should you desire truth instead of imagination):

Fiction

Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

Non-Fiction

Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee

Victorian writer Edith Wharton wrote novels depicting the strict propriety of appearances, the devastating consequences of scandal, and women whose lives were often an entrapment. Age of Desire chronicles a love affair the author had when she was in her mid-forties, a turning point in her unhappy and loveless marriage.

Fiction

Gatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston

Non-Fiction

The Perfect Hour: the Romance of  F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra King, His First Love by James L.W. West

Before The Great Gatsby and before the colorful and infamous Zelda, Jazz Age author F.Scott Fitzgerald met a beautiful socialite named Ginevra King. This is the story of their ill-fated romance.

Fiction

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James


Non-Fiction

Jane Austen by Carol Shields

 Poor Jane. Everyone always wants to believe there was once a long lost love in her single life. Perhaps there was, but we’ll never really know!

~Maria

*Kind of how I believe that produce should be labeled, say, ‘strawberries’ and ‘chemically-treated strawberries’ instead of ‘strawberries’ and ‘organic strawberries!’

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And the Ladies Have It

Welcome spring, and welcome Suzy–please enjoy the first blog post from our newest contributor, who will be joining us monthly in the writing staff rotation.

For Women’s History Month I wanted to honor the “bad” girls of history. Then I got hung up on the definition of “bad” in this case. Do I mean bad like Nell Gwyn, orange-seller, comedienne and long-time mistress of King Charles II of England? Or bad like Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, one of the most prolific serial killers of all time and fan of bathing in virgin blood? Both ladies are fascinating, but there are degrees of bad. I think Gwyn’s amorous misdemeanors sort of pale in comparison to murdering 600 people. But I’m judgy like that.

So, being the scientific chick that I am, I chose my favorites.  Without further ado, my top 10 bad girls of history:

 Nell Gwyn –Reputed to have told her coachman fighting for her honor, “I am a whore. Find something else to fight about.” Gwyn’s feisty wit and lusty personality are the reason King Charles II, on his deathbed, begged his brother, “Let not poor Nelly starve.” And she didn’t.

Cleopatra–Sure, she was an amazing administrator and Egypt’s culture and economy flourished under her reign. But she murdered her own brother and sister to become the Queen of Egypt! She was the mistress of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony! She swallowed a priceless pearl to demonstrate her wealth!

 Elizabeth Bathory–As mentioned above, killed 600 people in pretty gruesome fashion. 600 PEOPLE. That’d be like killing all of my Facebook friends. Twice.

Bonnie Parker–I freak out if I get pulled over for speeding. Parker was involved in at least one hundred felony criminal actions during her two-year career in crime. This includes, but is not limited to, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery and one major jail break. She also chain-smoked Camels.

Mae West–The very first play she wrote (“Sex”) got her convicted on a morals charge. But the lady who said, “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often,” was an instant success and never looked back.

Marie Antoinette–Hopefully we all know by now that Marie Antoinette never said, “Let them eat cake.” But she wasn’t that into helping the starving masses either. And she really, really, really, really liked clothes.

Margaret Sanger–Considering the current controversy over birth control and woman’s health, we ladies may need to channel the spirit of Sanger in 2012. She promoted the pill before the pill existed. And got tossed in the clink for it.

Anne Boleyn–Did she sleep with her brother? And a poet? And a groom? Did she really commit treason?  I don’t know, but she had six fingers and a killer sense of style.

Lucretzia Borgia–Again with the incest. But also a poisoner!

Wallis Simpson–King Edward VII of the United Kingdom abdicated his throne to marry her. Enough said.

Your turn–who’s your favorite “bad” girl? 

–Suzy

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Heroines

When I’m not dressed as a respectable, professional adult, I’m probably wearing jeans and a t-shirt. This comfortable de facto uniform minimizes the amount of time I have to spend actually thinking about clothes, freeing me up for longer sessions of crafting and baking. It’s also a great way to express my political opinions and pop culture preferences without holding forth at length like a tiresome windbag. When people see my shirts, they’ll know right away whether or not we’ll get along; this, too, is time-efficient and, therefore, pleasing. That may sound silly, but I like to use my time wisely and well.

On the other hand, some of my favorite t-shirts make excellent conversation-starters, and I’m okay with that! My obsession with Marie Curie, for example, and the companion tee with which I express it also show support for women and girls in the sciences. Sporting the Ada Lovelace look gives the same props to women in computer science. And my absolute favorite, the Mary Shelley tee, is a fashionable shout-out to the women of gothic fiction.

There are, however, so many women I admire who do not yet have their own t-shirt, which means I’m going to have to make my own until fashion catches up with my vision.  Here are a few of the many (in)famous women I admire who really should have their own clothing line.

Grace Hopper. The first woman to earn a PhD in mathematics from Yale, and a tenured professor at Vassar, Hopper proceeded to top herself by enlisting in the Navy immediately after Pearl Harbor. The ever-restless Hopper completed officer training and was assigned to the Harvard Computational Laboratory, where her gift for programming, excellent collaboration skills, and prankish sense of humor led to a string of professional successes. Thanks to Hopper we have COBOL and personal computers, so the least we could do is thank her with a spiffy tee, no?

Camille Claudel.  Often unfairly dismissed as the mad mistress of Auguste Rodin, Claudel was a gifted sculptor in her own right. The sensual nature of her work, however, was far more earthy and naturalistic than nineteenth-century French culture could bear, and only Rodin and her father supported her unique artistic vision. However, after a series of personal shocks and the unhappy end of her affair with Auguste, Claudel struggled on alone in poverty until finally her mother committed her to an asylum, where the misunderstood muse remained for thirty years. To the end of her life, however, Claudel remained true to herself and did not compromise her vision. A t-shirt is, perhaps, the very least we could do to honor such strength.

Coco Chanel.  Last, but certainly not least, on my list is the fashion designer closest to my heart.  Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel changed women’s clothing forever by rejecting the fussy, restrictive styles of her day and designing simple, elegant garments made from fabrics in which a person could actually move and breathe! Not content to dabble in clothing, Chanel also created hats, perfume and handbags, first for the friends and relatives of her lovers, and then, as her reputation spread, to Paris society at large.   Ashamed of her humble beginnings, Chanel remained mysterious and private to the end, and her habit of hanging out in graveyards and talking to the dead techincally qualifies her as a first lady of goth. What’s not to love?

Your turn:  whose t-shirt would you wear?  Would you make it yourself, or hire someone crafty to create it for you?

—Leigh Anne

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Big Day in Film, Comics, Sports, Poetry, Cooking, Music, Graphic Novels, Literature etc.

So, where, oh, where, do all these ideas for blog posts come from anyway, you might ask?

Well, when you work for an institution that nominally acts as a portal of all human knowledge, how hard can it really be? I thought I might talk about what I’m reading currently, a volume of poetry and travel writings by the Japanese master poet, Basho, or the graphic novel V for Vendetta by the modern master of the (comic) universe, Alan Moore, or an obscure volume of gothic short stories by the Welsh master of the macabre, Arthur Machen. But since I haven’t finished any of those (grist for future posts!), I thought I’d take a look-see if there has been anything notable about today, August 25th, historically speaking. And indeed there is. So without any further muss, fuss or babble, here’s a list of things we can celebrate today via materials in the library’s rich treasure trove of goods:

  • Birthday of American short story impresario, Bret Harte
  • 95th birthday anniversary of Pogo creator and satirist, Walt Kelly

So, if you are suffering from blogger’s dilemma (aka what will I post about today), how exactly do you find all this stuff out? In the spirit of disclosure (although running directly counter to one of the Wizard of Oz’s most remembered lines, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!“), you simply go to or call your local library and ask for the annual Chase’s Calendar of Events, an encyclopedia size tome listing all of the above (and much, much more) for every single day of the year.

Don

PS If you want that obscure volume by Arthur Machen, interlibrary loan is the way to go.

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