Britcoms at DPL (REDUX)

It’s been two years since we last talked about Britcoms (American slang for “British Sitcom”) at the Denton Public Library. It’s been on my mind since Absolutely Fabulous is finally wrapping up their 24-year run with a feature film that opened last month. Ab Fab then reminds me of the wonderful collaboration in sketch comedy, French and Saunders. Ab Fab’s Jennifer Saunders and her long-time comedy partner, Dawn French, team up to create some of the funniest bits of comedy ever produced.

Both Dawn and Jennifer continue their connections into the comedy world as Dawn’s ex-husband, Lenny Henry, stars in Chef!, which is a terrific series about a genius, but very crusty chef. If you’re an avid watcher of the Food Channel, this one’s for you. Jennifer’s husband is Adrian Edmonson who starred in the 80’s MTV Britcom The Young Ones. If you’re a child of the 80’s and aren’t easily offended, you might enjoy that one!

Also for the not-easily offended, Peep Show may be one of the best sitcoms to ever come from the other side of the pond. Riffing off of Seinfeld, two best frenemies attempt to navigate the world through their 20’s and 30’s. The interesting point-of-view of this series comes from the camera angle showing the perspective of one of the characters at all times, also while hearing their (often opposing) thoughts while speaking. Thinking one thing, but usually saying another thing….

Did you know that KERA was the first American TV station to show Monty Python’s Flying Circus? That’s something to be proud of here in the DFW area! John Cleese also starred as Basil Fawlty in the amazing Fawlty Towers – the adventures of a curmudgeonly hotel owner who provides often less-than-stellar customer service to his guests.

Hijinks ensue with Good Neighbors; this 1975 Britcom pits snooty neighbor Margo against her laid-back and friendly neighbor Barbara. Felicity Kendall and Penelope Keith are stalwarts of British comedy, so you don’t want to miss out on this one.

Enjoy the comedy of our British friends, and share your favorites in the comments!

Kerry Montz – North Branch

In The Weeds, 8.10.16: A Square By Any Other Name…

….is still called a “square”. There are 254 counties in Texas and, much like the state itself, their squares represent the varied cultural and architectural influences of over 300 years of Spanish/Mexican, European and early American settlement. We have a volume in our Texas Collection that offers a very detailed and “in the weeds” analysis of them entitled “The Courthouse Square in Texas” by Robert E Veselka.

Denton’s Square falls under the “Shelbyville-related” plan. That is to say, it has a square lot in the center of a grid with nomenclature based on a system developed in 1968 by E.T. Price in his study of courthouse squares from Pennsylvania to Texas and named after a prototype in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Here you can see that plan juxtaposed with others:

shelbyville2003

Denton shares similarities with Archer City, Brownwood, Cleburne, and Jacksboro in that they all feature a symmetrical arrangement of smaller partial blocks on the periphery. Here is a Sanborn Map of Denton from 1926:

Denton1926

 

Shelbyville squares and their variants are the most prevalent in Texas and can be found in 157 counties, or 61% of the total. This style was first adopted in the northeast corner of the state in Clarksville and San Augustine and were familiar to settlers from the eastern United States with their simple grids and focus on the courthouse.

There are three other major influences on the square design in Texas: Spanish/Mexican, German and Railroad. Briefly, in the Hispanic tradition, town squares allowed for a plaza that was not to include any building with nearby locations for the Catholic Church, a military plaza and a courthouse. A quarter of Texas’ squares are based on this influence and naturally include such towns as San Antonio de Bexar, Gonzalez, Goliad, Refugio, etc. Here is a map of San Antonio de Bexar from 1896 showing the Military and Main Plazas:

SanAntonio

 

 

The many thousands of German immigrants in the mid-to-late 19th Century to the Hill Country left their mark as well. Both New Braunfels and Fredericksburg have central squares for public use without buildings and in some ways resemble Anglo design otherwise.

newbraunfels006

Finally, the importance of the railroad in settling and development of vast areas of Texas meant that their planners had no little influence in how towns were laid out. In some instances, the railroad “split” the town with the court house very near the tracks:rr005

If you’ve made it this far in our little trip around Texas court house squares, thanks for joining us. We won’t think you are “square” for peeking around these court house areas on your next trip through Texas.

Written by Chuck Voellinger, Emily Fowler Special Collections Dept. Questions or comments can be directed to chuck.voellinger@cityofdenton.com.

The DHS Bronco Goes Digital

1946 Bronco

We are so excited to announce the addition of The Bronco, Denton High School’s yearbooks, to the Portal to Texas History.

The yearbooks, ranging from 1905 to 1950, have been digitized and added to the online collection in the Portal to Texas History, a gateway to rare, historical, and primary source materials from or about Texas. The website is created and maintained by the University of North Texas Libraries. With the digitization of The Bronco the books are keyword searchable by name so if you are searching for someone who attended Denton High School during that time span it is much easier to find them.  The yearbooks are a valuable addition to the growing digital repository of Denton County history that is freely accessible on the Portal.

We began contributing materials to the Portal in 2007. Since that time we have added 1,956 items from Denton Public Library’s historical collections. The majority of those items are photographs, but also included are old newspapers, documents, books, and various articles of Denton memorabilia.

1922 Bronco1937 Bronco1948 Bronco

The addition of items to the Portal is an ongoing project for the Denton Public Library, as we endeavor to preserve and share elements of Denton’s history. In addition to the yearbooks that have been digitized, the Special Collections at the Emily Fowler Central Library has almost every year of The Bronco, and yearbooks from the Junior Highs, Colleges, and other High Schools in Denton.  The library’s early yearbooks came from generous donors throughout the community and we are continually seeking copies of the books for the missing years.  We have a small collection of Elementary school yearbooks that we would love to expand. So if you have an old yearbook laying around, the Special Collections Department will gladly accept donations of yearbooks, as well as city directories or other items pertaining to local history or genealogy.

Laura Douglas, Emily Fowler Central Library

New way to learn about library resources

Overwhelmed by Overdrive? Muddled by Mango? The Denton Public Library has great electronic resources but we understand that navigating the different interfaces of our content providers can be confusing. To make things easier, the library recently introduced Denton Public Library Academy, a selection of easy-to-follow video instructions for using our electronic offerings.

Denton Public Library Academy is just a click away from anywhere in the Denton Public Library catalog. You can learn how to use the library’s most popular electronic resources by merely clicking on the Tutorials tab on the right side of any page in the catalog. 

Niche Academy 2. jpg

To view Denton Public Library Academy tutorials for specific resources, click on the graphics below.

Ancestry hoopla
learningexpress-library large BigLynda
Mango Overdrive
ReferenceUSA zinio

Stacy
South Branch Library

Denton Public Library is a PokeStop!

YES (insert fist-pump here)!  Each Denton Public Library is a PokeStop!

I actually work at a PokeStop.  I was very happy to discover this fact upon arriving to work at the North Branch Library last week.   I’ve even caught several Pokémon (not Pokémons, as my son pointed out to me earlier today:  “that’s just like saying deers, Mom”) in our break room, which I think is pretty cool, too.

It’s been fun so far, playing with my family and friends.  Lots of adventures are anticipated, such as getting to Level 5 so I can battle at a gym.  Sounds strange at first, but you, too, can assimilate! 😉

Team picking is next.   I plan on picking Team Instinct (yellow).  There is also Team Mystic (blue), and Team Valor (red).  I have found out a few things this week, such as how to aim, how to power up and evolve captured Pokémon, and how to incubate eggs.  None of mine have hatched yet, though.

I think it’s very possible that I spied folks planning a gym battle yesterday evening, not far from downtown.  There was a group of about five people, each dressed in yellow t-shirts of varying types, standing in a circle, while talking with one another and looking at their phones.  The difference between this scene and others involving people and their phones was – you guessed it – these people were outside, walking around and – gasp! – talking to each other instead of only texting.  It is one of the good things coming from the playing of this game.

In case you haven’t yet joined the throngs of people playing Pokémon GO, just think about this question:  Where will you find your first Pocket Monster?  Mine was on my knee.

All three branches of the Denton Public Library are PokeStops, so visit all the branches to find Poke Balls, eggs, and more to advance through the game.  Further your Pokémon experience by checking out a Pokémon book, graphic novel, or DVD.  South Branch also hosts a Pokémon Club for ages 8-15.

How to Draw Pokemon (002)  Pokemon Movie Genesect  Pokemon Adventures Diamond and Pearl  Pokemon Origami  Pokemon Handbook Pokemon Visual Companion

Kathy Folger, North Branch Library

Wildlife in Denton: What’s in Your Backyard?

Moving to Alpine, Texas after high school was a big change, sure Denton was a small town, and having lived in a string of small towns and preceded by one very large one (Phoenix), this was nothing new, but the combination of vast outdoor spaces, colors, and abundant wildlife reminded me a lot of Arizona.

Instead of horse ranches, you saw a herd of pronghorn on the side of the highway. Taking a walk, or better yet a hike, you saw lizards, snakes, raptors, javelina, mule deer, and – if you were lucky (and I was) –  a mountain lion.  One Christmas morning I went for a walk up Hancock Hill. The top was covered in fog and when I reached it, I discovered a herd of pronghorn which immediately disappeared.  No matter where I went, there was always something: raptors, snakes, javelina (men with shotguns telling you to get off their property – something that happens when you move to a new place and get lost).

Wildlife in Denton – I can only speak from my experience of the last 25 years here – but it has changed and unless you have property on the outer edges of town or out in the County somewhere else, you don’t see many creatures like that. But, some are still here, especially along the creeks, sewers,  parks, and in some cases, a red fox in a late night parking lot.

Taking a bike ride out of town can provide one with glimpses, along with a few perks, both good and bad: the smell of roadkill,  skunks, bored dogs, fast rabbits, tarantulas, and the annual flocks of Canadian Geese. One of my greatest pleasures was being followed by a herd of cattle (does that count?) back-and-forth out on FM 428/Sherman Drive on my way to the Greenbelt.  When I noticed them, I wondered: “Are these guys following me?” So yes, I did turn around and rode the other direction just “to check.” And yes, I nearly fell off my bike laughing because it turns out they followed me back-and-forth many times. I am thinking that this had something to do with dinner, but I’ll never know for sure.

The closest I’ve ever come to anything potentially frightening was when I was commuting to work by bike to Denton: some faceless howling creature one dark night along Cowling Road in Sanger – this was before the beautiful canopy of trees lining the road was cut down – on this particularly dark night, those trees morphed into a black cavern of shadows and I heard a howl before I got to the bridge. It was one of those, “I think I’m going to wet my pants moments,” that luckily did not happen and made me realize that I had read the Legend of Sleepy Hollow one too many times.

Tarantula on N. Bonnie Brae Street.

Larry, a tarantula on North Bonnie Brae Street near Ganzer.

This meandering bit of nonsense occurred because last week, Sandy Shepard came by and brought some neat stuff. He has a bit of property along Milam Creek and a wildlife camera that captures some of the daytime and nighttime critters that traverse it. Some, do more than that: feral hogs tear up his property and trash it.  Feral hogs can be dangerous and a serious nuisance throughout Texas, but perhaps this is balanced by the beauty of the deer that hang around his property, some of which are are very tame and will let you pet them.

The images he brought by echo stories told by settlers from the 1850s. You can read some of them in earlier issues of the Denton County News or History and Reminiscences of Denton County by Ed. F. Bates tales of catching wild turkeys, deer aplenty, buffalo, coyotes (well, we’ve still got ’em), bobcat, raccoons, and squirrels! Keep this in mind the next time you decide to take a walk out on the Greenbelt Trail and read up on it: boost your imagination!

We have a little display in Special Collections at the Emily Fowler Library if you’d like to visit, otherwise here’s a little something from Mr. Shepard.

Coyote near Milam Creek.

Coyote near Milam Creek.

Feral pig near Milam Creek.

Feral pig near Milam Creek.

 

A bit more exciting than the red-winged blackbirds, acrobatic squirrels, possums, field mice, and the occasional skunk or hawk I get, although I’m working on my own little bit of wildlife habitat.

What is in your backyard?

Leslie Couture, Library Assistant, Special Collections

 

Time for Summer Camp (or Your Kid-free Vacation Week)

It’s that time of year, time to send the kids off to summer camp.  After a frantic week of buying last minute items (does he really need a new sleeping bag and, wait, are those his toes sticking out of his shoes?), I drive my son to the loading zone.  I get one last hug and then he climbs on the bus with his buddies and does not look up again.  As the bus pulls away, I feel both a little sadness because I will miss him and a little bit of relief.   If I overhear someone say “Freedom” under their breaths, I will pretend I didn’t, or that I’m not the one saying it.

Camping BLOG Post-Stacey

Sending your kids off to summer camp?  Or maybe off to visit their grandparents for a week or two?  If so, now you can enjoy a week of kid-free time, or your own staycation.  You might want to pick up a book you haven’t had a chance to read.  Or binge watch a television show with a little adult content.    Either way, embrace this time and enjoy it.  It will be over before you know it and your little one will be back sunburnt and full of stories about his(or her) time away.

Some guilty pleasures you might explore include:

Books

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/entertainment/summer-reading-list-2016/

http://www.redbookmag.com/life/g230/summer-beach-reads/?slide=22

TV Series

Jane the Virgin

Mr. Robot

Game of Thrones

Orphan Black

Big Bang Theory

Outlander

Enjoy your kid-free staycation!  (Even if you have to work.)  And don’t forget to check out something from the library to keep you entertained.  Because once the kids are back, you will get busy again.  And, it will be back-to-school time before you know it.

Stacey Irish-Keffer, Youth Services Librarian